Sav and Katie of The Accidentals, Megan Slankard and Stephie James delivered an intimate “Time Out” showcase on a night that also boasted release of a new Michigan-focused double-album for a good cause.
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When Grand Rapids’ Listening Room first opened in October, the space drew a lot of attention from live music connoisseurs in the Grand Rapids area. Hundreds flocked to see the venue whose owners promised a unique, intimate way to experience a live show, and the venue delivered on its promise, complete with top-notch audio quality.
Sav Buist and Katie Larson of Traverse City’s The Accidentals kept the momentum of that hype going Monday night as they took the stage with San Francisco-based indie-rocker Megan Slankard and Nashville-based songwriter Stephie James, formerly of Detroit.
Monday’s show marked the official beginning of Local Spins’ “Michigan Mondays” series, as well as release of a new “Michigan Music” double- album, sporting contributions from 33 Michigan artists. CD sales were brisk on Monday, and all the proceeds will go to Grand Rapids-based singer-songwriter Ralston Bowles, whose wife, Cindy, is battling cancer. (Purchase the album online here.)
Buist and Larson have been touring relentlessly as The Accidentals for several years, along with percussionist Michael Dause. Monday’s entertainment was part of their series of stripped-down “Time Out” shows with Slankard and James, and the four treated their time on stage like an extended Tiny Desk concert, supplementing their songs with delightful banter and personal stories.
The four friends — who also play Cathedral Barn at Historic Barns Park in Traverse City on Wednesday — were in rare form as they swapped instruments and vocal duties throughout the two-hour set of Americana and alt-folk music, and the space they were in served them well: Listening Room feels completely isolated from the rest of the bustling activity at Studio Park, allowing listeners to forget that they’re inside of a multi-million-dollar entertainment and housing complex.
VIDEO: “Across the Universe,” Sav, Katie, Megan & Stephie at Listening Room
Buist, Larson and company used the intimacy of the Listening Room’s stage to their advantage on Monday, taking the opportunity to connect with the audience between every song and share the origins of each selection. It was a rare and honest glimpse into the creative process, as the performers enthralled their audience with hilarious and captivating tales of writers’ block, Steve McQueen movies, and melodies written in bathroom stalls.
“This next one’s a song that took me a long time to write,” Larson quipped in one introduction. “It’s about procrastination.”
At one point, Slankard even abandoned her trademark wit to offer valuable advice to aspiring musicians, encouraging artists to avoid comparing themselves to others and decrying the notion that art is a competition.
The four chose to end their time on stage with a Beatles cover, a ridiculously gorgeous rendition of “Across the Universe.” (The Accidentals are officially releasing a rendition of the tune on Christmas Day.)
The tender ballad elicited a standing ovation from the seated audience of nearly 200 — a small detail, maybe, but one that likely would’ve been absent from other venues.
The next Michigan Mondays concert features Detroit-based roots rock band The Gasoline Gypsies playing an all-acoustic show on Dec. 16. Tickets are just $5 and available online here. Kalamazoo hip hop cellist Jordan Hamilton plays the series on Jan. 27.
PHOTO GALLERY: Sav Buist, Katie Larson, Stephie James, Megan Slankard
‘Time Out’ at Listening Room
Photos by Anna Sink
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC