For Calum Galt, Ann Arbor represents a bittersweet homecoming.
The former After Hours Radio vocalist will reunite with his old bandmates for Saturday’s show at Club Above. It will be his first appearance with the Ypsilanti progressive groove-heavy indie rock trio of Greg Hughes (bass), Nate Erickson (vocals, guitar) and Mark Dunne (drums) in nearly three years.
“It was actually Greg’s idea to have a reunion show. He reached out to me when he found out I was returning home for the first time in years to see if I was interested, and I agreed right away,” said Galt, who moved from Ann Arbor to Japan in 2014. “I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to play with the band again after so long, and I hope we can recreate some of the same energy our shows had back then.”
Along with Hughes and Erickson, Galt honed his musicianship while attending open mic nights at the University of Michigan’s Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops. Together, they formed After Hours Radio and became synonymous with Ann Arbor’s burgeoning underground, do-it-yourself (DIY) music community.
“Forming the band was equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking – I had never really written or performed my own music, which I think is an inherently intimate and scary thing to do,” said Galt, who’s inspired by of Montreal, The Strokes and Radiohead. “I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and be involved in the co-op community, which has always been a fertile environment for budding musicians.”
As After Hours Radio, they recorded their self-titled, six-track debut EP in 2015 before Galt moved to Japan. Four years later, Galt is ready to revisit the EP with his old bandmates through an older, wiser and fresher perspective.
“There are a lot of memories tied up in those songs so revisiting them has been an interesting experience,” said Galt, who graduated from U-M with a bachelor’s degree in East Asian languages and cultures. “I’ve changed a lot in the intervening time so it’s strange to hear those songs, which really encapsulate the weird head-space I was in at the time.”
The Ypsilanti roots rock and bluegrass trio will sing countrified tales of the Swamp Thing, Godzilla and Ogo Pogo during their “Spirits & Chasers” album release show Saturday at Ziggy’s with the Jim Roll Band and Child Sleep.
They’re also hoping for a little monster mashing on the dance floor.
“We’re going to play the new album in order and pull out some older stuff, but we also plan to have some line dancing throughout the night,” said Joe Bertoletti, bassist and vocalist for Fangs and Twang. “We need to see some grooving and moving out there.”
Fangs and Twang fans will have a ghoulishly good time as Billy LaLonde (drums, vocals), Andy Benes (guitar, vocals) and Bertoletti bring their new musical behemoth to life.
Last Saturday, the band dropped their third and latest release, “Spirits & Chasers,” a seamless seven-track country odyssey packed with famous monsters, personal adventures and ghosts of times past.
It’s a beastly brilliant follow-up to 2017’s “High Fives All Around,” which drew monster-heavy inspiration from books, movies, comics and regional urban legends.
“‘Spirits & Chasers’ feels like a step forward, but very much building on the previous record. It was less about having to write all monster songs and more about writing Fangs and Twang songs,” Bertoletti said. “We’ve been playing together for almost five years, and we have three-hour sets now, so everything feels more natural and tighter.”
“We have a fun lineup, and we haven’t played with Pajamas in Ann Arbor in a couple of years. We’re really happy with how they’ve been progressing as well, and every time we see them, we want to share a bill with them,” said Amin Lanseur, Stormy Chromer’s drummer and vocalist.
“As for Earth Radio, we found them through Purchase Productions, who manage our friends Chirp. They brought Earth Radio to Club Above six months ago, and they really made an impression on some friends of mine.”
It will be the homegrown progressive jam band’s first appearance at The Blind Pig since their New Year’s Eve show. Together, Stormy Chromer will mix elements of rock, jazz, heavy metal, ska and hip hop to perform a danceable set with Pajamas, a Tree Town improvisational rock, funk and fusion trio, and Earth Radio, a Grand Rapids future soul quintet.
“The energy in the room is very loving and fun, and we’re blessed to have the people who come out and see us,” Lanseur said. “We’re striving for that same type of energy for ‘420’ as well, so obviously it will be the whole pot thing.”
“We haven’t played at Ghost Light before, but we’re excited to play there and in Hamtramck for the first time. We’ll be able to get some new ‘Lafayette’ EP stuff into our set as well as songs from our ‘No. 1’ album,” said Jacob Bullard, Major Murphy’s vocalist and guitarist. “In Lansing, there’s going to be bands playing all weekend, and it’s in conjunction with the film fest.”
Bullard will join bandmates Jacki Warren (bass) and Brian “Bud” Voortman (drums) to share their 1970s-inspired radio rock with Hamtramck and Lansing crowds. They’ll perform hypnotic, mellow tracks from their latest EP, “Lafayette,” which dropped in February on Winspear, and last year’s full-length debut, “No. 1” as well as a cover of The Beatles “Revolver” classic, “She Said She Said.”
Recorded as demos in Bullard’s Grand Rapids-based house on Lafayette Avenue, the “Lafayette” EP features six songs that chronicle the creative evolution of Major Murphy from a stripped-down solo project to a three-piece rock band.
“I think it’s an extension or a companion to ‘No. 1,’ and we wanted to share stuff that we felt was interesting,” said Bullard, who formed Major Murphy with Warren and Voortman in 2015. “If people listened to ‘No. 1,’ then they might find ‘Lafayette’ extra fun because it’s where the songs started, and it gives them a behind-the-scenes perspective.”
For three tracks on “Lafayette,” each band member plants a promising sonic seed for the growth of “No. 1.” Bullard writes about an open-hearted expression that’s nostalgic and forward-thinking on “Come By Sunday” while Warren provides enchanting harmonies on “When I Go Out.” Meanwhile, Voortman jams for the first time on the initial demo for “No. 1.”
“They were recorded well before we went to Russian Recording, and they were mostly for my own benefit of being able to sketch the songs out,” said Bullard, who’s inspired by The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Patti Smith. “I anticipated being able to record them again since they were very lo-fi, and the production was done in my bedroom.”
By 2017, Major Murphy ventured to Russian Recording in Bloomington, Ind., to record 10 nostalgic tracks for “No. 1.” The album’s jangly guitars, shimmering riffs, synth grooves, and dreamy, commanding vocals gently hook and draw listeners into a vintage, yacht rock world.
Together, Major Murphy hones a retro sound filled with harmonic structures, melodic progressions and emotional shifts that rely heavily on concert-like, energetic recordings. A year after “No 1.’s” release, the album stills sounds as refreshing and inspiring as its initial spin.
“I feel really proud of that record, and that’s never happened before. When I’ve made music in the past, I think about how we could have done this differently,” Bullard said. “I think this album is different because we were collaborative by working with Mike Bridavsky at Russian, and we brought in Ben and Aaron in addition to Bud and Jackie.”
With “No. 1” and “Lafayette” under their belt, Major Murphy will return to Russian Recording in July to record their next album. They also plan to release a new single soon.
“I’m super excited to put this next record together and share it with people,” Bullard said. “I’ve written the new songs precisely with all of us in mind and with the knowledge of what a dynamic life is like along with the strengths and weaknesses of that. It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to put out some new music.”
The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet abandons daily trivial nonsense to live a more purposeful existence.
“When I wrote that song, that feeling was weighing heavy on me. There is so much that goes on every day in our lives, some of it important, and some of it only seems important,” said Isaac Berkowitz, Desmond Jones guitarist, drummer and vocalist.
“There’s a lot of trivial nonsense that we let get in the way of living happy and meaningful lives. When that nonsense piles up on us, it can be hard to see through it to what really matters. Some people like to look at the stars and feel small as a way to get perspective, and in the same sense, I think remembering the idea that we are all animals, or that we are all ‘still creatures’ on this planet just trying to survive, can give us that same perspective and peace of mind.”
Together, Berkowitz and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), John Loria (guitar, vocals) and John Nowak (drums, guitar, vocals) – beautifully capture this personal philosophy in lighthearted, funkified way.
On “Still Creatures,” a fun, groovy wah-wah guitar riff opens the four-minute track and mimics the sound of a chicken while jazzy alto and baritone sax solos and rhythmic bass and drums bring a smooth, melodic feel.
“Even though it’s a new release, it’s something we’ve been working on for over a year in our live shows, and we’ve had it recorded for a while,” said Nowak, who formed Desmond Jones with his bandmates in 2012 at Michigan State University. “When we first started playing that song and Isaac showed it to us, we actually were just calling it, ‘Chicken Fingies,’ for a long time. At some point, Isaac said, ‘Actually, it’s called Still Creatures.’”
The Los Angeles-based independent jazz label is releasing two newly discovered Wes Montgomery and Bill Evans recordings, “Back on Indiana Avenue: The Carroll DeCamp Recordings” and “Evans in England,” on limited-edition 180-gram 2LP for Record Store Day and deluxe 2 CD/digital on April 19.
“Back on Indiana Avenue” surveys the early music of Montgomery, a jazz guitarist, made in his hometown of Indianapolis during the years before he rocketed to fame after signing with Riverside Records in 1959. The 22-track album features studio and live recordings of Montgomery’s music along with Indianapolis pianist and arranger Carroll DeCamp.
It’s the sixth archival release of Montgomery’s from Resonance Records and includes an essay by jazz scholar Lewis Porter and jazz guitar giants George Benson and John Scofield. On the DeCamp recordings, Montgomery is heard in full flight in a variety of settings – piano quartets, organ trios, sextets and drummer-less Nat “King” Cole-style trios, including “Round Midnight,” “Jingles,” “Whisper Not” and others.
“‘Back on Indiana Avenue’ is a very important release of previously unissued material from guitarist Wes Montgomery, and it’s not music, it’s 2LPs, 2CDs worth of unissued material and nearly a 50-page book with all sorts of different people who have a story to talk about, a narrative of these recordings in provenance and where they came from,” said Zev Feldman, Resonance Records co-president and independent producer.
“We tell these stories, and we put out these projects, and George Klabin, God bless him, my co-president and the founder and owner of Resonance Records, he is so generous allowing this to happen. This is like fantasy land, and every day, I wake up in this different dimension and wonder, ‘Is this really my life?’”
Five singer-songwriters will bring their Nashville sound to Detroit Friday night.
Wil Nance, Danika Holmes, Jeb Hart, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski will share their Americana, country, folk and pop sounds through the Nashtown Songwriters Round at the Farmington Civic Theater as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series.
As the final show in the concert series’ winter season, “Nashtown” will allow the singer-songwriters to mix elements of Music City with Motown through their live performances and musical storytelling.
“It’s going to be a great show at the Nashtown Songwriters Round,” Wil Nance said. “I hope people will be moved, laugh and cry some, have a good time and hear some great stories behind the songs.”