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.

Continue reading “Musical Conversations – Talking Ear Speaks Progressive Jazz to Midwestern Audiences”

Advertisements

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 …”

Continue reading “Taking Career Advice from Father John Misty”

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.”

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

Mo Pop Delivers Tasty Second Helping of Music for Day 2

Middle Kids perform at Detroit’s Mo Pop Festival on July 30.

Mo Pop festivalgoers received a delicious second helping of emerging alternative music at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park on July 30.

They sank their musical teeth into the sounds of Michigan-based acts Heaters and Stef Chura. Hailing from Grand Rapids, Mich., Heaters divvied up their psychedelic sound for Mo Pop’s early arrivals and played tracks from their latest release, “Baptistina.”

Detroit’s Chura grabbed the Michigan musical torch from Heaters and shared her ‘90s-inspired lo-fi sounds from her debut album, “Messes.” Her signature garage rock resonated with Mo Poppers as they snacked on the best local musical cuisine.

Over on the Grande Stage, Louisville, Ky.’s White Reaper played garage punk and power pop from “The World’s Best American Band,” including “Judy French” and “Little Silver Cross.” Bassist Sam Wilkerson recognized his brother, drummer Nick Wilkerson, during the band’s Mo Pop set.

Continue reading “Mo Pop Delivers Tasty Second Helping of Music for Day 2”

Foster the People, Run the Jewels Headline This Weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit

Bishop Briggs performs at the Mo Pop Festival in July 2016.

The hottest alt rock and hip-hop acts will perform at Detroit’s West Riverfront Park July 29-30 for the fifth annual Mo Pop Festival.

Other notable artists will include a few Michigan-based acts – Heaters, Stef Chura, Humons and Michigander – along with emerging artists Jay Som, Mondo Cozmo, Waaves, Middle Kids, Vance Joy and Arkells. The full lineup is listed below.

With the Detroit skyline, Windsor, Ontario cityscape and local riverfront serving the festival’s premier backdrop, this is the third year Mo Pop has called the Motor City home.

In 2013 and 2014, the former one-day festival took place at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre (now the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre) in Sterling Heights, Mich. Mo Pop expanded to a two-day event in 2015 when festival organizers decided to move it to downtown Detroit.

Continue reading “Foster the People, Run the Jewels Headline This Weekend’s Mo Pop Festival in Detroit”

Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie Prove Musical Bonds Never Break at Detroit’s Fox Theatre

Christine McVie, left, and Lindsey Buckingham perform at Detroit’s Fox Theatre on July 2.

It was time to leave, but something kept me there.

I turned around to catch a final glimpse of Mick Fleetwood. He saw me, smiled and blurted out, “Lindsey and Christine are going to tour this year. You should go see them!”

“I will!” I said. My emphatic response was my way of promising Fleetwood.

Fleetwood shared the perfect parting words as Brian and I left the reception room at the Hilton Austin Hotel on March 15. We had traveled to Austin to see Fleetwood discuss his upcoming book, “Love That Burns – A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac,” at SXSW.

After the session, we attended a private reception hosted by Genesis Publications to meet Fleetwood and receive his autograph. It was a true honor to meet one of my five musical heroes.

Fleetwood’s comments were in reference to a recent announcement about Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie teaming up for a new album and tour as a duo.

I left the room smiling because my musical hero had ended the conversation on the right note — encouraging me to see the other members of Fleetwood Mac in concert was utterly perfect. For years, it felt like I had known Fleetwood. In that final moment, it felt like he knew me.

Four months later, I was ready to attend not one, but two Buckingham McVie shows – July 2 at Detroit’s Fox Theatre and July 6 at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Continue reading “Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie Prove Musical Bonds Never Break at Detroit’s Fox Theatre”

Fangs and Twang Bite into Monstrous Tales for New ‘High Fives All Around’ Album

Fangs and Twang’s Andy Benes, Billy LaLonde and Joe Bertoletti.

Fangs and Twang know how to sink their musical teeth into monster folklore.

The Ypsilanti, Mich.-based roots rock and bluegrass trio sing about Frankenstein, the Loch Ness Monster, and other notorious creatures on their new album, “High Fives All Around,” which comes out today.

Bassist Joe Bertoletti and his bandmates, Andy Benes (guitar, vocals) and Billy LaLonde (drums, vocals), seek inspiration for their second album’s eight monster-themed tracks from books, movies, comics and regional urban legends. It nicely follows in the footsteps of their self-titled 2015 debut.

One of the band’s favorite tracks, “Loveland Frogman,” is based on a Loveland, Ohio urban legend dating back to 1972 about two local sightings of a creature that resembled a humanoid frog.

“It’s loosely based on the story of a trooper coming across the Frogman,” Bertoletti said. “In our part of the story, they decide to go party down at the creek.”

Continue reading “Fangs and Twang Bite into Monstrous Tales for New ‘High Fives All Around’ Album”