Soulful Sovereign – Kendrick Hardaway Celebrates Chivalry on ‘The Slave King’ Single

Kendrick Hardaway has released his latest soulful single, “The Slave King,” with guitarist Nick Behnan.

Kendrick Hardaway knows how to give the royal treatment.

The Detroit R&B singer-songwriter pays majestic homage to his “queen” on “The Slave King,” a slow, groove-filled romantic ode released just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Hardaway’s soulful three-minute single dropped Tuesday and features his smooth vocals wrapped in high-tone electric guitars from Nick Behnan – “Eyes burnin’ like fire and a voice that sits in my soul/Sweet as cucumber sugar water with a stare that’s so damn cold/Sweet queen of desire, won’t you call my name/And I’ll come runnin’ to you over and over again.”

Who wouldn’t come running to Hardaway with poetic lyrics like that?

“That song really is kind of a combination of me just wanting to write a tune and actually being about my girl right now. I came across this little lick I was playing around with, and I started writing to it, but nothing was really coming together, and I was getting frustrated,” Hardaway said.

“My girl came down, she sat on the couch, and she actually had a little attitude with me or whatever, and she was giving me this real hard stare, and that’s the line where ‘a stare that’s so damn cold’ came from. Once that line came out, then the rest of it just flowed.”

He also sought creative inspiration for “The Slave King” from Behnan, a Detroit songwriter, guitarist and producer and Hardaway’s former bandmate in The Infatuations. A Motor City mainstay and now a guitarist with The Lows, Behnan collaborates regularly with Hardaway on his solo projects.

“That song was 90 percent finished by the time Nick got to it. I was about to master the song, and I felt like it was missing something, but I knew it was in the way of guitar,” said Hardaway, who’s currently shooting a video for his latest single. “I can tinker around on the guitar, but I’m no Nick Behnan, so I shot it to Nick, and he didn’t waste any time and got it right back to me, and it was full of wonderful things, and we got ‘The Slave King.’”

In December, Hardaway collaborated with Behnan and rapper Saint Diggidy on Behnan’s rock, hip-hop, funk and R&B-fused track, “Right at Home,” which solders pounding drums and roaring guitars with stuck-in-your-head verses and flavorful rhymes. The track started as a stripped-down demo on SoundCloud, but quickly evolved once Hardaway and Saint Diggidy added their own verses.

“He was trying a different little angle when he shot it to me to see what I would think about it, and I put a verse on it, and I said, ‘I got a rapper who I think would set this thing off,’ and we just put it together to see how it would sound,” Hardaway said. “We just collectively decided, ‘Hey, we need to put this out because it’s really hot.’ One thing I said about that track after we made it was, ‘It sounds like it’s going to bring some people or some genres together.’”

Continue reading “Soulful Sovereign – Kendrick Hardaway Celebrates Chivalry on ‘The Slave King’ Single”

Unplugged – Caleb Peters to Open for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Feb. 21 in Farmington

Livonia’s Caleb Peters will share acoustic renditions of his indie pop music Feb. 21 at the Farmington Civic Theater. Photo courtesy of Caleb Peters

Caleb Peters knows how to beautifully translate catchy indie pop into stripped-down acoustic tunes.

The Livonia singer-songwriter will make his first live appearance at the Farmington Civic Theater Feb. 21 to open for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys as part of the “LIVE!” 2020 winter concert series. Special guest Rochelle Clark also will open the show.

“I think I’m doing four of my own songs, one of which is out called ‘Hellbent,’ and ‘Catch You,’ which is a song I haven’t released yet, and another one that’s not released, which is called ‘When You Were Mine,’ and one that is released called ‘Jane Doe,’” said Peters, who will perform solo with just an acoustic guitar. “I’ve been watching videos of people performing there just to get an idea of what it’s like.”

At age 16, Peters has amassed an impressive collection of shimmering indie pop music with five singles and a five-track EP, “Exaggerated Experiences, Part One,” in 2019 alone. He comes from a creative family with both parents as musicians and a father who’s a trained opera singer and vocal coach.

While growing up, Peters played piano and started singing in eighth grade to impress girls. Now a Stevenson High School junior, he writes and records regularly in his home studio with older brother Christian, who’s a music technology sophomore at Wayne State University.

“We basically renovated our basement with the intention of having a studio down there as soon as I started getting into writing music. We basically just made a little booth in the closet with a bunch of blankets, and that’s our setup,” Peters said.

“Parties” single artwork

Peters recently recorded and released his latest single, “Parties,” a groovy synth-filled cautionary tale about growing up too soon – “You can’t wait for college, but that shit ain’t about knowledge/It’s just a way out, this small town feels too crowded/You hate the masses, no one has your back/You drink yourself to madness/What do you want, what do you want?”

“It’s kind of like thinking that everything is OK in the moment when you’re doing a bunch of things off the cuff. It’s like saying it seems fine now, but it might not work out, and you might lose people in the process. It’s like a happy-sounding song, but it’s like a warning from a friend,” said Peters, who’s inspired by singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin.

Peters also released the emotional track, “Hellbent,” which features vibrant acoustic guitar and sparse piano interspersed with dreamy vocals – “Sitting in the basement, wondering where the time went/Thinking about the time spent, I’m old enough to face it/But not enough to forget cuz you know I’m hellbent.”

“It’s more personal about me and stuff that I’ve gone through,” Peters said. “Hellbent is more about feeling betrayed by someone.”

Three other striking tracks, “Six Speed,” “Jane Doe” and “John Doe” nicely showcase Peters’ continued growth as an emerging singer-songwriter and producer. He’s continuing to experiment with different songwriting styles and production techniques to hone his sound for additional single releases as well as another EP or a full-length album.

“Originally, I had a whole album planned out and everything, but I’ve made so many more songs that I’m happy with that I’m kind of figuring out a different track list,” Peters said. “I’m still probably going to have those songs on the album because that was the idea with those singles – ‘Parties,’ ‘Hellbent’ and ‘Six Speed.’ They probably still will. I think I’m going to release one more single and then a project.”

Show details:

Craig “Bones” Maki and the Blue Water Boys with Rochelle Clark and Caleb Peters

Friday, Feb. 21 | Doors 7:30 p.m. | Show 8 p.m.

Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand Rive Ave. in Farmington

Tickets: $16

In Time – Rochelle Clark Releases Debut EP, Opens for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Feb. 21 in Farmington

Rochelle Clark will open for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Feb. 21 in Farmington. Photo by Jason Dennie

A tantalizing blend of acoustic Americana roots will waft throughout the Farmington Civic Theater on Feb. 21.

That blend will include singer-songwriter Rochelle Clark sharing a delectable opening set for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys as part of the theater’s “LIVE!” 2020 winter concert series. Special guest Caleb Peters also will open the show.

“Well, it’s not very often that you get to sing in a movie theater, and that in of itself, makes it unique. I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time that I went there, but I love the whole setup that they have,” said Clark, who last performed at the theater in November 2018. “You feel like you’re walking into a performance space, and the audience is really in tune with what’s going on.”

During her opening set, Clark will share raw, poignant tracks from her debut EP, “In Time,” which dropped in January. The EP beautifully chronicles Clark’s creative journey from half of the Americana roots duo The Potter’s Field to a flourishing solo artist.

“I wanted to have a progression of songs that are covers, songs that I helped co-write, and songs that I wrote by myself, and pay homage to where I’ve been coming from and where I’m hoping to go. It started as a creative challenge for myself because I was feeling like I was in a rut creatively,” Clark said.

“Music is really important to me, and I was disappointed in myself that I wasn’t pushing myself more. I started playing out solo shows more, which was scary at first. That was about two years ago, and that steamrolled this whole thing.”

Continue reading “In Time – Rochelle Clark Releases Debut EP, Opens for Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Feb. 21 in Farmington”

Detroit Country Music – Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Celebrate Timeless Era Feb. 21 at Farmington Civic Theater

Craig “Bones” Maki will perform classic Detroit country music Feb. 21 with the Blue Water Boys in Farmington.

For Craig “Bones” Maki, Detroit’s musical legacy extends beyond Motown, the MC5 and Eminem.

It includes a bygone era filled with early country music – imagine barn dances, radio shows and jukeboxes blaring emerging country, western, bluegrass and rockabilly stars right here in the Motor City.

As early as the 1930s, a growing series of country radio stations, nightclubs and record labels emerged to supporting Detroit’s thriving scene. Over the next four decades, several local country music stars, including the York Brothers, Chief Redbird, Swanee Caldwell and Eddie Jackson, proved Detroit could rival Nashville.

“I wound up finding out that there were a number of records made in Detroit during that era, and I was really interested in that because I had no idea that something like that had happened,” said Maki, who co-wrote “Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies” with Keith Cady in 2013. “I’m very curious about local history, so I wound up tracking down a few fellows.”

In 1990, Maki unearthed a goldmine of Detroit country music while spinning 1950s rockabilly records at WCBN-FM, a freeform Ann Arbor radio station at the University of Michigan. He took over as host of the specialty “Rockabilly Show” and played timeless tracks by past Detroit country artists. Maki continued that tradition when he later moved to “Honey Radio” (560 AM) in Oak Park.

“I started doing interviews for it just because I was so curious to learn more about the music, and a lot of the guys who were in the studio and in the ‘50s making it were still around and performing here and there,” said Maki, also a metro Detroit country singer-songwriter and guitarist.

Maki will celebrate that overlooked era of Detroit country music with the Blue Water Boys Feb. 21 as part of the Farmington Civic Theater’s “LIVE!” 2020 winter concert series. Special guests Rochelle Clark and Caleb Peters will open the show.

During their set, Maki and the Blue Water Boys will spotlight classics from Detroit country music legends as well as originals from Maki’s other vintage-inspired projects, including Big Barn Combo and the Sun Dodgers from the early 2000s. For the current band, it’s like opening a country music time capsule for today’s audiences to hear yesterday’s sonic treasures.

“We’re gonna do some tunes from the Big Barn Combo album, we’re gonna do a couple of tunes from the Sun Dodgers material, and we’re gonna do some songs that we think deserve more attention that were recorded by the guys we reported on in the book,” Maki said.

Continue reading “Detroit Country Music – Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys Celebrate Timeless Era Feb. 21 at Farmington Civic Theater”

Double Groove – Ma Baker Hosts 2-Set Blind Pig Show Saturday with Scüter, Sleezy Hamilton

Ma Baker blends elements of rock, funk, jazz and disco into their groove-filled sets. Photo courtesy of Ma Baker

For Ma Baker, Saturday’s Blind Pig headlining set will bring double the jams and twice the grooves.

The Ypsilanti jam fusion quartet will host their first two-set show at Ann Arbor’s legendary rock club with EDM artists-DJs Scüter and Sleezy Hamilton against an enchanting backdrop of live visuals and electronic vibrations.

“It will be the first of its kind in terms of a local show equipped with three interactive screens for live visuals controlled in real-time by visual artist Mark Samano and Scüter,” said Jordan Smith, Ma Baker’s guitarist and keyboardist. “Our goal as a group has always been to get to the level where our shows feature two sets. Our intent is to create a conversation between the band and the audience.”

Ma Baker also will feature different genres during each set – the first will spotlight funk while the second will capture a psychedelic-experimental feel. It’s the ideal setting to reimagine an EDM scene in Tree Town while sharing a mix of originals, new tunes and covers intertwined with improvisation.

“We chose to pair ourselves with two DJs to differentiate this show from the typical three groove-jam band bill the way we normally play at The Pig. All of us in the band love electronic music and rock and roll equally, and we wanted a night to really surround ourselves with more electronic vibrations and interactive visuals more akin to the ‘Movement’ or Detroit techno scene,” Smith said.

In 2012, Smith discovered a shared love of EDM and rock with a collective of community college students in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Together, they rented a storage unit two miles from school to jam, improvise and store gear while having deep philosophical discussions late into the night.

Those initial sessions led to forming Bearfoot with 10 rotating members who would perform based on availability with zero premeditated music. By Devil’s Night 2015, only four of the 10 members showed up and a new creative chemistry emerged. Six months later, the band’s original lineup played their first show on Earth Day at Ypsilanti’s Corner Brewery.

As a quartet, Bearfoot became Ma Baker (after the 1977 Boney M. disco track) and now includes Guy Williams (guitar), Jared Weimer (drums), Dylan Risinger (bass) and Smith in their latest formation.

Continue reading “Double Groove – Ma Baker Hosts 2-Set Blind Pig Show Saturday with Scüter, Sleezy Hamilton”

Folk Visionaries – Alice Howe, Freebo to Perform Friday at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe

Alice Howe will make her Black Crystal Cafe live debut Friday in Ann Arbor with Freebo. Photo by Robert M. Ring

With a new tour and full-length debut album, Alice Howe will bring her 2020 vision to Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Café Friday.

The Boston singer-songwriter will make her first live appearance at the intimate 48-seat music club with world-renowned bassist Freebo, who’s performed with Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr, Neil Young, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

“Freebo and I have been working together for the last three years. He produced my last record, ‘Visions,’ which came out in May of last year, and he and I have been touring together a lot. For this show, we’re billing it as he will be my special guest, so he’ll do an opening set, and then he’ll back me on the bass,” said Howe about her set with Freebo for Friday’s sold-out show.

“It’s really fun because I get to sing harmonies on his songs, and it’s a really collaborative thing that we’ve put together that just works out really well for both of us. We’re excited to take that to Black Crystal.”

Howe forged a fateful partnership with Freebo nearly four years ago at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference. After meeting and chatting with him, she went through her record collection at home and discovered his musical collaborations with Raitt, Young and a host of other rock legends.

“That was a very cool moment for me where I realized, ‘Wow, I’ve met somebody,’ and we had a lot in common as far as our taste in music and production styles and singing styles and all this stuff was so in line with each other,” Howe said. “I grew up listening to the era of music that he really came up under, so for me to meet somebody from that time was like, ‘Oh my god, I felt like he was sent to me.’”

Having Musical ‘Visions’

Those similarities quickly led Howe to enlist Freebo as her musical mentor, collaborator and producer for “Visions,” a 10-track, introspective folk-blues expedition filled with striking originals and smashing covers from Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan. It’s a gorgeous extension of her 2017 debut folk EP, “You’ve Been Away So Long.”

For “Visions,” Howe relocated from Boston to Bakersfield, Calif., to record her full-length debut with Freebo, Fuzzbee Morse (electric guitar), John “JT” Thomas (keys) and John Molo (percussion). In fact, her creative expedition begins with the nature-inspired “Twilight” and includes a much-needed Michigan winter sonic escape to a serene world dotted with dirt roads, sunlight, ocean and trees.

Continue reading “Folk Visionaries – Alice Howe, Freebo to Perform Friday at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe”

The Interpreter – Bettye LaVette Shares Career Favorites, Dylan Cuts at 43rd Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Bettye LaVette will perform Saturday at the 43rd Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Photo by Mark Seliger

Bettye LaVette brings a magical soulfulness to her 60-year career, including Bob Dylan’s legendary songbook.

The iconic soul songstress and Michigan native beautifully interprets an era of treasures ranging from ‘60s R&B to British rock to deep Dylan cuts. Her latest release, “Things Have Changed (2018),” unearths Dylan’s extensive catalog from 1979 to 1989 as well as other cherished favorites.

“Well, there isn’t a ‘like’ to it, it’s just the way I hear the songs, and that’s the way I sing it. But as I said, I’m really not that much of a music enthusiast, so there are not a great many songs that sat around that I wanted to sing for a long time,” said LaVette, who was born in Muskegon and grew up in Detroit as Betty Jo Haskins.

“It’s the songs that appeal to me most, that’s why the Bob Dylan album worked so well for me because the lyrics have to be absolutely solid and be there. I’m almost 75 years old, and I can’t look my audience in the face, and people who are sitting close, I look at them even more intently, so I can’t have a whole bunch of gibberish coming out. It has to say something because I’m holding a conversation with them.”

LaVette will hold an engaging conversation with Ann Arbor audiences Saturday at the 43rd Ann Arbor Folk Festival, which also will include Nathaniel Rateliff, Mandolin Orange and Cold Tone Harvest. In her first-ever Folk Festival appearance, LaVette will share her career highlights and interpretations with a nearly sold-out crowd of 3,500 at Hill Auditorium.

“Most of those (Dylan) songs, I think there were 10 or 12 tunes on that album, I only knew four of them before I sung them. It’s interesting having almost a clean slate because I didn’t grow up listening. Many of these things didn’t make it to black radio, but ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ did and ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ I certainly know who he is,” she said.

Continue reading “The Interpreter – Bettye LaVette Shares Career Favorites, Dylan Cuts at 43rd Ann Arbor Folk Festival”