Laughter and Song: SLAS welcomes the amazing Danny Michel and Steve Poltz

MORRISBURG – Saturday, November 25, a night not to be missed, when two incredibly talented artists will put on a dazzling show at the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage. Danny Michel and Steve Poltz combine amazing musical talent, the craft of story telling and their shared outrageous senses of humour to create a show that will leave audiences hugely entertained and demanding more.

Danny Michel is a songwriter who jokingly declares that his “musical A.D.D. has kept his music fresh for decades.” He is not tied to any one style or genre of music, and judging from his multiple nominations for Junos, his Polaris Prize and the “Oliver Schroder Pushing the Boundaries Award,” music for him will always be an adventure. His themes and music have found their sources in his real life experiences. He reflected the unique Afro-Amerindian music of Belize in an album, then went on to create the album ‘Khlebnikov’ in the Canadian Arctic while he was travelling on a Russian ice-breaker in the company of astronaut Chris Hadfield. He writes of this planet, of the fascinating people he meets: along with his music, he makes films, fights for artists rights, and creates his own comedy/sci-fi show, ‘Dan’s Space Van’. His songs have been described as haunting, romantic, light-hearted – and quick to win critical and fan praise.

Steve Poltz is a prolific writer, “a non stop geyser of creativity.” He says of himself that “I just make things up. It’s all magic. I go by instinct.” He opens himself up to all possibilities. His music, from the carefree “It’s Baseball Season,” to the thoughtful charm of “Wrong Town,” reflecting what it is like to spend your life as a wandering musician, have connected with fellow musicians and legions of fans. Born in Halifax, but based in California, he is a born story teller, who has written music with Billy Strings, Oliver Wood and Mojo Nixon. The Associated Press once dubbed Steve Poltz “part busker, part Iggy Pop and part Robin Williams, a freewheeling folkie with a quick wit and a big heart.”

How did two such dynamic artists come to meet up and decide to perform together?

They ran across each other at a little folk festival years ago. Creative sparks flew, and the two of them became friends and then collaborators. I asked them about their work together. “A friend of ours, Liz Scott was telling me you have to meet Steve,” Danny recalled, “you guys are going to hit it off. She was right. We have a similar style of performing, I think. You never really know what’s going to happen.” This is pretty evident from Steve’s response to my question. “Danny is a lover of music. All music. He found me under a bridge and fed me pop tarts until I awakened like a deer.” He commented that originally he played a G chord, but not an F chord “because I was afraid of profanity. He told me it was okay to play an F chord – but never in a church. Danny has taught me so much. He taught me sinning is sometimes okay.”

Theirs is a unique approach to creativity, to finding themes and lyrics that appeal to them and ultimately fans. “I grew up on the absurdity of life,” Steve laughed. “My mother breastfed me absurdity three times a day, and some of it sunk in. If I’d been born lactose intolerant I’d have been much more of a serious artist.” Danny claims “Spontaneity is part of it. You really can’t plan a set of songs when you’re performing ‘in the round,’ taking turns, because you don’t know where the other guy is going. It’s a bit like a Ouija board – we’re both moving the show together, but not sure where it’s going.”

For two performers, for whom live shows are joy, the COVID shut downs were challenging. Steve told me “I had to play to a computer screen. I hate zoom. I wanted to pretend there were thousands of people cheering and swinging from the rafters. I just played and in my heart, I really believed that people were going nutso, magutso. I just screamed ‘More germs please:’ somehow that worked and I survived.” Danny thoroughly enjoys working live with Steve, “because I feel completely safe. We are fans of each other too, and there is a mutual respect and trust. We have each other’s backs 100%. Knowing this allows our shows to get even more daring.”

The Steve Poltz and Danny Michel concert at 7p.m. November 25 at Upper Canada Playhouse is going to be an incredible musical experience. There are very few tickets left for this one-of-a-kind show: don’t miss it. Danny puts it best: “We’ll be on stage together, playing songs back and forth, taking turns, telling stories, chatting and having laughs. It’s going to be a blast.”

A special note to fans: the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage staff will be accepting donations for the Dundas Food Bank at this concert. Please support your friends and neighbours by giving what you can.

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