Thursday, July 21, 2016

River Street Anthology Partnering with Archives of Michigan

All the excellent-looking photos are by Misty Lyn Bergeron
The ones in color are from my phone... 

After reading about the River Street Anthology in the Detroit Free Press, State Archivist Mark Harvey called up its facilitator, singer/songwriter Matt Jones, to see how he could help. Now, the staff at the Archives of Michigan has partnered with Jones to help him preserve local music history with its Preservica digital archives, and assist him in future recording sessions. And you can read an interview with Harvey on the Detroit Free Press' website, here.

Harvey said, future recorded songs and project information will be soon be available at the Archives website: seekingmichigan.org. This partnership between RSA and the Archives of Michigan not only means secure cataloging of Jones songs (he recently surpassed 200), but that the Archives could soon apply for a grant that could further support the RSA’s operational needs.

To catch up on the story of this blogger's journey out to a Kalamazoo-hosted session of the RSA back in February, click here.

Meanwhile, I caught back up with Jones to talk about the renewed vigor he's feeling after this new partnership was secured, but particularly to pick his brain on how the most recent session went, hosted at Assemble Sound back in June. 

If you aren't already familiar with the River Street Anthology, you can check out this Free Press article. Or you can scroll through their recent updates on Facebook.

Matt and I are gonna rap for a bit, here. You can read the condensed version via the FREEP.  

Matt, we thought Kalamazoo was a special day. Warm, fuzzy vibes prevailed... An interesting array of folks and eclectic talents. Lots of enthusiasm in the air. But that was five months ago.... What's your life been like since then? What's the status of the project been like since Kalamzoo & leading-up-to Assemble.....
 After Kalamazoo, I gotta admit- I was beat. I had been pressing the gas on the RSA steadily for a year straight by that point. We had been to every corner of the state, and while we hadn’t gone into the kind of depth that I would like to, and still will, I felt like the sort of introductory process (of RSA) had come to a close. I had had a chance over the first year to get an actual grip on just what the RSA is, what it means to people.  I realized that those two things- what it is and what it means to others- are completely entwined.

Other people’s belief in the project has come to define it, and that is as it should be: something historically, artistically, culturally/contextually important…

But even while coming closer to a full realization of just what this monster was, I was burnt out...from going to Kzoo, and Hamtramck, and Ypsi and Ypsi and Ypsi, and Houghton and Marquette and Mancelona and everywhere else, each places had their own incredible experiences, and man- I found out how exhausting it is to get your mind blown that much.

The real problem with that though, is that its gets harder to do each artist justice. I invest a lot in each band and musician. I treasure every single recording session, appreciate and take to heart the fact that each person took the time to be part of this.....

And you keep us updated with journal-y posts on the RSA Facebook page...
Yeah, and some friends tell me not to make it so personal- to employ a more disciplined eye, keep it simple and straight to the point and strictly observational.

But....
But that isn’t who I am at all. Things eat at me, good and bad, and I respond. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when someone takes the time to practice, and travel, and sit down in unfamiliar circumstances and do what they love most in the world, and they do that for this unorganized, open-ended project that I probably didn’t explain very well…how the fuck am I supposed to just “keep it cool?” If I could pay them all, I would. If I was making any money from this, it would go to them. But I’m not.

Artist solidarity...
Yeah. And my father instilled in me a pretty firm aversion to debt, which plays a part in the amount that I feel I have to "pay" these people back- all of them, somehow.

"The soundtrack for an entire state isn’t just one speed, one style, one location, one age, one color, one gender... ...The River Street Anthology wants to do more than play music for you..."

So you burned yourself out...
Yeah and I was pretty embarrassed about it too. I kept thinking- “A project like this one, I have to floor it every day to keep momentum, to reach the end faster, and to give all these people, musicians and listeners, something to hear- something besides all these write-ups. I am TOTALLY FUCKING IT UP.” That exhaustion combined with final exams put the whole thing out of mind for about 3 months.

Yikes... But, yeah, that's right. We shouldn't forget that you've also been pushing yourself back through school at Eastern during this whole time..... But, after Kalamazoo, though, Mark Harvey (from Archives of Michigan) reaches out to you......
 Yeah, and this changed the direction of the project pretty substantially, and all of a sudden I was having meetings, and having to thinking about the project in a different, more efficient and scheduled way.

And last month, you wound up in Assemble... 
I had talked to Garrett months before about doing something, and knowing he was interested, I reached out again. OH, I just remembered.... one of the major factors was this one night, I was perusing a lot MC’s from Detroit, knowing that I was about to start scheduling for a possible Assemble date. I had talked to Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith, asking them who I should get a hold of, and they gave me a list. I also started combing through the Assemble website, reading reviews, listening to samples, and getting a feel for what was out there in a general sense. I wasn’t ready for it at all, turns out.

But eventually you....
 ....WAIT! Wait...

What? 
I remember now, that one of the other major reasons I burned out was that I felt there was a glaring lack of diversity on the collection.

You needed more emcees!
Every artist I'd recorded up to that point had been absolutely stellar, but I hadn’t ventured nearly enough away from folk musicians and bands- the two things that I have grown up doing in my own musical endeavors. I got down on it. Questioned what it was worth. The soundtrack for an entire state isn’t just one speed, one style, one location, one age, one color, one gender. In order to begin again fresh on the RSA, there had to be a wiping down, and a true starting over- meaning that I had to do some shit that I wasn’t at all used to. So I started emailing people who would turn out to be some of the most unforgettable artists of the project to date.

Mic Phelps

Sleepless Inn
How did Assemble's session effect the project or re-energize you?
 The Assemble session changed the RSA before we even set foot in the church that day. I’ve always said that this project is so amazing because I get to sit two feet from people, watching them do what they love. I understand singer-songwriter workings. I know how to love it, and how to make it, and how to talk about it, how to compliment it, and how to record it. I know how to write about it later....

Which you often do, via Facebook or Mostly Midwest...
Right, but with these artists, based predominantly in hip hop like Nolan the Ninja and Mic Phelps, or a more electronic-rooted pop like Sleepless Inn, I can’t say any of those above things are true. I mean- sure, how hard is it to love music?

Right? 
It’s instinctual, comes natural. But the RSA is doing more than simply listening. It’s trying to do justice and doing justice to these artists is the hardest part of this whole fucking project because no matter what- my nature is to think that “it" could always have been done better. I could have said more, I could have hugged longer, I could have explained better, I could have gotten more people to listen, etc. Combine that with the need to preserve not only their sounds, but their significance- and they all have gargantuan significance, and you’ve got a pretty stressed out person.

So, at this point, what's your refurbished mission-statement, as it were? 
The RSA wants to do more than play music for you. It wants to put you into a place- it wants to show you the incredible and diverse sounds coming from these incredible and diverse people, and then to make sure you know that all of us are bound up together here by art, and by our love of it, no matter what the creator looks like, talks like, no matter where they live or what they do for a living, no matter how popular their band is or isn’t.

So this whole project underlines the camaraderie that we should be feeling, that we should be celebrating...
We’re all hanging onto one another whether we like it or not, and the artists who came into Assemble (back in June), while each bringing something different to the collection- new faces, new beats, new song structures, new rhymes, new experiences- they gave me, the RSA team, and everyone else a new hand to hang onto…a new reason to love being bound up here in this place, and in this particular soundtrack. Phelps was the culmination of that.



Microphone Phelps : River Street Anthology from Mostly Midwest on Vimeo.

Tell us what you dug the most about that day...
It was a moving, exciting day, like all the session days that we have when you insert yourself into a scene for a minute and soak it up all at once. We had seen Steve McCauley play my favorite song I’ve ever heard him play (and I’ve seen quite a few), and then The Erers came in and pummeled us harder than we’re used to at 11:30 am. We saw Eddie Logix and Laura Finlay perform as Sleepless Inn,, and that's like atmospheric, electronic pop.  James Linck came in and recorded a song he had written the night before,  and blew us away. Nolan the Ninja literally attacked the mic, making me totally change the way I recorded vocals. Nolan…that guy is special. A veritable tornado of a rapper, he was the most excited to be part of the RSA. The same energy he wrests out of himself in his raps was evident just talking via messenger. But if every song and performance that day were all gasp inducing in their greatness, Phelps’ was the exhalation. Sometimes I try to convince myself that the relationships and camaraderie existing inside RSA recording sessions is true of the greater, outside world. Phelps reminded me that it isn’t the case, but I didn’t mind. His gentle reminder, as I said above, gave me another reason to hang on- to him, to all the people from Assemble that day, and all the people, artists and listeners alike that have supported the RSA.

What happened in the room, for you..., the moment Mic Phelps was done singing
Mic Phelps floored us. the first thing that happened was silence. I always let the instrument/vocals fade completely before I press ‘stop,’ and during that fade-out, and the one or two seconds that come after before recording stops- those are always some tense moments. Everyone is wondering if it came out good, if that one mistake they made is going to be noticeable, etc…But Mic Phelps stopped and I think I was wondering how I was going to give him my usual “Nicely done,” without him seeing that my eyes were full of tears. Misty was perched up above me on a platform, taking photos of his performance, and I believe there were some tears in her eyes too. We were grateful to have gotten to be present for that performance.

Tell me about the plan you worked out with Mark. Tell me about Mark, too! There was a matter of getting a grant for this, but we needed the Archive to "own" or sort of "steward" the recordings in order for that? What's the story there?
By the time Mark had reached out to me and met with me, I think the RSA team had honed its game down to something as close as we’re going to get to an art-form. I had figured out how to get great sound with this tiny setup, and Steve Holmes and Charlie Steen, the videographers, were cranking out gold with pretty much every video they shot together or separate. I think it was the Breathe Owl Breathe film, shot entirely by Charlie, and the Passalacqua film, shot by both and edited all at once in a night by Steve, that sold Mark.

I don’t think he was prepared for all the workings of the RSA, as seemingly scattered as they are. It has become so much more than simply audio tracks; our shared appreciation for context in history was apparent as soon as the different branches of the project were explained to him.

State Archivist Mark Harvey
I didn’t think there was any way this guy was the chief archivist of Michigan, though.  He’s got this beard that Williamsburg hipsters could only dream of (pictured left), and it didn’t hurt my cause that he is already a huge fan of Michigan music, being familiar with many of the acts from the RSA already.  Mark was also real patient about the fact that I am suspicious of just about anyone who wants to help me with anything.  He drafted this agreement between the Archives and myself, one that definitely caters to every interest I expressed, and I STILL wouldn’t sign it. After him sending me drafts, and me sending them back with suggestions, him making the adjustments, sending it back…I still couldn’t make myself sign. Finally, there just wasn’t any other option. He had made every concession I asked for, and I had watched him make a similarly catering agreement with Charlie and Steve. Realizing there was just nothing left to be suspicious of, I signed. There is the possibility of grant money, yes, but that would be expressly for RSA operations- gas, lodging, setting up and promoting listening parties, etc. Making a living is a long way off, if its even an option at all.

I think "what we appreciate most about the River Street Anthology" changes from year 1 to year 2... I think there are half a dozen things that I personally "appreciate" about it... But can you talk about how it shows musicians that they, themselves, are appreciated! In a streaming world, in a low-turn-out-at-bars world, in a free download world... Here's you and Mark saying: 'Hey, you matter!'  
 While the RSA started off and remains a piece of preservation, the “you matter” effect is an unavoidable bonus. I just want to get artists feeling significant, because they all are. The ridiculously short attention span of the average music listener today turned out not to be a hill I particularly wanted to die on. I want something permanent for everyone, and with the help of the Archives, I think I found it.

Future plans? Gas money from the DNR? Kewenawe? Petoskey? This will go on for the foreseeable future, right? Or at least for a good 2-3 years more, right? Maybe 4-5? 
  It could very well go on for the rest of my life. The deal I have with the Archives includes the provision that I can continue adding to the collection at will, and I am never done with anything. As far as what the DNR is paying for, gas and whatnot- there isn’t any plan in sight just yet for thing like that. I’m still flying pretty much set of the pants for just about everything, meaning I’ve got a hell of a lot of assless pants in my possession. I did however get $1000 from the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundaiton, which, while it might not sound like a ton of money to some people, I can basically replace my entire setup with $1000. That’s the beauty of keeping things simple.

Can history lovers get a chance to hear these songs sometime in 2017, maybe? Via Preservica?
 I think its pretty safe to say that much of the material from the RSA will be available in the coming year, yes. It does, however, always depend on the degree to which I have my shit together. As long as I can keep everything in relative good order, and delegate authority with the Archives, there shouldn’t be a problem, besides the fact that I am usually horribly disorganized and delegating authority is the hardest thing in the world for me.

I love how our conversations often end on awkward, purposefully self-deprecating notes like that...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Evan Haywood's Ramshackles Release Show (Sunday)



I know it’d be hyperbolic if I said Evan Haywood was visionary. But look at the cover of his new album, Ramshackles…, you're drawn to those eyes. 

There’s psychedelic lattice fringing this dense forest like a blossoming nave behind his head, anthropomorphizing the thicket of his melodic thoughts. But it’s those eyes you’re drawn to…what’s he see? When he closes his eyes, what does he hear?


After spending nearly 20 of his 27 years on earth making research reconnaissance missions to the area’s various vinyl shops, Haywood got into producing, DJ-ing and developing an interesting vein of hip-hop and sample-strewn electronic with Man Vs. IndianMan. And he can drop bars as well, as 1/3 of the hip-hop trio Tree City. 

All the while, across ten years of working at Ann Arbor’s Encore Records, he was writing and recording music, some of which you’re hearing the finalized versions of…


Ramshackles on bandcamp 
Evan Haywood on soundcloud
Release show for Ramshackles is this Sunday The Getup Vintage  
215 S. State, Ann Arbor, MI. 
7 PM  /  $5-10 (suggested donation)
The show features Hydropark, Gardener (Richmond, VA), and Sister LakeINFO

The thing about Ramschackles is that it has so much presence. Like it’s radiating with the presence of myriad organisms. The ambient qualities of it are stirring softly, vibrating at the curtains of the soundscape continuously…Pulsing beneath the mossy growth are some gorgeous indie-rock shufflers, folk-pop lullabies and bendy harmonies, with splashing acoustic guitars, clasping drums and a dreamy amount of distortion. And then there’s those lyrics… So haunting, yet so relatable…surreal and very spiritual.



Let’s pick Evan’s brain…


Tell me about pluralizing ‘ramshackle…’
’... (that’s) indicating that these songs are haphazard little fragments, on the verge of falling apart.  I may have also drawn some inspiration from Marcel Duchamp and his “Readymades”, or Robert Rauschenberg and his “Combines”… works of art assembled from the trash of the world.


What’s the story of the recording process…
Most of the album was recorded in the basement of my old house, in downtown Ann Arbor.  My studio was called “The Lands”—a sprawling utopia where hundreds of songs were conceived.  The house itself was a creative but shady place, always a mess—I lived there for four years, until it gradually collapsed into a hellish maelstrom of heroin addicts, roaches, mice, burst pipes and rotting porches.  But for a while, it was a pretty nice place to live!  They converted it into a marijuana dispensary after I moved out.
I laid down the bulk of the album over the course of a few months, in early 2013.  I would write, record, and do a rough mix of one song per night, but only on the right nights.  It was all about capturing lightning in a bottle, during a turbulent time in my life.  After sitting on these songs for a couple years, I dug up all the scattered files and pieced them together into an album like a jigsaw puzzle.

Eventually, collaborators come in…?
Yes, a
fter assembling the core structure, I performed a lot of ‘audio surgery’ and called in a gang of talented musicians to fill out the arrangements.  But the majority of what you hear on the LP was recorded in those early sessions.  After I had personally mixed down all of the stems, I took them to High Bias Recordings in Detroit and worked with Chris Koltay on the final mixing.  Then we sent those mixes off to Heba Kadry at Timeless Mastering in Brooklyn.    

I want to talk about the spill of ambient sounds… Like the sounds or noises augment the emotions of a song, that the sounds almost have emotion…Can you talk about that, about what you were going for, about why the album needed the certain elements you chose…
For me, it’s all about trying to capture a nostalgic feeling or represent the essence of a memory.  I like to record environments as I travel and go about my life, as an auditory record of my experiences.  I try to hear the world as a child, and look for the wonder in each new sound.  Every sonic landscape on “Ramshackles” has a personal resonance for me, corresponding to an emotion or image being conveyed in the song.  I have always been interested in exploring sounds that are considered atonal, and how they can be incorporated into the context of a composition in such a way that they don’t seem out of place.  Many of my influences have dug into that concept, from Lee “Scratch” Perry to Brian Eno.

Over the last 10 years, what do you think has influenced your approach to songwriting…and your approach to production, most of all?
I’ve been heavily influenced by Surrealism and the concept of drawing inspiration from a well that is deeper and more mysterious than the conscious mind.  As a result, I often seek to create from a place of internal oblivion, complete nothingness… and later, I can sort through it all, analyze, and edit.  But it always starts from an instinct or a feeling, rather than a concrete thought.  This informs my writing process and helps to shape the collages of sound as well.  Generally, my intention is to pair a deep sense of discipline with a cosmic irreverence.  I am always experimenting.  And I am equally inspired by construction and destruction.  There is a great deal of controlled chaos in my process. 

Struggles with clinical depression have taught me about suffering and redemption, from my childhood to the present day.  I lost a lot of friends at a young age-- to suicide, gun violence, car accidents, etc…. and these losses have profoundly shaped my concepts of life and death.  Extensive studies of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism introduced me to many paths of self-reflection, and led me to travels in India, Japan, and China.  These are all factors that have worked their way deep into the fabric of my music. 

Among everything you’ve studied, read, listened to…what have been some of the most impactful or influential factors, overall…
Most crucially, I have always taken the time to listen to people—and sought to interact with those who seem to be the most different from me.  As a result, I have been blessed with a diverse community of friends, many of whom are brilliant artists.  Those bonds of kinship have inspired me to challenge myself and forge ahead, when the weight of the world is wearing me down.  Plus, a lot of ‘em are bad motherfuckers!  So they keep me on my toes.

What kind of music do you see yourself…or hear yourself making, in the near future? Or the far future?
I can’t say what type of music I will be making five years from now.  It’s difficult for me to slow down… I am always in motion, forever changing.  Lately, I’ve been extremely inspired by the techno and house I have been exposed to in Detroit.  Moodymann and Drexciya are probably my all-time favorites.  In the past few years, I have spent an equal amount of time with drum machines and synthesizers as I have with guitars and microphones.  In that realm: my group with Ian Finkelstein—MAN VS. INDIAN MAN—will be releasing a project on the Rocksteady Disco label this year, featuring remixes by Egyptian Lover, Pontchartrain, and Table Daddy.  

I’m excited to work on arrangements and spend the time crafting this next album (Wavecasting – working with Fred Thomas)… I feel that I am continuing to grow as a songwriter, storyteller, and musician.  I imagine I’ll just keep exploring ideas and doing my work until I drop dead one day.  And if the world catches on, that’s great--- but if not, I’ll still be following the call to create.



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Erie Canal Theatre

Switchboard Infinity has been rejuvenating. Hilarious. Ridiculous. Clever. Imaginative. Facetious. Smart. Satirical.



Switchboard Infinity has been able to trigger genuine LOL's from me, audible and unrestrained bursts that could only be categorized as guffaw's, roars of revelry at the sounds of screwball scene setting.

"Switchboard Infinity," a production of Erie Canal Theatre, has been churning out of SW Detroit for the last 18+ months, creating two seasons worth (more than 20 podcast episodes) of sci-fi slapstick and sophisticated adventure serials. The team of voice actors, writers, producers, sound designers and audio wizards is known as Erie Canal Theatre. 

And, if you've been following this blog, (...which, ya know, it's cool if you haven't...maybe this is your first time reading this blog? Maybe you just stop in often? Maybe you're insensitive to my fragile and naive hopes that everyone is hanging on my every word...) BUT..... If you've been following this blog, then you'd possibly read this feature that introduced the creative minds behind this locally produced podcast.



The reason I'm writing this follow-up piece is two-fold. The first sentence of this blog post used the word "rejuvenating..." Well, the throwback jolt of nostalgia for radio theatre has renewed my otherwise cynical, social-media-frosted soul into a childlike... (but not too childlike) state of closing my eyes and utilizing a faculty of mine that had begun to rust from a slowed frequency of ignition: my imagination.

So, I'm writing this because I wound up falling in love with the whole thing. Setting aside the local pride I feel for Erie Canal, conceived and carried out right out of Corktown, it's, in my humble opinion, radiating with charisma, a goofy panache I can't find anywhere else outside of Christopher Guest films, or maybe a cross of Futurama and Monty Python...

Playspace Studios, where the Erie Canal Theatre cast/crew recorded the final episode 

The second part of my writing this is that the final episode just went live...

Erie Canal Theatre is an ensemble creating art in Detroit and you can expect new material from this later in the autumn.  You can subscribe to this two-season "audio cartoon" (based on improv and infused with filmic sound design) via iTunes HERE.

The show airs within "Dance With Me, Stanley" by Stashu on WFMU in Jersey City, NJ, and is concurrently presented here.

If you want to catch up, all the way to the final episode, then check them out via iTunes. Or find out more, here.
Erie Canal Theatre intends to produce future shows after "Switchboard" concludes. What will they be?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Dirk Kroll Band

Dirk Kroll writes some punchy pop-rock music with just a good amount of grit and a charismatic swagger. The solo's are fast, flame-wreathed whips and the bass/drum combo sets a solid groove. The vocals can range from soft croon to high creaked crescendos, from sing-speak taunts and flirtations to heartfelt heaves of wavy melodies and dulcet intonations. But, when you get right down to it, The Dirk Kroll Band's Living Inside are some sure-fire toe-tappers, soulful rock 'n' roll riffers, and ideal midsummer night's celebratory theme songs.



What I dig about Kroll's band is that the ensemble imbues each of their parts, from every solo, to even the bouncing bass licks, with a lot of personality. "Reap What You Sow" almost turns itself into a jazz-like conversation between the arrangements of guitar, bass and drums, each tiding and cresting their sonic inflections together in this nice give-and-take rock readout that swells and surges. "I Like The Way" shows the sunburst sweetness and energizing strutability of these kinds of pop/rock exhibitions, evoking the no-frills twang and melodic magnetism of Big Star, with a bit of the razzle dazzle riffage of the Rolling Stones.

"Song For Rochelle" is the heart-weary slow dancer or the night owl's contemplative stroll, while "Third Row From The End" brings in the psychedelic smoke and shimmer of some 70's blues rock. "Blazing Red" is a set closer, for sure...full of rollicking hooks and soaring vocal melodies, it's got an energy that spreads its arms wide and hooks down all the curtains. Like I said, crowd pleasing toe tappers. Should be a great party next weekend.

Dirk Kroll Band
Friday July 15
New Way Bar
with The Stomp Rockets
23130 Woodward Ave (Ferndale)
More info


Find the Living Inside EP on iTunes
Preview tracks (and order copies) at: CD Baby 
More info: http://www.thedirkkrollband.com/ 
https://twitter.com/dirktkroll 
https://www.facebook.com/thedirkkrollband/ 

Monday, July 4, 2016

New music from May Erlewine & Seth Bernard

Michigan's most transcendent folk couple -performing two respective release shows at the Ark 
May Erlewine
http://theark.org/shows-events/2016/jul/15/may-erlewine%E2%80%94ep-release-concert-feat-phil-barry-max-lockwood-laurel-premo
Seth Bernard
http://theark.org/shows-events/2016/jul/02/evening-seth-bernard-friends%E2%80%94eggtones-peace-release-concert
In this month's issue of The Ann Arbor Current
May Erlewine and Seth Bernard Both Bring New Music To The Ark  


Part 1: May



Music’s supposed to make you feel good, feel better; renewed. I mean, there are no rules; you can use music however you like, as long as, for goodness’ sake, it isn’t just white noise at your periphery. Just remember that it can be utilized, that it can bring people together for a greater purpose.

I’ll never forget what music can do after listening to a song by May Erlewine. The Lake City-based singer/songwriter has this idyllic voice and a soft way with words, the kind of perfectly balanced pitch, cadence, and radiance evocative of the sunset’s rays upon a pond’s gossamer surface. If I ever feel down I could play her song “Shine On,” this twangy rolling hymn that heaves a healing breath fresh air into any room, and I’d feel better.

“Hearing people tell me that (one of my songs) helps is, for me, the biggest reward,” Erlewine said. “If I ever find myself in that moment of questioning: ‘Is this what I’m supposed to be doing…?’ It’s hearing people share with me how (my music) has been useful, that I then know for sure that what I’m doing is valuable.”


Erlewine is performing at the Ark on July 15, celebrating the release of her new EP, Lean Into The Wind. She has been playing music pretty much her whole life, but started becoming a prominent fixture in the middle/northern Michigan music scene in the early 2000’s. Sometimes recording under the name Daisy MayLean Into The Wind is her sixteenth studio project, and she’s already getting back to work this August.

Erlewine is a key component of the Earthworks Music collective, founded by Erlewine’s main creative collaborator (and husband), SethBernard, back in 2001. Named for the Bernard family farm in Missaukee County, the music label/event-coordinator/advocacy-group/community-organization has welcomed several equally talented artists who share the same heartfelt/humane sentiments as May andSeth, each dedicated to heightening awareness for issues concerning sustainability and social justice.

What Earthworks and Erlewine demonstrates to me is the power of encouragement. For those out there doubting the power of music, Erlewine’s songs destroy your cynicism.
Earthwork is “…rooted in the collaborative sharing of music, and music being for people to experience together, instead of being competitive or on a platform of being ‘…the best,’” said Erlewine. “This is about moving each other! The positivity here is really special.”

May Erlewine – Friday, July 15 – The Ark (316 S. Main St, Ann Arbor) – 8 pm - $15
_______



Part 2: Seth

Music empowers Seth Bernard daily. “And, I’m very intentional about what I listen to…,” said Bernard. “I find everybody is. Everyone turns toward music when we’re having a challenging time, or just a bad day, and when it comes to the creative process; (music) is just a lifeline.”

Bernard and Erlewine married five years ago, having met in Ann Arbor in the early 2000’s. They’ve bonded over music’s ability to cultivate resilience for whoever’s listening. You’ll probably find their music heals something you hadn’t realized was stressing you. Perspective is thrown into sharp relief. Bernard is releasing Eggtones at the Ark on Saturday, July 2nd, part of a new three-part music series and “…a radical experiment in 8-bit rock, postmodern folk, playhouse primitive, and 21st century blues.”


“I always feel a responsibility as an artist to be able to respond to the times, to use the artistic process in a way that brings people in,” said Bernard. “There’s so much cynicism and fear right now that we’re forgetting how much work it takes to keep our community’s going every day, so I wanted (Eggtones) to acknowledge how much people are doing and remind them that their work is appreciated.”

Seth and May don’t just talk about the power of music; they demonstrate it through education and outreach. Erlewine is working with toddlers, teaching music-and-movement classes, utilizing it for mental stimulation, boosting self-esteem and social interaction. There’s also educational programming at the annual Earthworks Harvest Gathering, a family-friendly camping festival that celebrates local food, music and appreciation for community. Seth, meanwhile, teaches songwriting to high school students at Interlochen summer camps and serves as artistic director for the Quest program’s music tutorship, collaborating with the SEEDS organization in northern Michigan.  

We could tell you about so much more that SethMay and all of Earthworks are doing to reinforce community through music, but that’s a conversation we’d rather encourage you starting with them, in person.

Seth Bernard & Friends – July 2 – The Ark (316 S. Main St, Ann Arbor) – 8 pm - $20

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Landmarks - To Fear the Wild Things (video premier)

This weekend, I've got a premier of Ypsi-based quintet The Landmarks new music video, “To Fear the Wild Things…”


This song was released in January on the band’s Challenge EP. I’m digging the 90’s-ish VCR fuzziness, the haunting blue filters, the adrenaline-surged camera work…and that fervent violin! This song was my favorite from their most recent EP and I feel it aptly captures their ricocheting rock energy. What began as a jagged indie-pop more than two years ago has evolved into a frenetic-yet-graceful weaving of baroque elements, post-punk adrenaline and space-rock shimmer. 

Having just played at A2SF’s Top of the Park, the Landmarks are already eager to get back into the studio, soon. 



Their next show is the following Saturday (July 9) in Ferndale, at the Loving Touch, with Nina & The Buffalo Riders and Liquid Monk. (More info).


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Zoos of Berlin.... A return to...




Zoos of Berlin played their “last show” back in the late summer of 2011 and singer/guitarist Trevor Naud is quick to point out that it was never the intention to disappear. In fact, despite an absence from stages, the band, crucially, never went away...

Circumstances shifted after the release of Lucifer In The Rain (2013).... Zoos' drummer/engineer, Collin Dupuis, moved to Nashville for work a little more than a year after that "last" concert, and both Naud and keyboardist Will Yates would also leave the state soon after... Zoos of Berlin had scattered, but stayed as synchronized as possible. Essentially,  crucially..., “the band” never went away.

Bassist Dan Clark emphasized the preciousness of their time together, whenever they could reassemble back inside their personal studio in midtown. “No shows…,” Clark says with a slow nod, looking back. “Any time we could get together went entirely to writing and recording.”

There was no stopping point, as Clark said. The work was never abandoned, it was a well dug with as much patience as possible, cultivating more than 20 songs over that period of time; in their own world, almost…secluded, more or less, in their studio, to continue… To continue regardless of whether or not they could do a local show or even conceive a tour. The reason…was to continue…
“The reason you keep making music,” Clark said, “is because you believe that the best music that you could make is still something possible, something ahead of you…”

That sense of possibility sustains a band like Zoos of Berlin. And Naud says that it feels like they’ve only just now barely gotten started. That sensation of hitting one’s stride, of feeling fully realized, finally, within one’s sonic skin, as it were… 





For me, even suggesting that Zoos of Berlin could come back even better than ever is a scary-good prospect, an exciting notion… Because the group was already actively pushing itself outside of comfort zones, pursuing an Escherian set of stairwells winding their ways into implicitly indefinable genres, blending the elegance of art-pop to the propulsive of myriad dance modes, the static and spit of post-punk to the shimmering hew of surf-rock.

You can hear an illuminated eclecticism across their four main releases, two EP’s and two full length records. That orchestrally-swept, baroque-frilled, atmospherically-washed wonder charming their entire canon could translate into the live incarnations in interesting ways.

“The idea was that each song would have its own unique profile,” Clark said. “And the ‘style’ we had would be…just…the style of being able to pull off different styles…

But, as a live band, you can become tied to certain roles, or limited in how you can conceive a song. Whereas in a studio, one is set free to wander, as it were, or to try and to try again, to feel freed to incorporate weird textures, sweet timbres and ghostly tones without concerning yourself with future conversions inside concert venues. So, it’s vital that this band has their own Zoodio. It’s been the summit, the commons, the place of realignment, each time they’ve been able to have full attendance, or at least workable quorums, in Detroit.   

“We have more material than we may need,” said Clark, referring to their extended study hours of experimentation. “Better to take the time to pursue all of the different avenues… even if some of them wind up in blind alleys.” He pauses when he notices the smile on Naud’s face. “Get to know your way around town a little better, that way,” he concludes.

When Zoos of Berlin return to Detroit area stages this weekend, they’ll have almost two full albums of new material to draw upon. They don’t have a title for their album, but they’re enjoying the idea of calling it Instant Evening. That said, don’t expect a release this summer. The goal is to unveil it before wintertime, though.

So, that’s not to suggest you’re going to hear all of these new songs; I mean, some may be either too elaborate or too potently and ineffably phantasmagoric to pull off live….just yet…. But some of the songs you will hear are going to be on said new-album.

This will be their first album released since 2013’s Lucifer In The Rain, which SPIN so finely deemed “ornately cosmopolitan…” And Naud doesn’t know quite what to say about it. “I worry so much about sounding cliché…as I’m sure so many bands would say something like: ‘This is a combination of every phase of our musical makeup, heretofore…’ But… There are ‘electronic moments…’ There are ‘folk moments…’ No…wait… No. No. No.” No clichés.

Clark remarks upon the heightened amount of freedom they feel, as a band. “We’re not locked into playing a particular set…”

“…because,” Naud comes in quickly, “…no one’s heard these goddamned songs, yet!” I’ve heard it, and it is better than ever. Better than ever Zoos… But no one else has heard them…

And that’s just it, I tell them. That’s your angle…I say. No one knows what to expect from Zoos of Berlin, right now. And that’s exciting. That’s suspenseful.

“Ah, that’s our angle…” Naud says, looking relieved for a minute, but then quickly nervous. “I feel scared, now!”

Earlier this year, the band welcomed guitarist Matt Howard (also of Javelins), to augment the newly recorded songs. From here, it's only a matter of time before we hear new Zoos...Palpably stoked to have the quietly-impressive Howard on board, Naud said that, at this point, they wouldn't want to do anything, going forward, without these five core members, Howard included, who have contributed to the recordings over the last couple years. 

And as my interview-time winds down, inside the Zoodio, there is still an understated haze of excitement emanating from the band, but it’s a finely tuned, tempered excitement. It’s not cautious excitement, or squirrelly excitement, or even braggadocio…After three years since their last album and five years since their last show, it's all kind of wildcard-ish...

But they're even more comfortable, now, in their own skins (...morbid as that saying goes,) than ever... 

And they’re glad for the opportunity to perform, but the hope is that all of that positive energy only feeds back into their studio, to fuel future recordings, to propel proceeding album releases.



Did I use the word "...ever..." too much in this article? Or, hyperbolic conjunctions like "...than ever...?" I'm always at a loss for words when I listen to Zoos' music, so it likely gums up the overall articulation. ANYHOW....


ZOOS OF BERLINSunday, July 2Corktown Strut8pm at Batch Brewing Company

Saturday, July 8FAWNN Ultimate Oceans Release PartyThe Loving Touch

Origins:
Daniel I. Clark and Trevor Naud began recording and writing music together
in 2000, as South South Million. 
Dig into SSM's first official release HERE
That duo met Collin Dupuis in 2002, crossing his path while working with engineer Norm Druce in Owosso.
Having contributed to some of SSM's recordings, he soon contacted Naud to let him know he was moving to
Detroit and that they should start making more music together; hence= Zoos of Berlin
Zach Curd (of Suburban Sprawl) was initially playing keys, before Will Yates jumped on board in the mid 2000's
Their debut EP came out Nov, 2007
Taxis -2009
Lucifer In The Rain - 2013
.
Add in the Zoodio in Midtown
Add in Matt Howard
Garnish with great appreciations for ambiance....
voilà

Monday, June 27, 2016

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Loose Teeth: Big, Cathartic Rock 'n' f**king Roll


Loose Teeth are an Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor based quartet and today's the day they release their debut EP, The Doppler Shift. If anything can sound elegant and guttural, beautiful and bruised, ragged yet reinforced... you find it here...

Gregory McIntosh has always been the secret weapon of Ypsilanti, contemplative wordsmith, subtly graceful guitarist, appreciator of dynamics and able to go from vulnerable sonnet singer to pugnacious fuck-this growler... Greg's songs... Loose Teeth songs.... can go from the low to the high in this invigorating way; from hunched on a stool or leaning heavily upon a fence to fucking jumping up onto the bar with a fist raised or outright kicking the whole fence down with one right round house kick.

McIntosh has contributed his guitar and backing vocal harmonies to Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful, Matt Jones & The Reconstruction and wrote a few devastating beauties while in his memorable tenure in The Great Lakes Myth Society. But Loose Teeth, which slowly got rolling in early 2013 but picked up steam in 2015, are ready to release their first EP. These are McIntosh's most realized, most lively, most poignant songs to date... It's the hitting of a new stride, or a burst of fresh endorphins propelling the next 13 kilometers... Loose Teeth are a rock n roll band, but they're informed by traditional twangs and gritty kicks of folk and Americana. But, more than anything, it's informed by the human heart and reverberates with a humanistic yearning for a certain kind of tranquility...

But I'll let McIntosh tell you the rest, in our Q&A below...

Loose Teeth - Doppler Shift EP Release Party
Saturday (June 25)
w/ Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful, and Shuttershop
Crossroads Pub
517 W. Cross St
9pm


How and when did Loose Teeth come together? And what can you tell me about these four songs?I always think of Loose Teeth as having been born in a house over in Corktown that Matt (Jones) and I were painting in the summer, three or four years ago... I played (Jones) a demo of "The Jagged Edges of Big Ideas" and he said, '...Let's go work on it after we're done here...!' So, we holed up in the basement of the house on River Street in Ypsilanti, which is now becoming famous as the place where (Jones) has recorded the bulk of the River Street Anthology. And, from there, we hammered out a very basic arrangement. It felt different than the older songs I'd been performing....

I asked Mary Fraser if she'd be interested in playing some songs with (Jones) and I. Then we found Tom (McCartan) to play bass, and the whole thing fell into place.



Poignant, yet defiant. Worn-down, but resolute. Hearts on the sleeve, but the sleeve's almost like steel wool.... There's dusky twangs, hearty vocals, vigorous crescendos. It's soulful stuff, Greg. Could you talk about your pull to the bittersweetness, and what kinds of intrigue or what kinds of power can you find in the stories of wounded spirits that rise to a recovery...
The bittersweet, for better or for worse, comes from me living in an anxious space for so long. Though in recent years, with the loss of both of my parents, being attacked by a pitbull, and dealing with the legal ramifications of both..., I've had to learn to manage my anxiety and depression in ways that I hadn't had to before. Because....the forms needed to be filed and death certificates needed to be presented in a timely manner, regardless of how scared or helpless I felt.

In the past, anxiety would cripple me, sometimes making it difficult to perform even the most mundane tasks. But reading about the vastness of the universe, the insane oceans we have here on earth, or watching Planet Earth all help sooth that part of my brain by forcing me to step way outside of myself and take a look at how small both me and my problems really are. But you know what else helps? Big, cathartic rock and fucking roll, which, when I attempt it, comes out with the hearty vocals and crescendos you asked about. Hopefully, those dynamics are meaningful and powerful when others listen to it too, but I'm just trying my best to keep my head from caving in on itself.



And about that lyric... "being a beacon for the broken hearts...?"
“...being a beacon for those battered hearts has more or less become my art...,” that was just a reference to a particular time when I had a few folks in my life who were roughed up by whatever psychic maladies with which they were dealing and they'd brought them to me, dumped them at my doorstep, and took off. It felt good to empathize with these folks about something other than the sadness that came with watching leukemia take my father out of the world. But the lyric is meant to be an admission to myself that focusing on other people at that time and not giving enough attention to my own brain probably wasn't the healthiest way for me to deal with what was going on in my family.



Your lyrics can be so literary sounding... More than that, it's often what resonates most for me about Loose Teeth, a narrator that's taking stock of so much shit, and seeking solace... That said, can you talk about your lyrical influences, other songwriters (or writers, in general) you've admired and that you feel have informed your own work.... I've heard a song of yours called 'Luke Haines...'
Luke Haines was the mastermind behind the early '90s group the Auteurs, among other projects. His songs are dark. They're mean. They're sardonic and witty and bizarre.


Excellent adjectives....
The critics at the time called the Auteurs “the new wave of new wave” and (Haines) is considered to be, in some circles, the father of Britpop, which he denounces and says he hates. Oasis, Blur, and Pulp, etc. Those bands never did anything for me either, but then none of those bands ever wrote about unsolved child murders, British wrestling in the '70s, terrorism, or made a children's concept record where all the heroes die in the end.

I was in New York City a few years ago in a self-imposed exile, and I started writing this song that felt, to me, to be a melody that Haines might have penned, so I decided to write the song about him. When I was 80%, or so, finished, he released the album Rock 'n' Roll Animals, the “children's” record I mentioned above wherein he imagines three of his own songwriting heroes (Gene Vincent as a cat, Jimmy Pursey of Sham 69 as a fox, and Nick Lowe as a badger) fighting a giant mechanical bird, which seemed to me to be a sign that I was on the right path in writing about him.


Amazing! 


I'm sure he'd hate my song.



What about other songwriters... I mean, particularly, you've collaborated, or at least become closely acquainted with so many songwriters around "town..." (or, Michigan, rather...)
There are so many songwriters that have influenced me, it's hard to keep concise about it..., but nearly all of them are lyrical dynamos on top of being pop masterminds. There's Andy Partridge of XTC, continually blows my mind. As do Randy Newman, Nina Nastasia, and Andy Prieboy.


Locally, we've got Great Lakes Myth Society... (I'll just check off a clipboard...) Matt Jones, Misty Lyn... Drunken Barn Dance...

I was lucky enough to spend so many years playing with Jamie and Tim Monger (Great Lakes Myth Society) and I cannot emphasize how much those two taught me about music and music appreciation and exploded my mind when they'd show up at rehearsals with a new song in tow. The three of us were in a friendly competition, in terms of songwriting, and I believe I'm only now beginning to catch up to the level they've been writing at for years.



Also, Leah Diehl of Lightning Love is another masterful songwriter I admire. I really think she's a genius; sometimes penning songs that seem very simple, but when they're dug into, all these layers come out and it's clear that she's operating on a different level than a lot of people out there. Let's see... There's Jim Roll, who helped engineer and mix the Loose Teeth stuff... He's always been someone I admired; I met him 20 years ago and was intrigued by his presence in the moment, both as a songwriter and a human, ever since.

Then playing alongside Matt Jones all these years and being able to pick his brain about his approach to songwriting and see, up close, his attention to detail and work ethic; that's been awe inspiring. I played with Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful many moons ago and watching her continually escalate as a songwriter is astonishing; she never seems to plateau, but continually  ascends in her construction of songs and every time that she blows my mind with a new song, it's eclipsed by the next.

Then there's Josh Malerman of the High Strung. Geez, that guy is amazing. His approach seems so fluid to me, like he just barfs up a great pop song then shouts, “Next!” and barfs up another great pop song. And Scott Sellwood of Drunken Barn Dance! The whole reason I play guitar in DBD is because I saw Sellwood perform solo at the Elbow Room and his songs slayed me so hard that I bee-lined to the stage after the set and asked to be a part of what he was doing, though we barely knew each other. His songs are so graceful and lyrically magnificent. I still can't believe he obliged me....


And it's just that humbleness that has made it all particularly moving when you do get to be 'in the spotlight...' as it were... If it's one of your own arrangements with GLMS, or if it's Loose Teeth. But rock 'n' roll...music biz-shit in general, requires one to shed subtlety, or sometimes even shed-modesty, and play the self-promotion game... That said, I'm excited for this record release, because you've been toward the side of the stage for so many shows with other bands, now...it's you! 

Yeah, I'm not very good at the self promotion, honestly, and there are definitely times I long to be back in a band as a guitarist who sings occasional backups... But what the hell?!! I'm proud of these new songs and I want them to be in the world! I'd like them to connect with other people, but I'm alright if no one digs them because I know I've done the best I could do at this moment. As for the performing aspects, it doesn't bother me at all. I'll get anxiety attacks before a show sometimes, and nearly always after the show is over, but all I've got is what I can give, so if it doesn't resonate, so be it.

What's the biggest takeaway, the life lesson learned..., after 15 years of playing, gigging, writing, recording...etc....Somehow, I've been able to play with a bevvy of smart, talented, compassionate, and brilliant people for so many years it rattles my brain in the greatest ways. If life is gonna kick your ass, and it will kick your ass, better to have a bunch of these thugs around to help you turn a bunch of songs into an army and push back for a while. I've been lucky and I'm grateful.




This might be an older one of Greg's songs, but I love it

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Timothy Monger's Amber Lantern

When you read Tim Monger’s name on the sleeve of his albums, it’s: Timothy Monger. But in the proceeding interview, I’m choosing to refer to him as Tim, for expedience.



Now when it comes to ideas, Tim is expedient. When it comes to albums…, well, he’s only just now readying the release of his 3rd proper solo album, Amber Lantern. The singer/songwriter is known around the state for his tenure with poignancy-cultivating, gothic-Americana conjuring, folk-rock dynamos in the Great Lakes Myth Society.

In 2004, Tim started unveiling his own signature tunes of a comparably understated rustbelt-tinged radiance. Whereas Great Lakes Myth Society’s songs emitted ghost-story vibes, folk hero valiance and campfire yarns out past the ol’ railroad tracks, Tim’s songs on Summer Cherry Ghosts had an eclectic blend, there was springier adrenaline and notably intricate arrangements, some spacey/regal baroque croons, waltzy troubadour trips and propulsive folk riffers.


Later, on 2011’s New Britton Sound, Tim got cinematic, ostensibly giving aural texture to the wistful fogs of nostalgia and the quieting exhilarations of deep contemplations. His lyrics often sound like the kind of words that have been ricocheting around in someone’s head for almost-too-long, ready to come out. His voice, even if recounting an episode of woe, crackles with a dulcet timbre that sounds like reprieved, the heavy sighed sound of healing.


So, the news here is that Tim Monger is going to be releasing his third album later this year, (hopefully around early autumn). But that all depends on a recently launched kickstarter campaign. 

And since we wound up really chopping it up over the course of this interview, I’m going to set aside my own purple-splashed adjectives about his music and go straight to the Q&A.




Tim, when you go to your own mind palace and sort of reflect on the way you’ve continually approached songwriting? Have there been some recent influences or experiences that have shifted that approach?
How did you know about my Mind Palace? Maybe you were simply making a classic Sherlock Holmes reference, but I actually have a tent set up in my basement that I refer to as my Mind Palace where I sometimes like to hang out, write, and contemplate.

My DNA skews me toward being a nostalgic and sentimental type of person which can make certain emotions enjoyably richer, but is also sometimes detrimental to my happiness. On past albums, I've admittedly leaned on a certain feeling of wistfulness which seems to flow easily into my music. If I'm being honest, it's probably my default setting as a songwriter and it can take a conscious effort for me to begin from a different starting point.


What did you want to do this time, though, with Amber Lantern?
I wanted Amber Lantern to include songs that were a bit more present. I wanted to better represent what I was feeling when I wrote the songs rather than looking back at past selves. I still tend to romanticize my subjects and there is a pretty diverse swath of song styles on the album, but overall I feel like I've grown quite a bit since my last release.


I seem to recall a heightened meticulousness to the way you were crafting each song during the production of New Britton Sound. Talk about what winds up dominating your attention most when it comes to finalizing a song. What’s the key…? Why toil so much…?
As meticulous as I may sometimes seem, I also rely very much on spontaneity. Songs have to begin somewhere and there's usually some sudden inspirational voltage that begins the process. Some people knock it out in an hour and call it done and there are millions of great songs that have been made that way. I truly wish I knew how to work faster, but my own process usually involves rallying around the initial spark, honing it through numerous revisions, making wrong turns, chasing new sparks generated by correcting wrong turns, and so on.

Every time I think about beginning an album I always tell myself this is going to be my "minimalist record" and by the time I've finished it…four or five years later…, it's something else entirely. Maybe someday I'll do something brutally sparse like Billy Bragg's first album or some sort of hairy, one-take psych album, but my instincts usually lead me toward more detailed pop music with an emphasis on arrangement. When it's all said and done,  I'm almost always happier with the results when I've let the songs decant and fully develop before releasing them. My process for recording hasn't changed a great deal since my last album. I have some nicer gear at home now and I was able to record most of the drum parts at a proper studio which has upped the production value considerably. But I still toil away at each part as I've always done.


You’re going the kickstarter route again to fund Amber Lantern’s completion, promising, if nothing else, tightly-crafted guitar pop with a warm glow… This album has been in the works for the past four years, out of your home studio. And, I could go into further detail about how the overall sound and shape of the album changed many times over the course of those four years, but I’d prefer they just click this link and check out thekickstarter page for themselves… …then, when they return, they can read your response to this question:
Have you gotten into any ethical, philosophical, existential conversations with other musicians about how one makes it work, as it were, in the "music biz"...as an artist without a label, or as an artist seeking a label, or as an artist who has that great work finished but has the big gap toward releasing it…
In regards getting an album over the finish line, there are so many ways to make, release, package, fund, and promote your music. The concern of all the musicians I talk to isn't necessarily about how to make it work in the music business but how to get anyone to hear what you've made. At this point I only know a very small handful of people who make their living as musicians and they work incredibly hard all the time. I have a lot of respect for their perseverance and stamina to stay above water in this ridiculously unforgiving business.

Everyone else (like me) has a day job, gigs on nights and weekends, usually has some sort of home studio set-up, and a ton of great under-promoted songs. You work passionately with the time, resources, and connections you have to try and make soulful, creative work and get it heard by others. Some people are on labels, some release independently, some figure out how to tour, some just play in their basements… everyone's situation is different and there's no wrong or right way to do it. Everyone who records a song generally wants the same thing: to have someone else listen to it and hopefully enjoy or at least appreciate it.


There are naysayers when it comes to crowdfunding, but, as we’ve covered… But that aside, what can you say, as a song-maker, when you see folks step up like this, in this nihilistic digital age of ours, and say, yes, sign-me-up, I want a Tim Monger album!
I wanted my last album to come out on a label, but when that didn't happen, I cautiously turned to crowdfunding. It ended up being a really positive and rewarding experience for me and now, with another album nearly finished, I'm again turning directly to the people who have enjoyed and supported my music in the past. As with every release, I will work hard to extend its reach far beyond my own neighborhood, but it makes sense for me to begin at the ground level with my core fan base. Some of the first people to help me with this funding campaign have been following my music since I was 16. I don't even have words for that kind of long term support. It makes me feel very proud and emotional. Now they're telling their friends where they live to support me and that's how I hope to grow my outreach and get this album released.

Some people have issues with crowdfunding and that's totally fine. I hope they'll still stream or download my album after my other fans have helped me get it released. I've contributed to other campaigns that weren't handled very well and that's just a risk you take in an honor-based model. All it takes is one bad experience to sour someone on crowdfunding. I've sadly seen people approach it with a sense of entitlement, but you have to put a lot of research and planning to make your project worthy of someone's hard-earned money. I get it. I rarely have $20 to throw at groceries, let alone someone else's art. As for my own campaign, all I can promise is that you will get the best album I know how to make and that I will treat anyone who backs my project with the respect and gratitude they deserve. I recognize that, like respect, support is hard to earn and easy to lose.



Tim, I don’t want to talk too much about the album yet. I mean, if they want more hints of what’s coming, they can click here… But in the meantime, let me ask: above all else, is there something, one thing about going on a stage that you've consistently found to be the most fulfilling?
When I have gigs on my calendar, I feel so much more like a complete person. I've been performing regularly since I was 16 and, whatever the venue, I'm genuinely happy to just be singing and playing my guitar somewhere. Maybe that doesn't sound so ambitious, but really, having a gig seems so much better to me than most other things I could be doing on a given night. At the most basic level, I literally just enjoy the physical and emotional sensation of singing for a couple of hours.


What about the songwriting part? The studio part?
As for being in the studio, it's a completely different kind of enjoyment for me. I look forward to the rush of creation, the search for the right arrangement, pushing myself to give the best or most unique performance, or to try something new. I love playing with gear, experimenting, trying wild ideas that will ultimately fail, but should be tried anyway. Recording at home, there's literally nothing to lose except time. You can try anything you want and no one will ever hear it unless you want them to. You can be as bizarre, over-the-top, understated, intense, goofy, or cathartic as you want to be and an amalgam of those things is what often leads to the desired end result.


Tim Monger wants to pour his heart out to you and maybe help reveal to you the common mysteries of the human experience, but he’s doing so without the financial backing of a label… If you feel like helping, then click here.