Country, Pop, 80s and Rock All Rolled Into One Michael Crain Band

Michael Crain Band

Lead singer Michael Crane sang everything from “Mustang Sally” to songs by Elvis at the Eagle’s South club on Saturday night.


September 14, 2017
By Tami Jackson
tjackson@tacomaweekly.com

Country, Pop, 80s and Rock All Rolled Into One Michael Crain Band MichaelCrain Lead singer Michael Crane sang everything from “Mustang Sally” to songs by Elvis at the Eagle’s South club on Saturday night. By Tami Jackson tjackson@tacomaweekly.com At Eagle’s South, 7037 S. Pine St. in Tacoma, there was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on last Saturday night, with swing-style dancing, waltzes, boot stomping, and even a few slow songs to dance close to a partner with. A highly versatile performer, lead singer and baritone Michael Crain, with the Michael Crain Band, sang everything from country to pop and rock ’n roll and there were even songs from the 1980’s on the night’s playlist.

Clearly the music hypnotized the crowd because the patrons, most of whom were age 50 and older, scurried out of their chairs to waltz, boogie or do a gentler version of break-dancing (depending on the song). When Crain sang Toby Keith’s lyrics “I Love This Bar,” there were boots, high heels and wing tips all scooting across the hardwood together.

The Michael Crain Band makes a clean and professional sound regardless of whether they play songs by Elvis, Wilson Pickett, Los Lobos or play guitar instrumentals. Crain’s speaking voice has a smooth Texas drawl that you’d like to bottle up and save as flavoring for your morning coffee. As the band’s star vocalist, his singing of popular tunes is just as mesmerizing as the original singer for each song. Yet Crain also writes his own music and, depending on the gig, might perform his own songs. When he decides to dance on stage, you’ll wish you had a video-graphic memory by which you could tuck that vision into your permanent memory bank. He’s that good of a dancer.

Each band member from the drummer to the lead guitarists can also sing vocals and they all played badass like they’d been doing this for a very a long while, unlike so many upstart bands that rely on electronic devices and a Jimi Hendrix wah wah pedal to make it sound like someone might be a musician. This band is the real deal; fingerpicking, strumming and keeping everything in perfect rhythm. The vocal harmony is spot on too.

In the Michael Crain Band, Dave Croston plays lead guitar, but he is also a composer and audio engineer for his own purposes. He said he has produced six albums for Crain and has a couple of smooth jazz CDs of his own. Derek Winkel sings and plays bass, but on Saturday night the band’s drummer, Mike Carini, had injured his thumb so they hired a temporary drummer for this night, which is why the very talented Pete Boardway was on stage.

“That’s how you know a band is good when everyone wants to get up and dance,” said an elderly Eagle’s member who made it to the dance floor in spite of his self-described bad knees.

Judging by the crowd’s reaction, Crain definitely puts a lot of effort into selecting the night’s playlist. He said he plays whatever music best suits the venue they’re performing at. On this night, anytime someone made a special song request for the band, the dancers would exit the floor feeling uninspired to dance, only to return again once the band played another piece from Crain’s own set.

While Crain sang, “It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone” (Tom Jones), all I had to do is dream and dance and drink lots of soda since the Eagle’s club really knows how to pour a stiff one and a lady should always pace herself! In the audience, and sometimes on the dance floor, was Crain’s new wife Sibylle, who took his last name. The two had married on July 8 and on this night Michael dedicated the song “My Girl” to her. Yet on his recently released CD, he dedicated the song “Ninety-nine Percent Cool” to her as well.

Before going to hear the Michael Crain Band, brush up on your line dancing and swing dancing moves and then go to Amvets, 5717 S. Tyler St., Tacoma, on Mon., Sept. 18, where they’ll perform from 6-10 p.m. The band will also play at the Auburn Eagles club on Fri., Sept. 22, from 7-11 p.m. The Michael Crain Band also has videos on YouTube. In fact, the first film that pops up under a YouTube search for “Michael Crain Band” is their song called “I Gotta Find A Girl,” which Crain said is about his longed-for daughter Shilo. Turns out, his ex-wife became a Seventh-day Adventist, ran off, and he hasn’t seen his child since March of 2012.

Back to the live performances, the Michael Crain Band created a really fun night at the Eagle’s South and that means you’re guaranteed to have fun dancing to the band’s music too.

To contact Michael Crain for booking or to order a CD or get other information about the band see: txtnwa@gmail.com, (253) 905-2575, and michaelcrainband.com.

 
Local singer and guitarist Michael Crain offers 10 original songs and one cover tune on his new album.
NOTHIN' BUT LOVE BANNER

It starts with “Flip My Switch,” a lively tune punctuated with blasts of bright brass, courtesy of Barry Caldwell on trumpet, Eric Stevens on trombone and Dave Croston on saxophone.

“A 3 Legged Dog” slows things down considerably. Crain is having a stressful day so he goes for a walk. He cheers up watching a man playing with his dog. “He could jump high and boy could he run/ and he looked like he was sure having fun.”

“A Good Tired” is a tender song about a grandfather and his grandson. “Today he took little Kenny to his first baseball game/ they had a hot dog and a good ol’ time/ rooting for the home team.”

The title track sounds like something Elvis Presley may have sung in the early 1970s. The horn section adds depth to the tune, while the tasteful guitar licks are icing on the cake. Gaye Winsor’s backing vocals mix well with the lead vocals of Crain, who pays homage to love. “Jesus talked about it in the Bible all those years ago/ and Lennon sang about it with the Beatles on the radio.

“It happens when boy meets girl/ everyone needs it all around the world.”

“Tryin’ To Write A Country Song” is an old-school country number. The twang on the guitar comes across strong as Crain sings of trying to sell a song he wrote in Nashville.

“Love Dad” is a touching tune about a father who adores his daughter. “She makes me laugh she makes me smile/ she intoxicates my world with her beauty and her style.” The lead guitar work is clean and tasteful.

“The Proof’s In The Bottle” is another old-school country tune, about a man coming home drunk and getting into an argument with his wife.

“So they talked for a while on into the night/ and another conversation turned into a fight/ and he reached for the whisky he called his best friend.” A guitar solo and a fiddle solo from Terry Shaw complete the down-home sound.

“Bump In The Road” is a rock ‘n roll tune, with a bit of honky-tonk piano flavor.

The album closes with a cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel. Crain’s rich, tenor vocals do justice to this classic, as does the piano playing.

Crain delves into a variety of genres and utilizes good pacing on song placement, interspersing slow tunes between livelier numbers.

Reviewed by John Larson, Tacoma Weekly

 
 

MICHAEL CRAIN
“COUNTRY RADIO”

Spanaway guitarist and singer Michael Crain goes in a down home, old-school country direction on his new album.

MICHAEL CRAIN REVIEWS     Laurie Johnson of “In the House” makes a guest appearance playing harmonica on the first track, “Stetson Cologne and a Fender Telecaster”. It tells the tale of Johnny, a guitar-playing ladies’ man who offers some advice to the guys, “If you want to know the reason why I get the girls a little bit faster/ It’s my Stetson cologne and my Fender Telecaster”.

    Wally Giffin offers his pedal steel guitar skills on “In the Doghouse Again”. This humorous number, with Crain singing about having to hang with man’s best friend when he is in hot water with the old lady. “So tonight I’m gonna drink beer and listen to some beer drinkin’ songs/At least I’ve got an old buddy here with me to listen right along/ Zeke, looks like it’s you and me friend, out in the doghouse again”.
    On the title track, Crain describes surfing through the radio dial. “Found a smooth jazz station, nice and relaxing/ But to get my day started I like a little more action”. Next he comes across a talk radio show, with the host discussing a personal matter with a caller. “These days they lay it all out there, anything goes/ So thank God there’s country radio”. The song has a tasteful guitar solo, although I don’t know if it’s from Crain or the other guitarist, Dave Croston.
   “Like the First Time” is about love at first sight. This number is somewhat sappy, especially with the strings in the background.
   “He Thinks He’s Elvis” is a humorous tune about an old man in a nursing home who thinks he is Elvis Presley. “He’s wearing Blue Suede Shoes and a Good Luck Charm as he goes struttin’ out the door/ Long gone are the jumpsuit days, they don’t fit him anymore”. Nice phrasing on the guitar chords.
   On the upbeat “Lady Deluxe”, Crain has found the perfect woman. “She likes NASCAR, football, pickup trucks/ Cookin’ in the kitchen, red hot love/ Wears black leather, smooth to the touch/ Ooh, good gosh what a lady deluxe”. “Big Fun in a Little Town” is a rollicking number about playing in a town where the only excitement is catching a show at the bar on Saturday nights.
    Crain goes in a reggae direction on “Is Good to Be Gray”. Croston plays keyboards, and the horn sounds are probably created on his keyboards. The sounds combine for a festive vibe on this number about life getting better with age. Crain is feeling good and has more money than when young. The children are grown up, and he and the wife have a smaller house with less upkeep. “Libido still up and golf score is going down/ the other day I got a hole in one”.
   “Pretty on the Outside” is done in a country/rock style. The keyboards make this different than the more traditional country numbers. Crain recalls a woman who was his lover for three weeks. He is glad he got away from her while he could. “If you like those pretty girls better think twice/ ‘Cause they can reel you in and leave you totally fried/ When they’re ugly underneath, just pretty on the outside”.
   With the exception of the last two tracks, this album is old-school country. Buy it for your friends who listen to Rascal Flatts so they can hear what the real deal sounds like.

Reviewed by John Larson, Tacoma Weekly

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