As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series, this year we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.
Today we met Ann Arbor native Tyler Duncan and Irishman John McSherry.
Despite being an ocean away, they play in a band together, called the olllam. The two have toured across the U.S. and in Europe producing a fusion of pop, rock and Irish music.
Duncan's musical career has included a variety of genres, like pop, rock and electronic. He has won international awards for playing traditional Irish instruments, like the uilleann pipes, a lighter version of Scotland's bagpipes, and whistles, a staple in Irish music.
He discovered Irish music when he was 11, when his aunt gave him a VHS copy of Riverdance. A pipe solo in the middle of the show grabbed his attention.
"As a kid I just was like, 'Woah, what is that? What is that instrument?'" he said. "And that got me really interested in the pipes."
Years later, as a 13-year-old Duncan moved to Ireland for a year with his family. His father took a sabbatical there.
He was given a tape he loved, which he later learned featured John McSherry, a rising star in the traditional Irish music scene. Then, when Duncan was in western Ireland, he had a chance to meet that musician.
He said it was a "serendipitous" meeting at a jam session in Milltown. Someone told Duncan that McSherry was at the bar. So Duncan started to stare. When McSherry's girlfriend noticed, the two introduced themselves.
That was the origin of the friendship that lead to the olllam.
The Ann Arbor-based fusion band Sumkali brands themselves as “Indian music made in America.” Everyone in the band calls Michigan home, but according to the band’s founder John Churchville, half of them have family ties to India.
All the different band members bring their own skill sets, instruments, and influences that make the group the very definition of a fusion band. In the end, they create a sound intended to reach many different people.
Pop singer Garrett Borns, known more commonly by his stage name BORNS, became an instant sensation when his song "Electric Love" went viral earlier this year. The song, hailed as an "instant classic" by Taylor Swift, catapulted BORNS into the national spotlight before he'd even started to prep his debut album. Now, that album, Dopamine, is out. Much like his breakout hit, it looks to capture pleasure, longing and fantasy.
The band members of The Crane Wives quit their day jobs this year and are making the jump from being a West Michigan band, to trying to make their mark on the national music scene. Their new album, Coyote Stories, is being released August 29.
Detroit's Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas made their television debut on David Letterman last night.
The band, which hails from southwest Detroit, performed their song "Sorry I Stole Your Man" from their album "Secret Evil."
The group was well received, and at the end of the performance Letterman said, "Wow, that's tremendous! That's it, no more calls! We have a winner ladies and gentleman, right here! Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas!"
His name is Matt Jones. He's 35 and he's based in Ypsilanti. He's been writing songs and performing around Michigan for the past 15 years. He has growing audience of fans and has received more critical acclaim.
And his story is one of overcoming personal demons and finding salvation in the thing he loves best: making music.
Matt joined us in the studio today to talk about his music.
Matt Jones on Stateside.
Click the link above to hear Cyndy's conversation with Matt.
Matt also performed for our "Songs from Studio East" series. You can check out that performance here:
Ypsilanti's Matt Jones has been writing songs and performing around Michigan for the past 15 years. The 35-year-old has been receiving more critical acclaim and has a growing fan base. His story is one of overcoming personal demons and finding salvation in the thing he loves best: making music.
Matt Jones and Misty Lyn Bergeron performed for us in Michigan Radio's Studio East.
This indie-soul group is getting a lot of attention around the Michigan music scene. Their new album Tarantula Manson comes out this fall.
Listen to the full interview above to hear about Hernandez's path to becoming a singer-songwriter, band manager, and female force in the Detroit music scene.
The group performs at Saint Andrews Hall in Detroit on Friday, March 22nd. For more information visit their website. But, for now check out an acoustic performance from band members in Michigan Radio's Studio East.
Michigan-based Frontier Ruckus has a new CD, Eternity of Dimming out from Quite Scientific Records. The double album with 20 songs is “dense,” according to Matthew Milia, lead singer-guitarist for the band.
“They’re not two-minute-long pop songs with recurring choruses that people can latch on immediately to…but the people that do take the time to dig in and listen, seem to find themselves being rewarded… in ways that exceed the simply pop song,” he said.
Milia’s inspiration comes from his memories of growing up in metro Detroit. Banjo player David Jones calls the lyrics “obsessively suburban,” a kind of homage to the 90’s era.
The country folk-rock band draws inspiration from Michigan, specifically from the geography and landscape of suburban Detroit, along with the complications of coming of age.
While some artists choose to move away to places like New York or Los Angeles to pursue a career in music, Jones says “It would be heart-breaking to leave Michigan," and adds there's an "overwhelming love and nostalgia for just being here."
Check out Frontier Ruckus performing songs from their new album. Matthew Milia, lead singer-guitarist; David Jones, banjo and vocals; Zach Nichols, trumpet, singing-saw, other instruments; and Ryan Etzcorn on percussion.
Rick Robinson is a bassist, arranger, composer and artistic director of Cut Time. John McLaughlin Williams is a violinist and Grammy award winning conductor.
Both musicians are part of Classical Revolution Detroit. Their mission is to take classical music to the people, whether in bars, clubs, or cafes, to demystify classical. The group will celebrate its second anniversary at The Majestic in Detroit Sunday December 16, from 7 to 10 pm. Go here for more information.
Here's a video of Rick and John performing a Beethoven Duo, in Studio East. Check back for more videos of the performance soon.
The Book of Jonah is the new album from Nadir Omowale. It’s a blend of soul music, rock, funk and blues. While there are songs about love and relationships, themes of social and political consciousness carry through the album.
“I never felt like I had to fashion myself into one particular style. I grew up on Prince and The Time and Cameo and all that good stuff, and so funk is all deep within my soul. And I grew up in a small town in east Tennessee, so there were country music influences, there was a lot of Van Halen and rock and roll and so I love all of that music," Nadir told Michigan Radio's Jennifer White.
Religious themes are also found in his work. Nadir says growing up within a Baptist family in Tennessee has influenced him greatly. Although his new album is not as political as his last, Distorted Soul 2.0, he says his interest in politics and culture continues.
"And it's really inspired by a lot of the struggles that we've dealt with here in Michigan, and in Detroit especially, and what I've seen over the last couple of years is so much positive energy building as we're moving forward," said Nadir.
Listen to the full interview above to hear more about Nadir's newest album The Book of Jonah, including the song he wrote with guitarist and singer Mayaeni, titled 95 Miles Down the Road.
And click on the video below to see Nadir performing in our studio:
Michigan natives Seth Bernard and May Erlewine have a new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.
Last year they were invited to join the project “Run Across Ethiopia," of the Michigan-based non-profit On the Ground. A group of eight eventually ran 240 miles across southern Ethiopia and raised over $200,000 to build schools in the coffee growing region of that country.
The album New Flower is based on that experience.
Michigan Radio's Jennifer White interviewed Seth & May. You can see them perform in Michigan Radio's Studio East.
Produced by Mercedes Mejia and Cade Sperlich. Our audio engineer is Bob Skon.
The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.
Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”
Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”
“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”
This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.
The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.
Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.