Solo Journey – Olivia Van Goor and William Bennett Advocate for Self-Love on ‘My Lonely Heart’ Single

Olivia Van Goor and William Bennett immediately welcome lonely souls.

The metro Detroit jazz vocalist and jazz pianist relish the importance of self-love on their latest cathartic single, “My Lonely Heart.”

“I think we all have experienced poor timing with relationships or life in general. I definitely drew inspiration from the feeling of being in between healing and having to say no to take care of myself,” said Van Goor, who co-wrote the track with Bennett.

“Will had given me the working title, ‘My Lonely Heart,’ and I knew I could either take it literally and write about being sad or try to put an alternate meaning. The second option was more enticing, and because I like a challenge, I came up with a positive spin on being lonely.”

Throughout “My Lonely Heart,” Van Goor strongly upholds the positive side of being single while Bennett responds with wistful piano.

She sings, “But for now it’s spared from needing repairs, my lonely heart/Do not try to sway, my mind has been made up/How can I give love from my own empty cup?/Love feels like a trick, I can’t take the risk/I’ll keep my lonely heart.”

“I hope it helps people not feel alone in the struggle of wanting to jump into something exciting, but knowing that it’s best to wait until you’re ready,” Van Goor said.

Van Goor and Bennett sought inspiration for the track after learning the 1937 Billie Holiday-Teddy Wilson classic, “Foolin’ Myself,” during the pandemic lockdown. With creativity flowing, they penned “My Lonely Heart” and took it to producer-engineer Josef Deas at Ann Arbor’s Big Sky Recording.

“Will showed me a tune he wrote inspired by that style, and it became ‘My Lonely Heart,’” she said. “Josef totally got what we were going for and even added some effects that gave it a full, warm vintage feel.”

To accompany “My Lonely Heart’s” release, Van Goor and Bennett shared a new live performance video filmed at Big Sky Recording. Director Becca Messner captured the duo bringing an intimate club-style feel to the track.

“Becca had made a video I was in for the Miss Paula Quintet last winter for the tune, ‘Baby’s First Christmas,’” Van Goor said. “I loved how that turned out, and she got the idea perfect.”

In fact, Van Goor and Bennett will share another perfect performance of “My Lonely Heart” and other material at two upcoming live shows in Ann Arbor: Aug. 25 downtown and Aug. 26 at the Blue LLama for Bennett’s birthday.

“August 25 will be very fun playing outside downtown Ann Arbor, which was organized my Matthew Altruda. I think the audiences in Ann Arbor appreciate a variety of music, and that helps our efforts,” Van Goor said.

“(August 26) will be very special because Will is going to be bandleading. I’m looking forward to it, and I don’t get to be a ‘sidewoman’ very much. We will be joined by University of Michigan grad Reuben Stump on bass and Ann Arbor guitarist Jake Reichbart.”

Show details:

Olivia Van Goor & William Bennett: Downtown Ann Arbor

Thursday, Aug. 25 | 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Free performance

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William Bennett Birthday Show

Friday, Aug. 26 | 7 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.

Blue LLama Jazz Club, 314 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor

Tickets: $15-$75

The New Avant-Garde – Nubdug Ensemble and Amanda Chaudhary Share Cerebral Prog-Jazz-Funk Fusion

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Two avant-garde San Francisco musicians boldly push the sonic boundaries of prog, jazz and funk.

Nubdug Ensemble’s Jason Berry and Amanda Chaudhary seamlessly fuse esoteric lyrics with experimental synths and cerebral instrumentation on their latest ingenious albums, Volume 2: Blame and Meow Meow Band, respectively.

“These albums have both really been connecting with a lot of people. They really inspire both of us to keep going … and things have been improving the past couple of months. Hopefully, we’ll be moving in a more positive place,” Berry said.

“With my music, I’m not looking for acclaim or huge financial sales. These things would be wonderful, but I just want to connect with people. If it makes somebody happy … then it’s like, ‘Mission accomplished.’”

Both Nubdug Ensemble and Chaudhary whisk listeners along genre-bending adventures filled with precious metals, mechanical wonders, white wine and public transportation. Each Volume 2: Blame and Meow Meow Band track instantly brings a welcome element of surprise and enthrallment and repeatedly plays inside appreciative minds.

“I wanted to try these individual sounds, and if you listen back to something like The Residents, I thought, ‘How did they make those sounds and what could I do with that?’ It’s very late ‘70s things with different kinds of technology to get that sort of raw thing, and they use different instruments here … or use this process or that process,” said Chaudhary, who also collaborates with Berry in Nubdug Ensemble.

“I thought, ‘What if I work with this drummer and this synthesizer player and see what happens?’ It turned out to be great, and that’s the genesis of some of the things like ‘North Berkeley BART’ and ‘White Wine.’ Once I started working with Calvin Weston in 2020, it was like this perfect vehicle for recording some of this music.”

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Supper’s Ready – Grooblen Hosts Creepy Dinner Party in New ‘Neuroplasticity’ Video

Grooblen eerily throws impromptu, nightmarish dinner parties.

The San Francisco cabaret psych-punk trio of Ellie Stokes (vocals, guitar, piano, synth), Jack Stancik (bass) and William Stokes (drums) celebrates creepy plastic cuisine, nervous guests and ghoulish mannequin hosts in their new immersive 360 video for “Neuroplasticity.”

“It’s all kind of weird CGI people, and you turn around and someone has a plate of eyeballs,” said Ellie Stokes about the interactive video. “The detail in it is amazing, and one guy sitting down has motor legs, and he keeps moving. You’re forced to look at people and figure out what’s going on in their heads.”

One step inside the “Neuroplasticity” characters’ collective headspace reveals the innovative mindset of Honeymoon Supply Co. Grooblen collaborated with the Los Angeles-based visual artist to direct and create the stunning video.

“I told her to include some stuff, but for the most part, it was just her and how she perceived the song,” said Ellie Stokes. “She was like, ‘Well, what about a dinner party?’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God, that would be so cool, and what if you included some creepy dish that could be misinterpreted?’”

Throughout the David Lynch-esque video, a pair of guests anxiously determines whether to sample eyeball appetizers, bloody cocktails and emerald gelatin molds. Their spooky hosts quietly observe as floors move below and flames erupt overhead.

“She was looking for creative projects, and it took her about a week to put it together,” said Ellie Stokes. “I love that kind of stuff, and I’m excited to put it out there.”

The video also perfectly reflects the spooky, haunting imagery depicted in Grooblen’s “Neuroplasticity” single, which spotlights the human brain and body’s resilience to heal and adapt from past traumas.

“‘Neuroplasticity’ is about how everything can change in a second and how our brains and bodies are so interlinked,” said Ellie Stokes, who was diagnosed with a rare optic nerve condition in 2020, but has since recovered.

“I wrote it from the perspective of the nerve in my brain telling me what was going on. It’s digging deep into this new part of myself that I hadn’t really thought about before.”

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Hit-Worthy Parade – Matthew de Heus Unveils Hidden Gems on ‘Greatest Misses’ Album

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Matthew de Heus shares his multi-genre gems on “Greatest Misses.” Photo – Avram Golden

Matthew de Heus prefers to acknowledge life’s under-the-radar moments.

The Bay City Americana singer-songwriter and bassist thoughtfully unveils those hidden milestones on his new hit-worthy anthology, Greatest Misses, out today.

“I had planned on having two releases. One was gonna be a new EP, but then I was gonna do what I initially called a Greatest Hits album, and it was almost self-deprecating,” said de Heus.

“I wanted to take some of the songs we had already done and put them on one album, so that people who wanted those could get them. I don’t reprint any of the old albums, they’re just gone … because that way if I ever do get famous, they’ll be worth a fortune.”

With Greatest Misses, de Heus assembles a priceless 15-track collection of multi-genre gems, including old favorites from prior releases and three new songs. Filled with melodic hooks, memorable lyrics and clever instrumentation, the album glides through country, power pop, jazz, blues and indie rock terrain.

“Traditionally, in pop music, and in the early days of rock and roll, you might put the same song on more than one album. That was part of it. Though I did want to throw those three new ones up front, I tried to still sequence it like an album, so it was a decent listen,” de Heus said.

“In way, this is almost like a second version of Silk Purses. Andy Reed called that my Goodbye Yellow Brick Road or White Album in the fact that every song is a different genre. Making the songs individually is one thing, but mixing and mastering them so they can sit next to each other on an album is another.”

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Transition Period – Dan Hazlett Crafts Life-Changing Stories on ‘Turning Stone’ Album

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Dan Hazlett shares compelling characters and narratives on his latest album, “Turning Stone.” Photo – Robin Scully

As a gifted storyteller, Dan Hazlett eloquently crafts life-changing tales.

The Waterford folk-jazz singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shares insightful stories steeped in transition and growth on his latest anecdotal album, Turning Stone.

“Every person in every song is a character, even if you’re the person, because you’re not that person anymore. Even if you were when you wrote it, you’re someone else now. Every song, in its own way, is a tiny piece of musical theater. That’s now my approach. This is a world … this is a little novel or a little painting all unto itself,” Hazlett said.

“At some point, you just have to let the characters speak for themselves, and they will say surprising things. And that is really fun, and you end up with material you would never have written if you focused on ‘What would I say?’ It’s more interesting to learn ‘What would this person say?’”

With Turning Stone, Hazlett examines life through the lens of an inquisitive mathematician, a courageous child, a lost soul, a lonely housewife and other people facing life-changing circumstances. The album’s tracks convey the thoughts, feelings and actions of intriguing characters who tackle their own challenges within a jazzy, acoustic-pop landscape.

“This project turned out to be the one that’s fully produced, like a band and sort of poppy and just a different kind of record. The songs ended up being in there because musically they kind of wanted to be together. It was more like, ‘How do these songs sound together?’” he said.

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One Love Symposium – This Week’s Events Aim to Unite Washtenaw County Communities and Public Service Providers

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This week’s One Love Symposium includes a series of public conversations, music events and expert panels focused on eliminating discriminatory behavior and racial inequities in the community.

A Washtenaw County symposium aims to forge stronger connections between local communities and public service providers this week.

Known as the One Love Symposium, the three-day event is geared to educate local residents and public service providers who make high-impact decisions for the community, including doctors, teachers and police officers.

Taking place Thursday through Saturday, it includes a series of public conversations, music events and expert panels dedicated to developing solutions for eliminating discriminatory behavior and racial inequities in the community.

Events will occur online and in-person in Ypsilanti and Detroit. They feature police administrators, public school officials, jazz musicians, local business owners, public policy experts and other participants.

Eastern Michigan University researcher Anna Gersh launched a survey and symposium in response to increasing racial, social and political tensions between public service providers and the public after George Floyd’s death in May 2020. She’s enlisted a team of youth data collectors and critical adult thought partners to assist with the survey and symposium.

The symposium also focuses on developing anti-bias training and creating a work certificate for public service providers, or “Human Services Professionals.” The ultimate goal is to create a “Human Services Professional Conference” for “the development of a common scholarship toward improved practices.”

The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Gersh about the symposium, the work that’s been accomplished, this week’s events and what’s up next.

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Creative Conscience – Chirp Follows Funky Musical Instincts on ‘Solo’

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Chirp pauses during a recording session at Willis Sound. Photo – Joe Sleep

Chirp proudly follows their funky musical instincts.

The Ann Arbor prog-funk-jazz jam quartet of Jay Frydenlund (guitar, vocals), Brian Long (bass, vocals), Sam Naples (guitar, vocals) and Gastón Reggio (drums) listens to their collective creative conscience on their fervent new single, “Solo.”

“Vulfpeck and Cory Wong were a massive influence on the approach to this tune and the rest of the upcoming record. The old school, funky vibe they bring to their songwriting and playing has been a big influence on all of us,” Frydenlund said. “I’m not sure this song would have happened without a steady amount of Vulf in my listening diet. Or at least it would have come out through a very different lens.”

By peering through that groovy “Solo” lens, Chirp fans will encounter a group of lively musicians entrenched in jubilant electric guitars, shimmering keys and synths, pulsating bass, confident drums and ticking cymbals.

In tandem, Frydenlund soulfully sings, “And we all know you can shred the 32nds/But I wanna hear something from your soul/So take your time to find the truth inside you/And let it go.”

“Sam’s melodic lead guitar through the song adds a lot of texture and warms up the tune quite a bit, and he also complements Kevin (Gastonguay’s) solo toward the end of the song really nicely. Brian’s self-written bassline is really catchy throughout, to the point of being singable.” Frydenlund said.

“Both of them killed it on the smooth backup vocals. The different feels Gastón moves throughout are seamless, which is easier said than done on a tune like ‘Solo,’ where we’ve got a lot of dramatic change from section to section feel-wise and tempo-wise.”

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Imagine That – Becky Crosby Trades Reality for Fantasy on ‘Can We Pretend?’

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Becky Crosby’s “Can We Pretend?” addresses her frustration and forlornness during the pandemic. Artwork – Joey Affatato

For Becky Crosby, quarantine life provides the ultimate escape from reality.

The Purchase, New York pop-rock singer-songwriter openly shares her personal struggles with pandemic lockdown and emotional isolation on her latest jazz-funk ballad, “Can We Pretend?

“I wrote it in quarantine right after we got evacuated from school … when I think everyone was feeling especially lonely and confused at what was going on in the world,” said Crosby, who’s a jazz senior at State University of New York (SUNY) in Purchase. “I had a crush on a friend of mine at the time, and I think the feelings about quarantine just heightened everything about it.”

A lush “Can We Pretend?” ensemble of thumping drums, tingly cymbals, pensive bass, gleaming electric guitar, delicate piano, melancholic trumpet and earnest baritone sax echo Crosby’s growing frustration and forlornness.

She thoughtfully sings, “How did this happen to me?/I was oh so happy living life lonely/But when you come near/I smile ear to ear/Cause you made me different/Than the girl who used to share my mirror.”

“I wrote ‘Can We Pretend?’ as a way to not only work out my feelings, but to get out some of the anger that I had about my life changing so much overnight,” Crosby said. “I do think that it’s always a good idea to go with your gut. So if your gut says to tell them you like them, then do it. Life is short!”

Crosby brought “Can We Pretend?” to life with several collaborators, including Simon Ribas (drums), Sameer Shankar (bass), Ethan Johnson (guitar), Harry Graser (piano), Noah Mattison (trumpet) and Lee Altsher-Wood (baritone sax).

“This song automatically just had a funky feel to it. Being a jazz major, I am surrounded by horn players, and I was so happy to be able to feature them on this track,” she said. “Sameer Shankar shaped this horn arrangement, and Lee Altsher-Wood and Noah Mattison did a great job bringing it to life.”

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Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single

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Hannah Baiardi’s “Reason” single inspires listeners to embrace their authentic voice and rediscover a sense of purpose. Artwork – Abby Clemens

Immersed in sophisticated jazzy soul-pop sensibilities and refreshing, colorful sonic textures, Hannah Baiardi beautifully steps outside her comfort zone.

The Ann Arbor vocalist-composer and pianist provides a calm, soulful reassurance to embrace our authentic voice and rediscover our true calling on her latest hopeful single, “Reason.” It’s her first new material since releasing her genre-bending album, Straight from the Soul, in March.

“There’s a lot of weight on our shoulders right now, but it’s also a very inspiring time. Lightworkers are individuals who come with a purpose and are very driven to make social change and be their true selves and not hide their identities out of fear or shame,” Baiardi said.

“I was blown away when I got responses from other musicians saying, ‘Hey, that really resonated with me and made me feel like you’re standing up for the underdog.’ That’s totally my whole MO, even from being in high school and resonating with clique-busting and trying to be a friend to the friendless.”

Throughout “Reason,” shimmering piano, spirited drums, luminous slide guitar, fervent finger snaps, smooth electric bass and Baiardi’s confident vocals drench listeners in a sultry, protective dreamscape while inspiring a renewed, united social consciousness.

Once inside her encouraging, hypnotic sonic realm, Baiardi thoughtfully sings, “You never fit in/Stood out from the crowd/You waited you turn/Took courage to speak out loud/But now’s your time/You have to see/Your worth.”

“If someone feels alone or thinks it’s a really tough period of time … know there are others out there who see them and want to champion them. We’re all in this mess together while riding the waves. Water and waves are a theme in the song, and I’m trying to incorporate more sounds with nature and more sounds that evoke a feeling of tranquility,” Baiardi said.

Baiardi magically creates a peaceful “Reason” atmosphere with producer Marty Gray and bassist Ryan King of Stormy Chromer. Together, Baiardi and Gray spent two to three months recording the track in the studio for a late summer release.

“The rough melody and rough sketch of the lyrics came over a couple of weeks. The magic really happened when I brought it to Marty, and I was introduced to him through a mutual friend, David Magumba,” Baiardi said.

“We knew each other from the University of Michigan, where we were both students. Our paths didn’t really cross because he was a vocal major and I was a jazz major. We got together to work on this track, and instantaneously there was this sense of creative synergy. I came with the bones and left with a wonderful song, thanks to Marty.”

Baiardi also translates “Reason” into a gray-tinged lyric video filled with placid, flowing waters. While watching the video, viewers float above and reflect on their personal challenges as snippers of white light permeate the screen.

“The grayness of it conveys the uncertainty of the murky waters that we’re in right now. My social media manager Melissa (Zhuang) played a huge role in helping me craft that, and she’s very adept with Adobe,” said Baiardi, who’s also working on a new video for “How Do You Want Your Love.”

“I was like, ‘Hey, we just need water and some gray, so run with it.’ I think lyric videos are powerful so that someone can contemplate as they’re watching the visual element.”

Continue reading “Wave of Reassurance – Hannah Baiardi Shares Sense of Purpose on ‘Reason’ Single”

Day Tripper – Adam Kennedy Circles Globe to Conduct Artist Virtual Photo Shoots

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Adam Kennedy continues to conduct virtual photo shoots with artists throughout the pandemic. Photo – Adam Kennedy

Adam Kennedy unexpectedly became a globetrotter during the pandemic.

The Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. music photojournalist ventured to Finland, the U.S., Australia, Russia, Israel, Italy, Japan and other far-flung locations to shoot established and emerging artists – all from the comfort of his own home.

In fact, Kennedy’s international photographic jaunts have occurred online as part of a successful virtual photo shoot project he launched in April 2020. To date, he’s conducted more than 570 virtual photo shoots with rock, metal, jazz and blues artists over Facebook, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime and other online platforms.

“It’s just to create a feel of coming together online and being in the moment. After an hour, you usually have something cool. Every session has been completely different, and every artist brings something different to the table,” he said.

“Every environment is different because I’m not working in a studio. I’m predominantly working out of someone’s home, or a person takes me out on location. I’ve been in Los Angeles on the strip, in Sochi overlooking the Black Sea, in Jerusalem at a park and in Victoria near the Great Ocean Road.”

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