After hearing that Ann Arbor’s Chris Dupont would be playing at Johnny’s Speakeasy on January 2nd, 2016, we thought this would be a fine time for our first visit to the Speakeasy. Not only did we get to see Chris in a wonderfully intimate setting, but enjoyed a bonus of catching Chicago’s Frances Luke Accord.
Like a true speakeasy, you have to be in the “know” to hear about the musical events that come to Johnny’s Speakeasy. However, I don’t think we were asked for a password to get in. Johnny Williams is the owner of this fine sub-terrain music vault where the walls are adorned from floor to ceiling with all sorts of music paraphernalia and other fun stuff. It is a fantastic venue and we were shocked we had never heard of it until recently given that Johnny has been running shows there for 20 years.
Since it was our first time to the Speakeasy, Johnny was kind enough to save us a couple of prime center stage seats that look out over the room. These were great seats, but given the unique intimacy of this place, any seat is perfect for a night of music shared with friends. You can see more pictures of Johnny’s Speakeasy in the gallery.
It is standing room only inside Johnny’s Speakeasy in Ann Arbor as local artist Chris Dupont and his band make their way up on the stage. Chris (vocals/guitar) is joined by Luke Jackson (drums), Betsy King (vocals), Christina Furtado (cello), and Katie Van Dusen (violin) with everyone except Betsy having recently been on the road with Chris to support his new album Outlier.
With heartfelt thanks and a warm smile, Chris Dupont begins to take us on a musical journey. “Evergreen Waltz” is delicate with the violin adding a magical celtic element. Betsy and Chris harmonize with somber beauty during the chorus.
A cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” pays homage to the legendary Bob Dylan. I will dare to say that this version is the best I have ever heard. This one hit home with many in the crowd who give a hearty applause.
While Chris was paying his respects to the greats in music, he digs down deep into the vault and pulls out “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” by Bert and Ernie. You know, the guys from Sesame Street. This heartwarming song made everyone at Johnny’s Speakeasy feel good.
Chris mentions that his new album has a lot of emotional weight and we can feel it pulling upon us with “Ease the Blow”. The song explores the tragedy of suicide and its impact on those who are left behind in the wake of such devastation.
Chris Dupont and his band left everyone in the audience filled with wonder and inspiration with a musical performance that touched the crowd deeply. Stop by the gallery for more pictures of Chris Dupont.
Sharply dressed in their finest suits, Brian Powers and Nick Gunty of Frances Luke Accord take the stage to rousing applause. They sing and play with a lyrical harmony that is a testimony to the easy beauty of the music they make. This duo exudes a joyful and uplifting spirit, which shines brightly in their performance.
The set included the songs “Insomnia” and “Nowhere to be Found” from Kandote which was their first album recorded in the Ugandan village of Kkindu with the Barefoot Truth Children’s Choir. “Insomnia” invites you to close your eyes and dream of the wind, the rain, and echoes inside your mind. Brian and Nick encourage the audience to sing the chorus to “Nowhere to be Found”. Sometimes audience participation songs feel contrived, but there is a genuine inclusive feeling that has everyone singing along.
You can’t help but think of Simon and Garfunkel when Frances Luke Accord plays “Over Your Roof” from their Queen For Me EP. The delicate “Save Me Your Laughter” is a crowd favorite as it captures the heart and mind. The band included a brand new song called “Who Do You Run From?” which we hope will be on their first full-length album that France Luke Accord plans to record in 2016.
Chris Dupont, Luke Jackson, and Katie Van Dusen added their artistic talents to make this sonic experience that much richer. Before Frances Luke Accord can escape the stage, the crowd asks for one more song and Frances Luke Accord is happy to oblige. They play a stirring rendition of the “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, which still haunts my heart as I write.
Johnny’s Speakeasy provides a unique and intimate venue for music. Seeing the overflowing talents of Chris Dupont and France Luke Accord in this wonderful place makes every part of your being feel good. Check out more pictures of Frances Luke Accord in the gallery.
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