Countryside Tales – The Wild Honey Collective Explores Life’s Peaks and Valleys on ‘Volume 2’ Album

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The Wild Honey Collective features storied lyrics, timeless acoustic instrumentation and rootsy sensibilities on “Volume 2.” Photo – Michael Boyes

The Wild Honey Collective deeply explores countryside tales of the past and present on Volume 2.

The Lansing-Grand Rapids, Michigan Americana-folk quintet of Tommy McCord (vocals, acoustic guitar), Danielle Gyger (vocals, fiddle, acoustic guitar), Timmy Rodriguez (vocals, electric and upright bass), Dan O’Brien (vocals, electric and upright bass) and Adam Aymor (pedal steel) ventures through life’s peaks and valleys on their latest anecdotal album.

“One of the big differences between [2021’s] Volume 1 and Volume 2 is that on Volume 2 all of the original written songs were brand new when we did them,” said McCord, who also produced and released the album via GTG Records.

“That’s very much reflected in the material because that’s what was going on in our lives; some of us were getting married, and Timmy and Dan both had kids in 2020. It wasn’t on purpose, but that very much is true.”

Alongside Volume 2’s storied lyrics and bucolic setting, The Wild Honey Collective beautifully weaves timeless acoustic instrumentation with rootsy sensibilities. It’s a refreshing listen while spending time with family and friends at a lakeside cabin or trekking through hilly, sprawling landscapes.

“By Volume 2, we were a gigging band when we made the album, and I think that really shows,” McCord said. “It feels more like a band than a studio project. We’re just kind of driving forward with that now.”

The band also drives Volume 2 forward with invigorating renditions of traditional folk songs and unreleased tracks by other songwriters, including Mark Vella’s “Ode to Thor,” “Dark Hollow,” Buck Owens’ “There Goes My Love,” “Rocky Mountain Belle,” “Katie Cruel” and the Irish instrumental “Red Haired Boy.”

“When you play in punk bands, the idea of recording cover songs is very taboo unless if you’re making fun of it or something. But in the world of traditional and folk music, that’s kind of part of it … interpreting other people’s songs and the Great American Songbook,” said McCord, who also plays in Drinking Mercury and The Plurals.

“That’s something I’ve learned more as I’ve played is this idea of respecting and learning from other songwriters … it’s really important. It’s less about my ego and more about what are good songs.”

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For Song Sake – Motor City Artists Debut New ‘Best Guess’ Track for Tonight’s Black Crystal Studio Songwriting Challenge

Jeff Scott will perform tonight at Black Crystal Studio as part of the “For Song Sake” songwriting challenge.

Four metro Detroit area artists will demonstrate their songwriting prowess tonight at Ann Arbor’s most intimate and private music venue.

Jeff Scott, Brooke Ratliff, Kelsey Detering and Mike Gentry will participate in “For Song Sake,” a creative challenge in which songwriters compose a new tune over six weeks and debut it before a live audience at Black Crystal Studio. Songwriters apply to participate in the challenge.

All artists are given the same song title, but must write their own lyrics and music as well as determine the genre. Tonight’s song is called “Best Guess,” said Gerald Wayne “G.W.” Staton, who’s owned and operated the 44-seat Black Crystal Studio since 2007.

“I gave the artists an example of something I wrote just to show them what they might do with it. Two of them have written me and said, ‘I’m deep in the rabbit hole,’ but they’re challenged by it,” he said. “Artists always say they needed that challenge, and they needed something thrown at them to get out of a rut.”

During “For Song Sake,” audience members will rate each song from one to five based on lyrics, melody and likability. The winning songwriter will receive a prize, which could include cash, an instrument, a short trip or another item.

Staton and his Black Crystal Studio crew will record each artist’s performance of “Best Guess” and air the recording during an upcoming “For Song Sake” session on Ann Arbor Radio, one of the venue’s two online radio stations. Each artist will receive a copy of the recording.

“I’ve got four dates for ‘For Song Sake’ lined up for next year, one a quarter,” Staton said. “The audience was what impressed me. People came out that I wouldn’t have guessed would come, but they were interested in hearing about songwriting.”

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