"...Truly one of the eclectic original and iconic wordsmiths writing songs today." - Bob Gottlieb, Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
"...a man who knows how to make his guitar do anything he wants." - Craig Clarke, Greenman Reviews
"...The most talented musician/performer I have ever seen, and I've seen a bunch!" - Linda Z. Smith, Founder of The Creative Spirit Center in Midland, MI
"It is a shame a major label has not pick him up yet..." - John Hardy, WYCE Music Journal
"Words are all so very important but Dan has the music within him to carry his stories. Humor and heart are hard to find in such abundance." - Trish Lewis, WUCX-FM Producer and Host of The Eclectic Chair
Michigan singer-songwriter Dan Vaillancourt is a traveler, avid songwriter, storyteller, teacher, father, multi-instrumentalist, and YouTube cooking show host, but his friends will tell you that he’s still a dork. He has performed hundreds of concerts in forty states, been played on the radio in all fifty states and beyond, and is always writing new songs.
Part worldly troubadour, part down-home Midwesterner, Dan's conversational voice is warm and resonant, lending simplicity to his well-crafted lyrics. With an eclectic list of influences and hundreds of songs to his credit, Dan has been compared to such diverse talent as Shawn Mullins, Todd Snider, Paul Simon, and Joe Henry.
His rhythmic acoustic guitar, improvisational dexterity, and storytelling contribute to his style, which has been coined Funktified Folk. Critics refer to him as "a man who knows how to make his guitar do anything he wants..." (Craig Clarke, Greenman Reviews) and "one of the eclectic original and iconic wordsmiths writing songs today" (Bob Gottlieb, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange).
Melodic Snapshots and Lovely Distractions, two of Dan's recent critically acclaimed albums, have been added to the playlists of hundreds of radio stations and have landed on many stations’ CMJ Top 30 radio charts, as well as being featured on several nationally syndicated radio programs, including Acoustic Cafe and Coast to Coast AM.
Several of his songs have been featured on CD compilations, with a total distribution of nearly 20,000 copies. Dan’s songs are personal, brought to life with the help of friends and studio musicians as well as award-winning engineers including Richard Dodd, Ric Hordinski, Rick Armstrong, and Randy LeRoy.
Dan released a new live album in 2011, Tunes and Tangents from the Lake Effect Tour, recorded at various concerts in Michigan and Wisconsin. Songs include fan favorites from the studio albums, the storytelling and instrumental tangents that his concerts are known for, and many oft-requested but previously unreleased songs such as Normandy, Olivia, Spirit of Detroit, and Peter on the Boat.
Dan is releasing a brand-new studio album titled: When the Lights Come On, in November 2013. The album consists of 14 songs written and recorded in February 2013. Dan is responsible for all of intentional and accidental sounds on this recording, including vocals, guitars (electric, classical, tenor, bass and acoustic), banjo, mandolin, harmonica, washboard, glockenspiel, hand claps, theremin, foot stomps, chair squeaks and laughs. Listen and read more about the album: http://danvaillancourt.bandcamp.com
When he’s not writing, recording, or globetrotting, Dan also hosts Funktified Food, a web series and blog dedicated to simple unique recipes with a blend of great music. Dan isn't a chef; he's just a musician who loves to cook. His cooking style blends influences ranging from the home-cooked meals of his youth to the unique cafes and restaurants he’s visited during his travels. http://www.funktifiedfood.com and http://www.facebook.com/FunktifiedFood
Ever prolific, Dan never seems to sit still. He writes over 50 songs a year, many as part of songwriting challenges, such as February Album Writing Month and the 50 Songs in 90 Days Challenge. After the recent birth of his daughter, he is focusing on more local performances at his favorite festivals, house concerts, and concert series. He continues a decade-and-a-half long passion of teaching music, and along with other musicians, runs a week-long rock and roll camp in northern Michigan.
Teaching, writing, performing, traveling, and being a father keeps Dan’s creativity honed and his skills sharp. He always has a new song to write and a compelling story to tell.
In Concert: 10-String Guitar and Vocals.
On the Albums: Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Bass, Mandolin, Lapsteel, Dobro, Banjo, Percussion...
Dan Vaillancourt - Self-Titled (2000)
Dan Vaillancourt - Live & Funktified (2003)
Dan Vaillancourt - Melodic Snapshots (2005)
Dan Vaillancourt - Songs and Stories from the Road (2007)
Dan Vaillancourt - Lovely Distractions (2008)
Dan Vaillancourt - Tunes and Tangents from The Lake Effect Tour (2011)
Dan Vaillancourt - When the Lights Come On (2013)
8.24.02 - Live in Ann Arbor, MI
6.17.03 - Live in Charlotte, NC
5.16.04 - Live in Chicago, IL
4.24.05 - Live in Chicago, IL
Odds & Ends - Various Dates
11.3.07 - Live @ Lemonjello's
FAWM 2008 - 14 Songs Written in Feb. 2008
26 Girls - 50/90 Songwriting Challenge 2008
::Compilations:: (Over 15,000 Copies total!)
Acoustic Rainbow CD Sampler Vol. 25 (2006)
Foghorn Records "Sounds Like Cafe" Compilation vol. 10 (2006)
20th Annual Brewhouse Triathlon Festival Compilation CD (2006)
Mvyradio Fresh Produce Volume 2 (2006)
Java With Javelyn Indie Music Volume 2 (2006)
Acoustic Fuel 'Follow Your Dreams' (2007)
The Lost Art of Tape Trading Volume 1 (2009)
Java With Javelyn Indie Music Volume 4 (2010)
Almost Free Music Volume 3 (2011)
The Gospel Of Late Night TV
Give Up (Studio Version)
Newspapers (Studio Version)
Fall Winds (Studio Version)
Wandering Blue Eyes (Studio Recording)
Fall for You
Amusement Park (Live)
Normandy & The Nurse's Salute (Live)
Lovely Distractions Review by: J. Turner
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When I first opened my copy of Dan Vaillancourt’s new CD Lovely Distractions, the jewel case complet...When I first opened my copy of Dan Vaillancourt’s new CD Lovely Distractions, the jewel case completely collapsed -- perhaps the fault of the U.S. Postal Service, perhaps not. I don’t know. But the reason I bring it up at all is because an allegedly faulty jewel case is the only plausible criticism I could find of this fantastic album.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this record, but I guess I’ll have to try since that’s what I’m getting paid to do.
OK, so here are the top four reasons to check out Lovely Distractions.
1. Valliancourt’s guitar playing reminds me of Dave Matthews, however, he doesn’t sing like he has marbles in his mouth. I'm extremely impressed with Vaillancourt’s acoustic technique and creative approach -- the man can do more than strum.
2. Vaillancourt’s vocals are virtually indistinguishable from Pete Yorn’s. However, if you should happen to forget which artist you’re listening to, as I sometimes did, you can right yourself by remembering that Vaillancourt’s songs are the intriguing ones telling colorful stories about the world around him, and not Bruce Springsteen covers.
3. In addition to the quintessential bass, guitar and drums that most acoustic pop albums feature, Distractions includes a variety of arrangement -- enhancing cameos from organs, strings, shakers, banjo, mandolin (maybe?) and one show-stealing contribution from an unforgettable—but unnamed—female vocalist.
4. "Fall Winds" -- irresistible indie duet; "Amusement Park" -- percussive guitar and shaker shaking (could abate ass-shaking), features "Meet Virginia" type story and my favorite vocal performance on the album; "I Am Your Radio" -- Vaillancourt ditches acoustic for electric, sing-along anthem, "Radio" is oh-so radio-friendly.
I can’t recommend this album enough for people who enjoy acoustic pop, low-fi fun and great story telling. Just make sure you have some Scotch tape on hand.
Posted March 2009: http://www.indie-music.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=8214
Lovely Distractions Review by Bob Gottlieb
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This new disc from Dan. Vaillancourt, who seems to be an astute observer of human behavior, takes hi...This new disc from Dan. Vaillancourt, who seems to be an astute observer of human behavior, takes his songwriting to a new level of quirkiness, and is even sharper and more incisive than his previous efforts. He has a knack for taking what he observes and recounting it in a way that is nonjudgmental in a song. He is truly one of the eclectic original and iconic wordsmiths writing songs today. The songs are those of the natural born storyteller put to some idiosyncratic music that will constantly keep the listener on edge for what or where the next jog in the musical road is going to occur; you might liken it to riding a horse that isn't full trained and is still jumpy around civilization, it might go along fine until it boggers and heads off in a different direction. There is no intent at harm but if you aren't paying attention you might find yourself in some unfamiliar terrain and not have any idea how you got there. Mind you that is not a bad thing as it keeps one on his toes and paying attention to what is going on. It is Vaillancourt's attention to the smaller details that sell the stories as being real. Listen to the way he tells the story in the song Amusement Park and you can probably relate to the person/events he is singing about or know a person like that. He's one of the freshest and most original tunesmiths writing today as he opens up the music with vivid new directions and changes that seem to materialize out of lovely distractions. His band stays with him thru all of his shifts and direction changes and gives him the platform and support needed to be able to make those changes so there has to be a round of applause for them thru all of this wonderful recorded mayhem.
Posted March 2009: http://www.acousticmusic.com/fame/p05428.htm
Lovely Distractions Review By: Chip Withrow
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CD REVIEW: Dan Vaillancourt - Lovely Distractions By Chip Withrow - 03/16/2009 Artist: Dan Vail...CD REVIEW: Dan Vaillancourt - Lovely Distractions
By Chip Withrow - 03/16/2009
Artist: Dan Vaillancourt
Album: Lovely Distractions
Genre: Alternative Folk/Pop
Sounds Like: Jack Johnson, Ass Ponys
Technical Grade: 10/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Best Songs: Newspapers, Amusement Park, Satellites
CD Review: With a flurry of high-spirited picking, Dan Vaillancourt’s “Newspapers” jumps off his new album, Lovely Distractions. I knew this disc was a winner almost from that moment. “Newspapers” is a wonderful confluence of jam-band wackiness and folk/pop, and Ricky Nye’s Hammond B3 organ bounces delightfully throughout. The rest of Lovely Distractions is just as much of a treat.
Next, the title cut rocks hard on the strength of Vaillancourt’s percussive electric guitar. Nye’s B3 and Rebecca Vaillancourt’s backing vocal soar atop the song. Dan’s voice is slightly weathered and conversational, well-suited for the evocative “Fall Winds” and “Breath On Me” that follow. Emily Carson adds wistful violin to those two numbers, and John Seurkamp’s percussion is as bracing as autumn itself.
“Amusement Park” is particularly nifty – image-rich lyrics set to Vaillancourt’s driving, jazz/blues acoustic guitar. “Postcards” is a midtempo, kinda trippy country/blues ballad in the vein of, say, the Stones’ “Torn and Frayed.”
“I Am Your Radio” paints a delightful picture – goofy lyrics about a goofy traveling companion. And juxtaposition comes with the following track, the dramatic and compelling “Fearless." Vaillancourt saves one of the best for last with “Satellites,” which launches even more skyward with Randy Vaillancourt’s banjo, more of Emily Carlson’s violin, and some fun sing-along “la-la-las.”
This nine-song set is a great listen to get me going in the morning before my students arrive, and to groove to with the windows down on the way home. Dan Vaillancourt's Lovely Distractions boasts crisp production and unique folk-rock twists.
Lovely Distractions Review By: John Hardy
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Nice technical guitar playing, played, produced, and released by Dan Vaillancourt. It is a shame a m...Nice technical guitar playing, played, produced, and released by Dan Vaillancourt. It is a shame a major label has not pick him up yet, keep plugging away Dan and it may happen. I like Postcards as a strong ballad, Newspapers is pretty lyrical in it's own right. I Am Your Radio is from a slightly different perceptive from the norm. Worth a listen or two let the subtleties to sink in.
'Traveling Man' Article/Interview
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Traveling man By Josh Grosteffon of Midland Daily News For about half the calendar year, Dan V...Traveling man
By Josh Grosteffon of Midland Daily News
For about half the calendar year, Dan Vaillancourt is on the road.
He's driving from club to club, show to show, sleeping from couch to couch, just playing music, getting as much exposure as the Midland-based independent artist can get.
Kansas and Texas mark his 22nd and 23rd states, quite a jump from the 30-40 mile radius he used to tour in exclusively. "I remember when Detroit was far away," Vaillancourt said during an
interview in Midland while on a rare break.
Vaillancourt comes from a musical family and teaches guitar and bass lessons, but he didn't become a full-time artist until about five years ago.
He started playing shows in a 40-mile radius, but quickly became tired of the repetition. Through other musicians he learned that it is possible, as an independent artist, to go past Michigan. His first major tour came in 2002 after a chance encounter with artist Ashley Peacock in the Flushing area. They traded CDs, and Vaillancourt learned soon that this musician was not a local act but based out of Cincinnati. Plus he played shows across the country. "I saw on his website he was playing this place (in Georgia)," Vaillancourt said. "I said 'Oh my gosh you're a rock star.'" But Peacock wasn't; he was just a hungry musician looking for exposure.
Vaillancourt learned that touring out of state was similar to touring in state — just on a larger scale.
That means a lot of cold calls to club owners, sending in demos and selling yourself. It's a lot of work, and it occupies him for 10-plus hours a day when he's home in Midland or via laptop while on the road.
"Once you learn how to do it, it doesn't matter where you do it," he said. "You could (tour) all over the world."
He got his first sampling of life on the road with Peacock, heading to Georgia in 2002. The next year, Vaillancourt set off on his own, hitting the Midwest as a warm up and then the East Coast as his first real test. "I was glad I was kind of young and stupid and not afraid of doing it," he said of his first solo tour. "It takes a lot of guts to say, 'I'm just going to travel for five weeks and hope it works out.'"
While fans think it's all fun and parties, traveling and playing gigs, there are a lot of logistics behind touring. He has to plan routes so he doesn't drive hours out of the way for a show. He has to
find places to stay, not to mention clubs to play, which can be tough for someone starting out without a lot of press or momentum behind him. "When you first start out, it's a lot more work," he said. "They could just as easily book anyone else as they can book you," he said of club owners. "It's just like any other job, the better résumé you have, the easier it is to get a job."
Places to sleep are the easy part. While there is the occasional hotel or crashing at a rest stop, he's usually taken in by fans or other musicians. "It's restored my faith in America to travel because you realize how many real nice people there are," he said. "There's this community of people that support independent music. "I've stayed with so many random strangers and a lot of the times these strangers become my friends," he said. Couches are usually home for the night, and if he's lucky, a spare room. But that's what touring is all about for Vaillancourt.
"Part of my job is connecting with people as much as it is playing music," he said. "If I just wanted to make money, I wouldn't travel. It takes a lot more money to play as you're traveling." And the good karma goes beyond the sharing of sleeping spaces — Vaillancourt has given up his couch to visiting acts in the past — it comes when he needs it the most.
"With all my bad luck, I've had really good luck at the same time,"he said. "I've broken down on the road maybe three, four times." These breakdowns have all come with a way out. One time, debris struck his gas tank, puncturing it, causing him to lose a full tank on his way to Ohio. He stopped at a gas station in Dundee to survey the situation at 2 a.m. A passing motorist bailed him out and offered him a place to stay for the night as well as helping him fix the hole in the morning. Another time he pulled into a venue just in time for his brake lines to snap. "Luckily the club had a basement and one of the employees at the club fixed cars," he said. "I pull in and he cobbled it together enough to get me home."
With the good luck and the bad luck, Vaillancourt is starting to see some success and recognition. He's shared space on the Triple A and other charts with acts such as the Darkness and Ben Harper. He's been
featured on nationally syndicated radio shows and 100,000 watt stations.
He's played some big clubs, such as the now-defunct CBGB's in Manhattan and Asbury Park's Stone Pony, a club Bruce Springsteen made famous. "Every time I play in a famous place with lots of history, whether it is a whole show or just a few songs, I think of all of the other amazing performers that have stood in the same place as I am while I'm on stage," he said. But even with playing venues where the Boss and the Ramones performed, he has a lot of attachment to his home state. The release party for his album "Melodic Snapshots" is still one of his favorite performances ever, and he has favorite clubs in Holland, MI and Manitowoc, WI.
He's working on a new album, but enjoys the lack of pressure of being an independent artist, with no label breathing down his neck to create new hits. But some day, he hopes to have someone doing all the
booking and public relations for him.
"When you're a singer-songwriter ... it's just one person," he said. "I could be making more money doing anything else in my life. Being a musician is about having that passion and drive to want to play
music. You're sacrificing everything else so you can spend an hour, two hours in front of people."
"I love what I do. That's why I do it."
Interview: A Snapshot of Dan Vaillancourt
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Funktified Folkster Dan Vaillancourt has been charming audiences on the East Coast and Mid-West for ...Funktified Folkster Dan Vaillancourt has been charming audiences on the East Coast and Mid-West for several years now. We here at Evolution Of Media have championing him for a while now, and are proud to present our first interview with the man. Caroline Leonardo provided the questions, Dan with the answers. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
Q: In the past few years, there seems to have been an influx of singer-songwriters, or as I like to call them "cool-wordy guys with guitars." As a cool wordy-guy yourself, what do you think sets you apart from the rest?
Well, the fact is that we are all guys with guitars... So there are obvious similarities that people will find between artists. I think that what sets singer-songwriters apart are their influences outside of their own genre... Lyrically I do stem from the same linage of many singer-songwriters before me; getting influence from Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, and John Prine. For my guitar playing... I'm more influenced by instrumentalists such as bassist Victor Wooten. I also love jazz and hip-hop grooves. Depending on the particular song... You see more or less of a certain influence. On my latest album I tried to bring out the different influences in each particular song to make each song stand out.
Q: You call your style "Funktified Folk." For those who don't quite know what that is, can you describe it to us?
This is kind of a continuation of the last question. Funktified Folk is really a fusion of many styles into one: Folk, Jazz, Funk, and Hip Hop all get melded together and you get a singer-songwriter with a funky twist. Another important aspect is that the songs never stay the same and there is always a lot of improvisation. And of course there is a little beatboxing & vocal turntables and guitar tricks thrown in there now and again.
Q: You started writing at a young age, and your latest album is your third. How do you think you've grown as an artist from the first time you wrote a song, to your most recent material?
There is always something to be said for the naivety and simplicity of writing songs before you really know how to write a song but personally I think that my songwriting has grown by leaps and bounds... It's one of those things that the more you do it... the better you get. I've been writing songs for around 10 years now and as I get older I become more proficient lyrically and musically...
Q: You have a degree in Cultural Anthropology and World Religion. Though music isn't immediately associated with those subjects, how would you say that knowledge actually plays into the way you make music?
Cultural Anthropology is kind of a glorified version of people-watching. We can learn a lot by observation and conversation. Many of my songs document the way I see the world around me and many are stories about people I've met, just as an anthropologist writes about what they see and experience. Religion finds it's way into my songs quite regularly. Sometimes it's quite blatant and more often as an obscure reference within the lyrics... People sing about what they know and traveling and studying has broadened the scope of my lyrics.Being an independent artist has its setbacks, especially if you're just starting out.
Q: With the popularity of online sites like MySpace increasing, how do you think that has changed your connection to the fans, and changed exposure for unknown artists in general?
I think it is a great way to stay connected to fans and friends, not to mention network with other artists. I still am a big fan of music and love to hear new music so it's a good place to do that also. It has had much of the same effect as MP3.com had in it's heyday... except in an even grander scale. The sites themselves surely have their pros and cons but it's a great way to get to know the people who like your music... One of the main reasons I do music is to connect with people and if MySpace helps that process in some way... then so be it.
Q: Was there ever a time when you felt like you wouldn't make it in the music business?
Yes, all of us musicians know this feeling well. I really feel that music is apart of me and always will be. Besides performing, I've also been teaching private lessons for 10 years now, which I plan to continue for a long time. There have been many times in my life where I have had doubts about being a full-time performer and to be honest, I almost stopped doing music full-time in the Fall of 2004. At this time I'd been doing music pretty full-time for a few years and had graduated from college. I was flat broke and had just about lost faith in being a musician. I decided to borrow some money and make the best album I could and promote the heck out of it and give it one more chance and see what happened. My newest album Melodic Snapshots was recorded on a very tight budget and I used all sorts of grassroots promotion and had some great help from fans spreading the word. The album was very well accepted and got lots of AAA and NPR radio play and it restored my faith in my music career. I don't really do things very conventionally but I realized that if you make good music and promote it enough that people actually hear it... good things are likely to happen. I was very blessed and lucky that my hard work paid off with the album. [The song 'Give up' on Melodic Snapshots was written about the whole situation of almost giving up my dreams.]
Q: You obviously love to perform. How important is touring to you?
Touring is very important to me. I've done somewhere around 500 concerts in over 100 venues... I love making albums but for me music is in the moment. It is about that connection that you can make with another person for even a second. Besides the music; I love to travel and see the world, to meet people, to eat at little out of the way restaurants, to hike in state parks and everything that goes with traveling. Touring is like the pay off for all of the hard work on the business side of things that I do day in and day out when I'm at home...
Q: The beatbox thing you do during your performances is crazy, but unique. When did you start doing that?
I starting throwing that into the live shows about 5 years ago and I keep adding to it and getting better... I started doing it for the same reason that I do all of the crazy guitar techniques; I just wanted people to listen to my songs and it is a good way to get someone's attention. The majority of people have never heard a singer-songwriter that does vocal turntables so it seems to get their attention. I've actually had people duck their heads in from other rooms just to see what is going on. I started being influenced by all of the vocal things that Bobby McFerrin does and his ability to improvise vocally. I changed my technique when I got an album called 'The Embodiment Of Instrumentation' by Scratch. It is hands down the best human beat boxing album ever in my opinion.
Q: Do you have any dream collaborations? Anyone that you're dying to work with, or think would be incredible to team up with?
There are a lot of people I would love to [do a] collaboration [with] or at least to perform with... I think the people I would most want to collaborate with are instrumentalists... I would love be [able to] play with any of The Flecktones, Chris Thile, or Edgar Meyers. There are a couple [of] producers in the Cincinnati area that I would love to work with someday.
Q: What's next for Dan Vaillancourt? Is it safe to assume you'll be visiting the Bay Area pretty soon?
I'm going to begin to record the follow up album to Melodic Snapshots this Fall. It should be out sometime in 2007. I am hoping to continue the successes of my last album with the forthcoming album. I will continue to tour and each year I add a couple more states to the list that I have performed in... I'm a few states shy of performing in over half of the states in the US. I would love to come out to the Bay Area... I have played all over the East Coast, Southeast and Midwest but I have yet to make it to the West Coast... As soon as the opportunity arises for me to come out there... I'll hop on that plane or train... and be there.
Q: And finally, what advice can you give other aspiring musicians?
If you really believe in what you do, then never give up and never stop trying new things. Listen to as many different styles of music as you can and you will start to broaden your own music. Don't wait to 'get discovered' or wait for someone else to make your successes. You need to work to make things happen... and hopefully if you work hard enough, knock on enough doors and make enough good music... then good things will start happening.
Melodic Snapshots Review (Editor's Pick)
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The album is funky, energetic, and perfectly prepares you for what a Vaillancourt show would entail...The album is funky, energetic, and perfectly prepares you for
what a Vaillancourt show would entail. His voice is unapologetically melodic and
always hits each note with ferocity and cunning. The songs are crafted with a
brilliant sense for songwriting and a knack for performance. Apparently he makes
salsa from his home-grown tomatoes in his spare time and I sure would like to
taste the fruits of his labor since “Melodic Snapshots” is so damn delicious.
Melodic Snapshots Review by Bob Gottlieb
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This is an interesting mix of songs from a natural storyteller, who manages to spin and weave his sn...This is an interesting mix of songs from a natural storyteller, who manages to spin and weave his snapshots and snippets of dreams and conversations into engrossing tales that capture the listener's imagination. He is also quite a musician playing a plethora of stringed instruments: mandolin, banjo, bass, lap steel, and his custom made 10-stringed guitar, though, on this disc, he is not doing it all himself and has assembled a number of other musicians to help him flesh out his songs. His music is rooted in folk, with sprinklings of early rock and roll (think Bill Hailey and Carl Perkins) with some jazz licks just to spice it all up. These songs, all written by Vaillancourt, are assembled from those bits and pieces of life that stick in the mind and cause it to ruminate over the workings of things. They're those pieces that seem never to leave and act on the mind like a dog worrying a bone. This music is an intermingling of funky, energetic, and a totally idiosyncratic mix that is truly his own. Like so many other singer songwriters now, he doesn't fit into one of those handy little boxes in an increasingly compartmentalized world, which makes him a much more interesting artist because you don't know what direction the next tune is going to take.
This is his latest self-produced disc and it should expand his audience. It contains a good assortment of his touching as well as haunting songs. His performing energy from his live shows comes through on the album. There is a quirky sense of the absurd that runs throughout it which allows the listener into Dan's mind as it stood when the album was recorded.
Melodic Snapshots REVIEW 5 Stars
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Melodic Snapshots The current crop of singer/songwriters are the best bunch produced since the ea...Melodic Snapshots
The current crop of singer/songwriters are the best bunch produced since the early '70s. Devendra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, Richard Hawley, Rufus Wainwright, Sondre Lerche, and Matt Hales (aka Aqualung) represent the cream of the new breed with recording contracts. Conversely, there are many talented, unsigned performers who are just as worthy: Linn Brown, Mitch Van Doff, Dina D'Alessandro, Amilia K Spicer, Davy Cowan, and Fremont John--all reviewed on this website--to name but a few.
To the latter list I'd like to add another name, Dan Vaillancourt, who just released his third album Melodic Snapshots. Vaillancourt refers to his music as "Funktified Folk", which is an accurate description of the nine songs contained here.
He has been compared to Paul Simon, Bob Dylan (name checked in the wryly self-referential "Dylan Breath"), Leo Kottke, and Michael Hedges. What I hear is 1/2 early Beck (on "Melodic Snapshots", "Green & Gray", and "Anything At All"), 1/4 Jack Johnson ("Everything's Alright" and "Give Up") and smatterings of Dylan, Spin Doctors and Ben Harper.
What really gives Vaillancourt's songs the lift that makes them stand out is the lyrics; his witty, worldly, and wise observations on love and life. "Could I" poses questions of dreams their consequences, while "Anything At All", "With You" and "Wandering Blue Eyes" document the ups and downs of relationships with a sophistication worthy of Paul Simon. Hey, maybe that's where the comparison comes from!
Melodic Snapshots is a mature work that deserves all the airplay accorded to Jack Johnson and all the gushing press received by the likes of Devendra Banhart. If you like either of those artists, you owe it to yourself to give Dan Vaillancourt a listen.
Live & Funktified Review By: Craig Clarke
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I'd like to begin this review by saying that "funktified" is my new favorite word. I just like sayin...I'd like to begin this review by saying that "funktified" is my new favorite word. I just like saying it. "Funktified!" See how much fun that is? Try it.
And fun is the driving force behind this album. Dan Vaillancourt recorded himself live mostly during a club appearance in April 2002, playing his lighthearted songs alone with his "custom-funktified 10-string guitar." The sense of immediacy comes through from the riffs of the opening song, "Slide Up," including a healthy amount of showing off from a man who knows how to make his guitar do anything he wants. (The solo in "Walkin' Out My Door" is reminiscent of Jimmy Page's acoustic renderings like "Black Mountain Side" and "White Summer.") It's an ideal introduction to his style and instantly transports the listener to a table at the front watching this young blond man sing, play, and most of all entertain.
It's in Vaillancourt's cleverly simple lyrics, his virtuosic licks, and his humorous stage banter where he really distances himself from the continually growing cadre of singer-songwriters. "Thinkin' A You" continues the feeling -- a song that is universal in its meaning, and one which he doesn't mind embellishing with vocal acrobatics. One of the highlights of the album is "Play for You" where Vaillancourt sings about not making much money from his music, but that "sometimes a poor man can give more than a man born with a silver spoon." In the middle of the song, he digresses by telling about how his usual partners -- the Dan Vaillancourt Orchestra, a jazz ensemble -- were unable to make the performance. He then proceeds to fill in for them by vocally imitating trumpet, upright bass, and drum solos, all the while maintaining the backing rhythm on his guitar. This performance shows just how determined he is to entertain his audience.
This crops up again on "Radio Star." Vaillancourt takes various friendly jabs at Nickelback, Vanilla Ice, and Destiny's Child while telling an also self-deprecating story of his own fictional attempts at celebrity in Alice's Restaurant fashion. It's the centerpiece of Live & Funktified and is particularly important in that it shows just how inherently ridiculous it sounds for a white man to say "bling bling." Fortunately, Vaillancourt is in on the joke. The prior track, "After All," finds him playing with words in a hip-hop style ("my permanence doesn't seem to last...all my absolutes are just temporary") that shows he's really in the groove at this point.
After "Radio Star," Vaillancourt slides into "Preface" in which he states his wish that "if you met someone that they had a preface" and so he writes his own for our benefit, continuing his story of not having money (from "Play for You") but he'll "sing for you, if you've got the time." His songs are eminently quotable and I find I'm having to restrain myself from relating scads of his lyrics here. (They're all available on his Web site: www.danvaillancourt.com)
"Preface" is followed by the first true ballad on Live & Funktified -- "Fly Like an Angel." It reminds me a bit too much of the band Live in its over-sincerity -- and it doesn't really fit the tone of the album -- but it's a good opportunity for him to show his songwriting range. This ends the full-recorded performance that comprises the majority of Live & Funktified but we CD listeners are treated to "Casey Rose" ("a song about a little girl I met on a mission trip in Haiti"). The lyrics, on the surface, could be taken as a romantic love song -- but underneath lies a purer sentiment that turns into sweet nostalgia. This sweetness is then turned on its head with "That Day," a song of domestic violence seen from the outside.
Memories of "First Love" -- and how easily people separate from each other -- end the disc, with Dan shilling CDs and free stickers ("for those of us who are poor"). Then, a minute later, a welcome hidden track extends the fun "Play for You" into eight minutes, putting Vaillancourt before a more appreciative audience (the previous crowd was conspicuous in its silence), and for which I was glad because, even though Vaillancourt's performance is less polished here than before, it shows that he doesn't treat his songs as set in stone, ready to change timing, tone, or even title at a whim for the sake of entertainment. The crowd is responding, the tone is improvisatory -- with banter and storytelling taking up a large part of the track -- and the jazz solos are more involved. This track truly exemplifies the "folk-funk" feel of Vaillancourt's music. It's a great capper to a fine, fun-filled, Funktified album.
Reprinted with permission from The Green Man Review (www.greenmanreview.com/)
Copyright 2003. The Green Man Review.
Up to 3 hours of Original Music.
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