The Ann Arbor musicians will revive their long-running live music backyard showcase, Broken Branch Summer Series, after last year’s pandemic-induced hiatus.
“Many people have been locked in their houses, and they haven’t had an opportunity to do anything. Musicheads are shriveling up inside and really need to get out,” said Labeaux, whose Broken Branch ranch is located near Dixboro.
“But then there are the performers and gig workers who have had no place to play, and we have a place where people can gather safely. We can support the musicians who have been hit, provide a place for people to see shows and marry that together here.”
Together, Labeaux and Gibson will reunite those eager musical forces through eight free biweekly Saturday shows from June to September. The eclectic lineup will include a rich blend of country, folk, jazz, alt rock, soul pop, world rock and bluesy funk sounds to appease live music diehards:
This specially curated lineup of emerging and established artists stems from Labeaux and Gibson’s desire to support and join different collaborators on their tree-lined, wraparound deck. Labeaux started the Broken Branch Summer Series in 2014 as a way to his friends perform live at home.
The San Jose, California reggae fusion frontman and multi-instrumentalist slowly destroys each emotional barrier that arose unexpectedly over the past year. Reed successfully smashes those internal blockades by sharing his mental health struggles with family, friends and fans.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, The Stratton Setlist chatted with Reed about his experience and how he tackled his troubles. His story serves as a constant reminder for artists, musicians and creatives to openly discuss their mental health struggles with others. Here’s how Reed overcame the stigma and got real about his situation:
How did you come to write this piece for MAHB?
MAHB is a grassroots effort that provides a central meeting place for individuals and groups concerned about loss of biodiversity, climate change, overpopulation and other issues.
In late summer, Aminah Hughes mentioned she was looking for artists to quote about the mental and emotional struggles during the pandemic for a piece she was writing for Around the Sound. Once that article was shared, Michele Guieu, MAHB arts community coordinator, asked if I’d be interested in writing something for their COVID-19 Diaries Series.
I considered this to be a great honor and was humbled and a bit intimidated to write anything for such a prestigious organization. Naturally, I accepted and started milling over what exactly to write. I find MAHB’s mission to align with my wish for the world to be more collaborative and connective.
After surpassing each academic milestone, DASHpf brilliantly takes poetic license with his musical endeavors.
The Stony Brook University postdoctoral associate and New York City attic folk singer-songwriter openly reflects on life changes, internal revelations and professional accomplishments on Fully Licensed, now available on all streaming platforms.
“In 2020, the pandemic slowed things down, and I’m a little backlogged on academic milestones to mark, but Fully Licensed is sort of a catch-all marking my full license as a therapist along with a PhD and other stuff,” said Peter Felsman, aka DASHpf or “-pf,” who earned a doctorate in social work and psychology from the University of Michigan in 2019.
Filled with intimate, thoughtful storytelling, DASHpf’sFully Licensed chronicles the rewarding, yet challenging parallel paths Felsman pursues in his personal and professional life. Each track highlights an achievement or contemplation that invites listeners to deeply connect with Felsman’s rich, concise tales.
“I have a creative process where between recording and releasing an album I get severe writer’s block, and I’m excited to release this album so I can free my brain up to keep writing,” he said.
Like Father, Like Son
Felsman first shares the creative fruits of his latest DASHpf writing spurt on the heartfelt opening track, “Not Not a Morning Person,” which honors his late father. Tender acoustic strums, sorrowful vocals, buzzy electric guitars, thumping drums and spirited bass elegantly capture Felsman’s vivid memories and sorrowful moments.
He reflects, “When you first got your diagnosis/And I was stuck laying in bed/You said, Kid go smell the trees/And I knew exactly what you meant/I’m not not a morning person/I just wake up missing you/Missing all your motivations/Missing all you’d love to do.”
“It was a tribute to my dad who died of lung cancer the summer before I moved to Ann Arbor to start my undergrad. He knew that I would be a student at the University of Michigan, and I did that for 10 years. It felt important for me to acknowledge the role of grief in my Ann Arbor life,” Felsman said.
“At one point in the song, I say, ‘Stay close to your brother/Take care of your mother, too.’ Those were his last words to me. He was always supportive of my musical life, which I think was partly a consequence of his music teacher as a kid telling him to lip sync in choir because he couldn’t carry a tune. He lived vicariously through his kids being musical.”
Backed by turbocharged guitar riffs, fierce vocals and candid lyrics, Kevin B. Klein reignites a fiery passion into classic rock.
The Capac singer-songwriter and guitarist blazes a scorching 13-track, rock-fueled pathway through life lessons, personal growth and future dreams on his latest explosive album, They Call It Rock -N- Roll.
“I’ve been listening to a ton of music, and I see a ton of artists, and everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s rock and roll, or this is rock and roll.’ People are saying punk rock is rock and roll, and I’m thinking, ‘You guys are the farthest thing from rock and roll.’ To me, rock and roll is good, old-fashioned classic rock,” Klein said.
“For me, life got in the way for a long time, and it was a good thing because it gave me a lot of life experiences. All the songs that I write have a great energy and great storylines because I lived them, and they’re relatable to a lot of people.”
Klein earnestly reflects on those eye-opening experiences on the album’s dynamic, hopeful Led Zeppelin-esque opener, “The Wrong from Right,” as roaring electric guitars, bold acoustic strums, clicking cymbals, throbbing bass and pounding drums charge into your soul.
He proudly sings, “Speak up and don’t you back down/You gotta make the rules, you gotta stand your ground/Be careful what you say, be careful what you do/You gotta have some hope if you’re gonna make your dreams come true/Save your soul, you gotta know the wrong from right/If you lose control, then you’re gonna lose the fight.”
“It was this dark song at first, and I changed it up and wanted it to be really positive. ‘The Wrong from Right’ is about making great life choices despite all the chaos in the world. It’s got a darkish vibe, and it’s very rhythmic, and that’s why it ended up being the first song on the album. I’m coming out full power, and it just gets in your blood instantly,” said Klein, aka KBK.
Desmond Jones elegantly casts twangy lunar magic throughout West Virginia’s sprawling Appalachian Mountains.
The Grand Rapids rock-funk-jazz quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) takes a refreshing vintage country detour on their latest jamboree-filled, celestial single, “Pink Moon.”
“The song is actually named after a music festival that used to be held in West Virginia called ‘The Pink Moon Music Festival.’ The festival was named after the lunar phenomenon we call The Pink Moon, which is a unique yearly full moon that occurred last week,” Bota said.
“I guess you could say it’s a love song I wrote to the moon. It’s meant to be sung while I’m hanging out in the Appalachian Mountains on the outskirts of a small West Virginia mountain town dancing to some wonderful live music under the moon and the stars.”
As a timeless, torchy ode to our favorite pastel-tinged satellite, “Pink Moon” awakens the youthful, nocturnal spirit as swift drums, rich pedal steel, propulsive bass, soulful sax, jubilant mandolin and vigorous violin gallop into a bright summer night.
Bota nostalgically sings, “Once a year, my dear, I’ll spend a night with you/Lookin’ at sunlight through your view/Whistlin’ a tune until the sun’s had enough of you/As you drift into the sky.”
“I wrote the song very late at night five years ago after the second Pink Moon Music Festival that we played and attended. I touched it up over a week or two of playing and singing it solo on my acoustic guitar. We recorded the drums, bass, two guitars and saxophone live at our manager Kevin McKay’s studio in the fall of 2019 three years later,” Bota said.
“The vocals, pedal steel and instrument solos were recorded at everyone’s own homes during the winter of 2020-2021. We have one guest on this track who happens to be one of our favorite Michigan musicians, Don Julin. We had the pleasure to play with Don during two of our sets at the Cowpie Music Festival in 2019, and he agreed to lend his musical talents on this album.”