Visit a Spell in Red Clay Country – Review by Teresa Leggard

If at first glance Nancee and Mike Micham look like farmers, it’s because they are, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a story to tell. Last night, this reviewer joined a humble crowd at the Westport Coffee House to visit with the husband and wife duo as they wove a tale about Nancee’s grandmother in “Red Clay Country and White Cloverine Salve.” The show is part family history, part bluegrass concert, and part social call.

Against a backdrop of homemade quilts, Nancee and Mike alternate between telling tales, telling jokes, and singing songs. Although first-timers to KC Fringe, their comfort level onstage likely comes from being veteran performers of the Kansas City Renaissance Fair. There was the occasional novice hiccup, like standing too far from the microphone at times. And the story wasn’t a single, developed narrative but a collection of vignettes—maybe even anecdotes—so that the plot line was more like a series of hills than the steady rise and descent of, say, an Ozark mountain.

What the Michams lacked in polished theatrics they made up for in expert pickin’, singing, and self-deprecating country charm. Nancee’s lovely alto voice is strong and clear—the kind that comes from a lifetime of singing a capella in church. Mike’s jokes, some of which would fall into the “dad” category, are told with gusto. And once he picks up the guitar or the banjo or the harmonica, those are all forgiven. If you have Midwestern or rural roots, this show might feel warm and familiar, like comfort food. If you don’t, then you might enjoy the feeling of being down home without having to go anywhere.

“Red Clay Country and Cloverive Salve” is an outlier here at KC Fringe, where so many shows aim to be of-the-moment. But not everything needs to be provocative, zeitgeist-y, and ripped from the clickbait headlines. Sometimes, people just want to tell their stories. Mike and Nancee remind us that we all have them, so we should learn them and share them—maybe throw in a good song or two, for good measure.

If you want to slow down your frenzied Fringe pace, stop time, or reverse it altogether, head on over to Westport Coffee House and visit with Mike and Nancee. They seem like fine folks. There are three shows left: Wed (7/24) @7:30pm, Thur (7/25) @6pm, Sat (7/27) @9pm.

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