The Ann Arbor musicians will revive their long-running live music backyard showcase, Broken Branch Summer Series, after last year’s pandemic-induced hiatus.
“Many people have been locked in their houses, and they haven’t had an opportunity to do anything. Musicheads are shriveling up inside and really need to get out,” said Labeaux, whose Broken Branch ranch is located near Dixboro.
“But then there are the performers and gig workers who have had no place to play, and we have a place where people can gather safely. We can support the musicians who have been hit, provide a place for people to see shows and marry that together here.”
Together, Labeaux and Gibson will reunite those eager musical forces through eight free biweekly Saturday shows from June to September. The eclectic lineup will include a rich blend of country, folk, jazz, alt rock, soul pop, world rock and bluesy funk sounds to appease live music diehards:
This specially curated lineup of emerging and established artists stems from Labeaux and Gibson’s desire to support and join different collaborators on their tree-lined, wraparound deck. Labeaux started the Broken Branch Summer Series in 2014 as a way to his friends perform live at home.
Filled with progtastic, funkified fusion, Chirp will bring upbeat, dancy grooves to celebrate autumn’s upcoming arrival Saturday at Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios.
The Ann Arbor prog-funk-jazz jam quartet will headline the Ypsi rehearsal and recording space’s annual fall-themed Equinox Party before intimate in-person studio and virtual livestream audiences.
“Ypsi audiences are always some of our favorites to play for, so we are extremely excited to play our first show at Grove Studios. It has a great music/arts scene, and my favorite part of playing for Ypsi audiences is all the creative folks we get to bump shoulders with at our shows there,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp’s vocalist and guitarist.
“The Equinox Party is our annual anniversary celebration and largest event of the year where we showcase a diverse collection of artists, many of whom we’ve worked with or met throughout the year,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder and director of community engagement.
“We’ve decided to really blow it up with the Equinox Party this year. We’ll be hosting three, two-and-a-half-hour shows with three to four artists each and an hour of transition in between shows to cycle the artists and audiences in and out to follow the 25-person gathering rule Ypsi is currently under.”
Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists and musicians in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.
“We’re already six months into our third year on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti, which is super dope considering we’re still weathering the effects of a global pandemic and a previous three-month shutdown,” Friebel said.
“That reality, along with social distancing and gathering restrictions, encouraged us to rethink how we support the music community by moving our events to a virtual format and becoming a burgeoning media production company. We also activated our outdoor courtyard stage in May with audio and video production, which has evolved into a high-tech livestream performance format with small in-studio audiences.”
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.”
“We have a fun lineup, and we haven’t played with Pajamas in Ann Arbor in a couple of years. We’re really happy with how they’ve been progressing as well, and every time we see them, we want to share a bill with them,” said Amin Lanseur, Stormy Chromer’s drummer and vocalist.
“As for Earth Radio, we found them through Purchase Productions, who manage our friends Chirp. They brought Earth Radio to Club Above six months ago, and they really made an impression on some friends of mine.”
It will be the homegrown progressive jam band’s first appearance at The Blind Pig since their New Year’s Eve show. Together, Stormy Chromer will mix elements of rock, jazz, heavy metal, ska and hip hop to perform a danceable set with Pajamas, a Tree Town improvisational rock, funk and fusion trio, and Earth Radio, a Grand Rapids future soul quintet.
“The energy in the room is very loving and fun, and we’re blessed to have the people who come out and see us,” Lanseur said. “We’re striving for that same type of energy for ‘420’ as well, so obviously it will be the whole pot thing.”
On their melodic self-titled, full-length debut studio album, Chirp knows how to magically capture and beautifully deliver the sweet, groovy sounds of spring.
Today’s release of “Chirp” celebrates the Ann Arbor funk, prog rock and jazz fusion quartet’s creative migration from improvising on the stage to nesting in the studio.
“Those songs turned out how we really envisioned them because we were able to take a long time to plan everything out as well as record and mix,” said John Gorine, Chirp’s drummer. “When we play those songs live, we know what we want to do, but it’s different when we have a lot more time to plan certain things out and just get what we want out of those songs.”
Chirp does their share of genre-hopping by blending catching progressive rock, funk and jazz originals with majestic reinterpretations during their high-energy, dynamic shows. Though their music incorporates many technical, well-crafted elements, they’re committed to grooving with a solid, dedicated fan base.
For dedicated Chirp fans, the album is a direct sonic flight through their eclectic catalog without any layovers or turbulence. While hearing “Chirp,” listeners travel smoothly through a series of glistening grooves, riffs and beats eloquently condensed into a brilliant studio package.
“You want to trim the fat a little bit, even though most of the songs are on the longer side of what people are used to hearing. I’d say the average song length on the album is five and a half minutes while our average live song length is between eight and 10 minutes,” said Jay Frydenlund, Chirp’s guitarist and vocalist. “As a songwriter, for me, it’s always difficult figuring out what we want to cut down and how we want to cut down the length of a solo section or maybe take parts out.”
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.”
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.”
Stormy Chromer with Chirp and Biomassive
Tonight at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St. in Ann Arbor
The Ann Arbor progressive rock, funk and jazz fusion quartet will share new tunes and covers as they close out 2018.
“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.”
“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.”