Selling England by the Pound — The Musical Box Covers Peter Gabriel-era Genesis in Detroit

The Musical Box performs Genesis’ “Watch of the Skies” at Motor City Casino’s Sound Board in Detroit.

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.


Celebrating David Bowie — Musicians, Friends Commemorate Thin White Duke at Royal Oak Music Theatre

The Stratton Setlist caught the Feb. 19 Celebrating David Bowie tribute show at Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, Mich.

Fantastic Four — Adventures with Vultures, 3 Other Motor City Acts Showcase Musical Prowess at The Blind Pig

Adventures with Vultures, aka Matt Sauter, headlines his first show at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Mich.

A new “Fantastic Four” demonstrated their musical prowess Jan. 20 at The Blind Pig.

The “Fantastic Four” – Adventures with Vultures, Brother Elsey, Great Expectations and Honey Monsoon – represented some of southeast Michigan’s emerging musical talent during a 3.5-hour show filled with folk, roots, pop and jazz rock at the iconic Ann Arbor, Mich., 400-person venue.

It also served as the first headlining show for Plymouth, Mich.-based folk rocker Adventures with Vultures, also known as Matt Sauter, who released his debut EP, “Junction,” in October on Original 1265 Recordings.

Sauter’s down-home and fun-loving stage presence instantly connected with the crowd during his 45-minute set, which included the folk rock gems “Okay Guy,” “Skies of Gold” and “I Found a Dreamer” as well as a new track, “Hell or High Water.”

“So many of you f*ckers came to the show tonight. I can’t believe it,” said Sauter, who’s also a student at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “We used to play at coffee shops in Plymouth, Michigan, and all you guys came here, and we really appreciate it.”

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Musical Masterminds – Singer-songwriter, sister duo APLUS prepare to release debut album ‘Pride Liberty Detroit’ Feb. 9

APLUS Press Image 1
Anesha Birchett, left, and Antea Shelton of APLUS

DETROIT – Singer-songwriters Antea Shelton and Anesha Birchett are masters of musical mind reading.

Together, the R&B and pop sister duo known as APLUS know how to compose hit songs without even saying a word to each other.

“Because Anesha and I know each other so well, it’s such a natural process across the board for both songwriting and artistry,” Shelton said. “I think I didn’t value how we have a natural connection as sisters until we started working with other people, and I realized she and I may have our bickering and our battles, but man, like the records get done, and we have a smooth flow.”

That smooth flow and intuitive songwriting process has helped APLUS pen songs for Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Tamar Braxton and a host of other R&B and pop artists as well as music for the TV shows “Empire” and “Star.” Once a producer plays a chord, Shelton and Birchett start their songwriting magic.

“She’ll go, I’ll email her, and we’re literally in the same room while I message her,” said Shelton, 36, who’s head of songwriting at the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME). “I’ll email her a couple of titles, she’ll go into the booth, she’ll sing some melodies, sing the title like I said, and I’ll be like, ‘Yep, I want that one.’ Then, they’ll play it, put it on loop, I’ll fill out the lyrics, send it back to her, she’ll go into the booth, sing it, and it’s done.”

Shelton and Birchett used that same songwriting process while recording tracks for their debut APLUS album, “Pride Liberty Detroit,” which drops Feb. 9 on Original 1265 Recordings. In December, they released their latest single, “Strangers,” a groovy R&B track featuring lush harmonies backed by a piano.

Continue reading “Musical Masterminds – Singer-songwriter, sister duo APLUS prepare to release debut album ‘Pride Liberty Detroit’ Feb. 9”

Folk Implosion — Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter Gets Introspective on New ‘Junction’ EP

Matt Sauter, aka Adventures with Vultures

Matt Sauter found his folk after a painful breakup.

The 25-year-old folk rock singer-songwriter, who’s known as Adventures with Vultures, switched from making hip-hop music after his then girlfriend told family and friends that he played guitar and sang.

“She wasn’t a big fan of me making rap music,” Sauter said. “She would always tell her family and parents that ‘He’s a singer, he plays guitar and sings.’ When she broke up with me, it really hurt, so I said if she wants to tell everybody that I play guitar and sing, then I’m going to play guitar and sing.”

Two years later, Sauter officially entered the folk rock world with the release of his new Adventures with Vultures EP, “Junction,” in October on Original 1265 Recordings. Named after a street in Plymouth, Mich., “Junction” represents a rite of passage for Sauter as an individual and a musician.

“There’s like a handful of us, me and my buddies, we all actually have JCT tattooed on us, so there’s a little brotherhood with these kids that I grew up with, and they’re still my great friends,” he said. “I wanted to make this project for these kids who had been around me since we were 6.”

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Musical Conversations – Talking Ear Speaks Progressive Jazz to Midwestern Audiences

Talking Ear plays progressive jazz to Midwestern audiences. From left: Ben Rolston, Ben Maloney, Dan Palmer, Estar Cohen and Travis Aukerman.

As a jazz quintet, Talking Ear blends original compositions with improvisation to musically converse with a growing Midwestern audience.

Their progressive jazz speaks volumes through the band’s live performances and their self-titled debut album, which features eight beautiful tracks draped in smooth vocals, soft pianos, crashing cymbals, rhythmic basslines and breakout guitar solos.

“Talking Ear was formed as a way to push each other because we all felt that connection of wanting to become better musicians and break through personal barriers together,” said vocalist Estar Cohen. “I think the way we carry along some of the jazz tradition is by continuously trying to be creative and finding our own voices.”

Along with Cohen, the band’s other four members, Travis Aukerman (drums), Dan Palmer (guitar), Ben Maloney (piano) and Ben Rolston (bass), have found their own musical voices through years of academic study, professional training, composing and performance.

As accomplished jazz musicians, they communicate mainly through improvisation. Collectively, they’ve taken a “Talking Ear” approach to their music – listening is how they ultimately share ideas and respond to one another.

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Detroit’s New Musical Evolution — DIME Sessions Volume 3 Album Spotlights Rising Motor City Artists

DIME Sessions Volume 3 showcases some of Detroit’s best musical talent.
DETROIT — For 13 aspiring artists, a new Motor City compilation album captures their musical passion and growth.

Known as Detroit Institute of Music Education: DIME Sessions Volume 3, the album features 11 original tracks written by DIME students and weaves themes of political frustration, Motor City pride, personal struggle, relationships and musical tributes.

“This is the crème de la crème of our student body who are in a position to write and record at the time or who may have songs even if they’re in the simplest form,” said Sabrina Underwood, label manager for Original 1265 Recordings at DIME. “This is their opportunity to know what it feels like to have a record released internationally on a major label. They can use this as a calling card to open up other doors.”

DIME released its third annual album Aug. 25 on Original 1265 Recordings, which is an independent label owned by CND America, DIME’s parent company, and distributed by Caroline Distribution.

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