Ann Arbor Weather:
Tuesday December 07, 2021
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Steppin' in It

Steppin' in It

Jamming with wolves

by Kate Conner-Ruben

From the September, 2003 issue

There's a picture of a wolf on the back panel of Steppin' in It's second CD, Last Winter in the Copper Country, a wolf walking silently through a winter landscape. And it's an apt image. Since stepping into Michigan's roots-music scene a couple of years ago, this Lansing-based band has practiced a similar, ultranatural stealth, pouncing on unsuspecting music lovers and rendering them happily senseless (though with throats intact). This acoustic quartet throws an impressive number of instruments into the mix — guitar, bass, resophonic guitar, steel guitar, mando, banjo, Dobro, fiddle, Cajun accordion, trumpet, pennywhistles, and three kinds of harmonicas — and actually emerges with a signature sound rather than a mess.

The band's new release, titled simply Copper Country, is a winsome album: warm, literate, beautiful, and fun. The first cut, the oft-recorded folk standard "Butcher's Girl (Boy)," sets a dark and driving tone, propelled by chugging, percussive guitar, as this ancient song finds modern meaning. (The liner notes say that Josh Davis, who sings on this one, saw the great Joel Mabus play this song at the Hiawatha Festival in Marquette when he was just a little tyke, and it made rather an impression.) Davis's husky-whisper voice is both seductive and confessional in this and every other song he sings here.

There are interesting story-song originals, and instrumentals that need not a word. Sweetest of all is "Walt's Waltz," a paean to the Yellow Dog River, up — way up — in Marquette County. Funniest is Davis's "Four Little Men," a country shuffle all gussied up with washboard and attitude — no, I take it back, funniest is "(Boom) Clank." You'll see why. I simply cannot and will not describe it.

I caught Steppin' in It at the Ark in a shared show with Pub Domain (now "taking some time off," they say), and the place was packed. We're talking groupies here, serious ones, who respond (one might assume) to a rather palpable sexiness at play here — I mean these shiny-tressed young gents are seriously adorable. People crowd the dance floor at Steppin' in It shows. Anyone who's worried about the future of traditional/roots music and its place in a society that watches and cares about shows like American Idol can rest assured: things are in very good hands.

Steppin' in It plays at the Ark's season-opening Student Welcome Concert on Thursday, September 4.     (end of article)

[Originally published in September, 2003.]


Bookmark and Share
Print Comment E-mail

You might also like:

Restaurants with Diapering Facilities
A clickable zoomable map
Dangerous Dogs
"We now have a mechanism for authorities to keep a record of dog versus dog violence."
Julie Halpert
Bookbound Is Now Booksweet
Shaun Manning and Truly Render fulfill a fifteen-year dream.
Micheline Maynard
Abercrombie & Fitch, Kasoa African Market
October 2021 Marketplace Closings
Micheline Maynard
Subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer
Baked Goods Ice Cream And Chocolates in Saline
The Fourth Wave
Covid-19 is rising again, and it's here to stay. What does that mean?
James Leonard
Remembering John Mendler
A tribute to a good mechanic, and a good neighbor.
Sandor Slomovits
Friends and Neighbors on N. Fourth Ave.
Years of texts led to Mindo Chocolate's first American store.
Micheline Maynard
Photo: Up and over
a guide to local holiday shopping and events
a2view the Ann Arbor Observer's weekly email newsletter