Today, Local Spins kicks off a new series from writer Ross Boissoneau exploring recordings that most influenced the careers and artistry of well-known Michigan musicians. We start with Brian Vander Ark.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians and songwriters can trace their inspiration to a few key recordings that captivated them and helped shape their musical careers. Often, it says a lot about their own music. So today, Local Spins and writer Ross Boissoneau kick off a new series interviewing well-known Michigan musicians and songwriters about the “Top 3 Albums” that have influenced them the most. Plus, we ask them to name a contemporary artist who’s at the top of their current playlist. We’ll also include audio links so readers can hear just what made these albums so inspiring.
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Brian Vander Ark is best known as leader of The Verve Pipe, which has produced a slew of popular alt-rock albums over the Michigan band’s 20-plus year career. They include two family-friendly albums. He’s also found success as a solo artist, treading some of the same ground, though often in a more acoustic manner. That includes an album with fingerstyle guitarist/singer and acclaimed actor Jeff Daniels, with whom he has toured.
BRIAN VANDER ARK: Three albums that changed my world
1. Harry Chapin, “Greatest Stories Live” – A huge inspiration for me when I was playing the Holiday Inn bars/restaurants in high school. This album helped shaped my performance skills – how to marry music and stories at a live show. Also, how to write better, in a linear way. Listen here: Greatest Stories Live
2. Bruce Springsteen, “Nebraska” – When I was in the Army, my base in Nurnburg had a library with an amazing album collection, property of U.S. government stickers on all of it. I would hide out there for hours – no one thought to check the library for slackers. I played this album incessantly. I loved the simplicity of it. Just a vocal and acoustic guitar, but so powerful. Still a favorite. Listen here: Nebraska
3. Bob Mould, “Workbook” – Bob Mould left his punk band Hüsker Dü and made a solo record – rock/acoustic. The songs are terrific, and I loved the use of cello to keep things melancholy. I’m still a huge fan of his. His latest album is terrific, but Workbook started it all for me. Listen here: Workbook
Currently Loving: Elbow. I highly recommend them. Terrific melodies, great lyrics. They’ve been together since the early 1990s, like my band. But I’ve just discovered them in the last few years. My wife and I don’t go to shows because I play so much, but we’ve made them our destination concerts – so far in Scotland, where they play arenas, and in Chicago and San Diego, where they play 300-seat venues. Listen here: Elbowrooms
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