‘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.

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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.

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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.

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Detroit’s Nice Place Hosts ‘Punx ‘N Funx’ Show with Emerging Music, Visual Art Tonight

Funx ‘N Punx show poster by Peter Kotas

Nice Place will host a bevy of “Punx ‘N Funx” music along with emerging art in Detroit at 6:30 p.m. tonight.

Located at 70 Glynn Ct., the Motor City creative workspace will feature the music of Ape Not Kill Ape, Summer Like The Season, Space Trash, Jemmi Hazeman & The Honey Riders and Bryni Makiko as well as pop-up visual art from Jacob Waymaster (aka Synefeld), Zach Wendt, Isabel Leader and Sam Welsing of Blueberry Thrift.

“I want every musical act, every artist to work off each other’s creative synergies and styles. I’m excited about the eclectic nature of the show and believe the performers will complement one another in a unique way,” said Patrick Norton, organizer and manager at Nice Place and guitarist for Dirt Room. “I’m eager to see the different scenes from around the city come out of the woodwork and step outside of their social circles.”

Ape Not Kill Ape

For the “Punx” side of music, Ape Not Kill Ape, a Grand Rapids post-punk trio, will perform raw fist-pumping tracks from their 2017 full-length debut, “Bushman.” Adis Kaltak, (vocals, bass), Brett Dame (guitar) and Allen McAllister (drums) will bring an introspective, primal feel to connect with the crowd at Nice Place.

“We’re pretty confident about a lot of the ‘Bushman’ material,” said Kaltak, who was born in Slovenia and grew up listening to Bosnian music, ABBA and The Beatles. “We’re going to do the bulk of some new stuff for our 30-minute set along with two or three older songs.”

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Five Alive – After Hours Radio Reflects on Band Anniversary, Hosts Show Tonight at Club Above

Five years ago, the University of Michigan’s co-op scene led to the formation of an emerging Ypsilanti band.

U-M’s Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops introduced Greg Hughes and Nate Erickson, co-founders of After Hours Radio, to a burgeoning underground, do-it-yourself (DIY) music community in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor.

Together, Hughes and Erickson cut their growing musical teeth performing at co-op open mic nights and formed After Hours Radio, a progressive, groove-heavy indie rock band, in 2014.

“The high energy and large crowds at co-op parties drove the band to write catchy grooves and riffs that co-oppers could dance to,” said Hughes, bassist for After Hours Radio. “This funk-inspired element flavored our initial indie-alternative style, which was influenced by open mic nights during the band’s infancy.”

Hughes also sought inspiration for the band while working as a late-night college DJ at WCBN-FM (88.3), a U-M student-run radio station. He used a “freeform” approach for the station’s programming and believed a similar philosophy could be applied to After Hours Radio’s musical approach.

After Hours Radio co-founders Greg Hughes (left) and Nate Erickson (center)

“‘Freeform’ describes a perspective that doesn’t conform to a traditional setlist structure restricted by genre and embraces mixing different musical styles,” he said. “We’ve gained a strong sense of improvisation that has translated to the way we find influences for our original songs.”

That fluid musical approach resulted in the band’s self-titled debut EP in 2015 and the “What Happened?” EP in 2017. With Hughes and Erickson (vocals, guitar) at the helm, After Hours Radio went through several lineup changes, including several drummers, and expanded their sound to encompass keys, synths and other electronic effects.

Last year, the band launched their own DIY music venue, The Late Station, in Ypsilanti to showcase local emerging artists and musicians across a variety of genres. Bandmates and friends help promote events, run the door and assist with gear at The Late Station.

“I got acquainted with the whole DIY culture in Chicago, and I was so enamored with the scene there that I wanted to become more involved in it,” Hughes said. “That’s where the direct inspiration for The Late Station came, and we all decided we were going to move to the same location and start our own space.”

Today, Hughes and Erickson will celebrate the band’s evolution with a five-year anniversary show at Club Above, 215 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, and feature special guests Stop Watch, Approachable Minorities and Summer Like The Season.

“We decided to celebrate the band’s anniversary with a special show because we thought five years for any band was a big milestone,” Hughes said. “Almost none of the local bands existing when we started are around anymore, and most lasted just one or two years.”

For the show, After Hours Radio will play an extended setlist that encompasses the band’s entire career and feature visuals from GSW Art & Design, a southeast Michigan-based visual art, web and graphic design firm. It’s also a valuable opportunity for After Hours Radio fans to embrace the artistry and musicianship of the show’s three special guests.

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Friday Night Live – Dave Boutette, Kristi Lynn Davis Kick Off Farmington Civic Theater Winter Concert Series Jan. 11

Kristi Lynn Davis and Dave Boutette will play Friday night at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis will share their get-up-and-go tunes and folk-inspired harmonies with Farmington concertgoers Friday night.

The Dexter singer-songwriters will kick off the four-part “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday with special guest Scott Martin.

A husband-and-wife folk music duo, Boutette and Davis will perform catchy acoustic anthems from “Easy as Pie,” their 2018 album, along with a slew of old favorites during their 90-minute set.

“We have a couple of new songs and one new cover,” Boutette said. “As it’s become a tradition, Kristi goes into my back catalog to find things we haven’t done before.”

Boutette’s celebrated songwriting paired with Davis’ lush harmonies is where attendees will find onstage magic at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Close, comforting and warm, Davis’ voice slips in easily beside Boutette’s creating a beautiful sound. Her stage presence and quick wit are a perfect match for Boutette’s songs.

Boutette and Davis discovered their musical magic while singing together on their back porch six years ago. Those at-home singing sessions quickly turned into a growing series of shows and festival dates.

Coincidentally, their musical partnership dates back 35 years when the pair starred in musicals together while attending high school in metro Detroit.

After graduation, they went their separate ways while Boutette played in the Detroit alternative rock band The Junk Monkeys and later became a folk music solo artist.

Davis became a singer-dancer, Radio City Rockette and author of the 2015 comic memoir, “Long Legs and Tall Tales.” She reunited with Boutette in 2012, and they married the following year.

Today, Boutette and Davis continue to perform as part of a strong singer-songwriter movement locally, statewide and throughout the Midwest at a variety of venues, especially listening rooms like the Farmington Civic Theater.

“I think it’s nice to have more of a listening room environment where people can really focus in on Dave’s lyrics, which are so clever, meaningful and heartfelt,” Davis said. “They make you feel good if you really listen to them. I’m glad that we get a chance to do that.”

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Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today

The Sneeks have released their fun-filled “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” EP today.

For The Sneeks, opportunity knocks with a new five-song EP.

The East Lansing alt rock quartet has delivered their latest release, “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” today via streaming services as a fun, breezy follow-up to their eight-track 2017 debut album, “Sneek Attack.”

Through “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door,” Niko Matsamakis (vocals, guitar), Kevin Neumann (vocals, bass), Alex Olivero (vocals, guitar) and Houston Smith (drums) create a laid-back summer sound filled with shimmery Mac DeMarco-inspired guitars and wrapped in personal tales of fleeting relationships.

It’s the musical alter ego to “Sneek Attack,” which follows a “rad rock and troll” sound born out of the band’s Michigan State University (MSU) party days and garage punk rock shows with Twin Peaks at The Loft in Lansing.

“The different approach for ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely the songwriting and recording style,” Matsamakis said. “We recorded it in my house upstairs in four different rooms at the same time, and we tracked it all together. Houston was in one bedroom, I was in another, Kevin was in the other bedroom and Alex was in the bathroom.”

Neumann and Olivero also contributed tracks to the “Sneekin’ Out the Back Door” while Matsamakis wrote the material for “Sneek Attack” – his personal journey through post-breakup single life.

“We used some different effects on our guitars that we don’t normally use, and some of those ‘Sneek Attack’ sounds are harder in general, but ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ is definitely a softer sound,” Matsamakis said. “I wrote a few of the songs, showed them to Kevin, and Kevin put his touch on them, and then vice versa. I would say Kevin’s songs are definitely the softer ones.”

Continue reading “Knock, Knock – The Sneeks Drop New ‘Sneekin’ Out the Back Door’ EP Today”