Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP

The Future
Dani Darling transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes on “The Future.”

Drenched in psychedelic sensibilities, space-age rhythms and funky prog-jazz fusions, Dani Darling vividly constructs an insightful time machine that revisits past reflections and welcomes future possibilities.

The Ann Arbor chanteuse-guitarist instantly transports listeners to a boundless cosmic frontier filled with vintage-neo soundscapes and never-ending stories on The Future EP, which dropped June 25.

“The kind of energy we need is that kind of New Year’s Eve vibe, like having a fresh start, feeling adventurous and wanting to see what’s out there. When it comes to these current times, I think it’s about being hopeful for the future and the energy that people have when they’re anticipating it and feeling positive about it,” said Danielle Davis, aka Dani Darling.

“That’s why New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday; that whole energy is unmatched when everyone is hoping for something greater and looking forward to letting go of what’s in the past.”

Darling initially envisioned The Future during a winter solstice 2020 recording session at Ypsilanti’s Grove Studios. At the time, she recorded the album’s astral, improvisational jam, “The Age,” and embraced the hypnotic, psychedelic sound that emerged.

“After we all finished playing it, we stopped and looked at each other and said, ‘Whoa that was exactly it.’ Then we were like, ‘Let’s do it again,’ and the New Year’s Eve session was the one heard around the whole project. It was a seven-hour lock-in, and most of it came out of that,” said Davis about her third release and follow-up to 2020’s mystical Mage EP.

“I was also thinking about the next phase of Dani Darling coming from a very lo-fi, toned-down sound where I’m pretty limited with my resources to suddenly having this ability to bring my friends and people I really respect in musically. That really changed the game.”

Continue reading “Time Machine – Dani Darling Unites Past with ‘The Future’ on Latest Psychedelic EP”

Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’

The Art of Keeping It Real
Kenyatta Rashon reflects on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother on “The Art of Keeping It Real.” Photo – Chris Hollis

Kenyatta Rashon delightfully turns the page to a new life chapter.

The Ypsilanti R&B vocalist and Amplify fellow welcomes a new era of artistic growth, emotional strength and inner enlightenment on her latest album, The Art of Keeping It Real, out now via all streaming platforms.

“I didn’t come up with the title until afterward. The word that stuck out to me was ‘honesty.’ A lot of it has to do with emotional passages whether it’s friendships, relationships or fun; it’s everything that’s deep in your spirit,” Rashon said.

“When I got the chance to work with the fellowship, Rod (Wallace) and I spoke, and he was like, ‘Well, what would you like to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want to put it all out,’ but I explained to him that it’s very hard for me because I get writer’s block. He said, ‘I want you to write everything down,’ so I began to write everything down.”

That journaling process allowed Rashon to deeply reflect on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother. She spent five months crafting the seven authentic, insightful stories that would become The Art of Keeping It Real. (The project also features her 2020 single, “Ymmfb.”)

“I found out I was pregnant, and I went through all the emotions you can imagine from being pregnant. By the time it all came together, I’m like, ‘This is a story; this is something interesting that someone can relate to on many levels,’” said Rashon, who’s inspired by Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige.

“I wanted to go with these songs and focus on transparency and honesty, so I decided to go with The Art of Keeping It Real. Everything I’m summing up is art, and the art I’m projecting is keeping it real.”

Continue reading “Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’”

Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’

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London Beck confronts dark emotional terrain on “The Black Satin Sessions.” Photo – E. (Liz) Keller

London Beck beautifully reveals the earnestness and empowerment of being vulnerable.

The Ann Arbor R&B vocalist-instrumentalist-producer and Amplify fellow openly shares a personal, emotive journey of defeating inner demons and embracing newfound strength on their latest album, The Black Satin Sessions.

“This project really showed me that it’s OK to be vulnerable and ask for help. It’s OK to use the resources that are available to you if you feel like you’re giving it your all and nothing’s really working. Even though there’s this outspoken, loud and formidable essence of London, I want people to understand there’s a softer, more thoughtful side of me,” Beck said.

“In that vulnerability, it’s OK to move toward a path of healing, and it’s OK to heal with people who have your best interests at heart. I can still encourage people and open doors for them while making space for me to have my needs met.”

Beck openly chronicles confronting dark emotional terrain while uncovering an enlightened path of self-redemption across 13 passionate, metamorphic tracks on The Black Satin Sessions. Each multi-genre track shifts, shimmies and soars over introspective lyrics, exquisite instrumentation and fiery vocals.

With Beck at the helm, listeners seamlessly absorb enchanting sonic snippets of R&B, electro pop, dance, Motown, rock, classical and folk rolled into a refreshing auditory experience.

“I had initially intended to put out two smaller EPs, one that was rock, acoustic-focused and one that had the electro vibes that people typically know me for. As we were working through this project and with the Amplify fellows, I was really thinking about my journey, and it all came together in the most beautiful, unexpected way,” said Beck, who’s also a classically trained violist.

“I decided to write and make music that’s on my heart and my mind. Once I had finished all of the music, and I listened to it, I was like ‘Wow, this really tells my story.’”

Continue reading “Moment of Truth – London Beck Unearths Deep Vulnerabilities on ‘The Black Satin Sessions’”

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show

Grove Studios April 24 Livestream
Saturday’s Grove Sessions hip-hop livestream will feature electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves.

Three local hip-hop acts will ignite the Grove Studios livestream stage Saturday.

Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper will spark electrifying rhymes, fiery beats and explosive grooves for a Grove Sessions livestream audience. Rod Wallace, Grove Studios educational programs coordinator and Zero Noize Podcast host, will oversee the show’s festivities.

“We want to bring a full Approachable Minorities experience to all who come and watch the stream. Since last year we have been working hard to bring new material for our fans, and we are excited to share that with everyone,” said TJ Greggs, aka MC Lewy Seifer of Approachable Minorities.

“We plan to play some new songs for the Grove Sessions set to give a small glimpse of our new album that we will be releasing over the next year. We continue to practice and work on our craft regularly so that we may bring the best performance for any event that we are a part of.”

Along with his Approachable Minorities partners – MC Druzi Baby, aka Drew Denton, and DJ OnDemand, aka Marcus McKinney – Greggs relishes rejoining Tru Klassick for another live show and teaming up with Soundproof’s Mark Cooper for the first time.

“Tru Klassick always brings superior lyrical diversity and captures the true essence of hip-hop. We have worked and performed with Tru Klassick on many different occasions, and it is always a great time to watch his talent at work. We have not yet had the chance to perform with Mark Cooper, but we are excited to have the chance to share the stage with him,” said Greggs along with his bandmates.

Outside of performing, Approachable Minorities continue to write, record and release new material. The Ypsilanti party rap and conscious hip-hop trio recently contributed and produced tracks for last summer’s community-based hip-hop album, Formula 734, along with Louis Picasso, Sam Watson, Beretta Shells, Konphlict, King Ogundipe, Tru Klassick, Jamall Bufford and Wallace.

One of the project’s most compelling tracks includes Approachable Minorities’ thoughtful, percussive “See Me Dead,” which was inspired by last summer’s Black Lives Matter marches.

Together, they reflect, “Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my skin/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause my hair/Why they wanna see me dead, why they wanna see me dead/Probably cause I’m Black/Why they wanna see me dead/See another brother take two to the head.”

“We were on vacation in Florida when the protests initially began. We had to drive back through the country seeing alerts about the curfews and were worried about our safety while being in the south during these times. We spoke with Rod Wallace, Jamall Bufford and Louis Picasso on our way back, and they explained the situation in Detroit to us,” said Greggs, who formed Approachable Minorities with Denton and McKinney in 2016.

“We had friends down on the front lines being tear-gassed and shot with rubber bullets, and it was horrible to see the videos of the events. When we got back home, we immediately went into the studio and began writing.”

Continue reading “Tru Klassick, Approachable Minorities and Mark Cooper to Ignite Saturday Grove Sessions Livestream Show”

Funky Vibes – Grove Studios Hosts Saturday Livestream Show with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

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Sabbatical Bob will share groovy jazz-funk fusion during Saturday’s Grove Sessions livestream show. Photo – Kyla McGrath & Mural – Joanna Farben

The DayNites
The DayNites will bring blues, neo-soul and psychedelic rock to Saturday’s livestream show. Photo courtesy of The DayNites

Two local bands will funkify the livestream universe from Grove Studios Saturday.

Sabbatical Bob and The DayNites will share soulful grooves throughout their energetic, danceable sets for Grove Sessions from the Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space’s newly renovated Deluxe Studio.

“Sabbatical Bob comes from more of a jazz-funk fusion realm with some killer jazz-trained musicianship. The DayNites speak more of a blues, neo-soul and psychedelic language to get their vibe across. Regardless, we imagine our virtual audience will be bobbin’ their heads and shakin’ it a bit at home,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder/director of community engagement and drummer for The DayNites.

As Grove Studios’ second in-studio livestream performance, viewers will experience a jam-tastic show filled with bouncy wah-wah guitars, hypnotic bass, pulsating drums, upbeat horns and shiny keys.

Sabbatical Bob’s Ben Green (trumpet, vocals), Ian Eylanbekov (guitar), Ben Wood (bass) and David Ward (drums, vocals) will perform tracks from their dynamic, rhythmic 2019 debut EP, Sabbatical Bob: Live and in Person. (Keyboardist Jordan Anderson won’t be able to join the band for the show.)

“We plan on doing what we always do, bringing the exciting loud funk. We are playing some oldies from the EP, a cover or two, and some music that is soon to be released on our next record, On the Run,” Ward said. “We have never been able to share the stage with The DayNites, but they are friends, and we’ve all got to hear them play before.”

In December, Sabbatical Bob released a colorful, inspiring video for “Alright,” their peppy, spirited instrumental that defeats corporate drudgery with enthusiastic, bouncy funk. Created by Filmic Productions, it’s a much-needed cure from being trapped inside lifeless, institutional walls.

“‘Alright’ was super fun because we had a team work up the idea and present it to us. The people at Filmic are really dope and had it all ready to go. We kinda got to be super stars – even the idea for the video was intuited by the team just by listening to the music. They ran it by us once, and we were sold,” Ward said.

In tandem with Sabbatical Bob, The DayNites will bring moonlit melodies, gravitational grooves and rotational rhythms to a virtual audience. Kristianna Bell (vocals), Ryan Greene (keys, piano), Tim Blackman (bass), Shaun Maazza (guitar) and Friebel (drums) will share tracks from their R&B-rock flavored self-titled debut EP, which dropped in October.

“We’ll be playing the entire self-titled EP along with some of our own renditions of classic soul and R&B jams. We’ll also be debuting a new original written with Ryan Greene, the keyboardist from Violet Sol, who became an official DayNite last July,” Friebel said.

Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, in March 2020. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.

Show details:

Grove Sessions livestream with Sabbatical Bob & The DayNites

7 p.m. | Saturday, April 3

Tickets: $10

Saturday’s Virtual Amplify Kickback Show to Feature Kenyatta Rashon

Kenyatta Rashon will perform Saturday during the Amplify Kickback livestream show. Photo – Kyla McGrath

The Amplify Project and Ypsilanti R&B vocalist and Amplify fellow Kenyatta Rashon will host a virtual fundraising show Saturday to benefit Do You See What I See, a local organization that supports female mentorship and empowerment.

Known as Amplify Kickback, the show is part of a concert and panel discussion series aimed at supporting Washtenaw County community organizations. Amplify Fellowship artists will be featured while local organizations will receive a portion of the show’s proceeds from the ticketed livestream event. 

Sponsored by Leon Speakers and Grove Studios, The Amplify Fellowship supports and funds musicians’ creative efforts in exchange for volunteering with local nonprofits and agencies. It’s part of the overall Amplify Project, which supports community engagement and artistic expression in Washtenaw County.

“Bringing artists and organization representatives together in this way just makes sense. We’re hoping to show our audience the incredible journey of both the fellows and the communities they serve. Along the way, we hope to establish the Leon Loft as a community space, and we are extremely grateful for the sponsorship and support we have already received,” said Maia Evans, Amplify Project co-founder.

With Evans at the helm, The Leon Loft at Leon Speakers, On-Air Elements, Grove Studios and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival will produce the events. Grove Studios and Leon Speakers have been working together over the past year to share virtual content throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amplify fellows Dani Darling and London Beck will perform as part of the Amplify Kickback show series in April and May. For more information, visit The Amplify Fellowship website.

Show details:

Amplify Kickback Series: Kenyatta Rashon

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Saturday, March 20

Tickets: $15-$75

Grove Studios Hosts Saturday Livestream Show with Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow & V*A*S*E

Grove Studios will host its first ever in-studio livestream show Saturday featuring three local emerging hard rock bands.

Grove Studios will ignite a fiery explosion of heavy sounds this weekend.

The Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space will host a ticketed Grove Sessions livestream show on Saturday, Feb. 27 featuring three local emerging hard rock bands – Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow and V*A*S*E.

As its first ever in-studio livestream performance, Grove Studios will share three hours of heavy-duty rock for fans to enjoy at home. Broadcast live from the newly renovated Deluxe Studio, viewers will experience a searing show filled with shredding guitars, pulsating drums and thumping bass.

“We’ve had a variety of themed shows over the years and thought it was time to have a collection of heavy rockers this time around. I’m personally looking forward to feeling pounding drums and bass in my chest while wild guitar riffs and vocal runs fill the ether,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder and Director of Community Engagement. 

Ann Arbor power trio Electric Huldra will launch the show’s heavy-duty night with new tracks from their upcoming self-titled album. It will be the band’s first new material since releasing their latest thunderous single, “Letting Go,” in 2019 and their blazing five-track debut EP, Roadburner, in 2018.

“We will be playing every song except for the one cover song that we put on the record, and we won’t say what that song is to keep the surprise for people listening to the new record. We just hope to go in and show people that rock and roll is alive and well and give them a taste of what to expect when we can hopefully be playing live again soon,” said Bobby Marks, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, last March. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists and bands in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.

“By presenting in-studio livestream performances, we’re not only giving artists a platform to express themselves and maintain a music livelihood, but we also want to share what Grove actually is with the broader community. We’re more than just simply a performance venue or rehearsal and music production space,” said Friebel.

Show Details:

Grove Studios Livestream with Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow & V*A*S*E

7 p.m. | Saturday, Feb. 27

Tickets: $10

A Man for All Seasons – Steve Somers Jazzes Up WCC’s Winter Semester Music Classes

Steve Somers performs at Grove Studios in Ypsilanti. Photo by Kyla McGrath and mural by Joanna Farben

For Steve Somers, jazz weathers all seasons, especially winter.

The Ypsilanti guitarist-composer will share his longtime love of jazz, guitar and music through virtual winter semester courses for aspiring musicians at Washtenaw Community College (WCC).

Starting Jan. 11, Somers will teach Creative Jazz and Improvisation I & II (MUS 105-106) and Beginning and Intermediate Guitar (MUS 133-134) to 20 students per class.

All classes will include a combination of online class meetings with individual consultation and assistance with varying recording projects as well as virtual recitals. Students can now enroll for these online winter classes through WCC’s website.

“The jazz and improvisation classes allow students to work on different songs each semester and learn about jazz and improvisation concepts. They submit solos and parts online, which I mix in my studio at Alley Records to create an audio recording,” Somers said.

“The guitar classes combine both beginning and intermediate students in one class. Beginners work on basic chords and strumming patterns while the intermediate students work on melodies, solo concepts and more advanced bar chords.”

Somers also will bring in Ann Arbor hip-hop artist and Grove Studios marketing head Max Preissner, aka Max Price, to offer a social media class for music students through WCC. Management for Working Artists (MUS 285) will help musicians learn how to promote their own music through social media.

“Many of the students are interested in eventually writing their own music, and Max will help them learn more about how to market it and utilize social media,” Somers said.

As another course offering, Somers will offer a virtual non-credit Community Jazz Orchestra class through WCC that starts Feb. 24. For those seeking financial assistance, WCC’s Emeritus Scholarships provide free tuition for Washtenaw County residents age 65 and older who enroll in non-credit and credit courses, including music.

Outside of the Community Jazz Orchestra, Somers will teach a virtual Ypsilanti Youth Jazz and Music Theory Class starting Jan. 9 for students ages 9 to 18. Adults are welcome to participate as mentors and learn more about jazz music and theory.

Continue reading “A Man for All Seasons – Steve Somers Jazzes Up WCC’s Winter Semester Music Classes”

The Flight Team Hosts Toys for Tots Donation Drive, Livestream Show Saturday at Grove Studios

An Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti hip-hop group will brighten the holidays for Washtenaw County children in need.

The Flight Team will host the “Super Fly Toy Drive and Live Show” Saturday, Dec. 19 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Grove Studios, 884 Railroad St., Suite B in Ypsilanti.

The holiday-themed event will include a contactless drive-thru collection for Ypsilanti Toys for Tots donations and a virtual livestream telethon featuring performances from The Flight Team’s Dre Dav, King Micah The Infamous, Villin, Brad Spliff, DJ Nitro and other local artists.

“We know Christmas is especially hard on people this year due to the pandemic and the loss of employment so we want to help ease some of the stress and make kids smile along the way. Some of us have benefited from programs like this when were young so it’s nice to be able to give back,” said Neiko “DJ Nitro” Thomas-Cook of The Flight Team.

For Saturday’s event, community members can donate and drop off new, sealed toys at a curbside collection bin located outside Grove Studios, a 24/7 self-service recording and rehearsal space. All toys must be unwrapped and sanitized before they’re donated. No plush toys will be accepted this year.

“All the donations will be given to Toys for Tots the following day when we plan to volunteer and help them sort through the donations we provided. Toy donations will be accepted at five other locations through Saturday, and people are also invited to make monetary donations online,” Thomas-Cook said.

Once community members drop off Toys for Tots donations at Grove Studios, they will be able to catch The Flight Team’s livestream telethon via Facebook and Instagram. The fun event will allow the group to personally connect and engage with fans for the holidays.

“We’ll be playing Christmas tunes, trivia and silly-themed games for your entertainment and have some special surprise performances from local favorites. We want to prompt people to come back and give to a community that has given us so much,” Thomas-Cook said.

“Grove is becoming an important pillar in the artistic community here in Ypsilanti. It’s a hub for The Flight Team where we can practice and have group meetings in a professional environment. We wanted to partner with Grove for the simple fact that it’s an awesome environment to throw a show and perform.”

To support The Flight Team’s “Super Fly Toy Drive and Live Show,” donate a toy at one of the following locations below by Saturday. You can also make a monetary donation online through Sunday.

The Mike C Collection

226 W. Michigan Ave. Bldg. Ground Floor

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Suite 328 Recording Studio

239 S. Ford Blvd.

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

Leon Speakers

715 W. Ellsworth Road

Ann Arbor, MI 48108

The Workshop Recording Studio

317 Ecorse Road, Suite 12

Ypsilanti, MI 48198

Ypscity

2898 Washtenaw Ave. D

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Grove Studios

884 Railroad St., Suite B

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Beneath the Surface – Dirty Ol’ Men Reveal Tenacious Tales on ‘Six Feet’ Album

Dirty Ol’ Men recorded “Six Feet” during the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The album’s iconic cover dates back to the Elaine Massacre of 1919 and features seven of 12 men who were wrongly prosecuted and executed for an “attempted insurrection” in Elaine, Arkansas.

For Six Feet, Dirty Ol’ Men keep it 100.

The international collective of hip-hop producers, musicians and curators reveal compelling conversations, thought-provoking narratives and tenacious tales about social injustice, systemic racism, internal struggles and personal aspirations on their latest quarantine-fueled album.

“The songs that came out are representative of the discussions and conversations we have as men when we’re not recording. Because as a group, we still get together on a weekly basis or sometimes two to three times a week to just talk. We have members of our collective who may have autoimmune situations, so they haven’t been able to be out and about,” said Rod Wallace, a metro Detroit hip-hop producer.

“We have members of our group who have been through a lot in the last few months. A part of what we do is support them by meeting up and talking regularly; even a song like ‘Piss’ is a song that represents us playfully jiving with each other and talking crazy. It all was just very organic.”

Wallace and his Six Feet collaborators spent the first 100 days of the COVID-19 pandemic writing, recording and producing the project’s seven raw, honest tracks through Songlab TV, an innovative, online one-session approach to songwriting that’s documented by Digital Hustle Films.

“When COVID hit, we decided to build something called Songlab TV where a sample or an idea is given to a producer who makes a beat while a rapper writes and records their verses and an engineer mixes it,” said Wallace about Dirty Ol’ Men’s creative approach for Six Feet.

“Four of the seven songs on the album came from that process; while the other three, they just weren’t recorded, but they went through a similar process. We acknowledge that a lot of music is made that way these days, but a lot of it isn’t made at the time because those four songs were synchronous experiences.”

Executive produced by Wallace and Anthony “Gadget” Mims, Six Feet serves as Dirty Ol’ Men’s second release this year since dropping the Motor City-fueled East Grand in February. Collaborators from Michigan, California, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois and Japan brought initial stems, beats and samples online to share their profound musical conversations with listeners.

Continue reading “Beneath the Surface – Dirty Ol’ Men Reveal Tenacious Tales on ‘Six Feet’ Album”