Fired Up – Kevin B. Klein Fuels Classic Rock Anthems on ‘They Call It Rock-N-Roll’

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Kevin B. Klein blazes a rock-fueled pathway through life lessons, personal growth and future dreams on “They Call It Rock-N-Roll.”

Backed by turbocharged guitar riffs, fierce vocals and candid lyrics, Kevin B. Klein reignites a fiery passion into classic rock.

The Capac singer-songwriter and guitarist blazes a scorching 13-track, rock-fueled pathway through life lessons, personal growth and future dreams on his latest explosive album, They Call It Rock -N- Roll.

“I’ve been listening to a ton of music, and I see a ton of artists, and everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s rock and roll, or this is rock and roll.’ People are saying punk rock is rock and roll, and I’m thinking, ‘You guys are the farthest thing from rock and roll.’ To me, rock and roll is good, old-fashioned classic rock,” Klein said.

“For me, life got in the way for a long time, and it was a good thing because it gave me a lot of life experiences. All the songs that I write have a great energy and great storylines because I lived them, and they’re relatable to a lot of people.”

Klein earnestly reflects on those eye-opening experiences on the album’s dynamic, hopeful Led Zeppelin-esque opener, “The Wrong from Right,” as roaring electric guitars, bold acoustic strums, clicking cymbals, throbbing bass and pounding drums charge into your soul.

He proudly sings, “Speak up and don’t you back down/You gotta make the rules, you gotta stand your ground/Be careful what you say, be careful what you do/You gotta have some hope if you’re gonna make your dreams come true/Save your soul, you gotta know the wrong from right/If you lose control, then you’re gonna lose the fight.”

“It was this dark song at first, and I changed it up and wanted it to be really positive. ‘The Wrong from Right’ is about making great life choices despite all the chaos in the world. It’s got a darkish vibe, and it’s very rhythmic, and that’s why it ended up being the first song on the album. I’m coming out full power, and it just gets in your blood instantly,” said Klein, aka KBK.

Continue reading “Fired Up – Kevin B. Klein Fuels Classic Rock Anthems on ‘They Call It Rock-N-Roll’”

Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’

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Desmond Jones takes a refreshing vintage country detour on “Pink Moon.” Artwork – Daniel Benayun

Desmond Jones elegantly casts twangy lunar magic throughout West Virginia’s sprawling Appalachian Mountains.

The Grand Rapids rock-funk-jazz quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) takes a refreshing vintage country detour on their latest jamboree-filled, celestial single, “Pink Moon.”

“The song is actually named after a music festival that used to be held in West Virginia called ‘The Pink Moon Music Festival.’ The festival was named after the lunar phenomenon we call The Pink Moon, which is a unique yearly full moon that occurred last week,” Bota said.

“I guess you could say it’s a love song I wrote to the moon. It’s meant to be sung while I’m hanging out in the Appalachian Mountains on the outskirts of a small West Virginia mountain town dancing to some wonderful live music under the moon and the stars.”

As a timeless, torchy ode to our favorite pastel-tinged satellite, “Pink Moon” awakens the youthful, nocturnal spirit as swift drums, rich pedal steel, propulsive bass, soulful sax, jubilant mandolin and vigorous violin gallop into a bright summer night.

Bota nostalgically sings, “Once a year, my dear, I’ll spend a night with you/Lookin’ at sunlight through your view/Whistlin’ a tune until the sun’s had enough of you/As you drift into the sky.”

“I wrote the song very late at night five years ago after the second Pink Moon Music Festival that we played and attended. I touched it up over a week or two of playing and singing it solo on my acoustic guitar. We recorded the drums, bass, two guitars and saxophone live at our manager Kevin McKay’s studio in the fall of 2019 three years later,” Bota said.

“The vocals, pedal steel and instrument solos were recorded at everyone’s own homes during the winter of 2020-2021. We have one guest on this track who happens to be one of our favorite Michigan musicians, Don Julin. We had the pleasure to play with Don during two of our sets at the Cowpie Music Festival in 2019, and he agreed to lend his musical talents on this album.”

Continue reading “Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’”

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show

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Saturday’s Grove Sessions hip-hop livestream will feature electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves.

Three local hip-hop acts will ignite the Grove Studios livestream stage Saturday.

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper will spark electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves for a Grove Sessions livestream audience. Rod Wallace, Grove Studios educational programs coordinator and Zero Noize Podcast host, will oversee the show’s festivities.

“We want to bring a full Approachable Minorities experience to all who come and watch the stream. Since last year we have been working hard to bring new material for our fans, and we are excited to share that with everyone,” said TJ Greggs, aka MC Lewy Seifer of Approachable Minorities.

“We plan to play some new songs for the Grove Sessions set to give a small glimpse of our new album that we will be releasing over the next year. We continue to practice and work on our craft regularly so that we may bring the best performance for any event that we are a part of.”

Along with his Approachable Minorities partners – MC Druzi Baby, aka Drew Denton, and DJ OnDemand, aka Marcus McKinney – Greggs relishes rejoining Tru Klassick for another live show and teaming up with Soundproof’s Mark Cooper for the first time.

“Tru Klassick always brings superior lyrical diversity and captures the true essence of hip-hop. We have worked and performed with Tru Klassick on many different occasions, and it is always a great time to watch his talent at work. We have not yet had the chance to perform with Mark Cooper, but we are excited to have the chance to share the stage with him,” said Greggs along with his bandmates.

Outside of performing, Approachable Minorities continue to write, record and release new material. The Ypsilanti party rap and conscious hip-hop trio recently contributed and produced tracks for last summer’s community-based hip-hop album, Formula 734, along with Louis Picasso, Sam Watson, Beretta Shells, Konphlict, King Ogundipe, Tru Klassick, Jamall Bufford and Wallace.

One of the project’s most compelling tracks includes Approachable Minorities’ thoughtful, percussive “See Me Dead,” which was inspired by last summer’s Black Lives Matter marches.

Together, they reflect, “Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my skin/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my hair/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause I’m Black/Why they wanna see me dead/See another brother take two to the head.”

“We were on vacation in Florida when the protests initially began. We had to drive back through the country seeing alerts about the curfews and were worried about our safety while being in the south during these times. We spoke with Rod Wallace, Jamall Bufford and Louis Picasso on our way back, and they explained the situation in Detroit to us,” said Greggs, who formed Approachable Minorities with Denton and McKinney in 2016.

“We had friends down on the front lines being tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, and it was horrible to see the videos of the events. When we got back home, we immediately went into the studio and began writing.”

Continue reading “Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show”

Dream Theater – Weekend Lovers Creates Psychotropic Realm on Vibrant ‘Baby’ Video

Weekend Lovers delightfully brings the vivid, hallucinogenic dream world of REM sleep to life.

The Tucson, Arizona dream pop-post rock collective unveils a kaleidoscopic collage of masked fashionable friends, trippy desert adventures and vintage landline phones on their latest video for “Baby.”

“I wanted a nonlinear narrative, and the song is told in bites as a tale of emotions. I think our brains also remember things not necessarily in order, and I wanted some of the best visuals I took over the course of some time,” said Marta DeLeon, Weekend Lovers’ vocalist-bassist.

“It’s basically a day in the life of my life in Tucson, and the city is one of the characters too representing the southwest and its beauty. Thrift and dollar store finds and the Halloween section at Target brought the fantasy mood and props to help my cast be funny or interpretive.”

As the video’s director, DeLeon intricately stitched together a series of brief psychedelic vignettes through a Videoleap app on her iPhone. Together, those colorful scenes created the carefree, experimental world depicted in “Baby” along with additional footage from Luke Ralston.

“I carry my iPhone everywhere, so there were more opportunities to shoot things I’d run into daily in my life that might be cool little visuals. Videoleap is a more developed aka Instagram venture with abilities like timing, speed, filters and mixers that allowed me to overlay the double exposure you see,” she said.

“That really helped me pull together all the 2-second to 4-second videos I was strewing together and gave the overall video some seamless pace and movement. I already had some random quirky storyboard images, and I love movies and write lyrics cinematically.”

DeLeon also recruited a fun cast of bandmates and friends to reside within her psychotropic realm. Along with Jungle Jazzy and Laura Eliason, Weekend Lovers’ Brandon Douglas (keys, guitars, backup vocals), Danny Perez (guitar) and Gabriela Lisk (drums, guitars) join DeLeon throughout “Baby.”

“I can’t really say the song wouldn’t soar as well or hit as much without Gaby Lisk or Danny Perez. I wrote the song with this Portishead bassline and vocal phrasing, but Gaby’s hard joyous drum downbeat propelled the opening ‘ooh-ahhs.’ Danny’s guitar is a creepy, crawling beauty, but then his smacking, slinky strumming hits you in the face,” said DeLeon, who’s inspired by shadows and murals in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood.

“My engineer Matt Rendon came up with the backup vocals, which give the chorus its tension musically and emotional necessary angst. They were all open to my preconceived ideas with the props or locations. Some moments were just great mistakes.”

Continue reading “Dream Theater – Weekend Lovers Creates Psychotropic Realm on Vibrant ‘Baby’ Video”

Days of Future Past – Major Murphy Reaches Personal Crossroads on New ‘Access’ Album

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Major Murphy’s Jacki Warren, Brian Voortman, Chad Houseman and Jacob Bullard revisit personal struggles and explore newfound intrinsic possibilities on “Access.” Photo – New Archive

With Access, Major Murphy beautifully arrives at the emotive intersection of past and future.

The Grand Rapids indie rock quartet of Jacob Bullard (vocals, guitar), Jacki Warren (bass, vocals), Brian Voortman (drums) and Chad Houseman (guitar, keys, percussion) seamlessly navigates undiscovered internal roads filled with uncertainty, contemplation and growth on their boundless sophomore album.

“You have to go rock bottom to be able to adequately move forward. At times, it can be a little dark, scary or intense, but ultimately if you don’t face some of those things, then you’ll be missing the point. Anxiety and stress are definitely fused into the record, but it’s for the purpose of being able to identify things and put them to rest,” Bullard said.

Major Murphy deeply revisits personal struggles and explores newfound intrinsic possibilities across nine introspective, cinematic and experimental tracks on Access, which arrived April 2 via Winspear on all streaming platforms.

Each thoughtful, captivating track weaves a reflective, relatable tale about arriving at an unexpected crossroads and grappling with the amount of control one has in life. Layered with choose-your-own-adventure insights, Access prompts listeners to decide the direction of their next fateful turn.

“I was going through a lot of big changes, and I started writing songs in 2017. Part of the optimism is saying even when everything around you shifts and you don’t really recognize it, the old way of being doesn’t need to hold precedent. You have the find the strength within yourself to accept the new reality and adapt,” Bullard said.

Continue reading “Days of Future Past – Major Murphy Reaches Personal Crossroads on New ‘Access’ Album”

Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’

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LovelyOcean celebrates pursuing her artistic endeavors on “No Down Payment.” Illustration courtesy of artist

For LovelyOcean, a full-time focus on music will pay dividends for years to come.

The Los Angeles hip-hop singer-songwriter relishes the freedom and gratification of pursuing her emerging creative endeavors on “No Down Payment,” now available on all streaming platforms.

“I like to think of ‘No Down Payment’ as a form of background motivation. It’s like, ‘Yeah, this music isn’t paying any of the bills yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t someday.’ I think it’s important that we continue to work on things we love as to not get worn down by work, life and other bullshit,” said LovelyOcean.

“Up until this point, I had been working in the social work field, and it was killing my spirit. But it served as the biggest motivation to work on music so I could get out. I quit my job back in March, and I’ve never felt better.”

LovelyOcean celebrates her “No Down Payment” independence as shiny, cyclical synths, jumpy bass and gentle percussion smoothly glide alongside hypnotic, ‘90s-esque beats.

She reflects, “Just trying to break the mold/They warned me as a youth/Back when I played with dough/Things come natural/Need it off top/The world is gonna feel my flow/No static/We live from the radio/Tryna make it through/Ima shine like I was radial/And have a packed house/Up at SoFi Stadium.”

“Somedays I’m like, ‘Damn, I really wish this shit would pay off soon.’ It can be really discouraging to put your all into music, but no one is really fucking with it. I don’t like to have to ask people I’m close with if they’ve listened to the song. I don’t like begging for support,” LovelyOcean said.

“I’ve been using this time to recover and refocus so I can work on an album, but at this moment my songwriting waterfall is kinda dry. I’m glad I don’t feel stressed by work anymore, but I do feel more pressure to be artistic.”

LovelyOcean started co-writing her creative autonomy anthem with Chuck Chill in January. They recorded the track together in their magical closet studio and watched it quickly flourish over several days.

“It took about two days for the song to be written and probably two days to record it. I’ll spend one day recording it so I can get comfortable with it, and then I’ll record it another day so I can really solidify the vibes. Chuck Chill came up with the concept for the song and the majority of the lyrics,” she said.

“This is the first time I have ever let someone else take over the writing, but I knew he would do the song justice because he’s an excellent artist. Chuck Chill and I have collaborated on multiple tracks so far. He was featured on ‘Theta Waves’ on my last EP, and I’ve been featured on a few of his mixtapes.”

Continue reading “Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’”

New Chapter – Blank Tape Tax Shares Mental Health Struggles on ‘My Book’ Single

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Blank Tape Tax raises mental health awareness on “My Book.” Photo – Colleen Rose

Editor’s Note: According to John Hopkins Medicine, 26 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from mental illness. That means for every 100 people you meet, 26 of them are struggling with mental illness. NAMI research also shows roughly 5 percent of adults in the U.S. struggle with serious mental illness, and 1 percent of Americans suffer from psychotic disorders.

Blank Tape Tax openly shares a personal chapter of past struggles.

The Detroit experimental group and rotating collective boldly recounts the internal anguish associated with lingering mental illness battles on “My Book,” which is now available on all streaming platforms.

“It’s a story about living with bipolar 1 disorder and what recovering from a psychotic break and subsequent hospitalization has been like in a recovery process that has lasted four years. Only recently has mental illness become something that is seen as less stigmatized to talk about in certain circles,” said Ben Yost, Blank Tape Tax’s drummer-vocalist.

“However, in most places, there is still a misunderstanding surrounding mental illness, especially with a disorder like bipolar psychosis, which affects 1 percent of all Americans. Although it was not written with this intention, ‘My Book’ has come to start a dialogue about mental illness and remind people that feelings are mentionable and manageable. Getting help is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.”

Throughout “My Book’s” lo-fi home demo, Blank Tape Tax beautifully reveals that inner strength with Emily Parrish (vocals) and Kavon Williams (piano). Surrounded by somber piano, Parrish poignantly sings, “The words for me are hard to say/I suffer through them every day/And I just want you to hear my pain and to relate/I want to say some old cliché/But oh what the fuck/Here it goes anyway.”

“That being said, I feel conflicted about the lyrics of ‘My Book’ because I felt initially when I wrote them that they were too negative and self-pitying, but after hearing Emily perform it, I’ve come to think that the song is ultimately a positive thing,” Yost said.

“‘My Book’ was written in a few minutes as a stream-of-consciousness poem. I often write this way using free association. I recorded Logan Gaval’s first full-length, Number One, on Flesh and Bone Records, and I was listening to that at the time. I liked the way he sounded like Elliott Smith, and I wanted to write a song in that style (sort of like ‘Needle in the Hay’).”

Yost initially wrote “My Book” as a waltz on his guitar and recorded a demo. The track later blossomed once Parrish added her thoughtful vocals and Williams performed his haunting piano part in Wayne State University’s Old Main Guitar Room.

“I had always planned on re-releasing ‘My Book’ as a single. It took this long primarily because we were still forming a lineup while it was recorded, and then the pandemic hit. When Emily first sang it for us, it was awesome. It reminded me of Janis Ian, but more emotive. Emily really made the song her own while Kavon’s piano was perfect for the song,” Yost said.

Blank Tape Tax also filmed a VHS camcorder-inspired video for “My Book,” which features warm snippets of home movie style footage interspersed with a live performance of Yost, Parrish and Williams. Yost developed the raw, vintage concept for the video after watching two seminal early ‘90s skateboard videos, Blind Skateboards’ “Video Days” and Alien Workshop’s “Memory Screen.”

“The Blind video was a major influence on me as a young kid, and later in life when I saw ‘Memory Screen,’ my imagination had totally been captured by that style of filmmaking. I had also been a fan of Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, and the first two Blank Tape Tax videos for ‘Baby’ and ‘Peachy’ had been done in a similar style by visual artist Genevieve Kuzak,” said Yost, who worked with Ethan Long and Nathan Wilkey to edit the “My Book” video.

“I actually ended up being the one behind the camera while filming ‘My Book’ just out of necessity. The footage fits the audio nicely because they were both captured on tape, which gives it a warm home movie quality. All but the editing and mastering were done using analog technology and magnetic tape.”

My Book” serves as Blank Tape Tax’s latest compelling single after releasing the pithy hardcore punk-bebop jazz track, “Hey Donnie” and the jazzy hip-hop B-side, “Positive Force and the Discipline of Non-Violence pt. 2” earlier this year. They also dropped a refreshing modal jazz-based cover of Minor Threat’s “Filler” in October.

Looking ahead, Yost and his current Blank Tape Tax lineup of Michael King (upright bass), William Marshall Bennett (piano), Mark Royzenblat (guitar), Isaac Burgess (guitar) and Parrish (vocals) will release additional new material soon.

“We have no previews of anything other than lo-fi home demos. We’re trying to do more stuff in high fidelity, and we plan on a single and an EP. We’re also debating doing a full-length since there’s no touring,” Yost said.

Soulful Path – ANA Explores Self-Love, Personal Growth on ‘Fall With Me’ Single

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ANA shares her deepest emotional reflections and vulnerabilities on “Fall With Me.” Photo – Miles Marie

Filled with sensual, soulful grooves and mellow, jazzy soundscapes, ANA beautifully embarks on a newfound path of self-discovery and intimacy.

Along her transformative journey, the Detroit neo-soul singer-songwriter shares her deepest emotional reflections and vulnerabilities while poignantly embracing personal growth and exhilaration on “Fall With Me.”

“This song is a trifecta of things. A lot of it is about exploring intimacy and being open to that. But self-love was a big one, especially during the pandemic because we have spent so much time being isolated from each other. I feel like a lot of the things we desire become a lot more physical and manifest in a way of self-care while deepening the expectations we have for ourselves and the things that we love to do,” said Ana Gomulka, aka ANA.

Now available on all streaming platforms, “Fall With Me” magically transports listeners to a carefree, breezy spring day that provides instant relief and ample time to recharge. Thoughtful, enduring trumpet, delicate drums, mellifluous bass, fluttering synth and vivid electric guitar provide a mesmerizing escape into ANA’s dreamy world.

Gomulka beautifully sings, “Cause when you show up at my place/And ring my bell/I’ve been feelin’ for ya/You know very well/But if this is too much for you, yeah/We can just kick it like we used to.”

“I decided to put this song out first because I’ve been working on a lot of music that’s going to be coming out in 2021. I also wanted to make this a love song to my audience and the people who have supported me throughout the whole time I’ve been making music,” said Gomulka, who also fronts the jazz-fusion group Honey Monsoon.

“I’ve been writing songs since I was 13 years old, and this is the first time I’ve ever officially put out a single myself as a solo artist. I wanted to make this single to invite people to follow me into the joy of what I’ll be sharing. I’ve always been a really sensual, vulnerable person, and I think a lot of authenticity lies there.”

Fall With Me” also serves as ANA’s first new material since releasing Honey Monsoon’s 2019 enchanting album, Opal Soul. She invited an all-star team of collaborators to join her on the track, including Haruki Hakoyama (bass, trumpet), Sasha Kashperko (guitar), Todd Watts (drums) and Barry Chambliss (keys), and meld captivating R&B grooves with jazzy, hip-hop beats.

“This song was actually something that just came to me. I had studio time booked already for different songs, but this song was the newest and the freshest one. I had just laid down the guitar part first for the demo,” said Gomulka, who recorded the track at Fundamental Sound Co.

“I did the instrumental, and then the vocals came while the lyrics came afterward. I just reflected and manifested in feeling what I really wanted people to get out of this song. I’ve also been making a lot of electronic music, but I thought it was important to have actual instrumentation on it. I think that comes with the realness of my music, and it’s a reflection of my musical spirit.”

Continue reading “Soulful Path – ANA Explores Self-Love, Personal Growth on ‘Fall With Me’ Single”

Funky Vibes – Grove Studios Hosts Saturday Livestream Show with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

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Sabbatical Bob will share groovy jazz-funk fusion during Saturday’s Grove Sessions livestream show. Photo – Kyla McGrath & Mural – Joanna Farben

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The DayNites will bring blues, neo-soul and psychedelic rock to Saturday’s livestream show. Photo courtesy of The DayNites

Two local bands will funkify the livestream universe from Grove Studios Saturday.

Sabbatical Bob and The DayNites will share soulful grooves throughout their energetic, danceable sets for Grove Sessions from the Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space’s newly renovated Deluxe Studio.

“Sabbatical Bob comes from more of a jazz-funk fusion realm with some killer jazz-trained musicianship. The DayNites speak more of a blues, neo-soul and psychedelic language to get their vibe across. Regardless, we imagine our virtual audience will be bobbin’ their heads and shakin’ it a bit at home,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder/director of community engagement and drummer for The DayNites.

As Grove Studios’ second in-studio livestream performance, viewers will experience a jam-tastic show filled with bouncy wah-wah guitars, hypnotic bass, pulsating drums, upbeat horns and shiny keys.

Sabbatical Bob’s Ben Green (trumpet, vocals), Ian Eylanbekov (guitar), Ben Wood (bass) and David Ward (drums, vocals) will perform tracks from their dynamic, rhythmic 2019 debut EP, Sabbatical Bob: Live and in Person. (Keyboardist Jordan Anderson won’t be able to join the band for the show.)

“We plan on doing what we always do, bringing the exciting loud funk. We are playing some oldies from the EP, a cover or two, and some music that is soon to be released on our next record, On the Run,” Ward said. “We have never been able to share the stage with The DayNites, but they are friends, and we’ve all got to hear them play before.”

In December, Sabbatical Bob released a colorful, inspiring video for “Alright,” their peppy, spirited instrumental that defeats corporate drudgery with enthusiastic, bouncy funk. Created by Filmic Productions, it’s a much-needed cure from being trapped inside lifeless, institutional walls.

“‘Alright’ was super fun because we had a team work up the idea and present it to us. The people at Filmic are really dope and had it all ready to go. We kinda got to be super stars – even the idea for the video was intuited by the team just by listening to the music. They ran it by us once, and we were sold,” Ward said.

In tandem with Sabbatical Bob, The DayNites will bring moonlit melodies, gravitational grooves and rotational rhythms to a virtual audience. Kristianna Bell (vocals), Ryan Greene (keys, piano), Tim Blackman (bass), Shaun Maazza (guitar) and Friebel (drums) will share tracks from their R&B-rock flavored self-titled debut EP, which dropped in October.

“We’ll be playing the entire self-titled EP along with some of our own renditions of classic soul and R&B jams. We’ll also be debuting a new original written with Ryan Greene, the keyboardist from Violet Sol, who became an official DayNite last July,” Friebel said.

Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March 2020. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.

Show details:

Grove Sessions livestream with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

7 p.m. | Saturday, April 3

Tickets: $10

Identity Crisis – Gaucho Major Uncovers Past Selves on New ‘Blue Ribbon’ Single

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Gaucho Major’s “Blue Ribbon” challenges people to reveal their true identities.

Gaucho Major keenly uncovers the duplicitous side of human nature.

The Los Angeles pop-rock duo of Max Espinosa (vocals, guitar) and Mike Pappas (songwriting, production) shines a jazzy, truthful light on “Blue Ribbon,” an eye-opening, witty new single that instantly challenges people to reveal their true identities.

“It’s basically a song about the American lie in privilege. There’s a lot that goes into that, and there’s a lyric in there, ‘Be happy that you’ve left where you’ve come from.’ While growing up in LA, I saw people come here from all walks of life,” said Espinosa.

“I noticed a difference with someone coming from Detroit, St. Louis or Cleveland; they just wanna erase where they came from. They’re happy to shed it. But when I go to New York, people are like, ‘I’m from Pittsburgh, or I’m from Ann Arbor,’ and they’re just proud about it. They’re past lives aren’t thrown away.”

Throughout “Blue Ribbon,” Gaucho Major elegantly retrieves those discarded past selves as thoughtful piano, soulful sax, mystical electric guitars, sauntering bass and cozy drums unearth the importance of living authentically.

Espinosa playfully sings, “Be happy to leave where you came from/There’s everything here under the sun/The crowd back there/They ain’t got much to go on/Careful where you step, son/We just did the lawn/It’s good to be on the board/Even if you’re a pawn.”

“The verses are very much like a parody and a caricature’s story. When I get to the chorus, I actually sing and do my normal voice. It’s a wink, a smile and a nod to what people expect in life, especially with the rise in social media, and people filtering out 90 percent of their real life to give you a 10 percent glimpse of the good times,” Espinosa said.

Espinosa and Pappas started delving into “Blue Ribbon’s” refreshing theme of uncovering inauthentic selves last summer. The duo received a songwriting prompt for the track from the KDC Guild’s Kristopher Malone, who will include “Blue Ribbon” on his upcoming multimedia concept album, Welcome to the Cise Pavilion.

“We basically brainstormed this certain segment of the story, and it was this long scene of what an ideal life would look like. It’s the notion of a trophy family and how you’re supposed to live in America, and I thought it was perfect for me to write about it. That was enough for me to get going on creating the soundscape and everything for the song,” said Espinosa, who’s influenced by Steely Dan.

To solidify the track’s first-rate, jazz-inspired sound, Gaucho Major invited a talented roster of musicians, including Kevin Hannah (drums), Kateri Lirio (piano) and Kapil Raman (sax), to collaborate remotely for “Blue Ribbon” over a six-month period.

“We started in July with the skeleton build to get the bones of the track, and that’s just the thematic elements of the song and not even the lyrics or anything. When it came to recording the parts, we did a rough demo in August to send out to our drummer,” Espinosa said.

“We picked Kevin because he’s got amazing gospel chops; he’s got groove. When we got the drums back, we decided to build everything on top of it. We ended up getting those back in late September and recorded everything else in October. And then we sent it off to get mixed in November.”

Continue reading “Identity Crisis – Gaucho Major Uncovers Past Selves on New ‘Blue Ribbon’ Single”