Five Alive – After Hours Radio Reflects on Band Anniversary, Hosts Show Tonight at Club Above

Five years ago, the University of Michigan’s co-op scene led to the formation of an emerging Ypsilanti band.

U-M’s Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops introduced Greg Hughes and Nate Erickson, co-founders of After Hours Radio, to a burgeoning underground, do-it-yourself (DIY) music community in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor.

Together, Hughes and Erickson cut their growing musical teeth performing at co-op open mic nights and formed After Hours Radio, a progressive, groove-heavy indie rock band, in 2014.

“The high energy and large crowds at co-op parties drove the band to write catchy grooves and riffs that co-oppers could dance to,” said Hughes, bassist for After Hours Radio. “This funk-inspired element flavored our initial indie-alternative style, which was influenced by open mic nights during the band’s infancy.”

Hughes also sought inspiration for the band while working as a late-night college DJ at WCBN-FM (88.3), a U-M student-run radio station. He used a “freeform” approach for the station’s programming and believed a similar philosophy could be applied to After Hours Radio’s musical approach.

After Hours Radio co-founders Greg Hughes (left) and Nate Erickson (center)

“‘Freeform’ describes a perspective that doesn’t conform to a traditional setlist structure restricted by genre and embraces mixing different musical styles,” he said. “We’ve gained a strong sense of improvisation that has translated to the way we find influences for our original songs.”

That fluid musical approach resulted in the band’s self-titled debut EP in 2015 and the “What Happened?” EP in 2017. With Hughes and Erickson (vocals, guitar) at the helm, After Hours Radio went through several lineup changes, including several drummers, and expanded their sound to encompass keys, synths and other electronic effects.

Last year, the band launched their own DIY music venue, The Late Station, in Ypsilanti to showcase local emerging artists and musicians across a variety of genres. Bandmates and friends help promote events, run the door and assist with gear at The Late Station.

“I got acquainted with the whole DIY culture in Chicago, and I was so enamored with the scene there that I wanted to become more involved in it,” Hughes said. “That’s where the direct inspiration for The Late Station came, and we all decided we were going to move to the same location and start our own space.”

Today, Hughes and Erickson will celebrate the band’s evolution with a five-year anniversary show at Club Above, 215 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, and feature special guests Stop Watch, Approachable Minorities and Summer Like The Season.

“We decided to celebrate the band’s anniversary with a special show because we thought five years for any band was a big milestone,” Hughes said. “Almost none of the local bands existing when we started are around anymore, and most lasted just one or two years.”

For the show, After Hours Radio will play an extended setlist that encompasses the band’s entire career and feature visuals from GSW Art & Design, a southeast Michigan-based visual art, web and graphic design firm. It’s also a valuable opportunity for After Hours Radio fans to embrace the artistry and musicianship of the show’s three special guests.

Continue reading “Five Alive – After Hours Radio Reflects on Band Anniversary, Hosts Show Tonight at Club Above”

Electronic Orbit – Biomassive Brings Celestial Beats to New Year’s Eve Show with Stormy Chromer, Chirp at The Blind Pig

Biomassive will play a New Year’s Eve show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor tonight with Stormy Chromer and Chirp.

This is the third installment in a three-part series profiling Michigan bands for a New Year’s Eve show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

Biomassive will share their deep, intelligent beats with an energetic New Year’s Eve crowd in Ann Arbor tonight.

The Traverse City rock electronica sextet will join Stormy Chromer and Chirp for a night filled with guitar-driven funk and jazz tunes fused with improvisational jams at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St.

“We’re definitely going to be bringing our new stuff as well as some of the songs we’ve been playing for a while,” said Chris Burhop, a guitarist for Biomassive. “We’re also going to be unleashing a cover we’ve only done once in the past.”

New Year’s Eve show poster

This isn’t the first time Biomassive has played with Stormy Chromer, a Ypsilanti-based homegrown progressive jam band. However, it will be the first time they’ve shared the stage with Chirp, a Tree Town progressive rock, funk and jazz fusion quartet.

“Stormy Chromer definitely brings a rockier side. They bring a lot of energy, and we’ve always considered them to be our closest band buddies as far as mentality goes and stylistically,” Burhop said. “We played at the same Sacred Vibrations festival as Chirp earlier this year, but not at an actual personal show with them until now.”

Formed in 2012, Biomassive blends catchy electronic beats with ground-shaking, sub-bass mechanics and features the talented musicianship of Connor Lindsay (synth, keys), Randall Erno (bass), Ben Wyler (synth, keys), Shandon Williams (percussion), Matt Zimmerman (drums) and Burhop.

Reminiscent of their Umphrey’s McGee and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) influence, Biomassive fuses funk and progressive rock to arrive at an unparalleled sound. This anomalous Northern Michigan band redefines the sound of the electronic genre and plays distinctive covers and mash-ups ranging from The Grateful Dead to Gorillaz.

“The different guitar players that we’ve had have definitely influenced different sounds that are incorporated with songs like that,” said Burhop, who grew up in Petoskey and started playing guitar in middle school. “Now that I’m playing the guitar instead of bass, we’re trying to go back to our roots and get back into the electronic side of music more.”

Biomassive’s latest single, “Earth Girls Are Easy,” brings ethereal elements of rock, electronica and hip hop together into a mesmerizing musical orbit. Named after the 1989 Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum romantic comedy, science fiction film, it’s the perfect tune for an out-of-this-world sonic escape.

Burhop credits Lindsay’s fascination with bizarre ‘80s pop culture for inspiring the tune’s musical direction. “We’ve been playing that song for the past four or five years now, and it was always just one of those songs that we never really finalized and put into a recording,” Burhop said. “The recording that you hear now is going to be off our new album, which is about to be released.”

While Biomassive’s upcoming album will be released this spring, Burhop and his bandmates are already writing and recording more material for the next project. The band has previously released several other albums and EPs, including “Biomassive” (2013), “Instinct” (2013), “Certified Organic” (2013) and “Spiritbound” (2014).

“We’re going to focus on writing some more new material and getting myself and our new member, Randall, up to speed on the parts on the songs that we already have in our repertoire,” Burhop said. “We also have some of our biggest festival announcements that we’re sitting on right now.”

Show details:

Stormy Chromer with Chirp and Biomassive

Tonight at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St. in Ann Arbor

Doors at 8 p.m.

Tickets $15 and event info

 

Third Flight – Chirp Nests with Stormy Chromer, Biomassive for New Year’s Eve Show at The Blind Pig

Brian Long, Jay Frydenlund, Ken Ball and John Gorine of Chirp

This is the second installment of a three-part series profiling Michigan bands for a New Year’s Eve show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

Chirp fans will flock to The Blind Pig Monday night for a top-flight New Year’s Eve show with Stormy Chromer and Biomassive.

The Ann Arbor progressive rock, funk and jazz fusion quartet will share new tunes and covers as they close out 2018.

https://strattonsetlist.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/Stormy-Chromer-NYE.png”> New Year’s Eve show poster[/captio
“We’re definitely going to try to change it up from the norm. I think for a lot of people coming out that night it will be new. We always like to bust out new covers for special events and holidays, so you can definitely expect some of that,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp guitarist and vocalist.

“I think there will be some fun interaction amongst the bands and sit-ins. It will be different from your normal Chirp/Stormy Chromer/Biomassive show.”

This is the third year Chirp has teamed up with Stormy Chromer, a homegrown progressive jam band, for a New Year’s Eve show in Tree Town. It’s the second consecutive year for the event at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St.

“Stormy Chromer brought us into the fold. We just wanted to go down in the hometown because the last couple of years have been so fun,” Frydenlund said. “Stormy Chromer has always been one of our favorite groups to play and collaborate with. We’re happy they invited us back to do it again.”

While Chirp and Stormy Chromer have a long history of playing together, it’s the first time Chirp will share the stage with Biomassive, an electronic rock band from Traverse City. Biomassive will blend the organic feel of real-time music with deep, intelligent beats of their ground-shaking, sub-bass mechanics.

“I’ve heard good things about Biomassive,” said Frydenlund, who grew up in Ann Arbor and started playing guitar in college. “I’ve listened to their stuff online, so I’m definitely excited.”

Continue reading “Third Flight – Chirp Nests with Stormy Chromer, Biomassive for New Year’s Eve Show at The Blind Pig”

Cap Off – Stormy Chromer Hosts New Year’s Eve Show with Chirp, Biomassive at The Blind Pig  

This is the first installment of a three-part series profiling Michigan bands hosting a New Year’s Eve show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

Three Michigan bands will bring an eclectic array of improvisational rock, jazz, funk and electronica to Ann Arbor Monday night.

Stormy Chromer, Chirp and Biomassive will host a turbo-charged, fluid night of live music at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., for New Year’s Eve. It’s the third year Stormy Chromer has organized a New Year’s Eve show in Tree Town, and the second year they’ve held the event at The Blind Pig.

“We’re going with all live bands this year, and it’s a three-band night. Chirp and Stormy Chromer have a long and awesome relationship, and we’re all from Ann Arbor. Biomassive is a band that we just really hit it off with when we played with them two years ago,” said Amin Lanseur, Stormy Chromer’s drummer and vocalist.

“Chirp’s Jay (Frydenlund) and I decided to go with a three-band bill because we want to see how much we’ve grown as far as what we can do. It’s going to be an awesome feeling to look out there and see all these people who are here to see my buddies and me do what we love to do.”

The New Year’s Eve show will include a ball drop set with Stormy Chromer improvising on stage and counting down with the crowd to 2019. Members of Chirp and Biomassive will join the band to ring in the new year.

“We’ll pick a song that has a tendency to have an upbeat, dancy jam, and then I’ll get us as close to 120 beats per minute as possible so that every two beats is a second,” Lanseur said. “Then, we’ll just have a timer up there, and we’ll be doing our thing.”

Stormy Chromer also will share some covers and feature a new song to keep the show fresh well after midnight. “We’re going to be debuting a new song that I’m really excited about and that’s been conceptualized for a really long time now,” Lanseur said. “I think people can look forward to a handful of new material that they’ve never gotten out of us before.”

Continue reading “Cap Off – Stormy Chromer Hosts New Year’s Eve Show with Chirp, Biomassive at The Blind Pig  “

Jam Session – Desmond Jones Promises Unique Set for Thursday’s Headlining Show at The Blind Pig

Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet Desmond Jones will perform at The Blind Pig Thursday night with Pajamas.

For Desmond Jones, no two setlists or shows are alike.

The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet relies on skillful improvisation, sophisticated musicianship and scintillating compositions to capture a crowd’s attention. Each show brings a unique vibe and sonic quality depending the band, audience and venue.

“The more cut and dry structured songs we don’t take out at all in terms of improvisation and jams,” Even if we write a setlist out before a show, which we don’t always do, a lot of times on stage we’ll pick what songs feel right or naturally transition into them,” said John Nowak, Desmond Jones’ drummer, vocalist and guitarist.

“Lately, we’ve been mixing in a sense of humor in terms of making weird or spacey noises. We’re deliberately trying to shock the audience, be as weird as we possibly can and see how they react.”

That ingenious live approach has connected Desmond Jones to thousands of fans at more than 500 shows over five years nationwide. The band also has a sprawling online archive of 300-plus shows available for streaming on their website.

Luckily, Ann Arbor fans will be able to visit the Desmond Jones online live archive after Thursday’s show at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., with Pajamas, a Tree Town rock-funk fusion trio.

“When you get a good opening act, I think that vibe is strong with the crowd because it gets people moving and ready to go. Then, we’ll come on, and we’ll rock out,” Nowak said. “We love playing The Blind Pig. I think that venue offers a certain one-of-a-kind dirty, grungy, fun atmosphere, which is where we’re also at with our music.”

Nowak and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals, drums), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals) and John Loria (bass, vocals) – will play new material and older improvisational jams from their extensive catalog of 50-plus tunes.

“We’ll be playing a wider range of things, some new songs that aren’t on any of the albums. It’s always fun because unless you’re listening to the archives or have gone to a lot of shows, then a lot of the songs will be new to your ears,” Nowak said. “Expect a lot of different feels, but definitely some improvisational jams and opportunities for dancing.”

Continue reading “Jam Session – Desmond Jones Promises Unique Set for Thursday’s Headlining Show at The Blind Pig”

For Song Sake – Motor City Artists Debut New ‘Best Guess’ Track for Tonight’s Black Crystal Studio Songwriting Challenge

Jeff Scott will perform tonight at Black Crystal Studio as part of the “For Song Sake” songwriting challenge.

Four metro Detroit area artists will demonstrate their songwriting prowess tonight at Ann Arbor’s most intimate and private music venue.

Jeff Scott, Brooke Ratliff, Kelsey Detering and Mike Gentry will participate in “For Song Sake,” a creative challenge in which songwriters compose a new tune over six weeks and debut it before a live audience at Black Crystal Studio. Songwriters apply to participate in the challenge.

All artists are given the same song title, but must write their own lyrics and music as well as determine the genre. Tonight’s song is called “Best Guess,” said Gerald Wayne “G.W.” Staton, who’s owned and operated the 44-seat Black Crystal Studio since 2007.

“I gave the artists an example of something I wrote just to show them what they might do with it. Two of them have written me and said, ‘I’m deep in the rabbit hole,’ but they’re challenged by it,” he said. “Artists always say they needed that challenge, and they needed something thrown at them to get out of a rut.”

During “For Song Sake,” audience members will rate each song from one to five based on lyrics, melody and likability. The winning songwriter will receive a prize, which could include cash, an instrument, a short trip or another item.

Staton and his Black Crystal Studio crew will record each artist’s performance of “Best Guess” and air the recording during an upcoming “For Song Sake” session on Ann Arbor Radio, one of the venue’s two online radio stations. Each artist will receive a copy of the recording.

“I’ve got four dates for ‘For Song Sake’ lined up for next year, one a quarter,” Staton said. “The audience was what impressed me. People came out that I wouldn’t have guessed would come, but they were interested in hearing about songwriting.”

Continue reading “For Song Sake – Motor City Artists Debut New ‘Best Guess’ Track for Tonight’s Black Crystal Studio Songwriting Challenge”

‘LIFE Goals’ – Ann Arbor ‘Attic Folkster’ Peter Felsman Drops New ‘-pf’ Album, Hosts Bike-able Listening Party Today

Peter Felsman, far right, performs with “-pf” members Max Lockwood, Julia Knowles and Rebecca Rosen at the Threads All Arts Festival in Ypsilanti, Mich. Photo by David Newton

Starting at noon today, “attic folk” rocker Peter Felsman will take his new “-pf” album to the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich.

He’ll meet up with “-pf” (pronounced “dash” “pf”) friends and fans to listen to “LIFE Goals,” the band’s newest album, which drops today.

It will be a “reverse progressive” listening party of sorts where people can listen with Felsman throughout the day as he bikes along to the folkish rhythms of “LIFE Goals.”

“I’ll be biking around town to listen with whoever wants to join me,” said Felsman, “-pf” frontman. “I’ve created a Facebook event and invited people in the Ann Arbor bike-able area to message me if they’d like to host a listening event where other people can join or if they’d like to join one.”

LIFE Goals cover art

In classic “-pf” style, the release of “LIFE Goals” coincides with another academic milestone for Felsman, who’s pursuing a doctorate in social work and social psychology at the University of Michigan.

The album marks the beginning of Felsman’s two-year fellowship with the International Max Planck Research School on the Life Course (LIFE), which takes an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to understanding human development in a changing world.

Felsman’s research fellowship is conducted internationally in conjunction with the Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Zurich, the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan.

“LIFE Goals” also highlights the first time “-pf” has recorded an album in a proper recording studio, the Kalamazoo, Mich.-based La Luna Recording & Sound owned by Ian Gorman.

Continue reading “‘LIFE Goals’ – Ann Arbor ‘Attic Folkster’ Peter Felsman Drops New ‘-pf’ Album, Hosts Bike-able Listening Party Today”