Mayer Hawthorne, 11.11.10

If you know me, then you know I love a white boy who can sing with soul. And this dude is all over that. I attended this show—not concert—at the suggestion of my friend, a big MH fan, and one 75 minute set basically turned me into a long-term fan. Why? Because Mayer is from Michigan, baby!

I have a family connection to Michigan, which makes me a little biased, but I’ve noticed something about musicians from the mitten state. They respect and honor their state’s musical past more than any other state. Think about it. When I think of “California” music, I think of the Beach Boys. Yet basically none of the music that comes from California nowadays pays any small tribute to the surf sound. Granted, a shit-ton of music comes out of this huge state. But it’s so poppy and rappy and all over the place. There’s no singular voice. With Michigan artists, you feel the Motown oozing from every note because they were raised to respect that glorious sound. Mayer Hawthorne does exactly that. He’s got the up-beat and the doo-wop, but without trying to imitate his elders. He’s got his own modernized version of the sound, updated lyrics, slightly faster tempos for this generation’s style of dancing. It all works. And it’s not fancy. He’s a dude in a suit, and he just wants you to have a good time. Can’t complain about that. If you haven’t heard “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin'” then you’re missing out. YouTube it.

The opener, Gordon Voidwell, was equally good at getting the audience to dance. He had the synth-falsetto thing going for him, and who knew that three people could make so much NOISE on stage? Damn. Anyway, I decided that this guy/his band are way better live than on records, because I guess techno/synth music is more meant to be partied to rather than sat-around-and-listened-to.

In any case, Bimbo’s was a great time on Thursday night. Intimate but not too intimate, classy but not too classy, appropriately priced, and a great distance from my apartment. Too bad I didn’t head down to Eve after the show to hear MH transform into DJ Haircut and blow everyone away with his spinning skills. Next time.