Time traveling with Wally Pleasant

By Eric Gallippo

Singer-songwriter talks history, speeding up the present

While other musicians were out putting on their best sad faces and tattered sweaters, riding one man’s genuine angst to moderate acclaim and commercial success in the early ‘90s, East Lansing’s Wally Pleasant was finding his own way, hitting the highway with a six-string and a tour van-full of catchy sweet, songs about board games, geeks and Ted Nugent.

This Friday, he’ll return to the Lansing stage to treat audiences to his patented brand of humor and harmony for the first time in more than two years.

Pleasant (born Wally Bullard) first made a name for himself as a singersongwriter playing open mic nights at places like Hobie’s while studying political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College in the late ‘80s. In order to get airplay on local and college radio, he scraped together the money to press his own CD and started putting it into the hands of station directors across the country.

Thanks to the support of college stations, where his records were charting, Pleasant started lining up gigs all over, playing coffee houses, colleges and open mic nights from Cincinnati to Dallas. “I was gone for 15 years, gallivanting around,” he said.

Along the way, he met his future wife, Alisa, who was then managing a coffee house in Tennessee. The two now live in Charlotte with their children. When a family came into the picture, Pleasant said it was time to find a job with health insurance. After a “nightmare” 2004 tour, his performance schedule stalled.

Sitting in a new sports bar in downtown Charlotte, Pleasant exchanges, well, pleasantries with locals who he knows by first name. Pleasant, 41, seems as happy talking about fixing up old houses, preliminary vasectomy exams and the latest season of “Weeds” as he does his music.

He still enjoys writing songs, and said he plans to release a children’s album in the future. He’s also looking forward to seeing how his music goes over after the time off. “All that background and history doesn’t matter as much as just doing the show,” Pleasant said.

When it’s time to perform, Pleasant is serious about entertaining, laying out his set list and developing between-song banter.

“Trying to be entertaining is like speeding up time in a way,” he said. “It’s like making an hour seem like 45 minutes.”

Wally Pleasant

Lukedot, Ambush of Tigers 9 p.m. Saturday, April 10 Mac’s Bar, 2700 E.
Michigan Ave., Lansing All-Ages, $8/$10 (517) 484-6795 www.macsbar.com