Mac’s Pre-Holiday Set Serves a Variety of Musical Tastes

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Thursday, December 19, 2019, 2:30 pm
By: 
Sarah Spohn

Photo by Eric Palmer

Music is one of the most subjective forms of self-expression. Whether you’re a fan of bluegrass, jazz, soul, R&B, or hip hop — there’s one show at Mac’s Bar (2700 East Michigan Ave.) this weekend that will most likely satisfy all musical tastes. The sonically diverse lineup includes Creature of One, James Gardin, and Rachel Curtis beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Rachel Curtis (above) might sound like a familiar name if you’ve followed the local music scene over the past few years. Or perhaps “American Idol” rings a bell? Curtis beat out 45,000 other contestants and appeared on the vocal talent competition television show, airing in 2018. After a bout of food poisoning, Curtis’ time was cut short in Hollywood, but she has made the best of her time here in Michigan — complete with life lessons from her time in tinsel town.

“Looking back on my American Idol experience, what stands out most for me would be the surreal experience overall, and the lessons learned from the experience,” Curtis said. The aspiring singer grew up watching the show, singing into her hair brush. Being one of 160 contestants to reach Hollywood was a dream come true for Curtis, who began singing in middle school talent shows.

“I learned that there is a lot more to the music business than just the music part. There is a lot of fast-paced decision making and you really have to know and stay true to who you are as an artist,” Curtis said. “I think I have learned more about myself through my American Idol experience, and that the only goal in my musical journey is to reach people emotionally, and be an inspiration in whatever they are going through.”

After returning home, Curtis has noticed a growth in businesses opening their doors to musicians.

“Within just a few years of being in the local music scene, Lansing Brewing Company, Blue Owl, and The Robin Theatre have opened and given musicians more opportunities to perform in Lansing, and I think it’s awesome,” she said.

As for her upcoming headliner Lansing concert, she will be performing with her band (Jason Marr, Tyler Tesla, and Danny Lindstrom). The musically diverse lineup reflects Curtis’ wide range and fondness of varying music stylings.

“I love all genres of music, and wanted to put together a show with all different styles welcomed,” Curtis said. “In my opinion, the lines of genres have blurred in today’s music, and I believe that should be celebrated more.”

Curtis released her song “Dandelions” this past summer, and looks forward to playing some new original music live on the stage. Inspired by a huge field of dandelions while on a long car ride, Curtis penned the song, reminiscing on childhood memories.

“I remember I used to ‘make a wish’ on them, and my dad got mad because he didn’t want the weed to spread throughout his lawn.” Curtis said. “In the song, dandelions are a metaphor for people that are having a hard time fitting in. People might think you are a weed, but instead, it is an encouragement to use that power to spread your uniqueness to others in an inspiring way … This song is an anthem for people not fitting into the social norm.”

Photo courtesy of Mike Bass

Creature of One (above) is a creative collective that certainly doesn’t fit into one specific style of music. Made up of Matthew Shannon, Jonathan Watt, Mike Bass, Kayleigh Slone, ‘Mocha Man’, and Mike Dwyer, Creature of One is full of multi-instrumentalists, and singer-songwriters.

“Our mutual respect for each other’s work — wanting to support each of our songwriters’ visions while letting each member add their creative twists to each song makes our band feel special to us,” Mike Bass, East Lansing resident, said.

The genre-smashing Lansing ensemble was formed on the basis of the common threads, emotions, and experiences which connect all of us humans, far and wide. This is the first time the band will perform as a whole at Mac’s Bar.

“It feels like there are synergies between Rachel’s music, James’ music, and ours,” Bass said. “We’re looking forward to helping foster a welcoming and cozy winter vibe for all of the attendees, and looking forward to sharing the stage with some stellar musicians.”

Photo by Zac James

James Gardin (above) started his musical career in the third grade, writing a rap for a drug-free contest. In high school, he became inspired by the movie “8 Mile,” and began making music. Today, he’s known in the Michigan music scene as hip hop’s ‘good guy,’ with lyrical content on female empowerment, social justice, and positive spirits. He’s been a fan of both Creature of One and Rachel Curtis, and encourages audiences to join on the multi-genre show.

“I’m excited to be a part of a night filled with a bunch of talented individuals,” Gardin said. “I think it will also be a sonically diverse show, which is always fun because the people who come out will get a lot of flavors. It’s like a musical potluck where you know everyone has a clean kitchen.”

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