Brilliant Disguise – 3 Michigan Bands to Perform Halloween Cover Sets at Ypsilanti’s The Late Station

Three Michigan bands will go undercover to perform classic tunes Wednesday during a Halloween show at one of Ypsilanti’s burgeoning DIY underground music venues.

Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will cover songs from The Black Keys, Mac DeMarco and the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks at The Late Station starting at 8 p.m. Former Critics and Complainer will be unable to perform as No Doubt.

“All these bands chose their own covers, and they’ll be doing complete 30-minute cover sets,” said Greg Hughes, the After Hours Radio bassist who co-runs The Late Station with his three bandmates. “I started recruiting bands a little over a month before the show, which is a lot to learn in a short amount of time for a true Halloween costume cover set.”

To get in the Halloween spirit, some bands will wear costumes to impersonate artists while others will come as they are. With costumes and holiday-themed wear, Strange Flavors, The Sneeks and Liquid Thickness will ensure the crowd grooves to spooktacular cover sets.

“We will be encouraging the crowd to wear costumes, that’s kind of the whole idea,” said Hughes, who’s been booking shows at The Late Station since February. “It’s an informal welcoming space that serves as a platform for different kinds of artists and genres.”

Continue reading “Brilliant Disguise – 3 Michigan Bands to Perform Halloween Cover Sets at Ypsilanti’s The Late Station”

‘The Color Yellow’ – New Indy Trio Drops Sparkling Debut Single from Forthcoming ‘Just Like the Sun’ EP

With their vibrant debut single, “The Color Yellow,” From Elsewhere is illuminating the Indianapolis indie rock scene.

The newly formed indie rock trio dropped the first track from their forthcoming EP, “Just Like the Sun,” last week, and it’s an eclectic mix of shoegaze and alternative rock – think remnants of Smashing Pumpkins, Slowdive, Snail Mail and Death Cab for Cutie rolled into one.

With its shimmering guitars, solid bass lines and pulsating drumbeats, “The Color Yellow” provides a gorgeous splatter of upbeat rhythms, but includes a dark lyrical layer hidden below.

“It’s about Vincent Van Gogh, and the whole idea of the troubled artist. He tried to eat yellow paint because he was ready to do anything to make himself happy,” said Nikhil Ramani, the From Elsewhere frontman and guitarist who originally hails from Chennai, India. “We see mental health awareness becoming a big thing now, but we still see so many suicides. The song is also about how we can bring that number down.”

As a senior studying psychology at the University of Indianapolis, Ramani wrote the band’s debut single after trying to understand the correlation between successful artists and their depression. “The Color Yellow” serves as a budding piece of musical research to further address and explore the issue.

“Is art just an escape, or is the gene the same?” asked Ramani, who learned how to play guitar at age eight and counts Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd and Death Cab among his major influences. “Yellow is such a happy color, but it has a bit of melancholy feel to it in this song.”

Despite the delicate subject matter, Ramani and his bandmates, Travis Lee (bass) and Luke Duckworth (drums), are eager to see where their new musical journey is headed. Together, the trio formed From Elsewhere in June after meeting up with Ramani.

“Back in the summer, I was just working at the front desk at school, and there were a lot of hours where I didn’t have much to do, so I would go on Craigslist, and I made this ad for an indie rock band,” Ramani said. “I had these songs, so I wanted to see if anyone was out there.”

After forming the band, Ramani, Lee and Duckworth recorded six songs, including “The Color Yellow,” at Russian Recording in Bloomington, Ind., for “Just Like the Sun,” which will drop in December. They also plan to release a follow-up single to “The Color Yellow” soon.

Since August, From Elsewhere has played several Indy shows to growing audiences with Ongoing Story, The Latin for Maple and Dopplepopolis. They’ll play next with Heart Attack Man and Juice Nov. 4 at the Hoosier Dome, 1627 Prospect St., in Indy.

“We really want to go on tour and play out-of-town shows,” Ramani said. “When we do go on tour, it will be cool to say, ‘Hey, we’re From Elsewhere.’”

For Song Sake – Motor City Artists Debut New ‘Best Guess’ Track for Tonight’s Black Crystal Studio Songwriting Challenge

Jeff Scott will perform tonight at Black Crystal Studio as part of the “For Song Sake” songwriting challenge.

Four metro Detroit area artists will demonstrate their songwriting prowess tonight at Ann Arbor’s most intimate and private music venue.

Jeff Scott, Brooke Ratliff, Kelsey Detering and Mike Gentry will participate in “For Song Sake,” a creative challenge in which songwriters compose a new tune over six weeks and debut it before a live audience at Black Crystal Studio. Songwriters apply to participate in the challenge.

All artists are given the same song title, but must write their own lyrics and music as well as determine the genre. Tonight’s song is called “Best Guess,” said Gerald Wayne “G.W.” Staton, who’s owned and operated the 44-seat Black Crystal Studio since 2007.

“I gave the artists an example of something I wrote just to show them what they might do with it. Two of them have written me and said, ‘I’m deep in the rabbit hole,’ but they’re challenged by it,” he said. “Artists always say they needed that challenge, and they needed something thrown at them to get out of a rut.”

During “For Song Sake,” audience members will rate each song from one to five based on lyrics, melody and likability. The winning songwriter will receive a prize, which could include cash, an instrument, a short trip or another item.

Staton and his Black Crystal Studio crew will record each artist’s performance of “Best Guess” and air the recording during an upcoming “For Song Sake” session on Ann Arbor Radio, one of the venue’s two online radio stations. Each artist will receive a copy of the recording.

“I’ve got four dates for ‘For Song Sake’ lined up for next year, one a quarter,” Staton said. “The audience was what impressed me. People came out that I wouldn’t have guessed would come, but they were interested in hearing about songwriting.”

Continue reading “For Song Sake – Motor City Artists Debut New ‘Best Guess’ Track for Tonight’s Black Crystal Studio Songwriting Challenge”

In the Round – Livonia’s Brian Perrone Joins Tonight’s Songwriter Showcase at Parliament Room, Releases New ‘Dog with Ball’ EP

Brian Perrone performs tonight at The Parliament Room at Otus Supply in Ferndale.

At tonight’s “Singers in the Round” Songwriter Showcase, Brian Perrone will debut tracks from his new “Dog with Ball” EP in a live, intimate acoustic setting in Ferndale.

He will perform at The Parliament Room at Otus Supply, 345 E. 9 Mile Road, starting at 7 p.m. with Tom Butwin, Shiny Penny and JonPaul Wallace.

“It’s such a neat experience because every person is clearly different, so you might have somebody playing blues, somebody playing folk. I feel really honored and blessed to have an opportunity to take the stage with the three people I’ll be playing with,” said Perrone, a Livonia singer-songwriter.

“I get to do four songs, and I’m going to do at least one from ‘All Growns Up,” and then I’m going to do two from ‘Dog with Ball.’ My fourth one is either going to be this brand new one I just wrote or another one from ‘All Growns Up.’”

Today also marks another significant musical milestone for Perrone – the release of “Dog with Ball,” a new five-song EP with stripped-down, piano-based tracks that chronicle changing relationships, personal growth and inner reflections. It’s a warm, dreamy follow-up to his 2014 jazzy debut, “All Growns Up.”

Perrone collaborated with a host of talented, established Detroit area musicians on “Dog with Ball,” including Ypsilanti producer and guitarist Steve Somers, Re-Cure and Ethos guitarist and Siamese bassist Eric Cojacari, bassist Ronnie Smith, guitarist James Peltier and Honey Monsoon vocalist and guitarist Ana Gomulka.

“I think I’m gravitating toward more rock, that’s where I’m really rooted, and I love acoustic simple stripped-down basic songwriting,” said Perrone, who features his bulldog Sookie on the EP’s cover. “I love the singer-songwriter movement that’s going on.”

Continue reading “In the Round – Livonia’s Brian Perrone Joins Tonight’s Songwriter Showcase at Parliament Room, Releases New ‘Dog with Ball’ EP”

Big Apple Rodeo – The Secret Emchy Society Takes Queer Country Music to Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon Saturday Night

Cindy Emch of The Secret Emchy Society

The Secret Emchy Society will bring their foot stompin’, heart breakin’ Americana music about good friends and hard times to the Big Apple tomorrow night.

The Oakland, Calif., queer country music collective will share their dark, sexy, boozy ballads, off-kilter anthems and cowboy songs at the Branded Saloon, 603 Vanderbilt Ave., in Brooklyn from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Hosted by the Gay Ole Opry and Queer Country Quarterly, the show also will feature country music compadres Karen & the Sorrows and Viva.

“It’s New York, oh my God, that’s how I feel about it,” laughed Cindy Emch, frontwoman, guitarist and accordionist for The Secret Emchy Society, in late September during a phone call with The Stratton Setlist from the Bay area. “That’s the Michigan native playing New York, and that gets people excited.”

Emch will make her sole stop in New York City Saturday as part of a short fall tour, which also includes a Nov. 18 gig during the Queer Country Showcase at the Ivy Room in Albany, Calif., with Lavender Country and Velvetta.

“The Ivy Room started doing this great thing the third Sunday of every month where they do a 4-9 sort of country music showcase, and they have different local bands doing it,” Emch said. “I feel like there’s a lot of good Americana coming out of the Ivy Room right now.”

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 helping spearhead that flourishing music scene in San Francisco for more than a decade.

Continue reading “Big Apple Rodeo – The Secret Emchy Society Takes Queer Country Music to Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon Saturday Night”

Double Bill – Sylvania’s TwinPfunk Delivers Vibrant Harmonies, Covers for Ohio, Michigan Audiences

TwinPfunk’s Steve Wherry, Dave Pfenning, Mike Gramza and Mike Pfenning

Two and a half years ago, Dave Pfenning and Mike Pfenning doubled down on their music to form TwinPfunk.

The Sylvania fraternal twin brothers formed the all-eras classic, alt and indie rock quintet to share their mutual appreciation for Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, and The Head and the Heart with growing Ohio and Michigan audiences.

“That’s the charm of TwinPfunk, we’re just a couple of Sylvania kids who love playing music and have a really good time with it,” said Dave Pfenning, TwinPfunk co-frontman and guitarist. “I think people really appreciate the stripped-down, authentic and organic approach we take with our music.”

That organic approach started in high school when the Pfenning brothers sang in school and church choir and learned about classic rock, alt rock and grunge from their older siblings. Dave Pfenning soon picked up the acoustic guitar while older brother Mike Pfenning (he was born three minutes earlier) gravitated toward bass.

“Our older siblings laid the foundation for what we’re playing today,” Dave Pfenning said. “They also helped us discover the beauty of four-part harmonies, and that’s a dominant part of TwinPfunk’s focus today. It sets us apart from other groups in Toledo.”

By 2016, the Pfenning brothers had three vocalists, including djembe player Steve Wherry, but needed a fourth to round out their sound. Together, they discovered veteran blues musician Mike Gramza, a Sylvania vocalist and harmonicist who plays with the Toledo-based, all-genre trio Last Born Sons.

“I play a little guitar, I play ukulele, I can get around a little bit on the keys, but I love harmonies. I just love to sing, so I think that’s one of the strengths of the band,” Gramza said. “We have some really strong vocal harmonies, and Dave is one of the best vocalists in this area that I’ve heard.”

Continue reading “Double Bill – Sylvania’s TwinPfunk Delivers Vibrant Harmonies, Covers for Ohio, Michigan Audiences”

Stratton Setlist Snapshots — Austin City Limits Weekend 1 Sizzles with Paul McCartney, Metallica

The hot, humid weather wasn’t the only thing that sizzled in Austin, Texas last weekend.

Music from Paul McCartney, Metallica, Travis Scott, Greta Van Fleet, Janelle Monae and various other acts heated up the first weekend of the three-day legendary Austin City Limits Music Festival.

More than 75,000 festivalgoers turned up each day during the Oct. 5-7 festival to catch amazing artists on six different stages at Zilker Part.

Here are some memorable artists and scenes we captured during our visit. Starting today, lucky weekend two attendees will get to relive the festival all over again.