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Local News / Entertainment

Sunday, 20 June, 2010 12:22 PM

Patty Griffin kicks off the 2010 Ann Arbor Summer Festival

Photo Credit: img.coxnewsweb.com

Patty Griffin
by Pete Bublitz
petblitz@yahoo.com

 

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- From the altar of the Ann Arbor Power Center's stage Thursday night, Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller cast down thunder and tranquility with sets featuring homage to their musical influence and samples of their newest compositions.

This visit from the duo and their backup band serves as a single stop in the middle of a tour marking the release of Griffin's album Downtown Church, a more gospel-leaning collection that nevertheless embraces Griffin's country style. At least that's what it sounded like amid two sets of back-and-forth bombastic rockers and acoustic sedations.

The first set belonged to Buddy, although Patty still managed to strut her way on as a backup vocal following the first number. "I slip him $50 every night to let me [sing along]," she joked to the audience later on.

It would seem as though Buddy patterned his song lineup as an ongoing switch between electric and acoustic sound, establishing a minute expectation of what could come next. A portion of it would comprise of selections from the 2009 release Written in Chalk, including the bluesier "Gasoline and Matches" (which according to Miller was in a recent episode of the HBO series True Blood).

Perhaps the most endearing story behind the album was provided by Griffin: "The day it was released, he had to have triple bypass surgery." Be it coincidence or planned timing, Miller was in good spirits to humorously dismiss it as a sales advantage. "it's exciting for the record company."

Overall, Miller, Griffin, and the gang aimed to perform a new take on the old forms for the upcoming era. "The objective was to mess up a few country songs," Miller said, before launching into a Lefty Frizzell-dedicated number that sounded more like a Duane Eddy-at-midnight melody.

With the second set came a role swap as Ms. Griffin was now at the front mic. For her set, as with the theme of the new album, Griffin explained she gained an idea of how to approach it with help from Buddy's iTunes library. "He must have 86,000 songs."

The songs selected for the album, and ended up performed that night, consisted of cover renditions of the likes of Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and the Reverend Alfred G. Carnes, the source material mostly traditional yet at times exhibiting a rockabilly romp right down to the backing whoops.

Yet there was still room for original pieces from Griffin herself such as "Coming Home to Me" and the jest-fully raunchy "Get Ready Marie," which she described as "a sexy song about my grandparents" inspired by their old wedding photo.

The full two hours and a half managed to be one of personal exchange right down to current events, with Patty at one point inquiring about the NBA Finals game seven on behalf of her Boston-based backup musicians.

Despite a reasonable return for an encore, the night seemed to conclude with a somber benediction that fitted the dimming of lights of the words Patty channeled that spanned the legacy of Americana and Spiritual musical across generations.

For more information on the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, visit www.annarborsummerfestival.org.

 

Stay tuned for continuing coverage of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival on AmericaJR.com!

 

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