Moss Jaw Plays Thursday Grand Rapids Show, Reflects on New ‘Embody’ Album

Moss Jaw’s Kayley Kerastas performs at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival in September.

Moss Jaw will invite Grand Rapids fans into their dark, dreamy post-rock world tomorrow night.

The Kalamazoo quartet will perform a Thursday night set at Grand Rapids’ The Snake Shack, a house-based venue that showcases art and music for local and touring bands.

“We plan to play some of the more popular tunes, such as ‘Like a Bug,’ ‘Dry Remains’ and ‘Twigs and Stems’ as a way to plug our recent release and also balance it out with new sonic growth,” said Kayley Kerastas, Moss Jaw’s vocalist and guitarist.

“The venue we’re playing at is a local Grand Rapids house that will provide an accessible way into the music scene, and thus hopefully spread the word of our music further out from Kalamazoo.”

With the recent release of their stellar full-length debut album, “Embody,” Moss Jaw is well-positioned to grow their burgeoning audience statewide and throughout the Midwest.

Their 11-track “Embody” album takes listeners on a dreamlike sonic journey through life-changing relationships, self-evolutions and deep cognitive perspectives cloaked in natural thematic elements.  These personal reflections are musically told through enchanting metaphors about trees, insects and other terrestrial terrain.

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Jam Session – Desmond Jones Promises Unique Set for Thursday’s Headlining Show at The Blind Pig

Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet Desmond Jones will perform at The Blind Pig Thursday night with Pajamas.

For Desmond Jones, no two setlists or shows are alike.

The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet relies on skillful improvisation, sophisticated musicianship and scintillating compositions to capture a crowd’s attention. Each show brings a unique vibe and sonic quality depending the band, audience and venue.

“The more cut and dry structured songs we don’t take out at all in terms of improvisation and jams,” Even if we write a setlist out before a show, which we don’t always do, a lot of times on stage we’ll pick what songs feel right or naturally transition into them,” said John Nowak, Desmond Jones’ drummer, vocalist and guitarist.

“Lately, we’ve been mixing in a sense of humor in terms of making weird or spacey noises. We’re deliberately trying to shock the audience, be as weird as we possibly can and see how they react.”

That ingenious live approach has connected Desmond Jones to thousands of fans at more than 500 shows over five years nationwide. The band also has a sprawling online archive of 300-plus shows available for streaming on their website.

Luckily, Ann Arbor fans will be able to visit the Desmond Jones online live archive after Thursday’s show at The Blind Pig, 208 S. First St., with Pajamas, a Tree Town rock-funk fusion trio.

“When you get a good opening act, I think that vibe is strong with the crowd because it gets people moving and ready to go. Then, we’ll come on, and we’ll rock out,” Nowak said. “We love playing The Blind Pig. I think that venue offers a certain one-of-a-kind dirty, grungy, fun atmosphere, which is where we’re also at with our music.”

Nowak and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Isaac Berkowitz (guitar, vocals, drums), Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals) and John Loria (bass, vocals) – will play new material and older improvisational jams from their extensive catalog of 50-plus tunes.

“We’ll be playing a wider range of things, some new songs that aren’t on any of the albums. It’s always fun because unless you’re listening to the archives or have gone to a lot of shows, then a lot of the songs will be new to your ears,” Nowak said. “Expect a lot of different feels, but definitely some improvisational jams and opportunities for dancing.”

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Father John Misty Delivers Strong Kalamazoo Customer Service for Audiotree Day 2

Father John Misty headlines the Audiotree Music Festival Sunday night in Kalamazoo.

Father John Misty is Kalamazoo’s favorite customer.

The Los Angeles indie folk rocker dazzled a Kalamazoo crowd last night with an 80-minute headlining Audiotree Music Festival set at Arcadia Creek Festival Place.

Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) swaggered onto the Main Stage amid swirling clouds of smoke and deep red lights. He opened his swinging set with the catchy and melodic “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” from his 2012 breakthrough album, “Fear Fun,” and peppered it with six tracks from his latest album, “God’s Favorite Customer,” which dropped in June.

Founded in 2013, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.

Early into his set, Father John Misty sarcastically objected to the large red inflatable Virtue Cider beach balls bouncing toward the stage. The singer’s sardonic sense of humor is just as entertaining as his live show.

“That’s stressful for me just to watch people get hit in the head unawares over and over again. Is that a marketing thing? The balls – are they branded? Do you feel more prone to solicit their services after you’ve been hit in the head?” he asked.

“I’m just imagining that board meeting where they’re just like, ‘I don’t know, boss, sales are through the roof. It doesn’t make any f*cking sense, people hate them, they keep getting hit in the face with them, but we’ve having a very profitable quarter. I think we double down.’”

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Audiotree Music Festival Brings Emerging Indie Rock to Kalamazoo Today, Sunday

Local Natives will headline the Audiotree Music Festival in Kalamazoo today.

Indie music lovers will rejoice today with the start of Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival.

The two-day music festival kicks off at noon in Arcadia Creek Festival Place and features nearly 30 artists on two stages.

Denver psychedelic pop group Flaural will open the festival on the WIDR Discovery Stage while Los Angeles indie rock quintet Local Natives will perform a headlining set on the Main Stage.

New Jersey indie pop quintet Real Estate and Los Angeles indie folk rocker Father John Misty (aka Josh Tillman) will headline on Sunday.

Founded in 2013 by Kalamazoo natives Michael Johnston and Adam Thurston, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.

In 2015, Audiotree purchased two Chicago venues, Schubas Tavern and Lincoln Hall, adding a live concert booking, promoting and streaming division to the company. Since 2011, Audiotree’s online following has grown to include more than 350,000 YouTube subscribers. Now, the Audiotree Music Festival is expanding the match the scale of the entire company.

“While this year’s festival is very guitar-driven, we’re really excited about the variety we’ve still been able to cover,” said Patrick Van Wagoner, a talent buyer for the Audiotree Music Festival and Lincoln Hall, in a festival press release. “Attendees will find elements of rock ’n roll, punk, folk, pop, funk and more, while seeing plenty of acts with Audiotree history.”

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Kalamazoo’s Moss Jaw Cultivates First Festival Experience at Audiotree on Saturday

Kayley Kerastas, Russ Wagner, Max Murray and Evan Asher of Moss Jaw

Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a multi-part series this week previewing the Audiotree Music Festival and profiling artists from the lineup.

Last year, four Kalamazoo pals decided to cultivate their own musical experience.

Together, Kayley Kerastas, Russ Wagner, Evan Asher and Max Murray planted the artistic seeds for Moss Jaw, a dark, dreamy post-rock project, and watched it flourish throughout the DITKalamazoo scene.

A year later, that musical sapling grew into an opening slot at this weekend’s Audiotree Music Festival. The Kalamazoo quartet will take root with a 12:25 p.m. set Saturday on the WIDR-FM Discovery Stage in Arcadia Creek Festival Place.

Moss Jaw will join nearly 30 other artists, including Father John Misty, Local Natives, Khruangbin, Basement and Real Estate.

They’re also one of several West Michigan-based artists featured in the Audiotree Music Festival lineup along with Michigander, Lushh, Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts and Major Murphy.

Founded in 2013, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.

This year, Audiotree has joined forces with WIDR (89.1 FM), Western Michigan University’s college radio station, to plant the festival’s new Discovery Stage and feature 12 additional bands throughout the weekend.

WIDR invited Moss Jaw to perform at Audiotree after they won second place in a local Battle of the Bands contest earlier this year.

“Wonderfully enough, they wanted us on behalf of Audiotree, and we are just so stoked,” said Kerastas, Moss Jaw vocalist and guitarist. “We’ve been eyeballing that (Audiotree Live) session for a while, and we’ve been trying to reach that someday, and thankfully enough, we get to play the festival.”

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Grand Rapids’ Major Murphy to Enlist New Fan Base at Audiotree Music Festival on Sunday

Major Murphy’s Jacki Warren, Jacob Bullard and Brian “Bud” Voortman

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a multi-part series this week previewing the Audiotree Music Festival and profiling artists from the lineup.

Major Murphy will enlist a battalion of new recruits at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival this weekend.

The Grand Rapids nostalgic rock trio will conquer the crowd Sunday with a 12:50 p.m. set on the main stage at the two-day festival in Arcadia Creek Festival Place. Major Murphy will join nearly 30 other acts, including Father John Misty, Local Natives, Real Estate, Diet Cig and Blitzen Trapper.

They’re one of five West Michigan-based artists featured in the Audiotree Music Festival lineup along with Michigander, Lushh, Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts and Moss Jaw.

Founded in 2013, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.

Major Murphy’s Jacob Bullard (vocals, guitar), Jacki Warren (vocals, bass) and Brian “Bud” Voortman (drums) will share their 1970s-inspired radio rock with Audiotree festivalgoers during a much-anticipated set.

They’ll be performing laid-back, catchy songs from their full-length debut album, “No. 1,” which dropped in March on Winspear. Those new to Major Murphy will hear jangly guitars, shimmering riffs, synth-sheened grooves and dreamy, commanding vocals.

“When we perform as a trio, there is a more immediate sound and energy that I think we all enjoy. It boils down and reveals the really important parts of the songs,” Bullard said. “When you’re in a festival setting, there’s generally a big stage with a big PA so you can push the crowd a little bit, and it’s super fun. Live music is powerful, and it’s important to let loose sometimes.”

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Montréal’s Common Holly Branches Out to Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival This Weekend

Common Holly, aka Brigitte Naggar, will perform at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival on Sunday.

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a multi-part series this week previewing the Audiotree Music Festival and profiling artists from the lineup.

Common Holly will grow her West Michigan following with a first-time appearance at Kalamazoo’s Audiotree Music Festival this weekend.

The dark indie folk singer-songwriter will perform a noon Sunday set on the main stage at the two-day festival in Arcadia Creek Festival Place. She will join nearly 30 other acts, including Father John Misty, Local Natives, Real Estate, Khruangbin and Chicano Batman.

Founded in 2013, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.

Common Holly – otherwise known as Brigitte Naggar – will share her hauntingly intimate songs with Audiotree festivalgoers during a highly-anticipated 50-minute set.

She’ll be playing tracks from her 2017 critically-acclaimed debut album, “Playing House,” on Solitaire Recordings. Naggar also re-recorded six of her tracks for an “Audiotree Live” session last December.

“I’m bringing a band with me this time. And yes, we’re going to do new songs – three or four, I think,” said Naggar, who hails from Montréal. “I like them much better than the old songs. I hope fans will, too.”

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