LANSING – The 2006 Michigan Pride Festival on Saturday, June 24 in Lansing’s Riverfront Park will feature a slew of musical acts to keep patrons dancing. Here’s a preview of the festival’s line up.
Cherri and the Violators: Doing it their way
With deep roots in blues-rock, Cherri and the Violators aren’t afraid to take risks.
“Our music is blues enough to be understood and rock enough to be appreciated,” bassist and vocalist Paul Bendig says.
When the band formed in 2000, Bendig and lead vocalist Cherri Bendig were dating. “One of the things that brought us together was our music,” she says. Cherri was in a classic rock band the year before they met. Paul was a former roadie and occasional bass player yearning to get back into his musical roots.
The rest of the band members trickled in and within two months they played several gigs. “They insisted I dust off my guitar, so I started to work on relearning that,” Cherri says.
After the group recast the lead guitarist who disagreed on the direction of the band’s sound, the group began writing songs and recorded their first album in 2003.
With blues, rock, folk, jazz and even some country influences, Cherri and the Violators, which also includes Tony Burke on lead guitar and recent addition Hank Cupp on drums, have a distinct sound. “Each band member is developing a unique playing style,” Cherri says. “When a Cherri and the Violators tune comes on the radio, you know it’s us. We don’t sound like anything else, which can be both a blessing and a curse when we’re marketing the band.”
Cherri and the Violators are anticipating their gig at Michigan Pride because it’s a change of pace from playing blues festivals. “Here we can be as experimental in our craft as we like, without being pigeonholed as a ‘blues band’ or a ‘rock band,'” Paul says.
Cherri continues, “I enjoy being part of an event that impacts so many, and works to change people’s lives for the better.”
For more information visit http://www.cnvband.com.
Nedra Johnson: In your face
Singer/songwriter Nedra Johnson doesn’t hold back.
“I’m not ambiguous,” Johnson says from her home in Bronx, N.Y. “I kind of just say what comes naturally.” Johnson’s lyrics yield her experiences as a black and openly lesbian woman and span topics such as love, spirituality, community and politics.
Through her words, Johnson often mirrors emotions some find difficult to release. Even when she was young, she’d write. “I started scribbling poems and what not when I was probably 14 or so,” she says. “But nothing I would share with the world.”
Johnson’s self-titled sophomore release mixes R&B, funk, rock and gospel.
As a child, Johnson’s parents – her father was a jazz musician and her mother a folk performer – influenced her to become a musician. Now Johnson arranges, produces and is a multi-instrumentalist. She’s also drawn inspiration from popular early 1990s blues artist Bessie Smith. Although Johnson doesn’t listen attentively to mainstream music, she appreciates Paul Simon, 2Pac and John Mayer.
Johnson, who’s performed at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, is an amateur to the Michigan Pride circuit. But she’s not anxious. “I don’t get that nervous anymore,” she said. “I did at first, but I’ve come to find it really doesn’t help. In fact, my father said that the music is more important than your fear.”
For more information visit http://www.nedrajohnson.com.
The Lash meshes the fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and even pedal steel guitar with bass and drums, forming a unique folk sound. Although rooted in Celtic music, they’re never afraid to tread new territory. They’ve shared the stage with traditional Irish acts (The Clancy Brothers), chart-toppers (Hootie and The Blowfish) and alt-country icons (The Waco Brothers). “Fire Under Grace” is the long awaited third album from The Lash. For more information visit http://www.thelash.com.
Chris Taylor and his partner Jim Marker of (the) fundamentalists have a sound described as “uplifting, world weary, bludgeoning and ethereal; in short both the silver lining and the dark cloud around it.” Sometimes politically charged, sometimes introspective, (the) fundamentalists’ music is at times dance music and at other times sparse rhythm pared with keyboard and guitarscapes. The Detroit duo has performed at several Pride events through the years. For more information visit http://www.myspace.com/thefundamentalists.
Gabrial James Lundy
Grand Rapids native Gabrial James Lundy, 30, has been playing guitar for 14 years and singing for nearly 20. Lundy learned guitar from his father at 16, had vocal training in the late 80s and began penning songs at 17. He joined a 90s British shoegaze-influenced band called Corduroy Kelley. When the group separated, Lundy returned to his acoustic roots. Although dormant for several years, he hit the open mic circuits four years ago. For more information visit http://www.myspace.com/gabrialjames.
Sex & Patriotism
In the spring of 2004, five rockers tangled their energy and vitality for rock ‘n’ roll and formed Sex & Patriotism. With Chriteele’s gritty lyrics and powerful vocal range, A.J. Braman’s infectious hooks, Dugg-E’s rhythm, Joe W’s low-end bass and Les Mayhew’s heart thumping drumming, the band released their debut album “To Die For.” For more information visit http://www.audiostreet.net/sexpatriotism.