Counterfeit.

Pontiac, Michigan (April 26, 2018)The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI – Some 30 miles north of Detroit, MI, a crowd is gathering on the street outside of Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom. Fans of the UK based headliners COUNTERFEIT. lined the sidewalk, many with shiny holographic VIP badges glistening in the evening sun. Formed just over 2 years ago, releasing their first EP Come Get Some, the band led by actor Jamie Campbell Bower has amassed a quite the loyal following for their first North American tour. The rest of the band consists of Jamie’s brother Sam Bower and Tristan Marmont on guitars, Roland Johnson playing bass and Jim Craig on drums.

Prior to founding Counterfeit, Jamie got his start in the public eye through acting, playing Anthony Hope in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Caius Volturi in the Twilight movie series and the young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The transition from one stage to another was a natural one, as Jamie explained when we sat down with him backstage, “I was born both a thespian and a rock star! I’ve always played music, but I never really took it very seriously up until this project, and until some things happened in my life where I was able to give a lot more things, a lot more time.” Performing comes naturally to him, and he tells us the band runs on instinct. “What we do is we go out there and we let instincts take over. Be ourselves, our most honest and most raw. I think that from being in front of the camera, I definitely learned to get more comfortable being in front of people.”

Leading up to tonight’s show, we reached out to fans on social media to find out what they wanted to know, and fan found faith, asked whether his acting roles affect the music.

“Yes, absolutely. Of course they do. When I was playing Marlowe, obviously I dove quite deeply into his work. I seem to be drawn to these weird, fucked up characters all the time.” Jamie shared with us. “Marlowe is just another one of them, a very interesting guy. I read his version of [Doctor] Faustus, and I liked the whole idea of bargaining with the devil and selling your soul, all that kind of murky, nasty, occult-y kind of stuff.”

The Londoners are on their third stop of this tour, supporting 2017’s Together We Are Stronger. The 10-track album has been described as having themes of anger and loss, backed by a wall of powerful guitar riffs and bashing drums hurtling each song forward. “The writing of that record came out of a very, very dark and twisted place and this need to use my voice, to be able to study myself, was paramount, I think.” Jamie recounted. “Almost a catharsis of sorts?” I asked him. “Yeah, catharsis, exorcism, whatever you want to call it,” he said with a mischievous grin.

The doors finally open and fans proceed up the narrow staircase to the Crofoot’s Pike Room, an intimate venue that excels in showing off the raunchy sound of hard playing rock and punk bands. Counterfeit have been described as both “punk” and “rock and roll”, seeming to fit right in the midst of these two genres. We had a chance to discuss these labels with Jamie Bower shortly before the show, asking which he felt was the more appropriate descriptor for their sound. “I think they’re both appropriate, but we never set out to be a punk band. We never set out to be anything other than sort of what we are.” he tells us. “It’s definitely got a rock and roll heart with the punk aesthetic to it. But it’s punk in the sense that a.) it’s kind of ‘for the people’ and b.), we just want to get out there and thrash, you know?”

The show opened up with local band Dark Serenity, giving us a dose of rock with a classic, unfiltered sound. Vocalist/guitarist Kate Emrich passionately led bassist Zachary Barnes, and drummer Michael Bergamo through the set, the crowd showing their approval with increasing levels of applause after each song.

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

Middlemen on bill, dubé, hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, pulled out all the stops for a raucous set that evoked a tighter, louder version of your college buddy’s garage band. Brothers Jan, Liam and Quinn energized the crowd with plenty of thrashing, including the most appropriately Canadian instrument of their own invention, the “hockey-tar”, literally a hockey stick strung as a functional guitar!

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

After a short break to change out the gear, Counterfeit took to the stage in a cacophony of sound with “As Yet Untitled”, a song mentioned by Jamie during our earlier conversation as one of his favorites to play live. Driving drums carry “Washed Out”, as fans sing along to the chorus of “I’m too old to live, I’m too young to die”. The band pounded through several more tracks from their current album, including “Addiction”, “Romeo”, “Close to Your Chest” and “You Can’t Rely

Breaking down the fourth-wall, the mood turned around 180° when Jamie asked the crowd to form a circle on the floor and proceed to step down from the stage, guitar and all, explaining that the next song was about his close friend Ivan who took his own life a few years ago. Deeply emotional, with Jamie’s raw vocals ranging from intense sorrow to sheer anger, the crowd is nearly silent throughout “Letters To The Lost”, the rest of band playing on stage with their backs to the audience.

This isn’t the only time the guys end up in the throng of fans filling the room, with Sam and Jamie singing “For The Thrill of It” together from the midst of the floor, or Sam being paraded around riding on the shoulders of a randomly selected audience member while dangerously shredding one of his solos. This level of interaction with the crowd really shines a light on how much Counterfeit appreciates their adoring fans and the fact that their music is being accepted. On this subject, fan Charlene.W from Toronto asked the following about life since the album release:

Jamie told us, “The biggest shock was the fact that the record was widely received rather well across the board. If I’m being honest, truly, I don’t think any of us expected it to be as well received as it was. I remember speaking to Roland a few months before the release and going, “Is this any good? Are people are going to dig this?” There’s that constant back and forth and that constant self doubt.” Clearly, from the reaction tonight, the people dig it.

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© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

The band has been also working on their next album, and two new songs were debuted at the Pike Room to the fan’s delight. Backstage, we asked whether we should expect a similar sound and theme as we heard on Together We Are Stronger. “It’s all about butterflies and rainbows! It’s beautiful!” Jamie gushed with sarcastic enthusiasm. “But, seriously, I think from what we’ve got thus far the anger is still definitely there. This record seems to be touching on a few more social political themes.” Discussing the fact that there are quite a few things to be angry about right now, he continued, “And a lot to be confused about. Then the themes of loss and death. I’m obsessed with the idea of my own mortality and mortality in general.”

Using the crowdsourcing platform, PledgeMusic, to fund the new recording is giving the band a way to offer so much more to their fans as they create this album. “We haven’t even gone into the studio on this record yet.” Jamie explained, “so for those people who have joined the Pledge campaign, even if you’ve just bought an Access Pass, however little it may be, it’s still a lot to us.” When asked why PledgeMusic rather than the traditional process through a record label, Jamie talked about how this gives the band so much more creative control over their art. “The industry’s changing so much. The old format of record labels is no longer necessary. To be able to be in control if one’s own art is the most important thing, in particular for this band.” Noting that, historically, it has only been more established artists that could demand full artistic control, leaving newcomers at the mercy of the label. Jamie laughed as he said that in a way, this reversal of roles is a “Fuck you!” to the system.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

The show wrapped up with the anthemic “Enough”, full of furiously delivered lyrics. Written after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, including the Bataclan which was hosting a rock show, the song offers to fight violence and hate with love:

“It’s time ‘cos we’ve had enough
You bring your guns, we bring our hearts
And our weapons of love
I hope you watch as we take to the streets
Because together we are stronger
And as one we bring peace”

Leading the crowd, split left and right, to go head to head singing alternating lines of the chorus “Let us live/Let us love”, Counterfeit invokes the feeling that when all is said and done, the lasting effect they’d like to have on the world is one of change. “Someone asked me the other day, ‘What social change would you like to see in the world?’ And it’s like, well, where the fuck do I begin? There’s so many things that need to change”, Jamie related during our interview. “What we do and what we’re about is trying to let people know that no matter how screwed up you may feel, no matter how low you may go, that, really, at the end of the day, your voice still matters, your voice is still heard and it’s necessary. That’s what I want to leave behind – the feeling that the people who come to our shows or are listening to our music can stand up and say something and can make a difference.” Jamie continued. “For the better! God help you if you’re doing it for the worse, I will come hunt you down!”, he added, laughing.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

Counterfeit continues the tour with stops in Canada, along the East Coast and more before wrapping up mid-May in California. Check out upcoming tour dates on their site, and be sure to snap up some tickets when they come to your town. These guys are a big deal and only going to be bigger!

COUNTERFEIT.:
     

The Crofoot:
   

 Senior Photojournalist: Kate Sumbler

 Senior Photographer: Cheyenne Comerford

Margo Price + Blackfoot Gypsies + Craig Brown Band

Detroit, Michigan (April 17, 2018) – The mural adorned, all-ages El Club in Southwest Detroit, MI was host to three great rock/country music talents from Jack White‘s Third Man Records label this evening. Opening the show, local favorites the Craig Brown Band got the audience pumped up and ready to rock. Making their Detroit debut, Blackfoot Gypsies, an explosive energetic band from Nashville, were next on the bill. Country singer/songwriter Margo Price headlined the sold-out event. The bright yellow Third Man Records mobile record store was parked out front and fans gathering in the line that stretched down the street were busy buying merchandise.

Craig Brown Band © Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

Featuring singer Craig Brown, formerly the lead singer of the punk band Terrible Twos, The Craig Brown Band released their debut full length album, The Lucky Ones Forget, on Third Man Records label on March 31, 2018. Known for their songwriting and self-described “hillbilly-deluxe-meets-dive-bar-jukebox classic rock” sound, this band is worth a listen. Craig thanked the crowd for coming early and evoked some laughs reminding the crowd to ‘tip your bartenders, especially on Saturday!” – when he would be bartending at El Club!  Their set featured several songs off their recent album, The Lucky Ones Forget and held the crowd’s attention with rocking guitar riffs and Brown’s energetic jumps and side-kicks.

 

Blackfoot Gypsies © Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

Nashville rockers, The Blackfoot Gypsies, cannot be missed. Opening their set with the statement ”you rock and roll and then you die, that’s how life goes!” gave the crowd an idea of what to expect. The frontman, singer Matthew Paige, had amazing stage presence with his red guitar and explosive energy. The power quartet engaged the audience and had everyone moving with their roadhouse rock. You can definitely feel the Blues, Rock, and Southern Rock influence in their music. The give one hell of a show complete with harmonica, guitar riffs and hair whipping.

 

Margo Price © Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

Headliner Margo Price, is currently on the road with her Nowhere Fast Tour, promoting 2017’s release All American Made. A Nashville transplant, like Jack White, Margo became Third Man Records’ first country artist, when she released her debut album Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, in 2016. She has been called “country’s next big star”. Her voice has been compared to Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. The El Club was packed and she delivered an amazing 16 song set, pleasing her loyal fans with a couple of covers and plenty of original tunes. Margo played guitar and tambourine on crowd favorites like “Don’t Say It” and “Do Right By Me”. A two song encore featured Hurtin’ (On The Bottle) and a raucous rendition of Proud Mary joined by Craig Brown and The Blackfoot Gypsies.

This was a night to remember, with strong sets from three powerful artists making their mark on the music scene!

Margo Price:
     


Blackfoot Gypsies:
     

Craig Brown Band:
     

El Club:
   

 Photographer: Kelly Harmer

Journalist: Krissy McGuire

 Journalist: Kate Sumbler

The Darkness

Detroit, Michigan (April 13th, 2018) – On Friday the 13th, our thoughts often turn to horror movies and superstitions. Luckily for fans of The Darkness who ventured out to the Majestic Theater in Detroit this Friday the 13th, there were no signs of Jason. Instead, the Brits treated us to an hour and a half of high-octane in-your-face rock n’ roll on the latest stop of their aptly named “Tour de Prance”.

The Darkness is currently touring North America to support their 2017 release, Pinewood Smile. This is the band’s fifth studio album, and features vocals and guitars from brothers Justin and Dan Hawkins, the inimitable Frankie Poullain playing bass and Rufus Tiger Taylor, son of legendary Queen drummer Roger Taylor, on drums. Known for their glam-rock stylings and charismatic stage presence, a night with The Darkness guarantees to be simultaneously everything and nothing like you expected!

© Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

After an ear-shattering opening set from garage rockers Diarrhea Planet, (yes, that’s really the band’s name!), the crowd went wild when Dan Hawkins strode out on stage showing off his old school Thin Lizzy satin jacket, and The Darkness launched into “Open Fire”, from 2015’s Last Of Our Kind.

Leaving little to the imagination in his leopard print jumpsuit, Justin Hawkins belted out song after song in his wailing falsetto, prancing and prowling the stage in true rock-god form. The band rolled through a couple numbers from their debut album Permission To Land, and shared some laughs with the audience, often at their own expense as Justin lived up to every rock n’ roll frontman stereotype strutting across the stage. At one point, he toured the venue perched upon the shoulders of a security guard, shredding on his guitar as they walked him through the adoring crowd. Tunes from their latest release seemed to be well received by the fans, as they enthusiastically sang along with “Solid Gold” and “All The Pretty Girls” just as much as they did with the older, more well known singles.

A fan tossed a trucker hat emblazoned with Saginaw onto the stage asking him to wear it, so Justin obliged, tucking his hair into a ponytail pulled through the back of the hat before signing it and returning it to the lucky fan after the song ended. Later he continued his fascination with fashion by borrowing three denim jackets from the crowd, most covered in patches from Judas Priest, KISSAC/DC and the like, and proceeded to sport all three at once!

Giving kudos to their parents for bringing them up on rock n’ roll, Justin asked the kids in attendance to sing along with him on the next song. With a pair of 9 and 12 year old fans from the front row watching from their parent’s shoulders, he politely reminded them “You don’t have to sing the swear words, of course!” as the band started into “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” with it’s f-bomb laden chorus. This was followed by the set closer, “Growing On Me”, before the rowdy crowd cheered the band back for a three song encore. The night wrapped up with “Japanese Prisoner of Love”,  the classic“I Believe in a Thing Called Love” and a blistering extended rendition of  “Love on the Rocks With No Ice”.

There’s something undeniably gratifying about sharing the energy of a live band that is truly enjoying performing, and The Darkness doesn’t disappoint at all on this level. All smiles throughout the show, Justin engaged the audience and captivated our attention with every move. Scorching guitar riffs from Dan, and a monstrous beat provided by Frankie and Rufus proved these guys have the talent to back up their on-stage shenanigans. The music was tight, driving and unrelentless, harkening back to 70’s arena rock and 80’s hairband cliches all while managing to not become a parody of themselves. With all their campy humor and grandiose guitar-driven rock, you’ll definitely want to add a live show from The Darkness to your bucket list before you head off to Camp Crystal Lake this summer!

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The Darkness:
     

 Senior Photographer: Kelly Harmer

 Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler

The Moody Blues Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Series Interview

Cleveland, Ohio (April 12, 2018) – On a warm but breezy evening in the CLE, legendary rockers Justin Hayward (guitar and vocals), Graeme Edge (drums) and John Lodge (bass) of The Moody Blues took the stage for a wide-ranging and totally absorbing Q&A session with a house full of appreciative fans.  For years the question “How could The Moody Blues NOT be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” left both fans and music critics baffled.  But this night, that question was finally put to rest as the band took time to bask in the glow of its induction, and look back on its more than fifty-year career with both sentimentality and pride.

The band had undergone a series of transformations that undoubtedly fueled its longevity. In its earliest days, The Moody Blues focused on creating an American blues and soul kind of sound.  Their first hit, “Go Now“, reflected this influence. The lead singer on that song was Denny Laine, who left the group before “Nights in White Satin” and later became a member of Paul McCartney‘s band Wings (which is why “Go Now” appears on the “Wings Over America” album.)

© Gerard Hilinski. Please do not alter images.

To hear Justin Hayward relate the story, “we came to realize that we needed to start writing our own music and tell our own story. None of us had the foggiest idea of what a cotton field even looked like.” And this led to their evolution toward a more psychedelic and progressive rock orientation.

The band’s connection to the Beatles runs even deeper than Denny Laine’s eventual move to Wings. One of the highlights of the evening was hearing Graeme Edge tell the story of how The Moody’s opened for the Beatles one night at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool. “We finished our set and stayed around to watch for a bit. The Beatles played “Long Tall Sally” and “Twist And Shout” to start their set. After those two songs, we decided we heard enough and left to go to another pup and get drunk!” And so it goes in the world of rock and roll.

The band’s signature sound came from adding the Mellotron and flute to its instrumentation. The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England, in 1963. It evolved from a similar instrument, the Chamberlin, but could be mass-produced more effectively1. The instrument allowed the band to produce the orchestral sound, which eventually became its trademark. To watch how this worked on stage at the Isle of Wight Music Festival is truly a thing of beauty!

© Gerard Hilinski. Please do not alter images.

The Moody’s were fortunate to be signed by the Decca record label. At the time, Decca was the second largest producer of classical music in the world, and this worked to the band’s advantage. The label took a hands-off approach to the group and basically allowed them to record the music that they wanted to make without interference, which was highly unusual at the time. The head of the label felt that people rather liked what the boys produced, and there was no reason to change that. In time, their relationship with Decca also led to collaboration with the London Festival Orchestra, which further strengthened their sound.

Today in the afterglow of last night’s induction ceremony, both the band and their countless fans are resting easier knowing that The Moody Blues have finally made their way home. Long Live Rock!

Learn more about The Moody Blues at http://www.moodybluestoday.com

Check out the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame at https://www.rockhall.com

And catch the extravaganza of the 2018 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony on HBO, Saturday, May 5.

The Moody Blues:
    

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame:
    

Eden + Vérité

Detroit, Michigan (March 26, 2018) – With its music rich history, including being the birthplace of techno, it should be no surprise that Detroit has a number of EDM and electropop fans. So many, in fact, that Eden’s Vertigo World Tour show originally scheduled at The Shelter, was moved upstairs and subsequently sold-out the much larger Saint Andrew’s Hall. With special guest, Vérité, providing a brilliant opening set, Eden gave tonight’s crowd a remarkable performance not to be missed!

© Splice Magazine – Anna Tollstam. Please do not alter images.

Vérité, also known as Kelsey Byrne, kicked things off with a great set featuring her soaring, moody vocals. Vérité is an indie pop/ alternative rock/ electropop artist based in Brooklyn, New York, who first began to gain a following after the release of her 2014 single, “Strange Enough”, went viral. In October 2014 her first EP, “Echo”, was released and not far after, in June, 2015, her second EP, “Sentiment”, was released. In May, 2016, she released her third EP, “Living”. Later that year, she released her cover of “Somebody Else” by The 1975, which also went viral. Early in 2017, she collaborated with Phantoms on a song, “Just a Feeling”. In June, 2017, she released her debut album, Somewhere in Between, and most recent, in January, 2018 Vérité released a cover of the Sufjan Stevens ballad, “John My Beloved”.

The crowd took notice from the moment she took the stage with “When You’re Gone”, from 2017’s Somewhere in Between. Even though a majority of the crowd had not heard of Vérité before tonight, it was clear she was making new fans tonight. Her voice filled the room with an energy that captivated the crowd. The remainder of her set included her viral cover of The 1975’s “Somebody Else” and “Phase Me Out“, one of her most-played songs on Spotify off of her latest album.

Next up was the man of the night, Eden. The 22 year-old singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer from Dublin, Ireland did not disappoint the crowd tonight. Eden, also known as Jonathon Ng, formerly went by an alias, The Eden Project, until 2014 when he took on the name Eden. Soon after this change, in August, 2015 he released his debut album, End Credits. In August, 2016 he released his second album, i think you think too much of me, which includes some of his most popular songs, “Sex”, “Drugs”, and “XO”. On January 19, 2018 was his most recent release, his third album, Vertigo. He has released many covers through the years as well, including his cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, released in early 2016, gaining over 11.2 million plays on Spotify.

© Splice Magazine – Anna Tollstam. Please do not alter images.

Over time, the classically-trained musician morphed from EDM to a mix with an alternative style by incorporating organic sounds into his music. As the lights went down, the crowd’s excitement was palpable as Eden started the show with the opening trio from the Vertigo album: “wrong”, “take care” and “start//end”.  The audience were no strangers to his newest tunes, eagerly singing along.  Through the rest of the night, he included fan favorites “Crash”, “forever//over”, “love; not wrong (brave)”, “float”, and “Icarus” and “Fumes”. With his voice like pure gold, he enchanted every person in the building.  It was clear the fans would have loved this show to go on forever, I know this was a performance I will never forget!

The Vertigo World Tour, which began March 1, will be continuing across the US until April, moving onto Europe & Australia through June 26, 2018. Vérité will be joining Eden on the remaining shows of the North American tour. After that, he will be joined by Crooked Colours when the tour moves overseas.

Eden:
     

Vérité:
     

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   

 Photojournalist: Anna Tollstam

Editor: Kate Sumbler

Howard Jones + Rachael Sage

Detroit, Michigan (March 11, 2018) – Fans laughed, clapped, howled and sang along with a pair of great performances at Detroit’s fabled Saint Andrew’s Hall tonight. Eighties synth-pop legend Howard Jones (HoJo) played hits spanning his 35 years in the business, supported by a fantastic opening set from the vivacious Rachael Sage. In what sometimes felt like a family gathering in his living room, we were regaled with tales of rock royalty (sharing a helicopter ride with the band Queen) to real royalty (a request to play for Princess Diana) as HoJo shared intimate stories between songs throughout the night. Much like his beautifully written lyrics, these stories were captivating and personal, sharing behind-the-scenes details and peeks into Howard’s life with the warmth and honesty of an old friend.

First, Rachael Sage got the crowd in the mood for story time with plenty of witty banter during her seven-song set to open the show. Perched at her keyboard, with Kelly Halloran backing her up on fiddle, Rachael opened the night with her newest song “Myopia”, making a provocative political statement. She recently said of the title track for her upcoming May 4th release, “during these especially challenging times, I found myself wanting to visualize the world in a different, creative light.” She followed this with “Spark”, snapping her fingers between chords to provide her own rhythm section. Stepping away from the keys, Rachael picked up an acoustic guitar for the next number, “Try Try Try”, an upbeat tune about love at first sight and persistence.

Rachael Sage
© Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

A bit of reflection on her dance career spanning from the prestigious School of American Ballet to TV’s Dance Moms, segued nicely into the bluesy “I’ve Been Waiting” from her 2016 album aptly titled Choreographic. Singing the next song nearly a capella, with just a few plaintive strains from Kelly’s fiddle, Rachael clapped out the beat for “Haunted By Objects” along with some tap-like percussion provided by her shiny black boots. Besides being a successful singer-songwriter, Rachael often holds youth workshops to spread dance, music, and creativity to the next generation and encouraging an end to bullying. Her empowering single “I Don’t Believe It” was next on the setlist. She belted out its strong message of “every time that you tell me I’m not good enough I don’t believe it” to give us all the strength to face our naysayers and believe in ourselves. Switching the mood a bit, no one in attendance expected they’d hear a melody featuring the kazoo, but that’s exactly what Rachael gave us next, ending the show with “Hey Nah”, a fun song that got the crowd singing along to its catchy chorus.

Rachael’s music is both playful and inspiring, perfectly matching her vibrant personality and 100-watt smile. With over a dozen releases to her name, you’ll be sure to find an album or two that will make their way to the top of your playlist!

After a brief break, the house lights dimmed and Howard Jones strode out onto the nearly empty stage to wild applause. His classic 80’s blonde streaked mohawk replaced by a somewhat greyer “disturbed” hairstyle, (his words), Howard looked comfortable in front of the crowd of folks who were probably his fans during high school in 1985, many also featuring similarly greying ‘dos.

Jones sat down at the single Roland electric piano, picked out a few notes and then addressed the audience asking who drove long distances to attend, as well as offering an apology to the significant others who were dragged along unwillingly. Howard promised to make it worth it for them before breaking into “You Know I Love You, Don’t You?”, followed by “Specialty” to warm the crowd up. His casual chatter set the mood for the night, with Howard interspersing stripped down versions of his songs with personal stories from his 30+ years as a performing musician. While most known for his heavy use of synthesizers, there was nothing more than a single piano and his voice tonight. Next, Jones played “The Prisoner”, with the line “every place I go I feel your lenses trained on me” particularly noted by Splice Photographer Kelly Harmer. Howard shared that the piano was his first love and his classical training was evident throughout the night. “Hide and Seek”, the song that Howard performed for Live Aid, followed a tale of backstage jitters at the historic event in 1985, as well as a chance meeting and compliment from David Bowie that left Jones feeling his life was complete even if he never performed again.

A more recent number, “We’re In This Together” from the upcoming Animal Crackers movie soundtrack brought us to the present before Howard took us back in time again with a story about his 1983 appearance on the BBC’s Top of the Pops. This lead into “New Song”, the breakout hit from his debut album Human’s Lib, or more importantly, he stressed, “…this song was in Breaking Bad, his favorite TV show. The crowd seemed to love his amusing, self-effacing humor, laughing along like old friends as he paused mid-song after the line “I don’t wanna be hip & cool” to say he couldn’t really sing that in all honesty, trailing off with “not that it’s my prime ambition, but if it were to be the case…”

Howard Jones
© Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

Next, Howard shared that as this was the last night of the tour he was going to do something a little different. Throughout the tour he has asked the audience to vote which cover song he should perform, selecting from three choices. Tonight, he gave Detroit a medley of all three, sharing poignant stories about George Michael and Brian Wilson, along with a humorous recollection of meeting Linda McCartney — and her husband, he added as an afterthought. The medley of The Beach Boys’God Only Knows”, “Blackbird” by the Beatles and Michael’sCareless Whisper” brought cheers from an audience awash in waves of nostalgia. Sharing a memory of being invited to perform for Princess Diana at Kensington Palace, took us into the next song “Everlasting Love”, with Howard ad-libbing “don’t wait too long, don’t set the bar too high, work with what you’ve got” after the chorus of “this is love worth waiting for…” A nice message that everlasting love may be worth waiting for, but sometimes we put so many expectations on it that we miss out on life in the meantime. On the theme of love, the next song, “Even If I Don’t Say” from 2009’s Ordinary Heroes, was dedicated to his wife, Jan, while Howard pointed out that being married for 40+ years made them a rock n’ roll anomaly. Between songs, Howard asked the audience to howl, mocking a wolf howl as an introduction to his 1985 classic hit “Life In One Day”. The set wrapped up with “What Is Love?”, another huge hit from the 80’s that had helped propel Howard to the top of the charts.

After a very brief step off stage, Howard returned telling us he realized he “forgot a few”, treating us to a two-song encore starting with “No One Is To Blame”. Offering up 1985’s “Things Can Only Get Better” next, he noted the line “and do you feel scared? I do” has a new sense of relevance in our current political climate. Mid-song, Howard also called out the brave students of Parkland, Florida for their efforts to resolve the nation’s gun violence crisis, which elicited a raucous round of applause from the crowd.

Blending the nostalgia of the past with the newer, raw but polished arrangements on just piano clearly showed that Howard Jones is much more than just a synthesized one-man-band as he was often labeled in the 80’s. A strong voice, combined with flawless, fluid finger-work on the keys, gave everyone at Saint Andrew’s a night to remember.

Rachael Sage
     

Aside from running her own record label, MPress Records, Rachael Sage has released 12 full-length albums and has toured the global with the likes of Ani DiFrancoLuciusBeth Hart, Sarah McLaughlinJudy Collins and more. Her music has appeared on MTV, HBO, the Fame soundtrack and the television show Dance Moms. Sage was born in NYC and is a former ballet dancer. Her 13th album Myopia represents a sonic shift for Sage, with more emphasis on her guitar playing over her usual piano palette. Myopia is due out in May 2018.

Howard Jones
     

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   

 Senior Photographer: Kelly Harmer
 Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler

Kat Cunning

Detroit, Michigan (February 25th, 2018) – As an up and coming dancer, actor, singer, and songwriter in the NYC scene, Kat Cunning, is no stranger to the stage. Her Broadway acting and dance experience shows, lifting her live performance at Detroit’s Majestic Theater into something more than just a concert, rather it was like entering an ethereal dream world fueled by Kat’s soaring vocals.

A SUNY Purchase Dance Conservatory graduate, Kat Cunning, (Katrina Cunningham), launched her career performing in Baroque-Burlesque Operas with Company XIV in New York. She followed this with roles on Broadway in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour” to much critical acclaim. Kat’s vocals have been compared to Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Rey, with the New York Times calling out her performances in ‘Rococo Rouge,’ noting: “three standout spots on the program belong to the sultry-voiced Katrina Cunningham, who brings an exquisite, indie-siren quality to a series of covers.” She is currently performing as support for acclaimed singer-songwriter LP, on a 12-stop North American tour.

Kat took the stage in Detroit shortly after 8 pm, opening with “Wreckless” – a deep, sultry number that mesmerized the audience. Awash in blue lights, Kat showed off her impressive vocal range, wowing the crowd as she belted out the chorus. “Adrienne” followed with a dash of theatrics as she seems to weave a rich velvet fabric with just her voice. She then asked the audience “Are you ready for some feeling”, introducing “Birds”, a delightful metaphor of birds in a cage symbolizing the feelings trapped in her head. The elegant yet flirty “Stay on the Line” was next, which she described to the enthusiastic audience as “a little song about phone sex”. The five-song set wrapped up with her latest, “Wild Poppies”, taking us into a dystopian fantasy world evoking The Wizard of Oz with a chorus of “Wild Poppies runnin’ in my ruby shoes. I’ve got emerald eyes, and I am blooming for you.”

© Splice Magazine – Kelly Harmer. Please do not alter images.

In a recent interview with Refinery29, Kat shared her unique writing process: “Instead of thinking about making a really great song every time I write a song, I’m really writing about a world that I want to step into that I think will affect people.” Kat truly brings her audience into her world with every performance, creating a lush soundscape full of images, emotion, and passion. The crowd may not have been familiar with Kat Cunning before tonight, but after the show I overheard several groups of people taking note of her name to add to their playlists. Watch for Kat as she continues touring with LP with stops in Canada and across the East Coast over the next few months. This is one show you don’t want to miss!

Setlist:
Wreckless
Adrienne
Birds
Stay on the Line
Wild Poppies

     

Senior Photographer: Kelly Harmer
 Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler

Don McLean Brings His Legacy to City Winery Atlanta

Atlanta, Georgia (January 27, 2018) – Merging generations, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, Don McLean performed an intimate concert at the sold-out City Winery Atlanta in Georgia tonight.  Timeless folk-rock music, paired with a fine wine makes for an unforgettable evening. The classy venue with its charming mix of rustic industrialism and modern luxury created a wonderful atmosphere for the night’s performance.

Mr. McLean lost no time with any fancy speeches; he came onto the stage with one purpose in mind – to do what he does best. Don and the band launched right into “You Got Me Singing the Blues”. The quality of sound was awe-inspiring, every note crisp.

Don exclaimed “after all these years, I still love to sing, I really do”. He went on to play the title song of his album launching later this year, “Botanical Gardens” a lovely track about beautiful flowers and the beautiful women who look at them.

Don performed “Have You Seen Me”, a song that speaks of the lost, the forgotten, and the abandoned children of the world. It was in a word, evocative, a picture book made of sound.  “Last Night When We Were Young” and “Crying” both brought back the clear sting of heartbreak.

He stopped often to speak to the crowd and it quickly became obvious that he is not just a performer; he is a man who paints with words, spoken or sung it makes no difference. His artistic integrity is unparalleled and he spoke on the matter saying, “I made a rule when I was a young guy that I was only gonna say words I believed, I wasn’t gonna sing anything I didn’t believe. I wasn’t really out for commercial success; I wanted to be an artist”.

As the night started to draw to a close he pulled out the big guns playing a truly melodious rendition of “American Pie” which brought everyone to their feet to dance despite the tight space. Everyone sang along with the chorus of this timelessly relevant song.

As he closed out the evening all hands came together in vigorous applause, which leads into a standing ovation for more. Don returned to the stage and gave fans a three-song encore; ending on a sweet, high note with the upbeat song “Hey Doll Baby”.

Mr. McLean’s contributions to music afforded him great recognition. In 2004 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and very recently he received two awards from BMI for multi-million air plays of his most well-known works; “American Pie” which maintained the #1 rating in the USA charts for four weeks running and “Vincent” a tribute to Vincent van Gogh’s life and art.. These may be his two most well-known and beloved works, but they are two in a long list that has culminated in a staggering total of 32 albums the last of which being Live in Manchester , which released in 2014. But after four years we will finally be getting another album from this great man, Botanical Gardens, which releases on March 23, 2018.

Don Mclean has been a constant in music for a very long time and I can’t help but wonder if the key to the longevity of this man’s stunning musical legacy isn’t his purely artistic mindset. A true artist in every right, he does things in a way very different than the norm. He is not dedicated to a particular song type or music genre, preferring to write songs about things that interest and move him, sound is more important than acclaim. His need for artistic choice even touches his live shows; he spoke about it tonight saying, “I’ve never played the same show twice in 50 years”. He also informed us that there is not a set list and though sometimes he has to have one for certain shows he always purposely sets aside time in the show to cut loose, just him and his guitar to play what he feels.

Don McLean
     

City Winery Atlanta:
   

Photographer: Leelee Hawkins
Journalist: Kathleen Harpe

Candlebox + The Lows

Detroit, Michigan (January 26, 2018) – Seattle alt-rockers Candlebox brought their “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” to Detroit with a rousing show at Saint Andrews Hall tonight. A sold-out crowd of millennials, baby-boomers, and every generation in between, packed the 111-year-old venue to the rafters, anticipating the guitar-heavy sounds of hits from the band’s 1993 self-titled debut album to 2016’s Disappearing in Airports. Candlebox did not disappoint, churning up the crowd and giving us exactly what we came for.

Candlebox first hit the scene in 1993, releasing their eponymous debut album to much critical acclaim and chart success. The record featured the band’s two biggest singles to date, “Far Behind” and “You“. Their remarkable radio, concert, and chart successes garnered them a main-stage performance at Woodstock ’94 and put Candlebox at the top of the 90’s post-grunge scene.  Two more albums followed Lucy, which went gold in 1995 and Happy Pills three years later.

After a break-up in 2000, rumored to be the result of dissatisfaction with their record contract, the original members pursued solo projects before reuniting in 2006, spurred by the release of The Best of Candlebox compilation album. A few more personnel and label changes lead to the current lineup of original member Kevin Martin on vocals, Brian Quinn on lead guitar, Island Styles playing rhythm guitar, Adam Kury on bass, and Robin Diaz behind the drums. For the band’s 25th anniversary, this updated quintet kicked off the “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” in January 2018, performing hits from the album that launched their career as well as offering a career retrospective from their entire six-CD catalogue.

On this chilly winter night, local opening act, The Lows, warmed up the fans with an energetic set, teasing us with what was to come later in the evening with their modern take on the 90’s grunge/hard rock sound. Near the end of their set, lead singer Angelo Coppola introduced a special guest to help pay respect to the late Chris Cornell, welcoming headliner Candlebox’s own Kevin Martin to the stage, much to the fans’ delight. The two singers delivered a powerful rendition of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” that left the audience stunned and wanting more.

© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

We didn’t have to wait long before Candlebox took the stage. Bathed in red & blue lights, frontman Kevin Martin launched into “Sweet Summertime” from their fifth studio album, Love Stories & Other Musings.Stand”, from 2008’s Into the Sun followed, featuring moody Zeppelin-esque sounds from Brian Quinn and Island Styles on guitars. Introducing the next song, Martin recognized Detroit’s WRIF 101.1 for being the first radio station outside of Seattle to play their music on the air. The locals responded with a loud cheer that continued with the opening chords of “Change” from the band’s quadruple-platinum debut album. Fans sang along with Martin’s distinctly raw but soulful vocals throughout the song. The band followed this with a slower tune, the power ballad “Blossom”, dedicated to the ladies in attendance, and newer releases “Crazy” and “Vexatious” with Martin singing “Can you do what’s been done, can you shine in the sun?” after a light-hearted rant about the “big, beautiful world out there” outside of our phones.

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© Splice Magazine – John Swider. Please do not alter images.

The lights dimmed to red for the long, bluesy, intro groove to “Breathe Me In”, with Quinn and Styles trading intricate guitar solos back and forth before Martin returned to the stage. Another surprise awaited us when previous Candlebox guitarist Mike Leslie joined Martin to perform “Spotlights”, a song the two wrote together for Disappearing in Airports. A short story about Martin’s childhood culminated with him dedicating the next song, “Miss You”, to his late father and featured Martin playing acoustic guitar. A crowd favorite, “Cover Me”, was next, ramping up with the driving rhythm section of Adam Kury on bass, and Robin Diaz, on drums. The sexy “Supernova” followed, a song once described by Martin as being “about that moment when you’re so rattled by your partner that you just can’t get enough.”  Another 1993 hit “You” had the crowd singing along while Martin grabbed a cell phone to share the on-stage perspective with the band’s fans that were not in attendance via Facebook Live. Diaz then gave up his seat behind the drums to up-and-coming Detroit musician, Katelyn Corll, for her chance to shine with an amazing performance as she pounded the skins on the band’s biggest hit “Far Behind”. The set wrapped up with 2016’s “The Bridge” and allowed guitarists Quinn & Styles to show off their skills with blistering solos, leaving the crowd completely satisfied.

Candlebox’s “25 years of Rock & Still Rolling Tour” next heads to the Akron area, with a show Saturday, January 27th at Hard Rock Live Northfield Park, in Northfield, OH. The band then heads south to Florida for several dates. More dates can be found at the links below.

Candlebox:
     

The Lows
     

Katelyn Corll:
     

Mike Leslie:

Saint Andrew’s Hall:
   

Senior Photographer: John Swider
Senior Journalist: Kate Sumbler

Dorothy + Starbenders

Atlanta, Georgia (January 26, 2018) – Dorothy, with the support of the Starbenders, rocked out Atlanta’s Terminal West tonight! The re-purposed factory building, with its gritty steampunk feel made for a beautifully intimate setting for this evenings concert.

This crowd was possibly the most diverse group of fans; people of all ages, races, and lifestyles packed the house. The floor filled up and people crammed into the small balcony – the energy was palpable as it amped up in anticipation of the awesome music this night promised.

Dorothy, a rock band born out of Los Angeles, California, is only going into their fourth year performing, but from what was witnessed tonight, you’d be a fool to ignore them. Formed when Dorothy Martin met Mark Jackson and his partner, Ian Scott, the men are instantly taken with her voice and things start rolling. The original lineup featured Dorothy on vocals, one guitarist, one bassist, and one drummer – with a very classic rock feel. Today the lineup is a bit different with Nick Maybury on guitar, Jason Ganberg on drums, Eli Wulfmeier on guitar and backing vocals, Eliot Lorango on bass and backing vocals, and the lead vocals though still belonging to the band’s namesake, Dorothy.

The band gained a lot of attention right out of the gate when Rolling Stone named them Top 10 New Artists You Need to Know. They were also noticed by Huffington Post when they named Dorothy’s first single, “After Midnight”,  #1 song in 12 Songs You Need to Know This Week. HP praised their work, calling it “exactly what rock needs.” Sadly we would have to wait until June 2016 to get our hands on their first album Rockisdead. The 11-song album was dark, gritty, and generally well-received by critics. Rockisdead made it to the #16 slot on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums. Today, on their Freedom Tour, they are preparing to drop their newest album 28 Days in the Valley, set to launch on March 9, 2018!

Also relatively new to the scene are Starbenders, who opened the show for Dorothy tonight. Only performing for the last three years, this glam noir band astounded us as they sent waves of sound pounding into the crowd, stirring the masses into a frenzy of swaying bodies. The dark and even a little creepy lyrics of the beautiful lead singer, Kimi Shelter impressed us all. The angst vibes were cathartic, just what was needed to soothe some frayed nerves and pump everyone up for the rest of the night.

Starbenders
© Splice Magazine. Please do not alter images.

Thankfully the set change and intermission were short; everyone was restless and ready for some more great music!  Dorothy quickly launched into her first song, “White Butterfly”, with incredible passion, you could feel the strength in every powerful note she delivered. As she moved across the stage the large silver stars that adorned her coat were met with the stage lights and entranced us all as we sang along with her.

Her next song, “Who Do You Love”, really got the crowd going with its fast-paced beat. The wind effects mussed her hair and added to the overall appearance of sass that exuded from her. In between songs she thanked the crowd for being there saying “you’ve never heard the songs, but you came anyway; that shows loyalty and commitment, you’re hired!”

Next up was “After Midnight”, which was anything but unknown to the pumped mob. Dorothy once again greeted her fans saying“the thing you can do that will make you the most powerful human being on the planet is to be a good person and to be a source of positivity and love.” Dorothy’s powerful messages lead seamlessly into “Naked Eye”.

The band blew us away with “Raise Hell” and “Pretty When You’re High”. Dorothy then left the stage for a quick wardrobe change, but the band lost no momentum diving into a haunting, ghostly jam session in her absence. This impressive display of their instrumental mastery was met with boisterous applause, just in time for her return and a fan favorite, “Wicked Ones”. She rocked us through “Black Tar & Nicotine” and made us believers with “Ain’t Our Time to Die”.

Dorothy

© Splice Magazine. Please do not alter images.

For the next song, Dorothy opened with, “If you had your heart broken then this is a song for you. Or if somebody told you, you weren’t pretty or smart enough or, you know, you weren’t well endowed, this song is for you too.; because you are all of those things.” She dove into “Flawless” and made us recall what she said earlier, “we’re all spirits on a human journey.”

Perhaps the most interactive song of the night was “Down to the Bottom”. It got the whole crowd singing along with one voice and swaying together, hands held high.

Their last piece was the title song, “Freedom”, from their soon-to-be-released album, 28 Days in the Valley. The power-packed instrumentals of this song had everyone on stage dancing and it infectiously spread out into the crowd. Despite the incredibly powerful and raw show they had already delivered, the fans were still screaming for more. Dorothy obliged and offered two choices, “Dark Nights” or “Whiskey Fever”; with the latter winning by a landslide!

Both Dorothy and Starbenders left it all on the stage tonight in Atlanta! If either of these talented bands are in a city near you – I urge you to take in a show; you won’t leave disappointed!

Dorothy:
     

Starbenders:
     

Terminal West:
   

Photographer: Leelee Hawkins
Journalist: Kathleen Harpe