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Folk folks

Michigan-Maine duo tell stories in songs

March 31, 2012
Renee Prusi - Journal Staff Writer , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - At first glance, Dearborn native Jeff Karoub's "day job" as a journalist seems totally different from his "night job" as a musician.

But really, the singer-songwriter said, the posts have a lot in common.

"I'm blessed to be able to tell stories in both my day and night jobs, just in different mediums," he said via email. "I'm also proud to have bridged those storytelling worlds with my song, 'Made in Motown,' a tribute to my family's near-century in Detroit and what's that meant for me.

Article Photos

Jeff Karoub, left, and Putnam Smith play a concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15 at First United Methodist Church in Marquette — part of a tour in support of Karoub’s new CD and the first Upper Peninsula performance both folk musicians.

"I'm grateful for the airplay and attention it's received," Karoub said. "And the song has become the lead single and title for my just-finished EP. I'm treating my mid-April mini-tour of Michigan with Putnam Smith as one long CD-release party."

A concert at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15 at First United Methodist Church in Marquette is part of that tour and will be the first Upper Peninsula performance both for Karoub and Smith, who himself is a nationally known folk musician.

Smith, who lives in Maine, is a road veteran.

Fact Box

In concert:

Putnam Smith and Jeff Karoub

acoustic music concert

6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15

First United Methodist Church, 111 E. Ridge St., Marquette

Tickets are $10

For more information on the concert, www.reverbnation.com/show/6833801

On the Web:

putnamsmith.com reverbnation.com/jeffkaroubjar

"I've now done two cross-country tours, and played shows in Winnipeg, Canada, to Austin, Texas, from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Seattle, Washington," he said via email. "Last summer I was selected as an 'Emerging Artist' at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (in Hillsdale, N.Y.) and earlier this year was selected for a showcase at the International Folk Alliance conference in Memphis, Tenn."

Karoub, who lives in Dearborn after residing in several other Michigan towns, has been a journalist for 20 years, the last five with The Associated Press. His love of music and writing combined to great effect in recent years.

"One of my proudest professional accomplishments was being a lead reporter on a package of stories and interactive graphics marking the 50th anniversary of Motown Records," Karoub said. "The series was a finalist for the Editor & Publisher EPPY Award."

His musical background is a family affair, Karoub explained.

"I credit genetics and general curiosity for my initial and enduring interest in music," he said. "My French horn-playing father was a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s and played as a session musician on many Motown records, including the great horn lick at the beginning of Marvin Gaye's 'Heard it Through the Grapevine.' Since I was the youngest, I also followed in the musical footsteps of my older brother and sister. It was only natural in my house to take it up, and the support network was there from the get-go."

Karoub started with the violin at 3, bassoon in middle school and guitar in college.

"I also dabbled in keyboards for some tragic New Wave-inspired garage band experiments in high school," he said. "The guitar became my vehicle for a little Detroit-area coffeehouse career that began after college. The most recent musical addition is the mandolin, which I took up a few months ago.

"Today, my focus is on fiddle, guitar and mandolin as I pursue a solo career," he said. "Still, if someone call for folk bassoon, I might be game to give it a go."

Smith started with piano at age 7, which is also when he began songwriting.

"And I knew that I wanted to be a traveling musician, even at that early age," he said. "I picked up guitar at age 12, then banjo and mandolin in college."

A punk band was Smith's interest in high school, then a rock band in college.

"It wasn't until my post-college days that I really fell in love with 'Roots' music," Smith said. "My grandfather and great-grandfather were both banjo players - and the primary banjo that I travel with is the one that got passed down (it's originally from the 1880s). Though,

sadly, I never really got to play music with my grandpa. I had to move down to Asheville, N.C., for a while to fully get steeped in the Appalachian tradition known as 'old-time.' My songwriting is most definitely influenced by all that old stuff."

Karoub and Smith have performed together in the past and are both looking forward to this tour, which has stops in Bloomfield Hills, Dearborn and Grand Rapids in addition to the Marquette visit.

"Putnam and I plan to join each other for our respective sets, which energizes us and, we hope, the audience," Karoub said. "We've had great feedback at our shows and I always look forward to welcoming him back to Michigan and making new friends as we play more venues."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is rprusi@miningjournal.net.

 
 

 

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