Early Check-in – Judy Banker Creates Welcoming Stay on New ‘Buffalo Motel’ Album, Hosts Release Show Thursday at The Ark

Judy Banker, center, will celebrate the release of her latest album, “Buffalo Motel,” at The Ark Thursday. Photo by Robin Scully

With “Buffalo Motel,” Judy Banker creates a welcoming extended stay throughout album’s dozen heartfelt, transformative tracks.

The Americana singer-songwriter shares an expansive, layered and atmospheric sound that transcends her traditional acoustic country and folk roots. Driving drum and bass tracks, hook-driven instrumental intros and breaks, and innovative arrangements push Banker toward a countrified indie rock territory that lies somewhere between Ann Arbor, Mich., and Kalispell, Mont.

Out Thursday, “Buffalo Motel” allows Banker to flex her raw, gritty songwriting muscle and weather a series of intense emotions through different relationships and life events. She poetically chronicles love’s rise and decline at several points in time throughout her third album’s intimate tales.

“There’s something about this being the beginning of a new year and new decade that adds a sense of importance to it all. This album turned out bigger and better than I could have imagined. I think it feels that way for the members of the project – the band and David Roof and Ben Sayler as producers and creative directors,” said Banker, who took creative inspiration from Beck, The National and Sharon Van Etten while recording her latest album.

“We didn’t know where all of our experimentation in the pre-production sessions was going to take the music. There were so many moving parts and different ways we approached recording each of the songs. ”

Banker collaborated with a roster of talented Michigan musicians on “Buffalo Motel” to make it bigger than the sum of its parts. Tony Pace (electric guitar, dobro), John Sperendi (electric and upright bass), Brian Williams (drums), Alan Pagliere (pedal steel) and Roof (multi-instrumentalist, Rooftop Recording engineer) added new elements to realize the potential of each song. They spent most of last year steeped in fireplace bourbon sessions while creating “Buffalo Motel’s” exquisite, multi-genre tracks.

“I hope that the sound of the album, this collection of songs and how they are presented, excites people and engages them. The playing on it blows me away – this band is over-the-top talented,” Banker said. “They pushed themselves and tried new approaches on this album to bring out the heart of each song. I hope people can feel that, and it moves them.”

Continue reading “Early Check-in – Judy Banker Creates Welcoming Stay on New ‘Buffalo Motel’ Album, Hosts Release Show Thursday at The Ark”

‘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”

Homegrown Sound – Cold Tone Harvest, Chris DuPont Share Americana Spirit for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live

Plymouth’s Cold Tone Harvest will headline Friday Night Live at the Farmington Civic Theater on Friday.

A Plymouth-based Americana quartet will harvest their homegrown rootsy sound Friday night in Farmington.

Known as Cold Tone Harvest, the band will join Ypsilanti indie folk singer-songwriter Chris DuPont as part of the intimate “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday.

“We’re excited to be in a new venue with new people,” said Brian Williams, Cold Tone Harvest’s drummer and banjo player. “We just hope to keep spreading the word, get a nice little turnout and have a great night together.”

Cold Tone Harvest will perform a headlining set with raw emotional tracks from their latest album, introduce some highly anticipated new tunes and covers and bring DuPont on stage to round out the night. The band also will join DuPont for part of his opening set to add a fresh take on his past, present and future music.

“Chris is going to join us on a bunch of our tunes, and then we’re going to support him when he joins us for a couple of his tunes and maybe mix in a little surprise here or there,” said Williams, who originally hails from Plymouth.

With their rich country-infused melodies, rhythms and instrumentations, Cold Tone Harvest’s Andrew Sigworth (vocals, acoustic guitar), Ozzie Andrews (acoustic bass, bass guitar, bass banjo), Anthony Pace (electric guitar, lap steel, dobro) and Williams will perform thoughtful, heartfelt tunes that poetically chronicle adversity and creatively demonstrate the inner strength to overcome it.

After You album artwork

Whiskey songs, personal reflections and heartache anthems summarize Cold Tone Harvest’s magical 2018 debut album, “After You,” which sonically captures the feel of watching a piercing crimson sunset on a crisp autumn evening while freshly fallen leaves crunch beneath one’s feet.

Formed in 2008, Cold Tone Harvest originally featured soft-spoken singer-songwriter Sigworth in partnership with Williams. Together, the pair advocated for a sonic landscape built around Sigworth’s voice as a centerpiece against a percussive backdrop.

Continue reading “Homegrown Sound – Cold Tone Harvest, Chris DuPont Share Americana Spirit for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live”