REVIEW: Mike Marshall & Darol Anger with opener Westbound Situation

Mike Marshall and Darol Anger, a duo that has been playing together for over forty years, brought back their mix off bluegrass, jazz, and chamberfolk music to the stage of the Ark. The two continue to push boundaries in the genre of American acoustic music for stringed instruments and erase the barriers that separate bluegrass and traditional American string music from jazz, world music, and the avant garde. They spanned multiple genres over the course of the night, seamlessly taking the audience on a tour of the music world they have experienced.

Before the duo, Westbound Situation, a group that formed at Marshall’s camp: the Savannah Music Festival, played a set of their own. Made up of umich alumni and current students, the Ark was excited to welcome back Westbound to the stage for the second time this season. The group played tunes off their first record titled “pilot,” as well as some new tunes written and arranged by members of the group. Westbound had a really dynamic energy that pulled in the crowd, and was the perfect way to usher in Marshall and Anger.

With Anger on fiddle and Marshall switching back and forth between guitar and mandolin, the two reminisced about old tours and tunes they had shared over the years. The night was filled with fantastic improv and even better dad jokes shared between two very good friends. They played tunes that spanned the past 4 decades, many written by the two themselves. They had a very distinct style of playing with rhythm and tripping up the audience member. I heard lots of twisty tunes that night that made me want to rewind and listen again.

For the second half, Westbound joined the duo to play some of their tunes off of their record ” Chiaroscuro.” It was fun to see this next generation of musicians play with their mentors and and personal inspiration. Mike Marshall commented that “the future of this music is in good hands,” and how excited he was that this group of musicians was able to meet and continue to make music together. Mike Marshall and Darol Anger continue to be some of the most prominent musicians in this mixed genre scene, and I am so glad I got to see them play at the Ark:)

Every time I go to the Ark I am always in awe of how good the acoustics are. The space is inviting and intimate, and the popcorn is really good (fun fact!!!). It is a very student friendly venue and I am sure I will find myself back there within the next month!

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