Michelle Belanger
Country / rockabilly / blues
Members: band members vary from gig to gig

Greetings friends and music lovers-- 
     Hope you are all having a good summer and getting some relief from the heat. Here's this month's index:
-Fun time at D' McGeary's
-Willie reaches across the lines
-J Butler's this Saturday
-Sun Jam
-Upcoming gigs
-Garden pic
Fun time at D' McGeary's
     So, we played as a trio at D' McGeary's a couple weeks ago and met some more people who really enjoyed hearing and dancing to some good old classic country and rockabilly. I will have some video up as soon as I can, so stop by my facebook music page or just do a search in youtube for Mystery Hillbillies trio. There is already a bunch of stuff up there, including Blue Note Grill gigs and some video that a fan took of the Pleasure Island Bluegrass by The River festival I played with Calvin and John in May. (there's even some vintage UCLACC with Memphis and Buddyro). We had a special guest at D' McGeary's. My friend Tom Mindte was in town from Rockville Md. Tom is one of my favorite pickin' buddies. He knows more old honkytonk country songs than about anyone I know. Except for maybe Scott Williams. It was so fun to get those two guys together. I knew they would have a great time. Tom and I will be doing a bunch of jamming at the Galax Fiddler's Convention (Aug 5th-11th) pickin in the swingtown camp and out amongst the bluegrassers. Sooo much fun! Come on up if you can. Look for my white Astro van with the silver "contarption" in the swingtown annex. If you've never heard of a contarption, it's because I made it up :) - I'm the tarpitect, if you will. And the builder. It's a contraption that keeps my van and a little space around it dry and in the shade. It has gotten me through many a fiddlers convention and I have slept as late as noon on a hot day. Beautiful.
Willie reaches across the lines-
     I met a couple of women at D' McGeary's. April and her sister Linda were out celebrating April's birthday. We were talking during the break about the show Willie Nelson did in June at a small venue called Jomeokee near Pinacle, NC. Linda had gone to the show with her son. She said there were people of many generations in the crowd. That got me thinking about the way music can cut across so many lines and provide an opportunity for people from different walks of life to enjoy each other. Willie has always had a knack for reaching so many kinds of folks. By the early 60's he was writing some of the most classic country songs ( Crazy, Hello Walls ), while playing bass in Ray Price's Cherokee Cowboys (even the name is cross cultural). He was a member of the Grand Old Opry (establishment), and the Outlaw Country movement (anti-establishment). His fans include farmers, businessmen, cowboys, and hippies.
     My first introduction to his music was the juke box at Baker's Bar in Frankfort, MI, where several songs from Willie's Stardust record brought me a glimpse at old swing standards and at the idea that country music might be a lot more than Olivia Newton John and John Denver (they were the ones winning country music grammys when I was a kid, and that was just not my cup of tea). A couple months later, I went to a square dance hosted by the Spirit Of The Woods Music Association where I discovered a really diverse group of people working together to bring traditional and folk music and dancing to their community. I love the fact that so many different kinds of people were having fun working and playing together. Music helped make that possible. The age ranges of  the people involved was a good spread, but I was the first teenager to step up and get involved, and they took me under their wing. My education about real country music was off to a good start.  It's been a great road since then, and it keeps getting better. I will be singin' a bunch of those old tin pan alley songs from the Baker's Bar jukebox (All of Me, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Blue Skies) with my Galax pickin buddies. There will definitely be some people there from very different walks of life. I have always enjoyed walking in a lot of different worlds, and Galax is one unto itself. Yet another door opened by people making music.
J Butler's this Saturday-
     This Saturday will be our second gig with Scott Williams. Scott knows old classic country and rockabilly really well. He's played in those styles for many years. It has been a real treat for me and if you like that kind of stuff- I'm thinking you probably do, since you're reading this- you're gonna want to catch one of our shows. Saturday's forecast is cloudy but dry, low 69 and a light breeze. Put that together with some food, a cold beverage of your choice and great music, and you really can't go too wrong. One of the bartenders likes to make frozen daiquiris so that he can "let the fun out" of a whipped cream can. I actually saw some canned whip cream with that in small print at the top. Too funny. Please join us if you can. We play from 8-11 and there is no cover charge.
-Sun Jam
     The third annual Sun Jam was last Saturday, and I once again got to sing some r&b/soul next to a bunch of great musicians, several of whom went to high school in Chapel Hill (a looooooooong time ago) and have been playing music ever since. It's a super fun party that happens every July in Chapel Hill at the University Inn. CH alum rent a banquet room next to the Time Out Sports Bar and set up the stage for a bunch of great payers to jam in various combinations. One of them is my old vocal coach, Carter Minor. Great music and dancing ensues and pretty much all the money that gets collected at the door goes to the musicians and the PA system. Lots of dancing and fun. Watch for it next year. I'll try to give you a heads up. 
-Upcoming shows
     In addition to J Butlers, I will be on the Weaver Street lawn (Carrboro) from 6-8 Thursday, Aug 30th. John Worthington and Fj Ventre will be joining me. I head to Michigan for most of September, and I'll be playing my first gig up there at the Earthwork Harvest Gathering 2012 with an excellent band of Michigan musicians. It will be billed Captain and the Cowgirl. The Captain is Drew "Captain Midnight" Howard. I play my first show at Prissy Polly's BBQ in Kernersville, NC on Oct 11th (Thursday) from 6-8:30. Cal, Scott and I will be really mining the old country for that gig. That'll be fun. I'm working on some other stuff as well, so stay tuned. Hope to see you soon and thanks for supporting live music.
-Garden pic
here's a smiling face for ya-

The Blue Note Grill Durham, NC Thu Jan 29 2015 06:30 PM  
Green Heron Club Danbury, NC Sat Feb 07 2015 07:00 PM  
The Garage Winston-Salem, NC Fri Feb 27 2015 07:00 PM  
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"Michelle, I love to come hear you play because I can pretend I'm you and it makes me feel sassy"  Tami Reichert, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes

"I think of the word "bad-ass" when I think of you. Confident, talented, cool, humorous, skilled ...bad-ass!"  Anastasia Mattox, Mystery Hillbillies fan quotes

"The Mystery Hillbillies opened the show with a barn burning set of tightly focused, three-piece high-lighted by Michelle Belanger’s lived-in vocals. Hillbillies regular Calvin Johnson on the upright came the closest to Americana, easing the crowd into the evening connecting the mountain pickers to urban hot-rodders in a tactile way. The addition of a drummer and electric guitar brought on the Memphis and allowed their set to bridge that gap from the Carter Family Fold in Virginia to Johnny’s electrified Nashville career. Belanger’s stage presence and singing are warm, like sitting on a porch and listening to her croon over a chorus of crickets."  Chad Nance, Camel City Dispatch

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