Skip to content

Dan Wilson Celebrates ‘Things Eternal’ With An Intimate Trio Show

Dan WIlson
photocredit: Shane Wynn

How much love does Akron guitarist Dan Wilson have for his hometown? His forthcoming release Things Eternal, out Friday, is an all-Akron affair with compositions by Akron composers, featuring Akron and NEO musicians recorded in Akron.

When he celebrates the release of that record Friday at Bop Stop, it’ll be Akron-style and family-style, too, with an just vocalist Jessica Yafanaro and bassist Kip Reed joining him onstage. Warm, intimate and swinging: that’s Dan Wilson’s style, too.

“I wanted to support the local music scene and celebrate the music scene because there’s a long tradition of great music here [and] great musicians,” Wilson told me yesterday by phone. “I would like to celebrate the places of our origin. I think that’s really important, because back in the day, Akron had a thriving music scene and I’d like to get back to that.”

Dan Wilson Things Eternal coverRecorded in September by Ryan Hilty at Akron Recording Company, Things Eternal is a hometown production on a major label, Brother Mister Productions, Christian McBride’s imprint under the Mack Avenue Music Group umbrella. McBride, who might be as visible an ambassador as there is in jazz today, co-produced the recording with Wilson at the guitarist’s request.

“I was like, man, even if you just come for a day, just come because I wanted [the musicians] to experience just being in the presence of a musician that great,” Wilson said. “I know how inspiring that could be when you’re growing up your entire musical life listening to a legend like that. Just to have them in a room with you while you perform is a different kind of feeling.”

It’s a feeling that Wilson might have learned the hard way. “It was 2017 at The Nash in Phoenix. I was on the gig with Joey DeFrancisco and he called George Benson earlier that day to come out and check out the band. We got to the airport in Phoenix [and] I see him get out the phone and he said, ‘OK George. See you at the club,’ and he looks at me and starts laughing. He knew it would make me nervous. So from then until the gig I was just pacing. But, you know, it went from me being frozen to being inspired to play. I love when musicians can experience that.”

Dan Wilson
photocredit: Shane Wynn

The local musicians who had that experience on the Things Eternal sessions happen to be some of Wilson’s favorites. They include Theron Brown, who contributes sanctified organ to two tracks, and vocalists Yafanaro, Durrell Legrair and Tommy Lehman.

“I enjoy Jessica’s voice a lot and I just want to like explore a kind of stripped-down, bass-and-guitar accompaniment,” Wilson said, “because she’s one of the vocalists coming out of this area that I think is so promising.” About Legrair, he said, “He and his two brothers are really good singers from the area. There’s a lot of talent there.”

Lehman is best known as a trumpeter, but Wilson said, “Tommy was one of my students when he was going to Tri-C. I always want to highlight his hidden talent, ‘cause Tommy can sing. And that kind of factors into how he plays trumpet.”

Things Eternal features compositions by McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock as well as tunes by Lennon and McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Sting. But it says something that the first single from the record is “Sticology” by Akron’s own Phillip K. Jones II. “Philip is a musical genius,” Wilson said.

And a major contributor to an Akron sound that, Wilson says, “is geared toward swinging. Cleveland is more of a smooth jazz and funk city. That’s just more popular in the clubs there, but with Akron, in the last 10, 15 years, there’s been a lot of younger musicians coming up that are really taking straightahead jazz seriously. And so there’s been a real resurgence of the young guys that just want to swing.”

Dan Wilson Trio featuring Jessica Yafanaro and Kip Reed, Friday, April 21, 8 p.m. at BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave. Cleveland. $20 available here.This event will be livestreamed on BOP STOP’s Facebook page at showtime. Accessing the stream is free but donations are encouraged and directly support the band.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *