Suburban Stories – Matthew Milia Revisits Metro Detroit Memories on ‘Keego Harbor’

Keego+Harbor 2
Matthew Milia’s “Keego Harbor” captures a beautiful legacy of life unchanged in the metro Detroit suburbs. Photo – John Hanson

For Matthew Milia, Keego Harbor represents a nostalgic, winding metro Detroit pathway from youth to adulthood and back again.

The Detroit indie folk singer-songwriter and Frontier Ruckus frontman eloquently drifts through deep childhood recollections, gritty suburban landmarks and dichotomous neighborhood adventures on his well-crafted second solo album.

“This has been a lifelong obsession, especially with the suburban world. It’s inspired by the fact that the suburban experience is not monolithic. It’s all these mingling beautiful dualities and contradictions of the human experience that live in this space,” said Milia, who grew up in Keego Harbor.

“I’m juxtaposing Pontiac and Bloomfield Hills because those places are contiguous, and they couldn’t be more different. That’s a hard thing for people that don’t live in this area to understand. My endless personal quest is to give as much vivid description and detail of these contradictions that I’ve experienced.”

Throughout Keego Harbor, Milia intricately constructs snapshots of mundane Michigan experiences – junk mail, rotten mulch and phone chargers – and static places – party stores, drive-thru lanes and nail salons – across 10 introspective tracks to capture a beautiful legacy of life unchanged.

“I think this record is a bit more about generational inheritance. My parents met in Keego Harbor at a place called the Back Seat Saloon that’s no longer there, and the first placed they lived together was in a little loft above a house. The age I am now is when they were doing all that. It’s a bit of time travel while seeing myself as my parents and all the things that entails,” he said.

While much of Keego Harbor remains in the rear-view mirror of the mind’s eye, another portion welcomes the uncertain future with outstretched arms. It’s a matter of looking toward the past to better understand who you’ve become and where you’re headed, whether that’s in a city or a suburb.

“I’m also thinking on another level about my experience in the music industry. It’s such a weird commerce to toil in, and my life since 2006 has been writing these songs and making these records with my friends and putting them out into the world and seeing where they take me,” Milia said.

“I think that a major trope of this record is the recalibration of one’s dreams and expectations. And knowing that immense beauty and surprise can be hiding there. Once you recalibrate what you think you wanted or were working toward, you might just find something even more rewarding.”

Continue reading “Suburban Stories – Matthew Milia Revisits Metro Detroit Memories on ‘Keego Harbor’”

Full Circle – Widetrack Returns to Pontiac for Saturday’s ‘November Two Remember’ Crofoot Show

Widetrack’s Ron Tippin and Zach Tippin

Widetrack intentionally creates the perfect sonic circle.

The Waterford alt-prog, father-son duo of Ron Tippin (vocals, guitar, drums) and Zach Tippin (bass, guitar) will fittingly return to their musical birthplace of Pontiac for a Saturday show at The Crofoot.

“We are absolutely stoked to be playing our first Widetrack show together as a two-piece, premiering the public live debut of songs we wrote together for our newest album, The Unwakening,” said Ron Tippin, Widetrack’s founder.

“What makes it really special though is that The Crofoot is literally right across the side street from my old rehearsal and recording facility, where Widetrack was born back in 2006. It’ll be kind of like coming full circle for us.”

Widetrack will join eight other bands – Loud Thoughts, Roc Steady, Negative Gravity, Mars Hill, Stompbox, Cicrus, Letters from Abel and Motor City Vibrations – for Smash Concerts’November Two Remember” show and perform a six-song, 30-minute set with haunting, introspective tracks from their mystical four-album catalog.

“We’re really looking forward to playing that same stage with The Crofoot’s amazing sound and lights. We hope that people who’ve never heard us before will find our music and on-stage energy to be inspiring. Inspiring others is our deepest desire as musicians and as a creative force,” said Ron Tippin.

A Spirital Unwakening

Widetrack released “The Unwakening” in April.

With the Tippins at the helm, Widetrack continues to unleash their dark, proggy creative energy since releasing their hypnotic, otherworldly album, The Unwakening, in April. The reflective project ventures through a dozen digital tales to uncover the conflicting duality of our personal and online identities in a “Black Mirror-like” dimension.

“The idea of The Unwakening is how we immerse ourselves in this digital landscape, and it just makes our worst tendencies come out; we just wallow in it. All of our wisdom goes out the window and so does our better nature,” said Ron Tippin.

Continue reading “Full Circle – Widetrack Returns to Pontiac for Saturday’s ‘November Two Remember’ Crofoot Show”

Master Collector – Dirk Kroll Gathers Everyday Life Experiences for Profound Sonic Tales

Dirk Kroll gathers an array of life experiences and shapes them into earnest sonic tales. Photo courtesy of Dirk Kroll

Dirk Kroll has an impressive collection.

The Pontiac blues rock singer-songwriter doesn’t collect coins, cards or clippings. Instead, he gathers an array of life experiences, stories and moments and shapes them into earnest sonic tales about everyday opportunities and challenges.

“I’m truly interested in life and people. If I were an alien, or from some other time period and I landed here, I’d soak it up more than it just passing me by,” Kroll said. “That’s what I do, and it’s in everybody, the stories I hear, the people I talk to, and their slant on the way they think, the flavor of the moment and everything.”

Kroll’s wife and bandmate, Marci Feldman, laughed and agreed. “The thing about Dirk is he’s a talker. We’ll go into Trader Joe’s, and he knows the names of anybody who works anywhere. Being a painter and restorer, people consider him harmless, so they disclose stories to him.”

Kroll constantly grows his collection through conversations and interactions with family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and characters. Those exchanges lay the foundation for past, present and future songs shared through vivid recordings and live performances with current Dirk Kroll Band members Rodney Walker (guitar), Joe Gaglio (drums), Gardell Floyd (bass), Jim Amann (keys), Robert Reeves (horns) and Feldman (vocals).

“I collect stories, moments and ideas. Lyrically, it’s an opposite reflex because when I really go hard after something, it doesn’t seem to work out right. The stuff that comes to me, that’s a mystery to me, too,” said Kroll, who moved from southern California to metro Detroit at a young age and honed an eclectic sound influenced by Motown and the British Invasion.

‘This Broken Play’

“This Broken Play” album artwork by Diane Irby

Kroll beautifully unravels an assortment of vivid stories across a multitude of genres on his latest album, “This Broken Play,” which dropped in late 2018. The album includes 10 striking tracks revolving around personal struggles, relationships, lifelong journeys and societal responses intertwined with hints of blues, rock, funk, ska, jazz and folk. Listeners will immediately think it’s the best of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, The Rolling Stones and Wilco rolled into one.

The album’s exquisite title track features a solemn cello mixed with banging piano chords to reflect the sadness and frustration of a passionate relationship that’s abruptly ended – “All of our lives, and all that remains/All of our moments, and all that’s the same/You cast your part in this broken play/Is it always love, forever, the price we must pay.”

Continue reading “Master Collector – Dirk Kroll Gathers Everyday Life Experiences for Profound Sonic Tales”

Farewell AF – Wilson Hosts ‘Thank You, Goodnight’ Shows Saturday at The Crofoot

Wilson will perform their final three shows Saturday night at The Crofoot.

Wilson will take their final bow of fuckery Saturday night in Pontiac.

The Detroit multi-genre quartet will host three farewell banger shows filled with debauchery and shenanigans for longtime, hardcore fans at The Crofoot.

“The shows will be closure for us and everyone who’s been involved. It will be emotional, but relieving at the same time,” said Jason Spencer, Wilson’s co-founder and guitarist. “We’ve always been transparent with our fans, that’s always been important to me, but all in all, the fans have been polite and supportive.”

Along with bandmates Chad Nicefield (vocals), James Lascu (bass) and Matt Puhy (drums), Spencer announced Wilson’s indefinite hiatus and “Thank You, Goodnight” farewell shows Nov. 6 via the band’s Facebook page. After a decade filled with in-your-face rock, hip-hop and all things ‘90s, the band will celebrate an explosive era three different ways:

1.  A “Wilson’s House of Fuckery” 4:30 p.m. pre-party in The Crofoot’s Vernors Room with band conversations and a past, present and future walk-through as well as a silent auction with proceeds benefiting the Lighthouse of Oakland County and MusiCares.

2. A 6 p.m. performance of “Tasty Nasty” and “Right to Rise” in their entirety on The Crofoot Ballroom stage. The Messenger Birds, Red Stone Souls and Ladysse will provide support.

3. A 10 p.m. performance of “Full Blast Fuckery” in its entirety on The Pike Room stage. Strange Magic will provide support.

Each show will encompass part of Wilson’s history at their “hometown” venue and allow devoted fans to engage one last time with these genre-bending titans. In a sense, it will be like viewing the exhilarating and exhausting journey through each band member’s eyes.

“The Vernors Room pre-party will consist of props/outfits from old videos, stage props and a bunch of visual aspects. Our fans have always loved the gimmicky parts of the band, so we figured this could be a fun way to obtain items for their Wilson collections … no joke, we have fans who have made entire rooms out of Wilson items,” Spencer said.

“The Ballroom will be a standard Wilson headliner with some visual aspects. But the final show in The Pike Room will be the most intense show because it’s the type of room that has played a big part in our history. You know, punk-rock club style … just wild.”

Continue reading “Farewell AF – Wilson Hosts ‘Thank You, Goodnight’ Shows Saturday at The Crofoot”

The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album

Bruce Soord and The Pineapple Thief will make their first metro Detroit live appearance Saturday at The Crofoot in Pontiac. Photo by Steve Brown

The Pineapple Thief will steal the spotlight Saturday night in metro Detroit.

The British prog rock quartet will make their long-awaited Motor City live debut at The Crofoot in Pontiac as part of a 22-date North American tour.

Bruce Soord (guitars, vocals), Steve Kitch (keys), Jon Sykes (bass, backing vocals) and Gavin Harrison (drums, percussion) have embarked on their first North American tour in support of 2018’s “Dissolution,” a splendid nine-track album via Kscope Records that poetically chronicles the impact of social media on people’s lives and society.

“Over the last four years since ‘Your Wilderness’ came out, the band’s just gotten bigger, and we were playing to more people. The modern band is quite weird because you get so much data to analyze, so you look at your Spotify listeners, where your Facebook people are coming from, and you can see where people are,” said Soord, who formed the band in 1999.

“We knew the USA was the big market for us. Obviously, it’s a very big place, so it’s difficult, but we knew that Germany, the U.K., and the USA were the three big territories that are into The Pineapple Thief. Since we’ve been selling more records, we were able to afford to do it.”

Continue reading “The Pineapple Thief Makes Metro Detroit Live Debut Saturday, Frontman Bruce Soord Releases New Solo Album”

Sylvan Esso Owns the Night with Sunday’s Sold-out Show at The Crofoot

 

Amelia Meath, left, and Nick Sanborn electrify the Crofoot crowd Sunday night as Sylvan Esso.

Surrounded by thick smoke and neon lights, Sylvan Esso’s pulsating beats electrified a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot Sunday night in Pontiac, Mich.

The Durham, N.C. indie synthpop duo played a 75-minute danceable set featuring 16 songs from their 2014 eponymous self-titled debut and their latest album, “What Now.”

After opening with “Sound,” Nick Sanborn addressed the duo’s overdue stop in the Detroit area.

“Sometimes, when you’re in a band this thing happens where you put up any dates at all, and then inevitably, someone is like, ‘Come to Brazil,’ and you’re like, ‘It’s so hard to go to Brazil,’ so it’s a common band thing,” he said. “And the one place every time somebody says ‘Come to Detroit,’ you guys are like the only ones that get to complain. We’re so sorry, this has been a long time coming.”

Continue reading “Sylvan Esso Owns the Night with Sunday’s Sold-out Show at The Crofoot”