Groovin’ for Good – New Ann Arbor Charitable Organization Hosts Inaugural Benefit Show Friday to End Domestic Violence

Tetra Music Project will perform at the inaugural Groovin’ for Good benefit show Friday at The Blind Pig.

A new Ann Arbor charitable organization is ready to groove from the heart.

Known as Groovin’ for Good, the organization hosts benefit shows and creative events to raise funds for local people in need. It will host its inaugural event, “Break the Cycle: A Benefit to End Domestic Violence,” Friday at The Blind Pig with The Funk Factory, ZZvava, Ma Baker and the Tetra Music Project.

“We developed this concept to throw these benefit shows and have the shows go to a good cause. We found out October is domestic violence awareness month, and we were planning it in April and thinking a fall show would be good,” said Erika Ratliff, who co-founded Groovin’ for Good in April with Sara Adas, MSW and LLMSW, and Stormy Chromer drummer Amin Lanseur.

“We had the concept, and then we had the cause, and we started calling around. We made a list of different area nonprofits that focus on domestic violence and sexual assault, and we settled on First Step. We’re really excited that they’re involved, and they’re going to be at the event, too.”

All ticket sales from Friday’s show will go directly to First Step, a Wayne County nonprofit based in Plymouth that provides comprehensive services for victims of domestic and sexual assault. Services include a 24-hour help line, information and referrals, community education, transitional housing, temporary emergency housing, assault response, and children’s advocacy and prevention programs.

In addition, Friday’s show will feature a silent auction with creative items and services donated by visual artists and local vendors. All proceeds from the silent auction will go directly to First Step.

Continue reading “Groovin’ for Good – New Ann Arbor Charitable Organization Hosts Inaugural Benefit Show Friday to End Domestic Violence”

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”

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”

Running Down a Dream – Nashville’s Jeremy Ivey Makes Blind Pig Debut Saturday

Jeremy Ivey will open for Ian Noe at The Blind Pig tomorrow night. Photo by Cal & Aly

As the everyday person’s troubadour, Jeremy Ivey will share thoughtful tales of the nation’s turbulent political climate mixed with personal diaspora and societal struggles at The Blind Pig tomorrow night.

The Nashville, Tenn., singer-songwriter will make his live debut at the legendary Ann Arbor rock club and open for Ian Noe, a Beattyville, Ky., singer-songwriter.

“It will be me and a harmonica and a guitar, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been on enough hectic production tours that I’m ready to be by myself for a little bit,” said Ivey, who kicked off his tour Sept. 12 at Nashville’s AMERICANAFEST. “I’ll definitely play some songs from the record, but I’ve already recorded a second record and have the third one already written.”

Interpreting ‘The Dream and the Dreamer’

For his intimate Saturday night set, the prolific Ivey will feature homespun, deeply introspective tracks from his brilliant nine-track debut, “The Dream and the Dreamer,” which dropped earlier this month on Anti-Records.

Recorded in a small Nashville home studio with producer and wife Margo Price, Ivey’s album beautifully weaves elements of classic folk and gently-frayed psychedelia with Southern rock and Americana pop-tinged sensibilities. Price encouraged Ivey to write and record a batch of his own songs during a brief tour break.

“I co-write a lot with her, but I had been writing stuff that I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to sing. It only took me a couple of weeks, maybe a month tops, to write the whole thing,” said Ivey, who initially played with Price in the country-soul group Buffalo Cover as well as Secret Handshake.

“Everyone always says you take your whole life to write your first album, and I’ve been writing since I was 15, so that’s not necessarily true for me. I went in to record, it was supposed be demos, and it turned out pretty good. Anti had heard them, and then it all started to happen. I never really planned for it to be a record.”

Continue reading “Running Down a Dream – Nashville’s Jeremy Ivey Makes Blind Pig Debut Saturday”

Jam-packed – Desmond Jones Mixes Multiples Genres for Latest ‘Hello, Helou’ Album

Desmond Jones’ “Hello, Helou” album features longtime friend and fan Antoine Helou on the cover.

For their latest release, Desmond Jones has fans at “Hello, Helou.”

The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet masterfully mixes multiple genres across seven tracks on their second full-length and latest album, “Hello, Helou,” which dropped in July. It includes an eclectic batch of captivating tracks from Desmond Jones’ expansive catalog of more than 40 original songs.

“These songs were already written before we went into the studio, so it wasn’t a collective effort to write all of the music for an album,” said John Nowak, drummer, guitarist and vocalist for Desmond Jones. “Since all of the songs already existed, it was really a matter of choosing which ones we wanted to go on the next album.”

Nowak and bandmates Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, drums, vocals) and John Loria (bass, vocals) spent eight months recording “Hello, Helou’s” tracks with manager Kevin McKay of Innovative Music Solutions in Webberville. The band also recorded a few tracks in the band room at East Grand Rapids High School where Nowak and Berkowitz attended.

In typical Desmond Jones fashion, all the tracks from “Hello, Helou” received initial live improvisational treatment before being reimagined as studio versions. With a fun, upbeat sound, the album features a collection of shorter songs compared to tracks from the band’s 2017 self-titled, full-length debut.

Four of the five band members also penned tracks for the album, which include spatial, culinary, relational, existential and fantastical themes. Listeners encounter a dynamic sonic journey while venturing from one track to another.

“In our live shows, we definitely take the liberty to extend songs as long as we want. Some songs are a better platform for that, but songs like ‘Split Again,’ ‘Sylvia’ or ‘Instructional Dance Song’ are similar to how we play them live,” said Nowak, who formed the band in 2012 while attending Michigan State University. “With streaming and attention spans, we want songs that are easily digestible for people to listen to before they come see us.”

Continue reading “Jam-packed – Desmond Jones Mixes Multiples Genres for Latest ‘Hello, Helou’ Album”

Danika & The Jeb Bring Fresh Americana Tonight to Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe

Danika Holmes and Jeb Hart will perform tonight at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe.

Editor’s Note: This is repost of an earlier interview with Danika Holmes and Jeb Hart of Danika & The Jeb. Tonight, they’ll be performing at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe.

A Nashville acoustic pop and Americana duo, Danika Holmes and Jeb Hart, aka Danika & The Jeb, bring a dynamic, uplifting and fun sound that includes a combination of artfully written songs and powerful musical phrasing.

Together, Danika & The Jeb have performed more than 1,200 shows in the U.S., U.K. and Europe since forming in 2010. They’ve also opened for Lyle Lovett, Dierks Bentley, Phil Vassar and Tracy Lawrence.

Holmes believes that a well-written song can embody all emotions of the human existence, and she articulates that beautifully with her slightly raspy, yet warm voice and truthful lyrics.

“I learned how to play the guitar from Jeb. It’s been so fun playing together all these years now because our musical style has grown together,” said Holmes, who grew up listening to church music. “As a vocalist, every artist wishes they had a guitar player like Jeb, someone who knows when to hang back and knows when to step up to the front of the stage and give a killer solo as well.”

Grand-nephew to country artist Clyde Moody, Hart can craft a story with six strings. Despite a car accident that left him unable to play for several years, Hart’s determination to overcome prevailed.

“I started on sax when I was nine and then on guitar at 14. When I was young, I’d go to work with my mom and was told to be quiet,” Hart said. “I’d hang out next to her desk with a pair of headphones on and record mixed tapes from the radio onto this little boombox she bought me.”

The duo’s latest project, “Day #2349, Danika & The Jeb – Live at Campbell Steele Gallery,” is a live double album that was recorded in Marion, Iowa last year. They recorded it 2,349 days after the release of their first album, “Second Chances,” in 2010. Their latest studio album, “Balance, Vol. 1” was released in 2014.

“Our goal was to capture one of our 1,200 live performances in a way that made people feel like they were right there listening to it,” Holmes said. “We didn’t want it to be a ‘best of’ album where you get the best version of 20 live shows. Our double-disc album is a complete show, beginning to end.”

Danika & The Jeb will capture that same live spirit during their performance tonight at Ann Arbor’s Black Crystal Cafe.

“We never tell exactly what we are preparing, but we choose our set from about six hours of rehearsed material,” Holmes said. “We like to read our audience and the other writers we’ll be playing for and with.”

Later this year, Danika & The Jeb will launch a Patreon page to share more live adventures with their fans. Each month, they will release two pieces of content that will include audio or live video projects. Danika & The Jeb also will be playing 80 more shows throughout the U.S. and Europe this year.

After Dark – Dani Darling Releases Dreamy, Haunting ‘Nocturne’ Debut EP

Dani Darling hangs outside Ziggy’s in Ypsilanti with Joel Harris and Noor Borealis of The Dreamers. Photo by Kyla-Rose.com

Dani Darling believes life’s true answers emerge in a vivid dream-like state.

The Ann Arbor alternative soul singer-songwriter reaches deep within her nighttime subconscious to tackle unanswered questions on “Nocturne,” an enchanting six-track, jazz-filled journey that lands in between the lo-fi chillwave world of today and the old Hollywood film scores of yesterday.

Throughout her emotive sonic journey, Darling reveals her inner struggles with breakups, loss, anxiety and depression.  The recent passing of her grandfather caused many sleepless nights and served as the overall inspiration behind her debut EP.

“I have a very active dream life so I kept seeing my grandfather on a park bench, and he’d turn to me and open his mouth to say something, but then nothing would ever come out,” said Darling, aka Danielle Davis, who sang in church, choir and theater and listened to musicals with her grandfather while growing up in Tree Town. “I kept having it over and over, and I kept getting ready just in case if I had the dream again, and then each time, nothing.”

To give her late grandfather a voice, Darling wrote “Two for Joy,” a haunting two-minute ode wrapped in lo-fi vintage vocals and delicate acoustic guitars alongside a scratchy, warm vinyl soundscape – “An old man sat down/Removed his little cap/Put his hand to his heart and turned my way/And he said baby girl I know, I know that smile is a voice/He sighed and he said what’s the sorrow, but two for joy.”

“I wanted to give him words to say about why he was there, and I felt like he was probably trying to help me out in my sadness by saying, ‘It’s OK, you’re gonna be all right,’” she said. “The other songs are just a series of random dreams that I had around that same time where I’d turn into a bird or things like that.”

Continue reading “After Dark – Dani Darling Releases Dreamy, Haunting ‘Nocturne’ Debut EP”