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The pandemic has had the live music scene singing the blues for a little over a year, but Micah Jabez Heflen, known throughout the Pacific Northwest as Micah J, had Thursday night’s Tiny Stage Concert Series performance feeling live for the first time in a long, long time.

The 34-year-old from Roslyn talked about his songwriting process coming to him at all hours of the day or night, sometimes at the most inconvenient times.

“Sometimes it comes to me at five in the morning when I’m trying to sleep and I have to get up and write it down because I won’t remember it the next day,” he said during sound check. “Sometimes I feel like it’s a kind of torture, but it’s part of my creative process and I’m always glad I did it.”

Micah J shared a little bit of that tortured soul process with his radio audience on the Ellensburg Community Radio’s Tiny Stage Concert Series at the 420 Building Loft, laying down his 11-song set as if he were playing the Hollywood Bowl. They didn’t have the 15 people upstairs as they’d hoped, but ECR board member Mollie Edson did move the show to Thursday night to include the patrons of the Pretty Fair Beer brew pub downstairs.

Where Neil Diamond used to encourage the “Tree People” who had climbed the trees outside to hear his show at the Greek Theatre, Micah J worked the room. “Thanks a lot, downstairs people. I appreciate it,” he’d say and they’d respond with the live energy so missed in empty rooms. The sound was livestreamed, as well as throughout the brew pub and outside to an audience of people standing on the sidewalk.

He’s a consummate professional and his guitar work was every bit a part of the performance like the MTV Unplugged series when Stevie Ray Vaughan or Dickey Betts or Eric Clapton used to take it down a notch from the electric set, but still leave you awestruck with acoustic fingerstyle.

Micah J played original songs like “Wonderful World,” and “I’m Ready,” but the explosive showcase of the night was a Latin jazz instrumental called, “G Bossa Nova in G.” He ran it up and down the fret board, clearly showing off why he made it to the second round of “American Idol” and got an audition for “America’s Got Talent.”

“I love all genres of music, which is why I play anything from jazz to rock ‘n’ rock roll to Motown. I have my own voice on the guitar,” he said. “With G Bossa Minor, it was in G-minor, but it changes key and modulates to G-harmonica in the middle.

“That particular song, I wanted to change keys for the whole section where the looper dropped out. That changed to key to harmonic minor, which is a classic Latin key. A lot of Latin style has a harmonic modulation.”

He dipped into the Eric Clapton songbook with a nice version of “Layla,” touched on some of that Motown with Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” and Bill Withers “Just the Two of Us.”

But the night was all about the Roslyn guy, whose music is available on digital outlets iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon Prime others.

Micah J was the most stylistic guitarist of the three that have graced the Tiny Stage in the concert series so far, adding yet another element to variety of talent radio and brew pub audiences can expect moving forward. Edson said the ECR is in the process of making each show available on the radio station’s website.

So, if you missed Billy Maguire, Birdie Fenn Cent and now Micah J’s shows, they will be available in the near future. Keep an eye on Eburgradio.org.

Rodney Harwood: award-winning journalist and columnist. Lover of golf and the written word. I can be reached at rharwood@kvnews.com

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