Local radio station, DJ inspire my decade-long musical journey
Thirteen years ago, I flipped the radio dial to 107.1 (WQKL-FM) in my car and haven’t stopped listening to the Ann Arbor-based station that helped lay the initial foundation for my musical journey.
Listening to the station was a nice distraction while driving to and from my MBA classes at Eastern Michigan University. For a few minutes, I could forget about exams, papers and group projects that temporarily consumed my life and focus on hearing new music instead.
Known as “ann arbor’s 107one,” the station introduced me to Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, Gomez, Spoon, Ray LaMontagne, Nickel Creek, The Alternate Routes, Colbie Caillat, My Morning Jacket, The Shins, Scars on 45 and others. I slowly built up my CD collection and my musical knowledge because of that station.
By 2008, I had finished grad school and started commuting to Jackson for work five days a week. That allowed me to listen to ann arbor’s 107one about two hours a day. Each day, I looked forward to hearing Martin Bandyke and John Bommarito share their thoughts about different artists between songs.
Brother Elsey’s indie folk rock roots run deep within their musical family tree.
The Detroit-based band of brothers credit their family with planting a love of music from one generation to the next.
Together, twins Brady Stablein (vocals, guitar) and Beau Stablein (harmonies, bass), both 21, and their 23-year-old older brother, Jack Stablein (harmonies, guitar), changed their band name from Fifth and Main to Brother Elsey last year to pay homage to their great-grandparents, Elsey and Mary Prater. They also thought the new moniker would resonate more with fans.
“Everyone in that family respected Mary and Elsey on a very deep level, and they really loved who they were,” Brady Stablein said. “Our grandfather, Elsey’s son, he got us into music. He was in a country band for a long time, and growing up around him, he always had us playing guitar, singing old country songs and stuff like that.”
The Stablein brothers’ love of music also grew while spending time with their father. Known for his eclectic music taste, the senior Stablein played everything from America to Enrique Iglesias to 50 Cent to musical theater for his sons.
“There were more genres such as folk or stuff that I don’t think a lot people got into as kids like we did,” Beau Stablein said. “That kinda pointed us in the direction that we’re in now.”
CINCINNATI — Indie rock giants The National returned to their stomping grounds to host the inaugural two-day Homecoming music festival this weekend at Smale Park with Feist, Big Thief, Father John Misty as well as other emerging rock and alternative artists.
Along with Wilco, Bon Iver and The Decemberists, The National is part of a growing wave of indie rock artists who are curating their own music festivals for fans. It’s a way to provide music lovers with a more intimate experience in comparison to the larger likes of Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Homecoming truly felt like The National had returned to their roots with two special performances each night. Saturday’s set featured selections from “Sleep Well Beast,” “Trouble Will Find Me,” “High Violet” and “Alligator.” Sunday’s set featured 2007’s “Boxer” in its entirety and the debut of the band’s newest song, “Light Years.”
Bryce and Aaron Dessner also treated fans to a special performance at the Cincinnati Masonic Center Friday night to demonstrate their guitar prowess as part of Red Bird Hollow and celebrate the release of German electronic duo Mouse on Mars’ latest album, “Dimensional People.”
Lisa Hannigan, Spank Rock, Sam Amidon and Kristin Anna joined the Dessner twins and Mouse on Mars to kick off the first night of the festival.
Fans also enjoyed riveting performances by Lord Huron, Julien Baker, Future Islands, Moses Sumney, Alvvays and other talented artists.
The Motor City indie pop-rock singer-songwriter, aka Maggie Cocco, digs deep and gets personal on her new nine-song double EP, “Love & Life,” which drops June 1.
On “Love & Life,” Cocco’s inspirational lyrics and soulful, powerhouse voice are reminiscent of Carole King, Patti Smith, Kelly Clarkson and Emmylou Harris rolled into one. Her richly-layered songs unravel relatable situations for fans who have experienced the trials and tribulations of life and love.
Cocco is releasing her first single, “I See You,” today from her upcoming double EP. “I See You” brings an acoustic foot-stompin’, finger-snappin’ tale of an unexpected love facing personal triumph despite life’s ongoing challenges.
“‘Love’s four heartfelt songs explore infatuation, confidence, insecurity, frustration, anger and loss as it pertains to romantic love. I was inspired to draw personally from my own love life and pulled a ‘Taylor Swift’ of sorts,” said Maggie Cocco, who formed Science for Sociopaths in 2016. With ‘Life,’ I dealt with the deep stuff bordering on existential. Everything from self-love and being our best selves to life’s toughest questions and big decisions. It’s real, and so sometimes it’s dark, but it’s always hopeful.”
Together, Ana Gomulka (music, lyrics, vocals, guitar and keys), Taylor Greenshields (drums and percussion), Ian Griffiths (bass and vocals), Andrea Holther-Cruz (keys and vocals) and Leo James Willer (live painting) are introducing their talents to a growing Motor City audience.
Gomulka attributes the band’s smooth sound to their longtime love of past and present jazz, soul and funk singers and musicians, including Esperanza Spalding, Sharon Jones, Kneebody and Hiatus Kaiyote.
“When we first started this band, I don’t think any of us were like let’s make jazzy music. When I was young, I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan because that’s what my parents played,” she said. “So when I sang people would be like, ‘Oh you sound like Sarah Vaughan or something like that.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I wasn’t even trying to sound like her.’ I think that’s where our jazzy sound comes from. It’s just what comes out.”
French-Canadian Genesis tribute band, The Musical Box, covered the prog quintet’s famous 1973 “Selling England by the Pound” tour Sunday at Motor City Casino’s Sound Board in Detroit.
The two-hour show celebrated the best of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis with “Firth of Fifth,” “Watcher of the Skies,” “Dancing with the Moonlit Knight,” “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” “The Knife” and other favorites.
The Musical Box singer Denis Gagné wore memorable and colorful Peter Gabriel-inspired costumes from the era — Bat Wings, Britannia, the Old Man, The Reverend, The Flower Mask and Magog.
It was like stepping back in a 1970s British prog rock time machine and never wanting to come back. At least I didn’t.