Mind Meld – Billy Brandt, Sarana VerLin Fuse Musical Intuition Thursday at 20 Front Street

Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin will perform Thursday night at 20 Front Street in Lake Orion.

Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin know how to read musical minds.

The folk rock duo will demonstrate their sonic superpowers live Thursday night before an intimate crowd at Lake Orion’s 20 Front Street. It will be their first time captivating fans there together.

“Billy and I have a ‘Vulcan mind meld’ on stage where we can follow each other effortlessly and know what direction to go in when we go off-piste and improvise instrumentally,” said VerLin, a U.K.-based singer-songwriter, violinist and multi-instrumentalist. “When we play and write together, we rub against and wear away each other’s rough edges to get a sound blend that neither of us gets on our own.”

The enchanting pair will share timeless tales from their latest release, “Are You Listening?” – a magical 10-track odyssey that includes Shakespearean characters, ghosts, emperors, dystopian worlds and whales. Magical acoustic guitars, violins and mandolins whisk listeners away to a stunning sonic world beautifully constructed in their minds.

“‘Are You Listening?’ took about two years to complete. When I was here in Detroit a few years ago, I said we should go in the studio to record. We had a few songs that had not been recorded yet so we started with those,” said VerLin, who originally hails from Trenton.

“Billy had written a song called ‘Sailing Away,’ and coincidentally and separately, I had written a song called ‘Sailing Away.’ A completely different feel but in a similar key, so we combined them into a two-part song.”

Released in 2018 via Drum Dancer Records, “Are You Listening?” also unearths another folk rock treasure, “I Wish I Knew,” which includes a splendid picking arrangement of a melody Brandt wrote and envisioned as part of a monotone vocal accompaniment.

Back in July 2011, VerLin wrote the lyrics during a trip to Chamberlain’s Ole Forest Inn in Curtis, but couldn’t pair it will the right melody. Six years later, Brandt’s guitar melody formed the perfect marriage for the song.

Continue reading “Mind Meld – Billy Brandt, Sarana VerLin Fuse Musical Intuition Thursday at 20 Front Street”

Dream Ticket – Tetra Music Project Hosts FutureDream 3 Dec. 21 at Detroit’s Tangent Gallery

Tetra Music Project will host FutureDream 3 and feature emerging EDM, hip-hop and rock artists on two stages.

Kim Tetra Wiesner will bring the sparkle and soundtrack of spring to Detroit three months early.

The Ypsilanti electronic, chillwave and world bass vocalist-guitarist, aka Tetra Music Project, will host an indoor visual art and live music garden party Dec. 21 at Tangent Gallery. It will be an exhilarating visual and auditory experience to awaken the mind, body and spirit during the winter solstice.

Known as FutureDream 3, the atmospheric festival will feature emerging EDM, hip-hop and rock artists on two stages, including Tetra Music Project, Pandora Love, Gyp$y, Y-Not, Dancemyth, Dos Lopez, Approachable Minorities, Mynah, Neural Patterns and Jena Irene Asciutto.

It also will showcase visionary floral sculptor Anthony Flowers Ward as well as a special performance from Botanical Burlesque and a magical imagination playspace by Astral Matter Experience. Additional FutureDream 3 support will come from Unique Groove Entertainment, Silky Grooves and 3D Planted.

“Instead of trying to set up a bunch of shows throughout the year, I really just focus on the one big, extravagant performance, and I like to have it be this really art-centered display of people who I personally find are very talented and dedicated to what they do,” Wiesner said.

“I like to give everybody a decent amount of time to perform and make it worth their while. I curate the event in a way that I can get behind, and I have people who have a good attitude and a good vibe about them.”

Outside of art and music, FutureDream 3 will donate festival proceeds to the St. Clair Butterfly Foundation, an Auburn Hills nonprofit that uses creative arts, mindfulness and mentorship programs to help youth overcome trauma.

“If I’m putting an event together, usually it has some sort of cause involved, and we may or may not make a whole lot of money to donate or contribute, but we focus on it, make a little bit and say, ‘Well hey, we did our best,’” Wiesner said.

Continue reading “Dream Ticket – Tetra Music Project Hosts FutureDream 3 Dec. 21 at Detroit’s Tangent Gallery”

Right at Home – Nick Behnan Releases New Rock, Hip-Hop Single to Celebrate Motor City

Nick Behnan combines rock, hip-hop, funk and R&B on his latest solo single, “Right at Home.”

As an accomplished songwriter, guitarist and producer, Nick Behnan magically fuses the infectious sounds of the Motor City.

He solders raw urban elements of rock, hip-hop, funk and R&B together on his latest single, “Right at Home,” which dropped today via all streaming platforms.

The three-minute track blends pounding drums and roaring guitars with stuck-in-your-head verses and flavorful rhymes from soul vocalist Kendrick Hardaway and rapper Saint Diggidy – “The bass drum kickin’ and the guitar screamin’/I feel right at home/Nobody talkin’ about what’s the meanin’.”

“The song is inspired by those times when you feel right at home,” said Behnan, who opted to remain in Detroit for his music career. “You’re with the right group of people, you eat the right meal, you listen to the right album, you’ve got the right bottle of whiskey, and everybody feels comfortable in their own skin.”

Behnan invited Hardaway and Saint Diggidy to add a strong hip-hop, funk and R&B feel to the rock-based track, which initially started as a stripped-down demo on SoundCloud. Hardaway and Saint Diggidy added their own verses to elevate and enrich the multi-genre track.

“I wanted to bring more of an old-school feel like Rick Rubin did for the Beastie Boys and bring more of that Run-DMC-approach to their voice,” Behnan said. “It mixes the urban funk sounds with rock because those are both embedded in my ear. I like music that has both of those vibes in there.”

Continue reading “Right at Home – Nick Behnan Releases New Rock, Hip-Hop Single to Celebrate Motor City”

Rope Together – Pretty Tied Up Unleashes Deep GNR Cuts Saturday at Taylor’s Road Rangers

Pretty Tied Up Guns N’ Roses tribute band will headline a Saturday show at Road Rangers in Taylor. Photo by LUX Artist Management

Five hard rock musicians will rope in bangers from Guns N’ Roses Saturday night.

Pretty Tied Up, a Michigan-Kentucky GNR tribute band, will unleash their favorite Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff and Matt renditions as part of a headlining set at Road Rangers in Taylor.

“Let’s just say everything from ‘Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide’ up until ‘Spaghetti Incident’ is going to be on the table,” said Brandon Fields, aka Slash. “That’s the good thing about being in a tribute to Guns is that they’ve got such a deep catalog. We might have some special guests jamming with us as well.”

Fields will jam with bandmates Kevin Shannon (Axl Rose), Kyle Mikolajczyk (Izzy Stradlin), Dustin Witt (Duff McKagan) and Garrett Ramsden (Matt Sorum) for one of their final 2019 appearances in metro Detroit.

He formed the project earlier this year with Mikolajczyk and Ramsden after their previous GNR tribute band, Uzi Suicide, went on hiatus.

“Guns N’ Roses is my favorite band of all time. These are songs I’ve always wanted to play live and couldn’t necessarily pull off in my other projects,” Fields said. “I made the Facebook page before the band lineup was even finished, and Kyle instantly shot me a message asking what was up with it.”

After teaming up with Mikolajczyk and Ramsden, Fields invited longtime best friend and multi-instrumentalist Witt to join the lineup as well as hard rock vocalist Shannon. The quintet quickly blew up the hard rock music scene in Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee with growing roster of live dates.

“Obviously, whoever is doing Axl’s job is going to have the main attraction in my opinion, so you’ve got to have somebody who’s going to put on a show. Kevin does a good job. Kyle, Dustin and Garrett do an awesome job of holding the rhythm section down as well. Garrett is an absolute monster behind the kit, and I don’t think there’s anybody who would be a better fit for us,” said Fields, who lives in Lexington, Ky., and named the band after a GNR “Use Your Illusion IItrack.

“Dustin’s a very smart musician and has been my partner in crime for a few years since he joined my solo band. You never have to worry about him messing up. Kyle plays everything he needs at the right time. He’s in like 10 different bands, and you definitely don’t get to a point like that being an amateur.”

Continue reading “Rope Together – Pretty Tied Up Unleashes Deep GNR Cuts Saturday at Taylor’s Road Rangers”

The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album

Bruce Soord and The Pineapple Thief will make their first metro Detroit live appearance Saturday at The Crofoot in Pontiac. Photo by Steve Brown

The Pineapple Thief will steal the spotlight Saturday night in metro Detroit.

The British prog rock quartet will make their long-awaited Motor City live debut at The Crofoot in Pontiac as part of a 22-date North American tour.

Bruce Soord (guitars, vocals), Steve Kitch (keys), Jon Sykes (bass, backing vocals) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) have embarked on their first North American tour in support of 2018’s “Dissolution,” a splendid nine-track album via Kscope Records that poetically chronicles the impact of social media on people’s lives and society.

“Over the last four years since ‘Your Wilderness’ came out, the band’s just gotten bigger, and we were playing to more people. The modern band is quite weird because you get so much data to analyze, so you look at your Spotify listeners, where your Facebook people are coming from, and you can see where people are,” said Soord, who formed the band in 1999.

“We knew the USA was the big market for us. Obviously, it’s a very big place, so it’s difficult, but we knew that Germany, the U.K., and the USA were the three big territories that are into The Pineapple Thief. Since we’ve been selling more records, we were able to afford to do it.”

Continue reading “The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album”

Inside Out – Audra Kubat Explores Life’s Dualities on ‘The Sliver & the Salve’

Audra Kubat will release her seventh album, “The Sliver & the Salve,” Friday via Whistle Pig Records. Photo by Allan Barnes

For Audra Kubat, life brings a series of dualities that challenge and change the soul.

Those dualities inspire her to create magical sonic epiphanies that instantly resonate with listeners on “The Sliver & the Salve,” a spectacular 10-track odyssey that drops Friday and looks inward and outward at the self, society and the cosmos.

“I feel like this album for me was recognizing that there were these dualities and sort of contradictions, these internal and external things going on. I wanted then to connect that also with the way we treat each other, treat ourselves and treat the earth,” said Kubat, a Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter.

“Those three ideas, the way we treat ourselves, the way we treat each other and the way we treat the land are what really define us. Our impact is limited, expounded or accentuated by our ability to be fully ourselves, to be gracious to others and to take care of the land.”

Throughout “The Sliver & the Salve,” Kubat brilliantly addresses relatable themes of inner strength, personal freedom and growth, tumultuous relationships, emotional upheavals and environmental stewardship.

Selections from ‘The Sliver & the Salve’

“The Sliver & the Salve” album artwork

As a follow-up to 2016’s acoustically-minded “Mended Vessel,” Kubat’s latest album via Whistle Pig Records showcases a carefully crafted batch of songs that evoke deep reflections against a backdrop of elegant instrumentation.

Each song highlights the challenges of everyday life experiences and the difficult choices people make to progress. The gorgeous opening track, “Some Comfort,” depicts the courageous mindset of a woman who escapes an abusive relationship and ponders a new life ahead.

Continue reading “Inside Out – Audra Kubat Explores Life’s Dualities on ‘The Sliver & the Salve’”

Fresh Sounds – WSU Students Launch Old Main Records Label to Support Emerging Artists

The WSU student-run label and organization will host a multimedia launch event Jan. 17 in Detroit.

A new homegrown record label will cultivate fresh sounds in the Motor City.

Known as Old Main Records, the Wayne State University (WSU) student-run label and organization will help local, regional and national artists record, release and perform original music.

“The idea of actually doing a record label at Wayne State as a student organization had been around for a while since I was a freshman taking the classes. People would say, ‘Oh, it would be great if it happened,’ but nobody actually really did it,” said Brendan Derey, Old Main Records president and a music business senior.

“Another friend and I actually did start it together. Over the summer, we got a small group of people in the room talking about our ideas, and then it snowballed from there.”

Today, Old Main Records has 20 student members, including three other leads besides Derey – Patrick Norton, creative director; Christopher Simpson, social media and marketing director; and David Jackowicz, recording and distribution director.

Named after and housed in the iconic 19th century WSU academic building at Cass and Warren avenues, Old Main Records also partners with two WSU Department of Music lecturers Jeremy Peters and Michael Shellabarger.

“One of the things we’re trying to do with the label is create a hub. One of the benefits of being a Wayne State student organization is that there are a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds, whether that’s art, film, business, music tech or music business,” Derey said. “There are just a ton of people around who are willing to do this kind of grassroots organization.”

Patrick Norton and his Dirt Room bandmates are helping students work through the process of signing an artist to the label. Photo by Matt Hamilton

With a team in place, Old Main Records is currently setting up the independent label’s infrastructure, accepting and reviewing artist submissions, applying for grants and creating internal processes. It also will provide students with opportunities in event promotion, marketing, recording and distribution and launch a crowdfunding campaign soon.

“They want to turn this into a class or an outlet for music business majors to use. It helps everybody out because part of the goal of the record label is to give resources out to artists,” said Norton, a music technology senior and director of do-it-yourself (DIY) Detroit music-art space Nice Place. “We’re really looking to help build the local community and give promotional and marketing support to artists.”

To demonstrate that support, Norton’s band Dirt Room, a Detroit experimental indie rock quintet, is serving as a pilot artist for Old Main Records. Along with Norton, Dirt Room bandmates Samuel Sprague, Simon Sprague, Cam Frank and Matt Hagger are helping students work through the process of signing an artist to the label.

Dirt Room is also featured on a “Nice Plays: Local Detroit Underground” Spotify playlist, which includes dozens of emerging Motor City artists across a multitude of genres. All artists added to the playlist have submitted their music for consideration to Old Main Records.

As Old Main Records finalizes its first round of artists to sign, it will host a multimedia launch event in partnership with Nice Place and feature live music and visual art Jan. 17 at St. Andrew’s Church in Detroit. Dirt Room, The Stools, Mac Saturn and Craig Garwood will perform at the label’s event.

“We’re taking twice as much time to do every small step now with the label, so in the future, these will be easy processes, and everybody will know what to do going forward,” Derey said. “We’re hoping for January and February to start recording projects with those groups, and then have our first releases as well coming down this year.”

Finally, Old Main Records will partner with WSU to preserve and digitize an extensive catalog of audio archives that date back to the ‘30s. It will be a multi-year project to convert audio recordings on cassette, vinyl and wire to digital formats for future preservation.

For details about Old Main Records, visit the label’s Facebook and Instagram pages. Interested artists also can submit their music for consideration to oldmainrecordssubmissions@gmail.com. General label inquiries can be sent to oldmainrecords@gmail.com.