In Full Swing – Nine Mile Shakers Bring Bluesy Sounds to Novi’s Beerhead Bar & Eatery Friday

Nine Mile Shakers
Nine Mile Shakers’ Daniel Bloink, Thomas Chance, Maggie Robinson and Kenny Schabow gather for a practice session.

When it comes to live shows, a new metro Detroit blues quartet is getting into the swing of things.

Known as the Nine Mile Shakers, the smooth bluesy sounds of Kenny Schabow (guitar), Maggie Robinson (vocals), Daniel Bloink (bass) and Thomas Chance (drums) will flow Friday throughout Novi’s Beerhead Bar & Eatery. It’s the band’s first in-person show after performing a series of livestreams during the pandemic.

“We’re doing our thing with the livestreams, but we want to play for an audience. We’re all dancers, and there’s that conversation, right? When you’re dancing with someone, there’s a conversation, and it’s not just a constant one-way,” said Schabow, who met his bandmates at local swing dance events.

“It’s back and forth, and we want that with our audiences, too. But we can’t do that with the kind of dynamic that we want through online streams. We don’t get the feedback until after. You can tell when the audience is like, ‘This is really good,’ and they’re waiting for the next song.”

Throughout their three-hour set, the Nine Mile Shakers will share a mix of bluesy originals as well as bops, bangers and genre classics.  

“We have a lot of originals. Thomas and I have been writing together, and his songs are all very cryptic. We love asking people, ‘What do you think this song is about?’ and nobody can figure it out. My songs usually have a really obvious meaning and a hidden meaning,” said Schabow with a laugh.

Schabow created his own musical meaning after forming the Nine Mile Shakers with Robinson, Bloink and Chance in 2020. The four friends and swing dancers decided to start their own project filled with timeless blues, swing and hard rock sounds.

“We participate in a livestream called Third Friday Blues, which was born from the (blues) dances in Ypsilanti. That relationship between dancers and musicians is just so important, and I wanted to create an avenue for the artists to still perform,” said Schabow, who used to jam at similar events hosted at Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center.

“It’s really targeted toward swing and blues dancers, but it’s grown to people who aren’t in that community. It’s provided more exposure for some of those artists to get their music out there.”

Continue reading “In Full Swing – Nine Mile Shakers Bring Bluesy Sounds to Novi’s Beerhead Bar & Eatery Friday”

Seismic Love – Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack Chronicle Passionate Relationships on ‘Worth the Trouble’ EP

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Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack’s “Worth the Trouble” EP documents the rise, fall and resurgence of a romantic relationship. Artwork – Tom J. Reed

Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack beautifully chronicle the rugged emotional terrain of a passionate relationship.

The Ypsilanti alt-rock trio of Jerry Heiss (vocals, guitar, keys, percussion and programming), James Johnson (bass) and Danarus Greene (drums) spotlight that fervent rise, fall and resurgence of romantic love throughout their latest reflective, five-track EP, Worth the Trouble.

“I did realize in retrospect that these songs fit together because it is a roller coaster ride of the different feelings you have with losing someone, breaking up or apologizing. I put a pretty vague story to the album myself of trying to link the songs together and seeing if it was coming from one point of view in chronological order. That wasn’t necessarily the intention, but I’m glad it does feel that way,” said Heiss, aka Jeremiah Mack.

“The same way that writing these songs was kind of therapeutic for me, I hope that other people are able to listen to them and feel that same wave of relief that someone else has gone through this and that it’s been OK.”

Throughout Worth the Trouble, Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack thoughtfully document the volatile feelings, thoughts and concerns that quickly emerge as one partner responds to the unexpected actions of another.

Each poignant track seamlessly flows from one encounter to the next against an expansive sonic backdrop filled with pop-rock, emo-rock, alt-rock and folk-rock sensibilities.

“I try to make each song that I write like a different kind of song, and Worth the Trouble does jump from genre to genre for each song. I never want someone to listen to two of my songs and say, ‘Well, that song sounds like the other songs.’ It keeps me entertained because I like a bunch of different styles, and it’s fun for me to play in all these different styles,” Heiss said.

Continue reading “Seismic Love – Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack Chronicle Passionate Relationships on ‘Worth the Trouble’ EP”

Escape Artist – Kat Steih Creates Alternate Universe on ‘Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … and West Park Volume 1’ EP

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Kat Steih creates a captivating electro acoustic dreamscape on her latest EP. Artwork – Kat Steih

Kat Steih thoughtfully assembles a majestic, restorative alternate universe for near and far like-minded souls.

Inside that mystical world, the Ann Arbor alt-folk singer-songwriter invites listeners into a captivating electro acoustic dreamscape on her new EP, Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … And West Park Volume 1, which dropped Aug. 28.

“My music has a strong element of escapism. I’ll be in the middle of an experience that I don’t want to be having, feeling that inner roar of resistance, and then suddenly a melody with words and a vibe will pop right into my head,” Steih said.

“A big part of musical journey is increasing my skills so that I can capture those ideas to convey them to others. It’s really important to me to share (the ideas) because they arrive like gifts from the universe.”

Throughout her latest release, Steih packs an expansive, cerebral and folky sound across four hypnotic, ethereal tracks while venturing through past experiences, changing relationships, personal growth and long-awaited renewal. It’s a mesmerizing, introspective follow-up to her breathtaking, spiritual 2019 Americana album, Hymns of the Huron.

“I’ve always loved theatrical music production like Pink Floyd, Queen and Kate Bush. The sound of this album is influenced by my collaboration with Samn Johnson while the sound of Hymns of the Huron was very influenced by the band that Ben Lorenz put together,” she said.

“I bring the melodies and chord progressions, but the final product is colored by who’s there and the vibe of the environment we’re in.”

Continue reading “Escape Artist – Kat Steih Creates Alternate Universe on ‘Songs from a Faraway Galaxy … and West Park Volume 1’ EP”

Independence Day – Druzi Baby Savors Freedom and Fulfillment on ‘I J Q S D’

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Druzi Baby embarks on a new quest for independence, ownership and fulfillment on “I J Q S D.”

These days, Druzi Baby relishes a newfound sense of personal freedom.

The Ypsilanti hip-hop artist and producer embarks on a new quest for independence, ownership and fulfillment on his latest introspective single, “I J Q S D (I Just Quit Sellin’ Dope),” now available on all streaming platforms.

“I literally just quit sellin’ dope last summer and was dead broke. Bills paid and all, but not much extra – it was time. I had some weird ass vibes while I was on vacation in Florida and just had a hard gut feeling it was time to move on in life,” said Drew Denton, aka Druzi Baby.

“In reality, there are so many better ways to make money. Yeah, it’s harder work, but there isn’t a price you can put on a peace of mind. I hope people can take away that you really ain’t gotta take yourself so seriously. Most people are living beyond their means and portraying an unrealistic lifestyle, and that shit ain’t sustainable.”

Throughout “I J Q S D,” funky electric guitars, shimmering beats, thoughtful electronic drums and confident bass encourage listeners to think ahead and move forward.

Druzi Baby thoughtfully reflects, “I can’t spend no more time livin’ outside of my means/I’ve been lyin’ to myself/That’s not following my dreams/Put my life at risk because I’m lazy/Had some other options/Didn’t take ‘em/Can’t stand these little jobs/All these people fake/Gotta be my own boss/That’s the only way.”

“I just turned 30 this year. I’m not about to be out here living a pipe dream. I just wanna work, take care of myself and my family, and make some music while I’m at it at this point,” said Denton, who wrote the track and produced the beat.

Druzi Baby also celebrates taking charge in his new “I J Q S D” video, which features him proudly strolling along empty Ypsi railroad tracks and conducting recording sessions at The Workshop. He teamed up with director Christopher Kulick to record and edit the project.

“I met Chris through our intern, M33shka, and (Chris) is out here a bit from California and just getting started shooting videos. I wanted to work with him because he’s got a good eye and needed some experience. We recorded most of it at my studio, The Workshop, here in Ypsi, and it was shot all in about two hours,” Denton said.

“My business partner/mentor, Mello, makes an appearance in the video. That’s the OG, he runs The Workshop with me. Super talented dude who definitely doesn’t get the shine he deserves because that dude has been putting in the work behind the scenes these past five to six years.”

Continue reading “Independence Day – Druzi Baby Savors Freedom and Fulfillment on ‘I J Q S D’”

Fun Fest – Fundamental Sound Co. Hosts Local Music Festival Aug. 7 in Ypsilanti

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Fun Fest will spotlight local artists who have recorded with Taylor Greenshields’ Fundamental Sound Co.

For Taylor Greenshields, a recent conversation quickly morphed into hosting a local music festival.

The Ypsilanti audio engineer, producer and drummer chatted with Ma Baker guitarist Guy Williams about putting on a daylong music event at Frog Island Park.

“Both of us have talked about how cool it would be to have something on the stage at Frog Island. We were sitting on the grass, and I said, ‘I’m done talking about it. Let’s do it for real. I’m going to follow through on this idea,’” said Greenshields, who owns and operates Ypsi-based recording studio Fundamental Sound Co.

“This year, I invested in a bigger PA system. After that, I thought, ‘We have to do this because I don’t want to have all this stuff and not use it. It’s meant to be used for the people and the community. I’m so lucky to work with so many amazing, dope artists that it’s like, ‘Well, why not?’”

That epiphanous “why not” quickly led to Fundamental Sound Co.’s Fun Fest, a one-day Ypsi music festival showcasing a star-studded lineup of local artists at Frog Island Park on Saturday, Aug. 7. The festival will feature ANA, Al Bettis, Ma Baker, Travis Aukerman, Jesse Clayton, Dani Darling, The DayNites and a secret set with some special guests, plus visual artists and vendors.

“It’s so eclectic with Travis and Al each bringing their own jazz vibes for you to bask in. Jesse’s set is going to be more electronic, and he’s going to take you on a roller coaster of all sorts of dynamics. They each will bring something different,” said Greenshields, who’s previously recorded, produced and performed with all the artists on the Fun Fest lineup.

“I’ll be playing with Dani, Jesse and the secret set, which will include some familiar faces. People might get called up from the audience to jam during the secret set.”

Continue reading “Fun Fest – Fundamental Sound Co. Hosts Local Music Festival Aug. 7 in Ypsilanti”

Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’

The Art of Keeping It Real
Kenyatta Rashon reflects on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother on “The Art of Keeping It Real.” Photo – Chris Hollis

Kenyatta Rashon delightfully turns the page to a new life chapter.

The Ypsilanti R&B vocalist and Amplify fellow welcomes a new era of artistic growth, emotional strength and inner enlightenment on her latest album, The Art of Keeping It Real, out now via all streaming platforms.

“I didn’t come up with the title until afterward. The word that stuck out to me was ‘honesty.’ A lot of it has to do with emotional passages whether it’s friendships, relationships or fun; it’s everything that’s deep in your spirit,” Rashon said.

“When I got the chance to work with the fellowship, Rod (Wallace) and I spoke, and he was like, ‘Well, what would you like to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want to put it all out,’ but I explained to him that it’s very hard for me because I get writer’s block. He said, ‘I want you to write everything down,’ so I began to write everything down.”

That journaling process allowed Rashon to deeply reflect on her transition as an emerging artist and expectant mother. She spent five months crafting the seven authentic, insightful stories that would become The Art of Keeping It Real. (The project also features her 2020 single, “Ymmfb.”)

“I found out I was pregnant, and I went through all the emotions you can imagine from being pregnant. By the time it all came together, I’m like, ‘This is a story; this is something interesting that someone can relate to on many levels,’” said Rashon, who’s inspired by Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige.

“I wanted to go with these songs and focus on transparency and honesty, so I decided to go with The Art of Keeping It Real. Everything I’m summing up is art, and the art I’m projecting is keeping it real.”

Continue reading “Begin Again – Kenyatta Rashon Starts New Chapter with ‘The Art of Keeping It Real’”

Saturday’s Virtual Amplify Kickback Show to Feature Kenyatta Rashon

Kenyatta Rashon will perform Saturday during the Amplify Kickback livestream show. Photo – Kyla McGrath

The Amplify Project and Ypsilanti R&B vocalist and Amplify fellow Kenyatta Rashon will host a virtual fundraising show Saturday to benefit Do You See What I See, a local organization that supports female mentorship and empowerment.

Known as Amplify Kickback, the show is part of a concert and panel discussion series aimed at supporting Washtenaw County community organizations. Amplify Fellowship artists will be featured while local organizations will receive a portion of the show’s proceeds from the ticketed livestream event. 

Sponsored by Leon Speakers and Grove Studios, The Amplify Fellowship supports and funds musicians’ creative efforts in exchange for volunteering with local nonprofits and agencies. It’s part of the overall Amplify Project, which supports community engagement and artistic expression in Washtenaw County.

“Bringing artists and organization representatives together in this way just makes sense. We’re hoping to show our audience the incredible journey of both the fellows and the communities they serve. Along the way, we hope to establish the Leon Loft as a community space, and we are extremely grateful for the sponsorship and support we have already received,” said Maia Evans, Amplify Project co-founder.

With Evans at the helm, The Leon Loft at Leon Speakers, On-Air Elements, Grove Studios and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival will produce the events. Grove Studios and Leon Speakers have been working together over the past year to share virtual content throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amplify fellows Dani Darling and London Beck will perform as part of the Amplify Kickback show series in April and May. For more information, visit The Amplify Fellowship website.

Show details:

Amplify Kickback Series: Kenyatta Rashon

7 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Saturday, March 20

Tickets: $15-$75

Grove Studios Hosts Saturday Livestream Show with Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow & V*A*S*E

Grove Studios will host its first ever in-studio livestream show Saturday featuring three local emerging hard rock bands.

Grove Studios will ignite a fiery explosion of heavy sounds this weekend.

The Ypsilanti rehearsal and recording space will host a ticketed Grove Sessions livestream show on Saturday, Feb. 27 featuring three local emerging hard rock bands – Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow and V*A*S*E.

As its first ever in-studio livestream performance, Grove Studios will share three hours of heavy-duty rock for fans to enjoy at home. Broadcast live from the newly renovated Deluxe Studio, viewers will experience a searing show filled with shredding guitars, pulsating drums and thumping bass.

“We’ve had a variety of themed shows over the years and thought it was time to have a collection of heavy rockers this time around. I’m personally looking forward to feeling pounding drums and bass in my chest while wild guitar riffs and vocal runs fill the ether,” said Erich Friebel, Grove Studios co-founder and Director of Community Engagement. 

Ann Arbor power trio Electric Huldra will launch the show’s heavy-duty night with new tracks from their upcoming self-titled album. It will be the band’s first new material since releasing their latest thunderous single, “Letting Go,” in 2019 and their blazing five-track debut EP, Roadburner, in 2018.

“We will be playing every song except for the one cover song that we put on the record, and we won’t say what that song is to keep the surprise for people listening to the new record. We just hope to go in and show people that rock and roll is alive and well and give them a taste of what to expect when we can hopefully be playing live again soon,” said Bobby Marks, the band’s vocalist and guitarist.

Viewers can purchase $10 tickets for Saturday’s livestream show via Grove Studios’ website and Facebook page. Grove Studios has flourished in the virtual music space since launching Grove Sessions, a regular livestream performance and interview series, last March. The sessions spotlight a range of emerging and established artists and bands in Washtenaw County and metro Detroit.

“By presenting in-studio livestream performances, we’re not only giving artists a platform to express themselves and maintain a music livelihood, but we also want to share what Grove actually is with the broader community. We’re more than just simply a performance venue or rehearsal and music production space,” said Friebel.

Show Details:

Grove Studios Livestream with Electric Huldra, Edison Hollow & V*A*S*E

7 p.m. | Saturday, Feb. 27

Tickets: $10

Ebb and Flow – Chris DuPont Surges through Personal Upheaval on ‘Floodplains’

Chris DuPont intricately weaves a series of reflective, tender vignettes into a cathartic, cohesive whole on his exploratory new album. Artwork – Emilee Petersmark

Chris DuPont doesn’t envision Floodplains as a stand-alone musical chapter.

The Ypsilanti indie folk singer-songwriter intricately weaves a series of reflective, tender vignettes into a cathartic, cohesive whole on his exploratory new album. Filled with ethereal soundscapes, hypnotic guitars and mesmerizing vocals, Floodplains surges through the vast peaks and valleys of the soul to unify past and present experiences into a hopeful future.

“As a project that’s loaded with very difficult emotional content, I just had to sit by myself and grind. It was a very frustrating, solitary experience, and I had to really develop my work ethic and show up. It’s really tough to show up literally in your bedroom when you have a whole list of things that you have to get knocked out,” DuPont said.

“I learned the value of solitude and just sitting with your feelings and allowing them to move through you without making a knee-jerk reaction about what they mean. That’s been a big growth point for me. Working on this record really forced me to sit with difficult feelings and hear them tossed back in my ears over and over again. But as valuable as solitude is, I also learned the importance of asking for help.”

For Floodplains, DuPont sought help from a talented team of collaborators, including Frances Luke Accord’s Nick Gunty (piano vocals), Billy Harrington (drums, orchestral percussion), Johannes Stauffer (piano), Luke Jackson (bass), Christina Furtado (cello), Lea Kirstein (violin, viola), Rin Tarsy (vocals) and Olivia Dear (vocals).

Together, they created and navigated the majestic Floodplains throughout apartments, houses and recording studios in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids. The album slowly ebbed and flowed over two years alongside a period of personal upheaval and change for DuPont.

“Working with producer Nick Gunty was a fabulous experience. It was a big deal working with a producer, letting them in on your process and giving them creative push and pull as you’re letting go. That was a very important part of the process,” DuPont said.

“And toward the end wrapping it all up and getting the mastering done, I pulled in my dear friend Chris Norman, who’s an electronica producer out of Texas. I was running out of time and needed someone to master the record, and I knew he would love to do it.”

As an exquisite finished product, Floodplains rises and swells with intense emotion across 12 thoughtful, vivid tracks that steer listeners along a highly personal, poignant odyssey. It’s the ideal sonic outlet for releasing deeply buried troubles while seeking solace and starting anew in an uncertain world.

Continue reading “Ebb and Flow – Chris DuPont Surges through Personal Upheaval on ‘Floodplains’”

A Man for All Seasons – Steve Somers Jazzes Up WCC’s Winter Semester Music Classes

Steve Somers performs at Grove Studios in Ypsilanti. Photo by Kyla McGrath and mural by Joanna Farben

For Steve Somers, jazz weathers all seasons, especially winter.

The Ypsilanti guitarist-composer will share his longtime love of jazz, guitar and music through virtual winter semester courses for aspiring musicians at Washtenaw Community College (WCC).

Starting Jan. 11, Somers will teach Creative Jazz and Improvisation I & II (MUS 105-106) and Beginning and Intermediate Guitar (MUS 133-134) to 20 students per class.

All classes will include a combination of online class meetings with individual consultation and assistance with varying recording projects as well as virtual recitals. Students can now enroll for these online winter classes through WCC’s website.

“The jazz and improvisation classes allow students to work on different songs each semester and learn about jazz and improvisation concepts. They submit solos and parts online, which I mix in my studio at Alley Records to create an audio recording,” Somers said.

“The guitar classes combine both beginning and intermediate students in one class. Beginners work on basic chords and strumming patterns while the intermediate students work on melodies, solo concepts and more advanced bar chords.”

Somers also will bring in Ann Arbor hip-hop artist and Grove Studios marketing head Max Preissner, aka Max Price, to offer a social media class for music students through WCC. Management for Working Artists (MUS 285) will help musicians learn how to promote their own music through social media.

“Many of the students are interested in eventually writing their own music, and Max will help them learn more about how to market it and utilize social media,” Somers said.

As another course offering, Somers will offer a virtual non-credit Community Jazz Orchestra class through WCC that starts Feb. 24. For those seeking financial assistance, WCC’s Emeritus Scholarships provide free tuition for Washtenaw County residents age 65 and older who enroll in non-credit and credit courses, including music.

Outside of the Community Jazz Orchestra, Somers will teach a virtual Ypsilanti Youth Jazz and Music Theory Class starting Jan. 9 for students ages 9 to 18. Adults are welcome to participate as mentors and learn more about jazz music and theory.

Continue reading “A Man for All Seasons – Steve Somers Jazzes Up WCC’s Winter Semester Music Classes”