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

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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”

Saturday’s WhateverFest 9 Boasts 40 Emerging Detroit Acts at Tangent Gallery

A Detroit grassroots music and arts festival will showcase some 40 emerging artists Saturday at Tangent Gallery.

Known as WhateverFest 9, the homegrown festival will feature the Motor City’s Torus Eyes, Jemmi Hazeman, Violet Sol, Panda House and others as well as artists from Columbus, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Originally scheduled to take place June 1 at Dequindre Cut Freight Yard as an outdoor festival with overnight camping, WhateverFest 9 organizers postponed the event due to inclement weather.

Instead, they’ve moved the event to Tangent Gallery, which will host WhateverFest for the third time. The festival also was able to retain most of the original lineup, including out-of-town acts, said Sophocles Sapounas, WhateverFest co-founder and co-organizer.

“There’s not that much of a difference other than the cool factor of the Tangent Gallery itself. You can go out, you can go in. It’s got a big ballroom and a gallery space, so the experience is more centered around Tangent,” he said. “Tangent is an institution. If more people can learn about it, then more people can have a good time there. That’s the experience we want to give people.”

WhateverFest offers a platform to Detroit artists of all practices who might not have one or who are having a hard time getting onto the music circuit. It also emphasizes collaboration and camaraderie in some of the city’s hippest and most unconventional live music spaces.

“We’re incredibly grateful to be able to put on all these artists,” Sapounas said. “It gets tough going through submissions because there’s so much talent in and around this city. Our goal is to show you your favorite Detroit artist you’ve never heard of.”

In its ninth year, the one-day WhateverFest will feature three stages and include live art, a photo booth and an after-party DJ set starting at 12:30 a.m. To get a preview, check out the WhateverFest 9 playlist on Bandcamp.

A mainstay since 2011, WhateverFest started as a Detroit apartment-based event hosted by Sapounas and several friends that morphed into a multi-day festival at Tires, Tangent Gallery and Scripps Park.

This year, the festival’s organizers, including Brent Szczygielski, Jake Cramer, Jakob Harris, Anthony Zito, Nick Sapounas, Kelsey Hubbel, Steve D’Agostino and Sapounas, decided to scale back WhateverFest to a one-day event.

“We had a WhateverFest at Scripps Park that was a three-day one, that was awesome, but it was also super taxing,” Sapounas said. “After that, we decided to keep it smaller, rethink ourselves and figure things out because it was a lot of money, and it was a lot of people working.”

To support this year’s event, WhateverFest is charging a $10 admission fee at the door. The fee will allow the festival’s planning team to bring the event back for its 10th installment next year.

“For years, we’ve been getting by DIY, but we want to elevate the experience for both artists and those attending. This could end up being ‘that’ music festival in Detroit, but one where the importance is on local and not national headliners,” Sapounas said. “It’s an opportunity to bring everyone together from all scenes for an amazing day of music, good vibes and whatever the day brings.”

Festival details:

WhateverFest 9

Saturday, noon to 3 a.m.

Tangent Gallery, 715 E. Milwaukee Ave. in Detroit

Admission | $10

The Doozers, Craig Brown Band to Open Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on Sunday

The Doozers will share their indie rock Sunday at Mo Pop.
The Craig Brown Band will bring some twang Sunday to Mo Pop.

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.

Two Michigan bands will heat things up tomorrow at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival.

The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will perform Sunday afternoon opening slots and join 26 emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park.

Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the festival, which returns for its seventh year. Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with performances from Michigan-based artists to expose people to some of the area’s rising local acts.

The Stratton Setlist recently talked with The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band about playing Mo Pop and sharing their eclectic music with a growing audience.

Continue reading “The Doozers, Craig Brown Band to Open Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on Sunday”

Top Flight – The Messenger Birds to Navigate Saturday Opening Set at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival

The Messenger Birds’ Parker Bengry (left) and Chris Williams will kick off Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival Saturday with an opening set.

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.

The Messenger Birds love the name “Kevin.”

The Detroit alt rock duo heavily reference “Kevin” in their Facebook and Instagram posts, ranging from “Kevin is a place on earth” (imagine hearing it to the tune of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’) to “Kevin hard at work making a record” to “Lights, Camera, Kevin.”

But who the heck is Kevin, anyway? “Kevin is all of us, Kevin is everywhere,” said Parker Bengry, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

Chris Williams, drummer and vocalist for The Messenger Birds, esoterically added, “We refer to each other as Kevin, we see ourselves as Kevin, and everybody who listens to our music is Kevin.”

While The Stratton Setlist hasn’t cracked the case about “Kevin” yet, we do know “Kevin” will be invading the Mo Pop Festival Saturday to see his favorite band, The Messenger Birds, play a coveted 1:30 p.m. opening slot on the River Stage.

The Messenger Birds will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival this weekend at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.

Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. The Messenger Birds and Siena Liggins will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.

It’s been nearly three years in the making for The Messenger Birds to perform at Mo Pop. Back in 2016, festival organizers asked the band to join the lineup after another act dropped out.

Continue reading “Top Flight – The Messenger Birds to Navigate Saturday Opening Set at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival”

In the Groove – Siena Liggins to Share Danceable Pop at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on Saturday

Siena Liggins will perform Saturday afternoon at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival. Photo courtesy of Assemble Sound

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a special series profiling Michigan artists featured at this weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit.

For Siena Liggins, a well-crafted pop song starts with a relatable subject and includes a catchy hook that’s intertwined with a simple melody.

“I just have always been obsessed with really simple melodies that get stuck in your head, and you end up accidentally singing it,” she said. “It’s the stuff that people usually love to hate.”

Coincidentally, Detroiters will show Liggins the love this weekend instead when she performs at the Mo Pop Festival. The Motor City pop-R&B-dance singer-songwriter will perform a much anticipated 2:15 p.m. Saturday set on the River Stage.

Liggins will join 27 other emerging artists, including Vampire Weekend, Tame Impala, Lizzo and Ella Mai, during the two-day indie rock, pop and hip-hop festival at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park. Nearly 20,000 people are expected to attend the boutique and niche festival, which returns for its seventh year.

Each year, Mo Pop kicks off both festival days with opening performances from Michigan-based artists to expose attendees to some of the area’s rising local acts. Liggins and The Messenger Birds will perform Saturday while The Doozers and the Craig Brown Band will take the stage on Sunday.

During her set, Liggins will perform her latest single, “Laws of Attraction,” a 3.5-minute high-energy pop track with a tick-tock vibe about a reactionary relationship.

It’s the perfect summer track for a throwdown on the dance floor, or in this case, a park. As an added bonus, Flint electronic-pop-R&B singer-songwriter Tunde Olaniran penned the track’s memorable post-chorus.

Continue reading “In the Groove – Siena Liggins to Share Danceable Pop at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on Saturday”

‘Traveling Lady’ – Ann Arbor’s Judy Banker Honors Folk Music Hero Rosalie Sorrels in Idaho This Weekend

Ann Arbor’s Judy Banker will celebrate the musical legacy of folk icon Rosalie Sorrels in Idaho this weekend.

Judy Banker is ready to embark on a folk music pilgrimage of sorts.

The Ann Arbor Americana singer-songwriter will travel nearly 2,000 miles to perform at the Rosalie Sorrels First Annual Music Festival near Boise, Idaho this weekend.

As part of the inaugural festival’s lineup featuring Sista Sarah & Pocket of Bones and nearly a dozen other artists, Banker will celebrate the musical legacy of Sorrels at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in Meridian, Idaho.

A beloved folk singer-songwriter who passed away in 2017, Sorrels has inspired Banker and a growing generation of folk, country and roots artists with her iconic music, storytelling and social activism. During her nearly half-century career, Sorrels recorded more than 20 albums, including the 2005 Grammy-nominated “My Last Go ‘Round.”

“I saw a post that her son Kevin had put on Facebook about how they were going to have a festival, and he was thinking of having it around his mother’s birthday, which was June 24,” Banker said. “She’s one of my heroes, so I thought, ‘How could it hurt? I’ll message him the link to my music, and I said if you’re opening it up for people to play, I’d love to play.’ At midnight or one in the morning that night, I got a ding on my phone, and he said, ‘Yes.’”

Flabbergasted, Banker immediately joined the lineup to support Kevin Sorrels and his family in honoring his mother’s memory and music. During the festival, Banker will perform a Saturday night closing set and cover several Rosalie Sorrels favorites, including “Baby Rocking Medley,” “If I Could Be the Rain” and “Traveling Lady.”

“I feel just this debt of gratitude and closing the show that night will be a real tribute to her. It just feels like I’m going to Mecca,” said Banker, who originally met Sorrels after one of her performances at The Ark more than 30 years ago. “I also would really love for Kevin to play guitar on one of her songs during my set.”

Continue reading “‘Traveling Lady’ – Ann Arbor’s Judy Banker Honors Folk Music Hero Rosalie Sorrels in Idaho This Weekend”

Moss Jaw Plays Thursday Grand Rapids Show, Reflects on New ‘Embody’ Album

Moss Jaw’s Kayley Kerastas performs at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival in September.

Moss Jaw will invite Grand Rapids fans into their dark, dreamy post-rock world tomorrow night.

The Kalamazoo quartet will perform a Thursday night set at Grand Rapids’ The Snake Shack, a house-based venue that showcases art and music for local and touring bands.

“We plan to play some of the more popular tunes, such as ‘Like a Bug,’ ‘Dry Remains’ and ‘Twigs and Stems’ as a way to plug our recent release and also balance it out with new sonic growth,” said Kayley Kerastas, Moss Jaw’s vocalist and guitarist.

“The venue we’re playing at is a local Grand Rapids house that will provide an accessible way into the music scene, and thus hopefully spread the word of our music further out from Kalamazoo.”

With the recent release of their stellar full-length debut album, “Embody,” Moss Jaw is well-positioned to grow their burgeoning audience statewide and throughout the Midwest.

Their 11-track “Embody” album takes listeners on a dreamlike sonic journey through life-changing relationships, self-evolutions and deep cognitive perspectives cloaked in natural thematic elements.  These personal reflections are musically told through enchanting metaphors about trees, insects and other terrestrial terrain.

Continue reading “Moss Jaw Plays Thursday Grand Rapids Show, Reflects on New ‘Embody’ Album”