I will not be reviewing any of the shows that I post on this website because I've never been good at analyzing beyond a simple "I like it" or "it's not my thing". All I ever really ask of music is that it brings something to the table. I'll leave the critiquing and dissection to others that are better at it than I.

Thanks always to the bands/artists for the great music and for allowing me to do this.

Drunken Barn Dance is Scott Sellwood, also of Saturday Looks Good to Me, often performing solo but occasionally joined by a group of fellow Michigan musicians. The first time I saw Scott back in 2006, I was immediately drawn to his directly honest songwriting that clearly paints the people, places and events of his life, warts and all. The songs generally bear a strong influence from lo-fi indie acts like The Mountain Goats (who he covers twice here) and Guided by Voices, with a folk tinge. In the past I waited for Scott to let me know which recordings he was okay with being released to the wild, but this time when I talked to Scott he told me to go ahead and put up what I liked. Here to make him question that decision are my two three four favorite recordings from Drunken Barn Dance, each one displaying a slightly different facet of his live performances. All of them were recorded at Ypsilanti’s popular Elbow Room.

2007-06-25 – Drunken Barn Dance, Frontier Ruckus, Fred Thomas & Palomar

I really like how this one came out, with Scott played solo acoustic guitar this night. Songs include the debut of “Promises End”, which appeared a year later on the limited The First State, Non-Tour EP., as well as two other songs. The set finished with a suitably noisy version of The Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton”.

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Listen to “Third Wheel’s a Charm” from this show.

2008-01-04 – Cheap Girls, A Light in August, Drunken Barn Dance & Matt Jones

Scott’s playing solo again but this time on electric guitar, which was a good thing due to the loud crowd. Notable this night are two fantastic covers, an a cappella version of Liz Phair’s “Perfect World” and The Beatles’ ‘Dig a Pony’, plus an early (first?) performance of “Guilt”.

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Listen to “Perfect World” from this show.

2008-02-01 – Brown Bird & Annie Palmer, That’s Him! That’s The Guy!, Matt Jones & Drunken Barn Dance

An early full-band gig, featuring Scott DeRoche (guitar), Joe Scott (bass), Greg McIntosh (banjo) and Ryan Howard (drums). I love the performances of “The Last Desperate Stand of the Last Fair Man” and “Leaving Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin…” here. Also, Joe Scott’s backing vocals fit in very well, especially on “Fireworks (Never Tell)”.

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Listen to “Fireworks (Never Tell)” from this show.

2008-10-04 – A Light in August, Drunken Barn Dance & September On

A full-band set again, This time with Scott DeRoche (guitar), Jim Roll (bass) and Ryan Howard (drums). The band are stretching their legs now and I especially like Scott DeRoche’s guitar work here. Another Mountain Goats cover tonight, “International Small Arms Traffic Blues”, as well as great versions of “The Guest List” and “You Left the Wrong Girl”.

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Listen to “Evelyn Wears a Tiara” from this show.

Drunken Barn Dance – MySpace Page
Next show – 2008-12-09 – The Pike Room, Pontiac, MI – 8:00 PM
Make a note – 2008-12-26 through 28 – Mittenfest 2008, The Elbow Room, Ypsilanti, MI
Download the shows:
2007-06-25 – FLAC or MP3
2008-01-04 – FLAC or MP3
2008-02-01 – FLAC or MP3
2008-10-04 – FLAC or MP3

Arbor Vitae Loft, Ann Arbor, MI

About a month ago I posted two sets from this Arbor Vitae show, Chris Bathgate and Saturday Looks Good To Me. Now I’m pleased to bring you a third performance – Drunken Barn Dance ( or DBD for short). I suppose that I had a soft spot for DBD from the first because he reminds me of two of my favorite singer-songwriters: Michael Penn and, especially, Freedy Johnston. This particular set starts out solo, but ends as a three-piece featuring Joe and Ryan of Canada. You should see more live dates popping up as the year goes on, and I highly recommend you get out there to some.

As a bonus, I’ve been allowed to include a recording from last year’s great Ypsi-Songs CD release party. The song, Circle the Wagons, has been retired, so here’s a rare chance for you to hear the live version of a sweet tune about Ypsilanti, Michigan’s venerable bar, The Elbow Room.

Drunken Barn Dance – MySpace Page
Next performance: June 25, 2007 – The Elbow Room, Ypsilanti, MI – 9:00 PM
Download the show – FLAC or MP3

Arbor Vitae Loft, Ann Arbor, MI

Sunday evening and it was time to head out to Ann Arbor and the Arbor Vitae Loft. I had heard that the venue was located above Wazoo Records, so I made sure to give myself an extra hour-and-a-half so that I could browse a while before the show. Managed to score some good stuff but left behind even more that I wanted. I recommend that everyone drop by if they find themselves around the corner of South State and East Liberty streets. Schoolkids Records in Exile is a couple more doors down State St., so go there, too.

The idea behind this rather informal show was to raise a little extra cash for Saturday Looks Good To Me’s European Tour (going on now!) and on the bill was a powerhouse line-up of some of Ann Arbor’s biggest rising stars. First up was the lush orchestral pop of Canada and they did a great job of getting things going. I had caught half of their set at the CD release show for Chris Bathgate’s A Cork Tale Wake and was instantly smitten with their lush and, at the same time, energetic brand of pop music. In a town full of great musical acts, Canada is definitely one to watch.

Next up was Chris Bathgate performing a short solo set featuring an array of looper and sampler pedals. I’ve seen him perform three times now, twice solo and once with a backing band, and each time he has offered a new way to hear the songs. If you have the opportunity, make sure that you catch him live because you never know what to expect. And go buy A Cork Tale Wake. It’s absolutely amazing.

Following Chris was a rare appearance by Drunken Barn Dance. I was initially disappointed by a lack of drunkenness and dancing, but that soon faded as the warm folk-y pop filled the air. Starting out solo on guitar and later joined by bass and drums, Drunken Barn Dance played a great set of songs that was over too soon.

Rounding out the night was Saturday Looks Good To Me (or SLGTM) with a set of their sunny indie-pop tunes. With a sound that brings to mind The Beach Boys and The Kinks without actually sounding like them, SLGTM have the type of sound that’ll get even the most steadfast curmudgeon’s toes tapping. Things are really looking up for these guys, as they’ll be opening up some European dates for Of Montreal and have an upcoming record due on Seattle’s K Records (Beat Happening, Modest Mouse). And as far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.

Canada – Official Site, MySpace Page
Next performance: May 30, 2007 – Small’s, Hamtramck, MI – 08:00 PM
It has been requested that I hold this show until the band has been able to hear it. If it is approved I’ll post a new blog entry for it when posted.

Chris Bathgate – MySpace Page
Next performance: Currently with SLGTM in Europe. Next local date is May 31, 2007 – Mac’s Bar, Lansing, MI – 8:00 PM.
Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Drunken Barn Dance – MySpace Page
Next performance: June 25, 2007 – The Elbow Room, Ypsilanti, MI – 9:00 PM
It’s been approved. Download the show: FLAC or MP3

Saturday Looks Good To Me – Official Site, MySpace Page
Next performance: Currently taking Europe by storm. They will return to the U.S. at the end of May.
As per my agreement with the band, this download has been removed. Thanks to the people from all over the world who have checked out my site and downloaded the show.

And that, folks, will do it for SEMI-Live!’s first operational week. I want to take just a moment to again thank all of the local artists that have allowed me to record them and share the recordings here and the other bands that have given me encouragement and expressed interest in what I’m doing. Thanks to the other local tapers that have given me tips on taping and have offered to share their collections with me. You guys rock and I’m sure I’ll be taking you all up on your offers sooner rather than later.

Also, big thanks to Jasper over at Webvomit who has been really supportive ever since I brought up the idea to him of what I wanted to do and has been cool enough to post links in his blog every time I’ve updated here. If you catch him at a show during one of the brief periods that he steps out of the shadows, buy him a drink. And thanks to Motor City Rocks and the Detroit Dish for the mention and the link, given without me even asking for it. And, especially, thanks to everyone who’s downloaded these shows and maybe shared them with your friends. That’s the reason I’m doing this

Now get out there and see some live music!
Wayne (Paramnesiac)

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