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SLCR #334: Danny Michel (February 10, 2019)

I’ve been slacking on this one and letting the reviews pile up again. I always enjoy Danny Michel shows, but there never seems to be that much to say about them, unless we have some awkward interaction after the show. It happens more often than you’d think. I mean, I’m socially inept in general, but I can usually fake it long enough to get a CD signed or something. Not so much where Danny is involved. And as much as I’d love to pass the buck, it’s not his fault; he’s a good guy who legitimately saved me from catching fire once. After I stole his setlist.

His shows, though, I pretty much know what I’m in for. He doesn’t usually play with a band when on tour, so it’s him with a guitar and looping pedals (and maybe a piano, depending on where he’s playing). And he has a Hawksleyesque quality about him where he’s written hundreds of songs but always seems to draw from the same 20 or so when deciding what to play. None of this is a complaint, I should add. I know what I’m getting but I like what I’m getting.

We showed up at the Artesian and took what is becoming our usual spot at the end of the lowest pew on the left side. Same place we sat the last time we saw Danny there. There were fewer chairs on the floor than usual, with some small round tables available. Even with less seating available, the show still wasn’t sold out, which is a shame. Not that the attendance was terrible, but lower than it should have been. I don’t know what you can do to get more people out to shows here. The brutal cold deserves some of the blame, but every time attendance is soft, there are more Calgary-Edmonton-Saskatoon-day-off-Winnipeg tours. Musicians have to go where they’ll get paid.

Along those lines, Danny had a Facebook post go viral a few months back where he broke down some of the economic realities of being an independent musician. It’s one thing to know that streaming services have an effect on what artists make, but he was open about the scope of it, mentioning a 95% drop in album sales over the course of a year. That loss is counteracted, as such, by streaming royalties, though he also mentioned that a recent single (Purgatory Cove) spent 10 weeks in the CBC Radio 2 and Radio 3 charts but earned less than $50 in royalties. His post made it pretty clear that indie musicians are struggling and reconsidering their careers and futures. It was a sobering read.

Now that I’ve been nice and depressing, let’s get into the show! We started right at 8:00 with no openers. Like I said, I thought I knew what we were getting, so I was pretty surprised when he busted out Toledo for his second song. Apparently, a fan requested it the previous night in Swift Current, but Michel had to admit he didn’t remember how to play it, so he spent the afternoon before our show re-learning it. I don’t think this was hyperbole; when I entered the night’s setlist into setlist.fm, there wasn’t even an option to add Toledo. This is one of my favourite Danny Michel songs and as far as I can tell, it’s been over a decade since I’ve seen him play it live.

Similarly, he played Perfect later in the second set. That was another old one that doesn’t get much play. I say “old one” as though I didn’t just realize that Feather, Fur & Fin has now been out for over a decade, though I still consider it among his “new stuff.” I’m bad for that. Every Tragically Hip album after Phantom Power is “new stuff” and it came out in 1998 and only got added to “old stuff” last year.

As for the rest of the show, it was a really fun time. Few surprises, but he cracked jokes, told stories, and played a lot of old favourites with some new stuff from his latest album, White & Gold:

Born in the Wild
Toledo
Wish Willy
Khlebnikov
Whale of a Tale
Samantha in the Sky with Diamonds
Feather, Fur & Fin
Tennessee Tobacco
(intermission)
A Cold Road
Purgatory Cove
24,000 Horses
Perfect
What Colour are You?
Click Click
Who’s Gonna Miss You?
encore: Nobody Rules You

But we weren’t quite done. Michel explained that he was going to play one last song and consider the show over, but that he had something extra planned just for us, if we wanted. His birthday had been the week before, and his friend Rob Carli, who was recording with the Toronto Symphony, got them to play Happy Birthday for him. So Danny wanted to return the favour, but with a different song, a Regina-centric song, one that Carli had introduced to him. So he had the sound tech hit the music and led us all in a singalong of Experience Regina, which by now has to be the most mentioned song in any of these reviews. It was a fun time. He walked through the crowd recording everyone and later posted the video. You can see Mika and me singing in the background (by which I mean, I can point out which blurred smudges are us, but you’d never know without help). A fan sent in additional video, so it’s a two-camera shoot; in that footage, you can get a real nice look at the back of our heads.

I stopped by the stuff table to pick up White & Gold. Not only do I dig his music, but it was also a super value pack (LP, CD, and download code, all for one low price). A deal! We stuck around long enough so I could get it signed and… nothing awkward happened. No theft, no fire, no immediately regrettable topics, nothing to add to the list. Just a brief chat and a nice souvenir that I’ll add to the record shelf once we buy more shelves. Or thin out the cookbooks.

Danny Michel 2017-03-16

* Please note: We were front row center for this gig. I took a few pics with my cell phone, hoping to get a couple good ones for the blog. If for any reason I was not supposed to be taking pictures during the show, or I can’t use them here on this page, please let me know and I will take them down immediately. I’m hoping it’s cool, but one never knows. Thanks!

Just back from seeing Danny Michel at the Heartwood Concert Hall here in my town. What a fantastic time!

How we got there involves a wee tale (stay with me, I’ll get there):

I wanted to see Metallica in Toronto in July, but floor seats were $200+ each. For the Skydome? (or whatever they call it now)? I think frickin’ not. Anyway, I only get to about a concert per year, so I wondered what it would be… and then my lovely wife mentioned Danny was coming to town. I wanted to go. James said GO. We got tickets and voila. Definitely not Metallica, but that’s apples and oranges. Honestly, this was waaaaay better. Let me explain.

This show sold out, and that’s cool. I’m guessing numbers, maybe 150-200 people in that room? We got seats front row center at a table with old friends from back in the Knox Acoustic Cafe days, so it was nice catching up with them.

It was just Danny on stage with his guitar, tonight. No band. And that was actually really cool, really special, because it felt more like a house concert. I love that feel.

For this gig, I tried something new. I didn’t try to write down every song title. I didn’t try to memorize every wee thing that happened (though of course I’ve remembered some). I just sat back and let the music come to me and enjoyed the experience. I noticed little things, like how he has rubbed the ‘Ep’ off the ‘Epiphone’ on his guitar’s headstock so it says ‘iphone.’ And all the little tricks he does with the guitar (there were a ton). Just cool stuff.

He told a ton of stories, how songs got written, or where he was when things happened, or how he had a penpal in outer space, or how they spent a week drinking in the lobby of a whorehouse in Belize without knowing it was a whorehouse. He came across as charming, witty, and genuine. That’s a tough thing: most artists have a schtick and they say it the same every gig. He truly pulled it off just being himself and having fun between songs. It was beautiful.

He took questions from the crowd (such as ‘why do you wear those glasses’ because he’s always got them shoved up on the top of his head and never seems to use them. Someone also asked about a calf named Marty – apparently the cow has an eye issue so he named it Marty Feldman. Natch).

And the songs? I doubt I’ll get a setlist online, but who knows? I know he played some off the Black Birds… album, like What Colour Are You? and A Cold Road… He played Feather Fur And Fin, and a couple songs off the new record (recorded on a Russian ice breaker in the Arctic). That was fun because he played the title track (Khlebnkov) and when it’s just him it sounds one way, but on the record there’s a whole orchestra behind him. So he played some of the song from the album for us into the microphone from his cell phone, so we could hear the difference. Mid-song. He thought it was hilarious when we clapped.

He played one for his space penpal (something about Samantha in the sky with diamonds. Seriously). He played Wish Willy, and Who’s Gonna Miss You? [which he dedicated to Stuart Mclean, RIP, because Stuart (with whom he ate sardines) liked that song and always had Danny play it when he joined Stuart’s traveling show]. In two sets, he played a whole bunch of stuff. All of it excellent.

He also got a big cheer from the crowd when he announced he’s maybe kinda sorta living in our area now. Which explains why he was here for a while, recently. And also explains why someone asked about the calf named Marty.

He ended the night with the Clash’s Bankrobber (with us singing the chorus), and then a brilliant Nobody Rules You.

He played for a good long time, and every song was done with honesty and talent and fun. Truly, a great night. Take that Lars!

Oh, and on the way out, he was there to talk to, sign autographs, give high fives, whatever. But there was a line and we needed to get home (I had to get up for work next morning!) so I let go of the chance to say hi. Ah well, who knows. If he’s living near here now, maybe the chance will come up again soon.

I’d go see Danny Michel play again anytime. If you get the chance, GO.

SLCR #244: Danny Michel (May 12, 2016)

image

“Shit is crazy, isn’t it? Shit’s bonkers.”

I don’t usually take notes while a show is going on. That mostly happens either between sets or, more often, after I get home. But I made a point of writing down that quote from Danny Michel, and I’m glad I did. It was in reference to the current political situation in the US, and it sums that whole thing up nicely, but it was also fitting for a night where Danny Michel saved me from catching fire.

I always seem to have some weird or awkward moment at a Danny Michel show. More than my own innate awkwardness would suggest, I mean. I have never before, however, come close to catching fire in front of him.

But that was after the show. Before the show, Steve and I went from subway to streetcar to the Lula Lounge, a venue that was new for both of us. Now, when I travel, I usually go through my wallet before I leave and ditch everything I won’t need on vacation – things like my city bus pass and library card. Well, somehow, I thought “I won’t be driving, I won’t need my driver’s licence” and left it at home too. Luckily, I brought my passport to use as ID at the airport, and even more luckily, I thought to keep my passport with me in case we went to one of those venues that cards everyone. And I did need to present photo ID at the Lula Lounge, since there were no tickets – just my name on a list. The guy working at the door loved this and took the opportunity to ask if I was importing any fruits or vegetables into the venue.

The coda to this whole stupid story is that my driver’s licence was in my wallet all along – I’d been looking at the empty space where my bus pass normally goes, not my licence.

Luckily, this whole situation distracted the bouncer from my footwear – Lula Lounge has a dress code of no ball caps and no running shoes. I’m glad he didn’t enforce the shoe situation, as all of my other shoes were in Saskatchewan. We’d have been in enough trouble if they’d been back at Steve’s place at the other end of Toronto.

We walked into the place and I immediately spotted Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies. I half expected Danny to have some surprise guests at this show – he does a semi-regular series of shows in Toronto called School Night Mondays where there’s always a special guest and the shows end at a reasonable hour – but no, Ed was just there to enjoy himself. I think this might be the first time I’ve ever spotted a celebrity in the wild. We saw him again two days later going into the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, so clearly I know all the best places to go in Toronto and rock stars look to me for recommendations.

For all the times I’ve seen Danny, I’m pretty sure this was the first time he had a band with him. It’s always been just him and a guitar and maybe some sampler pedals. There was no opener – instead, he and his band basically opened for themselves, playing a short set, taking a cake break, and then coming back out for more.

Cake! This show was the record release party for Michel’s new album, Matadora, and a rep from Six Shooter Records showed up with a giant cake with the album cover on it. Danny got a taste of the icing, and his guitar neck did too (he was still finding icing on the guitar the next day, judging from his Instagram). Steve figured that if you got the slice where Danny poked the icing, that meant good luck, like if you got the wax-paper wrapped quarter in the birthday cake. We got cake between the two sets, and though we didn’t get the lucky piece, it was very tasty cake. On Instagram, Danny later said that he didn’t actually get a slice, which was too bad for him, but he and the band did get a round of shooters in the middle of the show. I’d say that’s just as good, but he said it tasted like gasoline and later blamed it when he let a cuss word or two slip out, so yeah, that’s probably a step down from tasty cake.

Of all the Michel shows I’ve seen, I think this was the best one – the band had lots of energy and seemed to be having a really good time. They played lots from Matadora, of course, but there were songs from throughout Danny’s career. He opened with Wish Willy (didn’t tell the delightful story from last time) and White Lightning before getting into the new tunes. After the show, I tried to get a picture of Danny’s red guitar, the one painted with “this machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” The picture didn’t turn out that well, but since I was there anyway, I snagged Danny’s setlist. As such, I have a list of what was played, but even so, it still takes some translation to deduce that “RUBY” means he played Rubicon, or that “TENNIS” is Tennessee Tobacco, things like that. They also started into Suspicious Minds after making an Elvis reference, but Danny called a stop to it pretty quickly, to the seeming disappointment of his bandmates.

image

After the show, I went to buy a vinyl copy of the new album, which seemed like the thing to do at an album release party. Amid the cluster of people near the door, I wound up standing next to Ed from BNL, so I chatted with him for a few seconds. Dude was very friendly.

I got close to the front of the line and saw that there was a sign next to the stack of stuff that suggested that the records and money had been unmanned for the evening and that we were on the honour system. That kind of faith in humanity made me smile. And also if you want some Danny Michel CDs, email me, I have a few dozen to get rid of.

Finally, I made it to the front and bought my record. I got him to sign it and the setlist, which he took a picture of before I was allowed to abscond with it. I probably should have offered to give it back to him, seeing as how it was actually, y’know, HIS, but oh well. Anyway, I was leaning in to chat with Danny, talking about one of our previous wacky occurrences, when he pushed me back a bit and pulled a candle away – my untucked shirt (so slovenly!) was dangling around the flame. I thought he was just being overly cautious until I touched said shirt tail and “oh, shit, that’s actually hot.” So yeah. Nearly caught fire. It derailed whatever I was trying to tell him but I am pretty sure that nearly catching fire was more interesting than anything I could have said anyway. After the first time I saw him, I joked that he owed me a Sharpie; after a more recent show, he said he’d buy me a drink. But after preventing my untimely demise in some sort of one-man inferno, I think we’re square.

SLCR #216: Danny Michel (June 13, 2015)

I bought my first Danny Michel CD about 12 years ago. I’d never heard any of his music before. The purchase was based entirely on two factors; 1) I’d heard this guy’s name somewhere, and 2) I had some credit at the used CD place and little else was calling out to me. It was an excellent find. I got a few other CDs on that trip, most of which wound up eventually returning to the bins from whence they came. But that copy of Fibsville has stuck around and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Looking through old reviews, it occurs to me that I have told some variant of this story any time I’ve ever had to mention Danny Michel in one of these reviews. Whatever. At least I’m consistent.

Anyway, I think I’ve bought all of his albums since then, and have enjoyed them all. However, the live experience, at least in my experience, hasn’t always been able to measure up. The first few times I saw him, I thought he was fantastic, but the last few times I’ve seen him weren’t so hot. One time, he was clearly exhausted after driving something like 10 hours to get to a show with an apathetic crowd in a half-filled Exchange. Most recently, I saw him as part of the Songwriters’ Circle at Junofest, where he was good, but I found him upstaged by the likes of Kathleen Edwards and Bahamas.

But this would be my first chance to see a proper Danny solo show in… my goodness, seven years? And this is a special tour. Have you ever seen something stupid and amazing and ridiculous online and daydreamed about buying it? The short version is that unlike most of us*, Danny Michel has some follow-through. And that is how he bought a 1970s van airbrushed with Star Trek murals. And with a red velvet interior. Yes. He’s taking it on tour across Canada and filming a web series along the way, with people like 54-40, Jann Arden, Chris Hadfield, and Barney Bentall recording songs in the space van. On the very day of our show, he was in a parade in Vulcan, Alberta, because of course he would have to be. So I had high hopes.

*I own a set of four prints I bought off Etsy featuring the cast of The Golden Girls as zombies. This does not compare to the financial commitment of buying a space van, nor the intestinal fortitude required to take the dang thing on a cross-country tour, but I can’t throw dumb-purchase stones without acknowledging my own glass house.

Sadly, the curse of the Danny Michel show struck again. A curse of… mild disappointment. Which is a pretty good curse to have if one has to have a curse, I guess. But still.

I will preface my whinging by saying that none of this was Danny’s fault. I thought he was delightful and was on pace to be up there with the better shows of his that I’d seen. But the environment left enough to be desired that we ultimately didn’t stick around.

We parked about a block from the venue and I took a few pictures of the sweet space van before we went inside. It was everything I’d hoped it would be; namely, a really awesome van that I am very glad I’m not responsible for.

Again, let me state for the record that I thought Danny was great. He played a set of about 45 minutes before taking a break; in that time, we got Whale of a Tale (from Fibsville), Sweet Things, Feather Fur & Fin, and Wish Willy, among others. He told some fun stories about the space van tour and about the work he’s done with a school in Belize. And most importantly, he asked the crowd to quiet down, which didn’t happen to the degree anyone would have wanted, but I appreciated the effort.

We’ve been to the Artful Dodger twice, for Mo Kenney and for Greg MacPherson. This was quite a while ago now, back when the place was very new. The finishing wasn’t done, and they weren’t serving meals yet. They’ve come a long way since then and I’ve heard lots of great reviews of the food and the venue. Unfortunately, everyone else has apparently heard the same things. Our tickets said 8:00 p.m., which could mean anything from a start time of 8:00 to midnight, in my concert-going experience (in this case, it was around 8:30). We got there at 7:45 and the place was full. Wall-to-wall, no seats open, packed with diners. And the thing about the Artful Dodger is that there is no good place to stand. The stage is small, the floor in front of it is filled with tables, and there are bleachers in the back of the room. Walking from Point A to Point B is difficult and you cannot stand anywhere without being obnoxiously and obviously in someone’s way. We took the best spot that we could in the back of the room but this still put in in the path of the servers and I don’t think 30 seconds went by without one of us (most often Mika) having to move out of someone’s way.

I’m not sure what the rules are at the Artful Dodger. If someone comes in for dinner at 6:00, do they get to stay for the show at 8:00 without buying a ticket? My suspicion is yes; this would explain why we were in between three groups of people, two of which had no interest in the show at all and were just going to keep on having their conversations despite the guy on stage trying to play guitar and sing some songs. There is no crowd so disrespectful as those that did not pay to attend.

The third group could be described as Danny Michel superfans and though I rolled my eyes a bit at their… let’s go with “intensity” – they were really into the show and I find it hard to find fault with that. Especially when there were so many other people nearby with whom I could find all kinds of fault.

Anyway. Like I said, Danny played for 45 minutes before taking a bit of a breather, promising to come back for a second set. I will assume he did and I will assume it was great, but I wouldn’t know. We took the opportunity at the break to call it a night. I gave it a fair shot. I made it to intermission, I enjoyed some songs, I laughed at some stories (especially the Wish Willy one), I had as good a time as I was going to have given the surroundings. Which wasn’t enough to justify staying. The full restaurant and its wood-fired oven meant that it was awfully warm in there. To counteract that, there was a big fan directly behind us, blowing in cool air from the street. Between the ignorant jackasses at the tables around us, the fan noise from behind us, and the general not-ideal standing spot we found ourselves in, we really couldn’t hear all that well, and it was hot (though the wood smoke did lend a certain ambience to the nature-themed Feather Fur & Fin), and it just wasn’t that fun. Mika isn’t a big Danny Michel fan anyway, so instead, I took her for ice cream. I think there’s a lesson there. If you can’t answer yes to “is this better than getting ice cream?” then you may as well just go get ice cream.

space van

space van

red velvet

red velvet

the space shirt is a space magnet to cover painted-on space boobs

the space shirt is a space magnet to cover painted-on space boobs

UPCOMING SHOWS

  • Moist (July 11)
  • Geoff Berner w/Whiskey Jerks (July 29)
  • Lucinda Williams (July 30)
  • Gin Blossoms w/ Fastball & The Rembrandts (July 31)
  • Fred Eaglesmith w/Tif Ginn (August 2)
  • Regina Folk Festival feat. Sinead O’Connor, Jenny Lewis, Vance Joy, Blue Rodeo, Bahamas, more (August 7-9)
  • Chubby Checker & The Wildcats (September 26)
  • Hawksley Workman (October 16)

Robert Pollard, Pavement, TV On The Radio, Danny Michel, Rolling Stones

Robert Pollard – The Crawling Distance

Hooray! New Pollard again! Frankly, my raving about a new Pollard effort in these pages is redundant, by now. So just consider this notice that this album is released and you should definitely buy it! This 10 song collection has all the trademark sounds of the master at work: the brit-rock vocals, the odd lyrics, the interesting structures and key changes. It’s all here. The man is unstoppable.

Pavement – Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creed Edition

Whomever had the idea to re-release all the Pavement records with all kinds of extra goodies thrown in deserves a medal. They’re gorgeous. This most recent addition to the series has so much extra stuff it’s boggling: a re-mastered original album, b-sides to several EPs, compilation appearance tracks, radio sessions, studio outtakes, photos, essays, you name it. There’s enough in this 2 disc set to keep a person occupied for weeks, and it’s all fantastic.

Man, I miss Pavement. I know it had to end, and I know we’ve been fortunate that a couple of the members have carried on with other projects, but a part of me still really misses the magic these guys created. Sets like this are a nice reminder of what once was.

TV On The Radio – Dear Science

Here we have a dance-y, trance-y, indie homage to 80’s pop music. It’s got drum machines, falsetto vocals, the works. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, as far as it goes, I enjoyed this record for the creative effort that it is. I ultimately sort of held it at a distance, though, since it’s really not my cup of tea. I honestly did enjoy it, but I doubt I’d play it often. Man, talk about a backhanded compliment. Lots of people like this stuff. If you do, power to you. Get out your jelly shoes, hair crimper and neon stretch pants and rock it often. Whatever floats your boat.

Danny Michel – Welcome Home (1997-2007)

I can sum this up quickly: Danny Michel rules, as you all already know, and this set is the perfect collection of a decade of his amazing songs, played on acoustic guitar. Every track is a gem. Seriously, head over to zunior.com and get this so you can check this out. You won’t regret a single second of it.

Rolling Stones – Shine A Light

Watching this movie, I realized for the millionth time that, dammit man, I love this band. I don’t care how old they get, or how corny their song lyrics can get sometimes, or that watching Mick Jagger perform is akin to watching a skinny little man being electrocuted. It’s that sound, that magic that is the Stones in flight. It’s jangly, it’s messy, it’s bluesy and it fucking rocks.

Scorcese had his work cut out for him, capturing this spectacle, at which he both succeeds and fails. We’re treated to incredible footage from great angles, and the picture quality is fantastic. But it’s mostly like watching a strobe-light being swung around the room. Too many camera-switches makes it impossible to actually enjoy a lot of the footage. It’s a shame. In his panic to give us everything, Scorcese hurt my eyes and offered up only fleeting flashes of greatness.

Nevermind, the music is phenomenal, the guests are interesting, and that one of a kind Stones energy is definitely present. And that’s all that matters.

*NB: There’s more favourites coming up next, so be ready!

Danny Michel – Feather, Fur & Fin

I found my first Danny Michel album during my first trip to the Vinyl Diner. Aaron – who, it should be noted, had lived in Saskatoon for something like 24 years less than I had at that point – had discovered the place and took me there on one Monday afternoon. He introduced me to Stu, the proprietor, who was a very nice guy who (mostly) suppressed the eye-rolls brought on by the stack of CDs I was trading in.

With a pile of store credit, I plowed through the used CD racks and took a stack of discs home. Truth be told, most of what I picked up that day eventually found its way back to Stu’s, but Danny Michel’s album Fibsville has a permanent home in my CD collection. Sometimes, you hear an album and it just instantly appeals to you; this was one of those for me. Since then, I’ve picked up the rest of his records, the live DVD, and I’ve seen him in concert three times – but I’ve always held a soft spot for Fibsville.

Which is why I’m surprised to say that Feather, Fur & Fin easily tops it.

The press release touts Feather, Fur & Fin as Michel’s first truly independent release since 2001. From the very first listen, it’s clear that this (new? familiar?) arrangement suits Michel well. I don’t know if its the lack of record company interference or just the freedom that comes from making all your own decisions, but the ten songs here all count among the strongest that he’s ever written. The album trends towards longer, slower tunes, but there’s still the one-two punch of I’m ‘a Love You Anyway and Sweet Things, two of the more energetic songs in Michel’s catalogue. And topics like religion and the environment (and, uh, Mexican wrestling) creep into Danny’s lyrics for the first time, giving the album a bit more of a personal feel than long-time listeners would be used to.

Of course, anyone who knows me would suspect that I’d give a positive review to any album featuring a track about lucha libre (“The 14 Masks of Danger”). This is possibly true. I especially appreciated the reference to El Santo, as I wasn’t expecting the song to mention any actual specific luchadors. And I checked with Cubs, and the other wrestler mentioned – The Black Tornado – was a real guy too. I thought that the name might have been a reference to Danny’s song Black Tornadoes from his previous release, but Cubs says that Santo won the mask (“or his hair or something”) of Tornado Negro way back when. Though ultimately, I suspect that Danny Michel just knows a few names and is not exactly a die-hard lucha fan; I’ve listened to Fibsville a fair bit, and the song Souvenir indicates that Danny and pro wrestling don’t see eye-to-eye (A shiny gladiator cage / for pay-per-view and caveman rage / it’s the ultimate bullshit parade). But hey, I could be wrong. Maybe he just doesn’t like MMA.

As mentioned, Feather, Fur & Fin is an independent release, and the problem with doing everything yourself is that you have to do everything yourself. This includes distribution, which means that you might have a hard time finding it. As of this writing, the album is only available online, at shows, and in select independent music stores. Sure, it’s easy enough to order CDs online or buy digital downloads, but will people take a chance on it? It would be a shame if this album didn’t find an audience.

That was a pretty gushing review, complete with blatant plugs. I’ll balance it out by saying I could have done without the backing vocals in If God’s On Your Side. I’m all about being fair and responsible.

SLCR #131: Danny Michel (April 1, 2008)

All credit for this one has to go to Feely. Once again, there was a concert, and once again, I had nobody to go with, and once again, I thought about skipping out. So I sat down for a chat online as I tried to make up my mind.

JamesEarthquake: Feely

OMG its Feely: hi
JamesEarthquake: should I go to Danny Michel
JamesEarthquake: nobody wants to go
JamesEarthquake: and I am poor anyway
JamesEarthquake: so in theory I should not go
JamesEarthquake: but I love Danny Michel
OMG its Feely: I’d go
OMG its Feely: fuck em
OMG its Feely: go see your canada man
JamesEarthquake: a valid argument and the best I have heard all day
OMG its Feely: sweet

So I went. The promise of Danny Michel’s new CD, Feather, Fur & Fin, pushed me over the edge.

I am always careful to not show up too early for these types of events, as I don’t want to be sitting around by myself. I am pretty confident in my appropriate-arrival-time-choosing abilities, but I packed my DS just in case. The website said 8:00 – 11:30, but websites can lie, so I showed up about 8:50 or so. Some girl was playing the keyboards. She sang for about 30 seconds, thanked us, and left the stage. The host guy who was handling introductions asked for one more round of applause for Regina’s own Brittany Kraus, so let’s assume that’s her name. What I heard was perfectly fine.

There wasn’t a whole lot of time between sets, but I did get the chance to pick up the new Danny Michel CD as well as a Diet Pepsi. You care.

It was probably about 9:15 when Danny Michel took the stage. It had been a long day for young Daniel, who had driven 10 hours to get here. He did, however, leave himself a bit of time to go shopping at the local Value Village, where he found a vintage amp. He paid $25, which was a wonderful deal. Not just because the amp was worth a lot more, but because inside of the amp was a song, apparently written by the amp’s previous owner. Tonight, Danny promised, he would perform this song.

As I was leaving my apartment, I loaded up my jacket pockets. Wallet and keys are essential. The DS seemed like a good idea. It’s still chilly enough that I keep gloves in my pockets. There was a pack of gum (Dentyne Blast Chocomint). And… do I really need my camera? Really? I was just about to head out, when I decided that I may as well bring my camera along. And now I was suddenly so, so thankful.

Before we could unearth this hidden gem, Danny played us a few of his classics, including Perfect, White Lightning, and Toledo, which is one of my favourites. He also told us about finding himself on the guest list to see Ministry in Alberta. This is why, when he asked us what style he should play when performing this new song, someone yelled for Ministry. And he did it. Danny Michel is a very polite, clean-cut fellow with a voice that’s just high enough that you might question his ability to do a good death metal voice. You should not question his death metal voice. It’s so awesome. But not as awesome as the song itself. Titled “So Long,” it was the best thing I’ve ever heard. I recorded this performance for myself, but the camerawork is pretty shaky because I kept laughing.

I was sitting off to the side, watching the show and occasionally taking illicit videos, but I seemed to be sitting in heckler’s row. Sitting two to my left was the guy who yelled out for Ministry. When someone else yelled “Danny Michel for Prime Minister” (Danny was selling “DM for PM in 2010” buttons), this guy responded to Danny’s impromptu campaign promises with a demand for “less talk more rock.” I thought it was a bit much coming from someone who didn’t even look up from his books the whole night, but I’ll give the guy the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he was merely suggesting another campaign promise instead of just being a dick. I mean, I’d vote for a Prime Ministerial candidate whose campaign slogan was “less talk, more rock.” Assuming they actually rocked, that is. Meanwhile, immediately to my right was the guy who yelled that Danny was “a real good guitar tuner.” A few feet from him were the random yellers and the off-beat clapping team. They get rowdy in Regina on an April Fools Tuesday night.

I don’t really know what else there is to say. He played a lot of songs. I liked the songs, including the new ones that I hadn’t heard before. The new album features a song about Mexican wrestling, but he didn’t play that one… well, unless it was steeped in metaphor. Basically, I’ve been promised a Mexican wrestling song, and the sooner I get done this review, the sooner I can listen to the new album and devote some actual attention to it.

There was one encore of one song, a Los Lobos cover. He led the crowd in singing the chorus, then unplugged from his amplifier and played the guitar as he walked offstage. It was a pretty cool way to end the show. I’d have taken more songs, but I was certainly happy with what we got. And though he may have been tired (and the crowd was both smaller and less receptive than you’d think, resulting in a show that – as a whole – didn’t quite compare to the other two times I’ve seen him), he still stuck around and chatted with everyone as they left. What a cool guy. I got my CDs signed and took a picture because hassling the marginally famous ensures good times for all.

In closing, I should mention that Danny is up for a Juno award for best DVD. The first time I saw him, he was up for Best New Artist and promised to lose to Michael Bublé, which he did. On this night, he once again vowed to lose, though he wasn’t picking a winner this time. He did say that the Juno folks wanted to know about his limo plans for the ceremony. He emailed them back and told them that because he loves the environment, he and his date would be arriving on bicycles. I think he was kidding. But they thought this was a great idea, so I think he might actually do it. You might want to check that out, it could be funny. He might even ride his bike all the way up the red carpet as promised, though I don’t think he’ll go through with his plan of locking his bike to Ben Mulroney and drinking the night away. At least, not ALL of that plan.

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