The Way-Back Machine – Shon Jay Melds Vintage R&B with New School Pop on Debut EP ‘Nothing Is Forever’

Shon Jay drops his debut EP, “Nothing Is Forever,” today on major streaming sites.

Shon Jay knows how to create a groove-fueled musical time machine.

The Southfield indie artist mixes retro R&B with current pop-inspired textures on “Nothing Is Forever,” his eight-track debut EP that drops today. He magically transports listeners to a personal sonic world that fuses late ‘70s, early ‘80s vibes with catchy 21st century melodies.

Jay, aka Shon Johnson, teamed with his father Lamont Johnson, a renown electric bassist from the Detroit-based funk group Brainstorm and a solo artist, to record and produce the beautifully crafted EP.

“There’s a heavy old school element in the entire project, but then I’m bringing my youth and whatever naiveté I want to try to recapture as I hit a career path,” Jay said. “We worked together to go through his catalog of songs that I’ve known since I was four or five years old.”

Jay and Lamont Johnson recorded “Nothing Is Forever” from September to December with Todd Johnson at Throne Muzik in Southfield. Together, they weave a powerful relationship theme throughout the Lamont Johnson-penned project – it exquisitely captures the rollercoaster of emotion with falling in love, becoming a couple, drifting apart, breaking up and moving forward.

The EP’s latest single, “Dreamin’,” includes a laid-back Earth, Wind & Fire feel surrounded by soul grooves, electronic finger snaps and gleaming synths.

“It has such a mellow mood, and it has ups and downs in terms of delivery for the notes and the melody. It’s very intricate and smooth. To do both, I would say that was the most challenging song to record because of how all over the place it is with intonations,” Jay said.

“That song is supposed to make someone think about what they’re really looking for in life and what types of things they want and how easy it is to obtain, but they just really need to go out and get it.”

Continue reading “The Way-Back Machine – Shon Jay Melds Vintage R&B with New School Pop on Debut EP ‘Nothing Is Forever’”

Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will perform Friday night at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will bring their Midwest urban folk songs to Farmington tomorrow night.

The folk singer-songwriter duo will perform as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday with special guest Mark Reitenga.

“I think we’ll pull from all of our experiences of working together and songs that we’ve written together, songs that we’ve done solo, songs that are cover tunes, songs that we’ve performed and recorded, and maybe have some new stuff, too,” said Krist, who’s recovering from a broken shoulder. “I have a couple of new songs that I’m hoping we’ll be able to play.”

Together, Krist and Bizer will perform as part of a fun, formidable duo where the sum is greater than the already substantial parts. Their performances mesh and interlock with lyrics and melodies that interweave in surprising and intriguing ways.

Originally hailing from Detroit, the duo has played together for more than 40 years and first crossed musical paths as teens during the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Krist absorbed Joni Mitchell’s folk, rock, jazz and pop-inspired tunes while Bizer studied James Taylor’s catchy folk rock. They also developed an affinity for the Motown sound coming out of Detroit.

“Both of us had independent careers and achieved a bit of notoriety on our own, and then we decided it would be fun to tour together,” said Bizer, who started out playing cover songs in local bars and restaurants. “We’d perform as a duo and take turns performing each other’s songs. We got more and more developed into that kind of show, and we started writing together, and the songs became more crafted for a duo, which is where it really got fun.”

Continue reading “Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live”

Motor City Homecoming – Science for Sociopaths Returns for Feb. 13 RAW Detroit Reflect Show at Saint Andrew’s Hall

Science for Sociopaths artwork by Taylor Ruffin

Science for Sociopaths will return to Detroit Feb. 13 for a one-night only show at Saint Andrew’s Hall.

The San Francisco indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, aka Maggie Cocco, will perform during RAW Detroit’s Reflect along with Honeybabe, Farrah Mechael and Dmack313rd for the event, which also will feature fashion, photography, and visual and performance art.

“Saint Andrew’s is a great venue, and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity,” said Cocco, who originally hails from Sterling Heights. “It’s a fun homecoming for me, and what I like about RAW is that it’s not just about music. I’ve always thought of Science for Sociopaths since its conception as a multimedia project. For each project that I’ve done, I’ve worked very closely with an artist.”

Maggie Cocco of Science for Sociopaths

Hosted by RAW Detroit, an international artist collective, Reflect will be the first show Cocco has played in the Motor City since relocating to the Bay area in September. She will reunite with Detroit bandmates Neil Eby (guitar), Alex Marshall (bass) and J Durrell Gibbs (drums) for her set.

“I’m bowled over by their willingness to play with me,” Cocco said. “I’m going to do some of the favorites from ‘Love & Life,’ and then I’m going to do a new song, ‘Where I Belong,’ that I’m going to release right before the show.”

“Where I Belong” will be Cocco’s first new Science for Sociopaths single since releasing her double EP “Love & Life” in June and the first of 10 new tunes she’ll be sharing throughout 2019 to her Patreon supporters. All 10 tracks will be released as part of an official album later this year.

“It’s a love song, just like ‘Love & Life,’ which I felt was very aptly named. My music compulsions are divided between philosophical shit that I’m figuring out in my brain for myself with how life works with boundaries and then my romantic life,” said Cocco, who’s influenced by Carole King, Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow. “I’m a very romantic person, it sort of overflows, and it’s always about half and half.”

Cocco recorded the untitled pop-rock project with Benjamin Warsaw, a Nashville-based producer and sound engineer, over four days in Ohio. She also worked with Warsaw on “Love & Life,” her heartfelt nine-song ode to the trials and tribulations of life and love.

Throughout 2018, Cocco released a new Science for Sociopaths song each week through Patreon, an online platform that allows artists to receive funds directly from their fans.

Her songs included covers of Rhiannon Gidden’s “Love (That) We Almost Had” and “City of Stars” and “Audition Song (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land” as well as new tracks “Hey Sunshine” and “Hey Friend.”

“It was a very prolific year for me,” she said. “I think I grew a lot as a musician, but this year I’m trying to dedicate more time and resources to getting the music I already have in front of more people.”

Show Details:

RAW Detroit Reflect presents Science for Sociopaths

Wednesday, Feb. 13

Saint Andrew’s Hall, 431 E. Congress St. in Detroit

Event: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Tickets: $22.50 for presale general admission

Three Times A Lady – Angela Predhomme, Kathy Wieland and Judy Banker Host “Songwriters in the Round” Show Saturday Night at Crazy Wisdom

Angela Predhomme, Kathy Wieland and Judy Banker will perform a “Songwriters in the Round” show Saturday night at Crazy Wisdom in Ann Arbor.

Three singer-songwriters will share two hours of acoustic tunes, tales and triumphs Saturday night at Ann Arbor’s Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tearoom.

Angela Predhomme, Kathy Wieland and Judy Banker will perform as part of the “Songwriters in the Round” series and take listeners on an intimate musical journey filled with creative lyrics, catchy melodies and compelling stories.

“It’s a really cool venue because it’s a listening room, almost like a mini Ark, where people come and pay attention,” Predhomme said. “It’s very appropriate for us to tell stories about the songs, talk between the songs and really interact with the people.”

As part of the show, each singer-songwriter will perform her own material, provide insights into her music and collaborate with one another. Together, they’ll offer an invigorating blend of Americana, country, folk, soft rock and pop to uplift the musical spirit on a warm winter’s night.

“It’s fun to be able to share the stories behind our songs with people who care about them,” said Predhomme, who performs regularly at Crazy Wisdom. “I’ll be doing a lot of newer songs, and we may do a song together at the end.”

Continue reading “Three Times A Lady – Angela Predhomme, Kathy Wieland and Judy Banker Host “Songwriters in the Round” Show Saturday Night at Crazy Wisdom”

‘The New Normal’ – Kane Roberts Steps Out of the Dark with Latest Cinematic Heavy Metal Solo Album

Kane Roberts — Photo by Mike Goedecke

For Kane Roberts, writing and recording “The New Normal,” his first new solo album in seven years, felt like taking a step in the dark.

“It was one of those situations where I’ve been off the grid for quite a while. I hadn’t been in the public jet stream of rock and roll and recording and playing live. I played it for my friend Kip Winger, and he said, ‘I can run this by Frontiers to see if they’re interested,’ and Serafino and Mario agreed to it,” Roberts said.

“It was like walking into a completely dark room because I hadn’t been in the studio and doing this exact type of thing, writing, guitar, making a record and singing so that I had to do stuff that was up to the proper standard.”

Out today on Frontiers Music, “The New Normal” more than surpasses the heavy metal standard with a bold cinematic, atmospheric sound filled with electrifying guitar solos, majestic drum beats and mesmerizing bass lines. In a sense, it’s akin to hearing Roberts’ personal soundtrack as his life plays out before listeners’ eyes.

Roberts, an iconic heavy metal singer and guitarist who’s worked with Alice Cooper, KISS, Guns N’ Roses, Rod Stewart and a host of other renowned artists, spent three years writing and recording 10 tracks for “The New Normal” with producer Alex Track. He opted to record “The New Normal” at Track’s studio and bust out of his comfort zone after releasing “Unsung Radio” in 2012.

“I ended up recording at his place from about 9 a.m. to four or five in the morning, five nights a week. It was a matter of discovery, I wasn’t sure how it would go, I knew that I wouldn’t quit until I got it done properly,” said Roberts, who’s also famous for his ‘80s machine-gun guitar and body-builder image.

“As time went on, the writing was really good, we started recording, and it sounded all great and everything. I would reinspect a vocal, and I would go, ‘I’m singing better now, so I should do some different choices with my guitar playing,’ even though I never stopped, it started to get more focused, and we started developing the cinematic approach to this whole project.”

Roberts built his robust cinematic sound with the help of several powerhouse heavy metal artists and musicians, including Alice Cooper, Kip Winger, Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz, Paul Taylor, Ken Mary, Nita Strauss, Babymetal’s Aoyama Hidecki, Shinedown’s Brent Smith and Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale.

Continue reading “‘The New Normal’ – Kane Roberts Steps Out of the Dark with Latest Cinematic Heavy Metal Solo Album”

Indoor Campfire – The Secret Emchy Society Celebrates ‘Mark’s Yard’ Release with Thursday’s Sing-Along Show at The Lost Church

The Secret Emchy Society will host an intimate night of acoustic country music, sing-alongs and fellowship Thursday night at San Francisco’s The Lost Church.

The Lost Church show will double as a “Mark’s Yard: The Campfire Covers” album release party for the Oakland, Calif., queer country music collective and feature Americana legends The Muddy Roses as a special guest.

During the show, The Secret Emchy Society will provide “hymnals,” or booklets with lyrics, to audience members so they can sing along to songs from “Mark’s Yard,” a new covers album the band released in December.

“This room has wonderful acoustics, and we’re actually not going to amplify, but we’re definitely going to do most of the album,” said Cindy Emch, frontwoman, guitarist and accordionist for The Secret Emchy Society. “This album was made with the intention of serving up a community experience. There will be swaying, stomping, laughter, dorkery and stories about songs that will surely go off on tangents.”

Dubbed as the “First Lady of Queer Country,” Emch leads a rotating old school country music collective that appeals to fans of June Carter Cash, Lydia Loveless, Neko Case, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. She’s been sharing her dark, sexy, boozy ballads, off-kilter anthems and cowboy songs with the Bay area queer country music scene for more than a decade.

Mark’s Yard album art

As a follow-up to 2017’s “The Stars Fell Shooting into Twangsville,” Emch’s latest release, “Mark’s Yard,” includes her own renditions of esteemed country classics from Rhubarb Whiskey, Hank Williams Jr., Tom Waits, Tolan McNeil, Johnny Cash, Carolyn Mark and more.

The album allows Emch to come full circle with her love of country music after hearing the likes of Willie Nelson and Crystal Gayle as a child and watching her mother play the accordion.

For the album, Emch teamed up with Hans Winold (upright bass, harmonica), Michele Kappel (percussion), Mya Byrne (lap steel, mandolin), Nick Foley (backing lead guitar) and Deleina Mae (backing electric bass) and recorded it over three hours one August Sunday night in her neighbor’s backyard.

Continue reading “Indoor Campfire – The Secret Emchy Society Celebrates ‘Mark’s Yard’ Release with Thursday’s Sing-Along Show at The Lost Church”

Deep Roots – Shari Kane & Dave Steele, Red Tail Ring Celebrate Original Folk, Acoustic Blues Music Sunday at The Ark

Shari Kane and Dave Steele will bring their acoustic blues to The Ark Sunday night in a dual headlining show with Red Tail Ring. Photo courtesy of Shari Kane and Dave Steele
Red Tail Ring’s Michael Beauchamp-Cohen and Laurel Premo will share their folk music and traditional ballads at The Ark Sunday night. Photo by David Birkam

Two Michigan-based duos will bring deeply-rooted music, innovative instrumental work and lush harmonies to The Ark for a Sunday show.

Shari Kane & Dave Steele and Red Tail Ring’s Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp-Cohen will co-headline the show and share a bevy of original folk music, traditional ballads and acoustic blues.

“We will do some of our own songs and play as a fourpiece with them,” Steele said. “They put a whole new dimension on what we play.”

For Sunday’s show, Kane & Steele will throw a four-handed acoustic party filled with street swing, stomp blues and mountain twang, including tracks from their 2015 album, “Feels Like Home.”

Together, the husband-and-wife acoustic blues duo recorded 12 covers from blues guitar legends Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Mississippi John Hurt and two original songs, “If I Don’t Jump” and “The Last Day of Summer,” in their Ann Arbor area home studio.

“I didn’t know initially that Dave loved Blind Blake or Blind Willie McTell or all of these people who were like home to me,” said Kane, who originally met Steele in summer 1991. “When I saw him on the street busking at the art fair, really what I was saying was I didn’t know you loved the same music that I love. That’s become home for us, and that’s really where we come from.”

Their love of acoustic blues led Kane & Steele to a fruitful 30-year musical partnership after performing previously with Peter “Madcat” Ruth and Big Dave & the Ultrasonics. Steele’s smoky vocals, percussive rhythm and innovative lead lines blend magically with Kane’s crisp finger-picking style, rootsy leads and stinging slide work.

Continue reading “Deep Roots – Shari Kane & Dave Steele, Red Tail Ring Celebrate Original Folk, Acoustic Blues Music Sunday at The Ark”