Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Beating the Heat at Music in the Park

Hey everyone, guess what? It's really hot outside! ("Thanks for the tip, I was wondering why I've been sweating every time I step outside," Everyone). Temperatures yesterday, Thursday, July 21 reached into the hundreds. That's pretty, pretty, hot. Definitely not my region. But while the heat may have seemed near unbearable during the day, I went to check out Bill Bynum & Co. at Wilson Park in Milan during Music in the park, and you know what? It was very pleasant over there. There was a nice breeze coming in off of Ford Lake and the park provided a nice,shady setting to listen to some fine music.

So lets talk about the music for a second. Bill Bynum and Co consist of Bill Bynum on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Mary Seelhorst on fiddle, and John Lang on the pedal guitar. The group also ha a bass player but, "He's got a lady back home... He's probably sitting in some air conditioned bar right now," said Bynum. At the end of their set Bynum describes their sound as "hillbilly music" but also relented to the fact that it is more well-known as "Americana" but Bynum did not seem to appreciate that distinction a lot.

Personally, saying I dabble in this style of music is probably overstating things a bit. I've heard it before. I've seen bands incorporate elements of Americana in their music (one of my favorite shows to this day, was seeing Iron & Wine after they became a real band with a fiddle player and pedal guitarist in tow,and not just an awesome singer/songwriter with an awesome beard). I've also listened to some southern rock which incorporates lyrics about whiskey-tinged memories, aging, and the law (all of which were prominent themes in Bynum's songs and the covers they chose). But that's about it, and southern rock I speak of really only entails Skynard radio singles and oeuvre of the Drive-By-Truckers.

I've found as I've gotten older (relatively speaking of course) I enjoy this style of music more, probably because I can relate to the themes more now, if nothing else. But there was also something about the setting and the music combined on Thursday night that just kind of seemed to fit. The southern-esque style of music mixed with heat and humidity was nice, the only thing I was missing was some lemonade and sweet tea blended. After the set Rena Gibelyou, co-owner of the lighthouse who has had these guys perform before, told me that Seelhorst plays her fiddle completely by ear, and does not read sheet music. For that fact, she was very good. Bynum himself can't exactly set the world ablaze with his guitar playing, but he has a great twang in his voice and he doesn't need to stretch any sort of guitar-playing virtuosity. Lang was good sitting at the pedal guitar, but in all honesty, I just love the sound that thing makes. Especially outside on a hot day, I wish they'd allowed him a couple more solos just to let that sound vibrate throughout the park.

Now I would like to talk a little bit about the setting. It was very nice,specially being in the shade, but I really only have one main qualm. I thought about it while snapping pictures and taking some video and it was reiterated to me by a concert-goer who came up to see Bynum from Toledo. "It's really nice, I enjoy the shade from this huge cottonwood,but I think the back-drop could be a little nicer," Mike Weintraub said. What he was getting at was the fact that the band was situated right in front of the basketball court,next to the big cottonwood. And on the court were multiple trucks and such. Seeing as the park is filled with beauty, and could be absolutely gorgeous on a night like last's, it was a little disappointing. However, this is a minor setback on what was a great evening of free music in the city of Milan.

P.S. I'm still going to put a video here, even though there's already one at the top. I' hope that 1:30 clip is done by the time you get to this point in the post :)

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