Singer Steve Poltz, left, and Danny Michel in a recent episode of Michel’s YouTube show “Dan’s Space Van.”
By Dan Rankin
Since June, Kitchener musician and multiple Juno nominee Danny Michel has been driving across Canada in a big 1978 GMC Vandura van painted black with a cosmic “Star Trek” theme. That in itself is somewhat notable, but what’s really remarkable is that he has been filming his travels and interviews with notable Canadian musicians such as the Barenaked Ladies and Matt Mays for a YouTube show called “Dan’s Space Van.”
In one of his recent episodes, he rips around St. Marys interviewing Emm Gryner, singer for Trapper and Trent Severn, as well as Mayor Al Strathdee. In another, he spends some time with former member of The Rugburns and Jewel collaborator, Canadian-born California songwriter Steve Poltz. Michel will be back in St. Marys, with Poltz in tow, for an upcoming concert at the St. Marys Town Hall Theatre on Sept. 22.
Regarding his web series, Michel said he just felt like doing something artistic that was other than his usual outlet of music. “Video stuff has always been really interesting to me and I thought I would learn some new art,” he said. “So, I’ve been doing it and having a blast.”
He spoke to the Independent on a break from editing together more video as, when it comes to “Dan’s Space Van,” he’s responsible for “every inch of it.” “I film it, edit it, everything,” he said. “I’m editing one right now, I’ve been at it all day – actually three days of editing.”
The videos themselves are quite musical and are also infused with Michel’s sense of humour. “Every episode is kind of different,” he said. “It’s all over the place. There are no rules.”
In the episode with Poltz, the San Diego resident performs his story-song “Brief History of My Life” in the back of the van, which doubles as a performance space. In it, Poltz describes how his family made the move from Halifax to Southern California when he was young. He estimates it was the longest drive of his life, despite the many miles he’s put in touring North America, Europe and Australia. In the song he also reveals himself to be a major baseball fan.
“It’s a pretty amazing run they’re on right now,” Poltz said of the Blue Jays in a phone call last week. “A game and a half up on the Yankees? I think it’s going to be neck-and-neck right down to the wire. I think they’ve got a good shot. They’re a great team.”
In the past, his friends have been known to razz him by editing his Wikipedia page so it says he’s a die hard Yankees fan. “I hate the Yankees,” he said. “They beat the Padres in the World Series, so I can’t stand them.”
The latest Wikipedia gag on his page says, “the entire front-row traveling production team for the Atlanta Hawks cannot stand his music.” But he can’t explain where that comes from.
Both musicians are excited for the upcoming St. Marys show, and to be performing with one another.
“It’ll probably be a lot of spontaneity and good laughs,” Poltz said. “I love Danny Michel. He’s so funny and he’s great to be around. We have really good energy together. I think you’ll get a lot of songs, obviously, and a lot of stories. You’ll definitely leave feeling good – feeling happy. It’ll be money well spent.
“Steve’s one of my all-time favourite people ever in the world,” Michel said. “Me and Steve will have some tricks up our sleeves. I’m sure it’ll be a very fun, fun show.”
Tickets are available at Deep Waters Music downtown in St. Marys or online at TicketScene.ca/events/13231. Tickets are $35 in advance, or $40 at the door if seats are still available. Doors open at 7:00 pm and the concert is set to start at 8:00 pm.