Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’

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London Beck confronts dark emotional terrain on “The Black Satin Sessions.” Photo – E. (Liz) Keller

London Beck beautifully reveals the earnestness and empowerment of being vulnerable.

The Ann Arbor R&B vocalist-instrumentalist-producer and Amplify fellow openly shares a personal, emotive journey of defeating inner demons and embracing newfound strength on their latest album, The Black Satin Sessions.

“This project really showed me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s OK to use the resources that are available to you if you feel like you’re giving it your all and nothing’s really working. Even though there’s this outspoken, loud and formidable essence of London, I want people to understand there’s a softer, more thoughtful side of me,” Beck said.

“In that vulnerability, it’s OK to move toward a path of healing, and it’s OK to heal with people who have your best interests at heart. I can still encourage people and open doors for them while making space for me to have my needs met.”

Beck openly chronicles confronting dark emotional terrain while uncovering an enlightened path of self-redemption across 13 passionate, metamorphic tracks on The Black Satin Sessions. Each multi-genre track shifts, shimmies and soars over introspective lyrics, exquisite instrumentation and fiery vocals.

With Beck at the helm, listeners seamlessly absorb enchanting sonic snippets of R&B, electro pop, dance, Motown, rock, classical and folk rolled into a refreshing auditory experience.

“I had initially intended to put out two smaller EPs, one that was rock, acoustic-focused and one that had the electro vibes that people typically know me for. As we were working through this project and with the Amplify fellows, I was really thinking about my journey, and it all came together in the most beautiful, unexpected way,” said Beck, who’s also a classically trained violist.

“I decided to write and make music that’s on my heart and my mind. Once I had finished all of the music, and I listened to it, I was like ‘Wow, this really tells my story.’”

Continue reading “Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’”

Sand Down – Easy Beach Uncovers Personal Losses, Struggles on ‘Selena Gomez/Blurry’

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Easy Beach’s new single “Selena Gomez” is a two-minute, rage-filled banger in response to losing a best friend. Photo – Sean Tarolli

Easy Beach didn’t intend to share a song title with Selena Gomez.

The Detroit emo-punk rock trio of Ian Cruz (guitar, vocals), Bradley “Beau” Stone (bass, backing vocals) and Sean Tarolli (drums, backing vocals) originally called their latest single “Forget Forever,” but quickly learned the track duplicated the name of the pop singer’s 2013 song.

“It became a joke at practice to call the song ‘Selena Gomez,’ and it stuck. The song took a couple practices to finish; it’s probably the only song we have that took less than a month to write. The song is about giving up my dog for someone who didn’t love me,” Cruz said.

Officially called “Selena Gomez (Took the Name of This Song),” the Easy Beach track fuses buzzy, roaring guitars, clobbering drums and propulsive bass into a two-minute, rage-filled banger in response to losing a best friend. Cruz sadly reflects, “You left last holiday/Without you I’m all dead/Now I can’t see my friend/Without him ever again.”

“I was doing some workshopping with Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings when I was writing this song, and he had a few ideas for the guitar parts that I used – particularly the lead guitar in the second chorus,” said Cruz, who co-produced the track with Tyler Floyd.

Selena Gomez” also features a dark, gritty basement jam video filmed by Mark Larsen of Static Screen Productions. Easy Beach cathartically processes their frustration while rehearsing, hanging out and eating pizza together.

“When I saw Mark’s video for ERODERS’Lose My Mind,’ I knew I wanted to do a video with him. Originally, the video was going to be us playing at a house party, but that’s exactly what the ERODERS video was, and Mark didn’t want to make the same video again,” Cruz said.

“He came to us with the idea of doing a video reminiscent of old emo/punk videos where the band is playing in a basement and just hanging out doing weird stuff. The video is just a peak into a regular practice for us, except we don’t usually eat pizza. It was shot in April at Bradley’s house/practice space.”

Continue reading “Sand Down – Easy Beach Uncovers Personal Losses, Struggles on ‘Selena Gomez/Blurry’”

Academic Journal – DASHpf Chronicles Personal Changes, Professional Milestones on ‘Fully Licensed’

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DASHpf’s Peter Felsman chronicles the rewarding, yet challenging parallel paths he pursues in his personal and professional life on “Fully Licensed.” Artwork – Hank Felsman

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’s Fully 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.”

Continue reading “Academic Journal – DASHpf Chronicles Personal Changes, Professional Milestones on ‘Fully Licensed’”

Fired Up – Kevin B. Klein Fuels Classic Rock Anthems on ‘They Call It Rock-N-Roll’

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Kevin B. Klein blazes a rock-fueled pathway through life lessons, personal growth and future dreams on “They Call It Rock-N-Roll.”

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.

Continue reading “Fired Up – Kevin B. Klein Fuels Classic Rock Anthems on ‘They Call It Rock-N-Roll’”

Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’

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Desmond Jones takes a refreshing vintage country detour on “Pink Moon.” Artwork – Daniel Benayun

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.”

Continue reading “Lunar Magic – Desmond Jones Casts Appalachian Country Twang on ‘Pink Moon’”

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show

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Saturday’s Grove Sessions hip-hop livestream will feature electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves.

Three local hip-hop acts will ignite the Grove Studios livestream stage Saturday.

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper will spark electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves for a Grove Sessions livestream audience. Rod Wallace, Grove Studios educational programs coordinator and Zero Noize Podcast host, will oversee the show’s festivities.

“We want to bring a full Approachable Minorities experience to all who come and watch the stream. Since last year we have been working hard to bring new material for our fans, and we are excited to share that with everyone,” said TJ Greggs, aka MC Lewy Seifer of Approachable Minorities.

“We plan to play some new songs for the Grove Sessions set to give a small glimpse of our new album that we will be releasing over the next year. We continue to practice and work on our craft regularly so that we may bring the best performance for any event that we are a part of.”

Along with his Approachable Minorities partners – MC Druzi Baby, aka Drew Denton, and DJ OnDemand, aka Marcus McKinney – Greggs relishes rejoining Tru Klassick for another live show and teaming up with Soundproof’s Mark Cooper for the first time.

“Tru Klassick always brings superior lyrical diversity and captures the true essence of hip-hop. We have worked and performed with Tru Klassick on many different occasions, and it is always a great time to watch his talent at work. We have not yet had the chance to perform with Mark Cooper, but we are excited to have the chance to share the stage with him,” said Greggs along with his bandmates.

Outside of performing, Approachable Minorities continue to write, record and release new material. The Ypsilanti party rap and conscious hip-hop trio recently contributed and produced tracks for last summer’s community-based hip-hop album, Formula 734, along with Louis Picasso, Sam Watson, Beretta Shells, Konphlict, King Ogundipe, Tru Klassick, Jamall Bufford and Wallace.

One of the project’s most compelling tracks includes Approachable Minorities’ thoughtful, percussive “See Me Dead,” which was inspired by last summer’s Black Lives Matter marches.

Together, they reflect, “Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my skin/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my hair/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause I’m Black/Why they wanna see me dead/See another brother take two to the head.”

“We were on vacation in Florida when the protests initially began. We had to drive back through the country seeing alerts about the curfews and were worried about our safety while being in the south during these times. We spoke with Rod Wallace, Jamall Bufford and Louis Picasso on our way back, and they explained the situation in Detroit to us,” said Greggs, who formed Approachable Minorities with Denton and McKinney in 2016.

“We had friends down on the front lines being tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, and it was horrible to see the videos of the events. When we got back home, we immediately went into the studio and began writing.”

Continue reading “Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show”

Dream Theater – Weekend Lovers Creates Psychotropic Realm on Vibrant ‘Baby’ Video

Weekend Lovers delightfully brings the vivid, hallucinogenic dream world of REM sleep to life.

The Tucson, Arizona dream pop-post rock collective unveils a kaleidoscopic collage of masked fashionable friends, trippy desert adventures and vintage landline phones on their latest video for “Baby.”

“I wanted a nonlinear narrative, and the song is told in bites as a tale of emotions. I think our brains also remember things not necessarily in order, and I wanted some of the best visuals I took over the course of some time,” said Marta DeLeon, Weekend Lovers’ vocalist-bassist.

“It’s basically a day in the life of my life in Tucson, and the city is one of the characters too representing the southwest and its beauty. Thrift and dollar store finds and the Halloween section at Target brought the fantasy mood and props to help my cast be funny or interpretive.”

As the video’s director, DeLeon intricately stitched together a series of brief psychedelic vignettes through a Videoleap app on her iPhone. Together, those colorful scenes created the carefree, experimental world depicted in “Baby” along with additional footage from Luke Ralston.

“I carry my iPhone everywhere, so there were more opportunities to shoot things I’d run into daily in my life that might be cool little visuals. Videoleap is a more developed aka Instagram venture with abilities like timing, speed, filters and mixers that allowed me to overlay the double exposure you see,” she said.

“That really helped me pull together all the 2-second to 4-second videos I was strewing together and gave the overall video some seamless pace and movement. I already had some random quirky storyboard images, and I love movies and write lyrics cinematically.”

DeLeon also recruited a fun cast of bandmates and friends to reside within her psychotropic realm. Along with Jungle Jazzy and Laura Eliason, Weekend Lovers’ Brandon Douglas (keys, guitars, backup vocals), Danny Perez (guitar) and Gabriela Lisk (drums, guitars) join DeLeon throughout “Baby.”

“I can’t really say the song wouldn’t soar as well or hit as much without Gaby Lisk or Danny Perez. I wrote the song with this Portishead bassline and vocal phrasing, but Gaby’s hard joyous drum downbeat propelled the opening ‘ooh-ahhs.’ Danny’s guitar is a creepy, crawling beauty, but then his smacking, slinky strumming hits you in the face,” said DeLeon, who’s inspired by shadows and murals in Tucson’s Barrio Viejo neighborhood.

“My engineer Matt Rendon came up with the backup vocals, which give the chorus its tension musically and emotional necessary angst. They were all open to my preconceived ideas with the props or locations. Some moments were just great mistakes.”

Continue reading “Dream Theater – Weekend Lovers Creates Psychotropic Realm on Vibrant ‘Baby’ Video”

Days of Future Past – Major Murphy Reaches Personal Crossroads on New ‘Access’ Album

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Major Murphy’s Jacki Warren, Brian Voortman, Chad Houseman and Jacob Bullard revisit personal struggles and explore newfound intrinsic possibilities on “Access.” Photo – New Archive

With Access, Major Murphy beautifully arrives at the emotive intersection of past and future.

The Grand Rapids indie rock quartet of Jacob Bullard (vocals, guitar), Jacki Warren (bass, vocals), Brian Voortman (drums) and Chad Houseman (guitar, keys, percussion) seamlessly navigates undiscovered internal roads filled with uncertainty, contemplation and growth on their boundless sophomore album.

“You have to go rock bottom to be able to adequately move forward. At times, it can be a little dark, scary or intense, but ultimately if you don’t face some of those things, then you’ll be missing the point. Anxiety and stress are definitely fused into the record, but it’s for the purpose of being able to identify things and put them to rest,” Bullard said.

Major Murphy deeply revisits personal struggles and explores newfound intrinsic possibilities across nine introspective, cinematic and experimental tracks on Access, which arrived April 2 via Winspear on all streaming platforms.

Each thoughtful, captivating track weaves a reflective, relatable tale about arriving at an unexpected crossroads and grappling with the amount of control one has in life. Layered with choose-your-own-adventure insights, Access prompts listeners to decide the direction of their next fateful turn.

“I was going through a lot of big changes, and I started writing songs in 2017. Part of the optimism is saying even when everything around you shifts and you don’t really recognize it, the old way of being doesn’t need to hold precedent. You have the find the strength within yourself to accept the new reality and adapt,” Bullard said.

Continue reading “Days of Future Past – Major Murphy Reaches Personal Crossroads on New ‘Access’ Album”

Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’

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LovelyOcean celebrates pursuing her artistic endeavors on “No Down Payment.” Illustration courtesy of artist

For LovelyOcean, a full-time focus on music will pay dividends for years to come.

The Los Angeles hip-hop singer-songwriter relishes the freedom and gratification of pursuing her emerging creative endeavors on “No Down Payment,” now available on all streaming platforms.

“I like to think of ‘No Down Payment’ as a form of background motivation. It’s like, ‘Yeah, this music isn’t paying any of the bills yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t someday.’ I think it’s important that we continue to work on things we love as to not get worn down by work, life and other bullshit,” said LovelyOcean.

“Up until this point, I had been working in the social work field, and it was killing my spirit. But it served as the biggest motivation to work on music so I could get out. I quit my job back in March, and I’ve never felt better.”

LovelyOcean celebrates her “No Down Payment” independence as shiny, cyclical synths, jumpy bass and gentle percussion smoothly glide alongside hypnotic, ‘90s-esque beats.

She reflects, “Just trying to break the mold/They warned me as a youth/Back when I played with dough/Things come natural/Need it off top/The world is gonna feel my flow/No static/We live from the radio/Tryna make it through/Ima shine like I was radial/And have a packed house/Up at SoFi Stadium.”

“Somedays I’m like, ‘Damn, I really wish this shit would pay off soon.’ It can be really discouraging to put your all into music, but no one is really fucking with it. I don’t like to have to ask people I’m close with if they’ve listened to the song. I don’t like begging for support,” LovelyOcean said.

“I’ve been using this time to recover and refocus so I can work on an album, but at this moment my songwriting waterfall is kinda dry. I’m glad I don’t feel stressed by work anymore, but I do feel more pressure to be artistic.”

LovelyOcean started co-writing her creative autonomy anthem with Chuck Chill in January. They recorded the track together in their magical closet studio and watched it quickly flourish over several days.

“It took about two days for the song to be written and probably two days to record it. I’ll spend one day recording it so I can get comfortable with it, and then I’ll record it another day so I can really solidify the vibes. Chuck Chill came up with the concept for the song and the majority of the lyrics,” she said.

“This is the first time I have ever let someone else take over the writing, but I knew he would do the song justice because he’s an excellent artist. Chuck Chill and I have collaborated on multiple tracks so far. He was featured on ‘Theta Waves’ on my last EP, and I’ve been featured on a few of his mixtapes.”

Continue reading “Return on Investment – LovelyOcean Relishes Artistic Focus on ‘No Down Payment’”

Funky Vibes – Grove Studios Hosts Saturday Livestream Show with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

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Sabbatical Bob will share groovy jazz-funk fusion during Saturday’s Grove Sessions livestream show. Photo – Kyla McGrath & Mural – Joanna Farben

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The DayNites will bring blues, neo-soul and psychedelic rock to Saturday’s livestream show. Photo courtesy of The DayNites

Two local bands will funkify the livestream universe from Grove Studios Saturday.

Sabbatical Bob and The DayNites will share soulful grooves throughout their energetic, danceable sets for Grove Sessions from the Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space’s newly renovated Deluxe Studio.

“Sabbatical Bob comes from more of a jazz-funk fusion realm with some killer jazz-trained musicianship. The DayNites speak more of a blues, neo-soul and psychedelic language to get their vibe across. Regardless, we imagine our virtual audience will be bobbin’ their heads and shakin’ it a bit at home,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder/director of community engagement and drummer for The DayNites.

As Grove Studios’ second in-studio livestream performance, viewers will experience a jam-tastic show filled with bouncy wah-wah guitars, hypnotic bass, pulsating drums, upbeat horns and shiny keys.

Sabbatical Bob’s Ben Green (trumpet, vocals), Ian Eylanbekov (guitar), Ben Wood (bass) and David Ward (drums, vocals) will perform tracks from their dynamic, rhythmic 2019 debut EP, Sabbatical Bob: Live and in Person. (Keyboardist Jordan Anderson won’t be able to join the band for the show.)

“We plan on doing what we always do, bringing the exciting loud funk. We are playing some oldies from the EP, a cover or two, and some music that is soon to be released on our next record, On the Run,” Ward said. “We have never been able to share the stage with The DayNites, but they are friends, and we’ve all got to hear them play before.”

In December, Sabbatical Bob released a colorful, inspiring video for “Alright,” their peppy, spirited instrumental that defeats corporate drudgery with enthusiastic, bouncy funk. Created by Filmic Productions, it’s a much-needed cure from being trapped inside lifeless, institutional walls.

“‘Alright’ was super fun because we had a team work up the idea and present it to us. The people at Filmic are really dope and had it all ready to go. We kinda got to be super stars – even the idea for the video was intuited by the team just by listening to the music. They ran it by us once, and we were sold,” Ward said.

In tandem with Sabbatical Bob, The DayNites will bring moonlit melodies, gravitational grooves and rotational rhythms to a virtual audience. Kristianna Bell (vocals), Ryan Greene (keys, piano), Tim Blackman (bass), Shaun Maazza (guitar) and Friebel (drums) will share tracks from their R&B-rock flavored self-titled debut EP, which dropped in October.

“We’ll be playing the entire self-titled EP along with some of our own renditions of classic soul and R&B jams. We’ll also be debuting a new original written with Ryan Greene, the keyboardist from Violet Sol, who became an official DayNite last July,” Friebel said.

Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March 2020. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.

Show details:

Grove Sessions livestream with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

7 p.m. | Saturday, April 3

Tickets: $10