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The best brewery in Ann Arbor

2017 May 30
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by Mike Vial

As Ann Arbor’s competitive beer industry expands to 11 breweries, I want to share why mash/Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery is my favorite in town.

One, I really like their porter.

But the larger reason they stand out is because of how well they have treated me as a hired musician for the last four years.

Once, after a sudden snow storm hit Ann Arbor, they decided to close their two locations early, so their staff could get home safely.

I pulled up to the bar right when they made the decision. They paid me even though they had to cancel.

A manager handed me a check and said, “Leave your gear in the car and go home before the roads are treacherous!”

I’ve played at 370 different locations across the country over the last 10 years. This type of fairness in the bar industry is extremely rare.

I’m reminded of this rarity since a different bar just cancelled the summer gigs they booked with me back in February.

They contacted me; I agreed and held the dates. Now, I won’t be able to fill those holes in my summer gig schedule.

But I’ll get creative after my paternity leave; and I’ve learned to budget for 5-10 cancellations for every 100 gigs.

However, this isn’t an easy business. That’s why I feel a kinship with you other musicians handling the ups and downs of gigging, and staying at it.

This is also why I often request we stop by mash on a rare night off.



Setlist: May 28, 2017 – Old Town Tavern

2017 May 29
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by Mike Vial

Last night was a fitting gig for me to sing “Danny’s Song.” Nat and I are having a baby boy in June! (Update: Also fitting for the lyric David Stanley points out: “Even though we ain’t got money.”)

Ark Set List & Videos

2017 May 11
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by Mike Vial

Playing the Ark is always my favorite gig of the year. The staff, volunteers, history, stage, sound–I’m riding an endorphin spike from last night. Plus, I got to hear my friends Frances Luke Accord! Being a full-time musician means I miss most of the shows I want to attend; I’m gigging when my friends are playing! Last night, I got to do both activities.

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River Street Anthology Session Video

2017 May 8
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by Mike Vial

In July of 2016, I went to Matt Jones’s basement to tape a session for his wonderful River Street Anthology. Charlie Steen & Mostly Midwest captured the session on video too, and they posted it today!

Matt’s been taping songwriters in his basement for a few years now. The sessions started on whim, and grew into a full blown anthology of many corners of Michigan. Like Alan Lomax, Jones has made it a mission to capture the flavors of songwriting, specifically in Michigan.

Last July, Gentry and I were deep into mixing process of my record A World That’s Bigger, and my chops were firing on all cylinders. I had already done 150 takes live for the record, so doing one more take live wasn’t daunting!

I had trouble deciding which song to record for the anthology, so I let my wife choose. Without hesitation, she told me to play Ginny’s song.

The first verse captures a scene of our home in Dixboro, an image of walking my daughter down the road to the baseball field, where a one-room school house and historic revival church await us, and the overwhelming questions about life…I got a notification was posted today, as I was walking Ginny down that very road.aworldthatsbiggerfield

Thanks for watching my session. You can see many more of Jones’s anthology here at The River Street Vimeo page.

Set List: May 6, 2017 – Coffee Amici

2017 May 7
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by Mike Vial
Photo credit: Mike Gentry

Photo credit: Mike Gentry

Fun show! These are my soul-filling gigs. Mike Gentry played a full set of original songs and shared stories about living in LA, Crazy Johnnie, and how we are all “one water.” Then I played a full set of mostly songs from A World That’s Bigger. I played one unreleased song, “Awestruck,” and three covers, too. Thanks to the returning faces for coming out to our favorite Ohio coffeehouse listening room. And thanks to Lynne, John, Craig and Jayne for hosting us.