Ann Arbor's own Orpheum Bell came together as its members were combing through country and folk rhythms, instrumental waltzes, and Gypsy melodies. The band's quiet sound is focused on vocals, accordion, guitar, and double bass, with additional texture and luster spreading from banjo, trumpet, xylophone, shepherd harp, musical saw, pedal steel, a suitcase pump organ, cittern, dobro, foot percussion, and various ukuleles and mechanical horned violins. Everything is done with care, and this is a band whose handmade album covers are worth the price of concert admission all by themselves. Turning half-forgotten musical styles into something absolutely modern, gripping, and often hypnotic, Orpheum Bell has created something new and different in Michigan music—and American music.
The Midwest is where the action is in roots music these days, and tonight's show is a good place to get a taste of the scene. Jonas Friddle & The Majority arrived on the scene with a bang: they simultaneously debuted two records on March 24, 2012. “Belle De Louisville” and “Synco Pony” showcased this seven-piece band's ability to pull from both the string band and blues traditions of American roots music. The Chicago-based orchestral folk group comprises a string section, brass, organ, banjo, and drums. Each member of the Majority boasts a strong personal music career with close ties to Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, where the band formed.