The Detroit psych-blues rock septet of Nina Ledesma (vocals, acoustic guitar), Daniel Decker (guitar), Oscar Sosa (guitar), Mike Fritz (keys), Ramiro Romero (bass), Chris Kaszuba (drums) and Baba Bohmbaedio (percussion, djembe) will headline Grove Sessions Live, an outdoor studio production session hosted by Grove Studios, before a masked and socially-distanced small audience.
They’ll share the intimate Grove Studios courtyard stage with three Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti acts, including progressive jam quartet Stormy Chromer, funk-soul-rock sextet Sabbatical Bob and jazz composer-guitarist Adam Kahana.
“It’s always great to connect and share stages with bands we have never met before. The more we can get together, the more we can learn from one another instead of competing. We have played with Stormy Chromer before, but none of the others. Stormy is always very entertaining – their music is incredible as well as their off-stage presence,” Ledesma said.
Ledesma and her Buffalo Riders bandmates are among a growing roster of local artists, including Dani Darling, Doogatron and Louis Picasso & The Gallery, performing at monthly Grove Sessions Live production events, which offer 50 people ticketed VIP access to four hours of live music. Those live performances are recorded and later combined with Grove Sessions livestream artist interviews every Wednesday and Friday at 4 p.m.
“The Grove Sessions livestream series began online out of necessity in March due to the COVID-19 stay-at-home order here in Michigan. We were determined to continue connecting with the music community and our clients by offering them a virtual space to share their creativity, even though our revenue had dropped to zero since we had to close our rehearsal and production space,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder and director of community engagement.
“Bringing performances and other content to livestreaming was something we had envisioned doing long-term, but our new reality pushed us to innovate sooner and quicker than we planned. The monthly production event gives artists an opportunity to be directly involved with our team in spreading their music and stories.”
Steve Somers plans to jazz up fall classes in Washtenaw County.
The longtime Ypsilanti guitarist-composer will offer fall semester jazz, guitar and music courses virtually for aspiring musicians through Washtenaw Community College (WCC). Starting Aug. 31, Somers will teach jazz combo and improvisation I & II (MUS 105-106) along with beginning and intermediate guitar (MUS 133-134) to 20 students per class.
All 16-week classes will include a combination of online class meetings with individual virtual consultation and assistance with various recording projects. Students can now enroll for fall classes through WCC’s website.
“The virtual classes will be offered with Zoom meetings, and we will do recording projects online where people submit their parts or solos, and then I will mix it all down here at the studio at Alley Records,” said Somers, who also leads the Ypsilanti Youth Orchestra Jazz Ensemble.
Somers also will host a non-credit jazz orchestra class virtually through WCC starting in October. The class will feature a mix of online meetings and performances for all ages.
As an influential musician, creative entrepreneur and community leader, Somers has taught jazz guitar classes at WCC for nearly 20 years and performed in jazz, classical, blues, R&B and rock solo and group projects since relocating to the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area in 1979.
Somers relocated to Michigan after touring nationally and internationally with a California-based band in 1970s. They hosted mini-residencies five to six nights a week at clubs and hotels as far east as Minnesota before disbanding a few years later.
After that, Somers started studying classical guitar with Nelson Amos at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar music performance in 1984. Two years later, he studied with world-renowned composer and conductor Anthony Iannaccone while earning a master’s degree in music theory and composition from EMU.
“When I was still an undergraduate, he accepted me, and we worked for a couple of years and made some good progress writing music for piano, guitar and other instruments. Then, he accepted me in the master’s program, and I wrote a piece for the chamber orchestra that’s still in the library there,” Somers said.
“We’ve been quiet for a while due to logistical issues, but now we’re ready for action with a banger of a show. People can expect our new PA system, which is much louder than our older one, and projector visuals as well as our renovated stage and mural. The night will feature prominent local funk and electronic music,” said Greg Hughes, curator for The Late Station and former After Hours Radio bassist.
The Late Station’s last show took place July 6 with Chicago’s Stardust Encounter, Cyrano Jones, Shindig Machine and The Sundots. Previously run by After Hours Radio, the DIY venue celebrated its year anniversary last March and has hosted more than 35 shows since its inception.
Hughes started The Late Station in 2018 after performing at University of Michigan open mic nights as a college student and experiencing the Chicago DIY music scene. For each show, volunteers help book and promote events, run the door and assist with gear.
In the meantime, The Late Station will closely monitor reports related to the coronavirus and COVID-19 and make any adjustments as needed.
Adam Liebman will get into a multi-genre groove March 20 in Farmington.
The West Bloomfield singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music producer will bring flavors of pop, rock, jazz, R&B, blues and funk to his “LIVE!” set at the Farmington Civic Theater. He’ll open with a solo acoustic performance and share the stage with Rochester indie pop singer-songwriter and headliner Olivia Dear.
“I’ve been writing a lot of songs that I really believe in. I think people are going to like this set. It’s a little bit of a departure from my Mood Chambers EP, but it’s a good departure,” said Liebman, who’s previously performed during the theater’s “Out Front” summer concert series. “It’s more mature, I think the songwriting is better, and I’m really excited to show people what I’ve been working on.”
As a Berklee College of Music student, Liebman, 20, has amassed a wealth of new material since releasing his groove-filled debut EP, Mood Chambers, in 2018. With a double major in guitar performance and contemporary writing and production, Liebman writes and records in his apartment-based recording studio and collaborates with classmates in Boston.
“It’s really rigorous, even one major would be a lot, but it’s all stuff that I really love. I’m doing a vocal score for this class that I have called vocal writing. They teach you to professionally prepare scores and vocal parts for vocal ensemble,” he said.
“Next year, I get to look forward to learning studio recording techniques and mixing applications for writers and writing for big band and orchestra. There’s a lot of really cool stuff in the curriculum.”
The Rochester indie pop singer-songwriter has released an inspirational new single, “Better,” introduced a new artist name (from Olivia Millerschin to Olivia Dear) and received a grant from the TIDAL music streaming service.
“This has really given me a shot to do that. I know that what I’m gonna do is gonna always be me. ‘Olivia Dear’ is great because it separates me-the-artist from me-the-person because ‘Olivia Millerschin’ felt like I couldn’t release anything that ‘Olivia Millerschin’ wouldn’t think of or make,” Dear said.
“‘Olivia Dear’ has allowed me to take a step back personally from it. I think in general the music is gonna be the singer-songwriter, pop and indie side of things, but just a little bit more produced than my previous work.”
Dear will share a wealth of new and old favorites from her three-album catalog during her March 20 “LIVE!” headlining set at the Farmington Civic Theater in Farmington. She’ll be joined by longtime bandmates James Pyne (trombone, vocals), Brian Reilly (guitar) and Bob Mervak (keys, vocals) while West Bloomfield singer-songwriter Adam Liebman will open the show.
“For a show with a quartet in a nice, intimate room, we’ll do mostly like broken-down versions of the new music and my last record. The band and I have been working on some new cover stuff, so we might throw one or two of those in there just for fun,” said Dear, who also plays ukulele, piano and guitar.
Steve Taylor vividly remembers the day Tom Petty died.
The Lake Orion singer-songwriter and vocalist-guitarist of the Americana roots trio The Steve Taylor Three drove home from a band rehearsal on Oct. 2, 2017 and officially heard Petty had passed away.
“By the time I was driving home, it was like 10:30 at night, it was pretty clear that he was gone. I was rooting around in my car trying to find a Tom Petty CD in there somewhere, and I found the album, Echo,” said Taylor about Petty’s 1999 album. “The first song on that album is called ‘Room at the Top,’ and it just starts with Tom Petty playing guitar and singing, ‘I’ve got a room at the top of the world tonight, and I ain’t comin’ down.’”
That song instantly sparked Taylor to write four pages of nostalgic thoughts about Petty once he arrived home. Those thoughts remained dormant for six months until Taylor turned it into a heartfelt tribute with bandmates Bryan Frink (bass, keys) and Carey Weaver (drums, percussion) called “The Day Tom Petty Died.” It’s one of 12 new stunning tracks featured on The Steve Taylor Three’s third album, Earn Every Scar, out Saturday.
“And the whole thing was I didn’t want to write a sad song about it. I kinda wanted to write a song that told the story of the day he passed away,” said Taylor, who studied bass at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. “It’s supposed to be a tribute to everything that he accomplished.”
The uplifting ode to everyone’s favorite Heartbreaker features clicking drumsticks, driving bass and vibrant piano as Taylor beautifully sings, “I hope you like the view from the room at the top of the world/And I hope you’re dancing with an American girl/I know that Roy and George are sitting by his side/I won’t soon forget the day Tom Petty died.”
Taylor grew up listening to Tom Petty on the radio, but didn’t become a hardcore fan until seeing Peter Bogdanovich’s 2007, “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” about the Gainesville, Fla., native and his longtime band. “I’ve said to so many people, ‘You don’t realize for every 25 Tom Petty songs that you know there are 25 you’ve never heard that are good if not better,’” he said.
ATMIG sets the gold standard for rich multi-genre music in Detroit.
The duo of Tobias Lipski (guitar, vocals) and Julia Hickling (vocals) brilliantly alchemizes pieces of traditional folk, indie rock, shoegaze and rockabilly into a priceless sonic compound.
That compound includes valuable elements of inner reflections, deep motivations and life experiences throughout ATMIG’s vibrant full-length debut, “Wishes,” which dropped in 2019.
“The idea was to put the best songs that fit together, and the lyrics for the song ‘Wishes’ were not written yet, so it gave me an opportunity to narrate,” Lipski said. “‘Wishes’ is about time passing me by, and it has to do with being stuck at a desk nine to five and losing sight.”
With a dozen enlightening, introspective tracks, “Wishes” serves a crucial sonic reminder to take risks, abandon initial life plans and follow one’s intuition toward the right path. It’s also an internal wake-up call to rise from everyday apathy and reignite the true passions that bring a sense of purpose.
“Wishes” begins with an “Intro” laced with deep-tone guitars that descend into the narrator’s highly critical internal dialogue. Lipski’s heartfelt vocals beautifully set the struggle’s scene while crashing cymbals and vibrant guitars erupt with echoing harmonies.
ATMIG, aka After the Money is Gone, eloquently bobs, weaves and steers throughout the 10 “middle” tracks until the reprise of “Intro,” which is fittingly named “Outro,” beautifully links the entire album experience together. In fact, the album is best absorbed and digested on vinyl.
“When you listen to the first side of the album, you have mini-closure, and then you flip it over, and you have another side of the experience,” Lipski said. “‘Wishes’ is really about what’s important to you, and we were going to have this opportunity to actually do that.”
The Brighton indie folk singer-songwriter gently wraps her musical arms around listeners with her third poignant and poetic EP, “Notes,” which drops today.
“I really just wanted to write about all different themes, and that’s what I try to do with all of my EPs. I named the EP ‘Notes’ because sometimes a line or an idea happens in my head, and then I write it down and later craft it into a song,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee beautifully crafted her latest EP’s three introspective, comforting tracks as a follow-up to 2019’s striking “Heartstrings” EP. The breathtaking opener, “Where You Are,” features tender acoustic strums and mournful slide guitar that later erupts into an emotional epiphany filled with a Fleetwood Mac-inspired rhythm section.
She hauntingly sings, “I’ve been walking for miles now/And I’ve been searching up and down/And I’m trying, trying to find you/Chasing shadows everywhere, I hear your voice/I know you’re there, and I’m trying, trying to find you.”
“It’s a nice love song about missing someone, and I was actually experiencing writer’s block in 2019. Last summer, I went to Ireland, Scotland and London, and then as soon as I came back from that, I wrote ‘Where You Are,’” said MacPhee, who’s latest EP cover features a photo of her taken in Edinburgh.
While MacPhee tries to locate a lost love in “Where You Are,” she reassures another to maintain a positive outlook in “I’ll Show You the Way.” This exquisite track weaves thoughtful acoustic strums and quickly melds them with delicate drums, light bass and calming slide guitar as MacPhee sings, “And we’re spinning, turning, and twirling around the idea/And together we say, it’s a brand new day.”
The EP’s gorgeous closing track, “Cold,” includes deep, sorrowful acoustic guitar throughout it as MacPhee sadly sings, “I took a step back and I looked around/And in all the noise I didn’t hear a sound/I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout when I heard those words leave your mouth.”
“So ‘Cold’ obviously had the darker theme out of the other two songs, but the inspiration behind ‘Cold’ was actually written after I watched the Nicholas Sparks film, ‘Safe Haven,’ and then I heard a song in the movie called ‘Say Anything’ by Tristan Prettyman. I would love to have my songs placed in TV and film someday, too,” MacPhee said.
MacPhee recorded “Notes” at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording with Billy Harrington (drums, percussion), Michael Harrington (lead guitar), Timothy Monger (accordion, electric piano) and engineer Geoff Michael (lead guitar, bass). She also worked with Geoff Michael on last year’s “Heartstrings,” which features the two handling the entire EP’s instrumentation.
In fact, MacPhee has soared throughout metro Detroit as an emerging singer-songwriter since the release of her five-track debut EP, “From the Start,” in 2018. The beautiful opener, “Lullaby,” provides a relaxing escape from life’s everyday troubles with mesmerizing guitar, vibrant piano and delicate drum taps as MacPhee quietly sings, “Breathe deep, breathe slow/I am here, won’t let go/Alone you will never be, listen closely.”
“I wrote that song for my mom when she was going through a hard time. I think anybody can relate to it and know that they’re free no matter what they’re going through,” she said.
A year later, MacPhee released “Heartstrings,” which includes the stunning “Blink of an Eye” with bright acoustic guitar and somber vocals, “I wish I could rewind time/Cuz you were gone in the blink of an eye/Now it’s 3 a.m., and I’m still weak/Insomnia has the best of me.”
“I wrote the ‘Blink of an Eye’ song for one of my mom’s best friends when her mom passed away. That seems like one others can relate to a bit,” she said. “I also like the ‘Our Way Back Home’ song, it’s a nice, happy love song, and it kind of picks you up. It would be a tie between those two.”
MacPhee started carving a musical path for herself at age 11 while learning guitar, writing songs and listening to her mother’s Motown and folk albums. She also sought creative inspiration from the late Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries as well as Natalie Merchant.
Her musical path eventually led to a growing roster of live performances at the Michigan Theater, The Ark, 20 Front Street, Black Crystal Cafe and Arts, Beats & Eats. She’s also scheduled to perform March 7 at Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters in Royal Oak, March 14 at Lu & Carl’s Bar & Grill in Brighton and March 19 at Hell Saloon in Pinckney.
“I’m just going to continue with songwriting and expanding my catalog of songs, and I’m just going to keep performing and hope that I can connect with the listeners,” said MacPhee, who also plans to release lyric and live videos soon.
Back in 1974, Nektar left a promising sonic door open in Detroit.
The British progressive rock band shared a pulsating new track, “Devil’s Door,” during a show at The Michigan Palace.
“That’s where we wrote it. We had a couple of days in the theater. We were able to jam and play, and we did a lot of that. Then, we played it for the first time at the Palace theater,” said Derek “Mo” Moore, Nektar’s bassist, vocalist and co-founder.
Nektar only played “Devil’s Door” a few more times live that year before stashing it away. The soaring track remained hidden in the band’s vault for nearly 45 years before including it on their majestic new album, “The Other Side,” which dropped in January via Esoteric Antenna.
The eight-minute gem features the band’s late original frontman and co-founder Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals at the track’s intro. Recorded live by then-sound engineer Vinny Schmid via a soundboard in Detroit, “Devil’s Door” beautifully blends Albrighton’s vibrant guitar and enthusiastic “yeah, yeah, yeahs” with Nektar’s stunning new version of the track. Sadly, Schmid passed away six years ago while Albrigton died in 2016.
“We were able to get the two of them on the album. It just felt right, it was so clear when we played that into the headphones, and then the band came in, and Roye stayed with us for a little while with his parts,” Moore said.
“Then, we dropped the original band and brought up the new band. It just felt great. I called Roye’s wife, and I said, ‘I know I don’t have to ask you for permission, but I’d like your blessing. Is it OK for us to use Roye?’ She was thrilled, and I sent her a copy of it right away. She was blown away.”
Metro Detroit audiences will be blown away Tuesday when Nektar reopens “Devil’s Door” live at The Token Lounge in Westland as part of a current 36-date North American tour. The long-awaited track will be featured as part of the band’s three hour-plus set amidst a stunning video and lights show by visual artist and co-founder Mick Brockett.
“We’re changing the sets every night, especially when we did four days in New York, and we did two days in Baltimore. We try to do a lot of the old classics like ‘Remember the Future,’ ‘A Tab in the Ocean,’ and ‘Recycled,’ and we do a variation of that, and then we intersperse them with the new album, ‘The Other Side,’” Moore said.
With a raw, honest sound, The Gutter Daisies vigorously confront society’s deep fascination with a celebrity’s personal tragedy.
The Los Angeles pop-punk trio of Doug Rockwell (vocals, guitar), Miles Franco (bass) and Mike Diggs (drums) explodes with frustration about the public’s and the media’s treatment and exploitation of mental illness and depression on their latest single, “Celebrity Suicide.”
“We all grew up dealing with anxiety and depression. I feel like nowadays it’s even more common because of social media. It can be a great platform, but it’s also an extremely vain one that has created a false reality that’s unfortunately become an extension of actuality. It’s a place where everyone sees other people’s ‘best of section’ and then automatically assumes their own lives will never be as glamorous,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” opens with deep-tone, grungy guitars and quickly transforms into a rage-filled power protest as Rockwell angrily sings, “I wanna be like my idols/All fucked up in the brain/I could see it play out/Won’t play my songs while I’m around/Unless my life goes down the drain.”
“The same goes for the media. Paparazzi look for people’s weakest moments so they can sell that to media outlets so they can then bring in ratings. It’s all about making a fortune and not so much about the misfortune. ‘Celebrity Suicide’ is a song about just that with some sarcasm sprinkled on the wound,” Rockwell said.
“Celebrity Suicide” is the first new track The Gutter Daisies have released since covering The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” in 2018. Their energetic banger of a cover nicely pays tribute to the legendary hip-hop and rap-rock trio’s 1994 classic.
“We were looking for a song to cover that everyone would know no matter who they were, but we didn’t want it to be something you’d hear a run-of-the-mill cover band playing at a local bar,” Rockwell said. “We also wanted it to represent us as a band. ‘Sabotage’ is pretty punk rock, and as soon as it was suggested, we knew we could make it our own without disrupting what the original song had already accomplished.”