While the world turns to chaos outside, it’s time to search for solace inside.
Throw work, school and virtual commitments aside for some long overdue relaxation. With headphones in hand, adjust the volume and press play to start a new musical journey into uncharted local and regional waters.
The latest edition of The Stratton Playlist serves as a refreshing sonic escape from politics, pandemics and people. Visit country-filled skies, fuzzy lo-fi jams, jazzy hip-hop points, psych rock bangers, vibrant piano pop anthems and other new terrain.
The Belleville soulful funk duo of Bruce Henderson (bass, guitar, vocals) and Victoria “Vox” Henderson (vocals) sprinkles delicious basslines, tasty grooves and flavorful harmonies throughout their new album, Sugar Fit, now available via Bandcamp.
“We just took all the things that we thought were centered on funk and put them together because we were seeing a gap. People say funk is dead, and we don’t believe that. We just believe they haven’t heard something new,” said Victoria Henderson, who serves as the duo’s primary lyricist.
“Whenever we would join those funk groups, they would put old songs in there, and we were tired of hearing the same songs over and over. We can take all our different funk songs, put them together, and for somebody who likes that older funk, they might actually like this. That’s a different approach for us.”
Throughout Sugar Fit, Bourgeoisie Paper infuses timeless, addictive funk across 15 rhythmic tracks about authenticity, self-actualization, balance, lifelong love, and political and social unrest. The husband-and-wife duo eloquently adds refreshing layers of R&B, soul, disco and rock to their solid foundation of funk on their 11th release, which was written and recorded last year in their home studio.
The album’s infectious title track blends bright, bouncy electric guitars with thumping bass, buzzy and dancey synths and honeyed harmonies for five jam-filled minutes. Together, the Hendersons reveal in Prince-like fashion, “Wanting to lose/This weight that’s holding me down/Shaking this blues/And repping my space now/It takes a challenge/For me to roar into action/But I’m just not that savage/Soooo prone to distraction.”
“The idea behind the title is that we’re all kind of having a little bit of a fit in this pandemic. We’re locked in and wearing masks and then not wearing masks and then there’s the civil unrest. We’re all having some kind of fit,” said Victoria Henderson.
Strong flavors of folk, country and rock will fill the autumn air at Lake Orion’s Canterbury Village this weekend.
Those aromatic sounds will come from a talented roster of metro Detroit singer-songwriters performing intimate outdoor acoustic sets at Open Air Markets Saturday and Sunday.
This weekend’s lineup will feature James Wailin, Sean Blackman, Al Carmichael, Tom Butwin, Johnny Rhodes and Jon Rice, said Mark Reitenga, a Royal Oak folk rock singer-songwriter who curates live music for Open Air Markets.
“This is a pure energy boost because many of the musicians have been laying low since March and many of the patrons as well. It’s like two happy colliding forces,” he said.
“The music is the tonal center of the market in that the musicians keep the spirit happy as market goers walk around the vast campus looking for goodies, donuts, cider, clothing and specialty items. The musicians play in the outside dining area to folks on picnic benches and also walking by.”
Outdoor market and live music aficionados can expect masked, socially-distanced crowds at Canterbury Village through Oct. 4. The markets also will showcase the work of local artists, crafters, cooks and jewelers and spotlight a different theme for vendors spaced throughout the village.
“They have been fantastic for the pretty strong socially-distanced crowds and also for the safe-distance and mask-wearing aspect. The musical acts have been superb – with many selling their original CDs and making great tip money from the family-oriented crowd accompanied by dogs,” Reitenga said.
With lush instrumentation and fearless improvisation, the Rob Crozier Jazz Ensemble instantly captivates live audiences at intimate metro Detroit jazz hot spots.
The Ann Arbor jazz quartet melds spellbinding pieces of modern swing, funky soul and atmospheric world music right before an enthralled Dirty Dog Jazz Café crowd.
“That’s the heart of it and what I want people to experience at my shows. I want them to have a sense of knowing this is being created right now, and that they’re a part of it,” said Crozier, who plays bass, didgeridoo and thumb piano.
Crozier and bandmates Rafael Statin (sax, bass clarinet), Keaton Royer (piano, keys) and Rob Avsharian (drums) beautifully capture that magical live essence on their latest album, Rob Crozier Jazz Ensemble Live, which is now available on all streaming platforms.
Recorded live Feb. 6-9, 2019 at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café in Grosse Pointe Farms, the album features four jazzy Crozier classics combined with two new transformative tracks, “Leafar” and “Surrender.”
“I try to let the tracks develop with the band organically live and not over-direct it so they end up sounding fresher. When Rafael would start going off on something, the band could just follow and not have a particular set of instructions. It just really drew on the band’s ability to be spontaneous and organized in the moment,” Crozier said.
“You hear that in the little hookups rhythmically and the stuff the band does together. It’s just listening, which is what I always encourage in my group. It’s the heart of jazz. You’re playing what you’re playing, and you’re listening to make sure that you’re connecting and communicating with the rest of the band.”
Filled with progtastic, funkified fusion, Chirp will bring upbeat, dancy grooves to celebrate autumn’s upcoming arrival Saturday at Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios.
The Ann Arbor prog-funk-jazz jam quartet will headline the Ypsi rehearsal and recording space’s annual fall-themed Equinox Party before intimate in-person studio and virtual livestream audiences.
“Ypsi audiences are always some of our favorites to play for, so we are extremely excited to play our first show at Grove Studios. It has a great music/arts scene, and my favorite part of playing for Ypsi audiences is all the creative folks we get to bump shoulders with at our shows there,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp’s vocalist and guitarist.
“The Equinox Party is our annual anniversary celebration and largest event of the year where we showcase a diverse collection of artists, many of whom we’ve worked with or met throughout the year,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder and director of community engagement.
“We’ve decided to really blow it up with the Equinox Party this year. We’ll be hosting three, two-and-a-half-hour shows with three to four artists each and an hour of transition in between shows to cycle the artists and audiences in and out to follow the 25-person gathering rule Ypsi is currently under.”
Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists and musicians in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.
“We’re already six months into our third year on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti, which is super dope considering we’re still weathering the effects of a global pandemic and a previous three-month shutdown,” Friebel said.
“That reality, along with social distancing and gathering restrictions, encouraged us to rethink how we support the music community by moving our events to a virtual format and becoming a burgeoning media production company. We also activated our outdoor courtyard stage in May with audio and video production, which has evolved into a high-tech livestream performance format with small in-studio audiences.”
The Brooklyn indie rock singer-songwriter revisits the untimely demise of a promising romantic relationship on his latest cinematic, introspective single, “Momentary Thrill,” now available via all streaming platforms.
“I was in a relationship where we jumped in really quickly, and I basically decided to trust my emotions to guide me through this relationship. Normally, I’m very held back, and maybe I’m typically more of the blocked one you could say emotionally, but at the time I felt very open, like I was diving in,” Silver said.
“It seemed like on the receiving end there were more walls that I was struggling to break through, and eventually when it ended, I just wanted to write a song to recap what had just happened.”
Silver magically tears down those “Momentary Thrill” walls as hypnotic, dreamy electric guitars, delicate cymbal taps, intermittent bass drum kicks, smooth bass and lo-fi, poignant vocals transport listeners to a pivotal break-up scene in a critically-acclaimed romantic dramedy.
He emotionally sings, “Well you’re running for the hills/But you put on quite a show of it/And everybody knows it/You chose it/Well the summer ended early/For the lover losing track of time/Without a reason why.”
“The lyrics are very straightforward; they’re not spiteful, hateful or disrespectful. It’s just very much a recounting of this happened, this happened, that happened. Typically, as an artist and as a person, I like to get the facts of the matter of things,” said Silver, who wrote “Momentary Thrill” last year.
Silver worked with Toledo, the Boston beach goth duo of Dan Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, to record, arrange and produce the track in late 2019 as a follow-up to the wistful, yacht rock-esque love anthem, “After a Response Like That.”
“I’ll just come to them with a basic melody, lyric and chord, and then Dan will go, ‘Oh, so like this?’ He’ll play exactly what I was hearing and better. He brings arrangements to the table, where he’ll ask, ‘Do you want it to sound more like this or more like that?’” Silver said.
“He does it all; he does the drums, the bass and the guitar. He really forms all the music with what I brought to him, and sometimes he’ll workshop certain lyrics and verses. They’re definitely a big part of the process and the development of the songwriting.”
In June, Silver released a companion lyric video for “Momentary Thrill” featuring a series of animated, meaningful Polaroids depicting personal experiences and encounters in a simple beige scrapbook. Directed by Shannen Bamford, the video nicely complements the romantic, thoughtful aesthetic of Silver’s latest track.
For Monte Pride, Michigan’s placid sights, sounds and scents invigorate and soothe the soul.
The Lansing folk singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist beautifully encapsulates the state’s sonic sense of tranquility on his latest album, Even in Absence. With magical, pastoral references to the Grand River, Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks and other Great Lakes gems, Pride paints a seasonal, insightful canvas filled with introspective themes of loss, resilience, growth and change.
“I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, and I’m still big into camping, fly-fishing, hiking and all that. Northern Michigan has always been a really special place for me, so it just kind of naturally makes its way in. Whether I know it or not, I process these experiences in nature and in different parts of Michigan. I think they just all kind of fall into place, and they relate to each other somehow,” he said.
Pride intricately stitches personal, transcendental moments through 10 serene Even in Absence tracks, including the calming title track. Twirling acoustic strums, glistening piano, peaceful violin and Pride’s warm vocals soothe listeners as they quietly reflect on a still September night, “Even in the ebb/The flow of going I pine/I strive to mend the losing/To know we won’t/Be parting then/Even in the changing/The fraying thread/In the almost lost/A sentiment sought/A golden friend.”
As Pride’s latest single and album title, “Even in Absence” establishes a timeless, acoustic-centered sonic quality that instantly appeals to folk music aficionados across all generations. Think hints of Simon & Garfunkel, The Tallest Man on Earth and Nick Drake fused with special musical seasonings from a Michigan-made singer-songwriter.
“When I wrote the songs and recorded them, I was only listening to old Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake albums. I think their songwriting style and instrumentation came through in Even in Absence because I had been listening to them so much during that time,” Pride said.
Pride magically captures his vintage folk aesthetic through a contemplative, poignant “Even in Absence” video directed by Shaina Mahler, who also created the album’s artwork. The thoughtful video reflects Pride’s delicate performance as crystal sea-inspired ornaments and hand-held mirrors depict a quiet, dreamy world beyond the looking glass.
“She has an incredible, amazing eye and style. One day we were sitting outside in our backyard, and she decided to start taking some photos, and I just sang along to the song. She brought so much to the video and the album artwork and embroidered all of the writing on the album cover. It was really special that we were able to collaborate on both of those things,” he said.
Brian Perrone truly understands the meaning of a heartfelt apology.
The Livonia indie folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist deeply regrets missed moments and milestones on his latest lovelorn single, “Sorry,” which dropped Aug. 28 via all streaming platforms.
“‘Sorry’ is rooted in that awakening; that time is a gift. I have a friend who has gotten sick, and it made me think about how a diagnosis can change your life as ‘regrets’ and ‘if onlys’ come into play. When we we’re young, it seems as though we’re invincible and will live forever. This sounds like a cliché, yet it’s so true,” said Perrone, whose latest track is featured on the August edition of The Stratton Playlist.
Perrone quietly mourns lost time as somber, sparkling piano, thumping drums, jazzy cymbals and melancholic bass open his emotional floodgates. He tearfully reveals, “All the life inside of me/Extinguished by reality/Shapeshifting into memory/Two plus two is on my mind/A simple place, a simple time/Everything I thought I knew/Was everything because of you.”
“I hope that a listener might take a moment to reflect and make a positive decision to take action on something they have been putting off. Maybe spend some time with someone who’s important to them. Life seems to have gotten too busy these days; heck, it is also a reminder for me,” he said.
Peppered with shadowy elements of Radiohead and The National, Perrone recorded his poignant vocals and sorrowful piano for “Sorry” in his metro Detroit living room at the start of the pandemic. He also programmed drums and added a wistful bassline from Ypsilanti guitarist Steve Somers to highlight the track’s dark emotional intensity.
“The song almost wrote itself. I sat down one Saturday night, and it just poured out. I could barely keep up writing the chords and lyrics as they came to me. I didn’t want to miss a thing because it felt important, almost urgent. No matter who you are, or where you are in life, I think in the end there is always so much more you want to do and maybe say,” he said.
“‘Sorry’ is a subtle introduction to a more experimental style. It blends a progressive jazz rhythm section and a haunting vocal narrative while being guided by some minor chords on the piano. It’s similar to the headlights you would watch from your windshield on a dark and winding road.”
Perrone visually depicts the dark, haunting moments of “Sorry” in an eloquent puppet-themed, stop-motion video directed by Shyam Talwar. Throughout the Tim Burton-esque video, the skeletal remains of two lovers lead separate lives and long for one another while working, cooking and cleaning. Foggy, barren rooms symbolize the growing emptiness and lingering isolation they face each day.
“As a fan of Brothers Quay, I decided to seek out someone who might work in a similar medium, yet different enough to be original. After searching high and low, I recruited Shyam Talwar, and I explained my basic framework and hopes for this video. The video took about a month to complete, and I was extremely pleased when I saw the final cut,” Perrone said.
The metro Detroit soulful pop singer-songwriter serves as an inspirational North Star for lifelong love on her latest poignant single, “Changeless Sky,” which dropped Aug. 28 via all streaming platforms.
“I’ve been married for a lot of years, and it’s really different than people who are popping in and out of relationships. If you’re in a long-term thing, then it’s the ups and downs of being there and sticking it out and growing together. Everything else changes around you, but you’re there for each other,” she said.
Throughout the glistening, peaceful monogamous track, Predhomme weaves soft piano with passionate, uplifting vocals as she sings, “No matter the sun and shade passing by/The world might be twisting, thrashing right outside/But I am your changeless sky.”
“I had the idea for the title and thought those were cool words, and it’s about this enduring, never-changing thing. I took that title and just made it a love song,” said Predomme, whose latest single is the lead track on The Stratton Playlist.
Predhomme wrote and recorded “Changeless Sky” late last year in her home studio after releasing her eloquent fifth album, Love. The tender track is the second in a series of new monthly singles from Predhomme’s uplifting, expansive multi-genre catalog, which dates back to her 2008 self-titled debut.
In July, Predhomme dropped her luminous, laid-back ode to authenticity, “So Good to Be Free,” which fuses jubilant acoustic strums, upbeat maracas, rhythmic bongos and vibrant electric guitars into an infectious Bo Diddley-inspired beat.
The shimmery single also beautifully showcases Predhomme’s signature optimistic outlook as she sings, “I don’t need the look or the trend/I’ll be the least cool of my friends/You can have all that/I won’t please the pack/‘Cause I’m free/To be whatever I choose to be.”
“It’s probably more ‘me’ than a lot of the other songs I’ve released. I used to worry about how I looked even when I went to the grocery store, and now I go in sweats and no makeup. It’s good to be free and not worry anymore about what people think,” said Predhomme, who collaborated with Nashville guitarist Cheyenne Medders on the track.
“It’s also freeing about the way I write music now. When I started, I was trying to send songs to Nashville, and I thought I was too old when I was in my 30s. I was sending songs thinking maybe some major artists would sing my songs, and I got no bites. When I started singing and releasing them myself, people started picking them up for licensing.”