The Musical Storytelling of Danny Michel

“Any more questions?” Danny Michel says with a familiar ease as a few daring voices speak up between one of his songs. More of his sold-out audience members respond, eager to know more from Michel, such as if it was before or after New Years in Belize that he wrote “Wish Willy,” or what exactly he was drinking from his mug on-stage. By the way, he doesn’t remember whether if it was before or after New Year’s he wrote “Wish Willy” and he was drinking tea to soothe his sore throat from the tour. Michel’s comfortable stage presence makes inter-song banter witty and natural while maintaining an intimate atmosphere with his audience.

Fresh from his European tour to Germany, Holland, and Austria, Michel braved the flight disturbances caused by Hurricane Sandy to begin his cross-Canada tour in Courtenay, B.C. The tour is to promote Danny’s new album, “Black Birds are Dancing Over Me,” joined by his band comprised of Quique Escamilla (Michel’s amazing opening act), on percussion and guitar, Dave Tolly on drums, and Mark MacIntyre on bass and vocals. Although his most recent album was recorded entirely in Belize with the Garifuna Collective, who are not on this current tour, Michel was successful in channeling the South American spirit in live performance with his band trio. All band members were well positioned to create a sense of ensemble. By having the drums on stage right facing inward, it helped to maintain the focus on Michel while creating a collaborative musical pod on stage. While the strange geometric shaped lighting patterns were distracting, the solid backlighting that was dominant throughout the performance kept the attention focused on the music.

There is no mistaking Michel’s characteristic rough voice quality, pulsating guitar playing, and expressive physical presence. He is a musical storyteller. He embodies the characters in his tunes, from the boastful old man in “Whale of a Tale,” or the scorned lover in “Tennessee Tobacco.” No musical detail is missed, like the subtle vocal shiver on the word “touch” in “What Colour Are You?”, a song inspired by winning a mood ring from a toy dispenser while in Belize. The sound of gritty rock emerges with “Into the Light”, and Michel played a previously recorded vocal solo from Chi-Chi (a.k.a Rolando Mercelino) from the stage. The gentle plea for people to open their hearts to love was audible in “A Cold Road.” These three songs highlight the diverse range of his newest album.

The reason for Michel’s success is due to his solidly established musical identity. Michel transcends the need for musical genre labeling because, frankly, he can do whatever he wants because his distinctive voice remains present in all of his work. From the positive audience reception of Michel’s new album, “Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me,” Michel has the unwavering encouragement of his supporters for whatever musical direction he wishes to embrace next.

Stream Danny Michel’s new album on CBC Music

For more information on this artist, check out, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can catch Michel at other Canadian cities on his current tour.

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