Henhouse Prowlers 12.2.10 Lansing, MI
Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
Change is bittersweet. It can be welcoming as it is difficult to accept, and during this chilly Michigan winter’s night, I couldn’t help but connect the parallel paths that Chicago’s finest bluegrassers, The Henhouse Prowers, and I seemed to be traveling. The band had recently gone through yet another lineup change and was full-steam ahead on a short Midwest run. The Loft above Harem Lounge was this evening’s destination, and it was set to be my first time at the venue. Entering the venue, I was full of questions... What is The Loft like? Am I going to know anyone at the show? And most importantly, how would The Henhouse Prowlers’ recent changes effect their performing sound?
As a few friends and I walked down Michigan Avenue approaching The Loft, I noticed some familiar, smiling faces in front of the venue. It’s welcoming to be around friends at shows. It reinforces the idea that every once and a while in our busy lives, we need to be with other humans for the sole purpose of celebrating. We all need to get down sometimes. We need to remember why we are here. Our existence shouldn’t be focused on worrying about tomorrow or the small stresses in life that tend to get to each of us. We need to remember to celebrate life for what it is and accept it as a gift, and good friends and family nearby make this oh so easy to do.
With cheerful companions in my near proximity, I made my way up the stairs into the venue. The concert area was much bigger than I had originally expected which was a pleasant surprise, but unfortunately, there was an obnoxious booming bass sound rattling the venue’s floor. The Loft was created above Harem Urban Lounge, a dance club featuring DJs throughout the week. The sonic interference was a hard pill to swallow at first, but when The Henhouse Prowlers took the stage, any distractions to enjoyment became distant.
The new lineup marked the departure of fiddler Ryan Hinshaw and welcomed mandolinist Grant Ziolkowski into the mix, and from all early indications, the band hasn’t missed a beat. As The Henhouse Prowlers began their set, it took the sound engineer a few minutes to get the group’s levels exactly where they wanted them, but after the sound was properly mixed, there was no looking back.
The Prowlers proceeded to rip through an extended set of covers and originals, slowly building energy amongst the crowd throughout. Highlights of the set included “Carolina Moon” and the always well-received “Syracuse”, an ode to the hardships of life while warning about irresponsibility. “Syracuse”, placed near the end of the set, was the energetic peak of the performance until that point. The crowd fed off the lyrics of the music and eventually began vocalizing loudly their support of The Henhouse Prowlers. Blissfully continuing to dance their tails off the entire set, any random onlooker would have come to the conclusion that the group had successfully won over its audience this evening.
After the blistering set, the band took a short break and absolutely crushed a cover of Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” for its encore. The crowd happily sang along with banjoist Ben Wright during the tune as the energy in The Loft reached a dizzying height. Wright has taken over the majority of the lead vocal duties since the departure of Hinshaw and has been stunningly effective in doing so. As he drove home the final lyrics of “Locomotive Breath”, it was apparent that The Henhouse Prowlers haven’t lost their edge. Regardless of lineup changes, this band absolutely still throws down in a major way. I was thrilled to be a part of it on this night, and after I said a few goodbyes to some friends, I left the building reminiscing about the righteous experience just had by all involved. Thank you, Henhouse Prowlers. Lansing needs you... please come back soon!
Greg's Photo Gallery from the show.