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By ELIZABETH SCHAFER, Associate Editor
They are called the Afterhours Experience for a reason. Usually the fun starts “afterhours.”
At least that’s how it was when John and Griff first met — which was afterhours at parties while they were in different bands. “… A bunch of us would just get together after shows and jam. Finally at 7 a.m. one morning, with all the early morning traffic zooming by, people going to work, we were like, they are missing out on some pretty amazing music,” John Lacrosse says about how he and Griff got together.
Every time I’ve seen these guys the night has been intense. Amazing music, booze, street drugs, arguments, and oh, amazing music. Occasionally they will have a drummer or a bass player, but normally it’s just John on a Martin acoustic guitar and the lead vocal half of the duo. Craig Griffith is on the harmonica and vocals. “Griff” has been his nickname for years and he’s nationally known as the harmonica player in the band “The Verve Pipe,” which is a national touring band based in Michigan.
Earlier this year, I got the chance to see the men play at The Exchange in Lansing. The venue itself was great. It is a newer upscale sort of bar/restaurant complete with a spiral staircase leading up to a lounge bar area. Couches and overstuffed chairs made it really hip and mellow.
The acoustics in the building were great, with the sound bouncing around perfectly.
The first set was mostly well known covers, some Beatles, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Bob Marley. Two crowd favorite originals were played at the end of the first set. A personal favorite, “5days,” usually includes an introduction story like the audience is suddenly on VH1 Storytellers. Griff starts: “I called John one night when I was outside the Temple Club in Lansing. After many cocktails, I was asking, no begging, for a ride home. After many apologizes and hiccups John finally said, ‘If you were dead-ass broke on the side of the road in New Mexico, give me 5 days, and I’ll be there.’ ” Hence the catchy chorus.
Griff’s harmonica playing is nothing short of genius. He’s an endorser of Honner Harmonicas. This company produces some of the world’s finest harmonicas. John is an official endorser of Martin guitars, whose makers have been in business since 1833, and have been in the forefront of the musical industry ever since. Having two such quality sponsors backing them up says a lot about this duo’s talent.
“We just want everyone to have a chance to hear the sound that we have grown into,” says John of their upcoming album that is to be released this summer. The album offers a glimpse into the life and times of the two men, and has several tracks with guitar and bass tracks by Donald Kinsley, who toured with Bob Marley in the ‘70s.
To find music locally like the sound the Afterhours Experience creates is a real treat for the central Michigan area. Find them locally at Mt. Pleasant Brewing Company and on Thursday, June 16, and Thursday, July 14, at the Water Lily inside the Soaring Eagle Casino. Both shows start at 9 p.m. and there is no cover charge.