Ann Arbor, Mich (May 28, 2014)
By ROGER LeLIEVRE
Veteran acts who’ve played here before, a relative newcomer with Ann Arbor ties,
and even star of stage and screen are all ahead on Ann Arbor music stages this summer.
These shows are hot: Get your tickets before you get burned with a sold-out sign.
Elvis Costello (June 13 at the Michigan Theater)
Judy Collins (June 22, The Ark)
Jackson Browne (July 10, Michigan Theater)
Nickel Creek (July 12, Michigan Theater)
Lyle Lovett & His Large Band (Aug. 9, Michigan Theater)
Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band (Aug. 17, The Ark)
Michelle Chamuel (Aug. 21, outdoor stage at Liberty and South Division streets)
*Note that the Chamuel gig is part of the free Sonic Lunch series downtown – arrive
early for this one, no ticket needed. Chamuel, who has musical ties to Ann Arbor,
recently came in second on the TV singing competition “The Voice.”
Costello’s return is a real treat. For the last several years, he has been playing about
a month of solo dates in the U.S. a year, region by region. They are some of the most
adventurous and praised performances of his career, and the Ann Arbor stop is next
on the list.
Collins, who was an Ann Arbor Folk Festival headliner in 2011, proved then
that she’s still capable of charming a crowd. She may be in her early 70s, but age
appeared not to have diminished the folk icon’s voice or passion. Her instrument
may be more delicate now, but on songs such as “Diamonds and Rust” and “Both
Sides Now” proved it is still capable of great power.
Consummate singer-songwriter Browne, who also performed here in 2011, proved
to be a master of the intimate acoustic show, sounding (and looking) like someone
years younger as he charged though most of his hits “The Pretender,” “Running on
Empty,” et al) and a few unknown tunes.
Bluegrass hitmakers (yes, that is odd enough to be almost qualify as an oxymoron)
Nickel Creek – Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins – are back from hiatus
with the new CD “A Dotted Line.” It will be interesting to hear what they have been
up to together and apart.
Four-time Grammy winner Lyle Lovett came on the scene in the 1980s during a
nanosecond of Nashville openness that also spawned the career of k.d. lang. Is
his music country? Singer-songwriter folk? Big-band western swing? The correct
answer would be all of the above, with equal parts wry humor, dark and edgy
undertones and charming cowboy Romanticism. He’s played at The Ark and the Ann
Arbor Folk Festival, but this is his first full-scale show in Ann Arbor with the Large
Band in recent years.
In the case of actor and blues musician Jeff Daniels, it’s an example of like father
like son (or maybe the other was around). The elder Daniels, who has played the
Michigan Theater before with the Ben Daniels Band, has proved by now that he is
also a capable blues singer, guitarist and storyteller. The Ben Daniels Band includes
Tommy Reifel on bass, George Merkel on guitar, Wesley Fritzemeier on drums and
mandolin, and singer/songwriter Amanda Merte on vocals. All, including Daniels,
call Chelsea home.
Rounding out the list is Michelle Chamuel, a former University of Michigan School of
Music student and vocalist for the popular local bands My Dear Disco/Ella Riot from
around 2008-2011 before she wowed viewers on “The Voice” in 2013. Appearing
with her musical pal and collaborator Theo Katzman, her first full-length solo album
is due this fall. Expect a large crowd in the small Liberty Plaza area.
Get tickets for Michigan Theater shows at ticketmaster.com and all Ticketmaster
locations. Charge by phone at 800-745-3000.
Tickets for Ark shows available at http://www.theark.org or 734-761-1800.