By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"I've described these shows as 'nights of uplifting pop music,' " says the Boston transplant and longtime Lower East Sider, whose albums Falling Into Place (1999) and Hang On Mike (2004) are the few bright spots in this recent dark era of male-oriented pop. "I've got a catalog that goes back to the early '90s, with and without my band the Candy Butchers, so there's lots of songs to choose from," Viola continues. "Three of the nights will be with my new band, Everybody Else, and that last Friday, it'll just be me with a string quartet. I don't want to give away any names, but some rock and pop stalwarts I've worked with in the past will be joining me on these dates." Seeing as he's collaborated with folks like John Wesley Harding and the Fountains of Wayne, make your own predictions.
Viola says he considers the late-night hour of these Friday shows to be a plus: "When people come out at 11 at night, they're not there to talk and party," he says. "They're serious music listeners." And what can those serious listeners expect to hear? Perhaps the lovely "Give Me Some Time," wherein Viola croons, "I love you more than I can say/Maybe that's why I never do." You might even hear a song he used to run from: a sublime bit of ear candy called "That Thing You Do!"
"For a while, I avoided doing the song," Viola admits. "It seemed too easy to do my one 'hit.' But I've since played it with my band, and it sounds greatI guess I feel less hoity-toity about the song. People go nuts when we play it, so it's the right thing to do."
Mike Viola plays Joe's Pub February 8, 15, 22, and 29, joespub.com