Danny Michel’s hometown return

“It’s good to be home,” remarked Danny Michel to an admiring crowd during his concert last Thursday.

Michel, Kitchener-Waterloo’s own Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, played at Starlight with his Sunset Sea Band on Wednesday and Thursday of last week to promote his eighth record, Sunset Sea, which was released on Canada Day this year.

Michel played several songs from his new record, which was written and recorded in a variety of locations though the majority was conceived and produced in Belize.

While usually utilising a mainly rock influenced sound, for his new album Michel introduces more reggae-type beats.

The distinctive guitar, woodwind and percussion sounds are even at times reminiscent of Paul Simon’s widely acclaimed Graceland.

In this considerably new style, Michel’s fondness for Belize and its culture is clearly affirmed.

Michel also played several popular songs from previous albums, such as “Whale of a Tale”, “Tennessee Tobacco” and “Invisible Man”.

He also played the song recently selected to represent the province of Ontario for the David Suzuki Foundation’s Playlist for the Planet, “Feather, Fur and Fin”.

Together, Michel and his full band charmed the audience with engaging stories, witty stage banter and high energy.

Michel, on guitar (and sometimes harmonica), was supported by an electric banjo, a full drum kit, keyboards, saxophone, and both electric and double bass.

One of his band members also demonstrated keen ability on the clarinet, proving that the woodwind instrument is as good as any for a great rock solo.

A highlight of the evening was the opening act, another local singer-songwriter named Andy McGuire.

McGuire, who is actually an employee at the Starlight, soothed the crowd with his laidback folksy acoustic style.

Michel helped produce McGuire’s first record which was available for sale after the show.

Throughout the whole show, both the musicians and the audience members were clearly having a great time.

With plenty of occasion for audience participation, it was a particularly interactive atmosphere at Starlight on Thursday night.

This, when coupled with the small venue itself, made for not only an entertaining evening but an intimate one as well.

The audience boasted members of both the younger and older generations, though the younger adults definitely could have been better represented, especially for a show with such energy and charm.

At one point Michel, preparing to do a song sans band, asked his audience, “Do you want this song to have the sweet ending or the rock ‘n’ roll ending?”

Of course the vote was unanimous for rock and roll.

And of course, Danny Michel is a man who won’t let a crowd down.

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