The Key of Joy

Connye Griffin
Lake Collective performs at a variety of venues this summer. Pictured, at Shawnee Bluff Winery.

Michael Liebler and Linell Muse are Lake Collective, an acoustic duo making music at waterfronts, weddings, and company parties for the past two years. They met through work and teamed up to make more work, but it’s work they both love. Music gives voice to their own joy and their fans share in that joy.

Originally from Long Island, New York, Michael Liebler has made his home at Lake of the Ozarks for the past 4.5 years. His first visit to the Lake area was at age 14. That is when he found a home outside his family’s. His grandfather’s church welcomed him, and Michael felt he’d found a place where he belonged. That feeling shaped his future. Now Michael serves at the Lake in the role of Executive Pastor for Calvary Lake Ozark.

On the way to his calling and for 5.5 years, Michael sang for his supper on cruise ships. There he learned to love the music from the 1960s and 70s, the era many passengers remember fondly. Songs sung by Jim Croce, Otis Redding, and Ben E. King recall slow-dance memories of first love and lives on the cusp of adventure. As he sings, Michael smiles through the lyrics, in part because the words bring to mind people who requested them and their stories about the music.

Michael also smiles because he believes music is the fullest expression of joy. His favorite hymn is “Victory in Jesus,” a fast-paced song from 1939 in the theme of gratitude, and gratitude is exactly what Michael experiences as he sings at area restaurants and gatherings after-hours and during church services.

Linell Muse, a Chicago native, visited Lake of the Ozarks for the first time when he interviewed for the role of Worship Pastor at Church of Osage Hills, but he was familiar with Missouri through his study at Moberly’s Christian College. His love for the church has given him roots at the Lake where he’s made his home the past three years.

Soon after moving, Linell reached out to Michael in their shared roles as worship leaders. They discovered they both love music, especially of the acoustic type. They both sing and play guitar so they share the microphone and spotlight. Linell’s musical repertoire is more contemporary, however. He sets toes tapping with “Shut Up and Dance” and Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are.”

One of his personal favorites is “What a Wonderful World,” slowly and feelingly delivered by Louis Armstrong, another tune in the themes of gratitude and joy — another to take your best gal or guy in arms for a slow dance, as mellow as the voices of Michael and Linell.

When not at the microphone, one-half of Lake Collective takes a seat on a wood percussion box to pound at the beat. Easily moved from side to side and place to place, wood boxes accentuate the rhythm and complete the sounds of acoustic guitar played by two men with years of experience and expertise. Their voices carry the lyrics beautifully. Sometimes Michael’s Golden Doodle, Amigo, joins the act, but he doesn’t sing. He meets and greets. Michael is working on “sit and stay” commands for him.

Whether Amigo takes the stage or not, Lake Collective will bring smiles to faces. Their own will smile right back because making music all week at church or for the Lake’s guests are the joy they share.

Where to hear them:

• LandShark Bar & Grill: August 8, 9 & 29 from 2-5 p.m.

• Shawnee Bluff Winery: August 15, September 6 & October 17 from 1-4 p.m. September 27, November 1 & December 5 from 2-5 p.m.

• The Boathouse Lakeside Bar & Grill: August 2, 16 & 30; & September 13 from 1:30-5:30 p.m.

• PaPPo’s Pizzeria and Pub: October 10 from 6-9 p.m.

Follow them on Facebook @lakecollectiveband.