Seth Glier // The Ark / Jan. 11
Seth Glier compels attention with his powerful falsetto, melodic prowess and what Performer Magazine calls his “intoxicating groove.” This 22-year-old singer, pianist and guitarist, who abandoned studies at the Berklee College of Music after one year because he “decided I should be playing for people and not for grades,” aims straight for the gut and has quickly established himself on the national scene, performing more than 200 shows a year.
Applauded for “the greatest pop songwriting since Billy Joel” by Livingston Taylor, Glier has shared stages with such diverse artists as James Taylor, Mark Knopfler, The Verve Pipe and Ellis Paul, who raves, “Talent like Seth Glier’s brings out the psychic in all of us . . . He’s gonna be huge.” He was raised on the music of Joni Mitchell, Martin Sexton and Randy Newman, but considers his brother to be his greatest influence. “My brother is autistic and non-verbal. I learned to communicate with words better once I realized how to communicate to someone without them,” he says. Seth’s soaring opening set was one of the highlights of the 2012 Ann Arbor Folk Festival. But at 7:30 p.m. on January 11, he will headline his own show at the Ark. Tickets are $15.
Let’s Get Weird // LIVE / Jan. 12
This variety series will feature local music, theater, poets, dance and comedians and creative chaos. And January 12 will be the debut of Let’s Get Weird, featuring the music of Abigail Stauffer, Wolfie Complex and Celsius Electronics along with the creative chaos of Luna Alexander and Matthew Altruda. Threefold Productions will give a peak into their Shakespearean production of Titus Andronicus. Also featured will be Sad Tire Productions writers (Craig Draheim, Kelsea Kerkes, James Walrod & Todd Sheets) and The Sketch Troupe (Craig Draheim, Kelsea Kerkes, James Walrod, Todd Sheets, Kerry Conniff). Shows are all ages, but cater to an adult audience. However, no acts will be vulgar or done in poor taste.
Let’s Get Weird premiers January 12 at LIVE in Ann Arbor. Doors are at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. and goes until 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door. The series will span six months. Future dates are February 9, March 9, April 13, May 11 and June 8.
Mike Vial // Woodruff’s / Jan. 12
Mike Vial is an Ann Arbor based singer-songwriter who has been compared to artists such as James Taylor, Ari Hest and Damien Rice. In the spring of 2011, he left his teaching position of eight years to pursue music full-time and hasn’t looked back since. The Lansing State Journal named his EP a “must-have” in Dec. 2011 in their top ten releases, and his new EP made the top download list in December at Noisetrade.com. He has been a guest blogger for CD Baby and Sounds That Matter.
Vial will be performing at 9 p.m. at Woodruff’s with the rest of his band, known as “the Great Lake Effect” (made up of Stuart Tucker on drums, Kevin Vines on bass/vocals, Andrew Vial on bass, David Mosher on mandolin/fiddle/guitar/vocals, Leah Taylor on keys/vocals and Hannah Fralick on guitar/keys/vocals) along with Kelsey Rottiers, Laura K Balke and Carrie McFerrin. Cover is $5.
Jeff Mangum // Redford Theatre / Jan. 12
In October of 2011, as hundreds of protestors were gathering in lower Manhattan for Occupy Wall Street, Jeff Mangum strapped on his guitar and began playing songs from his former band’s 1998 album, “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.” With some help from Livestream, Twitter and rabid word-of-mouth, the impromptu performance received almost immediate nationwide attention.
He’s had several of these spur-of-the-moment performances over the years, peeking his head out from reclusion to the delight of Neutral Milk Hotel fans. The band announced its hiatus 13 years ago, but their fanbase continues to snowball. Countless bands have tried to imitate their legendary last album’s dreamlike poetry and scratchy acoustic instrumentation, but no one has been able to put that kind of magic on a disc.
Mangum announced in November that’d he’d be returning to the touring circuit in 2013, and I expect he’ll receive a warm welcome everywhere he goes. While there can never be another “Aeroplane Over the Sea,” you can expect something special at the Redford Theatre in Detroit on January 12.
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals // Royal Oak Music Theatre / Jan. 17
From a show-stopping Lollapalooza performance to a critically acclaimed album, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals make the list as far as “it” bands go – and they’re certainly one of the hardest working bands out there, having played almost 200 gigs within a year. The band is made up of Grace Potter (its dynamic frontrunner, who is not only a talented lead vocalist but also plays multiple instruments), Scott Tournet (who plays guitar and harmonica), Matthew Burr (drummer), Michael Libramento (bass) and Benny Yurco (electric guitar and vocals).
In 2005, they were nominated in two categories at the Boston Music Awards, and in 2006 they won the Jammy Award for “Best New Groove” and were nominated for two Boston Music Awards. When the band released their third studio recording (self-titled) in June 2010, it peaked at No. 5 on iTunes Top 100 Albums, and #2 on iTunes Rock Albums chart, with two tracks ranking in iTunes Top 100 Rock Songs chart. Their newest album “The Lion The Beast The Beat” was released in June of 2012, debuting at 17 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album chart.
At 7 p.m. on January 17, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals will bring their fierce energy to the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Advance general admission tickets are $25 and reserved are $45.
Gabriel Kahane & yMusic // Arthur Miller Theater / Jan. 17-18
Writing and performing music that moves effortlessly from dense modernism to spare vernacular song, pianist, composer and singer Gabriel Kahane has established himself as a leading voice among a generation of young indie composers redefining music for the 21st century. Kahane performs with a variety of influential artists, including Chris Thile, Brad Mehldau, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and his father, the noted pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane. He has also written the music and lyrics for “February House,” which ran at New York City’s Public Theater in 2012.
New to UMS, but not to Ann Arbor (he has performed at the Kerrytown Concert House), Kahane will be performing songs from his latest album, “Where Are The Arms,” along with material drawn from his diverse songbook and musical theater compositions at 7:30 p.m. on January 17 and at 8 p.m. on January 18 at the Arthur Miller Theatre, where he will perform with friends and collaborators yMusic, featuring guitarist/violinist Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Antony and the Johnsons) and trumpet player CJ Camerieri (Sufjan Stevens, American Composers Orchestra).
fun. // The Fillmore / Jan. 26
If 2012 had an official anthem, it would likely be credited to NYC’s fun. for their inescapable single “We Are Young.” But they have no intentions of resting on that one hit – or resting at all, for that matter. The hard-working and hard-partying threesome were recently nominated for six Grammys, including Album of the Year for sophomore effort “Some Nights.” What began as a comeback project for singer Nate Reuss (formerly of The Format) has already lapped his previous success with an irresistible formula that combines heart-on-your-sleeve with bombastic musical drives. But what’s really great about fun. – and why we want them making anthems for years to come – is their ability to take the small, quiet feelings and problems we all experience and turn them into charging cries that ring throughout the universe. Their January 26 show at the Fillmore in Detroit is already sold out, so you may have to get creative if you want to party with these guys.
Keane // Royal Oak Music Theatre / Jan. 27
In 1997, Chris Martin invited keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley to join his cool new band, Coldplay. In a seemingly simple but ultimately life-bending moment, Rice-Oxley declined the offer and continued playing with The Lotus Eaters, who we know today as Keane. It’s interesting to think how his decision may have altered our current musical landscape: Coldplay’s mostly guitar-driven ballads (think “Parachutes” before Martin developed as a pianist) went on to define twenty-first century stadium rock, while Keane popularized an unfamiliar brand of pop-rock by composing songs around electronically manipulated piano arrangements, leaving guitars completely out of the picture. They’ve since faded a bit in the U.S. – due in part to a mid-00s saturation of similar, stadium-reaching pop – but they’ve continued to sharpen their sound and distinguish themselves, most notably with 2008’s boldly experimental “Perfect Symmetry.” The year of that album’s release, two of Keane’s albums were voted by Q Magazine readers into the top 20 British albums ever made. You’ll get a chance to see why the Brits still rave about this band when they visit the Royal Oak Music Theatre on January 27.