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Interview:
Laith Al-Saadi is ready for his latest birthday bash
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Throwing a birthday bash has become something of a tradition for Laith Al-Saadi.



The singer and guitarist, best known for his runner-up run on Season 10 of NBC's "The Voice," began throwing these working birthday parties during 2012, starting at the Magic Bag in Ferndale and moving to the Michigan Theater in his home town of Ann Arbor last year. And, Al-Saadi promises, it's not just a ploy to get presents.



"I enjoy using it as an excuse to get a bigger show happening and invite some of my favorite musicians I've had a chance to work with and make a big deal out of it," says Al-Saadi, who turns 41 on Oct. 5. "I just treat it like party, really."



Having it at the Michigan Theater does make it a bigger deal for Al-Saadi. He graduated from high school there and opened for B.B. King at the Michigan as well, his first professional theater show. "And growing up in Ann Arbor," he adds, "it's a place I always hoped to one day be able to grace the stage of. It's a very special place for me."



Al-Saadi will be joined this year by luminaries such as Michigan blues hero Larry McCray and poet John Sinclair, as well as the Motor City horns, keyboardist Al Hill and Randall Moore from the Ragbirds. He'll also use it as an opportunity to preview some new music that he's been working on since his time on "The Voice" and hopes to release next year.



"I've got a lot of original material that I'm looking forward to getting into a studio and recording," Al-Saadi says. "I really don't write for a particular thing most of the time. I let things pour out as they exist in my head, and after the fact I organize them into groups that would complement each other."



The two years since "The Voice," meanwhile, have allowed Al-Saadi to build a larger audience to anticipate whatever he comes up with -- the dividend he really wanted from participating in the reality show.



"I'm still very happy I did it," he says. "It's enabled me to travel and play theaters in a concert setting, not just bar gigs. It's allowed me to focus more on my own music. I feel like there's more support out there for my original music in general, so I feel like I'm able to be more of an artist since 'The Voice.'



"And not that I didn't enjoy playing covers before or being a working musician. I'm just very happy to see those changes in my career."



Laith Al-Saadi celebrates his birthday with his annual & Friends all-star bash at 8 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Michigan Theatre, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor. $25-$35. Call 734-668-8397 or visit michtheater.org.

Web Site: www.michtheater.org

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