Four metro Detroit singer-songwriters will share their tunes, tales and triumphs Friday night with an intimate Farmington audience.
During the show, each singer-songwriter will take a turn performing their own material, tell stories behind their music, delve into their personal creative process and introduce a new track. “There will be some interesting and funny stories probably, and I think everyone in this lineup likes crowd engagement,” Jewett said. “We’re not looking for the hushed symphony audience.”
This is the third time Jewett has teamed up with Petty and Corbin to host a “Songwriters Round” in metro Detroit since May 2017. In the past, they’ve hosted similar events at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion and Trinity House Theatre in Livonia with Chelsea folk singer-songwriter Annie Capps.
Instead, Clark, Ypsilanti singer-songwriter, will join the trio for Friday’s show to share her burgeoning Americana roots music with the crowd.
“We found that we have a pretty good chemistry, and we are able to follow whatever kind of flow the group has got going. I don’t think anyone is coming with a specific setlist of songs they’re absolutely going to play, maybe a longer list they can pick from, but that’s what I like about songwriter rounds,” Jewett said. “They’re dynamic, you can either follow someone’s lead and go deeper into a topic, or if you feel like the audience has had enough of that, then you can do a quick change-up and play something for contrast.”
Friday Night Live Songwriters Round with Mark Jewett, Amy Petty, Sam Corbin and Rochelle Clark
8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9
Farmington Civic Theater
33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, MI
Tickets are $15 each through Eventbrite.
Jewett, a Plymouth singer-songwriter, decided to coordinate “Songwriters Round” shows after releasing his 2016 full-length genre-defying album, “Tending the Fire,” and forming a series of friendships with Petty, Capps, Corbin and Clark. Last year’s opening of 20 Front Street also sparked Jewett’s interest in bringing his singer-songwriter friends together for an in-the-round performance.
“Immediately after that first show, we agreed we had so much fun that we would like to do it again, so I started shopping around for places where we could book it,” Jewett said.
Jewett started developing local singer-songwriter partnerships after reentering the Michigan music scene 10 years ago and attending Above the Bridge Songwriter’s Weekend retreats in Curtis.
Initially a bassist with Whitewater, Jewett put music aside in the early ‘80s for a career in program management but was inspired to revisit music after watching Nolan Mendenhall and his band, Grievous Angel, perform every Thursday at the South Lyon Hotel. By 2011, Jewett had released his four-song debut EP, “Love Has No Heart of Its Own.”
“I was pretty raw and unaccomplished as a singer at that point, but I understood the music very well, and I was lucky enough to recruit some really good players,” he said. “That was kind of a validating experience.”
Over the next five years, Jewett honed his singing and songwriting skills to craft 11 memorable tracks for 2016’s follow-up, “Tending the Fire,” a mix of folk, rock, pop, country and blues intermingled with stories about cheap mascara, broken coffee mugs, slate-colored skies and life changes. He also sings a catchy “creepicana” murder ballad, “Shovel Full of Justice,” with Clark.
With an EP and full-length album under his belt, Jewett is penning songs for his next project, which will include more of an acoustic, stripped-down sound. “I’ll probably try to get some singles recorded, but I don’t know if it will happen before the end of the year, certainly by the end of January,” he said.
As a Saginaw singer-songwriter, Petty weaves a lush tapestry of folk, pop, rock and blues through her highly emotive music. Themes of art, mystery, relationships and spirituality influence and infuse her poignant, evocative and sensual tunes on 2008’s “Mystery Keeps You” and 2010’s “House of Doors.”
These two sonic canvases showcase the heartfelt emotion behind Petty’s lyrics and provide a foundation for her classically-trained voice and harmonies to soar in the pop-rock world. Petty achieved her first commercial breakthrough with Red Pill Entertainment after sharing initial demos for “Mystery Keeps You” on MySpace in 2006.
“These were the most obvious songs that I could write – this is who I am, this is what I think about life and people and what I’ve learned about myself,” said Petty, who grew up in Royal Oak. “For my second album, the songs just kept coming, and I was surprised at how any little thing that would happen in my life would make me think about something on a grander scale.”
That grander scale led to Petty performing at prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Club Passim and Tupelo Music Hall and sharing the stage with her music hero, Sarah McLachlan, as well as Andrea Corr and Loreena McKennitt.
Coincidentally, Petty will return to Carnegie Hall Nov. 30 to perform and arrange songs for a Christmas show with composer Tim Janis, a full orchestra and a 200-piece choir. “At Carnegie Hall, you can feel the ghosts of the best artists ever, and the theater itself is overwhelming,” Petty said. “We’re thrown into this thing together on an incredible stage, what an honor and a privilege.”
Petty’s also working on her follow-up album to “House of Doors” and recording new material with Andy Reed at Reed Recording Company in Bay City.
At age 16, Corbin developed an affinity for playing
[/caption]At age 16, Corbin developed an affinity for playing the guitar with friends and became hooked on the MTV Unplugged acoustic sound of Nirvana and Alice in Chains during the ‘90s grunge era. He later discovered the iconic folk of Bob Dylan, the legendary blues of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Stevie Ray Vaughan and the guitar virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix.
His love of well-known national acts eventually transpired into a deep appreciation and respect for the Michigan music scene. Corbin met several local musicians, including Lansing Americana folk roots singer-songwriter Jen Sygit, after performing at coffee shops, small bars and open mic nights.
“There are so many good artists that I look up to as a singer-songwriter. I love Joshua Davis’ songwriting as well as May Erlewine, these are some of the Earthwork people I’ve met over the years” said Corbin, who grew up in Lansing, but now lives in Ypsilanti. “I met them all through Jen Sygit, she’s introduced me to so many people, and that’s where it all started.”
In 2010, Corbin teamed up with Earthwork Music, a collective of independent Michigan-based musicians who focus their efforts on environmental advocacy, social justice, creative empowerment and community building. Through the collective, he performs with local musicians and supports the annual Earthwork Harvest Gathering festival near Lake City.
Two years ago, Corbin released his third and most recent album, “Let the Fire Burn Strong,” a beloved nine-track collection of Americana, folk and roots-inspired tunes. The album holds a special place in Corbin’s heart since he and his wife were expecting their daughter, Emaline, at that time.
“My song, ‘Don’t Ever Grow Old,’ has the ‘Let the Fire Burn Strong’ line in it, and it’s for her. It was about the excitement, the anxieties and the fears that go along with being a parent for the first time,” said Corbin, who’s recorded a new song for an upcoming Analog Ann Arbor project. “It’s also about waking up in cold sweats in the middle of the night, hoping I could do a good job at being a dad kind of thing.”
Clark returned to playing the guitar after a seven-year hiatus and met John Natiw, her partner in the Americana folk roots duo The Potter’s Field, at a random open mic night after bonding over John Prine’s 1971 fan favorite “Angel from Montgomery.” That chance meeting led to the pair releasing their debut album, “Pleasureville,” in 2011.
“I didn’t know that I could write a song or that I wanted to be a songwriter, so it was a pleasant surprise. I’m so grateful for all the years I’ve been in theater, but the great thing about music that I discovered is that you have a lot more control,” said Clark, who’s worked at Performance Network, Williamston Theatre and the Purple Rose Theatre Co. “You can be in charge so much more of your own creative journey.”
Locally, Clark’s creative journey has led to additional collaborations with Natiw, Jewett and Jason Dennie. She hopes to write and record another album with Natiw under The Potter’s Field moniker soon and release her own material.
“It’s something I’ve got in my mind, and I’m trying to build up a canon of songs for an EP that’s mine,” Clark said. “I haven’t been performing on my own, that’s a relatively new thing within the last year, and I’ve started putting myself out there.”