The National, Courtney Barnett to Play First Ann Arbor Show Tuesday Night at U-M’s Hill Auditorium

The National will perform Tuesday night at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium in support of  their latest album, “I Am Easy to Find.” Photo by Graham MacIndoe

The National will be easy to find Tuesday night at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium.

The indie rock quintet will perform their first headlining show at the University of Michigan’s 106-year-old, 3,500-seat auditorium in support of their latest and eighth studio release, “I Am Easy to Find.”

Presented by AEG and The Ark, it’s the latest stop on The National’s current 20-date North American tour with special guest Australian indie rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Courtney Barnett. The band last performed in Michigan at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival in July 2018.

The National’s Matt Berninger (vocals) along with twin brothers Aaron Dessner (guitar, bass, piano) and Bryce Dessner (guitar, piano) and brothers Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums) will showcase new introspective songs tinged with dark, melancholy lyrics from their critically-acclaimed 16-track album, which dropped May 17 on 4AD.

The follow-up to 2017’s GRAMMY-award winning release, “Sleep Well Beast,” “I Am Easy to Find” features The National’s latest singles, “You Had Your Soul with You,” “Light Years” and “Hairpin Turns,” and harnesses their signature indie rock sound filled with driving guitars, eloquent pianos and pulsating bass and drum lines.

Interestingly, the album includes a short companion film with the same name and music by The National. Inspired by “I Am Easy to Find,” the film was directed by Academy Award-nominated director Mike Mills (“20th Century Women,” “Beginners”) and stars Academy Award Winner Alicia Vikander, who’s also featured on the album’s cover.

Along with the band, Mills co-produced “I Am Easy to Find,” which was mostly recorded at Long Pond, Aaron Dessner’s residential studio in upstate New York along with additional sessions in Paris, Berlin, Cincinnati, Austin, Dublin, Brooklyn and other far-flung locations.

The album also features beautiful collaborations with several notable female vocalists, including Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, Gail Ann Dorsey, Mina Tindle and Kate Stables.

Both individually and collectively, The National’s members have been involved in countless artistic, charitable and socio-political pursuits. The group released “A Lot of Sorrow” documenting their collaboration with installation artists Ragnar Kjartansson that took place at MOMA’s PS1 and saw the band play their song “Sorrow” for six hours in front of a live audience.

The National are also behind the Red Hot benefit albums, “Dark Was The Night” and “Day Of The Dead,” and the compilation boxed set titled “7-Inches for Planned Parenthood.”

In 2013, the band saw the theatrical release of their documentary, “Mistaken for Strangers,” set to the backdrop of their 2010 release, “High Violet.” During their 16-year career, The National has sold more than 2 million albums in the U.S. alone.

Courtney Barnett

Australian indie rock singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett will open for The National at Ann Arbor’s Hill Auditorium Tuesday night. Photo by Pooneh Ghana

As for The National’s special guest, Barnett will make her first Ann Arbor appearance in support of her second album, 2018’s “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” which “takes your vulnerabilities and everything that scares you and twists them until they fit into someone else’s hands.”

For her latest album and follow-up to 2015’s “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit,” Barnett’s writing is focused on the internal. She’s turned her gaze inward to study how the world and people in it are affecting her.

Listening to “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” it’s easy to imagine Barnett figuring out, song by song, how to orient herself and remain steady in a place that’s rapidly shifting around her.

Last month, Barnett released a new single and video for “Everybody Here Hates You.” Recorded in late 2018 during a break in her “Tell Me How You Really Feel” world tour, “Everybody Here Hates You” is the closest Barnett has ever come to capturing the extraordinary weight and swagger of her live performance on a recording. The track is a blues-tinged behemoth with squalling guitars, organs and tambourines.

Following the release of her latest album, Barnett went on to play sold-out rooms and packed festivals worldwide. Over the course of just a few years, Barnett has become internationally renowned for her witty, ironic and distinctive song lyrics.

She’s won the Australian Music Prize, J Award for Album of the Year, APRA’s Songwriter of the Year and four ARIA Awards. Barnett has worked on music with Jack White, The Breeders and Jen Cloher as well as releasing the 2017 masterful collaboration, “Lotta Sea Lice,” with indie rock singer-songwriter Kurt Vile.

Show details:

The National with special guest Courtney Barnett

8 p.m. Tuesday

University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University Ave. in Ann Arbor

Tickets: $59.99 for main floor and mezzanine, $45 for balcony

Deep Roots – Shari Kane & Dave Steele, Red Tail Ring Celebrate Original Folk, Acoustic Blues Music Sunday at The Ark

Shari Kane and Dave Steele will bring their acoustic blues to The Ark Sunday night in a dual headlining show with Red Tail Ring. Photo courtesy of Shari Kane and Dave Steele
Red Tail Ring’s Michael Beauchamp-Cohen and Laurel Premo will share their folk music and traditional ballads at The Ark Sunday night. Photo by David Birkam

Two Michigan-based duos will bring deeply-rooted music, innovative instrumental work and lush harmonies to The Ark for a Sunday show.

Shari Kane & Dave Steele and Red Tail Ring’s Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp-Cohen will co-headline the show and share a bevy of original folk music, traditional ballads and acoustic blues.

“We will do some of our own songs and play as a fourpiece with them,” Steele said. “They put a whole new dimension on what we play.”

For Sunday’s show, Kane & Steele will throw a four-handed acoustic party filled with street swing, stomp blues and mountain twang, including tracks from their 2015 album, “Feels Like Home.”

Together, the husband-and-wife acoustic blues duo recorded 12 covers from blues guitar legends Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Robert Lockwood Jr., and Mississippi John Hurt and two original songs, “If I Don’t Jump” and “The Last Day of Summer,” in their Ann Arbor area home studio.

“I didn’t know initially that Dave loved Blind Blake or Blind Willie McTell or all of these people who were like home to me,” said Kane, who originally met Steele in summer 1991. “When I saw him on the street busking at the art fair, really what I was saying was I didn’t know you loved the same music that I love. That’s become home for us, and that’s really where we come from.”

Their love of acoustic blues led Kane & Steele to a fruitful 30-year musical partnership after performing previously with Peter “Madcat” Ruth and Big Dave & the Ultrasonics. Steele’s smoky vocals, percussive rhythm and innovative lead lines blend magically with Kane’s crisp finger-picking style, rootsy leads and stinging slide work.

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Thank you, ann arbor’s 107one and John Bommarito

Local radio station, DJ inspire my decade-long musical journey

John Bommarito — Photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Thirteen years ago, I flipped the radio dial to 107.1 (WQKL-FM) in my car and haven’t stopped listening to the Ann Arbor-based station that helped lay the initial foundation for my musical journey.

Listening to the station was a nice distraction while driving to and from my MBA classes at Eastern Michigan University. For a few minutes, I could forget about exams, papers and group projects that temporarily consumed my life and focus on hearing new music instead.

Known as “ann arbor’s 107one,” the station introduced me to Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, Gomez, Spoon, Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, The Alternate Routes, Colbie Caillat, My Morning Jacket, The Shins, Scars on 45 and others. I slowly built up my CD collection and my musical knowledge because of that station.

By 2008, I had finished grad school and started commuting to Jackson for work five days a week. That allowed me to listen to ann arbor’s 107one about two hours a day. Each day, I looked forward to hearing Martin Bandyke and John Bommarito share their thoughts about different artists between songs.

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Chris DuPont Combines Venue, Studio Recording for New ‘Live in A2’ Album

 

 

 

 

Chris DuPont believes the right live album includes an eclectic mix of original and cover songs recorded in a venue and a studio.

The Ypsilanti, Mich., folk singer-songwriter melded these two sounds together for his new live album, “Live in A2,” which dropped May 19.

The 12-track live album features six songs recorded during a June 4, 2016 show at The Ark and another six recorded during a studio session at Solid Sound in Ann Arbor, Mich. Each side of the LP represents a different live feel for listeners.

Side A incorporates the intimacy and energy associated with hearing DuPont perform his classic tunes – “Evergreen Waltz,” “Winterfox” and four others – in the 400-seat acoustic and folk music venue known as The Ark.

“I hope it’s a fun listen,” said DuPont while traveling back from a May 12 show in Denver. “I hope that it gives people the type of energy and affirmation that they might get at a live show because for better or worse I really strive for polish.”

Continue reading “Chris DuPont Combines Venue, Studio Recording for New ‘Live in A2’ Album”