Solo Ride – Bobby Pennock to Open for Jeff Scott Jan. 17 at Farmington Civic Theater

Bobby Pennock will open the first show of the LIVE! 2020 winter concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater.

For Bobby Pennock, a new decade will bring more chances to perform live as a solo artist.

The Detroit folk rock singer-songwriter typically performs with the quartet Taller Than They Appear or as a duo with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Luti Erbeznik.

This month, Pennock will make a rare live solo appearance opening for Jeff Scott as part of the Farmington Civic Theater’s “LIVE!” 2020 winter concert series. His Jan. 17 opening set will include acoustic-filled gems from his collaborative and solo projects, including The Pennock/Stephens Project and Taller Than They Appear.

“I know there’s already going to be songs from each of those in the set,” Pennock said. “I’m also doing a new song that’s one of the latest ones Mike Stephens and I wrote called ‘Circling Back to You.’”

Formerly known as “Friday Night Live” at the Farmington Civic Theater, the newly renamed “LIVE!” 2020 concert series also will feature Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys with Rochelle Clark (Feb. 21), Olivia Millerschin with Adam Liebman (March 20) and the Nashtown Songwriters Round (April 23).

The Pennock/Stephens Project

The Pennock/Stephens Project album artwork

In 2018, Pennock released a striking folk rock album called “The Pennock/Stephens Project” with the late singer-songwriter Mike Stephens, who passed away from cancer in October. The duo met years earlier through Myspace when Stephens hosted a podcast called the Open Mike Café and eventually developed a strong friendship.

Throughout the years, Pennock and Stephens wrote an extensive catalog of folk rock songs and decided to release their self-titled debut album as a duo. At the time, Stephens had relocated to Colorado to live near his daughter as he battled long-term health issues, but later returned to Michigan.

“He was diagnosed with cancer, and our good friend who lives in Nashville, M.J. Bishop, set up a GoFundMe, and then I wanted to do something else,” said Pennock, who also performed with guitarist Terry Birkett as part of the project.

“Mike and I had continued to write songs together, and I got the idea of recording an album and the proceeds of which would go to him for his medical costs. That’s how that album came together, and my friend John Finan said he’d record it for free.”

Continue reading “Solo Ride – Bobby Pennock to Open for Jeff Scott Jan. 17 at Farmington Civic Theater”

Jeff Scott Launches ‘LIVE!’ 2020 Winter Concert Series Jan. 17 at Farmington Civic Theater

Jeff Scott will headline the first show of the “LIVE!” winter concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater. Photo courtesy of Jeff Scott

Two years ago, Jeff Scott experienced a musical epiphany in the Big Easy.

The Royal Oak singer-songwriter strolled through Jackson Square and retraced his steps from a previous New Orleans visit two decades earlier.

That trip down memory lane transported Scott back to performing with The Big Picture, a Detroit-based pop sextet. At the time, Scott and his bandmates opened for The Neville Brothers at the iconic New Orleans Jazz Fest.

“I was sensing at the time that I could never recapture the way that I felt when I was younger and in that position with that band. It started to rain exactly as it had the first time we showed up there, and I was standing in exactly the same place,” Scott said.

“I thought for the purposes of this album I was retreading and going back to where I had originally been musically and most successful professionally. That was a good way to start it. I’m attempting to reclaim something, maybe I’m not going to hit it, but the pursuit of it is deeply fulfilling and emotional.”

Scott shares his splendid journey of sonic self-discovery on “Nola,” the opening track of his third album, “Nola to New York,” which dropped in 2018.

It also will give listeners a preview of his Jan. 17 headlining show at the Farmington Civic Theater to kick off the “LIVE!” 2020 winter concert series with special guest Bobby Pennock.

Along with longtime bandmates Tony Jaworowski (piano, keys), Duane Allen Harlick (electric guitar, background vocals), Dave Hendrickson (electric and upright bass) and Dan McCann (drums, percussion), Scott will perform an eclectic mix of pop, folk, soul and jazz favorites from “Nola to New York” as well as his previous releases.

“I hope that they will be moved musically. That’s always my intent. I’ve always wanted to make beautiful music with a big ‘B.’ It can be up-tempo, it can be down-tempo, it can be a ballad, it can be a lot of different things,” Scott said. “That’s always the end goal for me. A lot of people come to the shows because they appreciate the lyrics, which I spend a lot of time on.”

Formerly known as “Friday Night Live” at the Farmington Civic Theater, the newly renamed “LIVE!” 2020 concert series also will feature Bones Maki and the Blue Water Boys with Rochelle Clark (Feb. 21), Olivia Millerschin with Adam Liebman (March 20) and the Nashtown Songwriters Round (April 23).

Continue reading “Jeff Scott Launches ‘LIVE!’ 2020 Winter Concert Series Jan. 17 at Farmington Civic Theater”

Farewell AF – Wilson Hosts ‘Thank You, Goodnight’ Shows Saturday at The Crofoot

Wilson will perform their final three shows Saturday night at The Crofoot.

Wilson will take their final bow of fuckery Saturday night in Pontiac.

The Detroit multi-genre quartet will host three farewell banger shows filled with debauchery and shenanigans for longtime, hardcore fans at The Crofoot.

“The shows will be closure for us and everyone who’s been involved. It will be emotional, but relieving at the same time,” said Jason Spencer, Wilson’s co-founder and guitarist. “We’ve always been transparent with our fans, that’s always been important to me, but all in all, the fans have been polite and supportive.”

Along with bandmates Chad Nicefield (vocals), James Lascu (bass) and Matt Puhy (drums), Spencer announced Wilson’s indefinite hiatus and “Thank You, Goodnight” farewell shows Nov. 6 via the band’s Facebook page. After a decade filled with in-your-face rock, hip-hop and all things ‘90s, the band will celebrate an explosive era three different ways:

1.  A “Wilson’s House of Fuckery” 4:30 p.m. pre-party in The Crofoot’s Vernors Room with band conversations and a past, present and future walk-through as well as a silent auction with proceeds benefiting the Lighthouse of Oakland County and MusiCares.

2. A 6 p.m. performance of “Tasty Nasty” and “Right to Rise” in their entirety on The Crofoot Ballroom stage. The Messenger Birds, Red Stone Souls and Ladysse will provide support.

3. A 10 p.m. performance of “Full Blast Fuckery” in its entirety on The Pike Room stage. Strange Magic will provide support.

Each show will encompass part of Wilson’s history at their “hometown” venue and allow devoted fans to engage one last time with these genre-bending titans. In a sense, it will be like viewing the exhilarating and exhausting journey through each band member’s eyes.

“The Vernors Room pre-party will consist of props/outfits from old videos, stage props and a bunch of visual aspects. Our fans have always loved the gimmicky parts of the band, so we figured this could be a fun way to obtain items for their Wilson collections … no joke, we have fans who have made entire rooms out of Wilson items,” Spencer said.

“The Ballroom will be a standard Wilson headliner with some visual aspects. But the final show in The Pike Room will be the most intense show because it’s the type of room that has played a big part in our history. You know, punk-rock club style … just wild.”

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Mind Meld – Billy Brandt, Sarana VerLin Fuse Musical Intuition Thursday at 20 Front Street

Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin will perform Thursday night at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion.

Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin know how to read musical minds.

The folk rock duo will demonstrate their sonic superpowers live Thursday night before an intimate crowd at Lake Orion’s 20 Front Street. It will be their first time captivating fans there together.

“Billy and I have a ‘Vulcan mind meld’ on stage where we can follow each other effortlessly and know what direction to go in when we go off-piste and improvise instrumentally,” said VerLin, a U.K.-based singer-songwriter, violinist and multi-instrumentalist. “When we play and write together, we rub against and wear away each other’s rough edges to get a sound blend that neither of us gets on our own.”

The enchanting pair will share timeless tales from their latest release, “Are You Listening?” – a magical 10-track odyssey that includes Shakespearean characters, ghosts, emperors, dystopian worlds and whales. Magical acoustic guitars, violins and mandolins whisk listeners away to a stunning sonic world beautifully constructed in their minds.

“‘Are You Listening?’ took about two years to complete. When I was here in Detroit a few years ago, I said we should go in the studio to record. We had a few songs that had not been recorded yet so we started with those,” said VerLin, who originally hails from Trenton.

“Billy had written a song called ‘Sailing Away,’ and coincidentally and separately, I had written a song called ‘Sailing Away.’ A completely different feel but in a similar key, so we combined them into a two-part song.”

Released in 2018 via Drum Dancer Records, “Are You Listening?” also unearths another folk rock treasure, “I Wish I Knew,” which includes a splendid picking arrangement of a melody Brandt wrote and envisioned as part of a monotone vocal accompaniment.

Back in July 2011, VerLin wrote the lyrics during a trip to Chamberlain’s Ole Forest Inn in Curtis, but couldn’t pair it will the right melody. Six years later, Brandt’s guitar melody formed the perfect marriage for the song.

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Welcome to the ‘Machine’ – We Three Tackle Dark Subject Matter on Latest Single, EP

We Three bring a strong rock element to their live sound. Photo courtesy of Palawan Productions

With refreshing candor, We Three wittingly channel the everyday doldrums of open office plans and spiritless corporate life in their latest video for “Machine.”

The McMinnville, Ore., pop-rock sibling trio combat ticking clocks, ringing phones, clicking pens, popping gum and tapping fingernails in small cramped office in the Regular Routine building. It makes the carpeted cubicles in “Office Space’s” fictitious Initech look prestigious and inviting.

Once the chorus of obnoxious office sounds crescendo, Joshua Humlie (keys, drums, vocals), Bethany Blanchard (bass, vocals) and Manny Humlie (guitar, vocals) quickly throw papers, break coffee cups and toss computer monitors in revolt. They represent a recurring fantasy for those wanting to combat corporate drudgery.

“We got so many messages from people being like, ‘I want to destroy my office now,’” said Blanchard with a laugh. “It was very fun to film by the way.”

We Three collaborated with their management team and Fortem Films to record the video and hire actors to play their listless co-workers trapped in a never-ending nine-to-five. “We were all a part of it, but they definitely led the charge and got everything together,” said Joshua Humlie, who participated in the video’s filming for three days with his siblings.

While the video pokes fun at corporate life, “Machine” thematically tackles a serious undertone about being in a relationship with a self-destructive person.

It features harmonious hums mixed with swift acoustic strums and a dancy bass drumbeat to echo the couple’s volatile relationship – “Cigarettes in the ashtray/And sleeping through the afternoon/Still don’t wanna stay at your place/Cause you always think/I leave too soon.”

The track also features the iconic line, “We’re All Messed up – but It’s Ok,” which doubles as the name of the trio’s emotionally-charged pop-rock EP.

“The first song that was written for it that we knew was going to be on the record was ‘Machine.’ The line that wasn’t even necessarily that prominent was ‘We’re All Messed up – but It’s Ok,’ and once we actually stepped back and kind of thought about what that line meant, it was like, ‘Oh shoot, this is actually a fairly profound line,’ I think it should be the name of the EP. I felt like that was the springboard into ‘OK, we have a theme here,’ we should just continue and go all the way,” Manny Humlie said.

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Bluegrass Roots – Mark Lavengood Cultivates Homegrown Dobro Sound Locally, Nationally

Mark Lavengood will perform at “The Ebird & Friends Holiday Show” tonight through Saturday at The Ark.

Mark Lavengood will bring warm down-home holiday sounds to Ann Arbor this weekend.

The Grand Rapids bluegrass roots vocalist and multi-instrumentalist will join a star-studded lineup of Michigan artists and musicians for the 12th annual “The Ebird & Friends Holiday Show” tonight, Friday and Saturday at The Ark.

Hosted by Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds, the variety-style show will also feature Alex Holycross (The Native Howl), Graham Parsons (The Go Rounds), Carolyn Striho, Anne Heaton, Brad Phillips, Jen Sygit, Jessica McCumons (Jessica Delle) and members from The Macpodz, The Appleseed Collective and Jive Colossus.

“I’ve done it two other years. I love Erin so much, that production is one of the most pro things I think I’ve been a part of, and it’s just always a good time, and I’m always honored to be invited back,” Lavengood said. “I get to lead some, and I get to back other people who play the instruments. It’s just a great hang, the community comes out in droves, and there really isn’t a show like it anywhere.”

As an established touring artist and musician, Lavengood regularly shares his resonant energy with spirited crowds from Michigan to Colorado. He eloquently combines folk, bluegrass and Americana with bandmates Justin Avdek (bass), Dutcher Snedeker (keys), Justin Wierenga (guitar) and Loren Kranz (drums) on stage and in the studio for a growing catalog of bluegrass roots singles and albums.

With an expansive musical palate, Lavengood adds delectable instrumental flavors of dobro, steel guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, drums and percussion to assemble an appetizing eclectic sound for fans nationwide.

“I’m fleshing out a lot of songs that I been sitting on over the years, and I love playing the music, but at the same time, I like getting the ideas out and then bringing a band into the studio and tracking it that way,” Lavengood said. “There’s a lot of magic you get when you have a bunch of different minds in one space serving a song together.”

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Dream Ticket – Tetra Music Project Hosts FutureDream 3 Dec. 21 at Detroit’s Tangent Gallery

Tetra Music Project will host FutureDream 3 and feature emerging EDM, hip-hop and rock artists on two stages.

Kim Tetra Wiesner will bring the sparkle and soundtrack of spring to Detroit three months early.

The Ypsilanti electronic, chillwave and world bass vocalist-guitarist, aka Tetra Music Project, will host an indoor visual art and live music garden party Dec. 21 at Tangent Gallery. It will be an exhilarating visual and auditory experience to awaken the mind, body and spirit during the winter solstice.

Known as FutureDream 3, the atmospheric festival will feature emerging EDM, hip-hop and rock artists on two stages, including Tetra Music Project, Pandora Love, Gyp$y, Y-Not, Dancemyth, Dos Lopez, Approachable Minorities, Mynah, Neural Patterns and Jena Irene Asciutto.

It also will showcase visionary floral sculptor Anthony Flowers Ward as well as a special performance from Botanical Burlesque and a magical imagination playspace by Astral Matter Experience. Additional FutureDream 3 support will come from Unique Groove Entertainment, Silky Grooves and 3D Planted.

“Instead of trying to set up a bunch of shows throughout the year, I really just focus on the one big, extravagant performance, and I like to have it be this really art-centered display of people who I personally find are very talented and dedicated to what they do,” Wiesner said.

“I like to give everybody a decent amount of time to perform and make it worth their while. I curate the event in a way that I can get behind, and I have people who have a good attitude and a good vibe about them.”

Outside of art and music, FutureDream 3 will donate festival proceeds to the St. Clair Butterfly Foundation, an Auburn Hills nonprofit that uses creative arts, mindfulness and mentorship programs to help youth overcome trauma.

“If I’m putting an event together, usually it has some sort of cause involved, and we may or may not make a whole lot of money to donate or contribute, but we focus on it, make a little bit and say, ‘Well hey, we did our best,’” Wiesner said.

Continue reading “Dream Ticket – Tetra Music Project Hosts FutureDream 3 Dec. 21 at Detroit’s Tangent Gallery”