Warm Welcome – Judy Banker Band, Mike Gentry Bring Refreshing Folk Rock to Farmington Friday

The Judy Banker Band and Mike Gentry will close out the fall series of Friday Night Live Nov. 8 in Farmington.

Farmington Civic Theater’s musical guests will receive an early check-in at the “Buffalo Motel” Friday.

Upon arrival, they’ll hear the refreshing and comforting indie country rock sounds of the Judy Banker Band with special guest Mike Gentry.

The Ann Arbor quintet of Judy Banker (vocals, guitar), David Roof (drums), Tony Pace (guitar), John Sperendi (bass) and Alan Pagliere (pedal steel guitar) will headline “Friday Night Live” at the historic theater and preview new material from Banker’s forthcoming “Buffalo Motel” album.

“It’s our last band show before the end of the year, so we want to introduce people to the new album,” said Banker, who will release “Buffalo Motel” in January. “We’ll also be playing some cuts from other albums, and Tony and John are going to take the lead on a song. Playing in a band with five of us can be really intimate, and we just have this creative energy all around us.”

Banker will share that creative energy with the Farmington Civic Theater audience and include flavors of Americana, roots, country and rock music throughout the band’s eclectic set. For “Buffalo Motel,” Banker has evolved into a country rock sound with heavier electric guitars and driving drum beats compared to her acoustic-oriented predecessors, “Devils Never Cry” (2016) and “Without You” (2014).

“The sound we’ve created for ‘Buffalo Motel’ is more layered and complex, and it’s a bigger sound with a higher volume that has more percussion and is bass-driven,” said Banker, who teamed up with son Ben Sayler to produce the album. “It’s nice to play the new album in segments, and a theater feels perfect for that.”

Banker is putting the finishing touches on “Buffalo Motel” with Roof, who will master the album at his Rooftop Recording studio in Grand Blanc. Along with Roof Sayler and her band, Banker has created a strong sonic signature for each track on “Buffalo Motel” and taken creative inspiration from established indie rock acts like Beck and The National.

“You have the same instruments and the same band playing on the songs, but each song has such a clear identity – more confidence, more integration,” she said. “I like my old songs and albums, but there’s a more confident and sophisticated approach with this one.”

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Three’s Company – Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho to Join ‘Even Steven Songwriters Round’ in Farmington Friday

The Even Steven Songwriters Round will feature Steve Acho, Stephen Clark and Steve Taylor in Farmington Friday.

A metro Detroit crowd will experience the live music of “Three’s Company” Friday night in Farmington.

While it won’t involve Jack, Janet or Chrissy, it will spotlight three “Steves” who’ve made a lasting sonic impression on the Motor City and Music City.

Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho will bring their catchy acoustic country, Americana roots and pop-rock classics to the “Friday Night Live – Even Steven Songwriters Round” at the Farmington Civic Theater. It will be an intimate evening filled with live music and laughter all round.

Let’s take a closer look at each “Steve” and how they will even up the musical score Friday night in Farmington.

Continue reading “Three’s Company – Stephen Clark, Steve Taylor and Steve Acho to Join ‘Even Steven Songwriters Round’ in Farmington Friday”

Tom Birchler, Bobby G Launch ‘Friday Night Live’ Fall Season at Farmington Civic Theater

Tom Birchler will headline Friday Night Live at the Farmington Civic Theater this Friday.

This Friday, Tom Birchler will take center stage at the Farmington Civic Theater.

The metro Detroit singer-songwriter will headline his first show for “Friday Night Live,” a fall and winter concert series he’s curated, produced and emceed for nearly three years.

“I get to play some of my own stuff and go through my catalog to see what might connect with the audience. I’ll also do some covers, so you might hear The Beatles, Carole King or an Eagles tune,” Birchler said. “The trick is to weave the covers and originals in such a way that the show has a flow and make it entertaining from front to back.”

Birchler will perform an acoustic set with his brother David Birchler and include special guest Bobby G, a Livonia blues rock singer-songwriter and guitarist.

“I have some stuff in the set that has to do with family, I’m going to do a song called ‘That’s My Mom,’” he said. “I’ve also got some songs about love, and I’m going to do a tribute to my fallen ‘brother’ Tommy Anderson.”

A Farmington music mainstay, Birchler launched the “Friday Night Live” concert series in January 2017 after discovering the theater’s potential as a live music venue. He approached theater general manager Scott Freeman about hosting the concert series in the upstairs 130-seat theater, which now doubles as one of southeast Michigan’s premier listening rooms.

Together, Birchler and Freeman, who met each other while working at Farmington’s Rhythms in Riley Park summer concert series in 2014, wanted to offer a live music experience on Friday nights and expand the theater’s offering beyond movies in downtown Farmington.

For the “Friday Night Live” series, they opted for three shows in the fall and four in the winter. To prepare for each show, Birchler books performances and handles sound while Freeman oversees promotion and venue needs.

“I knew it was a good room, and the size was right,” said Birchler, who also books and produces several Michigan-based shows through Go2Guy Productions and performs regularly for seniors. “I thought this would be an awesome venue for live music. I’m really lucky to be able to do stuff in that venue. Going forward, I hope that it’s something we can do more often.”

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After Hours Radio Reunites with Original Vocalist Calum Galt for Saturday’s Club Above Show

Greg Hughes and Nate Erickson perform with Calum Galt, center, during the early days of After Hours Radio.

For Calum Galt, Ann Arbor represents a bittersweet homecoming.

The former After Hours Radio vocalist will reunite with his old bandmates for Saturday’s show at Club Above. It will be his first appearance with the Ypsilanti progressive groove-heavy indie rock trio of Greg Hughes (bass), Nate Erickson (vocals, guitar) and Mark Dunne (drums) in nearly three years.

“It was actually Greg’s idea to have a reunion show. He reached out to me when he found out I was returning home for the first time in years to see if I was interested, and I agreed right away,” said Galt, who moved from Ann Arbor to Japan in 2014. “I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to play with the band again after so long, and I hope we can recreate some of the same energy our shows had back then.”

Calum Galt

Along with Hughes and Erickson, Galt honed his musicianship while attending open mic nights at the University of Michigan’s Nakamura and Luther Buchele co-ops. Together, they formed After Hours Radio and became synonymous with Ann Arbor’s burgeoning underground, do-it-yourself (DIY) music community.

“Forming the band was equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking – I had never really written or performed my own music, which I think is an inherently intimate and scary thing to do,” said Galt, who’s inspired by of Montreal, The Strokes and Radiohead. “I was lucky to be surrounded by supportive friends and be involved in the co-op community, which has always been a fertile environment for budding musicians.”

As After Hours Radio, they recorded their self-titled, six-track debut EP in 2015 before Galt moved to Japan. Four years later, Galt is ready to revisit the EP with his old bandmates through an older, wiser and fresher perspective.

“There are a lot of memories tied up in those songs so revisiting them has been an interesting experience,” said Galt, who graduated from U-M with a bachelor’s degree in East Asian languages and cultures. “I’ve changed a lot in the intervening time so it’s strange to hear those songs, which really encapsulate the weird head-space I was in at the time.”

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Nashtown – 5 Nashville Singer-Songwriters Perform at Farmington Civic Theater Friday Night

The Nashtown Songwriters Round will feature Wil Nance, Danika & The Jeb, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski at the Farmington Civic Theater for Friday Night Live.

Five singer-songwriters will bring their Nashville sound to Detroit Friday night.

Wil Nance, Danika Holmes, Jeb Hart, Rob Taube and Mark Barnowski will share their Americana, country, folk and pop sounds through the Nashtown Songwriters Round at the Farmington Civic Theater as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series.

As the final show in the concert series’ winter season, “Nashtown” will allow the singer-songwriters to mix elements of Music City with Motown through their live performances and musical storytelling.

“It’s going to be a great show at the Nashtown Songwriters Round,” Wil Nance said. “I hope people will be moved, laugh and cry some, have a good time and hear some great stories behind the songs.”

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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.

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Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will perform Friday night at the Farmington Civic Theater.

Jan Krist and Jim Bizer will bring their Midwest urban folk songs to Farmington tomorrow night.

The folk singer-songwriter duo will perform as part of the “Friday Night Live” concert series at the Farmington Civic Theater, 33332 Grand River Ave. in Farmington, at 8 p.m. Friday with special guest Mark Reitenga.

“I think we’ll pull from all of our experiences of working together and songs that we’ve written together, songs that we’ve done solo, songs that are cover tunes, songs that we’ve performed and recorded, and maybe have some new stuff, too,” said Krist, who’s recovering from a broken shoulder. “I have a couple of new songs that I’m hoping we’ll be able to play.”

Together, Krist and Bizer will perform as part of a fun, formidable duo where the sum is greater than the already substantial parts. Their performances mesh and interlock with lyrics and melodies that interweave in surprising and intriguing ways.

Originally hailing from Detroit, the duo has played together for more than 40 years and first crossed musical paths as teens during the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Krist absorbed Joni Mitchell’s folk, rock, jazz and pop-inspired tunes while Bizer studied James Taylor’s catchy folk rock. They also developed an affinity for the Motown sound coming out of Detroit.

“Both of us had independent careers and achieved a bit of notoriety on our own, and then we decided it would be fun to tour together,” said Bizer, who started out playing cover songs in local bars and restaurants. “We’d perform as a duo and take turns performing each other’s songs. We got more and more developed into that kind of show, and we started writing together, and the songs became more crafted for a duo, which is where it really got fun.”

Continue reading “Dynamic Duo — Jan Krist, Jim Bizer Bring Their Midwest Urban Folk for Farmington Civic Theater’s Friday Night Live”