For Greg Paddock, Cotswold’s rolling green hills, quaint stone villages and storybook cottages provide an idyllic creative retreat.
The Detroit alt rock singer-songwriter visited Oxfordshire in the picturesque southwest region of the U.K. last fall to record his six-track debut EP, fittingly titled Cotswold, with guitarist Ryan Harrison and former Dishwalla frontman J.R. Richards.
“I still have dreams about being there and walking through the pathways to the Thames River. I made such a big deal about the village they’re in because there’s a red phone booth, and it was used as a book depository. I’d walk around the village and the fields on the days I wasn’t recording and would listen to music,” said Paddock, who’s a longtime friend of the U.K.-based Richards.
“It was good to have that extra time there because we were able to do a bonus track and do the acoustic version of ‘No One Fights Alone.’ I was able to work more on ‘Sunshine Smile’ and get more into what I want to feel.”
One listen to Paddock’s Cotswold instantly drenches listeners in cathartic waves lapping against the shores of wounded souls. Released in March, the emotional EP poetically addresses internal struggles, family losses, failed relationships and personal recoveries as long, winding sonic roads that eventually lead back home.
“My hope in sharing all of it is there are people out there who hear and can relate to it in their own way. It always helps me cope when we perform the songs at one of our acoustic shows, and I can either see someone reacting in the crowd, or they talk to me afterward. I am so fortunate to be able to live my passion as well as how much it has helped me heal me,” Paddock said.
Back in 1974, Nektar left a promising sonic door open in Detroit.
The British progressive rock band shared a pulsating new track, “Devil’s Door,” during a show at The Michigan Palace.
“That’s where we wrote it. We had a couple of days in the theater. We were able to jam and play, and we did a lot of that. Then, we played it for the first time at the Palace theater,” said Derek “Mo” Moore, Nektar’s bassist, vocalist and co-founder.
Nektar only played “Devil’s Door” a few more times live that year before stashing it away. The soaring track remained hidden in the band’s vault for nearly 45 years before including it on their majestic new album, “The Other Side,” which dropped in January via Esoteric Antenna.
The eight-minute gem features the band’s late original frontman and co-founder Roye Albrighton on guitar and vocals at the track’s intro. Recorded live by then-sound engineer Vinny Schmid via a soundboard in Detroit, “Devil’s Door” beautifully blends Albrighton’s vibrant guitar and enthusiastic “yeah, yeah, yeahs” with Nektar’s stunning new version of the track. Sadly, Schmid passed away six years ago while Albrigton died in 2016.
“We were able to get the two of them on the album. It just felt right, it was so clear when we played that into the headphones, and then the band came in, and Roye stayed with us for a little while with his parts,” Moore said.
“Then, we dropped the original band and brought up the new band. It just felt great. I called Roye’s wife, and I said, ‘I know I don’t have to ask you for permission, but I’d like your blessing. Is it OK for us to use Roye?’ She was thrilled, and I sent her a copy of it right away. She was blown away.”
Metro Detroit audiences will be blown away Tuesday when Nektar reopens “Devil’s Door” live at The Token Lounge in Westland as part of a current 36-date North American tour. The long-awaited track will be featured as part of the band’s three hour-plus set amidst a stunning video and lights show by visual artist and co-founder Mick Brockett.
“We’re changing the sets every night, especially when we did four days in New York, and we did two days in Baltimore. We try to do a lot of the old classics like ‘Remember the Future,’ ‘A Tab in the Ocean,’ and ‘Recycled,’ and we do a variation of that, and then we intersperse them with the new album, ‘The Other Side,’” Moore said.
“The bassist/singer/founder Chip Z’Nuff is a major inspiration to very much of what I do. His style, approach, couth and constant love for his audience is astounding to me,” said Kyle Mikolajczyk, the band’s bassist who named the act after the legendary West Hollywood rock club.
“I cherish learning as much as I can from the legends in rock and roll that have already been where I wish to be. He is a fountain of knowledge and that alone gives me a lot to forward to on Friday.”
Along with infamous Detroit legend Guy Williams (vocals), Brandon Fields (guitar) and Garrett Ramsden (drums), Mikolajczyk will shred his way through collection of timeless hard rock hits. In a sense, the tribute quartet brings the look, feel and sound of the late ‘80s Sunset Boulevard rock and roll lifestyle to the Motor City.
“Individually, each member embodies and fits the style we’re attempting to pay tribute to perfectly. We’re all major ‘80s sleaze rock fanatics, so we take a lot of pride in the small details within each song to properly display them to our audience,” said Mikolajczyk, who also will celebrate Ramsden’s birthday with the band Friday.
“Some call it a blast from the past, but we’re just paying homage to our favorite artists and era, and we’re having a fun time recreating the atmosphere of one of the greatest eras in live entertainment history.”
After discovering their shared love of the music and era, Mikolajczyk and Williams formed Whiskey A Go Go five years ago and later brought Fields and Ramsden into the fold. Mikolajczyk and Fields also share a mutual admiration for Izzy Stradlin and Slash as members of Pretty Tied Up, a Guns N’ Roses tribute band that performs regularly in Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
“I built the backing band that has evolved over the years, and we recently put Brandon in the lead guitar position,” Mikolajczyk said. “It’s really helped take us to the next level.”
As a prominent fixture in Detroit’s hard rock and metal scene, Mikolajczyk developed a deep appreciation for the genre while growing up in Canton. At age 12, he picked up his first axe, a Guitar Hero game controller, and later sold merch and volunteered as a roadie for the Motor City metal band Kro-Magnon as a teenager.
After becoming Kro-Magnon’s bassist, Mikolajczyk quickly became a well-respected musical mainstay in Detroit and later formed HazardHead, a band influenced by ‘80s hard rock and GNR, in 2011.
He also performs as a solo artist and books, manages and promotes local and national pop, rock and blues acts through MetalAfro Management & Promotions. Mikolajczyk books acts regularly through the Diesel Concert Lounge in New Baltimore, including the Jan. 25 Ultimate Tribute Fest!, and other hard rock and metal shows.
With a myriad of projects, Mikolajczyk relishes sharing The Token Lounge stage with an impressive roster ‘80s hard rock icons, including Winger, Slaughter, Faster Pussycat and Enuff Z’Nuff.
“Enuff Z’Nuff might not be the biggest chart-topping act, but their music is very cutting-edge. Their last album, ‘Diamond Boy,’ has many musical masterpieces on it for being released only a year or two ago as well as the rest of their discography. They are definitely one of my favorite bands that’s still touring,” Mikolajczyk said.
“This will be my third time opening for him. It’s going to be a 30-minute set with a montage of my favorite covers and representations of the blues ranging from Chuck Berry to Son House to Robert Johnson,” said Mikolajczyk, the band’s vocalist, guitarist and harmonicist. “That’s the way I like to do it. I’m taking what they have, and I’m adding a Detroit rock and roll-flavored twist to it.”
Mikolajczyk will add Motor City fuel to Friday night’s blues fire with longtime bandmates Garrett Ramsden (drums) and Eric Noffz (sax, flute). The show also will feature the debut of the band’s new bassist Cameron Shawcross, formerly of the Detroit indie pop rock group Day Sleeper.
“It’s got a lot more feeling into it. It’s not all piano-driven type stuff,” Mikolajczyk said. “It’s real in-your-face, gritty vocals to get the point and emotion across.”
Another show highlight will include two special guitars from Detroit’s Woodward Guitar Co. Mikolajczyk will use a Fender Telecaster-inspired guitar made from reclaimed wood from Detroit homes called The Telegraph. It’s the very first guitar (e.g., serial number 001) that was produced by Woodward Guitar Co.
Mikolajczyk also will play new custom-built, semi-hollow red guitar also made from reclaimed wood called Big Brother, the first of its kind and similar in style to a Gibson Les Paul Studio.
“Between both of those two guitars, I’m very excited for it, and it’s always a great time opening for Anthony,” said Mikolajczyk, who formed the Blues Revue in 2015. “He’s a major influence to me as a blues artist because he’s a little bit harder than the standard blues artist.”
Mikolajczyk developed his immense passion for music while growing up in Canton and watching his dad play drums. By age 12, he picked up his first axe, a Guitar Hero game controller, and played Van Halen’s “You Really Got Me” cover of the 1964 Kinks classic. Like Gomes, he quickly decided to trade in his hockey stick for a guitar.
“One day came around, and I was like, ‘It seems like a better idea to play guitar instead of getting chucked into the boards all day – you know, getting concussions,’” Mikolajczyk said. “At one point, it seemed more realistic to be a rock and roll star instead of an NHL star. Like how many people play hockey? How many people my age were playing guitar? I was the only person my age playing guitar pretty much.”
At age 15, he sold merch and volunteered as a roadie for the Detroit metal band Kro-Magnon and later became the band’s bassist. Mikolajczyk quickly became a well-respected musical mainstay in Detroit after forming HazardHead, a band influenced by Guns N’ Roses and ‘80s hard rock, in 2011.
Despite balancing a myriad of music projects, Mikolajczyk looks forward to sharing the stage with the Blues Revue and Gomes again Friday night.
“Anthony has showed me that it’s easy to be yourself, and there’s no need to produce anything that’s inauthentic,” he said. “He has guided me on several different aspects the same way that B.B. King has guided him. Anthony’s truly a great friend and inspiration.”