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Turn it Down: Birdie Country and Aaron Jonah Lewis

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Birdie Country

Friday, July 5 @ Mac’s Bar, 2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing. All ages, $10, $8 adv., 7 p.m.

Last week, the Grand Rapids-based band Birdie Country dropped its latest release, “Hit ‘n Run,” a five-song EP. In promotion for the batch of new songs, which are available via Spotify and Bandcamp, the group is hitting the road on a short stint of dates, including spots in Chicago, Madison and Toledo. Friday, Birdie Country opens at Mac’s Bar, along with Paper Lanterns and Small Parks. Headlining the show is Dogleg, an Ann Arbor-based pop-punk outfit.

Meanwhile, Birdie Country performs its own unique brand of poppy indie rock — a sound inspired by the group’s go-to influences, such as Blink-182, Third Eye Blind, My Chemical Romance and Green Day. Formed at Grand Valley State University, the West Michigan quartet comprises lead vocalist and guitarist Matt Clark, bassist Taylor Robida, lead guitarist Sam Bonnette and drummer Charlie Crockatt.

Clark, a GVSU geology major, started as a solo act, but in 2016, he decided to beef up his sound and find a rhythm section. From there, Birdie Country wrote new material and released two EPs, including 2017’s Mission to Mars. Last year, the band released a full-length, “Something to Say.” The LP is stacked with both colossal melodic vibes and positively aggressive tones.

“It’s a collection of songs that thematically intertwine with one another. They all share blunt and honest lyrics,” Clark said. “The objective of every song on the album is to determine a message that we really want to convey, and then drive head-on into that message without hiding behind ambiguity or convoluted metaphor.

“In short, the album is about guts,” he added. “I try to write songs that I would have liked to discover when I was younger and trying to figure myself out and deal with the onslaught of life problems.”

 

Aaron Jonah Lewis

Friday, July 12 @ The Robin Theatre, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing. All ages, $15, $10.50 students, 8 p.m.

Aaron Jonah Lewis, an acclaimed multi-instrumentalist known for virtuoso-level banjo and fiddle playing, headlines July 12 at The Robin Theatre in REO Town. Along with being a performer and music educator, the Detroit-based musician has also placed first (in the “Bluegrass Fiddle” category) at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention in both 2007 and 2018. Along with that, he also won multiple awards at the Clifftop Appalachian String Band Festival, including two first-place wins for “Neotraditional Band.”

No Depression, the notable songwriter magazine, praised Lewis, declaring, “I’ve heard quite a lot of old-time fiddle and banjo playing, trust me, but I’ve never heard it like this,” wrote the magazine. "Played at breakneck speeds, Aaron’s fiddle is whipping around tight corners like a high-end sports car.”

When he’s not endlessly touring across the United States displaying his scorching talent, Lewis’ skillset has landed him spots at major festivals across the United Kingdom, Italy and Finland.

He is accustomed to being overseas, having taught workshops at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and at the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. Here in Michigan, he teaches a variety of stringed instruments, including the banjo, mandolin and guitar. Luckily, his playing and songwriting is well documented. Over the years, the studious Lewis has appeared on stacks of recordings, both solo and with the Corn Potato String Band. His diverse discography ranges from old-timey bluegrass and traditional jazz to experimental projects and Turkish classical tracks — feel free to sample his lengthy catalog at aaronjonahlewis.com/music.

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