M897 Artist Spotlight: October 2013
LANSING UNIONIZED VAUDEVILLE SPECTACLE
This Spectacle is Lansing-made
Story by LCC Radio Staff Reporter Karen Hopper
started with a guy who wanted to impress a girl. Dylan Rogers is the kind of
musician who buys toy instruments at thrift stores, and Jeana-Dee is the kind of
artist who makes costumes. She wasn’t a fan of Dylan’s other musical projects,
and so he tinkered with making music that would make her happy. Their friendly
and community-oriented spirit meant that a group of people coalesced after not
too long, fueled in part by eccentric Craigslist adds that described the Rogers’
objective as “gypsy jazz . . . if a werewolf were to play a smoke-filled lounge
. . .”
The band's current line-up consists of vocalists and instrumentalists of all kinds--a Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle performance might include an accordion, a vibraphone, a fiddle, banjos, a kazoo, a ukulele, a saxophone, flute, and more, with audio/visual crew keeping up the razzle-dazzle.
Dylan and Jeana-Dee Allen Rogers' interest in “old-timey” things predates the formation of the Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle. But the band itself owes a debt to Dylan and Jeana-Dee’s former home in Old Town, a loft that is on the record as having once been a brothel. While they were living there, and experiencing some of Old Town’s re-birth, they became interested in Old Town’s past life, in the people that had once populated the neighborhood and the kinds of music they would have listened to.
Lansing’s manufacturing history holds special charm for Jeana-Dee, who says that part of what draws the Spectacle together is that they are a group of entertainers who like to make things. She describes the Spectacle as being “of Lansing and for Lansing, to show that Lansing is still making things, be it technology . . . or people that are working with their hands.”
The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle is the subject of an upcoming documentary from Ariel Vida. The Michigan filmmaker received a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs to follow the Spectacle on tour to the Upper Peninsula. To make room for the film crew and all of the equipment involved with putting on a theatrical and visual show, the fifteen member band rented an RV, a Ford Explorer, and a trailer. They’re expecting the documentary to be available within the next few months, with Halloween and Holiday shows scheduled in the coming months as well.