By Kevin Alan Lamb
I begin the New Year grateful for the recent time I’ve spent with my family, and the everlasting impact they have on my life. Family is grown upon a foundation of blood and love, expanding and contracting with time, space, and circumstance. The holidays are a special time of year, and as a result can be very difficult for some who are separated from the ones they love, or depleted by the stress of trying to find the energy and extra time in a day or week to spend time together. After spending Christmas with my parents in South Carolina I flew home on New Year’s Eve to step into 2019 with a family built on love and music, who grows every day. When time, space, and circumstance take us away from our birth family, a love for music brings us to one another to celebrate our gifts and the joy in our hearts that finds home in song, dance, and the loving embrace of each other’s arms and kindness.
I remember when Jack and Nancy Hunger first told me about The Gasoline Gypsies some years ago—little did I know the seed which was planted, and the family it would grow into. Folks like Chris Day, who I saw play piano for the first time Monday night, pouring his brilliant heart before 98 of the most supportive, and kind humans at a sold out 20 Front Street in Lake Orion. Chris is from Flint, and takes tremendous pride singing a song about water and tragedy that breaks his heart, yet is often made into a joke by those who don’t have any family affected by it. Chris plays in a band called Loxodon (Locks-Oh-Don), named after an elephant species in Dungeons & Dragons and Magic the Gathering. They remind us all that even when you’re a “Long Way From Home” you don’t have to go alone.
Not when there are places like 20 Front Street, and people like Tim Williams who wears his heart on his sleeve and loves music with his big, beautiful heart. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tim on the phone for hours at a time before we had ever spent five minutes together. He is an influential part of a spectacular team who continues to make 20 Front Street a musical mecca and one of the more unique and revered venues in the world. Lake Orion is an exciting hub for live music that flies under the radar, for now. The Gasoline Gypsies spent their second New Year’s in the holy confines of 20 Front and invited a special cast of characters to curate a layered and robust night of tunes.
Chris Day kicked off the evening playing the piano and singing songs which were sufficient evidence that we were all exactly where we were supposed to be. Keynote Sisters graced the stage next with commanding authority. Phoebe and Jaclyn are an acoustic duo with soulful harmonies, playing together since 2012, and the most recent winners of Michigan State Fair Superstar Competition. The Gypsies joined the young ladies on stage for a few songs, including a special presentation of “Robin Redbreast” which Keynote Sisters had learned and performed at the Michigan State Fair Superstar Competition. Tremendous chemistry throughout the evening signified the impact these musicians have on one another’s lives, and music.
That impact is most evident in the relationship between Alex Holycross of Native Howl, and the Gypsies. True brethren, Alex’s work ethic and passion to create meaningful, original music from the soul continues to have a positive impact on the Gypsies. Alex and his captivating antics boarded the ship with his mandolin and stood side-by-side with Caleb Malooley like they’ve done it a thousand times before. Native Howl are the Gypsie’s brother band, and they both step into 2019 with great momentum, and ever more apparent road to successfully expanding their names in the region.
There was a familiar but electric feel in the room Monday night. In true Vagabundos fashion the Gypsies released their latest and most grandiose music video “Freaks and Nonbelievers” to the world on New Year’s Eve, and screened it to some of their most adoring fans. Dan Lorenz and Bryan McKinley of the Breeze Part produced the video, filmed in October of 2018 in Jeddo, Michigan. Please don’t hesitate to share this with your friends. This was truly a family effort where fans dressed to the tens, pooled props, and showed up to make a very special vision into a reality.
That’s what family does right? We speak up when we need help, we show up when we can, and we go out of our way to remind one another that we are not alone, even when it feels like we might be. The Vagabundos community are an inspiration to grow family by extending an olive branch to others; to quiet self, and listen to those who may be without words. Special thanks to the entire team at 20 Front Street, Nancy and Jack Hunger, all of the musicians, and every individual who made this a special evening by deciding that they wanted to be there. It takes a village and it sure is a wonderful one that welcomes, and nurtures others. If time, space, and circumstance have put distance between you and your family, take a chance and find solace knowing the Vagabundos family door is open, you’re always welcome, and you don’t have to go alone.
Just in case you were listening for one, This Is A Good Sound.