The Accidentals, with help from singer-songwriter and Michigan native Marshall Crenshaw, stole the show during the final Tuesday Evening Music Club show of the summer at Meijer Gardens. Photos, video.
From the first time acclaimed singer-songwriter and producer Marshall Crenshaw heard The Accidentals a couple of years ago – online via the ReverbNation website – he realized the Traverse City indie-folk band stood out from the rest of the pack.
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“I said, ‘All right. This is like a remarkable thing,’ ” Crenshaw recalled, chatting back stage in Grand Rapids Tuesday before an unusual all-star performance at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park featuring Crenshaw, The Accidentals, singer-songwriters Ralston Bowles and Peter Mulvey, rapper Rick Chyme and others.
“They just have natural ability. They’re children of artists. They have a work ethic about their art and they understand how to approach the process.”
That first entirely random exposure to the music of then-teenagers Savannah Buist and Katie Larson quickly led Crenshaw to invite the duo to New Jersey to record songs with Grammy Award-winning producer Stewart Lerman. The rest is, well, history in the making.
Crenshaw, a Michigan native who made a splash in the 1980s with rock/pop songs such as “Someday, Someway,” is spearheading The Accidentals’ upcoming new album – the first project that longtime friends Crenshaw and Lerman are producing together.
Crenshaw said he’s already shopping the band’s music to record labels. He wouldn’t elaborate further, except to say prospects are very promising for the indie-folk band – now a trio with drummer Michael Dause – that’s already attracted attention from Billboard magazine, attendees at 2015’s South by Southwest music conference and hordes of fans across the country.
In an exclusive interview prior to the The Accidentals’ concert this week as part of the Tuesday Evening Music Club series at Meijer Gardens, Crenshaw raved about the talent and professionalism of a band whose members haven’t yet reached the age of 21. Crenshaw flew in from New York just to perform with the group for the first time ever on Tuesday.
REGIONAL MUSIC SHOWCASE WITH A BRACING FINALE
And it was a true showcase of rootsy regional music in the “Ralston & Friends” show hosted by Bowles for the Tuesday Evening Music Club finale with performances by artists from Detroit, Milwaukee, Traverse City, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
The Accidentals so far have laid down eight or nine new tracks with Crenshaw and Lerman, with another recording session scheduled for September. With their lyrics and music, Crenshaw said, band members demonstrate a wisdom far beyond their years.
Crenshaw also praised the band’s audience- and critic-pleasing live performances, noting he was in Austin, Texas, earlier this year to experience one of The Accidentals’ showcases at the prestigious South by Southwest music conference.
“They’re killer,” he said of the set they unleashed. “They go out there with the instinct of a killer. It was really something.”
Indeed, the trio proved that again with its Meijer Gardens performance this week, stealing the show with energetic and engaging, instrument-swapping prowess that included backing Crenshaw on some of his songs as well as uncorking their own innovative, genre-bending material. It was the first time that The Accidentals have ever performed in public with Crenshaw.
And in typical, self-effacing Accidentals fashion, Buist credited Michigan’s vibrant music scene for creating the environment that’s generated attention and acclaim for the band’s music.
“It’s only possible because of things like this, which don’t happen anywhere else,” she told Grand Rapids fans during the collaborative evening of regional music.
Indeed, despite the unseasonably cool conditions, even the audience got into the act, singing along enthusiastically at the end of the night to The Accidentals’ refrain of “Michigan, and again, and again, and again, and again,” with the entire cast of the evening’s musicians on stage along with their relatives and friends.
A resident of New York who returns regularly to his home state, Crenshaw earlier this month released a new pop-hued rock album of his own, “#392: The EP Collection,” and is also creating music for an upcoming HBO series, “Vinyl,” while continuing to work with The Accidentals.
And he’s convinced the enthusiastic Traverse City musicians are poised to break out nationally based on their “impressive ability” and attitude.
“They’re young and they’re precocious,” he declared.
The Accidentals currently are on a short Midwest tour before heading out to Virginia for the Appaloosa Festival in early September. They also perform Sept. 25 in Grand Rapids during ArtPrize and are part of an impressive regional lineup at the Fountain Point Music Festival at Lake Leelanau’s Fountain Point Resort on Sept. 27. Others on that bill include The Crane Wives, Appleseed Collective and The Outer Vibe.
Crenshaw returns to Michigan to play a full solo show on Oct. 1 at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids, with Bowles opening the show. Get tickets ($18 advance) and more information about that show online here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Tuesday Evening Music Club photos by Anna Sink
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