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ISSUE 120 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/9/2007

Gulezian, more than just elevator music

By Shannon Merillat
Contributing Writer

Friday, March 9, 2007

Braving the worst blizzard of 2007 yet, singer-songwriter Michael Gulezian returned to St. Olaf to perform for the seventh consecutive year. The snow didn’t mitigate Gulezian’s bubbling enthusiasm in the least, nor that of the Oles filling the Pause the evening of March 2 for his performance. Gulezian exudes youthful energy in his life and his music. As well as following a rigorous tour schedule, he offers guitar workshops at certain tour stops – he gave one in the Lion’s Lair on March 1 – and acts as producer, agent, publicist, manager and record label.

At the concert, Gulezian successfully dispelled any myths about acoustic guitar instrumental songs being merely glorified elevator music. Wearing a button-down shirt, jeans and sneakers, Gulezian played a two-hour set comprised of a variety of songs. Some had vocal accompaniment while most were entirely instrumental, but all had an energetic, carefree quality. The lyrically witty song titles, such as “Metro Gnome,” “Slug Bug,” “Fruit Bat Under The Flight Path” and “Jello Moves,” andc Gulezian’s constant smile attested to the playful yet heartfelt quality of his music.

The song titles are not arbitrary; all have a meaningful story behind them. For example, the combined presence of an apple tree, a banana tree, a raspberry bush and a hot tub, all within close proximity of a fault line, inspired Gulezian to write “Fruit Bath Under The Flight Path.” Between each song, Gulezian rattled off punchy anecdotes detailing the stories behind the songs or simply unrelated but equally humorous trials and tribulations, ranging from a dental mishap to determining the highly nuanced difference between a “mosey” and a “lope.”

Gulezian’s songs with lyrics successfully combine humor with tender idealism. In his song “In My Heaven,” Gulezian describes his version of Heaven as an unpolluted place where vegetarian sharks give everyone rides on their fins, you can dance with your great-great-great grandpa and scuba dive without oxygen.

Gulezian had his serious moments, too, with songs about less light-hearted affairs, such as “Crystal Horizon,” an account of the horror of driving in near whiteout conditions down a two-lane highway. While his smile faded briefly as his strumming conjured up images of unrelenting snow, Gulezian’s characteristic upbeat rhythm persisted throughout, somewhat negating the white-knuckled terror of the experience. Yet, a little idealism during a drive through a snowstorm might not be such a bad thing.

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