March 18th show at The Strutt

By August Smith

UPDATE : We just got a track from Aaron Young & His NightJars, check it out at the bottom of the post!

“Alright, Kalamazoo, how about some some soul?”

The rhetorical question, bellowed by frontman Graham Parsons (middle) in between songs, could become an adopted tag line for Kalamazoo band Graham Parsons and the Go Rounds. The groups signature sound is like a scattershot of genres: they appear to measure out equal heaping tablespoons of funk, rock, folk, and jazz sensibilities. Of course, the emotion and moxie of the band is nothing simpler than practiced Midwestern and Michigander soul.

The Go-Rounds are sort of a “supergroup” of experienced Michigan musicians. Graham Parsons leads Grant Littler on guitar, Tod Kloosterman on bass, Andy Catlin on keyboards and synth, and Adam Danis on drums; the members have been part of musical projects in the past (read more about it here) and this is readily apparent while watching the Go-Rounds.

Opening for this Kalamazoo powerhouse on Thursday night was Aaron Young and His Nightjars. Gushing with a genuine Americana sound and sporting a freewheeling and infectious energy felt in the feet of the audience, this Kalamazoo-based band is a pleasure to hear. It goes beyond hearing, too, as this band radiates a vibe; each song is armed with catchy hooks and playful lyrics. Aaron Young’s unique voice leads the fray, with Matt Wood, Bobby Blackwood, Tyler Bassett, and Steve Welch jamming in tow. The band is exemplified by this experience: I woke up the day after the concert and found my self humming the loose shuffle of “Two Steppin’” for a few hours, a residual snippet from the night before. This is a satisfying band that sticks with you.

The Nightjars began the evening’s festivities with the musical equivalent of a slice of apple pie: a devil-may-care shambling piece of country folk rock, with the ice cream on top being Aaron Young’s veritable vocals and the remarkable bass guitar work. The set continued as the Nightjars absorbed their audience with slower tunes, and then relieved them (and inspired some spontaneous dancing) with more upbeat, foot-stomping songs. The Nightjars were a tight group when needed (with a layering of three guitars and the occasional electric piano blast for musical punctuation) but they knew when to let loose and jam. Some amusing on-stage antics, including Aaron making up a few jingles in between songs and the bass player deciding when he did and didn’t want to play, enhanced the performance, and the crowd applauded, obviously satisfied and ready for part two.

Graham Parson’s and the Go-Rounds started their act with a brute-force attack of emotion. Their first song (the name of which I am not familiar) is absolute evidence of the band’s musical prowess. The lyrics were poignant. The quiet melody initially threw-back to Graham Parson’s roots in the folk group The Squeaky Clean Cretins, but quickly began to saunter between that slow sound and a musical uppercut of synthesizers, crash cymbals, yelling, and thrashed guitars. The show continued from that overture, and the wooden floor before the band transformed into a wooden dance floor. As the collective bravery of the audience grew, the Go-Rounds shifted the musical focus to soul and danceable rock and roll. The lights shimmered and the people danced and the band played, and then once again it was time to slow it down; the Go-Rounds pulled the audience into more melodious songs. And then the dancing started up again.

Each band’s musical attributes complimented the other like the edges of coupled jigsaw pieces, and in the end, everyone was thoroughly entertained. For me, March 18th at The Strutt was a fantastic example of the great music Michigan has to offer.

Direct your web browser to the bands’ websites below!

Graham Parsons and the Go-Rounds

Aaron Young and His Nightjars