Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle

Scotty Smith - Banjo / Dan Fox - Percussion  / Jory Stultz - Accordion 
Rick Hale - Percussion / Paul Bennet - Accordion  / Dylan Rogers - Vocals, Ukuleles 
Allen Stephenson - Upright Bass / James Bobcik - Saxophones, Clarinet, Flute 
Conrad Lipsitz - Acoustic and Electric Guitars  / Dereck Perkins - Fiddle, Singing Saw, Washboard 
And the Paupettes: 
Jenn Hill - Vocals  / Teri Brown - Vocals 
Iris Thompson - Vocals  / Connie Perkins - Vocals 

The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle, huge thanks to Devilyn Carver (*a kindred spirit) for tweeting a video of this awesome cabaret gypsy jazz ensemble from Lansing, MI and putting them on my radar. This one band incorporates everything I envisioned when I started my Popakazooza fantasy festival a year ago, Americana, Gypsy-Jazz, Blues, Vaudeville with a sound straight out of the past but fresh and new for this century. How you can get your hands on these recordings I have been unable to find, but their 2011 EP Rust Belt Jukebox Blues is available as a free download.
*Subscribe to Devilyn's Youtube Channel

Listen: Their new full length album

Since early in the year 2011, The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle has been performing high energy theatrical shows on street corners, bars and various stages around Michigan. Over time, we evolved from a loose conglomeration of artists on the streets to a dedicated band of performers with hand built props, scripts and pyrotechnics. We have become more of a family than anything else- a family of creatives, hard-workers, misfits and trouble-makers. We put a lot of work into our shows, and want more than anything to provide the audience with a fun and unique experience. So, when we started contemplating a full length album, we were faced with the dilemma of how to capture on tape the energy and soul of the live performances we've put so much time into crafting.
This album was recorded in fashion that combines the methods of artists active in the early 1900's to the 1950's. A triangulated band (vocals and quiet instruments in front, loud instruments staggered to the the back) and a Decca Tree microphone setup helped us achieve a sound that remained faithful to older recordings.
Musically, these songs represent a sea change in our compositional methods. Namely, a shift from a single composer and lyricist to a collaborative effort by a team of musicians and writers. Most of these numbers took seed as a basic idea or chord progression or line of verse, and were built over time as we rehearsed, performed and wrote.
I remember the moment when Iris showed up to practice and pulled out a page full of lyrics that became "Left Foot Lament", when Conrad shifted gears to drop-D tuning on "Save the Date" for the first time, when Scotty suggested the break on "Whiskey and Wine", when Teri came up with the tempo change on "Rust Belt Blues", Allen's ample advice regarding music theory, and all the other times individuals made songs stronger through their input.
This album represents the fruit of our love's (mostly) unpaid labour. We sincerely hope you enjoy it as you work and play. 

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