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.

Continue reading “Moss Jaw Plays Thursday Grand Rapids Show, Reflects on New ‘Embody’ Album”

Title Track — New Michigan Nonprofit Hosts Launch Party Saturday at MusicTown Detroit

Seth Bernard has launched Title Track, a new Michigan-based nonprofit dedicated to clean water, racial equality and youth empowerment. Title Track will host a launch party Saturday at MusicTown Detroit.

A new Michigan-based nonprofit will unite activism with artistry Saturday in Detroit.

Title Track, a nonprofit dedicated to clean water, racial equality and youth empowerment, will host a launch party at MusicTown Detroit featuring local artists and speakers, including Seth Bernard; Audra Kubat; Juuni, aka Wayne Ramocan; Vespre; Amber Hasan; Nicole Lindsey and Baldomero Gonzales.

“It gives me great joy to have this Title Track launch party in Detroit where the roots of resistance run deep and the fruits of community resilience are delicious,” said Bernard, a Michigan singer-songwriter and activist who launched Title Track on Earth Day. “This bill is populated with artists, activists, organizers and changemakers, and we’re going to make a joyful noise bringing this new organization into the community.”

Through Title Track, Bernard offers a broad set of programming based on his lifetime of music making, community organizing and advocacy for the environment and social justice.

He’s helping the nonprofit lead a Clean Water Campaign for Michigan, sponsoring RiverQuest canoe trips on the Flint and Saginaw Rivers for Flint youth and hosting the first annual Earthwork Detroit Music Festival as well as the long-running Earthwork Harvest Gathering.

Saturday’s launch party will echo those causes and creative endeavors while spotlighting emerging indie folk, R&B, soul, pop and world-inspired sounds from the Motor City’s up-and-coming artists.

“Detroit is one of the greatest cities in the world. Home of Aretha, Dilla and Grace Lee Boggs. Epicenter of urban farmers, culture creators and movement builders,” Bernard said. “A soul that can’t be commodified, gentrified, disassociated or appropriated. Detroit is the city of tomorrow.”

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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.”

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

Monsters of Country Rock — Fangs and Twang Host ‘Spirits & Chasers’ Album Release Show Saturday at Ziggy’s

Fangs and Twang will celebrate the release of “Spirits & Chasers” at Ziggy’s on Saturday.

For Fangs and Twang, it’s a monstrous weekend.

The Ypsilanti roots rock and bluegrass trio will sing countrified tales of the Swamp Thing, Godzilla and Ogo Pogo during their “Spirits & Chasers” album release show Saturday at Ziggy’s with the Jim Roll Band and Child Sleep.

They’re also hoping for a little monster mashing on the dance floor.

“We’re going to play the new album in order and pull out some older stuff, but we also plan to have some line dancing throughout the night,” said Joe Bertoletti, bassist and vocalist for Fangs and Twang. “We need to see some grooving and moving out there.”

Fangs and Twang fans will have a ghoulishly good time as Billy LaLonde (drums, vocals), Andy Benes (guitar, vocals) and Bertoletti bring their new musical behemoth to life.

Last Saturday, the band dropped their third and latest release, “Spirits & Chasers,” a seamless seven-track country odyssey packed with famous monsters, personal adventures and ghosts of times past.

It’s a beastly brilliant follow-up to 2017’s “High Fives All Around,” which drew monster-heavy inspiration from books, movies, comics and regional urban legends.

“‘Spirits & Chasers’ feels like a step forward, but very much building on the previous record. It was less about having to write all monster songs and more about writing Fangs and Twang songs,” Bertoletti said. “We’ve been playing together for almost five years, and we have three-hour sets now, so everything feels more natural and tighter.”

Continue reading “Monsters of Country Rock — Fangs and Twang Host ‘Spirits & Chasers’ Album Release Show Saturday at Ziggy’s”

High Times – Stormy Chromer Celebrates ‘420’ Blind Pig Show with Pajamas, Earth Radio

Stormy Chromer performs at The Blind Pig during a New Year’s Eve 2018 show in Ann Arbor. Photo by Evan Greig

Ann Arbor area music fans will inhale good tunes and times Saturday night at The Blind Pig.

Ypsilanti’s Stormy Chromer will host a “420” show with Pajamas and Earth Radio to celebrate a fluid night of live music on the infamous Mary Jane-centric holiday.

“We have a fun lineup, and we haven’t played with Pajamas in Ann Arbor in a couple of years. We’re really happy with how they’ve been progressing as well, and every time we see them, we want to share a bill with them,” said Amin Lanseur, Stormy Chromer’s drummer and vocalist.

“As for Earth Radio, we found them through Purchase Productions, who manage our friends Chirp. They brought Earth Radio to Club Above six months ago, and they really made an impression on some friends of mine.”

It will be the homegrown progressive jam band’s first appearance at The Blind Pig since their New Year’s Eve show. Together, Stormy Chromer will mix elements of rock, jazz, heavy metal, ska and hip hop to perform a danceable set with Pajamas, a Tree Town improvisational rock, funk and fusion trio, and Earth Radio, a Grand Rapids future soul quintet.

“The energy in the room is very loving and fun, and we’re blessed to have the people who come out and see us,” Lanseur said. “We’re striving for that same type of energy for ‘420’ as well, so obviously it will be the whole pot thing.”

Continue reading “High Times – Stormy Chromer Celebrates ‘420’ Blind Pig Show with Pajamas, Earth Radio”

Active Duty – Major Murphy Plays Easter Weekend Shows to Grow Eastside Musical Troops

Major Murphy’s Jacki Warren, Jacob Bullard and Brian “Bud” Voortman will play shows Friday and Sunday in Hamtramck and Lansing.

For Major Murphy, Easter weekend means active duty on Michigan’s east side.

The Grand Rapids nostalgic rock trio will perform eastside shows Friday and Sunday to grow their musical troops in Hamtramck and Lansing.

Friday’s show will take place at Ghost Light Hamtramck with Carriers and Katy Kirby while Sunday’s show will occur as part of the Capital City Film Festival at Mac’s Bar with Lily Talmers & Monte Pride and Composetheway.

“We haven’t played at Ghost Light before, but we’re excited to play there and in Hamtramck for the first time. We’ll be able to get some new ‘Lafayette’ EP stuff into our set as well as songs from our ‘No. 1’ album,” said Jacob Bullard, Major Murphy’s vocalist and guitarist. “In Lansing, there’s going to be bands playing all weekend, and it’s in conjunction with the film fest.”

Bullard will join bandmates Jacki Warren (bass) and Brian “Bud” Voortman (drums) to share their 1970s-inspired radio rock with Hamtramck and Lansing crowds. They’ll perform hypnotic, mellow tracks from their latest EP, “Lafayette,” which dropped in February on Winspear, and last year’s full-length debut, “No. 1” as well as a cover of The Beatles “Revolver” classic, “She Said She Said.”

Recorded as demos in Bullard’s Grand Rapids-based house on Lafayette Avenue, the “Lafayette” EP features six songs that chronicle the creative evolution of Major Murphy from a stripped-down solo project to a three-piece rock band.

“I think it’s an extension or a companion to ‘No. 1,’ and we wanted to share stuff that we felt was interesting,” said Bullard, who formed Major Murphy with Warren and Voortman in 2015. “If people listened to ‘No. 1,’ then they might find ‘Lafayette’ extra fun because it’s where the songs started, and it gives them a behind-the-scenes perspective.”

Lafayette EP

For three tracks on “Lafayette,” each band member plants a promising sonic seed for the growth of “No. 1.” Bullard writes about an open-hearted expression that’s nostalgic and forward-thinking on “Come By Sunday” while Warren provides enchanting harmonies on “When I Go Out.” Meanwhile, Voortman jams for the first time on the initial demo for “No. 1.”

“They were recorded well before we went to Russian Recording, and they were mostly for my own benefit of being able to sketch the songs out,” said Bullard, who’s inspired by The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings, and Patti Smith. “I anticipated being able to record them again since they were very lo-fi, and the production was done in my bedroom.”

By 2017, Major Murphy ventured to Russian Recording in Bloomington, Ind., to record 10 nostalgic tracks for “No. 1.” The album’s jangly guitars, shimmering riffs, synth grooves, and dreamy, commanding vocals gently hook and draw listeners into a vintage, yacht rock world.

Together, Major Murphy hones a retro sound filled with harmonic structures, melodic progressions and emotional shifts that rely heavily on concert-like, energetic recordings. A year after “No 1.’s” release, the album stills sounds as refreshing and inspiring as its initial spin.

“I feel really proud of that record, and that’s never happened before. When I’ve made music in the past, I think about how we could have done this differently,” Bullard said. “I think this album is different because we were collaborative by working with Mike Bridavsky at Russian, and we brought in Ben and Aaron in addition to Bud and Jackie.”

With “No. 1” and “Lafayette” under their belt, Major Murphy will return to Russian Recording in July to record their next album. They also plan to release a new single soon.

“I’m super excited to put this next record together and share it with people,” Bullard said. “I’ve written the new songs precisely with all of us in mind and with the knowledge of what a dynamic life is like along with the strengths and weaknesses of that. It feels like it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to put out some new music.”

Show Details:

Major Murphy with Carriers and Katy Kirby

9 p.m. Friday

Ghost Light Hamtramck

2314 Caniff in Hamtramck

Tickets: $8

Major Murphy with Lily Talmers & Monte Pride and Composetheway

7 p.m. Sunday

Mac’s Bar

2700 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing

Tickets: $10

‘Still Creatures’ – Desmond Jones Gets Philosophical on Funky New Single from Upcoming ‘Hello, Helou’ Album

Desmond Jones has released “Still Creatures,” a funky new single from their upcoming “Hello, Helou” album.

With their infectious new single, “Still Creatures,” Desmond Jones keeps the bigger picture of life in perspective.

The Grand Rapids funk-rock-jazz fusion quintet abandons daily trivial nonsense to live a more purposeful existence.

“When I wrote that song, that feeling was weighing heavy on me. There is so much that goes on every day in our lives, some of it important, and some of it only seems important,” said Isaac Berkowitz, Desmond Jones guitarist, drummer and vocalist.

“There’s a lot of trivial nonsense that we let get in the way of living happy and meaningful lives. When that nonsense piles up on us, it can be hard to see through it to what really matters. Some people like to look at the stars and feel small as a way to get perspective, and in the same sense, I think remembering the idea that we are all animals, or that we are all ‘still creatures’ on this planet just trying to survive, can give us that same perspective and peace of mind.”

Together, Berkowitz and his Desmond Jones bandmates – Chris Bota (guitar, vocals), George Falk (saxophone, vocals), John Loria (guitar, vocals) and John Nowak (drums, guitar, vocals) – beautifully capture this personal philosophy in lighthearted, funkified way.

Still Creatures single artwork

On “Still Creatures,” a fun, groovy wah-wah guitar riff opens the four-minute track and mimics the sound of a chicken while jazzy alto and baritone sax solos and rhythmic bass and drums bring a smooth, melodic feel.

“Even though it’s a new release, it’s something we’ve been working on for over a year in our live shows, and we’ve had it recorded for a while,” said Nowak, who formed Desmond Jones with his bandmates in 2012 at Michigan State University. “When we first started playing that song and Isaac showed it to us, we actually were just calling it, ‘Chicken Fingies,’ for a long time. At some point, Isaac said, ‘Actually, it’s called Still Creatures.’”

Continue reading “‘Still Creatures’ – Desmond Jones Gets Philosophical on Funky New Single from Upcoming ‘Hello, Helou’ Album”