Brotherly Love – The Rupple Brothers Host Third Handmade Music Festival Oct. 7-8 in Chesaning

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For The Rupple Brothers, a local music festival provides the optimal balance of creativity and community at the grassroots level.

The Chesaning, Michigan psych-folk sibling duo of Cole Rupple and Evan Rupple weave those elements together at their homegrown Handmade Music Festival, which runs Oct. 7-8 at Showboat Park.

“Some of our very first festivals in 2016 and 2017 were Farm Fest, Pond Jam and Dunesville. These festivals have a beautiful grassroots message,” said Cole Rupple, who started Handmade in 2018.

“They have taught us that if you book it, they will come. If you have a little stage, some electricity and some of the favorite bands that we all love, then that’s all you need to make things happen.”

For their third festival, The Rupple Brothers will recapture that magic with a stacked music lineup of bluegrass, psych-folk, Americana, soul and jam artists.

Sixteen artists will perform on two stages with funk-rock band Distant Stars headlining Friday night and prog-funk-jazz quartet Chirp headlining Saturday night.

Other featured artists include Fay Burns, Cosmic Knot, Monte Pride, Nicholas James, Ma Baker, Act Casual, Stormy Chromer and The Rupple Brothers.

“We love Chirp, we love Monte Pride … there are a few friends we can’t get by without, and so we actually only have about 10 slots,” said Cole Rupple.

“We like to do singer-songwriters during the day, and then we work up to the full-band stuff at night … those are our two vibes. We just hope that everyone can see and appreciate all the beautiful Michigan talent that we have.”

In addition to talent, festivalgoers will enjoy food trucks along with craft and music vendors at Showboat Park’s scenic riverside.

“It’s an absolutely gorgeous location right along the Shiawassee River with maple trees all throughout. There’s a beautiful village campground nestled back in the trees,” said Cole Rupple, who co-runs the festival with older brother Evan Rupple, mother Shelly Rupple-English and sister Savannah Rupple.

“Truly, my favorite part is bringing all these amazing bands and all my incredible friends together and all that they do to my little hometown. We want to show [everyone] the beauty that we get to see on the road every weekend.”

Outside of the festival, The Rupple Brothers perform live regularly throughout Michigan and share tracks from their growing catalog. In 2018, the duo released their emotive, 10-track debut album, The Rupple Brothers and Company.

“The tracks were kind of just cobbled together, but our overarching theme would definitely be the first song, ‘Sadtown,’ and that’s our brother-love song,” said Cole Rupple, who formed the duo with Evan Rupple in 2015.

“My best friend passed away when I was a senior in high school, and that song has been consoling me. That’s our whole kinda vibe, that’s our whole kinda message … ‘Sadtown’ is the most evocative of that vibe.”

The Rupple Brothers will carry that vibe forward on their next album, which is currently underway. The duo wants to collaborate with a Michigan-based producer to shape the album’s overall sound.

“We had a pretty prolific period at the start of The Rupple Brothers, so we are backlogged to the gills. We honestly have about two or three albums’ worth of material. I would like this second album to be a double concept album, and I would like for it to be called Rivers,” said Cole Rupple, who’s inspired by The Avett Brothers, The Beatles and Elliott Smith.

“I would like to do a ‘River of Life’ side and a ‘River of Death’ side with lighter songs on the first side and the heavier, more intense songs on the second side. Everything is written, and everything is arranged … we just gotta get in there and lay it down.”

Show details:

Handmade Music Festival

4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8

Showboat Park, 805 S. Front Street in Chesaning, Michigan

Tickets: $30-$60

Due West – Desmond Jones Explores Vibrant Americana Landscape on ‘Why Not?’

DJI_0230
Desmond Jones opts for a cohesive Americana sound on “Why Not?” Photo – Purchase Productions

Desmond Jones boldly explores the sunny, vast terrain of the undiscovered countryside.

The Grand Rapids jam quintet of John Nowak (drums, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), Taylor Watson (bass) and George Falk (sax, vocals) proudly ventures through blazing deserts, rolling hilltops and sprawling mountains on their latest Americana-infused album, Why Not?

“We’re lucky it fell together in a cohesive way because some of the songs were written almost 10 years ago. Others were written two years ago or right before we started recording the album,” Nowak said.

“We tried to collect them in a way that made thematic sense, even though we didn’t write them all together with the intention of releasing a concept album.”

As a refreshing, countrified conceptual immersion and stylistic detour from their funky, glam-jam sound, Desmond Jones’ Why Not? glides through 15 insightful, majestic tracks filled with nomadic adventures, lovelorn moments and bucolic musings.

The addition of warm, folky instrumentation – pedal steel guitars, fiddles, banjos, Dobros and mandolins – and rich four-part harmonies allow the band’s newfangled Americana sound to travel beyond the Midwestern landscape.

“A lot the songs we’ve been performing for over eight years now, and the Americana sound and songwriting style have always been a part of our live show and our catalog. We just never had the opportunity to record a lot of it or package it in that way,” said Nowak about the band’s third album.

“Once we started writing more songs that were a verse-chorus structure and a singer-songwriter style, they started to add up. We realized we had enough material to put it all together in one album, so that it wouldn’t feel as disjointed if we had put some of this stuff together with our funky or more progressive songs.”

Continue reading “Due West – Desmond Jones Explores Vibrant Americana Landscape on ‘Why Not?’”

Moment of Truth – Act Casual Uncovers Everyday Romantic Struggles on ‘Livin’ a Lie’

05.10.21 Livin a Lie
Act Casual’s “Livin’ a Lie” is the band’s first new studio release in nearly four years. Artwork – Sam Flynn

Act Casual eloquently recounts the everyday struggles of overcoming a romantic rough patch.

The metro Detroit jam fusion quartet of Ryan Yoskovich (drums, vocals), Ryan Stafford (keys, sax), Will Richardson (guitar, vocals) and Danny Flynn (bass, vocals) addresses these mounting interpersonal encounters on their latest soulful, funkified single, “Livin’ a Lie.”

Throughout “Livin’ a Lie,” vivid, wah-wah electric guitars, climbing bass, fluid drums, tingly cymbals and sheeny synths engulf love-stricken listeners and provide them with bluesy-induced relief.

Act Casual reflects, “Never the one/Now it’s all done/Trying to flee with nowhere to run/I’m a livin’ a lie/A total loss/But at what cost/Thinking about all that I’ve lost/I’m livin’ a lie.”

The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Act Casual about their first studio release in nearly four years as well as their background, previous projects and upcoming live shows.

New Single

TSS: What initially inspired “Livin’ a Lie” for you?

AC: It was an initial exercise of just trying to write a set of lyrics to a groove we had been working on. The lyrics started coming together about disagreeing and arguing with a lover; it was in hopes of showing that everyone has the same arguments and quarrels with the ones we love. No one is alone in feeling some of the emotions played out in the song.

TSS: How long did you spend writing and recording the track?

AC: We spent a few weeks writing the song itself, which also developed as we played it out live. We spent two days in the studio laying down the majority of the tracks, following up with a couple of more sessions for vocals. The track was recorded at Plymouth Rock Recording Co. with Ryan Hyland as the head engineer.

TSS: What was it like to translate “Livin’ a Lie” from the stage to the studio? Any plans to release a video for the track soon?

AC: The track didn’t take on too many alterations for the studio recording. However, we did add vocal harmonies during the recording process, which stuck with us for live performances afterward. We filmed some of the recording process and plan on releasing a music video in the fall.

TSS: You mentioned in your Dunesville Music Festival live set that “Livin’ a Lie” is also the name of your upcoming album. What work do you have left to complete on the album?

AC: We will be dropping another single entitled “Fresh (Out the Shower)” in October as well as another single in November with the full album dropping in the winter.

We will continue to work with Ryan (Hyland) at Plymouth Rock Recording Co. to finish any additional touches, and with Max Preissner, who has been helping us with the promotion and release of these songs as well as building our presence online. People can expect to hear more vocal-driven songs like “Livin’ a Lie” as well as instrumental pieces.

Continue reading “Moment of Truth – Act Casual Uncovers Everyday Romantic Struggles on ‘Livin’ a Lie’”

Fun Fest – Fundamental Sound Co. Hosts Local Music Festival Aug. 7 in Ypsilanti

58913703-4843-4005-967C-538E1FE6CCE5
Fun Fest will spotlight local artists who have recorded with Taylor Greenshields’ Fundamental Sound Co.

For Taylor Greenshields, a recent conversation quickly morphed into hosting a local music festival.

The Ypsilanti audio engineer, producer and drummer chatted with Ma Baker guitarist Guy Williams about putting on a daylong music event at Frog Island Park.

“Both of us have talked about how cool it would be to have something on the stage at Frog Island. We were sitting on the grass, and I said, ‘I’m done talking about it. Let’s do it for real. I’m going to follow through on this idea,’” said Greenshields, who owns and operates Ypsi-based recording studio Fundamental Sound Co.

“This year, I invested in a bigger PA system. After that, I thought, ‘We have to do this because I don’t want to have all this stuff and not use it. It’s meant to be used for the people and the community. I’m so lucky to work with so many amazing, dope artists that it’s like, ‘Well, why not?’”

That epiphanous “why not” quickly led to Fundamental Sound Co.’s Fun Fest, a one-day Ypsi music festival showcasing a star-studded lineup of local artists at Frog Island Park on Saturday, Aug. 7. The festival will feature ANA, Al Bettis, Ma Baker, Travis Aukerman, Jesse Clayton, Dani Darling, The DayNites and a secret set with some special guests, plus visual artists and vendors.

“It’s so eclectic with Travis and Al each bringing their own jazz vibes for you to bask in. Jesse’s set is going to be more electronic, and he’s going to take you on a roller coaster of all sorts of dynamics. They each will bring something different,” said Greenshields, who’s previously recorded, produced and performed with all the artists on the Fun Fest lineup.

“I’ll be playing with Dani, Jesse and the secret set, which will include some familiar faces. People might get called up from the audience to jam during the secret set.”

Continue reading “Fun Fest – Fundamental Sound Co. Hosts Local Music Festival Aug. 7 in Ypsilanti”

Buzzworthy — Honey Monsoon Drenches Detroit in Jazz-inspired Indie Rock

Honey Monsoon at Ann Arbor’s Om of Medicine in February. Top row from left: Taylor Greenhields, Ana Gomulka and Ian Griffiths. Bottom row from left: Andrea Holther-Cruz and Leo James Willer.

For Honey Monsoon, the sweet sounds of jazz-inspired indie rock, neo soul and funk are dripping heavily throughout metro Detroit’s music scene.

The Detroit-based quintet are spreading the nectar of the Motor City’s burgeoning jazz indie rock scene at clubs like The Blind Pig and Om of Medicine in Ann Arbor, The Loving Touch in Ferndale, the Plymouth Roc in Plymouth, the Tangent Gallery in Detroit and The Loft in Lansing.

Together, Ana Gomulka (music, lyrics, vocals, guitar and keys), Taylor Greenshields (drums and percussion), Ian Griffiths (bass and vocals), Andrea Holther-Cruz (keys and vocals) and Leo James Willer (live painting) are introducing their talents to a growing Motor City audience.

Gomulka attributes the band’s smooth sound to their longtime love of past and present jazz, soul and funk singers and musicians, including Esperanza Spalding, Sharon Jones, Kneebody and Hiatus Kaiyote.

“When we first started this band, I don’t think any of us were like let’s make jazzy music. When I was young, I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan because that’s what my parents played,” she said. “So when I sang people would be like, ‘Oh you sound like Sarah Vaughan or something like that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t even trying to sound like her.’ I think that’s where our jazzy sound comes from. It’s just what comes out.”

Continue reading “Buzzworthy — Honey Monsoon Drenches Detroit in Jazz-inspired Indie Rock”