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

Greetings friends and music lovers-

      I am back in NC after my annual migration to visit family, friends and the lovely Lake Michigan herself in the month of September. My first Michigan gig was very well recieved and I would like to welcome all the folks who signed up for my email list from up there. Thanks for keeping in touch. Here is this month's index.

- Music From My Travels
- Prissy Polly's Tonight
- Other Upcoming Gigs
- Garden Pic

- Music From My Travels

Wheatland Festival has been the anchor of my Michigan trip every year. My long streak of attendance (34 years in a row) means I will be visiting my old home state at laest once a year. There has always been outstanding music on the roster for this festival and this year was no exception. Two of my favorites from this year were Deke Dickerson and Paul Thorn. Deke is quite a character. He is an excellent guitar player and singer who works in a range of styles including country, hillbilly, blues, bluegrass, western swing and rockabilly. He is a great showman and he and his bad did a great job of entertaining the dancers and everyone else. He even had a little pupet show using marionettes with their own western saloon scene, housed in a cardboard box at one end of the stage. His website includes a section called Deke's Wonderful World of Weirdness. Check out his page of one man bands. There is a bunch of Deke's music on youtube. Here's one to get you started. Deke and the boys playing "Red Bull Popsicle", which is supposedly a family friendlier version of the Big Bopper's tune White Lightnin' (also a big hit for George Jones- that's where I know it from). Deke plays the baritone guitar. For all you Jesco fans, Deke wrote the score for the movie The Wild Whites Of West Virginia. At the movie premere, Deke and his bluegrass band crash the red carpet as Jesco and his mom arrive and an imprompto dance party ensues.

      Paul Thorn was a whole lot of fun and a character as well. I had seen him play years ago in the old Ziggy's here in Winston Salem and I remember, besides the great grooves and the fun stories he would tell in between and through the songs, that he gave a prize for the biggest fan of the night. He announced it a little way into the second set (as had apparently been his custom) by saying "don't start acting now because I've been watching". The prize was an autographed bottle of Mad Dog 20 20- haha. Once when my friends saw him in Charlotte, a kid won the award so he gave her an autographed can of Spagettios. I love that. Here he is guesting on a radio show singing
Honkytonk Neanderthal, which pokes some fun at mainstream contemporary country music (and himself). And here's one with the hot band he had playing with him at the festival. Long Way From Tupelo.

      In the last few years I have added another festival called
Earthwork Harvest Gathering. In 2011 I volunteered my time and skill as a stage manager, and played the open mic with my buddy Drew "Captain Midnight" Howard. Drew is a sideman extraordinaire who pays a wide range of great music and is always in demand.That combination was enough to get me invited to play a little honkytonk dance in the barn with Drew and our buddy Frank Youngman on the bass. The Harvest Gathering is a benefit for Earthwork farm, which has been a hub and incubater of a whole bunch of great musicains who were raised in communities that were centered around people getting together to play and listen to mostly traditional music. As my friend Rachael Davis describes it, "we had a lot of hootenannies with potlucks that included a lot of humus and taboulie and dishes made from the fresh produce out of people's gardens". These folks are now in their twenties and early thirties and they have become really excellent players and singers. Many of them bring their bands to perform at the Harvest Gathering to enjoy and give back to the community that nutured them.
      Here is a selection of some of the bands I particularly enjoyed.
Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies have their roots in bluegrass but have been writing and arranging songs that incorporate swing and a singer/songwriter kind of vibe. Lindsay's singing is beautiful and the band is tight with lots of good singing and playing all around. Here they are with a version of My Side Of The Mountain. Luke Winslow King grew up in Michigan and attended Interlochen school, moved to New Orleans for college, and ended up settling there to make a living playing music. His style combines old swing, country blues, ragtime and "delta folk" and he really captures an old time feel, whether he's playing traditional tunes or his own originals. His band is called the Ragtime Millionaires (great name, I think). Here they are playing their namesake song, followed by a cool slow tune at a small concert in Oxfort MS. There are also some fun videos on the news page of his website.
      I first heard Molly Bouwsma sing several years ago at Wheatland. She was so young and already very good. She played HG with her band
Blue Molly and they sounded great. Here they are playing live on the Jumior Wells classic Little By Little. Smokin'.

- Prissy Polly's Tonight

      I am happy to be playing tonight at
Prissy Polly's Bar-B-Que in Kernersville. I'll be joined by Scott Williams on guitar and Calvin Johnson on bass. Prissy Polly's is well known for their bar-b-que pork and chicken with the usual sides, as well as a great place to listen to some bluegrass and classic country music while you eat. We will be pulling out some classics for this show, and I am tickled to play for a room full of folks who love the old country songs. Scott and Calvin both grew up with this music and they will do a great job bringing an authentic sound to songs by the likes of Jim Reeves, Ferron Young and Bob Wills. We will be mixing in some roockabilly too. Hope some of you can join us. We play from 6-8:30.

- Other Upcoming Gigs

      I will be returning to J Butlers in Lewisville next Wednesday, Oct 17th from 8-11. (Their website is not very informative but you can find them on google maps. The Lewisville location is at the intersection of 421 and Lewisville/Clemmons Rd in Winston). Scott and Cal will join me on this one as well, although the sets will be more toward the rockin side of things. We'll still have some classic country in there. J Butlers has a large and varied menue with moderate prices and something for many kinds of tastes. They also have a full bar in a casual setting with an covered patio. It will probably be cool enough to have the band inside. This is our second time playing there. We will be returning on Dec 22nd as well. I will also be back to the wonderful and fun
Blue Note Grill on Thursday, October 25th with John Worthington and Fj Ventre. Always fun to play with those guys. Come on out and bring your dancing shoes. We will defintiely have some fun.

     I hope to see you all soon, and please do get out to enjoy some live music wherever you are. It's good for the soul. Until the next time-


Morning glories


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  
> See More / Details


"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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