April 18, 2012 - Local residents tapped their toes to the first performance of the Clarkston Center for the Performing Arts' "Music on the Move" series last Saturday.
From left are The Red Sea Pedestrians, Cori Summers, Rachel Flanigan, Michael Simmin, Jay Gavan, Ian Gorman, and Ira Cohen. (click for larger version)
The show at the Depot Theater featured Glenn Poorman playing the Chapman stick followed by The Red Sea Pedestrians, a band of six musicians with a unique blend of sounds and styles.
Ian Gorman, the band's mandolin player and accordionist, described their distinct style as "world roots," because it mingles Eastern European styles like Greek traditional with American folk and rock.
He added, "what we enjoy doing is finding that middle ground between different cultures and styles."
Glenn Poorman taps a tune on his 12-string Chapman stick. (click for larger version)
Gorman is credited with starting the band, which has been together since 2005 and has produced three full-length albums. Depot Theater patrons heard tunes from the Pedestrian's earlier work and from their newest CD titled The Electromagnetic Escape.
When you listen to The Red Sea Pedestrians, it's no wonder they don't fit easily into any one genre because all six band members take part in writing the original songs that make up their set.
Depending on who is doing the writing, "it's almost like a different band," drummer Michael Simmin explained.
"There's definitely different personalities to all the songs, but they all work together," guitarist Jay Gavan added.
Each musician brought a special talent to the performance on Sunday. In their song "Golden Apple," the merging of Cori Summers' violin and Rachel Flanigan's clarinet created a chamber music sound while Jay Gavan's vocals and guitar offered a minstrel vibe.
"Everybody is really active in composing their own parts and adding to songs," Gorman said.
The Red Sea Pedestrians credit their ability to blend genres to the freedom encouraged in the Michigan music scene.
Gorman commented on the "community and camaraderie in the state," and said, "people are constantly collaborating, and so many of us play in multiple bands. It is really supportive."
The group takes part in many Michigan folk festivals where they bond with other musicians; however, they've also left their home base of Kalamzoo to perform in Iowa and Illinois.
Here in Clarkston, the unique sounds of both the Red Sea Pedestrians and Glenn Poorman were popular with audience members.
"I thought both acts were spectacular. I was blown away," Chris Hill said.
Ian Gorman's father, Jim, came from Birmingham to see his son perform and stated that he would "come back to Music on the Move."