Fall Fusion – Chirp Leads Stellar Equinox Party Lineup at Grove Studios Saturday

Chirp’s Jay Frydenlund and Sam Naples groove at Danfest in August. Photo – Mark Samano

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.

Frydenlund and his Chirp bandmates Brian Long (bass), Sam Naples (guitar) and Gastón Reggio (drums) will share the Grove Studios stage with some of the area’s most talented musical acts, including Violet Sol, Edison Hollow, Las Drogas, Fernando Silverio Solis, Jackamo, the Steve Somers Band, Ki5 Loops, Diont’e Visible and DJ Nitro.

The Equinox Party will feature seven hours of live music across three mini concerts in a small, socially distanced gathering as well as livestream sets from each artist. Attendees can purchase limited in-studio VIP tickets for afternoon, evening and night shows as well as tickets for individual artist livestream performances to watch at home.

“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.”

Chirp’s Musical Calling

Drummer Gastón Reggio is Chirp’s newest member. Photo – Mark Samano

At Grove Studios’ Equinox Party, Chirp will play a 45-minute energetic set packed with longtime fan favorites and dance floor gems from their 2019 self-titled debut studio album. Released 18 months ago, Chirp’s nine genre-defying tracks take listeners on a fleeting sonic journey through proggy “Bound” side trips, funky “Greener” forays and discotheque “Planet Groove” destinations.

In March, Chirp dropped their latest album, Live at the Park Theatre, while performing their final pre-pandemic show in Holland. The captivating live set features two new tracks, the shimmery, introspective rocker, “Move,” and the magical 13-minute Motown jam, “Solo.”

“That was a fun show, and unknowingly, our last for four months. Park Theatre is always one of our favorite Michigan stages to play, and it always brings something special out in our sound. The main thing that’s changed in my perspective is to never take live music and the ability to support myself doing it for granted again,” Frydenlund said.

On “Move,” Chirp’s breezy electric guitars, smooth bass and delicate drum taps surround listeners as Frydenlund reflects, “Though I try to stay in motion/But just can’t seem to find my way, no/Sometimes it feels just like I’m caught up in a dream/I can’t move my feet, forced to stay in place.”

Throughout “Solo,” R&B-esque electric guitars, bouncy bass, pounding drums and crashing cymbals enchant Chirp listeners as Frydenlund soulfully sings, “Listen to the rhythm of our hearts/When we’re together/I just want to know how the song goes/So take your time and let the rhythm find you/Let it go/I know you can play those 32nd notes/I just want to hear it from your soul/The rhythm section’s tight tonight and we’re ready for your solo.”

“Both of these were written in winter 2019, and both tracks were strongly influenced by having a lot of Vulfpeck and Cory Wong in my daily musical diet. Both of those tunes (lyrically) are a sort of reminder to myself to trust my instincts musically and in life. I tend to overthink when I sit on a decision too long and forget to trust my gut,” Frydenlund said.

“‘Move’ is more of a literal interpretation of that, and ‘Solo’ sort of is more of a figurative take on it, using music and soloing as a metaphor for trusting your instincts. These will both be on the next record.”

Founded in 2015 by Frydenlund and original members Ken Ball and John Gorine (Long joined later), Chirp blends catchy progressive rock, funk and jazz originals with majestic reinterpretations during their dynamic live show jams. While their music incorporates many technical, well-crafted elements, they’re committed to moving and grooving with a solid, dedicated fan base.

Today, Chirp features two new members, Naples and Reggio, who bring fresh perspectives and diverse playing styles to the band’s grooving, multi-genre sound.

“They are both extremely versatile and talented players who bring a lot of unique creativity to the group’s sound. Gastón found us when we announced on social media and Craigslist that we were on the hunt for a new drummer. He auditioned with us, and we were immediately blown away by his prowess,” Frydenlund said.

With a rejuvenated lineup, Chirp plans to write, record and release new music and continue navigating the challenging, uncertain live music landscape into 2021.

“We’ve been writing quite a bit, especially with the time quarantine has given us not playing shows and all. The newer material is more funk/pop/soul-influenced for sure and maybe a bit more on the poppy, danceable side than the last album. We’re beginning recording this fall on the new batch of tunes and hoping to release in early in 2021,” Frydenlund said.

“It has definitely been an adjustment to playing smaller, socially distanced shows this summer on top of having to cancel most of what we had lined up for 2020. However, we are grateful to still get the chance to play in these tough and strange times.”

Show details:

Grove Studios Equinox Party

1 p.m. to 10 p.m. | Saturday, Sept. 19

Grove Studios, 884 Railroad St. in Ypsilanti

Tickets: $30 for in-person studio shows and $10 for livestream shows

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