Review: Jeff Daniels and the Ben Daniels Band
By Ken DeLaat
Photos by Mike Gesler
Lucky ticket holders poured into a sold-out Dogwood Center on a chilly Monday night as Jeff Daniels made a most welcome return to town.
His last appearance at the Dogwood two years ago was a huge hit with concert-goers.
That evening my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil (a woman of unfathomable patience) and I attended along with our guest, Lil’s Mom (equally patient toward a somewhat eccentric son-in-law).
I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew his movies and had listened to some of his music. I’d also heard his concerts were pretty well thought of by folks whose opinions on such things I tend to value.
Well, it was a romp. From the time he walked onstage to the encore finish Daniels beguiled the crowd. He charmed, cajoled and thoroughly entertained us. It was a show that would be talked about long after the evening ended.
So when word got out about another visit?
Unfortunately, Lil could not make it and neither could her Mom but there was no way I wasn’t going.
Many of the regular N3 contributors were there as well making it an even more pleasant atmosphere since they and their companions are each seriously fun people.
When showtime arrived we settled in and soon Daniels walked out to make his Dogwood return.
And what a return it was.
This time he arrived with the Ben Daniels Band a talented troupe of musicians led by his son (Ben, go figure) and the result was an outstanding evening of entertainment that left a pleasing afterglow on a most approving crowd.
Daniels strolled out first and opened by playing a couple of imaginative tongue-in-cheek narrative songs, each rife with the poetic humor his lyrics convey. His son Ben wandered out and they played the first of a couple of duets before welcoming out the other members of the group. Tommy Reidel provided a flawless backbeat bass, vocalist Amanda Daniels (married to Ben and decidedly with child) displayed a substantial range and an ability to harmonize seamlessly and Wesley Fritzemeier was stunning on the mandolin as well as showing obvious expertise on the violin. Having the star power of Jeff Daniels sharing the stage does not daunt this band who are able to deliver a strong musical message in their own write.
One of the many highlights in this engaging evening of entertainment was when Doug Sherman of Newaygo was called on stage to perform some background percussion on a train whistle. Sherman executed his task admirably drawing rave reviews from the crowd as well as the band.
It was a storytelling kind of night. Some of the stories were spoken and some were sung but each told a tale that touched a chord with those of us fortunate enough to be in the house.
Jeff Daniels opened the show by making us laugh and closed the show with a bit of the same along with expressing his appreciation to the audience.
An appreciation so obviously reciprocated by an enthusiastic Dogwood crowd
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