Buzzworthy — Honey Monsoon Drenches Detroit in Jazz-inspired Indie Rock

Honey Monsoon at Ann Arbor’s Om of Medicine in February. Top row from left: Taylor Greenhields, Ana Gomulka and Ian Griffiths. Bottom row from left: Andrea Holther-Cruz and Leo James Willer.
For Honey Monsoon, the sweet sounds of jazz-inspired indie rock, neo soul and funk are dripping heavily throughout metro Detroit’s music scene.

The Detroit-based quintet are spreading the nectar of the Motor City’s burgeoning jazz indie rock scene at clubs like The Blind Pig and Om of Medicine in Ann Arbor, The Loving Touch in Ferndale, the Plymouth Roc in Plymouth, the Tangent Gallery in Detroit and The Loft in Lansing.

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.”

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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.”

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

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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Kesha Sparkles for Glitter-covered Fans at Sold-out Detroit Fillmore Show

Kesha sings about hope, authenticity and growth at The Fillmore Detroit.

Kesha’s latest album cover for “Rainbow” is reminiscent of ‘70s prog rock artwork.

The bejeweled flying saucers, pink-tinged planets and Kesha’s naked backside are quintessential images for a modern-day interpretation of a prog rock-inspired album cover for a pop singer-songwriter.

That’s what I love about Kesha. She takes a cool album art concept from the past and reimagines it for the present. It’s her vision for what truly lies on the other side of the rainbow.

Her colorful album cover nicely houses 14 raw, transformational songs that fall inside and out of the typical pop spectrum with rock and country influences.

Kesha performed 10 of her album gems – including “Learn to Let Go,” “Hymn,” “Godzilla,” “Bastards” (my favorite) and others – from “Rainbow” during a sold-out show at The Fillmore Detroit on Sunday.

Tons of fans (both male and female) dressed in colorful tops, dresses, leggings and tutus and drenched in glitter lined up in downtown Detroit to see their “Rainbow” hero. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much glitter in one place.

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5 Reasons to See Phoenix’s ‘Ti Amo’ Tour

Phoenix light up The Fillmore in Detroit on Oct. 11.

The first time I saw Phoenix live was during a snowstorm in December 2009 at the now defunct Clutch Cargo’s club in Pontiac, Mich.

Thomas Mars and his three bandmates – Deck d’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai – captivated the sold-out crowd with songs from their 2009 smash, “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” and officially established their reputation as a must-see live act.

They also reigned supreme as a coveted festival act with memorable appearances at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza in 2009 and 2010.

By 2013, they had played the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center for their “Bankrupt!” tour, which didn’t feel like the right venue for the French indie pop band. Their sound and stage presence is much better suited for mid-size theater (2,000 or less) rather than a mini arena (9,500).

Last week, Phoenix recaptured the same magic of the “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” tour at The Fillmore in Detroit on Oct. 11 while promoting their latest album, “Ti Amo.”

I have to admit Phoenix’s performance was by far one of their best I’ve seen in years. Here are the five best parts I took away from last week’s show:

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