Bluesman extraordinaire Laith Al-Saadi celebrates his lucky thirteenth performance at Sonic Lunch 2021 in Ann Arbor with guests Al Bettis and the Detroit Youth Choir.
Laith Al-Saadi at Sonic Lunch 2021
Each show we attend in 2021 seems to be packed with emotion. Seeing Laith Al-Saadi at Sonic Lunch 2021 is no exception. When we arrived, we saw Laith near the stage shortly after soundcheck. Seeing his smiling face is a joy. Laith mentioned how good it was to see our faces. We couldn’t have agreed more as the tide of emotions rippled among us.
Not attending events like Sonic Lunch for 18 months leaves you a bit shell-shocked when you see someone again. It was incredibly hard to watch how the pandemic impacted so many people. In particular, our friends in the music and beer industries. I felt fortunate to have been able to share some virtual time over the pandemic with Laith and his fans on Fans With Bands. However, the gift of being able to see him now makes me so very thankful.
In case you are new to Sonic Lunch, it is a wonderful outdoor music series sponsored by the Bank of Ann Arbor. Leading the cheerleading each year is Ann Arbor’s 107one and Morning Host Martin Bandyke. Since 2008, this showcase has brought a wealth of local and national talent to downtown Ann Arbor. With food, a warm summer breeze, and the air singing with music, Sonic Lunch is a highlight of the summer in the city.
Opening up today’s show at Sonic Lunch 2021 is Al Bettis. The sun felt nearly as wonderful as hearing Al Bettis’s soulful voice and guitar. Our first time hearing Al Bettis is a treat. I immediately looked up his music on iTunes. Al’s music is a sumptuous mix of folk, soul, and jazz. His phrasing with his voice and guitar is impeccable. I would definitely recommend checking out Al Bettis if you get a chance.
Detroit Youth Choir
The Detroit Youth Choir provided us with another first for Sonic Lunch 2021. They are an amazing group of young artists. Their performance is both visually and sonically enthralling. Various members of the choir took on lead vocal duties as the rest provided soaring backups. Their director Anthony White mentioned that Bank of Ann Arbor donated five thousand dollars to the Detroit Youth Concert Choir and Performing Arts Company to help them continue their mission of providing opportunities in the performing arts for Detroit kids. Their set of tunes from Motown to Hamilton was magic.
As we cheered seeing Laith take the stage, my mind went back to the first time I saw him. It was Goodnight Gracie’s (which is now The Last Word). I left with my jaw on the floor after hearing him. I believe the draw to attend my first Sonic Lunch can be attributed to Laith. He is a stalwart in the blues scene and my lord he was on fire at Sonic Lunch 2021.
Laith took just a moment to thank everyone for coming out and then proceeded to make us smile. Joining Laith at Sonic Lunch 2021 is his diehard rhythm section featuring Mark Damian (drums) and David Stearns (bass). Together they jammed our favorite Laith tunes and a few key covers.
Just prior to the pandemic Laith recorded a new album. There is a new Laith album just waiting for the world. We just need it to be safe enough for him to tour to support it. As a treat, we got a small taste with new songs “Like A Dead Man in the Ground” and “I Should Have Questioned Her Motivation”. Each has the trademark fiery guitar combined with soulful vocals that only Laith can deliver.
Sonic Lunch 2021 was a tasty treat on this summer day in Ann Arbor. Laith, the Detroit Youth Choir, and Al Bettis made the skies that much brighter. We’ve got a few more pictures in our gallery. If you were at the show, let us know and share a comment.
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