Smack dab in the middle of a quiet Livonia neighborhood filled with well-kept colonial- and ranch-style homes live the heart and soul of a metro-Detroit band whose music is so powerful it can make even the most-reserved people get out of their chairs, clap their hands and shake their booties.
Meet husband-and-wife power couple Michael and Tama Smith, the lead guitarist and get-stuff-done manager, respectively, of Power Play Detroit, which was the recipient of Hour Detroit Magazine’s 2023 “Top Local Band” in a poll that included more than 1 million voters.
Power Play Detroit has also earned multiple awards in similar WDIV Channel 4 southeast Michigan-wide contests.
Each wearing Rolling Stones T-shirts, cool shades and 1,000-watt smiles, the Smiths shared on a recent cloudy, early-summer afternoon the formula for the band’s raise-the-roof success over the past decade-plus.
“One reason we’ve generated such a large following is that the core of our band has been together for close to a decade,” said Michael Smith, a semi-retired carpenter when not ramping up audience members’ spirits with his next-level guitar playing and singing voice.
“If you don’t like a song they’re performing, wait five minutes and they’ll be performing something entirely different,” Tama added.
Michael and Tama both smiled approvingly at the mention of the band’s across-the-board versatility.
Given the combination of chemistry and talent that fuels the band, the odds are you’ll like all the songs — regardless of your particular musical tastes.
Tight group of musicians
Fans of Power Play Detroit appreciate that its core — lead guitarist and vocalist Smith, bass guitarist and singer Gary Kosten, and drummer Bob Olds — have been performing together for close to a decade, a rarity for cover bands.
Original vocalist April Appelle had to bow out in 2021 due to health reasons, but she still performs occasionally as a special guest.
Both Kosten and Olds had developed a huge following among southeast-Michigan music fans during their pre-Power Play Detroit days.
Kosten, who contributed his talents to his first album when he was 21, brings a unique vocal style and thunderous dynamic low end to Power Play Detroit.
Known for his rock-solid, no-nonsense style of drumming, Olds is well-versed in a smorgasbord of music, including classic rock, country, alternative and blues. His experience and style make him the backbone of Power Play Detroit.
And when it comes to lead singers, the feel-good-vibe-spreading musicians have been blessed by the efforts of Angelique Morency, whose incredible range and versatility make her one of metro-Detroit’s premier vocalists. Along with outstanding singer Jimmy Morency, the husband-and-wife duo give the band an amazing one-two punch on vocals.
The Morencys, who were established and forceful singers on metro-Detroit’s east-side, came out of retirement to join Power Play Detroit in early-2022.
“The nice thing about being together for so long is we can learn to perform new songs in a relatively short time,” Michael Smith said. “I’ll send everybody the new songs early in the week that we’ll be performing the next weekend. We’ll all meet to practice in the studio in our home a few days before the performance, and usually we’ll do something one time and it’s like, ‘OK, we’re good’.”
“A lot of bands will break up after a few years simply because they don’t get along or they lose the chemistry. We get along like family — and I think that shows when we perform.”
Most Valuable Manager
When it comes to non-performing cover-band members, Tama Smith may be metro-Detroit’s MVM: Most Valuable Manager.
Tama’s relentless efforts to secure gigs for the band during its foundation-building days around 2010 were monumental in its fast-growing popularity.
“Tama works so hard at what she does,” Michael said. “I couldn’t do what she does. And as far as new music, she’ll let us know what works and what doesn’t, which is important in this industry. We need someone like Tama, who gives us an honest opinion of what we’re playing.”
While there is definitely a glamorous side to Power Play Detroit’s success story, the key to the band’s longevity may be its willingness to grind before and after the amps are plugged in.
‘You have to love it’
“Some nights we don’t get home until 2 or 3 a.m. after the crowd is long gone.
“You have to love it because it can be a grind at times. It’s all worth it, though. I can’t imagine not playing.”
That is music to the ears of Power Play Detroit’s massive and growing fan base.
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