Solo Maas

Songwriter-piano player to perform show along with Haines singer

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2005

Juneau songwriter and piano player Michael Maas performed solo shows in town in 2002 and 2003 but skipped last year.

Among other things, he was too busy getting married, starting his master's program in elementary education at the University of Alaska Southeast and preparing for his role as keyboardist and music director of Perseverance Theatre's "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

Maas has a year of intensive work to look forward to at UAS, so he decided to put together a solo concert this August and release a five- or six-song EP.

The show, with Haines singer Frances Field, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Northern Light United Church, at the corner of 11th and B streets downtown. It's free and should run no longer than 90 minutes. Donations will be accepted.

Concert

Who: Michael Maas and Frances Field.

When and where: 7 p.m. Saturday, Northern Light United Church.

Admission: Free, but donations accepted.

"I have a ton of new material, and I've been wanting to record it and get it out there on a CD or an EP," Maas said. "I knew that I was going to have do a whole lot of work for school this year, so this is a way to satisfy my music jones," Maas said. "I can get it all out and then I'll be able to concentrate. When I set myself a deadline, I'm more likely to get work done."

Field and her husband live in Haines, where she works as a special education teacher. She's an old friend of Maas' wife, Amelia Jenkins. Field sang at Maas' and Jenkins' April wedding, with Hedwig guitarist Sam Burrous.

"She's a great singer, and I've always liked singing with people," Maas said. "One of the things about 'Hedwig' was that it made me realize how much I enjoy singing harmony with people. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to have her come down so we could knock out some nice harmonies and just have that extra element."

Field will sing harmony on many of Maas' original songs. They will perform "Cold Water," by Damien Rice; and a few surprise 1980s ballads, perhaps by Cheap Trick or Heart. She will also sing a song by Canadian band Blue Rodeo.

Field and Maas rehearsed together for the first time on Aug. 9.

"Musically, she's got a fantastic ear," Maas said. "I can just play a song and she can sing it in her head."

Maas has released one CD, "Speechless," as well as an assortment of tapes for friends. He records on his Power Book with Digital Performer, an audio recording program.

Many of the songs on the new EP are written from other people's perspectives. One is based on an Internet account of a woman in an abusive relationship. Another is about a friend's happy romance. For more, visit michaelmaasmusic.com.

"My songs have traditionally all been full of angst and sadness and that kind of thing," Maas said. "I've found that as I get old, I have less angst and sadness in my own life, and I have to bring other people into it to write those songs."

Maas directed The Angry Inch, the four-piece band that backed Rory Merritt Stitt and Sara Waisanen in the theater's presentation of "Hedwig" last winter. He, Burrous, drummer Dale McFarlin and bass player Simon Taylor were already big fans of the Stephen Trask score.

"'Hedwig' just made me appreciate rock 'n' roll and how important that attitude and that feeling is when you're doing that kind of music," he said. "We came to it already knowing our parts, and it became more in the end of just gelling as a band and finding common ground that we could explore."

Maas also wrote an original piano score for the theater's Young Shakespeare Training Co.'s version of "Twelfth Night," and worked on the sound design for "Long Season" and the Beyond Heritage festival. He has also played with Thunder Mountain Big Band, organized by his father, Ron Maas.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com.



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