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Verve Pipe Frontman Learning About Going Alone

Of the Oakland Press

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Making his second solo album, "Angle, Put Your Face On," was an education for Verve Pipe frontman Brian Vander Ark.

The Grand Rapids native financed the project with donations from friends but was concerned the $30,000 he raised wouldn't allow him to do much in the studio. But after 11 days in Nashville with former Wilco drummer Ken Coomer producing, Vander Ark was pleasantly surprised -- and extremely pleased.

"There was just this easygoing attitude, musicians who were there because they like to play music," says Vander Ark, 32. "I was always curious about what studio cats, really great players, would come up with for my songs, and I wasn't disappointed.

"They all really played my stuff and breathed some life into it and took it to places I wouldn't have imagined. It was a great experience."

Vander Ark juxtaposes that with making the Verve Pipe's self-titled 1999 album, an eight-month process he says cost $1.2 million. "It was just ridiculous," he notes. "We just don't work that fast, and there's so much diplomacy..."

For that reason, he notes, "I think recording for Verve Pipe is probably done. We'll play more shows; that pays the bills, and it's fun to go out and do that bombastic kind of rock 'n' roll live show." But Vander Ark -- who also acts ("Rock Star," "Dominic Blue") and is starting to score films -- is equally if not more invested in making sure "Angel..." gets a fair hearing.

"I plan to keep plugging away at live shows as much as people will have me," he says. "I used to be Brian Vander Ark of the Verve Pipe and people expect Verve Pipe songs. They'll get 'The Freshman,' but I don't play very many Verve Pipe songs in the show; I try to make it more of a personal show rather than capitalize on those songs.

"Now that I have two records of my own, it's more fulfilling to do that, really."

Brian Vander Ark, Down the Line and Tamara Bedricky perform Saturday (July 8th) at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $12. Call (248) 544-3030 or visit

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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