John Kay & Who’s To Say Debuts New Music Video, Hosts One-year Anniversary Show at El Club Friday

John Kay & Who’s To Say will premiere a new music video Friday night at El Club in Detroit.

John Kay & Who’s To Say will premiere a new music video Friday night that spotlights the nation’s lack of gun control.

The progressive pop group will debut the video for “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth),” an anti-gun violence anthem for youth and schools, at 9:15 p.m. Friday during their one-year anniversary show at El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway, in Detroit.

“We’ve made a music video surrounding this song because we think it’s important to shed light on it,” said John Kay, the group’s lead vocalist and guitarist, in an interview the band released March 8 through their YouTube channel. “This is our opportunity to tell this type of story in a way that hopefully is impactful and makes people think.”

Kay thought twice about gun violence in schools after hearing about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year that killed 17 students. That tragic event quickly inspired Kay to write and release “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth),” an emotionally-charged track that calls for stronger gun control laws.

“It impacted me more than any other school shooting or mass shooting news that I’ve seen. It could be because of the resolve of the kids who survived,” Kay said. “I was touched by it and just really angered. I sat down with the guitar and started plucking the first notes of the song and just started singing the first things that came to mind, and the song poured out of me in five minutes.”

John Kay & Who’s To Say will celebrate their one-year anniversary and include Nina & The Buffalo Riders and Funksmanship as special guests.

For the “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth)” video, Kay turned the creative reins over to videographers Joseph S. Quick and Bradford Clark and bandmate Tamara Marla Laflin (synthesizer, vocals, percussion) to develop the overall concept, which features several talented southeast Michigan teens as cast members.

“Tamara storyboarded the whole thing, and she was the artistic director for it while Joe and Brad were the camera operators and directors of photography,” Kay said. “It’s our first foray into a music video, and there’s a lot of learning involved with it. Joe and Tamara have learned how to work together and have a better idea of how they want to do the next music video.”

The teens featured in the video will attend Friday’s John Kay and Who’s To Say show to celebrate its premiere as well as the band’s one-year anniversary. Last year, Kay teamed up with Steve Lupinksi (bass, vocals), Brandon McNall (lead guitar), Jason Rauschenberger (rhythm guitar, percussion, vocals), Angelo Coppola (drums, vocals) and Laflin to form the band.

Together, Kay and his bandmates have been building a strong live music presence in Detroit and throughout the Midwest after performing their first sold-out show at PJ’s Lager House last March. They’ve also performed at Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids, Howard’s Club H in Bowling Green, Ohio, The Elbo Room in Chicago and The Parliament Room at Otus Supply in Ferndale.

“It’s been a very interesting year for me being the leader of the team and seeing the team grow and develop,” said Kay, who’s influenced by Prince, David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Queens of the Stone Age. “Just watching everyone work toward the common goal is a pretty doggone good feeling.”

As the band’s frontman, Kay takes an unconventional approach to leading John Kay & Who’s To Say. He’s identified seven core values known as SMARTER – sacrifice, measurable growth, accountability, a reputation for excellence, time, energy and respect – for the group and teamed up with bandmates who share these values.

Kay also launched the band’s official club, Bullfighters, last year through a subscription-based content service called Patreon. For $5 a month, fans receive the band’s music in a digital format, updates and happenings, merchandise discounts, free U.S. shipping and two concert tickets per year to local shows. They also have access to new song demos and are encouraged to provide feedback directly to the band.

Local Bullfighters will be attending Friday’s night show, which also will feature songs from Kay’s 2016 album, “Dealing with People,” as well as the band’s latest singles, “We Know We’re Gonna Die” and “Maxin’ Out.” Detroit psychedelic blues rockers Nina & The Buffalo Riders and Motor City funk-psych-jazz fusion quartet Funksmanship will open the show.

After Friday’s show, the band will develop a new video for another single and return to the studio to write and record new material. As a follow-up to “Dealing with People,” Kay said the band is focused on releasing a series of new singles and recording more video content for their YouTube channel.

“We’ve got a good group of people on this team, and they know where my loyalties lie,” Kay said. “They know that I’m working hard and doing my best to set the tone for what we need.”

Show details:

John Kay & Who’s To Say “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth)” music video premiere and one-year anniversary show with special guests Nina & The Buffalo Riders and Funksmanship

Friday, March 15

El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway in Detroit

Doors: 7 p.m.

Show: 7:30 p.m.

Video premiere: 9:15 p.m.

Tickets: $10

Homegrown Sound – Cold Tone Harvest, Chris DuPont Share Americana Spirit for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live

Plymouth’s Cold Tone Harvest will headline Friday Night Live at the Farmington Civic Theater on Friday.

A Plymouth-based Americana quartet will harvest their homegrown rootsy sound Friday night in Farmington.

Known as Cold Tone Harvest, the band will join Ypsilanti indie folk singer-songwriter Chris DuPont as part of the intimate “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday.

“We’re excited to be in a new venue with new people,” said Brian Williams, Cold Tone Harvest’s drummer and banjo player. “We just hope to keep spreading the word, get a nice little turnout and have a great night together.”

Cold Tone Harvest will perform a headlining set with raw emotional tracks from their latest album, introduce some highly anticipated new tunes and covers and bring DuPont on stage to round out the night. The band also will join DuPont for part of his opening set to add a fresh take on his past, present and future music.

“Chris is going to join us on a bunch of our tunes, and then we’re going to support him when he joins us for a couple of his tunes and maybe mix in a little surprise here or there,” said Williams, who originally hails from Plymouth.

With their rich country-infused melodies, rhythms and instrumentations, Cold Tone Harvest’s Andrew Sigworth (vocals, acoustic guitar), Ozzie Andrews (acoustic bass, bass guitar, bass banjo), Anthony Pace (electric guitar, lap steel, dobro) and Williams will perform thoughtful, heartfelt tunes that poetically chronicle adversity and creatively demonstrate the inner strength to overcome it.

After You album artwork

Whiskey songs, personal reflections and heartache anthems summarize Cold Tone Harvest’s magical 2018 debut album, “After You,” which sonically captures the feel of watching a piercing crimson sunset on a crisp autumn evening while freshly fallen leaves crunch beneath one’s feet.

Formed in 2008, Cold Tone Harvest originally featured soft-spoken singer-songwriter Sigworth in partnership with Williams. Together, the pair advocated for a sonic landscape built around Sigworth’s voice as a centerpiece against a percussive backdrop.

Continue reading “Homegrown Sound – Cold Tone Harvest, Chris DuPont Share Americana Spirit for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live”

One Year and Counting – The Late Station DIY Venue Celebrates First Anniversary with Ypsi Show Tonight

The Late Station will host a special one-year anniversary show tonight in Ypsilanti.

A special celebration of Ypsilanti’s emerging do-it-yourself (DIY) music culture will take place tonight at The Late Station.

Hosted by After Hours Radio, the 8 p.m. show will commemorate the DIY music venue’s one-year anniversary with a stacked lineup featuring Liquid Thickness, Varsity Letter, Dis Orda, Tequila Deer, and Vest and Tyler.

It’s the ultimate mixed genre show filled with funk, acoustic folk punk, hip hop, post-punk, EDM and chiptune. Eclectic lineups are one of The Late Station’s specialties – the venue accurately reflects the diversity of music, sounds, approaches and performance styles coming from one of Michigan’s brightest music scenes.

“There’s this aspect of community that organically happens here, and it’s been great over this past year seeing similar faces in the same location,” said Greg Hughes, bassist for After Hours Radio, an Ypsilanti-based progressive groove-heavy indie rock trio. “I love seeing so many people coming back to the same stage experiencing different lineups and shows and having so many different talented artists perform here as part of it all.”

Along with bandmates Nate Erickson (vocals, guitar) and Mark Dunne (drums), Hughes started The Late Station in 2018 after performing at University of Michigan co-op open mic nights as a college student and experiencing the Chicago DIY music scene.

“When I was living in Chicago, they have a very vibrant DIY scene there, and there are lots of venues like The Late Station there where they’re not necessarily big houses with students living in them,” Hughes said. “It’s musicians or artists who want to create their own art space specifically devoted to their craft. After I moved back here, I just wanted to recreate that.”

To date, After Hours Radio has hosted 24 shows at The Late Station. For each show, bandmates, friends and volunteers help book shows, promote events, run the door and assist with gear. The band also accepts donations from attendees at each show to help fund shows and other venue-related needs.

For tonight’s show at The Late Station, After Hours Radio is accepting $5 donations to help pay for venue repairs, including the iconic sign by the stage. Donations can be made through PayPal or at the door.

Tonight’s show also allows After Hours Radio fans to embrace the versatile artistry and musicianship of the show’s five special guests. Here’s a quick look at each artist and what they’ll be bringing to tonight’s performance.

Continue reading “One Year and Counting – The Late Station DIY Venue Celebrates First Anniversary with Ypsi Show Tonight”

Highly Combustible – Heavy Metal Supergroup Spirits of Fire Releases Searing Self-titled Debut Album

Spirits of Fire’s Chris Caffery, Steve DiGiorgio, Tim “Ripper” Owens and Mark Zonder

Spirits of Fire knows how to rekindle a heavy metal flame.

The heavy metal supergroup is reigniting fans with the release of their highly combustible self-titled debut album today on Frontiers Music.

Together, Tim “Ripper” Owens (vocals), Chris Caffery (guitar), Steve DiGiorgio (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums) fuse 11 scorching tracks that blaze an invigorating musical trail heavily influenced by Judas Priest, Savatage, Testament and Fates Warning.

“To get a chance to do this record was really special to me, and to work with somebody like Roy Z., who I have always considered to be one of the good, really modern minds of heavy metal, it was just a win-win thing all the way around to have this going and to get a chance to make these songs,” Caffery said.

With the help of Frontiers Music, Caffery teamed up with longtime pal Owens and new friends DiGiorgio and Zonder to form Spirits of Fire in August 2016 and recorded their debut album with renowned Los Angeles-based producer Roy Z.

“I’d say there was about a year in the writing process before we went into the full recording process of it. Then, just because everybody’s on different schedules, it took about another six months to get everything finished, to get the guitars, bass and vocals and everything done, it was finished completely by the beginning of April 2018,” Caffery said.

Spirits of Fire album artwork

In November, Spirits of Fire released their first single, “Light Speed Marching,” a turbocharged heavy metal anthem featuring electrifying guitar solos, pounding drums and surging bass lines. The band also met in downtown Los Angeles last summer to film the video, which features a fast-paced performance in a hot industrial underground setting.

“I was the one who put my foot down to have ‘Light Speed’ as the one that was going to get the video because it’s got a longer guitar solo,” laughed Caffery, who also performs as a solo artist as well as with Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “I thought it mixed together the instrumental music a little bit better, and it went through Ripper’s voice a little bit better.”

In response to the success of “Light Speed Marching” Spirits of Fire also has released two explosive follow-up singles, the victorious, ready-for-battle masterpiece, “Stand and Fight,” and the personal ode to darkness, “It’s Everywhere,” to spark attention from the heavy metal music community. The band also plans to release a video for “It’s Everywhere” soon.

“There’s a lot of different metal and a lot of different tones in the music on this record,” Caffery said. “I really like ‘Temple of the Soul’ because it comes together in way that I really enjoy the band musically, or when you look at something like ‘Light Speed Marching’ and listen to Ripper just using his full range, there’s a lot of different things that I like for a lot of different reasons.”

In addition to their three powerhouse singles, Caffery admits the band’s signature and self-titled track, “Spirits of Fire,” best captures the feeling, inspiration and approach behind their music. It beautifully weaves the album’s 11 tracks together and provides an intimate look into the band’s musical soul.

“I remember when I first wrote the ‘Spirits of Fire’ song, I took something and added a short description of a character into a thing that was talking about something in a positive way,” Caffery said. “The spirit of fire is the most powerful of the good spirits, so when people would be looking to summon spirits to get rid of evil, they would call for the spirits of fire. That was the most badass, powerful good spirit.”

Luckily, the band remains in good spirits with the release of their debut album and hopes to play festivals later this year to support it.

“I’m hoping this develops as a band so people will want to hear us more and turn around and say, ‘Hey, there’s a week of shows that this guy wants you to do in Brazil with Spirits of Fire,’” Caffery said. “That’s the type of thing I’m looking for, the main things I’m gonna find out or what’s going to happen once it gets out there.”

Float On – Honey Monsoon Release Atmospheric New Single ‘Cloud’ from Forthcoming ‘Opal Soul’ Album

Honey Monsoon has released a new single, “Cloud,” from their forthcoming album, “Opal Soul,” due out March 22.

With a vibrant new single and lineup, Honey Monsoon is floating in a new musical stratosphere.

Earlier this week, the metro Detroit jazz-fusion quintet dropped their latest single, “Cloud,” a five-and-a-half-minute peaceful sonic journey filled with funky guitars, bright synths, gentle cymbal crashes and slow grooves.

“It’s a dynamic love song about being in an amazing state, realizing that you’re there, being present and preserving that,” said Ana Gomulka, Honey Monsoon’s vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist. “It’s a complex song where I put myself in a character role and follow a floaty, vibey path that’s immediate and accessible.”

That uplifting musical path soars to the sky-high auditory intersection of jazz, disco, rock, funk, soul and R&B – think Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, George Benson, Sade and Toro y Moi combining their signature styles into an atmospheric sound.

Honey Monsoon will release a new video soon for “Cloud” that features footage from some of their local favorite spots in Detroit, including the Fisher Building and the Renaissance Center. Additional footage was shot at a local church in Ypsilanti.

Cloud single artwork

“Cloud” is the first single from Honey Monsoon’s forthcoming album, “Opal Soul,” a follow-up to their 2017 jazzy, soulful debut, “Rose Gold,” due out March 22. It also features a fresh lineup with new members Sam Naples (guitar, vocals) and Binho “Alex” Manenti (bass, keys) along with Taylor Greenshields (drums), Leo Willer (paintbrushes) and Gomulka.

“We’ve been in the studio collaborating with so many incredible people in the area on horns, keys, strings and vibraphone,” said Gomulka, who started writing songs for “Opal Soul” in September. “We’ve been in the trenches putting together this eclectic production for ‘Opal Soul.’”

Produced, engineered and mixed by Greenshields and Naples at Fundamental Sound Co., “Opal Soul” will feature eight tracks and include former member Andrea Holther-Cruz on two to three songs written with the previous band’s lineup.

“Opal Soul” also will feature a more diverse sound that draws influences from pop, rock, Latin, funk, Afrobeat and world music. For “Rose Gold,” Honey Monsoon intertwined jazzy, soulful sonic textures against a rock-infused backdrop with bright vocals and saxophone solos.

“‘Opal Soul’ is based on a concept of reflection, and I was inspired by that while writing for this album,” Gomulka said. “It highlights the reflection and soulfulness that we put into the creative process.”

Honey Monsoon will celebrate the album’s release with a special show March 22 at The Loving Touch in Ferndale with Kesswa, White Bee and Sara Marie Barron.

“We’re excited to share our new organic sound, feel out the space and celebrate the moment with everyone,” Naples said.

Show Details:

Honey Monsoon “Opal Soul” Release Party with special guests Kesswa, White Bee and Sara Marie Barron

Friday, March 22

The Loving Touch, 22634 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale

Doors: 7 p.m.

Tickets: $10

The Way-Back Machine – Shon Jay Melds Vintage R&B with New School Pop on Debut EP ‘Nothing Is Forever’

Shon Jay drops his debut EP, “Nothing Is Forever,” today on major streaming sites.

Shon Jay knows how to create a groove-fueled musical time machine.

The Southfield indie artist mixes retro R&B with current pop-inspired textures on “Nothing Is Forever,” his eight-track debut EP that drops today. He magically transports listeners to a personal sonic world that fuses late ‘70s, early ‘80s vibes with catchy 21st century melodies.

Jay, aka Shon Johnson, teamed with his father Lamont Johnson, a renown electric bassist from the Detroit-based funk group Brainstorm and a solo artist, to record and produce the beautifully crafted EP.

“There’s a heavy old school element in the entire project, but then I’m bringing my youth and whatever naiveté I want to try to recapture as I hit a career path,” Jay said. “We worked together to go through his catalog of songs that I’ve known since I was four or five years old.”

Jay and Lamont Johnson recorded “Nothing Is Forever” from September to December with Todd Johnson at Throne Muzik in Southfield. Together, they weave a powerful relationship theme throughout the Lamont Johnson-penned project – it exquisitely captures the rollercoaster of emotion with falling in love, becoming a couple, drifting apart, breaking up and moving forward.

The EP’s latest single, “Dreamin’,” includes a laid-back Earth, Wind & Fire feel surrounded by soul grooves, electronic finger snaps and gleaming synths.

“It has such a mellow mood, and it has ups and downs in terms of delivery for the notes and the melody. It’s very intricate and smooth. To do both, I would say that was the most challenging song to record because of how all over the place it is with intonations,” Jay said.

“That song is supposed to make someone think about what they’re really looking for in life and what types of things they want and how easy it is to obtain, but they just really need to go out and get it.”

Continue reading “The Way-Back Machine – Shon Jay Melds Vintage R&B with New School Pop on Debut EP ‘Nothing Is Forever’”

Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will perform Friday night at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will bring their Midwest urban folk songs to Farmington tomorrow night.

The folk singer-songwriter duo will perform as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday with special guest Mark Reitenga.

“I think we’ll pull from all of our experiences of working together and songs that we’ve written together, songs that we’ve done solo, songs that are cover tunes, songs that we’ve performed and recorded, and maybe have some new stuff, too,” said Krist, who’s recovering from a broken shoulder. “I have a couple of new songs that I’m hoping we’ll be able to play.”

Together, Krist and Bizer will perform as part of a fun, formidable duo where the sum is greater than the already substantial parts. Their performances mesh and interlock with lyrics and melodies that interweave in surprising and intriguing ways.

Originally hailing from Detroit, the duo has played together for more than 40 years and first crossed musical paths as teens during the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Krist absorbed Joni Mitchell’s folk, rock, jazz and pop-inspired tunes while Bizer studied James Taylor’s catchy folk rock. They also developed an affinity for the Motown sound coming out of Detroit.

“Both of us had independent careers and achieved a bit of notoriety on our own, and then we decided it would be fun to tour together,” said Bizer, who started out playing cover songs in local bars and restaurants. “We’d perform as a duo and take turns performing each other’s songs. We got more and more developed into that kind of show, and we started writing together, and the songs became more crafted for a duo, which is where it really got fun.”

Continue reading “Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live”