The Plugin – Dirty Thirty Producers, Beatmakers Showcase Their Creativity Tonight at Ypsilanti’s 734 Brewing Company

Tonight’s Plugin will showcase local producer-beatmakers and sets from other artists at 734 Brewing Company.

A fresh array of beats and rhythms will electrify Ypsilanti’s 734 Brewing Company tonight.

Known as The Plugin, the producer-beatmaker showcase and competition will spotlight “The Dirty Thirty,” a 30-minute sample chopping contest with catchy creations from emerging hip-hop artists.

During the contest, artists will have a half-hour to make beats from a previously chosen sample they can download. After the 30-minute time limit is up, they will showcase their beats and be rated on a point system for their mix, creativity and arrangement by a panel of three judges. The winning artist with the most points will receive money or another prize from Plugin event sponsors.

“After we do the competition, then we allow the winner to do a beat set, and they can play some of their instrumentals,” said Rod Wallace, a metro Detroit hip-hop producer and beatmaker who oversees The Plugin. “We also may have people there who are seeking things to do with sync licensing, and then they get a chance to hear from the artists. It’s always been a great party.”

The former high school administrator and teacher launched The Plugin in May after running a student music education program. He teamed up with Grove Studios, an Ypsilanti-based rehearsal and recording space, Double Negative People, a Detroit record label, and Mic Moseley to host and sponsor the monthly event.

“As I had the opportunity to come back to Eastern to direct a program here, I also began working on my PhD, and I was focusing around how music technology can be used to teach kids transferrable skills,” said Wallace, who’s also a lead engineer for Grove Studios and a second-year doctoral student at Eastern Michigan University. “What I found in doing some early research was producers are very adept are teaching themselves how to use software. They’re very adept at teaching themselves skills using YouTube and using video.”

Rod Wallace oversees monthly Plugin events.

Wallace also noticed how music technology education connects directly to STEM-based curricula and teaches student producers and beatmakers transferrable skills. The goal is to provide laptop musicians with a productive, creative and educational outlet for developing and sharing their own music.

“Another thing that came up in the research is the fact that there isn’t a lot of collaboration. People are kind of like mad scientists, they stay to themselves and do what they do,” Wallace said. “They might work with an artist, and they might not work with an artist. I wanted to create a venue where not only could they work together and show off their skills, but it was also an environment that catered itself toward networking and connecting with artists.”

Those connections start with other producers and beatmakers who perform at The Plugin each month. Tonight’s event will feature sets from Brooklyn Beatz (aka Josh Johnson), Josh Hype, Tru Klassick (aka Taylor Michael) and DJ Buff as well as classic hip-hop trivia and a 50-50 raffle to benefit local nonprofits.

“We’ve spent our time trying to gather more sponsorships and trying to make some more connections with producers who can really come through and show people what to do as well,” Wallace said. “It’s always a really fun time, and I just look forward to continuing to do it.”

Show details:

The Plugin – “The Dirty Thirty” featuring local producers and beatmakers and sets from Brooklyn Beatz, Josh Hype, Tru Klassick and DJ Buff

7 p.m. tonight

734 Brewing Company, 15 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti

$10 entry fee for producers and beatmakers

Donations welcome from attendees

Come Together – John Lennon’s Political Impact, Creative Legacy Still Rings True Today

John Lennon continues to be an advocate for peace nearly 40 years after his death. Illustration by Nick Fewings

By Nicole Bouwkamp

John Lennon is often remembered for his time as an enigmatic member of The Beatles, the smart and witty frontman who could charm crowds and gain their animosity alike. He is also remembered for his strong political stances, namely for causes of justice and the promotion of peace.

Ann Arbor recently saw one of these promotions for peace in memory of John Lennon. On Oct. 10, the Veterans for Peace John Lennon Birthday Concert at The Ark saw local musicians come together, performing both Lennon’s own songs and other peace and protest songs. Proceeds went to the local chapter of Veterans for Peace to fund their Peace Scholarship Program.

Lennon was always leery about the politicians whose influences steeped into the lives of everyday citizens. In 1968 at The National Theatre, believing that “…our society is run by insane people for insane objectives, and I think that’s what I sussed when I was 16 and 12, way down the line.”

He also stated that “If anybody can put on paper what our government, and the American government and the Russian, Chinese, what they are actually trying to do and what they think they’re doing… I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing, I think they’re all insane!”

These sentiments can be heard through his song, “Gimme Some Truth,” a song where Lennon sings that he is tired of hearing the things spread by “neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians.” As Lennon’s political voice demanded to be heard, so did his music grow to become the tool to spread it to the world.

His voice was also spread by the support and influence of Yoko Ono. As a contemporary multimedia artist and peace activist herself, Ono helped Lennon find ways to voice his own thoughts about the world around them, from government corruption to the Vietnam War and everything in-between.

Continue reading “Come Together – John Lennon’s Political Impact, Creative Legacy Still Rings True Today”

Crisp Tastes and Tunes – Ypsilanti’s 2nd Annual West Cross Cider Festival Drafts Michigan Cider Makers, Local Eateries and Emerging Music Acts

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Crisp tastes and tunes will fill the vibrant fall air Saturday at Ypsilanti’s West Cross Cider Festival.

The second annual hard cider festival will feature 10 Michigan-crafted hard ciders, a host of delectable West Cross food offerings and five emerging Ypsi-based music artists to celebrate an autumn afternoon in the city.

Hard cider and mead fans will experience a bushel of sweet, tasty brews from Farmhaus, Northville Cider, Sierra Rose, Blake’s, Virtue, Pux, Fourth Coast, St. Ambrose and Cherry Creek as well as local favorites Bløm Meadworks, Unity Vibration and 734 Brewing Company.

“This is their time to fall in love with more than one favorite and connect with the representatives of each brand,” said Julie Palmer, West Cross Cider Festival event organizer. “With names like Ballyhoo, Traffic Jam, Skinny Dip and Absynthe Botanical, it will become immediately clear that cider is as diverse as the maker behind it.”

Palmer and the West Cross Cider Festival team partnered with the Michigan Cider Association and beverage distributors to bring new and returning cider producers to the growing event, which is located at the intersection of College Place and West Cross.

“Because Michigan is at the top of our nation’s apple-producing states, we’ve got so much to offer,” Palmer said. “One only needs to scratch the surface to find many Michigan ciders in most stores.”

Festival attendees will be able to purchase cider tasting wristbands for $25 in advance online. The first 500 purchases also will include souvenir tasting mugs for hardcore cider aficionados to personally enjoy the festival’s brews with food from Wurst Bar, Tower Inn, Veg-O-Rama and other local eateries.

Continue reading “Crisp Tastes and Tunes – Ypsilanti’s 2nd Annual West Cross Cider Festival Drafts Michigan Cider Makers, Local Eateries and Emerging Music Acts”

Three’s Company – Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho to Join ‘Even Steven Songwriters Round’ in Farmington Friday

The Even Steven Songwriters Round will feature Steve Acho, Stephen Clark and Steve Taylor in Farmington Friday.

A metro Detroit crowd will experience the live music of “Three’s Company” Friday night in Farmington.

While it won’t involve Jack, Janet or Chrissy, it will spotlight three “Steves” who’ve made a lasting sonic impression on the Motor City and Music City.

Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho will bring their catchy acoustic country, Americana roots and pop-rock classics to the “Friday Night Live – Even Steven Songwriters Round” at the Farmington Civic Theater. It will be an intimate evening filled with live music and laughter all round.

Let’s take a closer look at each “Steve” and how they will even up the musical score Friday night in Farmington.

Continue reading “Three’s Company – Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho to Join ‘Even Steven Songwriters Round’ in Farmington Friday”

Groove On – Stormy Chromer Hosts Jam-tastic Blind Pig Show Tonight with Biomassive, RADO

Stormy Chromer will host a fall hometown show tonight in Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor will groove three times over tonight with Stormy Chromer at the musical helm.

The Ypsilanti progressive jam quartet will host a fall hometown show at The Blind Pig with Biomassive and RADO filled with danceable improvisational rock, jazz, funk and electronica.

“We have a long list of covers that’s somewhere near 80 or 100 total. Every time we perform one, we log it into an Excel sheet. We’ve been going back over this past summer and looking at it to see which ones we can let fall by the wayside, so we have a few things up our sleeve in terms of things you haven’t heard us play in a long time,” said Ryan King, Stormy Chromer’s bassist.

“In terms of originals, we might have some new stuff for you. We’re not entirely sure if we’re going to be playing some of it live yet, but we have new material in the works.”

Along with bandmates Brendan Collins (lead guitar), Spencer Hanson (lead guitar) and Amin Lanseur (drums), King has grown his improvisational chops during a month-long mini-residency at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids as well as several Michigan-based festivals and a tour out west.

“The goal for a long time was just to be comfortable enough doing it in front of a crowd and to be not doing it where they don’t stop moving,” said King, who’s racked up more than 30 original songs with Stormy Chromer. “I think that’s going to be the direction the band is headed in right now and trying to do something live that’s really unique and special at every show in terms of creating something that’s only gonna be there for that night.”

Together, Stormy Chromer started cutting their improvisational teeth after forming in 2014. Named after an accidental tribute to the legendary Michigan cap company, the band blends complex songwriting with real-time compositions to create a unique live experience. In true jam-style fashion, Stormy Chromer has performed a growing roster of live shows locally and nationally with unique nightly setlists for a dedicated fan base.

Continue reading “Groove On – Stormy Chromer Hosts Jam-tastic Blind Pig Show Tonight with Biomassive, RADO”

Prog Royalty – Nad Sylvan Reimagines ‘Selling England by the Pound’ for Genesis Revisited Tour, Releases Enchanting ‘Vampirate’ Album Trilogy

Nad Sylvan will perform Genesis’ 1973 album, “Selling England by the Pound,” with Steve Hackett during the “Genesis Revisited” tour. Photo by Scott Saldinger

Tonight, a Grand Rapids, Mich., audience will travel through time to a majestic era filled with British knights, sailors, lovers and battles.

They will step inside the 20 Monroe Live “time machine” and sonically travel back to October 1973, when Genesis released their definitive prog rock album, “Selling England by the Pound.”

During their sonic travels, the audience will receive Nad Sylvan as their exquisite, effervescent and enchanting musical tour guide. Dressed lavishly in dark ruffled shirts, dark velvety capes and cloaks, slim riding pants, and tall black boots, Sylvan, a “vampirate,” will magically perform “Pound” in its entirety alongside legendary former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, keyboardist Roger King, bassist Jonas Reingold, saxophonist/flautist Rob Townsend and drummer Craig Blundell.

“I’ve done more than 500 shows with Steve now, and this is my seventh year with him. But I felt that this tour has been perhaps the most successful tour because people love ‘Selling England by the Pound.’ We go out and do the whole album without any words in between songs,” said Sylvan, a U.S.-born Swedish prog rock singer-songwriter and musician.

“We just play it like you play the record, and I take on these characters, and I do it in my own way. I’m not mimicking Gabriel at all, I do sound a bit similar to him sometimes because of my register. Everyone knows I’m a massive Genesis nut. I always have been, that’s why I got the gig.”

Sylvan, Hackett and the band are currently embarking on a 27-date North American “Genesis Revisited” tour through Oct. 20 and performing “Pound” as well as highlights from Hackett’s popular 1979 album, “Spectral Mornings,” and his latest release, “At the Edge of Light.”

The band previously performed a series of “Genesis Revisited” tour dates in 18 countries in seven weeks and will head back to Europe and the U.S. as well as Australia and New Zealand next year. Their next Michigan stop will be March 4 at The Fillmore Detroit.

Sylvan started touring with Hackett and his band in March 2013 in support of Hackett’s 2012 release, “Genesis Revisited II.” Hackett learned about Sylvan after he released a Genesis-inspired album with Bonamici called “Unifaun” in 2008 and a mutual friend suggested they work together.

“That’s why I did the ‘Unifaun’ album, that was just prestige of Genesis just for the hell of it, and that was long before I got to know Steve. I think that’s partly why I have the gig because he knew that guy sounds authentic, he sounds like a Genesis singer,” said Sylvan, who first saw Hackett perform with Genesis during the 1977 “Wind & Wuthering” tour in Stockholm.

“That’s how he felt about my singing, even though I have the ability to sing more soulful and go different ways with my vocals with different vibratos and what have you. But when I sing Genesis, I just sing it the way I believe I’ve heard them, but I put my own stamp on it.”

Continue reading “Prog Royalty – Nad Sylvan Reimagines ‘Selling England by the Pound’ for Genesis Revisited Tour, Releases Enchanting ‘Vampirate’ Album Trilogy”

Genesis Revisited – Steve Hackett Brings ‘Selling England by the Pound,’ Solo Gems to 20 Monroe Live Thursday

Steve Hackett will perform Genesis and solo classics at 20 Monroe Live Thursday in Grand Rapids.

Steve Hackett will breathe new life into a beloved Genesis album Thursday in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The legendary former Genesis guitarist will perform the band’s 1973 prog rock classic, “Selling England by the Pound,” in its entirety at 20 Monroe Live, a 2,600-seat music venue located in the heart of Furniture City.

“It happens to be my favorite Genesis album. That setting was 1973, and just as we were leaving New York desperately trying to find a gig anywhere else in the States, we heard that John Lennon gave an interview and said Genesis was one of the bands he was listening to, so I assumed he liked that album at the time, and we were all very proud of it,” said Hackett, who performed with Genesis from 1971-1977.

“I get to do it again in its entirety, which wasn’t possible with the technology we had back in the day, plus an extra track included like a deleted scene. Something that Peter Gabriel introduced to the band as an unfinished song. I finished it years later with his blessing, and we shared credits on it.”

That “deleted scene” of a song is “Déjà Vu,” a quiet, emotional track filled with deep synths, exquisite classical guitar strums and a haunting extended electric guitar solo. This time, Hackett will perform it live with singer-songwriter and musician Nad Sylvan, keyboardist Roger King, bassist Jonas Reingold, saxophonist/flautist Rob Townsend and drummer Craig Blundell.

Together, the prog rock sextet is embarking on a 27-date North American “Genesis Revisited” tour through Oct. 20 and playing eight other influential tracks from “Pound” as well as highlights from Hackett’s popular 1979 album, “Spectral Mornings,” and his latest release, “At the Edge of Light.”

The band previously performed a series of “Genesis Revisited” tour dates in 18 countries in seven weeks and will head back to Europe and the U.S. as well as Australia and New Zealand next year. Their next Michigan date will take place March 4 at The Fillmore Detroit.

Continue reading “Genesis Revisited – Steve Hackett Brings ‘Selling England by the Pound,’ Solo Gems to 20 Monroe Live Thursday”