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Jeff Black and Don White color the stage at MCCC

Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2011 13:01

Jeff Black

Photo by Ashley LeTourneau

Jeff Black

Don White

Photo by Ashley LeTourneau

Don White

Emotion and humor filled the Meyer Theater Saturday night when Jeff Black and Don White hit the stage.

White's comedic storytelling and folk music met Black's blend of country, blues, and rock, resulting in a soulful, humorous event.

Approximately 250 seats were filled in the Meyer Theater.

As the announcer welcomed the first performer, the spotlight found Jeff Black sitting at the piano. Soft music came quickly over the speakers as he opened with his song "Save Us All."

When the song was over, he left the piano for an acoustic guitar and went directly on to the next song, followed by another upbeat ballad.

He then spoke to the crowd a little about his life growing up in a small town. After the show, he explained that he felt a connection to the audience for that reason.

"Michigan would probably be considered the upper Midwest, but I grew up right at the edge of the Midwest line, so I felt like I had that kind of connection with most of the folks here tonight," Black said.

He continued the performance with a Sam Bush cover that he followed by one of his originals.

Black explained that the song "Sunday Best" was written for his father who had passed away in 1999. He told the story of his father buying him his first guitar.

Several audience members were brought to tears as he belted some lines and whispered others, the emotion never leaving his voice.

"I always feel like I have the luxury and privilege of saying something personal, and being able to make artistic contributions that I would like to say mean something in the world of music," Black said. "I always try to say something good in the midst of all of it. I'm just trying to tell a story."

After his act was finished, a twenty-minute intermission led the audience to the lobby where Black came out to greet them.

Before the intermission ended, the winners of the Black and White photo contest were announced.

In first place was a photo by Kate Dombrowski titled, "Avurn."

Second place went to Ashley LeTourneau with her photo "Lonely," a black and white landscape.

Symone Thomas came in third place with "Untitled Girl on a Bench."

When the twenty minutes came to an end, Don White came onto the stage.

He delved quickly into the comedy, which did not take long to get the audience laughing. His comedy consisted of clean, relatable topics like marriage, children, and different factors of life.

His first folk ballad was about a man's relationship with his dog, followed by another about a first-person-perspective of a parent trying to get his adult children out of his house.

The comedic ballads and short skits further warmed the audience to the performer.

White explained that in almost all of his songs he tries to sneak in a positive message.

"If you dig down deep enough, it's about hope and love and trying to be kind," White said, adding, "but that's a secret."

His routine changed from causing robust laughter to creating fought tears as he belted, acapella, a ballad he had dedicated to all of the women in his life. "I Know What Love Is" follows the story of a girl realizing over and over again the meaning of love throughout her life, even until she reaches her death bed.

When the song was finished, he picked up his acoustic guitar and revealed a sign on the back, which read "Call Your Dad."

White revealed later that he mainly uses the comedy to warm the audience up for the emotional songs and messages.

"When you can laugh, your armor is down and you're more open to the idea of something emotional," White said. "It's pretty manipulative."

However, he went back to the light-hearted comedy and read excerpts from his book, "Memoirs of a C-Student."

He took a step back on the stage when his act was almost over and introduced his son, Lawren White. The two had been touring together for fifteen years.

"I would recommend anybody who had a kid, that was a musician, to bring them up with them," White said. "It separates you from that whole family dynamic. You're not a father and a son; you're two guys on the road. You build a relationship and talk about what's on your mind over those long miles."

The 29-year-old sang a song, also acapella, about his grandfather who had died just a year before. The audience gave him thunderous applause in recognition of the emotional and touching aspect of the song and its delivery.

The two finished the show with a performance together titled, "Angel in Pieces."

Before that night the two performers, Black and White, had never even met. Tom Ryder, the event coordinator for MCCC, explained how he pulled the two together.

"Jeff came to the campus around ten or twelve years ago, and I always said once we had the theater I was going to bring him back here," Ryder said.

"Don White I saw at the Ark in Ann Arbor about four or five years ago, and I really enjoyed that. I thought the play on words was really neat, so I thought of putting them in a show together and it worked."

Black seemed happy with both of the performances.

"I thought it went great. There's wonderful people up here," he said.

White shared the same sentiment.

"It was great, and I hope I get to play here again sometime," he said.

For more information on Jeff Black or Don White, you can visit their Web sites:

www.jeffblack.com

www.donwhite.net

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