The Other Side – Nektar Revisits Past, Present Influences on Latest Album, Performs Tuesday at The Token Lounge

Nektar’s current lineup includes Ron Howden, Derek “Mo” Moore, Ryche Chlanda, Mick Brockett, Kendall Scott and Randy Dembo. Photo by Jay Petsko

Back in 1974, Nektar left a promising sonic door open in Detroit.

The British progressive rock band shared a pulsating new track, “Devil’s Door,” during a show at The Michigan Palace.

“That’s where we wrote it. We had a couple of days in the theater. We were able to jam and play, and we did a lot of that. Then, we played it for the first time at the Palace theater,” said Derek “Mo” Moore, Nektar’s bassist, vocalist and co-founder.

Nektar only played “Devil’s Door” a few more times live that year before stashing it away. The soaring track remained hidden in the band’s vault for nearly 45 years before including it on their majestic new album, “The Other Side,” which dropped in January via Esoteric Antenna.

The eight-minute gem features the band’s late original frontman and co-founder Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals at the track’s intro. Recorded live by then-sound engineer Vinny Schmid via a soundboard in Detroit, “Devil’s Door” beautifully blends Albrighton’s vibrant guitar and enthusiastic “yeah, yeah, yeahs” with Nektar’s stunning new version of the track. Sadly, Schmid passed away six years ago while Albrigton died in 2016.

“We were able to get the two of them on the album. It just felt right, it was so clear when we played that into the headphones, and then the band came in, and Roye stayed with us for a little while with his parts,” Moore said.

“Then, we dropped the original band and brought up the new band. It just felt great. I called Roye’s wife, and I said, ‘I know I don’t have to ask you for permission, but I’d like your blessing. Is it OK for us to use Roye?’ She was thrilled, and I sent her a copy of it right away. She was blown away.”

Metro Detroit audiences will be blown away Tuesday when Nektar reopens “Devil’s Door” live at The Token Lounge in Westland as part of a current 36-date North American tour. The long-awaited track will be featured as part of the band’s three hour-plus set amidst a stunning video and lights show by visual artist and co-founder Mick Brockett.

“We’re changing the sets every night, especially when we did four days in New York, and we did two days in Baltimore. We try to do a lot of the old classics like ‘Remember the Future,’ ‘A Tab in the Ocean,’ and ‘Recycled,’ and we do a variation of that, and then we intersperse them with the new album, ‘The Other Side,’” Moore said.

Continue reading “The Other Side – Nektar Revisits Past, Present Influences on Latest Album, Performs Tuesday at The Token Lounge”

Shine On – Read the Sun Enters Experimental Sonic Orbit on ‘Living Thru’ EP

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Read the Sun revolves around an ever-changing musical landscape drenched in brilliant rays of experimental indie rock.

The Detroit indie rock quartet of Alexa Gabriel (vocals, guitar), Jon Meyer (guitar), Sean Hussett (bass) and Joseph Jankowski (drums, percussion) beautifully fuses cinematic elements of classic, prog and alt rock to produce a soaring sonic experience on their latest five-track EP, “Living Thru,” which dropped in August.

Living Thru” opens with a gorgeous instrumental, “Living,” to elegantly blend high-tone guitars and vibrating synths with light cymbal taps for a brief infectious sonic rotation. It seamlessly segues into an intense emotional track, “Brown Shoes,” as a metaphor for the struggle about starting a transition as a transgender woman.

Slow rhythmic drums, vibrant guitars and deep bass echo the struggle depicted throughout “Brown Shoes”  – “I could walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes/And find nothing wrong with these other soles/I could take mine away/And leave nothing more.”

“One of the things we wanted to deliver in this EP is our continuous change of sound that we are beginning to solidify. We have started to amplify each of our strengths in the writing process and weed out the desire to imitate. We are currently on a good path towards fully realizing a more consistent sound,” said Read the Sun, whose members are influenced by Pink Floyd, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Snarky Puppy.

Together, the band recorded “Living Thru” in Gabriel’s bedroom where she runs a portable studio for recording and mixing. They also recorded their striking 2018 debut, “Music for Birds,” over nine months at a family-owned barn up north over a three-day stay. Coincidentally, bird sounds crept into every recording on their first full-length release.

Before they discovered “Music for Birds,” Read the Sun started as a jam session among four Plymouth-Canton high school friends. That jam session solidified into an official project by 2017 as the band members honed themselves as musicians and songwriters and cultivated an evolutionary sonic path.

Along their growing sonic path, Read The Sun continues to solder different sounds on “Living Thru,” including “The SacroMambo,” a dancy six-minute track that shimmies and sways with a symphony of electric guitars, drums, bass, saxophone and percussion.

Continue reading “Shine On – Read the Sun Enters Experimental Sonic Orbit on ‘Living Thru’ EP”

Soulful Sovereign – Kendrick Hardaway Celebrates Chivalry on ‘The Slave King’ Single

Kendrick Hardaway has released his latest soulful single, “The Slave King,” with guitarist Nick Behnan.

Kendrick Hardaway knows how to give the royal treatment.

The Detroit R&B singer-songwriter pays majestic homage to his “queen” on “The Slave King,” a slow, groove-filled romantic ode released just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Hardaway’s soulful three-minute single dropped Tuesday and features his smooth vocals wrapped in high-tone electric guitars from Nick Behnan – “Eyes burnin’ like fire and a voice that sits in my soul/Sweet as cucumber sugar water with a stare that’s so damn cold/Sweet queen of desire, won’t you call my name/And I’ll come runnin’ to you over and over again.”

Who wouldn’t come running to Hardaway with poetic lyrics like that?

“That song really is kind of a combination of me just wanting to write a tune and actually being about my girl right now. I came across this little lick I was playing around with, and I started writing to it, but nothing was really coming together, and I was getting frustrated,” Hardaway said.

“My girl came down, she sat on the couch, and she actually had a little attitude with me or whatever, and she was giving me this real hard stare, and that’s the line where ‘a stare that’s so damn cold’ came from. Once that line came out, then the rest of it just flowed.”

He also sought creative inspiration for “The Slave King” from Behnan, a Detroit songwriter, guitarist and producer and Hardaway’s former bandmate in The Infatuations. A Motor City mainstay and now a guitarist with The Lows, Behnan collaborates regularly with Hardaway on his solo projects.

“That song was 90 percent finished by the time Nick got to it. I was about to master the song, and I felt like it was missing something, but I knew it was in the way of guitar,” said Hardaway, who’s currently shooting a video for his latest single. “I can tinker around on the guitar, but I’m no Nick Behnan, so I shot it to Nick, and he didn’t waste any time and got it right back to me, and it was full of wonderful things, and we got ‘The Slave King.’”

In December, Hardaway collaborated with Behnan and rapper Saint Diggidy on Behnan’s rock, hip-hop, funk and R&B-fused track, “Right at Home,” which solders pounding drums and roaring guitars with stuck-in-your-head verses and flavorful rhymes. The track started as a stripped-down demo on SoundCloud, but quickly evolved once Hardaway and Saint Diggidy added their own verses.

“He was trying a different little angle when he shot it to me to see what I would think about it, and I put a verse on it, and I said, ‘I got a rapper who I think would set this thing off,’ and we just put it together to see how it would sound,” Hardaway said. “We just collectively decided, ‘Hey, we need to put this out because it’s really hot.’ One thing I said about that track after we made it was, ‘It sounds like it’s going to bring some people or some genres together.’”

Continue reading “Soulful Sovereign – Kendrick Hardaway Celebrates Chivalry on ‘The Slave King’ Single”

Master Collector – Dirk Kroll Gathers Everyday Life Experiences for Profound Sonic Tales

Dirk Kroll gathers an array of life experiences and shapes them into earnest sonic tales. Photo courtesy of Dirk Kroll

Dirk Kroll has an impressive collection.

The Pontiac blues rock singer-songwriter doesn’t collect coins, cards or clippings. Instead, he gathers an array of life experiences, stories and moments and shapes them into earnest sonic tales about everyday opportunities and challenges.

“I’m truly interested in life and people. If I were an alien, or from some other time period and I landed here, I’d soak it up more than it just passing me by,” Kroll said. “That’s what I do, and it’s in everybody, the stories I hear, the people I talk to, and their slant on the way they think, the flavor of the moment and everything.”

Kroll’s wife and bandmate, Marci Feldman, laughed and agreed. “The thing about Dirk is he’s a talker. We’ll go into Trader Joe’s, and he knows the names of anybody who works anywhere. Being a painter and restorer, people consider him harmless, so they disclose stories to him.”

Kroll constantly grows his collection through conversations and interactions with family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and characters. Those exchanges lay the foundation for past, present and future songs shared through vivid recordings and live performances with current Dirk Kroll Band members Rodney Walker (guitar), Joe Gaglio (drums), Gardell Floyd (bass), Jim Amann (keys), Robert Reeves (horns) and Feldman (vocals).

“I collect stories, moments and ideas. Lyrically, it’s an opposite reflex because when I really go hard after something, it doesn’t seem to work out right. The stuff that comes to me, that’s a mystery to me, too,” said Kroll, who moved from southern California to metro Detroit at a young age and honed an eclectic sound influenced by Motown and the British Invasion.

‘This Broken Play’

“This Broken Play” album artwork by Diane Irby

Kroll beautifully unravels an assortment of vivid stories across a multitude of genres on his latest album, “This Broken Play,” which dropped in late 2018. The album includes 10 striking tracks revolving around personal struggles, relationships, lifelong journeys and societal responses intertwined with hints of blues, rock, funk, ska, jazz and folk. Listeners will immediately think it’s the best of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, The Rolling Stones and Wilco rolled into one.

The album’s exquisite title track features a solemn cello mixed with banging piano chords to reflect the sadness and frustration of a passionate relationship that’s abruptly ended – “All of our lives, and all that remains/All of our moments, and all that’s the same/You cast your part in this broken play/Is it always love, forever, the price we must pay.”

Continue reading “Master Collector – Dirk Kroll Gathers Everyday Life Experiences for Profound Sonic Tales”

WSU’s Old Main Records Hosts Multimedia Launch Party Friday at St. Andrew’s Church

A new Detroit-based record label will celebrate fresh sights and sounds Friday night.

Old Main Records, a Wayne State University (WSU) student-run record label and organization, will host a multimedia launch party at St. Andrew’s Church in partnership with Nice Place Detroit. It will feature live music and visual art from some of the Motor City’s most promising artists and creatives.

“We want to help connect people who are interested in all forms of art under one roof and further develop a sense of community. People attending can expect to meet incredible people in the city and to enjoy a night that includes visuals and high-energy music,” said Patrick Norton, Old Main Records creative director, Nice Place director and a WSU music technology senior.

“The goal for this event for the artists and volunteers involved is to give a platform to show the city what we are made of. The ability to utilize the university has opened so many doors for connections to press and other music industry and art world contacts.”

Launch event attendees will encounter a broad spectrum of Detroit-based experimental, blues-punk-garage and indie rock from Dirt Room, The Stools, Mac Saturn and Craig Garwood. This emerging lineup represents the first round of artists who have expressed interest in signing with Old Main Records.

Old Main Records also has compiled “Nice Plays: Local Detroit Underground,” a Spotify playlist that features dozens of artists across a multitude of genres. All artists included on the playlist have submitted their music for consideration to the label.

To complement the music, nearly a dozen visual artists will display their creative vision and prowess throughout the night. They will include Sleepyboness | Sarah Brazeau, Caitlin C. Harvey, MLE, Anastasiya Metesheva, RELYDETROIT, Max Jurcak, Erin Theroux, Shelby Say, Synefeld, Kristal Michal-Brasseur and Tyler Sykes.

“We feel this particular lineup is cohesive in reflecting the high energy that we want for our organization to kick off. In terms of the overall aesthetic, we plan to make each event unique and make our selection of music as eclectic as possible while also maintaining a theme,” Norton said.

“We also want to bridge some gaps within the art world of metro Detroit. We wanted to include students from Wayne State, the College for Creative Studies, Eastern Michigan University and artists from Detroit to help expand the art community. We wanted visual artists for the event to help cross-pollinate between different scenes that don’t always work alongside one another.”

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‘80s Glitz, Glam – Whiskey A Go Go to Open for Enuff Z’Nuff Friday at The Token Lounge

Kyle Mikolajczyk and Guy Williams with Whiskey A Go Go at Toledo’s Civic Music Hall. Photo by Dazz Lee Photography

Metro Detroit will relive the glitz and glory of ‘80s hard rock Friday night.

Whiskey A Go Go, a Michigan-Kentucky ‘80s hard rock era tribute band, will pay homage to Quiet Riot, Motley Crüe, Ratt, Poison and other iconic glam metal bands while opening for Enuff Z’Nuff at The Token Lounge.

“The bassist/singer/founder Chip Z’Nuff is a major inspiration to very much of what I do. His style, approach, couth and constant love for his audience is astounding to me,” said Kyle Mikolajczyk, the band’s bassist who named the act after the legendary West Hollywood rock club.

“I cherish learning as much as I can from the legends in rock and roll that have already been where I wish to be. He is a fountain of knowledge and that alone gives me a lot to forward to on Friday.”

Along with infamous Detroit legend Guy Williams (vocals), Brandon Fields (guitar) and Garrett Ramsden (drums), Mikolajczyk will shred his way through collection of timeless hard rock hits. In a sense, the tribute quartet brings the look, feel and sound of the late ‘80s Sunset Boulevard rock and roll lifestyle to the Motor City.

“Individually, each member embodies and fits the style we’re attempting to pay tribute to perfectly. We’re all major ‘80s sleaze rock fanatics, so we take a lot of pride in the small details within each song to properly display them to our audience,” said Mikolajczyk, who also will celebrate Ramsden’s birthday with the band Friday.

“Some call it a blast from the past, but we’re just paying homage to our favorite artists and era, and we’re having a fun time recreating the atmosphere of one of the greatest eras in live entertainment history.”

After discovering their shared love of the music and era, Mikolajczyk and Williams formed Whiskey A Go Go five years ago and later brought Fields and Ramsden into the fold. Mikolajczyk and Fields also share a mutual admiration for Izzy Stradlin and Slash as members of Pretty Tied Up, a Guns N’ Roses tribute band that performs regularly in Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.

“I built the backing band that has evolved over the years, and we recently put Brandon in the lead guitar position,” Mikolajczyk said. “It’s really helped take us to the next level.”

As a prominent fixture in Detroit’s hard rock and metal scene, Mikolajczyk developed a deep appreciation for the genre while growing up in Canton. At age 12, he picked up his first axe, a Guitar Hero game controller, and later sold merch and volunteered as a roadie for the Motor City metal band Kro-Magnon as a teenager.

After becoming Kro-Magnon’s bassist, Mikolajczyk quickly became a well-respected musical mainstay in Detroit and later formed HazardHead, a band influenced by ‘80s hard rock and GNR, in 2011.

Today, Mikolajczyk plays in several other tribute projects, including Bloodstone (Judas Priest) and Little Liars (Joan Jett), as well as Black Feather, Sever It All, Seven Story Fall, Swizzille Trip, the Kyle Mikolajczyk Blues Revue, Detroit Trouble and The Johnny Fangers Band.

He also performs as a solo artist and books, manages and promotes local and national pop, rock and blues acts through MetalAfro Management & Promotions. Mikolajczyk books acts regularly through the Diesel Concert Lounge in New Baltimore, including the Jan. 25 Ultimate Tribute Fest!, and other hard rock and metal shows.

With a myriad of projects, Mikolajczyk relishes sharing The Token Lounge stage with an impressive roster ‘80s hard rock icons, including Winger, Slaughter, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’Nuff.

“Enuff Z’Nuff might not be the biggest chart-topping act, but their music is very cutting-edge. Their last album, ‘Diamond Boy,’ has many musical masterpieces on it for being released only a year or two ago as well as the rest of their discography. They are definitely one of my favorite bands that’s still touring,” Mikolajczyk said.

Show details:

Enuff Z’Nuff with The Missiles, Whiskey A Go Go and Most Wanted

Friday | Doors 7 p.m. | Show 7:30 p.m.

The Token Lounge, 28949 Joy Road in Westland

Tickets: $15, ages 18 and up

Light Up – Detroit’s Mike Ward Shines on Reflective, Poignant Americana Folk Tales

Mike Ward performs regularly solo and with other artists in metro Detroit. Photo by Scott Kraus

Mike Ward believes in light-bulb moments.

The Detroit Americana folk singer-songwriter discovered a recent songwriting prompt illuminated a bright idea – a new track called “Our Turn to Shine.”

“That song actually began as a song prompt from John Lamb’s songwriting retreat. His songwriters’ retreat, which I did last year and then I just got back from, I can’t say enough about it,” Ward said. “It just sort of jumpstarted me last year, and he does these really long involved prompts, and it was about changing out incandescent bulbs for LED bulbs.”

As one of Ward’s newest tracks, “Our Turn to Shine” features fast acoustic strums intertwined with a nostalgic, hopeful feel – “I’m a dinosaur made of glass and tin/Take a new one out and screw a new one in/But for now, I’ll light the way/Brighten up your everyday/If only for a short time/It’s still my turn to shine.”

“It had all these specifics in it. I’ve kept most of them, and I have reworked it since I got back from the camp to try and make it more of a universal appeal. It basically has become a metaphor for even if you’re old, there are parts of you that are still usable, you can still shine,” he said. “It’s sort of like let’s all celebrate that aspect in ourselves. A lot of the songs I’ve been writing over the last year I think as I look at my experience and my life, it has crept into a lot of songs.”

Ward also shines on his other latest single, “Content,” which he submitted for NPR’s 2019 Tiny Desk Contest. The pensive track includes a beautiful acoustic guitar as its sonic centerpiece – “It’s a simple life in a complex world/ I want what’s mine and you want what’s yours/But when you’re all by yourself and the money is all spent/Are you gonna leave this world completely content?”

“It’s really about what do you regret, what don’t you regret, what will you be content with when you leave this earth, and how do you want to be remembered – that’s sort of the gist of it. I do write some fairly downer songs, but usually when I have a song that I’m trying to make a point with, or it has a serious undertone, I try and find ways to keep levity involved in it. From the influence of John Prine, Steve Earle and Warren Zevon, songwriters like that who always seem to have a way of not taking it too seriously, those are songwriters who I really admire,” Ward said.

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