Ann Arbor Weather:
Sunday January 19, 2020
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Dragon Wagon

Dragon Wagon

Acoustic sounds rule the summer.

by James M. Manheim

From the August, 2011 issue

Every summer there's one band that seems to appear everywhere around Washtenaw County, and if you wanted to track the youth zeitgeist you could start by making a list of them. Right now an old bluegrasser like me can take great pleasure in the crest of enthusiasm among young people for acoustic roots styles: for the first time since the early 1970s, you can go to a bar in Ann Arbor and hear and dance to acoustic music on a regular basis. The trend has found its local representative in the six-member band Dragon Wagon, which I've seen at Woodruff's with several dozen twenty-somethings bobbing happily in front of the stage, and in a more sedate show at the Ark that showcased the players' chops and tight ensemble work.

Dragon Wagon is everywhere at the moment. In August you can hear them at the Michigan Roots Jamboree (August 5), the weekly bluegrass night at the Circus (August 10)--where they've already appeared three times this summer--and the Wolverine State Brewing Company (August 11), as well as at several other Ypsilanti and outstate dates and an August 3 appearance to be announced. They recently returned from a tour that took them from the inaugural Electric Forest festival up north down to St. Louis, evidence that the local roots scene, mostly Ypsilanti-based, is gaining some national traction.

Dragon Wagon proclaims that they offer "Bluegrass Folk-Rock with a Shot of Irish Whiskey." Their instruments include banjo, mandolin, fiddle (from the ebullient Diana Ladio), guitar, bass, and drums--a clear sound, but rhythmic enough to dance to. The variety of styles referred to in the motto is accurate, and better still is the band's ability to read the audiences' moods: a crowd that's out for a rowdy time will get a stringband cover of a Hank Williams III song about a little bit of smoke and a whole lot of wine, but the band also plays some mellow originals just made for an outdoor

...continued below...

show on a warm Michigan summer night.

At the core of the group's repertoire, though, are traditional pieces like "Shady Grove" and "Whiskey Before Breakfast" (which, it's true, could also fall into the rowdy category). Except for the drums, the performances of these tunes would have been recognizable to musicians of a hundred years ago. In the long run, it may be that music, along with other aspects of human productivity, will be made increasingly within grids of electricity and computing, but for now the substructure is holding, and the pleasures of wood and wire rule the summer.     (end of article)

[Originally published in August, 2011.]


Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Childcare And Preschool Programs in Dexter
Community Services - Umbrella Organizations
Photo: Strike A Pose
Coming of Age at State and Packard
In 1965, it had everything a young man needed.
Neil Haldeman
Today's Events
On Trend
The Baiz brothers open BeanBerry
Sabine Bickford
Fountain Pens on Broad St.
And more Dexter marketplace changes
Sabine Bickford
Tagging the Squirrels?
Question Corner: November 2019
Tim Athan
Grabbagreen Opens
Serving up modern health-food standards
Sabine Bickford
One of the finest university art museums in the country, UMMA holds collections representing 150 yea
Mohler Prize Lecture
A visitor's guide to Ann Arbor