Active Duty – Major Murphy Plays Easter Weekend Shows to Grow Eastside Musical Troops

Major Murphy’s Jacki Warren, Jacob Bullard and Brian “Bud” Voortman will play shows Friday and Sunday in Hamtramck and Lansing.

For Major Murphy, Easter weekend means active duty on Michigan’s east side.

The Grand Rapids nostalgic rock trio will perform eastside shows Friday and Sunday to grow their musical troops in Hamtramck and Lansing.

Friday’s show will take place at Ghost Light Hamtramck with Carriers and Katy Kirby while Sunday’s show will occur as part of the Capital City Film Festival at Mac’s Bar with Lily Talmers & Monte Pride and Composetheway.

“We haven’t played at Ghost Light before, but we’re excited to play there and in Hamtramck for the first time. We’ll be able to get some new ‘Lafayette’ EP stuff into our set as well as songs from our ‘No. 1’ album,” said Jacob Bullard, Major Murphy’s vocalist and guitarist. “In Lansing, there’s going to be bands playing all weekend, and it’s in conjunction with the film fest.”

Bullard will join bandmates Jacki Warren (bass) and Brian “Bud” Voortman (drums) to share their 1970s-inspired radio rock with Hamtramck and Lansing crowds. They’ll perform hypnotic, mellow tracks from their latest EP, “Lafayette,” which dropped in February on Winspear, and last year’s full-length debut, “No. 1” as well as a cover of The Beatles “Revolver” classic, “She Said She Said.”

Recorded as demos in Bullard’s Grand Rapids-based house on Lafayette Avenue, the “Lafayette” EP features six songs that chronicle the creative evolution of Major Murphy from a stripped-down solo project to a three-piece rock band.

“I think it’s an extension or a companion to ‘No. 1,’ and we wanted to share stuff that we felt was interesting,” said Bullard, who formed Major Murphy with Warren and Voortman in 2015. “If people listened to ‘No. 1,’ then they might find ‘Lafayette’ extra fun because it’s where the songs started, and it gives them a behind-the-scenes perspective.”

Lafayette EP

For three tracks on “Lafayette,” each band member plants a promising sonic seed for the growth of “No. 1.” Bullard writes about an open-hearted expression that’s nostalgic and forward-thinking on “Come By Sunday” while Warren provides enchanting harmonies on “When I Go Out.” Meanwhile, Voortman jams for the first time on the initial demo for “No. 1.”

“They were recorded well before we went to Russian Recording, and they were mostly for my own benefit of being able to sketch the songs out,” said Bullard, who’s inspired by The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Patti Smith. “I anticipated being able to record them again since they were very lo-fi, and the production was done in my bedroom.”

By 2017, Major Murphy ventured to Russian Recording in Bloomington, Ind., to record 10 nostalgic tracks for “No. 1.” The album’s jangly guitars, shimmering riffs, synth grooves, and dreamy, commanding vocals gently hook and draw listeners into a vintage, yacht rock world.

Together, Major Murphy hones a retro sound filled with harmonic structures, melodic progressions and emotional shifts that rely heavily on concert-like, energetic recordings. A year after “No 1.’s” release, the album stills sounds as refreshing and inspiring as its initial spin.

“I feel really proud of that record, and that’s never happened before. When I’ve made music in the past, I think about how we could have done this differently,” Bullard said. “I think this album is different because we were collaborative by working with Mike Bridavsky at Russian, and we brought in Ben and Aaron in addition to Bud and Jackie.”

With “No. 1” and “Lafayette” under their belt, Major Murphy will return to Russian Recording in July to record their next album. They also plan to release a new single soon.

“I’m super excited to put this next record together and share it with people,” Bullard said. “I’ve written the new songs precisely with all of us in mind and with the knowledge of what a dynamic life is like along with the strengths and weaknesses of that. It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to put out some new music.”

Show Details:

Major Murphy with Carriers and Katy Kirby

9 p.m. Friday

Ghost Light Hamtramck

2314 Caniff in Hamtramck

Tickets: $8

Major Murphy with Lily Talmers & Monte Pride and Composetheway

7 p.m. Sunday

Mac’s Bar

2700 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing

Tickets: $10

Nashtown – 5 Nashville Singer-Songwriters Perform at Farmington Civic Theater Friday Night

The Nashtown Songwriters Round will feature Wil Nance, Danika & The Jeb, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski at the Farmington Civic Theater for Friday Night Live.

Five singer-songwriters will bring their Nashville sound to Detroit Friday night.

Wil Nance, Danika Holmes, Jeb Hart, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski will share their Americana, country, folk and pop sounds through the Nashtown Songwriters Round at the Farmington Civic Theater as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series.

As the final show in the concert series’ winter season, “Nashtown” will allow the singer-songwriters to mix elements of Music City with Motown through their live performances and musical storytelling.

“It’s going to be a great show at the Nashtown Songwriters Round,” Wil Nance said. “I hope people will be moved, laugh and cry some, have a good time and hear some great stories behind the songs.”

Continue reading “Nashtown – 5 Nashville Singer-Songwriters Perform at Farmington Civic Theater Friday Night”

Kim Richey Returns to Her Midwestern Roots for Tonight’s 20 Front Street Show

Kim Richey will perform tonight at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion with Jordie Lane and Clare Reynolds.

For Kim Richey, tonight will serve as a Midwestern musical homecoming of sorts.

The Nashville roots singer-songwriter, who originally hails from Dayton, Ohio, will perform tonight at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion with Australian singer-songwriters Jordie Lane and Clare Reynolds. It will be Richey’s second time performing at the 100-seat intimate acoustic music venue.

“I always try to do songs from all the records, at least one or two from every record. I’ll be playing a lot of stuff from ‘Edgeland,’” said Richey during a phone interview from Banff, Alberta. “It’s such a blast to sing with people who are great singers, so we have a lot of great harmony things going. Clare plays keyboards and percussion as well, Jordie plays electric guitar, and I play acoustic.”

Edgeland album artwork

On her latest album, “Edgeland,” Richey moves through the topography of life as a woman committed to following her music. She chronicles missed train rides, cautionary tales of dangerous love, potential new pathways and other self-discoveries on the 12-track Americana-infused project.

From the Buck Owens/Don Rich opening notes of “Red Line” to the Laurel Canyon lushness of “The Get Together” to the Dusty Springfield-inspired “Can’t Let You Go” to the somber “Black Trees,” Richey’s husky crystalline alto sweeps listeners up in a whirl along her heartfelt auditory journey.

“Once every few years, you pick a dozen songs or so for a new album,” said Richey, who’s also lived in Los Angeles and London. “I think those songs reflect where I was at the time while making the record, but I have a home now, so things have changed.”

Continue reading “Kim Richey Returns to Her Midwestern Roots for Tonight’s 20 Front Street Show”

Spring Migration – Chirp Moves from Stage to Studio for Self-titled Debut Album, Hosts Release Party Tonight at The Blind Pig

Chirp has released their self-titled, full-length studio debut album today.

On their melodic self-titled, full-length debut studio album, Chirp knows how to magically capture and beautifully deliver the sweet, groovy sounds of spring.

Today’s release of “Chirp” celebrates the Ann Arbor funk, prog rock and jazz fusion quartet’s creative migration from improvising on the stage to nesting in the studio.

“Those songs turned out how we really envisioned them because we were able to take a long time to plan everything out as well as record and mix,” said John Gorine, Chirp’s drummer. “When we play those songs live, we know what we want to do, but it’s different when we have a lot more time to plan certain things out and just get what we want out of those songs.”

As a follow-up to last year’s “Live at Ann Arbor Summer Festival” release, the new studio album’s nine genre-hopping tracks take listeners on fleeting sonic journey filled with upbeat, danceable mind trips to “Dickerville,” “Greener,” “Planet Groove,” “Cozy,” “Pig Beach” and other joyful auditory destinations.

Chirp does their share of genre-hopping by blending catching progressive rock, funk and jazz originals with majestic reinterpretations during their high-energy, dynamic shows. Though their music incorporates many technical, well-crafted elements, they’re committed to grooving with a solid, dedicated fan base.

For dedicated Chirp fans, the album is a direct sonic flight through their eclectic catalog without any layovers or turbulence. While hearing “Chirp,” listeners travel smoothly through a series of glistening grooves, riffs and beats eloquently condensed into a brilliant studio package.

“You want to trim the fat a little bit, even though most of the songs are on the longer side of what people are used to hearing. I’d say the average song length on the album is five and a half minutes while our average live song length is between eight and 10 minutes,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp’s guitarist and vocalist. “As a songwriter, for me, it’s always difficult figuring out what we want to cut down and how we want to cut down the length of a solo section or maybe take parts out.”

Continue reading “Spring Migration – Chirp Moves from Stage to Studio for Self-titled Debut Album, Hosts Release Party Tonight at The Blind Pig”

Adventures with Vultures Explores Alt Rock Sound on New ‘Back to Normal’ Single

Adventures with Vultures has released their latest single, “Back to Normal,” which features a new alt rock sound.

Adventures with Vultures is bringing a new normalcy to acoustic indie folk rock.

The Plymouth singer-songwriter, aka Matt Sauter, combines his down-to-earth indie folk rock roots with lush new alt-rock growth on his latest single, “Back to Normal,” which drops today.

Akin to Kings of Leon and Mumford and Sons, Sauter’s catchy 4.5-minute single features his signature raspy vocals backed by brightly-toned guitars and pulsating drum beats. “Back to Normal’s” clever lyrics include an infectious play on words ranging from “cooking dishes” to “growing lawns” to “breaking fences” to “painting songs.”

“It’s a concept song, first it was kind of like a joke, I was writing it and trying to sing everything backwards,” said Sauter, who wrote the track while attending the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “The chord progressions are churchy and powerful, and once we got a full band with it, it became this super, big and powerful song, and we’ve been playing it live for a year now, and it’s one of our fan favorites.”

That live fan favorite also features the talents of Dan Sauter (bass), Jon Staten (drums) and Jimmy Showers (guitar), who now serve as official band members for Adventures with Vultures. He also worked with Jake Rye of Social Recording Company in Adrian to produce and mix the track.

“We go in there with Jake, we plug in, and we play our shit loud,” said Sauter, who originally started as a hip-hop artist and honed his drumming skills while growing up in Plymouth. “We’re going for an early 2000s indie alt rock sound with these new songs.”

Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter

Originally, Adventures with Vultures started as an emerging indie folk solo act for Sauter, who released his brilliant, introspective four-song debut EP, “Junction,” in 2017 through Original 1265 Recordings, an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company.

Sauter expanded the project into a full band after playing a growing roster of live dates in Michigan and going on his first national headlining tour last year. He’s also transitioned from being part of Original 1265 Recordings to becoming an independent, do-it-yourself (DIY) artist.

As a DIY artist, Sauter recently launched a GoFundMe campaign to help support releasing new music as well as an upcoming tour. To date, he’s raised nearly $2,000, thanks to his burgeoning fan base, and sponsoring additional casino bus and golf outing fundraisers.

“Being a DIY artist is more community-based, and it feels more organic,” he said. “With the support of our fans, we’re going to release a new single every three months for the next year.”

As a next step, the band will release a new video soon for “Back to Normal” and return to the studio in April to record their next single.

Adventures with Vultures also will perform a series of upcoming live shows, including April 13 at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor with LVRS and Jackamo, April 26 at New Way Bar as part of Ferndale Spring Fever and May 24 at Mac’s Bar in Lansing with Joshua Powell.

“We’re going to keep course, we’re going to do our thing, but we want to be part of SXSW’s Michigan House next year,” Sauter said. “We’re going to keep the name growing, and people keep telling us to come back down to Nashville and Milwaukee. Every year, more and more keeps happening, and as long as we stay on our path, we’ll be pretty fucking happy.”

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”