Micah Dalton – Live at Vinyl

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Dalton is an Atlanta based singer/guitarist.  I’ve been a fan since his 2008 release, Pawn Shop.  He plays regularly in the area, but most appearances are sans band, and the musicianship in Pawnshop contributed significantly to what I liked about that CD.   I’ve wanted to hear him with a band.  

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Fast forward four years, and Dalton has (finally) released a follow-up, Blue Frontier, which he has premiered with CD release “parties” in Birmingham and Atlanta.  Based on his last release, a continuing awareness IMG_2406of appearances in Atlanta, a band to support him, the timing on a Friday night, and a much appreciated door price ($12), it summed to a greater draw than the evenings NCAA’s March Madness.

As is my habit, I arrived early, in part because I hadn’t been to Vinyl before (a subset, of sorts, of Center Stage) and partly to experiment with camera settings.  Oh, and then there was the additional draw of a new beer brewer in town, Monday Night Brewing, who contributed free beer while supplies lasted.  They currently have two offerings, Eye Patch Ale (IPA) and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale.  Despite their website suggestion of a “swashbuckling adventure” for the IPA, I found it to be a mainstream hoppy flavor with little to set it apart from others, but it certainly wasn’t lacking.   I was more interested in the Scotch Ale, which would come out after the IPA depleted... I’m not certain that ever happened.  Still, free beer is free beer, and it was pretty good.  The below humored me, especially as it’s actually in favor of said topic.

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The venue includes a reasonably sized stage, a standing area, a helping of tables and booths towards the rear, a capable bar, and a pool table.  The sound, all things considered, was pretty good with an exception noted later.

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The opening act, Shook Foil, scored higher on the originality of their name than their music.   Theirs seemed an overly long set for what sounded like a fairly new band, and it ultimately pushed Dalton into the early hours of the morning.  Still, they seemed musically adventurous at times, and, perhaps, in need of additional instruments to add options to their sound.  As a trio, it didn’t work for me.  A second act followed, Peter Groenwald, who has very good pop sensibilities and a ready-for-radio voice... if radio still mattered.   Good stuff. 

I didn’t enjoy Groenwald as much as I should have, though, being preoccupied with two things:  1) the inadequate air changes in the club (smoking allowed)  and 2) the din of conversation.  The many who were not there to listen thrust their chatter forward with an almost equal ease as the sound system.  For artist appreciation, Vinyl is definitely not Eddie’s Attic.

By the time Dalton took the stage, there were perhaps 150 gathered.  Many, I think, were friends, band members, band member’s friends, and regular supporters known to him.  I think all were there to hear him play, and blessedly, the whole turned from their conversations to his performance.

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Dalton wins with a very friendly, easy manner, and he gave a confident performance, launching into new material from the start.  Backed by various vocalists, at times, and a horn section, at times, plus drummer, keyboardist, bassist, and an electric guitarist (with very tasteful licks), Dalton sang while playing either acoustic or electric. 

Dalton played most, if not all, of the songs from his new CD, each rather immediately likeable.  The songs with brass were particularly enjoyable, both for the punch and the dynamic appeal.  Admittedly, the hour was late, but it would have been nice to have heard what was on his mind when he wrote some of the songs.  It was my first CD release party... other than new CDs ready for purchase and free beer, I suppose I had imagined an artist wanting to share more about the music than just the music. 

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When the show wrapped, Dalton had played an efficient set of new tracks, plus three of the best songs from Pawn Shop.  The guy has talent, a great sense of song development, and ear for what sounds right.  Overall, it just makes one wonder about all the other artists out there who are worth hearing, who toil at their labor of love, and who likely will never find a sizeable audience.  I contributed to his cause, buying a CD at the end, which he kindly autographed.  Again, expectations suffered.  I was the only one who asked for an autograph.  I guess others will have their iTunes downloads autographed. 

Related thought:  What will CD release parties be called when there are no longer CDs?  “New download party” just doesn’t sound appealing or event worthy.

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4 of 5 STARS

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