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Press, Quotes and Testimonials
“They all are talented individual performers, but there’s something special that happens when they’re together. The audience had no trouble with an uninterrupted 90 minute set and probably would have stayed for twice that long the Gang was so entertaining. .. superb music and great spirits.” -Rich Warren, “Folkstage”, WFMT
“Just wanted to take a minute and thank you and the gang for a super show. People at the shop have been talking all weekend about what a great time they had and how good the group sounded…….Standing room only by the end of the first set.” – Kelly Wicks, Grounds For Thought, Bowling Green
“To have any one of these songwriters perform at Trinity House is a real treat. To have them perform together is unbelievable. The Yellow Room Gang makes wonderful music, and the synergy they find playing together makes for an evening that is not to be missed.” – Bill Keith, Trinity House Theatre
“While their individual shows are good, the synergy of the eight on stage together is nothing short of fantastic.” – Current Magazine
“Their new album, ” Happy New Day,” is full of wonderful songs that showcase their talents, individually and collectively.”– Current Magazine
Yellow Room Gang/Drum Circle review.
The Central Ohio Folk Festival 2010 committee agreed to include two events we had not offered before. Both involved The Yellow Room Gang or various members thereof. One was a two-hour, two-day intensive songwriting workshop called Full Focus Songwriting presented by members of the YRG, all of whom are accomplished song writers in their own right.. During the first two-hour workshop, song writing styles were discussed by the presenters and participants. After receiving their assignments, the participants went off to work on a song to be presented the next day.
Everyone raved about the quality of the workshops and all agreed they came away with not just jewels and gems of style and technique, but with an enthusiasm for writing. All agreed in was great, good fun. The workshop was such a success that every attempt will be made to repeat it in 2011.
The Yellow Room Gang proved themselves to be the talented and accomplished performers at the evening concert as well. The give and take of the presentation gave each of them a chance to showcase a song or two. Their harmonies were wonderful, their styles ranged from humor to pathos. There wasn’t an unfortunate selection in the set—every song was well crafted and well presented.
Michael Hough led the first ever drum circle at our Festival. His personality and his presentation style put everyone at ease and all of the 25+ participants were soon not only drumming with the group, but trying out new styles and rhythms. We shall certainly repeat this event next year.
Review of “Happy New Day” Yellow Room Gang Vol. 2 from Sing Out! Vol 53 #1 Fall 2009
The Yellow Room Gang is a collective of accomplished Michigan-area songwriters who meet for a monthly songwriter’s circle in folk super-agent and songwriter David Tamulevich’s yellow living room. For this, their second album, the eight members of the Gang take turns performing their songs, backed by other members and additional musicians. The songwriters on the disc are Jim Bizer, Mustard’s Retreat (David Tamulevich and Michael Hough), Kitty Donohoe, David Barrett, Annie Capps, Jan Krist and Matt Watroba. Remarkably, each has dug into his or her song bag to find an excellent song or two on the them of holidays, milestones and life passages.
Happy New Day is an example of one of the great joys of singer-songwriter music: the fascinating variety of ways in which talented songwriters express themselves in song. The theme of holidays and life passages is expressed in turns, mischievously (Jim Bizer’s “Happy New Day” in which he argues that every day should be celebrated as a “New Day” holiday), soulfully (Kitty Donohoe’s poem “Winter Dark,” describing how, in winter, “we find songs to sing and dances to warm our feet… we embrace winter for itself”), and heartbreakingly (Jan Krist’s “Memorial Day”, in which a widow marks each lonely day as a Memorial Day and whispers to her lost mate “it’s OK, don’t worry, go ahead and rest”). The musical styles are equally varied, ranging from calypso to modal Celtic to ragtime blues, jugband and old-timey ballad (the last is Matt Watroba’s instant classic “Yellow Lace”, in which a woman sees her new husband off to the Iraq war, “says her prayers at night amen and watches for him on CNN” then hears from him no more). Other highlights of the disc are Annie Capps’ poignant, clear-eyed meditation on death, “When My Time Comes”, Mustard’s Retreat’s prayer-like New Year’s Eve song “Coming of the Dawn”, Kitty Donohoe’s minor-key dirge “Must Be Halloween” and a neat instrumental version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by David Barrett. The friendship and creative spirit of this Gang shines through on every song. – SS
Review of Yellow Room Gang Vol. 1 from Sing Out! Fall 2006
This most unusual disc grew from a southeast Michigan dinner and songwriting social club. The name comes from David Tamulevich’s yellow living room where the eight performers regularly meet. In addition to Tamulevich (best known as half of Mustard’s Retreat), the CD includes David Barrett, Jim Bizer, Annie Capps, Kitty Donohoe, Michael Hough (the other half of Mustard’s), Jan Krist and Matt Watroba. Some of the 16 original songs have been released on the artists’ respective CDs, but at least half are previously unreleased compositions. There’s not a bad song or performance here. The material ranges from good to great, and the performances all are outstanding. As the CD was assembled from each artists’ own featuring their favored accompanists, settings range from folk-oriented acoustic to rock. Donohoe launches the CD like a rocket with one of her lively, infectious Irish-flavored tunes, “Come On Girls,” providing a warm welcome to the CD as it urges the listener to sing the dark away. Barrett follows with a thoughtful, intriguing song, “Sally Hemings,” about the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. He concludes the CD with a terrific tribute to Gamble Rogers, “Gamble’s Song (Pass It On),” which also serves as an ode to the meaning of being a musician. Jan Krist shines with “All I Can Change,” about identity and the state of the world. She also contributes the wonderfully rollicking love song, “You Got Me, I Got You.” Watroba’s “When You Think You Are Alone,” conveys the concept of true love within a relationship as well as any song I’ve heard. Tamulevich’s “(Ours is a) Simple Faith,” serves as a contemporary hymn, miraculously summing up how we should live our lives. Bizer’s “Press That Button” brings jug band-style fun to the CD, with quirky humor. Many compilations fall flat, but not this one. It’s fresh, thoughtful, lively and fun, all in one.–RWarr
From the Ann Arbor Observer – January 2007
“First of all, my wife did not want to go. We were new in town, still unpacking, wondering what life in a “small town” was going to be like after we’d spent eleven years in Chicago. “I’ve never heard of any of these people,” she said, looking at the listing for the Yellow Room Gang at the Ark. “It’s a gang. That can’t be good,” she went on. She’s like that.
In fact, the Yellow Room Gang is a very good gang — a militant cadre of eight songwriters from the Ann Arbor and Detroit areas who have been getting together for a couple of years in the home of David Tamulevich, a local songwriter who also runs a booking agency for folk artists and conveniently has a yellow room. The point, it seems, is fellowship, encouragement, maybe even a little ruthless criticism — and every songwriter I’ve ever met needs that. That and dinner.
It was our first visit to the famous Ark. We expected mikes and instruments on the stage, but not a big old shabby couch covered with grinning, wisecracking, backslapping songwriters. They didn’t all fit on the couch. There were also chairs. The Gang — David Barrett, Jim Bizer, Annie Capps, Kitty Donohoe, Michael Hough, Jan Krist, David Tamulevich, and Matt Watroba — stayed onstage all night as each singer took center stage, sang a song, and sat back down. Everyone seemed to know every song, and they backed each other up with harmonies, hot guitar licks, and egg shaker.
I wish I’d taken notes; this all took place sometime last winter, and my memory of precisely who sang what has been softened to a series of memory flashes: a hauntingly beautiful song about a river, a funny song about love and togetherness that had me and the missus smooching in the back row (where we always like to sit for that very reason). There was a beautiful sing-along. It was a great, warm evening, filled with laughter, stories, reverence, cool songs, and terrific guitar slinging. We went home with the group’s brand-new, self-titled CD, which has two songs by each artist. We play it a lot and have been back several times to see a few members in their own solo shows, or with their own bands.
The whole evening made me happy and a little jealous of all the fun they were having up there on the couch with their guitars. Best of all was witnessing — and feeling a part of — these ultra talented people’s creative chemistry. My wife often reminds me that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket (she’s like that), but that night I felt like one of the gang.”
—T. J. Gilmore
Letter from the Ypsilanti District Library
When we booked you to come to the Ypsilanti District Library, I did wonder how it would transplant, from your living room setting to our meeting room. Because you are, to a person, warm and kind and open, it felt as if you simply invited us all in. Your music, individually, comes from your unique voices, so gifted. And together, when you all sang together, I hope you heard the audience’s collective sigh that mean ” It simply does not get better than this.”
Ann LaMott said we have think of the world as a giant emergency room, and those of us who are mostly okay must look after the others, until help comes. Well, last night you looked after us-or maybe your are the help that was sent.
At any rate, we were privileged to be in your space and in your music.
p.s. Now we know that 2 hours isn’t really long enough. Maybe next time we’ll ask you to bring sleeping bags and hang out for the weekend?