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Review: Michael Cavanaugh with the ISO

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Michael Cavanaugh
  • Michael Cavanaugh

Michael Cavanaugh scored another hit with Rock Singers & Songwriters, premiered last weekend with his four-piece band and an Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under music direction by Jack Everly. The program proved Cavanaugh's ability to give breadth and depth to the standards of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Neil Diamond and The Beatles.

Cavanaugh supplied the charisma and technique to the proceedings, with Everly's arrangements bringing all into harmony by exquisitely blending voice with band and orchestra. Cavanaugh reached into the audience as in conversation —a sort of 'here's what this writer is feeling; how is it connecting with you? How is it mattering to you?'

There was no rushing — alternating between piano and acoustic guitar, Cavanaugh allowed us time to absorb and internalize. "America" is a case in point. Blending Cavanaugh's four-piece band into the full orchestra, Everly expanded Diamond's 1980 patriotic anthem, reminding this listener that after 9/11 Diamond changed the lyrics from "They're coming to America" to "Stand up for America."

The program also featured John Mellencamp's Jack & Diane for the Indiana audience. This nod nicely rounded out the weekend's "winning trifecta" of Indiana songwriters that included Gary's Michael Jackson in an Asante Children's Theatre tribute and Peru's Cole Porter in a program by Dance Kaleidoscope.

Cavanaugh's fine band includes Jamie Hosmer (keyboards, Vocals), Giovanni Mastro (guitar, vocals), Billy Venditti (bass, vocals) and Johnny Fedevich (drums). June 15 and 16 at Hilbert Circle Theatre; June 17 at The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts

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