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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pilfers @PilfersNYC featuring Coolie Ranx August 13 at Founders Brewing

Veteran singer Coolie Ranx of the Pilfers is thinking it's time to get back to the roots of his performing life. And he's not ready to just phone it in either. Ranx has been on the scene long enough he can essentially write his own ticket about when to perform.

“I have a different strategy right now,” Ranx said. “I can go play the big shows and make the big money. That’s very easy for me to do.”

But he says the chance do something different, meaningful perhaps, is now most important.

“I’m starting again over again,” Ranx said. “I believe I should refresh from where I came from and get a new audience.”

Ranx made his name early on as singer of influential Two Tone, Third Wave ska band the Toasters and many others since (Reel Big Fish, Catch 22, Pietasters). The Toasters were strict traditionalists; his current band is not.  

“It’s a lot different now,” Ranx said of the Pilfers ska/punk style. “It’s not as restrictive as The Toasters. There’s not a set style I have to follow which allows me the freedom to explore and create.”

The brand new Pilfers release, From Far, is a prime example of the musical experimentation he mentions. Ranx says it goes heavy on old-style ska, smidgens of pop, and a dollop of new wave. From Far was recorded with the original band line up along with renowned trumpet player Kevin Batchelor (Steel Pulse, The Skatalites, Keith Richards 2015 disc).

“Each record has similar elements but they’re different,” Ranx said in a recent interview. “This new one is true hardcore punk style with heavy guitar riffs and trumpet over the top.”

The Pilfers show Founders Taproom August 13 spotlights New York musicians on drums, bass, guitar, and trombone—valued instrumentation in the land of live authentic ska.

Ranx says that should the Founders crowd need prodding he’ll be forced to deploy the new tune “Nothing’s Ever Good Enough,” with a driving pulsating beat underneath Batchelor's trumpet, and have the masses take to the dance floor.

“All of my songs are mood songs,” Ranx said. “They go up and down: sentimental, romantic, energized.”

He says the current tour is not just about grabbing the money and running but rather reconnecting and rebuilding his fan base.

“It’s good to go back to the basics,” he says. “It’s humbling and builds character.”

Most of all Ranx insists he’s not afraid of putting forth the effort. He says he's seen what happens to people when they don’t.

“There’s nothing wrong with hard work,” Ranx said. “People get really complacent when it’s just handed to them all the time. They don’t appreciate it in the manner they should.”

Pilfers featuring Coolie Ranx wsg J. Navarro & The Traitors, The Sailor Kicks, 9:30 pm, Saturday at Founders Brewing. 21+ $5

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Linsey Alexander Blues Band May 14 at Dreamers Blues Bar Muskegon

Linsey Alexander’s life journey is as familiar as it is timeless: Born in Mississippi, raised in Memphis, and transplanted to Chicago following a girl and work—all part of the historical narrative of African-American blues musicians.

Alexander worked as a cook and later for the Chicago Police Department where he was wounded and received a pension. Times like these would have any other man throwing in the towel and moving to milder climates back home. There must be something about blues music to keep a man going day in and day out after 43 years in the competitive Chicago music environment.

“It’s a job and something to do,” guitarist/singer Alexander said when asked what keeps him engaged. “I make a pretty good buck at it.”

“You have to love the live the life you love and love the life you live,” he adds.

Linsey Alexander and his blues band return to Dreamers Blues Bar in Muskegon on May 14 for a night of world-renown Chicago blues.

Chicago blues bands of today almost always include a steady wallop of bass-driven funk in the repertoire, necessitated to keep crowds interested and gigs coming. Not so, however, with Alexander’s recordings.

“I got no popping bass strings on my records,” Alexander said during a recent telephone interview with #TMGR. “I ain’t trying to take (anything) from the blues. I just leave it where it’s at.”

Where Alexander picks up the blues lineage, in addition to his original compositions often featured on the respected Delmark record label, is in the revered style of none other than B.B. King and Albert King. 

“You got to call the blues where it’s at,” Alexander said. “B.B. is the master of the blues. I don’t care how you put it. Chuck Berry might have brought out the rock-n-roll but Albert King and Albert Collins are the blues.”

Linsey Alexander has spent the last 16 years with a steady gig at Chicago’s world famous Kingston Mines blues nightclub. Lately it’s apparent to Alexander he’s not the man he used to be. But even on nights when the crowd starts out lame he says he doesn’t know any other way but to keep on trying to be the best he can be. 

“It gets in my blood,” Alexander said. “I just like playing guitar and singing. You just have to push yourself out there no matter what.”

Linsey Alexander and band, 8:30 pm (doors 7:30), Saturday, at Dreamers Blues Bar. Dreamers is located at 978 Pine St 49442 in Muskegon. Telephone: (231) 728-9157

Linsey Alexander website: http: www.linseyalexander.com

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Donna the Buffalo at The Intersection April 16

For today’s active touring musician nothing beats a pair of coveralls for crawling around grimy stages setting up gear. Jeb Puryear knows good coveralls when he sees them. The founding member of Donna the Buffalo is often zipping them up when his tour vehicle breaks down.

“We bought our own tour bus early on,” Puryear says as one mechanic of a few who have repaired Donna's vehicles since the beginning. “We were fortunate as a group to be mechanically inclined enough to keep one going.”

For most independent bands, where there is no financier or new deluxe tour coach, band members perform what grunt work they can do for themselves. If anything Donna the Buffalo is a study in self-sufficiency.

Ever popular rock-based zydeco/fiddle outfit Donna the Buffalo brings their unique presentation of music, dance, and social consciousness to the Intersection on Saturday, April 16.

Donna either makes their own records or works with small independent labels like Sugarhill. Puryear admits they’ve "done things in not-so-normal fashion." Call it a lifestyle choice if you will.

“There were no Colonel Parker’s (Elvis Presley manager) here,” Puryear said with a laugh. “Nobody saw us and perceived they could make millions of dollars. But we’ve always been able to make a living and have successful artistic experiences with audiences. For that we are grateful.”

Donna the Buffalo is 26 years into producing their own Finger Lakes and Shakori Hills GrassRoots music events. These festivals take cues from pioneering folk-life celebrations Blissfest and Wheatland in Michigan.

“The definition of a festival is shifting with Coachella calling itself a festival,” Puryear said. “To me they’re more like giant rock concerts in a way.”

For better or worse Puryear’s festival idea has come a long way from the 3-day weekend camping excursion with an emphasis on live roots music. Original organizers probably never imagined a lap top computer would headline the coveted Saturday night slot.

“The organizers of Bonaroo saw our kind of festival as doing well so they said we’re going to make a mega-festival,” Puryear said. “They succeeded in intimating that and now you have massive events like Electric Forrest.”

Women like men who can fix things. They almost always love a man who plays guitar. Puryear not only wields a mean guitar and fiddle but his game with a wrench and ¾ inch socket is strong. He continues this journey because he cherishes his role as a performer in creating an opportunity for all people to be part of something larger than themselves.  

“The feeling is hard to describe sometimes,” Puryear said. “But a show is still about this one thing where the music is really happening and anybody who is there, or within listening distance, can be a part of it. That’s the most amazing thing.”  

Donna the Buffalo wsg Big Dudee Roo April 16 at The Intersection

The Venue: sectionlive.com