By Kristi Kates
Michigan transplant Dick Siegel, born in New Jersey but now firmly a
part of the Detroit music scene, has become well-known over the years
for his quirky lyrics, singer-songwriter styling, and his unique
fusion of roots, folk, and jazz.
You may have heard him on NPR (hes made stops most prominently on
segments All Things Considered and Mountain Stage), heard about his
latest album, Fighting for King George, or seen him perform live. And
now Northern Michiganders will have a chance to see Siegel live on
stage in Petoskey with his trio, the Brandos, performing at the
Crooked Tree Arts Center, Saturday, Feb. 5.
TUNING AND TEACHING
Given Siegels long career to date - hes been in the music business
for over 25 years - one might assume hed be slowing down by now. But
thats not in the cards for this veteran performer.
Lately, Ive been working hard playing guitar, writing songs, finding
inspiration in the crazy and profound goings-on of life day to day,
and putting it to music, Siegel says. And Im putting together a
live album culled from a year and a half of Dick Siegel and the
Brandos performances. Were also spending time in the studio, playing
like we do on stage, honing our ability to bring the excitement of the
live show into the controlled studio environment. The studio album
will be all new material; the live album will be stocked with the best
of old and new from our shows.
In addition to his own musical endeavors, Siegel says, hes also
wearing an educators hat, with his visiting professorship at the
University of Michigan.
Im teaching a songwriting course, he explains, its called The
Singing Out of Our Minds Songwriting Workshop. Its very cool, and I
love doing it - shepherding the talents of some very talented people,
getting into songs work, how to make them better, and immersing
ourselves in the great roots songs that so much of contemporary
songwriting spring from.
BACK TO RETRO
When asked what of todays contemporary songwriting Siegel, himself,
is inspired by, he actually steps back far more than looking toward
the future, referring mostly to the early music hes been sharing with
his U of M class.
The Carter Family, Stephen Foster, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Irving
Berlin, he begins, Im inspired by Miles Davis hypnotically melodic
music. And Im inspired by the music that emerges when I get together
to rehearse with my gifted trio-mates, guitarist Brian Delaney and
upright bassist Dave Roof.
Locally, hes a fan of May Erlewine, Seth Bernard, Micah Middaugh of
Breathe Owl Breath, Erin Zindle of The Ragbirds, and the Ann Arbor
band My Dear Disco - and hes got plenty of fans of his own, given the
turnout at his live shows.
Our shows have been a blast, Siegel enthuses, we have kind of a
jazz approach to my songs in that were always improvising, making new
discoveries. We push ourselves. It keeps the music exciting for us and
for our audiences, making that connection.
For Siegels Petoskey show with the Brandos, he says hell be singing
his heart out.
The trio will be shooting off musical sparks, he promises,
masterful upright bass, virtuoso guitar via Dave and Brian. Well
solve a few of lifes mysteries, give people something to laugh about,
and leave them with a song to sing themselves home with.
Dick Siegel and the Brandos will be performing at the Crooked Tree
Arts Center in Petoskey at 8:00 p.m. on February 5, as presented by
the Blissfest Music Organization. For tickets and info, visit
www.blissfest.org or call 231-348-7047. For more info on Siegel and
his band, visit www.dicksiegel.com.