Quick Changeover – Three Spoke Wheel Adapts to New Situations on ‘Metamorphosis’ EP

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Three Spoke Wheel’s Jeff Whitmore, Justin Gumina and Ryan Thomas confront daily stagnation and acquiescence on “Metamorphosis.” Courtesy photo

Three Spoke Wheel quickly transforms with each anticipated change.

The Detroit psych-progressive alt rock trio of Justin Gumina (guitar, bass, keys, backing vocals), Ryan Thomas (bass, guitar, lead vocals) and Jeff Whitmore (drums, percussion) seamlessly shifts and evolves amidst life’s ongoing challenges on their latest mind-altering EP, Metamorphosis.

“You can point to the pandemic as an obvious, big change for our society in general and how we’re gonna take control of that change and kind of own it and move forward from it. A lot of the lyrics are from people in my life who don’t really know how to change or need to find a way to take control of their own lives,” Thomas said.

“I hope people who listen to the lyrics get something out of it. It’s just a way to reflect on how change happens and how we don’t just have to let change happen. We can take control of it and guide it in the right direction.”

With Metamorphosis, Three Spoke Wheel boldly confronts daily stagnation and acquiescence across six fluid, purposeful tracks. Immersed in psychedelic, proggy and grungy sensibilities, the band fuels their thematic transformation with shapeshifting instrumentation and adaptive production.

“I think it captures a little bit more of a mature recording compared to our first album because we’ve all been growing together. We’re getting tighter as a group, and I came from a point of not singing at all to singing on a lot of stuff and trying to learn harmonies,” said Gumina, who recorded, mixed and mastered the band’s sophomore studio release.

“As far as the writing process, it’s been interesting because the ideas are coming from other places. Jeff wrote a lot of the original, acoustic versions of some of these songs, and we took and twisted them and made them into full songs.”

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Spirit Animal – Adam Masterson Urges Trusting Your Instincts on ‘Wild Wolves’

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Adam Masterson explores romantic fear and uncertainty on “Wild Wolves.” Photo – Anna Gabriel

When it comes to a passionate relationship, Adam Masterson urges people to follow their instincts.

The New York City roots-rock singer-songwriter quickly identifies the romantic fear and uncertainty others face on his latest spiritual single, “Wild Wolves.”

“A passionate relationship can be a terrifying place because you’re at the mercy of someone else. It can be filled with uncertainties,” Masterson said.

“Wolves feel like a good image because they seem both above those things as creatures that know how to survive with the uncertainties of the wild … but at the same time, they can be kindred spirits that know the frailties and vulnerabilities of fear.”

Masterson freely explores those primal “Wild Wolves” emotions as ascending piano, aerial synths, spirited electric guitar, playful bass and speedy drums sprint across the open countryside.

He sings, “There’s something out there coming/And it’s after you and me/I’m so scared of losing/You among these trees.”

“Maybe for me, the song isn’t about salvation in a relationship, but more about finding a good omen in the uncertainty and danger that surrounds us … (and) trusting in (your) animal instinct to survive and connecting with your spirit animal,” Masterson said. “(By) being at ease with the wild wolves that will always be part of your nature, they’re leading you to knowledge of yourself.”

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Snapshot in Time – Pia Revisits Past Friendships on ‘Old Days’

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Pia gets nostalgic on her new single, “Old Days.” Photo – AC Backus Photo

Pia thoughtfully shares a personal snapshot in time.

The Detroit indie rock singer-songwriter reminisces about a past friendship and recalls vivid moments of connection on her nostalgic new single, “Old Days.”

“It’s the singular event of a friendship not really ending, but dissipating and changing the way that it used to look. It’s a shorter realization of like, ‘Oh wow, this person that I used to either talk to every day or had this certain relationship with, it’s now different,’” she said.

Throughout “Old Days,” Pia wonders what her friend drinks for breakfast and whether they remember summertime highway jaunts or stolen firewood adventures.

Alongside those inquiries, an emotive swell of wistful electric guitar, quavering bass, thumping drums, shiny cymbals and jingly tambourine seamlessly transport Pia to the past.

She sings, “It makes me sad something changed in your eyes/Ask how you’re doing seems like a big disguise/December’s long and we both know/That the sun is coming and it’s melting the snow.”

“When I reached the end of writing ‘Old Days,’ it helped that I similarly was realizing, ‘Oh friendships and relationships end, but not always for the worst, and that time is still special,’” Pia said.

Pia penned her sentimental track in May and recorded it with a talented team of collaborators, including producer John Katona of JK (Not Kidding Studios), Minihorse’s Ben Collins (lead guitar), Tom Mihalis (lead guitar), Stoop Lee’s Ade Olaniran (drums) and Matt Jones (bass).

“I recorded the demo and basis of the whole song with Ben Collins and myself on guitar and vocals and Ade of Stoop Lee on drums. Then, I sat on the song for a little because I got busy with residency, and then ended up finishing it up at John Katona’s,” said Pia, who’s also a pharmacist.

To accompany the release of “Old Days,” Pia dropped a thoughtful new lyric video, which features her roaming around Belle Isle.

“I asked my 16-year-old sister to videotape me doing random stuff on my friend Matt’s camcorder. She was like, ‘Oh, I get to use a camcorder?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, try it out.’ She followed me around, and I used that footage in the video,” she said.

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One Love Symposium – This Week’s Events Aim to Unite Washtenaw County Communities and Public Service Providers

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This week’s One Love Symposium includes a series of public conversations, music events and expert panels focused on eliminating discriminatory behavior and racial inequities in the community.

A Washtenaw County symposium aims to forge stronger connections between local communities and public service providers this week.

Known as the One Love Symposium, the three-day event is geared to educate local residents and public service providers who make high-impact decisions for the community, including doctors, teachers and police officers.

Taking place Thursday through Saturday, it includes a series of public conversations, music events and expert panels dedicated to developing solutions for eliminating discriminatory behavior and racial inequities in the community.

Events will occur online and in-person in Ypsilanti and Detroit. They feature police administrators, public school officials, jazz musicians, local business owners, public policy experts and other participants.

Eastern Michigan University researcher Anna Gersh launched a survey and symposium in response to increasing racial, social and political tensions between public service providers and the public after George Floyd’s death in May 2020. She’s enlisted a team of youth data collectors and critical adult thought partners to assist with the survey and symposium.

The symposium also focuses on developing anti-bias training and creating a work certificate for public service providers, or “Human Services Professionals.” The ultimate goal is to create a “Human Services Professional Conference” for “the development of a common scholarship toward improved practices.”

The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Gersh about the symposium, the work that’s been accomplished, this week’s events and what’s up next.

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Rise Above – Theandric Examines the Challenges of Mortality on ‘Flight Among The Tombs’

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Theandric’s Bill Bogue, Paul Tiseo and Aaron Wienczak provide an insightful route to self-awareness and personal enlightenment on “Flight Among the Tombs.” Photo – Robert Bruce Photograohy

Theandric majestically soars above the shadow of death.

The Detroit heavy metal trio of Paul Tiseo (vocals, bass, keys, guitars), Bill Bogue (guitars) and Aaron Wienczak (guitars) powerfully glides toward the beacon of life on their new supercharged EP, Flight Among the Tombs.

“Literature and poetry were a big inspiration for me. That was connected to the same time of when we all had to go home in March 2020. Life suddenly breaks, we’re all at home … it was a scary time. One silver lining for me was having that time and space to start reading again,” said Tiseo, who’s also inspired by Iron Maiden.

“I found this poet named Anthony Hecht, and I came across one of his poems that really struck me as powerful. He wrote this book of poems called ‘Flight Among the Tombs,’ and that’s where the title comes from. He wrote a series of poems that were different reflections on the person of death.”

Throughout Flight Among the Tombs, Theandric thoughtfully examines mortality amidst the challenging forces of choice, conflict, condemnation and pride. All four tracks provide an insightful route to self-awareness and personal enlightenment.

“To me, it also meant we’re flying among the tombs … we’re not dead yet, we’re alive. With the pandemic and what was happening, it was like every day we were confronted with death and sickness,” said Tiseo, who wrote the EP’s four tracks. “I wanted to think about how we’re gonna rise above this difficult time. We won’t deny that death is real, but it’s important to live.”

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From the Heart – Adam Plomaritas and Kylee Phillips Co-Headline Saturday’s Trinity House Show

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Two Michigan singer-songwriters will inject some heart and soul into metro Detroit Saturday.

Adam Plomaritas and Kylee Phillips will share emotive selections during their co-headlining Feb. 12 show at Livonia’s Trinity House Theatre. Both sets will melt away the wintry blues and provide a warm, spring-like welcome.

Ahead of Saturday’s soulful show, The Stratton Setlist chatted with Plomaritas and Phillips about their current inspirations, live sets and musical plans for 2022.

TSS: How has your 2022 been so far? What’s been inspiring you these days as an artist, songwriter and musician?

AP: 2022 has been off to a good start, all things considered. I started it off playing a Caribbean cruise for a week. Since then, I’ve been in the studio a bit and coaching high schoolers for the singing competition, Future Stars, in Ann Arbor. I’ll be the musical director for the show, which happens later in February.

What inspires me generally in songwriting are my wife and three sons. It’s also the struggle of being a professional musician and all of the trappings of fighting through insecurity and enjoying your own and others’ art, and being jealous of their success and reveling in it at the same time as they’re often my friends.

Two things I’ve taken in that have affected me greatly in the past year – The Ken Burns documentary on the history of country music and the “Cocaine & Rhinestones” podcast by Tyler Mahan Coe. Some processing of those will surely spill out onto the stage at Trinity House.

KP: I’ve been experiencing a lot of personal challenges and upheaval, but also so much growth and hope as of late. I’ve been more grateful than ever for the outlet that songwriting is to me. During this season, it’s felt more like a necessity than a choice.

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Perfectly Imperfect – Rin Tarsy Celebrates Life’s Contradictions on ‘Paradox’

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Rin Tarsy embarks on an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on “Paradox.” Photo – Justin Snavely

For Rin Tarsy, life is filled with beautiful contradictions and imperfections.

The Grand Rapids folk singer-songwriter and guitarist embraces authenticity, yet re-examines her purpose on the aptly titled album, Paradox.

“For a while, people would ask, ‘What’s the theme of Paradox?’ And for a while, I didn’t know. Finally, it dawned on me one time when I was listening through all the tracks – it’s about self-trust and self-discovery,” said Tarsy, who grew up in Portland and started singing in church.

“I hope all these songs make sense together, and I really like them, but I wasn’t sure if they did. It’s comforting and scary at the same time. Are these thoughts ever gonna go away? Am I always gonna be questioning everything? Maybe I will.”

Tarsy’s lingering questions slowly spark an emotional and spiritual quest of self-discovery on Paradox that spans several years. Each poetic track celebrates intuition and explores emotion.

“The first songs I wrote for this album – ‘Stay,’ ‘Dear Heart’ and ‘Suitcase’ – were in the summer of 2016 after I got back from Africa. It was the first time I had examined who I was when I took away all of the pursuits that I had and the things I had wanted to go after,” said Tarsy, who visited Tanzania, Zambia and Namibia.

“At the time, I had asked myself, ‘Who am I if those things don’t go exactly the way I want? Or if my idealisms of what they could be don’t match up with the reality of what they actually are?’”

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In Perspective – Tom Alter Channels Society’s Creative Voices on ‘Poetry and Protest’

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Tom Alter explores the complex nature of the human experience on “Poetry and Protest.” Courtesy photo

Tom Alter deeply examines art and life from different perspectives.

The Fraser indie folk singer-songwriter and guitarist candidly depicts the thoughts, feelings and challenges of society’s creative voices on his latest insightful album, Poetry and Protest.

“I realized that so much of what I was writing about were things based on what I had read or had come from memories that had stayed with me for a long time and made me want to write about them. That’s the poetry side of it,” said Alter, who produced, mixed and mastered his own album.

“And the protest side blends in with that because a lot of the poetry is coming out and speaking to important matters. The last song I wrote for this was (the title track), and that was after thinking about this collection of songs. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of somebody who has a very different experience from me.”

Alter’s Poetry and Protest provides an enlightening narrative filled with bold tales about humanity, sacrifice, loss and compassion. It seamlessly ventures from the vast emptiness of space to the sparsely populated shores of Hudson Bay to the tightly packed streets of Hamtramck.

“The Poetry and Protest idea came from me being out on a walk and thinking about this collection of songs that I was putting together and realizing where the influences for them came from,” said Alter about his sixth album.

“There’s a song, ‘Four Blue Horses,’ that is directly from a Mary Oliver poem, and it comes from Franz Marc’s Blue Horses. She wrote a poem about that series of paintings, and she got so personally involved in the paintings. I just thought, ‘I want to write about this; it was as simple as that.’”

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En Route – Daring Detour Returns to Live Music Thursday at Ypsi Alehouse

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Daring Detour’s Kathi Dvorin and DeVeaux Gauger perform at a house show. Photo – Richard Greene

For Daring Detour, the new year arrives at a long-awaited destination.

The Ann Arbor acoustic Americana duo of Kathi Dvorin (vocals) and DeVeaux Gauger (guitar) marks the return of their intimate live music performances after a pandemic-induced hiatus.

“We decided to put Daring Detour on hold early in the pandemic. Part of that was due to closing venues, and part was our general emotional state with all the upheaval going on at the time,” Gauger said.

“We tried writing virtually and that didn’t work out, so we agreed not to force the creative process and would pick it up when we both felt comfortable.”

With comfort now on their side, Daring Detour will share their emotive originals and covers Thursday at Ypsi Alehouse in Ypsilanti. It will be their second live show since December.

“Playing at the Ypsi Alehouse was a wonderful experience. We had quite a few friends show up despite it being on a weekday evening and lingering COVID concerns,” Gauger said. “All the rehearsal time and mentally being on the same page showed as the music flowed, and we told some stories in between songs.”

During their two-hour set, Daring Detour will perform poignant renditions of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Almost Home” and “I Feel Lucky.” They’ll also share an unnamed Taylor Swift cover.

“We draw cover material from decades of artists, much of it out of our generation. We wanted to expand our repertoire to include some more upbeat songs and have some fun in between the more introspective tunes,” said Gauger, who’s inspired by Harry Chapin, James Taylor and Jim Croce.

“It’s highly possible that Ted Badgerow, Alehouse owner and brewer, will make an appearance. I played there solo the week before Halloween, and Ted joined me for a couple of songs playing flute, harmonica and some backing vocals.”

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Creative Conscience – Chirp Follows Funky Musical Instincts on ‘Solo’

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Chirp pauses during a recording session at Willis Sound. Photo – Joe Sleep

Chirp proudly follows their funky musical instincts.

The Ann Arbor prog-funk-jazz jam quartet of Jay Frydenlund (guitar, vocals), Brian Long (bass, vocals), Sam Naples (guitar, vocals) and Gastón Reggio (drums) listens to their collective creative conscience on their fervent new single, “Solo.”

“Vulfpeck and Cory Wong were a massive influence on the approach to this tune and the rest of the upcoming record. The old school, funky vibe they bring to their songwriting and playing has been a big influence on all of us,” Frydenlund said. “I’m not sure this song would have happened without a steady amount of Vulf in my listening diet. Or at least it would have come out through a very different lens.”

By peering through that groovy “Solo” lens, Chirp fans will encounter a group of lively musicians entrenched in jubilant electric guitars, shimmering keys and synths, pulsating bass, confident drums and ticking cymbals.

In tandem, Frydenlund soulfully sings, “And we all know you can shred the 32nds/But I wanna hear something from your soul/So take your time to find the truth inside you/And let it go.”

“Sam’s melodic lead guitar through the song adds a lot of texture and warms up the tune quite a bit, and he also complements Kevin (Gastonguay’s) solo toward the end of the song really nicely. Brian’s self-written bassline is really catchy throughout, to the point of being singable.” Frydenlund said.

“Both of them killed it on the smooth backup vocals. The different feels Gastón moves throughout are seamless, which is easier said than done on a tune like ‘Solo,’ where we’ve got a lot of dramatic change from section to section feel-wise and tempo-wise.”

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