Joe Goodkin Interview

Program Director Amber Lemons had the opportunity to interview Chicagoan Joe Goodkin. Joe also played “Dog and Cat” in-studio from his new album, The Record of Life.  

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Interview with Arstidir

Program Director Amber Lemons interviews Arstidir, an Icelandic indie-folk band. Arstidir will be performing at Common Ground music festival on Thursday, July 9th.

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Shakey Graves digs deep at The Majestic

Shakey Graves

June 5th, 2015

The Majestic Theater

Detroit, MI

Story and Photos by: DJ Zach Micklea (@OUUnderground)

image1Alejandro Rose-Garcia, better known by his stage name Shakey Graves, hails from the capital of the lone star state in Austin, Texas. His music has proven quite difficult to describe as he mixes bluegrass, rock and roll and country elements in his songs. His voice is a puzzle with even more pieces. The Texas-native can be heard chanting, howling, screaming, slurring and even dialoguing on his albums.

The name “Shakey Graves” came in 2007 when playing at Old Settlers Music Festival. He and his friends were giving each other Indian names around a campfire, and the name stuck.

Rising to fame in late 2014 after an appearance on Conan, Shakey Graves began landing spots on multiple television shows including Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Seth Meyers.

Shakey Graves performed Friday, June 5 in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 2,000 fans at the Majestic in Detroit. The stage was beautifully lit with the spotlight on a Texas flag, which was draped over a keyboard. Before the show started, the line at the bar looked endless. The beer was nearly as warm as the congested theater, but that was not taking anything away from the enjoyment of the concertgoers, who were laughing and dancing to “Pompeii” by Bastille playing over the speakers.

image4The show’s opener was a female singer by the name of Carson McHone. Like Shakey Graves, she too was from Austin, Texas. Her set started as a solo performance with an acoustic guitar. The venue was so loud that it proved difficult to hear McHone. After her first song, a guitarist, a drummer and a bass player joined her on stage. After the first couple songs, she had won the crowd over. Some pulled out lighters to wave and some began line dancing.

It became clear these musicians were truly living their dreams. The set was a perfect blend of old-school hopscotch country and modern day pop. It was a breath of fresh air to see artists like these on stage playing beautiful music rather than pop stars kissing rappers who do not like to be kissed.

As if the passion being projected throughout the theater was not enough, McHone’s breath-taking voice nearly floored the crowd. Sounding similar to Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, McHone sang loud and she sang hard. She played for nearly an hour and as she walked off stage, those in attendance gave her a thundering round of applause.

At this point in the night, the venue was completely packed. Slowly, the entire audience quieted and awaited the man they all came to see.

It was time.

image3Shakey Graves ascended to the left side of the stage while the crowd greeted him with a passionate welcoming to the Motor City. Joining him on stage were guitar player, Patrick O’Connor and drummer, Chris Boosahda. The set began with an unfamiliar song. It was a slow build of the bass drum with bluesy guitar licks sprinkled in between. This build led to what could be considered perhaps his most complex track, “If Not for You.” However, this version was not parallel with the studio recording of the song. It was much slower and had a sentimental feeling.

In contrast to an overwhelming number of artists, Shakey Graves plays each song differently during a live set. It gives the audience a real reason to come down to Midtown Detroit to watch him play. This unique factor cannot be heard on any of his albums.

The second song began with very loud tribal drums, which led to the title track of his debut album, “Roll the Bones.” Again, this song was played very differently than the recorded studio version.

After a couple more songs, O’Connor and Boosahda left the stage for Shakey Graves to play some acoustic solo songs. Some of the songs included “Pansy Waltz” from his most recent album, And the War Came, as well as “Proper Fence” from Roll the Bones.

In between songs, Shakey Graves played with the crowd. He talked to people close enough to hear him, he danced, and even played “Push” by Salt & Peppa.

When the band rejoined him, McHone took center stage. The four of them played the hit song, “Dearly Departed,” with McHone singing the part of Esmé Patterson — a folk singer heard on three tracks from And the War Came.

This very unique and intimate set went on for over two hours and each minute was better than the last. To see such a talent perform on stage so effortlessly was an absolute privilege. Shakey Graves thanks the crowd and was overwhelmed by the response. The crowd screamed for over two minutes and it appeared to have brought a tear to the eye of the humble musician.

Shakey Graves exited the stage only to be brought back by an encore-demanding audience. He played one of his more bluegrass ballads, “Hard Wired.” During the song, a female fan joined him on stage, and the two exchange words. It was unclear what was said, but they hugged and she jumped back into the sold out crowd.

When the song ended, the audience gave Shakey Graves one last ovation. The lights in the venue flipped back on and the show was over. The performance was well received by the attendees.

“The show was moving,” Anna Hoffman, a fan, said. “It was life-changing.”

The fan that jumped on stage — a girl named Tori Poloski — said, when asked why she did it, “When am I ever going to have the chance to do it again?”

Her friends forced her to jump on stage to ask Shakey Graves if she could do something very unique. “I asked if I could sing with him,” Poloski said. “He said ‘I’m sorry. Not right now.’ So maybe we will another time.”

When it was all said and done, the show was a very unique experience. Shakey Graves truly is one of the most talented musicians in the music industry today. His ability to mix different styles of music while staying true to the music’s roots is something to behold. The show was a spectacle of musical bliss; art in its truest form.

 

Concert Review: Jilian Linklater at The Crofoot + Interview

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Jilian Linklater grew up in Lake Orion, MI only a few miles north of Oakland University. She studied song writing at Belmont University in Nashville but has been writing, singing, and playing guitar for much longer. Thursday at the Crofoot was only her second concert. Her first was a few months ago in Nashville for the release of her EP, Walking Stories. I had the chance to see her show Thursday and then interview her the following Saturday. This review will feature bits and pieces from our interview.

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I walk in to The Pike Room while the openers are still performing and squeezed my way closer to the stage. The openers have the crowd warmed up, Linklater gets up on stage along with three others that will be her band for the night, and grabs her acoustic guitar. She seems nervous. She doesn’t have as much of a presence as the openers… until she starts singing. She opens with a song off her EP called, “Better Than I Know Myself.” It has a catchy chorus that captivates the crowd …then she kicks it up a notch by remixing the end of her song into Whitney Houston’s, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” The crowd sings along; she’s got them hooked.

She finishes the first set, which are mostly pop songs. “I’d say I’m acoustic pop for the most part,” Linklater says. “Being down in Nashville, I have a little bit of a folk side, which is like my song ‘Walking Stories.’ And then I have ‘Better Than I Know Myself’ which is like, straight up pop. And ‘Hard Candy’ which is pop.”

Her EP, which features five songs, actually took them about a year to put together. “I had been working with this guy named Travis Bergman who had been mentoring me since my freshman year of college and helping me with all my songs,” Linklater explains. “I had played him tons of songs over those four years and my senior year he said we should pick our favorites and make an EP.”

The EP is mostly acoustic guitar and vocals. The songs are very cool indie pop with a little country influence. Going into the show, I expected a laid-back, easy-listening concert. But, alongside a full band, her music was much louder and powerful. For the setting they were in Thursday night, the heavy hitting drums and the intense electric guitar fit very well. Linklater is versatile in that way, similar to how she can adopt different genres in her music.

Her band for that night sounded as if they had been practicing for months. However, the group had just formed a week prior. “Our first rehearsal was the Tuesday the week before…I sent them my songs and all the charts and lyrics and stuff,” Linklater said. “Then we had that first rehearsal which was a few hours. And then we just had a rehearsal the day of the show. I’m sure they practiced in between but we only had two rehearsals.”

Between sets, she gives a few funny or quirky comments. She semi-apologizes to her mom, who is in the crowd, about the next song she is about to perform which is called “Four Letter Word.”  This song features some really creative song writing. “The first verse is ‘you don’t give a F’ so that’s a bad four letter word.”  As the song progresses, that four letter word changes to HOME and TIME. “The last one is LOVE and it’s just kinda showing the simplicity of what we’re all looking for.”

The band leaves the stage for Jilian’s two-song acoustic set. She tells the audience, “living in Nashville gave me the chance to right some sassy country music. So here I get to pretend to be Miranda Lambert.”

Linklater begins to play and about 20 seconds in she stops. “I’m so sorry I have to start over, I’m playing in the wrong key.” She was really embarrassed but naturally drew sympathy from the crowd as she kept strumming to find the right sound. Everyone laughed and she played through the fun song titled “Long Gone, Don Juan.” Once again, showing her versatility.

“I co-wrote that song with a couple a friends,” Linklater explains. “We were in a six hour co-writing session and we weren’t getting anywhere. One of my friends, as a joke, said, ‘what if we wrote a song called Long Gone, Don Juan.’ So I said ‘I know your just joking but that would go well with this chord progression. It’s kinda funky, sassy, a little bit western sounding.’ So everyone said okay and that one was really fun to write.”

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Her band returns to play the most powerful song of hers, “Fighter.” She explains that it’s about a friend of hers who struggled with addiction for many years. It was the climax of the concert. The lyrics pulled on everyone’s heart strings as the music enveloped the crowd. The song also featured an awesome guitar solo, part of which can be seen in a video on WXOU’s Instagram (@wxouradio).

“I wanted to write her a song as a way to encourage her and to also get out the feelings I was having about it as well,” Linklater said. “I actually had a woman come up to me after the show and said she had a brother die – I’m assuming from something related to that – and she had to leave the room because she was crying. She thought it was such a good song. So that was encouraging because that is what I wrote it for.”

After thanking everyone once again, she closed her show by playing the title song from her EP, “Walking Stories,” which talks about how every human has a unique and beautiful story. The song features references to some historical and religious icons like MLK, Rosa Parks and Jesus Christ.

Expect to see Jilian Linklater’s name more in the future. She is versatile, creative and has a lot of potential. This show proved that Linklater can perform many styles of music. She’s not your typical indie artist, her songwriting is advanced and professional sounding. A musical product of both Tennessee and Michigan, Linklater brings something new to the table: something substantial and timeless. This girl’s career is far from over.

 



Concert Review: Lana Del Rey at DTE Energy Music Theatre

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By Haylie Presnell | @halcyonranger

6.01.15

When Elizabeth Grant fashioned the name “Lana Del Rey”, she meant to evoke a connection to paradise through the moniker and her music. To some listeners this idea was successful; to other listeners it was not. There’s no doubt Lana Del Rey is different from other pop stars in mainstream media right now, but could someone who’s suffered from performance-altering stage fright transfer her sultry genre-changing music to a live performance for nearly 10,000 people?

It was as if nature wanted to mock Del Rey’s “Endless Summer” tour theme as storm clouds, moderate rainfall, and flood warnings rolled in on my way to the amphitheater.  Many  concertgoers didn’t seem fazed by the ominous clouds: many were dressed as if it were your typical summer day with patriotic apparel, crop tops, and heads upon heads were adorned with infamous flower crowns of various shapes, sizes, and colors.

The night started off with opener, Grimes – an artist that Del Rey picked to start off half of her shows while the other half belonged to her other opening act, Courtney Love. She emerged from backstage and thanked the crowd for coming out despite the frigid weather before diving into “Circumambient”.  Grimes was prompt with the timing of her set, leaving little interaction between herself and the audience in between songs. She seemed absorbed with her synthesizer, teeny bopping dance moves, and screaming at the peak of her songs. Her preoccupation with her instrument and her grunge-y styled dancers put off much of the audience; many were preoccupied with their phones, reading magazines and books, and shopping for food and merchandise during the electronic artist’s set. As the night grew on and the booze began to disappear from vendor’s carts, some stragglers began to dance halfheartedly to her closing song “Genesis”.

As Grimes descended from the stage, concertgoers started to stand at full attention for the night’s main act. The lights darkened and a backdrop of a downtown cityscape appeared accompanied by music that had a jazzy yet beach-like vibe about it. Del Rey’s band slowly walked on stage with the self-proclaimed “gangster Nancy Sinatra” emerging from a cloud of thick smoke center stage. Del Rey looked like a sixties singer straight from the era adorned in a lime green dress, chunky high heels, and big hooped earrings wasting no time and jumping right into “Cruel World”, the first track off of her sophomore album Ultraviolence.

Those who were not lucky to be close to the singer in the pit or the pavilion were not left out of the visual spectacle. While Grimes’ set was a simple transmission of stage to screen, Del Rey provided a cinematic film; black and white film, 3D effects of the singer, and clips from her music videos intertwined with the live feed of the show. In addition to effects, the big screens showed the singer affectionately interacting with her fans. To say her fans adore her is an understatement – even as she powered through singles form her major label debut Born to Die (“Cola”, “Summertime Sadness”, “Born to Die”) and those from Ultraviolence (“Shades of Cool”, “West Coast”, “Brooklyn Baby”). She even played “Serial Killer” one of the demoes she made before she went by her current stage name.

In the beginning of the show, it seemed Lana Del Rey was self-conscious of her performance due to her tense facial expressions. As the night went on, there were two very personal moments that brought her to tears:  in the middle of performing “Shades of Cool” and upon seeing thousands of lights waving in the audience during her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel”. Every fan was engaged in her show and when the night came to an end with a rousing version of “Off to the Races”, concertgoers sang at the top of their lungs and gave the songstress a parting pair of roses when she walked off stage one final time.

Interview: Great Lakes Swimmers

DJ Zach Micklea sits down with Tony from Great Lakes Swimmers for a pre-show interview. The band is fresh off the release of their new album, “A Forest of Arms” on Nettwerk Records, and is currently touring.

Catch Zach’s show, Oakland Underground, Tuesdays at 4 p.m. on WXOU.