What is SeMi Bluegrass? It's a meeting place where live music fans in Southeast Michigan gather to exchange information about the live music scene: show reviews, cool venues, band profiles, product reviews and more.
Articles, news, reviews and band profiles welcome.
Email to: SeMiBluegrass@gmail.com

If you're looking for the South East Michigan Bluegrass Music Association (A fine group of Bluegrass fans in South East Michigan) you can find them at http://smbluegrass.org/

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Thorougly Entertaining : The Corktown Popes @ Callahan's

This year, my wife and I have been making an effort to "embrace" each others taste in music.  When her favorite band, the Corktown Popes, booked a night at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills (one of my very favorite venues) on the Eve of Saint Patrick's day, it was kind of a no-brainer to get tickets, round a group of friends and venture out for a night of live music.  While not bluegrass by any definition, I was thoroughly entertained and pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

John Holk & the Sequins:  Pure Nashville
"This is definitely not your type of music" said my wife as the warm-up band, John Holk and the Sequins took the stage.  I took one look at the pedal steel guitar, cowboy hats and lusciously embroidered, fringed jackets and though, "Oh!  How wrong can you be!  I love this kind of stuff!".  Pure, twangy Nashville country/rock, their high energy mix of original material and killer covers (including a version of Devil in Disguise that paid homage to the Bluegrass Album Band) was just the type of SeMiBluegrass I love to stumble on.  By time they got to a Johnny Cash (Folsom Prison Blues) / Elvis Presley (That's Alright) mashup, I was grinning ear-to-ear and hanging on every note.  What a fantastic band.  Go see them!

The Corktown Popes kick it into high gear
As the Pre-Saint Patrick's Day party swung into high gear, and the Irish Whiskey began to flow freely (more on that later) the main event started with a pure Irish snare drum cadence from the heart of the audience.  As the Corktown Popes took the stage, they picked up on the cadence and launched into one of their many, high-energy original songs.  I was immediately intrigued by their eclectic mix of modern electric instrumentation (drums, bass, telecaster and keys) with more traditional, acoustic instrumentation (accordion, acoustic guitar, mandolin and Irish whistle).  It's an odd, hodgepodge of sounds, but it somehow works for them. Frontman, Terry Burns' powerful voice easily cuts through their rich, full sound and propels the band through beautiful slow songs and driving, high-octane barn-burners with equal precision and grace.  He immediately connects with the audience and builds on their energy throughout the set.

Goodmen, Youngquist and Burns getting it done
Like many of the band I listen to, their sound defies classification. On the one hand, they're a rock band.  But a Detroit rock band, with that quintessentially gritty, urban, Rustbelt sound so familiar to fans of the Detroit rock scene of the 80s and 90s.  On the other hand, they're definitely an Irish band, from Burns' subtle Irish brogue to Paul Goodmen's triplet infused fills on the accordion (a sound you usually hear on the fiddle, but way cooler on the accordion) there is a definite link to their heritage. Their vocal harmonies are spot on and sound like they've been singing together since they were kids.  The classic combination of Mike Martin's mandolin with guitarist Jason Kuehn's contributions on the Irish whistle help further define their sound and remind you of the band's Irish roots, especially on the mandatory traditional songs required by the nature of the event.  Drummer Dave Younquist and Bassist Joe Bagozzi form what might be the best rhythm section I've heard in quite some time.  Tastefull at times and powerful when needed, they kept the energy flowing all night long.

As midnight fell, the St. Paddy's day party started and the whiskey continued to flow (both on stage and in the crowd), the setlist naturally drifted from Irish Rock show into pure Irish holiday bar band fare.  The band shifted effortlessly into this roll, bringing out stools and acoustically covering many standard Irish pub songs.   The band, however, never let you forget you bought a ticket to a rock show in the first place.  From the  multiple, green-clad audience members dancing (swaying?) on stage to the epic, punk rock inspired, crowd-walk-turned-table-dive that sent dozens of audience members, drinks and beer bottles flying, this was one St. Patrick's day show I will always remember.

Like what you read?  Follow SeMiBluegrass on Facebook or at www.SeMiBluegrass.com. I'm always looking for interesting live music in Southeast Michigan.  Got a show, venue or review you'd like to see written up here?  Know of a band I should go see?  Want to contribute an article of your own?  Contact me at SeMiBluegrass@gmail.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your source for information about the Southeast Michigan (SeMi) Live Music Scene. News, Venues, Reviews...a community about us, for us and by us. Please consider contributing an article: semibluegrass@gmail.com