Tag Archives: Royal Wood

Danny Michel Brings School Night Mondays To Crow

by Bill Monahan

Monday is the one night in the week when live music doesn’t happen.  When Danny Michel decided to rectify that six years ago at the Dakota Tavern in Toronto he was bucking conventional wisdom.

“Everybody said I was crazy,” he says, “nobody will come on a Monday.  It turned out to be the opposite.  People loved that there was something happening on a Monday.  But it was early so they could be home by around 9:30.  The other thing is that there was no competition.”

The first series he did at the Dakota sold out for eighteen weeks in a row.  He always invites friends to join him and his band.  The Dakota series included a who’s who of artists, including Sarah Harmer, Jim Cuddy, Ed Robertson, Tom Cochrane, Amelia Curran, and Royal Wood among others.

“It’s created for no other reason than for musicians, friends, to get together to play and enjoy it.  The rest of our lives is all stressful gigs that are about your career and trying to sell tickets.  I kind of missed that whole thing about getting together just to play for no reason.”

Danny Michel has a habit of thinking outside the box with his musical projects.  The empathetic nature of his songs mirrors a career that follows his heart.

Heartwood Presents An Intimate Evening With Danny Michel

This Thursday Danny Michel will be playing at Heartwood Concert Hall in Owen Sound.  He’s touring to promote his new album, “Khlebnikov”, a recording that is special in many ways, the least of which is that it may be the most northern album ever recorded.

Danny was invited by astronaut Chris Hadfield who invited him to join Generator Arctic, an expedition in the Arctic Ocean aboard the Russian ice-breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov with scientists, photographers, writers, videographers.

In an interview with Tom Power on CBC Radio’s Q The Music, he explained, “The goal was for all of us to go up there, experience the arctic and to come back and share it with the rest of the world.”  His job was to write a song about it.  “I can write more than one song in eighteen days,” he said, so, ensconced in his tiny cabin, he created an entire album’s worth of material, recruiting as session musicians Colonel Hadfield and the vessel’s dishwasher.  He brought the recordings back to civilization with him and, collaborating with multiple award winning composer Rob Carli, created this singular album.

Joseph Mathieu of Exclaim! calls it “a pensive album that illustrates a nautical and northern life. It’s all majestic scenery with well-oiled machinery at the forefront, with a story of picturesque fishing villages, ancient graves of explorers and even the dreams of the Russian crew.”

Danny told Aaron Tang of Killbeat Music, “One evening at 4:00am I woke to massive muffled booms and thuds of the Khlebnikov lurching through the Arctic ice,” recalls Danny. ”Too curious to sleep I put on all of my gear and went outside to see what was happening. There alone, at the bow I witnessed one of the most glorious moments of my life. Under an endless sky and midnight sun, I watched pieces of ice the size of tennis courts break, flip, and bounce around like bowling pins under the hull of the mighty Khlebnikov. Later that day I wrote “24,000 Horses”

Danny Michel was a natural choice to capture this expedition in song.  His musical output has always reflected his love of the planet.  He describes himself as “an environmentalist, pacifist, romanticist and space enthusiast.”  In 2011, he created “The Ocean Academy Fund”, helping raise scholarships for the Caye Caulker Community School, a small non-profit community high school in Belize. To date, he’s raised over $70,000.00 for the school and volunteers there.

He is also a fireball of creative energy who expresses himself in a variety of projects that bring together musical friends.

He created and single-handedly produces  “Dan’s Space Van” ,a web-series that takes place in an original customized 1978 GMC Vadura (airbrushed in a Star Trek theme), featuring interesting people and musical guests who perform in the van’s diamond quilted, crushed red velvet interior.

He also created a special series at Toronto’s Roots Rock mecca, The Dakota Tavern, that he calls “School Night Mondays”.  He’s given life to the slowest night of the week for any venue with a “relaxed early show for no other reason than friends playing music”.  It’s been sold out for eighteen weeks in a row, with guests that have included Sarah Harmer, Jim Cuddy, Col. Chris Hadfield, Ed Robertson, Tom Cochrane, Royal Wood, Whitehorse, and more.

Danny Michel’s music is a gift, an art and a joyful celebration of life, sure to brighten up a cold Owen Sound winter’s night this Thursday.  Doors open at 7:30 and the show starts at 8:30.  Most tickets, priced at $25, are available on line, with a limited number of hard copy tickets available at Heartwood Home, just below the venue.

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Peter Katz Benefits From Hard Work and The Help of Friends

This Saturday, singer-songwriter Peter Katz will come to Meaford Hall for the second in the Gallery Concert Series.  The six-event series, which has been arranged to allow the hall to continue to provide good quality entertainment while the balcony is under renovation, is proving to be a great success, selling out fast.

Peter Katz has performed with a number of the artists who have graced the stage at the Opera House this year, including Dan Mangan, Joel Plaskett and Bahamas.  He has collaborated on projects with Royal Wood and academy award winner Glen Hansard.  His 2010 studio record First of the Last to Know debuted at No. 1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter charts and he tours constantly in Canada, Europe and the U.S.

In 2012 a Juno nomination for Music DVD of The Year took him completely by surprise.  It was for a video called Peter Katz and Friends Live At The Music Gallery of a live CD release concert for that same album.

Both the DVD and the CD represented a classic case of getting by “with a little help from my friends”. Tim Martin and his production company Frameblender filmed the show and edited the whole concert for free while his friend Scott Cooper mixed the album, and sister-in-law Gabrielle Raill did the graphic design also for free.  Among the musical community there are many people who are willing to help out when they see an artist who not only has the talent but the work ethic to become successful and this is an excellent example of that kind of peer support.

In 2015 his collaboration with Royal Wood resulted in a song called “Brother”, another great success that climbed to the top of the weekly CBC Radio’s 2 Top 20 Countdown.  As he told Ryerson’s Eye Opener, this success also took him by surprise:  “We just locked ourselves in a room and wrote ‘Brother’ in an afternoon. There were no release plans for that song at the time. It was just a little track that we were putting together for the tour. We did this live video of it where people really reacted positively. They began to request it at our tours and we also became really great friends.”

Katz credits his time at Ryerson as being instrumental in his pursuit of a career in music.  While a student there he regularly performed at open mic nights at the campus pub Ram in the Rye.   He composed a song called The Fence for a theatre school production.  It was a song that imagined the experience of Matthew Sheppard, a student in Laramie, Wyoming who was tied to a fence and left to die because he was gay.   The song and his performance were so well received that his professor encouraged him to pursue a career in music.  That was all the impetus he needed, after regularly investing up to eighty hours a week honing his craft.  One of his proudest career moments was when he was able to play the song at York University before Matthew Sheppard’s mother spoke there.

The telling of powerful stories is an important element in his success.  His song “Oliver’s Tune” pays tribute to the late Oliver Schroer, the highly respected Canadian violinist who, diagnosed with leukemia, decided to play one final concert a month before he died.

A quote from one of his press releases provides an inspirational bit of advice to any aspiring creative artist:

“If you want to make something that’s like nothing you’ve made before, then you have to shake yourself up, go beyond what’s comfortable and known and let yourself feel disoriented, overwhelmed, even intimidated. Those moments, where you lose your bearings, where you’re forced to sink or swim, are the moments where you have an opportunity to rise to the occasion, to surprise yourself, to do the things you didn’t know you could do”.

The show on Saturday night begins at 8:00 in the Gallery of Meaford Hall, with caberet style seating.  Tickets, if you can still get them, are $25.

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