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Wednesday, March 20,2013

Turn it down

A survey of Lansing's musical landscape

by Rich Tupica
Photo by Jessica Cowles
Joshua Davis at (SCENE)

Steppin’ In It lead singer Joshua Davis releases his third rootsy solo album, “A Miracle of Birds,” Friday at (SCENE) Metrospace. Backing Davis is Laura Bates, Jen Sygit, Mike Lynch and Geoff Lewis. Davis’ new album was inspired by a trip he made last year to the West Bank. A nonprofit, On the Ground, recruited Davis to perform shows each night of a five-day, 129-mile benefit marathon. The run was a fundraiser for fair trade farming communities in the West Bank. Half of the proceeds from the record will go back to help fund the organization’s work in Palestine. As for the new disc, it reflects the spirituals Davis sang on the trip and bits in the Old Testament — most of the tunes use imagery from the Torah and other Jewish and Islamic texts.

Fri., March 22, (SCENE) Metrospace, 110 Charles St., East Lansing, all ages, $10, 7 p.m.


Free Tyler Vander Maas jazz gig

The Tyler Vander Maas Big Band & Sax Quartet plays a free performance of original arrangements and compositions — and even some Beatles tunes. The group’s bio says the group “combines raw intensity with a quirky spirit, keeping the audience on their toes in anticipation of the next shift in emotion.” The show happens Saturday at the MSU College of Music building on campus. In 2007, Vander Maas entered the Jazz Studies program at Michigan State University, directed by Rodney Whitaker. The program allowed him to study with world-class musicians and perform with jazz greats, including Mulgrew Miller, Wycliffe Gordon and Jimmy Heath. He received his undergraduate degree in 2011. 

Sat., March 23, MSU College of Music, Room 120, East Lansing, FREE, all ages, 7 p.m.


Hank & Cupcakes at The Loft

Fans of minimal rock duos might want to check out New York-based Hank & Cupcakes, which brings its brand of “edgy pop” to The Loft on Sunday. The primitive disco sound is stripped down to only bass (Hank) and drums and vocals (Cupcakes). The Ledge and Jory Stultz open the show. Hank & Cupcakes play a Yeah Yeah Yeahs-brand of danceable, electro-rock, which can be heard on the pair’s latest release, the “Ain’t No Love” EP. It features the single "Sweet Potion" and was released in late 2012. Since forming in 2008, the band has received a pile of positive press. Here’s what Time Out New York had to say about the twosome: “Williamsburg duo Hank & Cupcakes pumps out tight, funky indie pop with impressively sturdy hooks.”

Sun., March 24, The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, all ages, $8, $5 advance, 8 p.m.


Malcolm Holcombe at Pump House

Born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Malcolm Holcombe has been steadily building cred in the contemporary U.S. and European folk/Americana community. Rolling Stone described his acoustic sound as “haunted country” and “rugged folk.” He plays the Pump House Concert series on Sunday. Holcombe’s bio says his songwriting hovers between “earthy solidity and rustic mysticism” and is topped off with a “rhythmic pounce.” His new album, “Down the River,” is his ninth. One stand-out track on the new disc is “Trail of Money,” a duet with Steve Earle. For those who prefer genuine Nashville-style songwriting fit for a smoky honky-tonk, this show is worth checking out.

Sun., March 24, Pump House, 368 Orchard St., East Lansing, all ages, $15 donation, 7 p.m.


Lucero at The Loft

Alt-country punk heroes Lucero play The Loft March 27 in support of the band’s seventh studio album, “Women & Work.” Opening the show is Frank and Earnest, a Lansing-based pop punk band. Lucero was formed in Memphis, Tenn., in the late ‘90s. The guys took their band name from the Spanish word meaning “bright star” — perhaps a nod to fellow Memphians, Big Star? The sextet, who cites The Clash, The Replacements and Bruce Springsteen as influences, released its self-titled debut in 2001. Soon the band was on Rolling Stone’s “Hot List” after dropping its third record, “That Much Further West.” More recently the band opened a tour for Social Distortion and switched to a new label, ATO Records.

Wed., March 27, The Loft, 414 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, all ages, $20, $18 advance, 8 p.m.

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