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Ken Stringfellow at Steinway PIano Gallery, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic onTwitter

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2019

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Ken Stringfellow's name may not be a household word. But some of the bands he's worked with are.

The 50-year-old singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist co-founded the Posies in 1988 and, through that, became part of Big Star until Alex Chilton's death in 2010 -- and has continued to be part of periodic tribute shows celebrating the "Big Star's Third" album. He toured and recorded with R.E.M> from 1997 to its breakup in 2011 and has also worked with the Minus 5, the Disciplines, Lagwagon, the Loud Family, White Flag and others.

On his own Stringfellow has released five solo albums, and this fall he's on the road playing 2001's "Touched" along with other music from his career. A new Posies album, meanwhile, is on the horizon...

Stringfellow says by phone that the solo shows are a nice counter to full-band rock 'n roll concerts. "I've toured generally just me for my solo albums. What was at first kind of a practical, financial necessity I came to realize had something interesting to offer in the way I perform when it's just me on stage. I'm representing (the music) with a voice and a little bit of accompaniment. It's quite minimal the way I play; It leaves a lot of room for putting a lot of intensity into my singing, 'cause the music isn't that big. So I can put a lot of emotion into the singing, and that has a lot of impact. It feels like I'm speaking to each person in the room individually over the course of the evening."

"Touched," Stringfellow's second solo album, had the distinction of being released on Sept. 11, 2001. While the release was eclipsed by the tragedy of that day, Stringfellow toured to support it, including a show in New York nine days later that he says "is forever etched in the minds of all who were there as kind of a little candle of hope in a really dark moment. It was a very positive evening." The album itself, meanwhile, "spoke to a lot of people even though they weren't buying records in general that week. People still got it and the music still seems to speak to those times in a kind of appropriate way. There are things on there about grief and loss and finding your way out of it that people could really latch onto at that time. So of my four albums, 'Touched' is far and away something people really remember and cherish."

Stringfellow and Jon Auer have come off a 30th anniversary celebration last year to begin work on their follow-up to 2016's "Solid States." "We started working on it over the summer. I still have a lot of music gear in Seattle and in recent years it's found a home at a wonderful studio there, and because I'm a partner I can do whatever I want in it. I feel like the Posies has a particularly interesting momentum right now that we sort of lacked for a good decade. People are interested in what we're up to, so we're working on this and hope to get it out next fall."

Ken Stringfellow performs at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at the Steinway Piano Gallery, 2700 West Maple Road, Commerce Township. $20-$75. 248-560-9200 or steinwaydetroit.com.

Web Site: www.steinwaydetroit.com

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