Attention Guests, the Master Story Teller is in the House
Griffin House’s visit to the Twin Cities Saturday evening was like a very large living-room concert at the Cedar Cultural Center, where ‘small talk with adult beverages’ was the pre-show warm up act.
The small talk subsided when the master storyteller wasted no time in diving into lyrical meat and potatoes with his tune “Ah Me,” from his 2004 album Lost & Found.
Poised with native Ohioan good looks, dark wiry hair, sculpted biceps and measured mindfulness, Griffin House’s performance for his Twin Cities audience was transparent like a pane of glass after spring cleaning. His Saturday night show was anything but boring, and he managed to keep it fresh with genuine singer/songwriter heart and humor.
However, Saturday’s visit to Minneapolis could have easily been a poetry lecture from Professor Griffin House, according to his creative writing career prospects after graduating from Miami University of Ohio in 2002. Fortunately for his fan base, his entertaining persona expressed through word and song came about after his writing professor noted during an in-class musical performance by Griffin, ‘uh, yeah, I would do that instead of being a professor.’
Griffin explains that he backed his way into music, and that his early success was surprisingly easy. Maintaining it does take work, though. He’s an appreciative guy for all the support he gets from the public.
Fifteen Years in the Public Eye
But being in the public eye is not for the faint of heart. Griffin claims he never really thought about that kind of vulnerability until his aunt Lisa asked him if it bothered him having his personal life story “out there” after his first album release in 2002. But why would it? He was at the starting line of a dream, and some 15 years later, he’s still getting mileage out of tunes like “Volkswagen” and “Liberty Line.”
Mr. House should be proud of his effort. Minnesota music fans won’t just take any ole artist lying down, they demand good music and entertainment value. And based on the fan participation at the Cedar during professor House’s 90-minute tenure, his tunes “Let Me In” and “The Way I Was Made”are probably still causing guests to grin and recite the infectious line, ‘Woah, it feels so good, to have your blood in my veins!’
No one will forget his comical suggestion that clapping along too soon in a song is wrong, because it’s hard to sustain that energy. He coached them politely when it was time to clap along. And they loved clapping right on cue.
Much of his music is framed around his life story, lessons learned, family, and worldly observations from a humble and grateful guy. His playlist bounced from several different album releases, which included signature songs, “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind” and “When the Time is Right.” Lyrics such as these from Yesterday Lies suggest that Griffin’s creative writing major was a worthy investment:
Yea it’s just an illusion caused by the thoughts trapped up in my memory
Voices telling me everything is better how it used to be
Ties that Bind
And the strong message of family ties came through Griffin’s humorous, yet thought-provoking story about his Grandpa George Foster Griffin’s World War II tale of shooting off Hitler’s moustache, and single-handedly ending the war.
That close proximity to a war hero stimulated him to pen the lyrically tight song, “I Remember (It’s Happening Again),” which also became a music video featuring Griffin’s grandpa. This was one of several times that Griffin accompanied himself on harmonica while strumming his six-string.
Being a family man these days with a wife and two daughters, Griffin has come to lean on a few songwriting friends to help with material, due to his lack of writing time. He introduced his fans to the name of a stylistically different co-writing friend, Tietur (Tie-tor) Lassen, who reigns from the Faroe Islands near Scotland. Griffin told the story of how Tietur wanted to write the ‘quintessential’ country song, and the result was “Rising Star,” a song about the stereotypical backwoods guy hoping to make it in the country music business. Griffin House had his audience roaring with laughter immediately after opening the song with these words,
Driving through town in his pickup truck
Sipping on a beer with his sleeves rolled up
He’s a rising star
And the laughter continued later when Keith Urban punches the ‘rising star’ in the face at a ‘button up place,’ as the story unfolds.
The talented professor Griffin House also knows how to whistle…rather well, demonstrated during this song.
Griffin’s easy and pleasant guitar style and vocal variations are probably enough to sustain his career for as long as he wants it, and it’s a reasonably safe bet that as long as he’s willing to let Minnesotans peer through the windows of his heart, they will.