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Don’t Sing!

2020 January 10
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by Mike Vial

A one scene play called, Don’t Sing!

Setting: An American family’s home in Ann Arbor. The Frozen 2 soundtrack plays in the background.)

Alton: No! Trolls! Trolls’ songs!
Me: I just want to listen to Frozen, for one song.
Alton: No!
Me: [I start singing]: Into the unknown!
Ginny: Stop singing! Dada! Stop singing!
Me: Why can’t I sing?
Ginny: Stop!
Me: But Ginny, I’m actually a singer! I literally get paid to sing!
Ginny: Well, no one is paying you right now!
Alton: No sing! Trolls!

Lois, the dog, continues to sleep through the madness.

PS: I’ve lost my voice this week, and I had to cancel my mash gig tomorrow, Jan. 11.


You Are the Colors That You Love

2019 October 12
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by Mike Vial

In June of 2019, Harrison High School closed, and a pink slip was delivered to my mailbox.

Other than my residency at mash, I played very little guitar during the summer. I was lost in the heat of anxiety, unemployment forms, job searches, resume revisions. I interviewed in five districts by late July, and I was solo parenting while my wife worked. No songs were written; I began to freak out in mid-August when no job offers came either.

The sun sets, the sun rises: Two weeks before the school year started, I had an interview in New Boston! And now, I write this update as the colors of the trees change to red, yellow, gold, and brown. I’m so happy Huron hired me!

I’m six weeks into my 11th year of teaching Language Arts in public schools, my 14th year of teaching total. I’m really happy at this new job. It’s a small district, similar to where I got my start in education in 2003.

During the summer, Mike Gentry warned me how time works for parents; once you give up a slice of hours, it’s really hard to get those hours back. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Now that life is settling into a routine again, I’m trying to make time for music again.

It’s difficult.

My kids are two and four; the anxiety of unemployment has faded into a  frantic sprint of lesson planning and essay reading. Still, I’m strategizing how to musically approach 2020.

This strategy starts by scheduling more time to play guitar, mandolin, piano. Today, once I got Ginny and Alton to sleep, I rehearsed a few songs I might record during winter break, and wonderfully the riffs and chords of a possible new song appeared in the key of E.

Then, my four-year-old daughter interrupted my demo recording to ask, “What are you playing, Dada?”

“Ginny, why are you not in bed?”

She paused and stared at my Taylor acoustic. “Your guitar sounded so beautiful, I had to come hear it close up.”

It’s hard to argue with a four-year-old at 9 PM. It’s also hard to force Muse to send song ideas when there are 57 essays about Greek mythology awaiting feedback.

Earlier today, my kids and I had music time after Al’s nap. Ginny wrote a song titled, “You Are the Colors That You Love.” (Isn’t that a beautiful title from a four-year-old? I hope it’s OK if I borrow it.)

Then, Alton played guitar for the first time. He used my mini-Strat tuned to open-G. Both of his hands plucked the stings, as if the guitar was a piano. He smiled at me, turning the tone knobs and tuners. He started singing a song of his own, some words we could decipher, like “car” and “sunshine,” others in gibberish.

We all got a little writing time in today.

Hopefully by 2020, I’ll have some new music to share with you, too. For now, it’s just this image of my family chasing a song.


Saving Summer & Brighton Concert in August

2019 July 28
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by Mike Vial

My summer gig calendar is sparse, but I’m busy here in Dixboro! I’m job hunting for a new teaching position, and I’m chasing my kids around parks, library story times, and museums while my wife works on writing assignments.

I also have been saving weekends to spend time with friends and family during the summer break. During my 11 years of playing music professionally, I’ve often missed family reunions, friends’ hangouts, and concerts because I was always working on the weekends.

This summer, I vowed to open up my weekends for real vacations, ones without guitar cases in the trunk! My college friends and I celebrated 20 years of friendship with a hiking trip to the Rocky Mountains last week. My dad and I also went to see Junior Brown at the Ark.

In August, I have two gigs left this summer–my monthly residency at mash (8/24) and one concert in Brighton (8/17).

Tom from After Blue and I met at 20 Front Theater a few months ago, and he kindly asked me if I’d join their songwriter scramble in August 2019 at the new Brighton Coffeehouse & Theater.

The show, a Nashville style round, is on August 17. No cover at the door! (Acoustic Ash will be dominating the stage, and the rest of us will be sprinting to keep up with her.)


A2SF Tonight: An open letter to Dave Boutette & Kristi Lynn Davis warning you about two, little concert attendees!

2019 June 25
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by Mike Vial
An open letter to Dave Boutette & Kristi Lynn Davis:
I apologize in advance to Dave & Kristi for the ruckus my two & four year old may cause during their Ann Arbor Summer Festival: Top of the Park performance tonight.
It will be distracting–maybe for bandmates, maybe for attendees, definitely for parents of said children.
I told my kids bands are playing! Ginny replied that she already *knew* this, that she’s bringing her woofer guitar, Frozen microphone, and Melissa & Doug xylophone to the festival. (Her agent booked her, didn’t you know?) Alton, in response to Ginny’s discussion of band practice, has been carrying around his DJ robot that plays baby dubstep songs. These two can’t agree on genres.
I promise to confiscate these items before we pack the car, but contrabrand is going to get through the gate.
In the past, Ginny has assumed she can rush the stage or be a roadie, like when I played last year. We are prepared for this; we are bringing extra security (Nana). However, if there are bubbles at the Kidzone tent, Alton will ecstatically lose his mind again, turning A2SF into a toddler rave. It’s the bubbles that cause concern, where security might lose control of the situation.
Dave, I plan to see you around 5, but it takes 45 minutes to get two children in their car seats. We may arrive fashionable late. Also, I request your song “Dixboro,” if requests are encouraged. Anything Ginny requests (Disney songs) is best ignored.


Being Married to a Writer & Mother’s Day

2019 May 12
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by Mike Vial
Being married to a writer means she will find a way to be paid for a story that tells her husband gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Being married to a writer is great!
Happy Mother’s Day, Natalie!
(And Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there, including my mom, who will most likely see this post before anyone else. Have a great dinner at Fenton Hotel!)

Read Natalie Burg’s article on Forbes: “Truly Thoughtful Mother’s Day Ideas“: