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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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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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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Taking Career Advice from Father John Misty

Father John Misty reflects on his professional journey to becoming a musician at Royal Oak Music Theatre.
Toward the end of his two-hour set Tuesday night, Father John Misty hosted a mini Q&A session with more than 1,000 fans at Royal Oak Music Theatre in Royal Oak, Mich.

He took one question from a woman crammed in the pit with other fans near the stage. She shouted, “How did you first get into doing this?”

Father John Misty paused for a moment and then answered matter-of-factly: “I started doing this because I was not good at anything else.”

His answer resonated with fans because it was honest and authentic. Unlike other artists, Father John Misty, a.k.a. Josh Tillman, is known for being real and direct.

Father John Misty, a.k.a. Josh Tillman
With a sardonic sense of humor, Father John Misty provides colorful commentary about life, politics, human connection and music through his latest album, “Pure Comedy.” I can’t help but laugh every time he gives a serious answer behind his sarcastic grin. His musings are just as entertaining as his indie folk rock.

Father John Misty continued to share his unconventional career path with fans: “I started as a dishwasher and then donated plasma for a long time, became estranged from my parents, played drums for a bunch of bands and then started taking psychedelic drugs, stopped doing psychedelic drugs, bought some really tight pants, so if you follow those steps in that order …”

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Sylvan Esso Owns the Night with Sunday’s Sold-out Show at The Crofoot

 

Amelia Meath, left, and Nick Sanborn electrify the Crofoot crowd Sunday night as Sylvan Esso.

Surrounded by thick smoke and neon lights, Sylvan Esso’s pulsating beats electrified a sold-out crowd at The Crofoot Sunday night in Pontiac, Mich.

The Durham, N.C. indie synthpop duo played a 75-minute danceable set featuring 16 songs from their 2014 eponymous self-titled debut and their latest album, “What Now.”

After opening with “Sound,” Nick Sanborn addressed the duo’s overdue stop in the Detroit area.

“Sometimes, when you’re in a band this thing happens where you put up any dates at all, and then inevitably, someone is like, ‘Come to Brazil,’ and you’re like, ‘It’s so hard to go to Brazil,’ so it’s a common band thing,” he said. “And the one place every time somebody says ‘Come to Detroit,’ you guys are like the only ones that get to complain. We’re so sorry, this has been a long time coming.”

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