By Tami Jackson
At Eagle’s South, 7037 S. Pine St. in Tacoma, there was a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on last Saturday night, with swing-style dancing, waltzes, boot stomping, and even a few slow songs to dance close to a partner with. A highly versatile performer, lead singer and baritone Michael Crain, with the Michael Crain Band, sang everything from country to pop and rock ’n roll and there were even songs from the 1980’s on the night’s playlist.
Clearly the music hypnotized the crowd because the patrons, most of whom were age 50 and older, scurried out of their chairs to waltz, boogie or do a gentler version of break-dancing (depending on the song). When Crain sang Toby Keith’s lyrics “I Love This Bar,” there were boots, high heels and wing tips all scooting across the hardwood together.
The Michael Crain Band makes a clean and professional sound regardless of whether they play songs by Elvis, Wilson Pickett, Los Lobos or play guitar instrumentals. Crain’s speaking voice has a smooth Texas drawl that you’d like to bottle up and save as flavoring for your morning coffee. As the band’s star vocalist, his singing of popular tunes is just as mesmerizing as the original singer for each song. Yet Crain also writes his own music and, depending on the gig, might perform his own songs. When he decides to dance on stage, you’ll wish you had a video-graphic memory by which you could tuck that vision into your permanent memory bank. He’s that good of a dancer.
Each band member from the drummer to the lead guitarists can also sing vocals and they all played badass like they’d been doing this for a very a long while, unlike so many upstart bands that rely on electronic devices and a Jimi Hendrix wah wah pedal to make it sound like someone might be a musician. This band is the real deal; fingerpicking, strumming and keeping everything in perfect rhythm. The vocal harmony is spot on too.
In the Michael Crain Band, Dave Croston plays lead guitar, but he is also a composer and audio engineer for his own purposes. He said he has produced six albums for Crain and has a couple of smooth jazz CDs of his own. Derek Winkel sings and plays bass, but on Saturday night the band’s drummer, Mike Carini, had injured his thumb so they hired a temporary drummer for this night, which is why the very talented Pete Boardway was on stage.
“That’s how you know a band is good when everyone wants to get up and dance,” said an elderly Eagle’s member who made it to the dance floor in spite of his self-described bad knees.
Judging by the crowd’s reaction, Crain definitely puts a lot of effort into selecting the night’s playlist. He said he plays whatever music best suits the venue they’re performing at. On this night, anytime someone made a special song request for the band, the dancers would exit the floor feeling uninspired to dance, only to return again once the band played another piece from Crain’s own set.
While Crain sang, “It’s not unusual to have fun with anyone” (Tom Jones), all I had to do is dream and dance and drink lots of soda since the Eagle’s club really knows how to pour a stiff one and a lady should always pace herself! In the audience, and sometimes on the dance floor, was Crain’s new wife Sibylle, who took his last name. The two had married on July 8 and on this night Michael dedicated the song “My Girl” to her. Yet on his recently released CD, he dedicated the song “Ninety-nine Percent Cool” to her as well.
Before going to hear the Michael Crain Band, brush up on your line dancing and swing dancing moves and then go to Amvets, 5717 S. Tyler St., Tacoma, on Mon., Sept. 18, where they’ll perform from 6-10 p.m. The band will also play at the Auburn Eagles club on Fri., Sept. 22, from 7-11 p.m. The Michael Crain Band also has videos on YouTube. In fact, the first film that pops up under a YouTube search for “Michael Crain Band” is their song called “I Gotta Find A Girl,” which Crain said is about his longed-for daughter Shilo. Turns out, his ex-wife became a Seventh-day Adventist, ran off, and he hasn’t seen his child since March of 2012.
Back to the live performances, the Michael Crain Band created a really fun night at the Eagle’s South and that means you’re guaranteed to have fun dancing to the band’s music too. To contact Michael Crain for booking or to order a CD or get other information about the band see: firstname.lastname@example.org, (253) 905-2575, and michaelcrainband.com.