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When the Silver Maple Drops Its Leaves

2017 November 12
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by Mike Vial

The silver maple in our back yard has finally dropped its leaves, which means winter is coming to Michigan.

I’m happy to be able to take some time off the road now that I’m teaching Language Arts again at a high school.

No more driving to Chicago during the worst snow storm for a gig, to find the locals cancel and I’m the only one performing! No more getting stuck in a $50 motel because the roads are frozen at 2 AM as I drive home from a late gig! Nope, if anything, I might enjoy a snow day or two.

However, I’ll still be playing locally all winter: 
My residency at mash (Blue Tractor Brewery’s basement bar) continues, five  years strong in Ann Arbor! I just announced my January and February dates. Also, I’ll be at Brighton Bar and Grill in February, during a school break.

I have some fun original music shows, too: 

  • December 2: 2 Stone Events Christmas Show at Cleary’s University
  • January 3:  Annie Capp’s On the Tracks Series in Chelsea
  • February 17: Flint Folk Society concert

Summer Tour 2018 with Mike Gentry

Mike Gentry and I are planning a summer tour, and I’m excited to have four dates already confirmed across four states. I’ll have more to announce with this. Mike Gentry is deep into finishing his first solo project, and the tour will be celebrating its release.

I also may have some new music to share soon, either a new single or EP out in 2018. I have a lot of songs in the back catalogue, but I’m not sure a full record is thematically emerging. I’m still working on a collection of songs called Profiles in Courage, which might be the next recorded project.

Solid Sounds Recording Studio in Ann Arbor is my new neighbor, so I’m excited to do some track there during a school break.

Anyways, I need to get back to commenting back on my students’ writing. See you at a gig.

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Sick today: No Stout Irish Pub gig

2017 November 3
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by Mike Vial

I’m sick today, and not playing at Stout Irish Pub. They will have music, though! I’ll be cuddling with my dog Lois and drinking tea, instead. I hope everyone is healthy and above average. Until the next gig. – MV
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Giglife Diaries: MSU vs. U of M Game Day

2017 October 8
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by Mike Vial

#giglife diaries: A scene at a bar in Ann Arbor.

[I finish singing a song that I like. Drunk dude in football jersey walks up.]

Drunk dude in football jersey: Can you play something *stronger*?

Me: Probably not.

DDiFJ: Like “Piano Man”?

Me: I know [name five other Billy Joel songs].

DDiFJ: Ok, don’t play any Billy Joel, how about some Dave Matthews?

Me: Oh, OK.

DDiFJ: Great, here’s $10. PLAY IT!

[I start playing “Ants Marching.” Another table boos. I just play three of my own songs after this.]

* * * * * *

Reading comprehension test for class tomorrow:

Which theme best describes the above passage:
A. A musician should never play a gig during MSU/U of M game day.
B. Dave Matthews Band is a superior songwriter than Billy Joel.
C. Live musicians are jukeboxes.
D. $10 is worth this interaction.
E. Hearing someone play “Piano Man” on the acoustic guitar is distressing.

New Job & a Few Gig Cancellations

2017 September 20
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by Mike Vial

News over here on the Vial Burg front: I was hired to teach English/Language Arts at a public school this year! A teacher resigned suddenly at the start of the term, and I was hired this week!

It’s going to be a bit of an adjustment, so I’ve had to condense down my gig calendar.

I won’t be at the Raven this Saturday, September 23, but the fabulous Michelle Held is covering that Port Huron gig! I’ll be using that time to do some lesson planning and catch up with my kids after my first week teaching.

Other local gigs are still on, like the Trinity House and Black Fire Winery next weekend. More updates coming soon.

[Short Story] “You Know You’ve Made It”

2017 June 24
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by Mike Vial

After finishing my set at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, I said hello to friends by the corner of the stage.

Garret Potter, also a new dad–and the best, damn poet in Ann Arbor–came up to me and gave me a big hug.

“Garret, I saw your post on Facebook. Did you find a ride to the airport last week?” I asked.

“Oh, I drove myself.” he said. “I realized I’m an adult now, and I can just pay for parking!”

We laughed. Adulthood creeps up on you in the weirdest ways.

Then he said, “I finally got one your shirts.”

I had no shirts for sale at the merch tent. I sold my last shirt earlier in the year. I must have looked bewildered.

“You bought my shirt? Where?”

“The thrift store!”

“Wait, what?”

“Yeah! It was like brand new. Fits perfectly.”

“That’s hilarious!”

“Is that weird that one of your shirts was at the Ann Arbor thrift store?”

I considered how there are only 100 Mike Vial shirts. 50 are gray, and 50 are green.

They were great shirts, if I do say so myself. Really soft. Screen-printed locally by VGKids. My logo had a ship burning off in the distance. I sold them for $10. It took me three years to finally get rid of the last batch of smalls…

My dad owns two of them. (He insisted he keep two shirts for the grandkids.) My mom owns one and wears it to my gigs. My wife has one shirt. She wears it when she’s low on laundry.

So that leaves 96 Mike Vial shirts out in the wild. One made its way to the thrift store.

“It’s weird,” I said. “But Sherman Alexie’s father told him, ‘I knew you made it when I saw your book for sale at the Good Will!’ I feel like I’ve made it.”

Garret smiled. “I wish I would have worn it today.”

We said goodbye as the next musical act was starting her first song. Garret walked back to where his family and friends were sitting. He began to chase his toddler around the green.

Later that day, I sold two CDs at the festival. I’m almost sold out of those, too, but maybe you will find one of them at the local thrift store.