Thursday, March 31, 2016

Small World -by The Detroit Journal

Dig this trailer for Small World, an upcoming short film by The Detroit Journal.

These local filmmakers are channeling their talents behind the camera toward framing local luminaries of Detroit culture (and curiae). They want to create short portraits and capture compelling stories (compellingly framed and edited) of people all around the city; the ones who live here, the ones who create here, the ones who struggle here, the ones who want to make it better here...

More info:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Border Patrol - Toxic Thought Machine

Border Patrol have been crossing over the Ambassador Bridge for voluminous visits more and more frequently these last eight months. The Windsor-based folk-rock quartet are our close neighbors separated by just a handful of miles, really, and one formidable river.
Border Patrol
with Dave Toennies on acoustic guitar/vocals, Cody Howard on banjo/vocals,
Ryan Haggerty on double bass/vocals and Walter Senko on drums/vocals
Together just 18 months, if that, the acoustic-centric ensemble just put out their debut full length, Toxic Thought Machine... 

You know, musicologists have found that folk music, Americana, roots, country, all those rich and rustic acoustic styles...saw mass injections of reverence and appeal the more people started moving away from the "country" and into the city. On their new album, Border Patrol want to get back to the country but find themselves cut off my semi-trucks, smoke stacks and collective scatter-brained motion. "I broke down in the city / watching people move..."

With a fine sense of arrangement, ebbing enough space into the soundscape for each of these resplendent instruments to sonorously shine, Border Patrol's crafting a charismatic-if-weary whirl of the post-everything blues, the poetry of Internet-ubiquity-ennui, the folk serenades of siren-blasted streets, to the point where a bit of insanity makes itself manifest from this brain of yours, this toxic-thought-machine... Later... "I do know / either way the wind blows / that this ain't sustainable stuff / but it's been built into me..." That's what I like most about this record, it's subtle shades of dystopia. It is country music...if the country were flung past the Great Western Industrial Park...

"A lot of the lyrics I write end up being kinda dark," admitted guitarist Dave Toennies, "But, we enjoy contrasting that in the band setting with upbeat melodies - stuff that you can dance to and get stuck in your head and maybe not fully realize what we're singing about until later. It's especially effective for some of our more political songs."

While there's no glory or romanticism in the stock-taking storytelling of the lyrics as their reveries list off surreal imagery and all-too-relatable laments, there's surplus charm and quirky personality penned into the lyrics and strummed onto the strings. Come for the twanged pronouncements, acoustic intonations and existential pondering, stay for the rock-tilt energy and dystopian soul...
Performing May 14th at the Elizabeth Theater at the Park Bar.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Whateverfest: The XX Show

Whateverfest Presents: The XX ShowA Fundraiser for Whateverfest 6...with proceeds going toward GIRLS ROCK DETROIT
Friday - 8 PM
Hybrid Moments (2144 Bagley, Detroit)
White Bee
Catty Club
Carmel Liburdi
Air is the Arche
Cye Pie & The Homies
Meek & The Forest Green
and Raven Love & The 27's

Whateverfest # 6 is coming up soon (May 6 - May 8), with 60+ local bands spread across three outdoor stages. The volunteer committee of organizers are finalizing the plans and details, but, in the meantime, thought it'd be fitting to throw a dual-fundraising event, not only to boost their upcoming festival, but to honor Women's History Month by benefiting Girls Rock Detroit. 

You can keep up with Whateverfest over Facebook (and even find the event info here).

Shannon Barnes / White Bee
Meanwhile, I reached out to Shannon Maureen Barnes, lead singer and guitarist from White Bee, to see what's new and ask about her role with Girls Rock Detroit. 

"Anything involving teaching children or adolescents in general, be it boys or girls," Barnes said, "is a positive way to connect and probably the most important thing anyone could do. A lot of teens and pre-teens have negativity constantly pushed on them by people in their same age-groups." Barnes volunteered to help instruct and engage aspiring musicians at Girls Rock Detroit's 2015 Summer Camp, and is currently volunteering to help plan future educational activities.

Girls Rock Detroit's main goal is to provide encouragement to young girls eager to try music. In a world where pop music pulls the spotlight predominantly toward overly energized personalities with unrealistically super-model-esque looks, Girls Rock Detroit reminds the young gifted girls of this area that you can don't have to be the center stage attraction, you can, instead, develop your craft at each instrument, you can be, first and foremost, a musician....a drummer, a bassist...even a sound-tech, if you like...

Creative expression and positive self-esteem; that's what it's all about. And Barnes, along with several other songwriters like Willa Rae Adamo and Melissa Coppola, volunteer at GRD summer camps to not only help instruct aspiring players, but to, if called upon, impart knowledge and insight from their own experiences of running their very own bands amid Detroit's music scene.

"Music helps with motor and cognitive development, also," said Barnes. "Music essentially can bridge a communication gap in a positive way and erase negativity. And, I've noticed that this program is bringing girls from the city and girls from the suburbs together! I really believe that all sheds a positive light on the future for the community in general."

At the concert this Friday, for Whateverfest/GRD, Barnes will be performing an acoustic solo set, much more stripped down than typical White Bee sets. Nevertheless, here's a sample....

Barnes has been longing for a bit more free time, lately, so that she and Michael O'Brien, Anthony Scanell and Alex Niemi can get back to recording. "All of us are very busy, but hopefully this summer we can make something happen."

While you're here, I have two more recommendations...

             The raw vibrancy of Catty Club

             And the sublime folk-rock of Air Is The Arche

Stay tuned for more on Whateverfest 6

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Chat with Moonwalks (Playing This Week @UFO and @Marble)

Moonwalks perform Tonight (Wednesday)Celebrating The Worm Moon with The Potions, and Sros Lords9 PM @ The UFO Factory (2110 Trumbull, Detroit)INFO

Tyler says that when the band was writing it's latest songs, The Moonwalks “…were definitely into the darker and heavier stuff.”  

The Detroit based quartet recently wrapped eight vibed-out rock trips over at Space Camp in Ferndale. The tentative title of this batch is  In Light (The Scales and the Frame), but don't expect anything until the late summer or early autumn. 

Meanwhile, here's "Steam Train"

Tyler Grates (pictured far left, above) is the lead guitarist and main songwriter of the group, with Jake Dean on vocals/guitar, Kate Gutwald on bass and Kerrigan Pearce on drums. Grates mentions that these newer songs were mostly written in the keys of either A or E, which, specifically for his purposes, are easily flexible to the expansive and re-sculpting shifts of explorative jamming. “We want to do longer arrangements and (the newer songs) are sort of serving as the precursor for that…”

Grates mentions darker & heavier stuff… But he’s indicating that these songs were written when their listening diets, influentially speaking, consisted of stuff like Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Church and Lee Hazelwood. “Yeah, we were listening to a lot of country, actually, when we were writing last summer,” said Grates. “I mean, I don’t really see us as a ‘psych-rock’ band, per se… I might have when I first started doing it, but that was never the intent...We used to be a totally different band…’

When Grates says “…used to be…,” he’s jumping back about two years, to when the young quartet (none of them are 23 yet and one of them still can’t legally drink), first got together, straight out of high school (at Grosse Pointe South). Also, when Grates says “used to be…totally different,” he’s indicating how much tighter the group has gotten as a live performance unit. Their first batch of shows included a lot of house parties and, well, you know how sloppy those affairs can be… “Yeah, we used to just fall apart at those shows. But now? Now we can go months without meeting or jamming together and just get right back together and fall into place.”

“Well, back then…” says Pearce, “I feel like we were only doing it for fun. It’s gotten more serious and we’ve started paying more attention to what we’re doing."

“But a big part of how this band functions," says Grates, "comes from, just, our relationship as people,” said Grates.

That chemistry is coming through on a song like “Steam Train," (streaming above), or more intricate arrangements like "Sequins,"curving with a couple tricky time signatures and spiced up with some psych-tinged atmospherics from producer Eric Oppitz (of Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor). 

“Sequins” represents this band coming to that more serious juncture, where they’re “refining,” as Grates put it, or streamlining…, everything they’d initially been interested in at the outset, into a cohesive, yet lucid, kind of storm of melody and distortion. “(The songs) are sorta ‘jammy,’ I guess,” says Pearce. “But, they’re still structured at the same time.”

We’ll keep it at that: nebulous, amorphous, able to be anything (or everything at once).

Later in the week.......

Moonwalks perform Saturday
Marble Bar (1501 Holden St, Detroit)
Opening for Diane Coffee (ft. members of Foxygen)
also with Jack & The Bear
9 PM / $10

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

K9 Sniffies - Master's Touch

K9 Sniffies' Release Party for 'Master's Touch' is Friday, Arpil 8 - INFO ft. Feelings, Blood Stone, and DJ Erin Smart@ Donovan's (3003 W. Vernor Hwy, Detroit)$5 / 9 PM 

Today, I write about "...insanity music."

Detroit-based ruckus-rock quartet K9 Sniffies started streaming their first proper full length album, Master's Touch, about 48 hours ago... Once-local (but, now, currently Montreal-based) music mystic Fred Thomas helped record a baker's dozen of K9 Sniffie's signature hectic-frenetics last March, along with contributing some keyboard action to the two songs you hear streaming on my site, today...

K9 Sniffies have been kicking around for several years, with a handful of releases here and there along with steady local performances. I know we say this is a "first" full-length, but they've got their avant-operatins down pat, by now, having released a few cassette EP's like Dog Style and Dehydration Guys.

Joe Wojtowicz, Ryan Kiblawi, Graham Sefton and Brian Polsgrove have taken to owning the idea of "insanity" as a genre, a resourceful and refreshing move on their part... Why call it noise... or punk ...or whatever other kind of word-soup sapped of substance...? What are we really doing, here, when we flank to bars and shuffle right up to the amplifiers? Sometimes the best means of maintaining sanity is to lose one's mind to music...!  Can dissonance lead to some deeper form of spiritual awakening? If we cannonball into feedback whirlpools and grate our ears with distortion, can it be qualified as something akin to scream-therapy when we finish the two-minute tantrum feeling ineffably rejuvenated? Is any of this making sense, or is it, indeed, pure insanity?

K9 Sniffies have evolved into something more than your typical garage-punk provocateur. They're satirists of the every-day, critiquing the commonplace, wreckers of reality... I mean, sure, they do so in the form of confrontational lyrics and disorienting swells of feedback and synthesized-cacophony, but the temptation...the encouragement, towards concentrated insanity as a form of freeing one's mind? It's still there... sutured somewhere in the static and reverb...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Young Punk

If you've already been a band for three years and your third release is the one you choose give an  eponymous title, then it's clear that this is the definitive work, a sonic commencement of sorts, the coalescing of said-band's quintessential sensibilities, vibes and motifs.

Young Punk have made an album I can listen to at almost any minute of the day. Forgive me if that sounds abstruse. But if it's the bleary break of dawn in the faint pre-sunrise glow, then this is paced perfectly for an acclimating awakening... If it's after my coffee, the day's unspooled itself a bit and I'm up a few wrungs of productivity, this is optimal ambiance to keep me focused... If I'm out of work, biking home as the skies change and the winds die down then this is propulsive and funky enough to enthuse with some slick, cinematic-feeling soundtrack for a euphoric pedal back home... If I'm getting ready to go out to the club, this is what you suit up to, what you drive-to, and what you come down with on the return cruise.

The winning attribute of Young Punk's latest album is its coolly poised sparseness; there's space to breathe, as much for each tone, timbre, vocal and beat, as there is for the listener; these tunes have a slow-onset radiance. In that sense, it feels like minimalist R&B, but there's also escapist trip-hop with dreamily-clouded production and staccato beats. Then again, the influential-webbing of guitarist Nick Van Huis and bassist/producer Stephen Stewart may strand back to the hub of hip-hop, but Stewart certainly adds a bit of funk to his basslines, while Van Huis adds some crunchy surf-guitar riffage. Vocalist Taijah Johnson's sweet serenades become a subtle cornerstone, comparably eschewing any specific style in her delivery and flexibly fitting to soul, ambient dub, R&B or trip-hop.

It could be anything. And, as I said, I could listen to it anytime... Not that I'm saying I'm obsessed with these songs; I'm just saying their the essence of that soothing-the-savage-beast aspect of music. Put it on & I can vibe with it...

Young Punk host their own monthly showcase, every first Thursday (coming up April 7) at the New Way Bar in Ferndale. They're also performing April 17th at Kelly's with Market and Philly-based Hallowed Bells. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Minihorseperforming Friday at the Marble Bar
1501 Holden St., Detroit - 9 PM
with Matthew Milia (of Frontier Ruckus), Mom Barley and Rom (from D.C.)

Minihorse photo by Doug Coombe

"I'm excited to start taking Minihorse
more seriously..." (Ben Collins) Photographed
here by Minihorse bandmate John Fossum, while
on the phone with interviewer Jeff Milo.
This is what Ben looked like as he said the
things you're currently reading...^

INTERVIEW with Ben Collins of Minihorse

 Ben Collins is the most normal person I've encountered who is living his life entirely abnormally. 
For two years, now, he's given up regular sleep schedules and taken to deep dive contemplation to excavate hidden esoterica from his cerebral crop to create the most authentic shreds of dread-pop feasibly formed from the tools at hand. Said tools are typically in his studio. 
"I'm navigating life in a bit of a Fight Club-style daze," said Collins, who fronts the Ypsi-based trio Minihorse on guitar/vocals.

Even though everything he says, everything, is delivered in the calmest demeanor, the coolest of self-deprecating verve, I am imagining him as a harried, frazzled mad-scientist, bustling with cables, preamps and pedals in his apartment in downtown Ypsi at some strung-out hour of the inconceivable late-night/pre-dawn dizzy, building...building his laborato...--I mean, studio.

"I blame tape for dragging me back to the producer-role," says Collins, looking back a handful of years to when he bought a Tascam 388 reel-to-reel as he was setting up his space. "(It's) something I tried swearing off for years."

Let's get it out of the way: Ben Collins used to play guitar (and offer some backup harmonies) in celebrated Ypsi/Detroit indie-pop trio Lightning Love. He spent most of 2014 and 2015 off our hipster radars, though.

When he isn't working for UM's College of Engineering, or building iPhone Apps...he's distracting himself from focusing on his own songwriting by inviting several other bands into his home studio to record: Prude Boys, Rebel Kind, Casual Sweetheart, PONYSHOW, Bonny Doon, Stef Chura and more. He's also helping wrap up recordings with Starling Electric and The Boys Themselves. Up next: Matthew Milia (of Frontier Ruckus) is working on a solo album while 800beloved is in the midst of their final recordings as a band.

But what about Minihorse?

"Minihorse is the weird bedroom pop experiment that inspired this studio in the first place," said Collins. "The sound of this room is the sound of Minihorse. That project has been my main passion lately. It started from a love of the 90s power-pop revival, indebted to bands like Teenage Fanclub, Rocketship and (of course) The Lemonheads. Lately I want it to sound more like Ray Bradbury wrote songs for Lou Reed to sing at your high school prom."

Ben Collins has consistently been behind the scenes of the...well, Scene. If he isn't producing an album-while-simultaneously-eschewing-the-title-of-producer, then he's quietly running live sound for another handful of bands as an advisory engineer. (He probably won't consider himself an engineer). (He has a degree in performing arts technology, by the way). So anyway, for the sake of this article, damn it, we'll consider him a "songwriter..."

And when I mention the word "dread...," it sparks something in Collins.

"Yes, there's all this imagery going on behind the scenes (of a song like 'Glitter & Smoke'), and it's a little bit fucked-up. I don't think of that song as soft because in my head it's got dark connotations and a feeling of dread that I've been embedding in these songs, sort of on purpose. I've been surprising myself with extra layers of dread that I didn't know I had. It's not super serious...but at the same time, I don't know if 'light' is the word I'd use for these songs..."

What happened, at some point in early 2015, is that Collins, the reluctant producer, started nourishing (...boy, if that's the word we can use for it?)...nourishing his creative side and making time for his recordings by treating himself as though he were one of his own clients. Hence, we have about an EP's worth of decent Minihorse demos floating out there in the Internet's ether, while John Fossum (drums) and Christian Anderson (bass) have joined Minihorse to flesh these songs out for a small series of live appearances, most of which in Detroit. By Collins' count, they've played...maybe...nine shows.

I called Collins for this interview just as he was running over in his head, how to word a band biography for social media purposes. "I don't really have a narrative," Collins says, referring just as much to these Minihorse songs as he could be to his whole musical existence. "I mean, outside of the context of all these other artists that I've helped over these years..." Collins has been a chronic spotlight-evader. I'm surprised, frankly, I even got him to talk about himself for even 14 minutes.

Why won't you let the world in...Ben!??

"Well, part of the problem is I don't really know how one does that, anymore. I don't really know, or maybe no one knows, how to really approach releasing music, anymore. All of my favorite albums are by artists I work with, saved only on dropbox folders on various computers, unheard by everyone. I don't really know what I'm doing, but I have this, do I need a label? There's no right answer."

With Minihorse, last year, Collins made a conscious decision to stop being a hermit. "(Minihorse) is starting to get around despite my best efforts to conceal it," Collins said. "Which is weird."

People have proclaimed to Collins these sort of sweet, sort of/almost-backhanded compliments like "I can tell you're getting better.... (at songwriting)." Collins shrugs this off and takes it as the positive encouragement that it is, quoting Miles Davis' sage appraisal: Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself  THAT'S THE THING, though... We haven't really gotten a chance to KNOW who Ben Collins, himself, is...

We don't know who Ben Collins is yet...

"I don't know who I am, yet, either..."

Who am I even talking to?

"That's a very good question. I don't know..."

So let's move on to this picture........
Remember, I said he was a normal-abnormal...

"Writing music is the hardest thing I know of," says Collins. "It feels like being a professional gambler. Occasionally you stumble into a big win, but you can’t really be sure what strange powers are at work, so you get superstitious."

Maybe this is a confidence thing? Collins won't say so. I'm glad that he does, however, have the confidence to start baring his soul a bit more through Minihorse.

"Creativity," says Collins, specifically inferring songwriting, "...isn't something you can practice, like basketball...or like: being normal. All you can really do is work to cultivate a creative mood, sit back in a trance, and be hopeful — but not too hopeful!"

So Collins told me about his efforts to gain agency over that elusive creative state, which includes meditating, supplementing, and depriving himself of sleep.

"I started taking freezing cold showers and holding my breath (see Wim Hof). Maybe strangest of all, I’ve been experimenting with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which involves directing a low current through the brain with saline-soaked electrodes. Different configurations of the anode and cathode have different effects, ranging from a generally enhanced mood to the ability to learn more deeply. I’m not sure if my songs are getting better, but I’m definitely seeing lights flash and getting a strong metallic taste in my mouth."

Collins cops to being a digital hoarder of his songs and assures us that "...this is the year that stops." He'll be putting out as much material as he can, and he says he's excited to start taking Minihorse more seriously. "Hey..." he says, "...that's a funny sentence."


Monday, March 14, 2016

The Milo Show

So.... I host a talk show, now...

Here's episode # 6, featuring Stef Chura, The Mythics, Sugarcoats and Doc Illingsworth

When I say "...I have a talk-show...," I mean that I have a talk show. I sit down with local artists and ask them about how they got into music, or, I feature live performances from a range of local bands. And when I say "I," I mean my exceptional crew, without whom there'd be no Milo Show, whatsoever. So, particularly grateful shout outs go to the show's director and editor, Kristi Billings, and it's sound master Chad Stocker. 

The aesthetic we're going for is that of Jim Jarmusch doing Cable-Access, or 120 Minutes in a post-Internet-era. It's basically me, doing what I normally do with local Detroit musicians, i.e., sitting down for 10 minutes and picking their brain with verve, alacrity and authentic enthusiasm. It's much more casual than your regular Q&A; it's something else... It's The Milo Show. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Favorite Local Songs of 2016 So Far....

Mix-tape time...

So, instead of pining over SXSW or moping that you can't afford to go this year or just couldn't get time off of work, why not, instead, just sit down for 80 minutes, with this blog open on your Internet tab and stream through some of the sensational songs that have been released by regional artists, from around Detroit and Michigan, in just the last four months...

I mean, this is just the first quarter of 2016 and it's already shaping up to be an exceptional year. While I have 22 songs picked out here, there are easily 22 or 23 more that I am missing...

Now, you'll have a bunch of blogs and zines out their bumping buzzy Brooklyn bands that you CAN'T MISS at SXSW or other scenes that are slinging scintillating new sounds that you just HAVE TO have on your playlists...But THIS WEEKEND..., let's just hang in our own backyard, and appreciate all the fine music that's been released locally, so far, in 2016.

Ancient Language - "Sailing Stones"

Landmarks - "Trapped"

Mic Write - "Chilluminati"

Congress - "Haunts Yr Brother"

Nigel & The Dropout -ft Passalacqua - "Rea

Microphone Phelps - "Holy Hallelujah"

Chris Bathgate - "Calvary"

Stef Chura - "Faded Heart"

Belle Isles - "Baby, What Has Happened To Our Love?"

Deadbeat Beat - "I Don't Wanna"

Phantom Cats - "Words"

Walking Beat - "Late Bloomer"

Illingsworth - "Mr Glow Body"

Codgers - "Town's Gone Down"

Earth Engine - "Remain"

Willa Rae & The Minor Arcana - "Love's Wastin' My Time"

King Milo - "Scarcetti" 

Libby DeCamp - "Put The Kettle On"

Du Nord - "I-84"

Voyag3r - "Raise Your Shields"

Moonwalks - "Steam Train"

Carmel Liburdi - "Big Mistake"

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Muggs - 6 to Midnite

Whenever I interview Danny Methric (Danny "Muggs"), we usually spend half the time talking about horror films. Now, we're typically supposed to be talking about his band, The Muggs, and their music, a storming freight traing of fuzz-fogged blues and elastic cyclone psychedelia, but we instead start talking about Mario Bava or George Romero or Dario Argento... DIRECTORS...

The dude's a horror aficionado...and that's putting it lightly. It was only a matter of time before Danny became a director himself, along with William Hynde.

Danny Muggs assembled a rag-tag crew of regional ragamuffins for an impressive witch-hunt / demonic possession / home-invasion / psychological thriller kind of trip, all set to one of their most comprehensive jams to date, "6 to Midnite." Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Flint Eastwood - Glitches

Flint Eastwood's Jax Anderson has always displayed a fighter's spirit. A pop-music  pugilist.

Her music, her performance,  her personality, has always demonstrated to me (and probably to you...) the vitality of the push, the strive, the struggle... Not that self-made success in the music industry needs to be compared to a bout...but Anderson has always shown us that she fights for ever inch.... Small Victories, right?

Check out Flint Eastwood's new music video, written/conceived by Elysia Vandenbussche and directed by Vandenbussche and Charles Kelly

There's vibes of perseverance here, hope, fortitude, strength... matching the energizing vibes, overall, of most of Flint Eastwood's jams.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Hamtramck Music Fest 2016

It's been years since I felt this enthused by the local Detroit music scene. Even then, when I was younger, it felt more naive in a way; or it felt like it was a scene that could only sustain itself if it showed up to is own shows.

Hamtramck Music Festival 2016 

When I drove or walked around Hamtramck the last two (really three...) nights, there was a steady stream of folks out on the sidewalks, striding to the next venue, populating the stoops of each bar's entrance to smoke a cigarette before the next band, only to flow back in and swell the place back up with bodyheat. There were several bands that I could only hear because I could only sardine my way into the back of a throng of music fans...Or, I'd winnow my way right up to the front to have both ears happily blown out by PA's, fuzz pedals and punched snares. I enjoyed this variation of perspective: I either got right into the belly of the beast and had front row positioning to where I was 3 ft from the performer, or I hung real far back like a sportscaster in the high seats, looking forward at a mass of enthusiasm.

Rather than write a review where I trace my own breadcrumbs back from venue to venue and list off the bands I saw, I'd rather just channel the almost giddy vibes lingering post-Hamtramck Music Fest into an appreciation for the people-powered-nature of the whole shebang.

Not only was this 3-day fest run by a grassroots group of volunteers who operated free of corporate-sponsoring, they coordinated 25 venues and 200 plus bands toward the purpose of raising funds for a music education non-profit (Ben's Encore). And that goodwill vibe of allegiance radiated from each of my encounters; this could be laid back, this could be free of cliquey competitiveness, this could be about more than my band or your band, this could be more about what Detroit music is or isn't... It could be about us. Or it could be about anything. But damn it, if it wasn't about enthusiasm...

The tent was bigger than ever...And there were a lot of signature sounds and curious new characters interacting under the HMF big top. Cheers to the team that through this event. Cheers to Hamtramck. Cheers to all the bands. See you next year.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Carmel Liburdi - Big Mistake

Quite charmed this morning by Carmel Librudi's new music video...

"Big Mistake" is the lead single off of the Detroit-based singer/songwriter's forthcoming album Patron Saints of the Ordinary, her fourth CD, which will have it's release party on April 3rd at PJs Lager House. Neil Patterson (Neil P. Neebo of Downtown Brown) shot this video, and he'll be performing at said release show, along with Matt Wixson. This celebration doubles as a bittersweet going-away party for Neebo, assuring a swell of emotions...or feels...or just good vibes, all around. I mean, Patterson's taking a big step here, moving to L.A. to pursue music and this is an ample opportunity to wish him all the very best.

But this song, by Librudi, is as playful as it is perceptive, charming as it is sage... For anyone like me who wakes up each morning hashing over every awkward step you took or bad joke you dropped or tactless tip you shared whether your opinion was warranted or not... I mean, shit. There's a dozen mistakes I probably made last night. But why worry so much? Where's that energy going to go? When I hear Liburdi sing, it becomes clear that said-energy is much better utilized for a song, a melodic song that shrugs it all off...

Have a good Sunday, everyone...

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Music of Mike Galbraith

Mike Galbraith is a modest dude. He probably doesn't even want me writing about him. What you, in the audience, may experience as flashes of brilliance during the Detroit-based singer/songwriter's subtle yet spellbinding spill of blunt emotion during live sets, he may not even be registering fully, he may, yet, still be longing to edge himself upwards to some ever-elusive foremost level of proficiency.

"...just trying to keep getting better," Galbraith says when I ask him about his future plans. "And to keep focused."

But when I tell him he appears as though he gets into trance-like states when he performs, eyes closed, almost as if the world around him fogs away and there's nothing else but the song...he responds that he's aware of that tendency of his and that " started happening pretty early on" when he'd perform.

"What I might lack in talent or ability, maybe, I felt I could catch up with on enthusiasm; getting into a song. That was always what I responded to when watching musicians or listening to music. I tried to teach myself how to write songs along the way and how to be a better singer. But, getting into it? Just physically? Emotionally? That was always there."

Galbraith first picked up the guitar when he was 15, beginning a self-taught regiment of scanning through books with chords. He says that his lyric writing happened almost simultaneously. He followed muses like Teenage Fan Club and the Replacements for their pop sensibilities, but also leaning towards the gruffer songwriters who brought their own mystique and murk, like Tom Waits, Neil Young and Dylan. He worked with a full band through college (CMU), but when that fizzled after graduation, he moved out to Chicago...

...only to return to Detroit in 2008. "I was starting to feel the energy around here," he recalls, "and started digging into some of the new bands here working in folk and Americana. I came back, at that point, but didn't have any intention of staying." We should also point out that, at this point in the story, Galbraith had taken a full two years off from performing music. He was still working on songs, but only sporadically. Detroit's open-mic scene, it turns out, would reinvigorate the bard in him.

"I came back to Detroit but had no intention of staying. I thought maybe I'd take my music to somewhere like Austin or Seattle. But when I started playing around town again (2009), it was at open mics like at Xhedos in Ferndale or the Plymouth Coffee Bean or Trixie's... And the bands there became like a scene onto itself. That's how I met other great singers like Emily Rose and Anthony Retka and Audra Kubat. I felt apart of something again. It felt comfortable; I felt embraced and energized." He also namechecks John Freeman and Matt Fredericks, along with the talented guitarist James Anthony, who has begun joining Galbraith on stage for live sets, lately.

Over the years, Galbraith has been performing his music around the expanse of SE Michigan. He's begun honing his sense for the quieting swoon of a last-call's bleary lullaby, or a bloodshot winter morning's melancholic pop poem, or a more vigorous, rock-tinged tussle. He's released a handful of recordings online and is currently figuring out just what to do next...

Last December, he released a handful of older songs that are, themselves, still new to any audience first encountering him.

You can listen to Finster here... "Recorded on a cold December night..." three years ago... by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders. 

"Over the years, I might not have known quite what I was doing, like in the early days when I was obsessed with Paul Westerberg. But, since coming back to Detroit, I've found a spot for my voice and I do feel I've figured out how to pick my spot stylistically, as a player, and dynamically as a performer, ya know...when to be quiet, when to be loud, when to pull back from the mic. I still don't feel like I've truly found it...but..." Just as I'm thinking that he'll never be satisfied he admits his favorite Replacements' song was, indeed, "Unsatisfied."

He says he responds to the performers who go for it; who aren't afraid to get a little ugly with their voice, but also fall back into a realm of fragility. The singers who show you what their capable of... And that's just what Galbraith does on stage, often to stunning effect. Not that he'll notice it himself, though, as it happens.

Mike Galbaith joins The Codgers for their CD Release Party
also ft. Erik Alan
Gaelic League (2068 Michigan Ave, Detroit)
8 PM

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hamtramck Music Festival: People-Powered

The Hamtramck Music Festival Organizing Squad
photo by Chris Hutt 
Read all about it in this week's Detroit Free Press Entertainment Section: 

Hamtramck Music Festival: More than 200 acts think local

We talked to some of the key people working behind the scenes at the festival, though some of them will also appear on stage. An organizing committee comprised of more than 30 volunteers put together the festival, and that’s not counting the dozens more who will help this weekend in varying capacities.

Full schedule/line-up/venue-list available here

Casual Sweetheart
by Brian Rozman

Caveman Woodman & Bam Bam Moss
by Brian Rozman 

by Erick Buchholz

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Another Detroit Is Happening

James Linck x Mic Write x Mister Jaws That Bite.
Another Detroit Is Happening.
Winter 2016 Tour.

3/12 - Columbus, OH - Double Happiness
3/13 - Cleveland, OH - Mahall's
3/14 - Pittsburgh, PA - Howler's
3/16 - Asheville, NC - The Odditorium
3/17 - Richmond, VA - The B&B
3/18 - Baltimore, MD - The Crown
3/19 - Philadelphia, PA - Connie's Ric Rac
3/20 - Brooklyn, NY - TBD
3/21 - Detroit, MI - Small's