Good things come in threes

Get cramming

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One of the consequences of my particular job is that occasionally—more than occasionally, if I’m being totally honest—I have a hard time deciding what to write about.

One could easily draw the conclusion my confusion stems from a lack of worthy musical fodder or a dearth of inspiration. That is simply not the case. Nor has it ever been the case during the decade-plus I’ve spent covering this area’s musical whatdoings.

Rather my dilemma arises from the fact that music—good music, of all varieties—is so plentiful around these parts that giving attention to one thing means not being able to give other worthy shows their due.

As problems go, it’s a good one to have—and for those of you who have tried to stuff several events into a single night of show-going, it’s an issue to which you can only too easily relate.

It’s in that spirit and with that sentiment that, when looking at a stacked calendar and I’ve reached the following serviceable, if inelegant, solution: Sometime you just have to try and cram it all in. So here’s your heads up about a trio of shows on the near-term horizon at the Wild Buffalo.

First up in this entertainment trifecta is That 1 Guy (aka Mike Sullivan), who will make an appearance in the Buff (although it is likely he will be at least partially clothed) on Thurs., May 2. This is, of course, not his first visit to our area, or even to the Wild Buffalo, so people know to expect a unique aural experience from this singular musician. I will admit that in the past I might’ve (privately) cracked a joke or two at the expense of Sullivan’s weird musical pipe thingy (aka the “Magic Pipe), an instrument of his own design—and a thing that has to be seen to be believed—but I didn’t really mean it. You see, That 1 Guy is also a classically trained musician, and I’m a firm believer that in order to break the rules and get away with it, one must first know what the rules are. Indeed, Sullivan has been getting away with it for a while now, testing the elasticity of whatever musical boundaries he might encounter to forge a path all his own. And like a pied piper, people have been following him in large numbers, willing to journey wherever he leads.

Following That 1 Guy will be something slightly more traditional. Blues singer Shemekia Copeland will play an early show at 7:30pm Sat., May 4 at the Wild Buffalo, and get ready to hear a powerhouse, Grammy-nominated songstress belt out gospel, blues and soul musical like she was born to the task. Of course, as the daughter of bluesman Johnny Copeland, that’s exactly what she is. She made an impromptu singing debut with her father at the Cotton Club in Harlem at the tender age of eight years old, scored her first record deal when she was still in her teens and hasn’t looked back since. But Copeland’s appeal goes far beyond her pedigree. Aside from her considerable verbal skill, her songs speak to a gritty upbringing and characters to whom luck has not always been kind.

If Copeland is using her family name to craft a musical tradition, Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha, set to take the Buffalo’s stage on Tues., May 7, are answering for their name in a wholly different way. The band, which began as two guys—Tim Wilson and Ryan Carbary—actually had the moniker before they began to delve into the significance of their chosen name. As fans of Russian literature know, Ivan and Alyosha are characters from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, and when it comes to Dostoyevsky and references to the great author, everything is fraught with deep symbolism and heavy-duty meaning. However, Ivan & Alyosha—the band, which now has four members—don’t let their name’s heavy origin story weigh them down. Although they’re not afraid explore themes of love and spirituality—enough so that they’ve occasionally been inaccurately pegged as a Christian band—they do so with soaring harmonies and a knack for knowing just the right way to piece a song together.

So there you have it: a musical menu with enough variety for you to pick and choose the entertainment that suits you best. But if you feel the need to get a little gluttonous and choose one of everything, I promise no one will judge.

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