Michael Strening, Jr.

Michael Strening Jr.

I went to a CD release party yesterday for my friend Michael Strening, Jr.‘s new CD Almost There. Michael composes and plays atmospheric piano solos in the vein of George Winston or Liz Story (gods, I hope I don’t offend him with either of those comparisons — my knowledge of this genre is so slight, I’d hate to be accidently comparing him to a John Tesh or something)(oh crap, what if he loves John Tesh?). His music is, and I mean this in the best possible way, pleasant and we’ve been waking up to his second album Stars for the last month.

When we were invited to this CD release party/performance I, just between you and me, felt a little trepidation. I’d never seen Michael perform before and, frankly, I was wondering how much I’d enjoy sitting through an hour or so of ‘tinkle-tinkle’ piano. My fears, I’m happy to report, were unfounded.

First, Michael’s music, when I actually focused and paid attention, rather than simply having it on as background music, is delightfully complex and engaging. And second, rather than simply playing song after song, Michael intersperses each one with stories of the inspirations behind the music, and he is an energetic and hilarious story-teller, regaling us with tales of his time in Italy as a tour guide and flinging his body out of his seat to demonstrate just how the 6th grade girls he coaches in soccer do push-ups. I know Michael is planning on playing out more to support this new album, so I definitely recommend you catch him if you get the chance.

Oh, and Michael has pledged that a dollar from each CD, t-shirt or concert ticket sold for this album will go to the Copradeli Orphanage in Lima, Peru. What a mensch.

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