I've been co-writing and singing with a brand new soul, hip-hop project called Maraj, with two producers/owners of the Double Phelix Studio in Kalamazoo (Andy Catlin and Ben Lau), two MC's (MotorcityKam and Darius), Joel Pixley-Fink on bass, Julia Toro on vocals and yours truly. I'm happy to be in both an old time dance band (Bowhunter), and a new style dance band (Maraj)!
Since this past winter, we've been plugging away at a Maraj EP at the Double Phelix studios. We just released “EP1” last Friday, and we have an upcoming album in process, thanks to the vision, leadership, and artwork of Andy. Here is our brand new EP, which you can stream and/or download for your own personal style dance party!
Check out this Recoil Magazine article to learn more about Maraj:
Summer Tour Dates (more to come)
June 13 – Maraj – EP Release Show – Louie’s – Kalamazoo, MI
June 14 – Bowhunter – Nor’Easter Festival
June 15 – Bowhunter – Earthwork Family Weekend
June 19 – Opening for May Erlewine
July 24 – Maraj Show - Founders Brewery - Grand Rapids
July 25 – Maraj Show - Detroit (hold)
July 26 – Maraj Show – Bells Brewery - Kalamazoo, MI
August 1-3 - Farmblock Festival - Keweenaw Peninsula
August 10 – Bowhunter CD Release! Square Dance Kalamazoo – Bells Brewery
September 5 – Bowhunter - Wheatland Music Festival
September 7 – Maraj - Block Party Kalamazoo
September 19-21 – The Earthwork Harvest Gathering
I'm grateful to be employed musically these days with a nice place to stay in Kalamazoo. I’ve been renting the third floor of Miss Muse monthly and I couldn’t feel luckier for the lovely space. I’m also feeling grateful that I'm surrounded by a wealth of people I love as I navigate through this first year without PC around. Tomorrow (May 2nd) is Pat's birthday, and Jon Timm instigated some fun things that we've created in store for his birthday weekend:
A New Website, a Digital Release & Birthday Concerts in tribute to Pat Carroll
To celebrate Pat’s birthday, we decided to increase the reach of Pat’s album Glow In The Dark. Glow In The Dark is now digitally available on Pat Carroll’s Bandcamp, and through CD Baby (Itunes, Spotify and etc.) Please share widely and help us spread Pat’s music! You can go here to stream or purchase Pat’s album, or to the Earthwork Store for purchase. We also created a new website for all things Pat! For information about Pat, his music, his memorial endowment and his community, please go here: www.catperil.org
Our request: after checking out the new website, please contact Sam Cooper at email@example.com if you have any Pat related content that we might want to add to the website.
Birthday Weekend Concerts
This weekend, please join us to celebrate Pat’s May 2 birthday, his legacy and his music. All are welcome as we pay tribute to his musicianship, his friendship and his indelible spirit. Pat was a social worker, a sound engineer, an Earthwork artist and a Michigan music scene advocate who passed away in May '13 at the age of 26 from Cystic Fibrosis complications. Even if you didn’t know Pat, or if you’re unfamiliar with his music, we encourage you to come be part of the community glowing in his wake.
Friday, May 2nd, 2014
Pat Carroll Birthday Tribute, 8 pm, all ages welcome, The Grand Traverse Circuit, 225 W. 14th St.
FIRST SET: The Jon Timm Band covers Glow In The Dark
SECOND SET: Songs for Pat by Seth Bernard, Sam Cooper, Fiona Dickinson, Tony Roth & etc...
Sunday, May 4th, 2014
Pat Carroll Birthday Tribute, 4 pm, all ages welcome, The side chapel of the First Congregational Church, 345 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI
FIRST SET: The Jon Timm Band covers Glow In The Dark
SECOND SET: Open Mic Set in tribute to Pat
SATURDAY MAY 3 KALAMAZOO MARAJ DEBUT
I've been writing and singing with a brand new hip-hop, soul band called Maraj, with two producers/owners of the Double Phelix Studio in Kalamazoo (Andy Catlin and Ben Lau), myself and two MC's (MotorcityKam and Darius). It's way too much fun. I'm now officially in both an old time dance band (Bowhunter), and a new style dance band (Maraj). Anyhow, our debut Grand Rapids show went really well, opening for our friends Breathe Owl Breathe. Our debut Kalamazoo show will be this weekend on May 3rd for the second night of the Double Phelix "Spring Fling" gala. Here’s an Earthwork blog post with more information about the Spring Fling.
“Double Phelix Sound is a recording studio and record label located in downtown Kalamazoo, MI. Once a season, we open the studio to fans, friends, and family to enjoy a peek inside the magic.”
After this coming weekend, I'll be prepping for a weekend tour in Chicago with Bowhunter, who has a shiny new Bowhunter website thanks to Laurel Premo. I'll be heading south straight from the windy city for a road trip to Nashville with my songwriter friend Fiona Dickinson to record on Jon Timm's upcoming album. I can't wait to feel the warmth of the south.
This spring I've been out and about with studio work jobs, and working part time for The Quest Program, which is a project between the SEEDS organization in northern Michigan, Earthworks music, Blackbird Arts, The American Folklife Center and the Library of Congress. The Quest Program explores songs that Alan Lomax recorded throughout Michigan in 1938 in order to engage youth in the creative process, and connect to their heritage and their place. The Quest encompasses students from SEEDS after school programs that stretch out across seven towns in northern Michigan.
Fellow Earthwork musician John Hanson produced a great Quest promo video for the project, where you'll find me being silly with the awesome students in Brethren. Check out Porche on my fiddle too! I have a feeling she's gonna keep up with the violin after the program:
Here are some articles about the project:
Alan Lomax Inspired Concert Features Northern Michigan Students
Folk Music Collector Inspires Concert With A Twist
I've been working on this project periodically with Mon-Wed blocks since late February. It’s a lot like touring but with more prep & reflection, more daytime performances, and probably just as much thinking on your feet. It’s been fun to work in tandem with other musician like project spearheader Seth Bernard, Josh Davis, Jake Allen, Joe Wilson, Chris Bathgate, Marc Alderman, Mark Lavengood, Graham Parsons, Andy Catlin, Darlene, Ben Cohen and Akili Jackson. I enjoyed strengthening the bond I made with students from the SEEDS School Of Rock Camp last summer as well.
Often, engaging in the folk process is as close as we got with kids who identify with artists like Miley Cyrus, Skrillex, metal, dubstep and hip-hop. But the process was adventurous, and the results were dynamic and refreshing. Instead of mimicking the source songs, students felt excited about using song elements as a tool to explore their personal, cultural and physical landscapes. It was neat to watch the musical palate’s of both teachers and students grow throughout this program. I know that my own writing was influenced by both the source recordings, and the modern stylings of these young interpreters.
There will be a concert showcasing the songs of the program on May 9 at 7 pm at the Traverse City Opera House. Unfortunately I’ll be in Chicago playing a dance with Bowhunter, but those in the Traverse City area should check it out! It will be epic, and there will be lots of handmade props and narration to keep you enthralled.
Here's a video we took of one of the songs we wrote with students from Brethren called "Hoedown Showdown (Sissy Walkin' In Brethren), which is inspired by the source tune "Johnny Stiles (The wild mustard river") Lomax, Alan (recordist), Stice, Archie (singer), Newberry, Michigan. It's a rather gruesome lumbering song that memorializes the young Johnny Styles, who catches his foot in a log jam and meets his end under the rushing river. So, we changed up the meter of the song and sang about life near the Tippy Dam as the kids have (or would like to) experience it:
The Hearth & Hymn tour was a beautiful thing. We rang in the new year on X Country ski’s with friends, eating rosehip berries in the northern woods. And now, Hearth & Hymn is available in many formats! Via Tunecore (similar to CD Baby), Itunes, Earthwork Music, and through Bandcamp where you can stream the album. Thanks to the Western Herald for writing a lovely review. We're excited to record another Hearth & Hymn collection in later 2014, with a short run of summer shows in the works. We’re also putting the call out to folks to send us song suggestions, and old songbooks that may otherwise be thrifted. If you’ve got some old songbooks that are unwanted, we’ll give them a home and go through them in due time!
After the tour, I recorded a couple tunes for my friend Mark Lavengood’s upcoming album. We had a great time recording at the Double Phelix, and I loved getting to sing three part harmonies with Jen Sygit and Lindsay Rilko. This is a photo (below) from earlier this winter when I song a song with Mark's bandmates Lindsay and Josh for their brand new duo album Time & luck. During a break, Huggy started trying out a tricky bass part to a song we were making up. I snapped this photo just as he was lamenting (laughmenting) about not being able to maintain his dance moves while he figured out the part. I love working with Mark, otherwise regarded as "Huggy Bear."
I found the picture below when doing some winter cleaning with my mom at her house in Brighton this past January. It's a shot of my mom Susie and I jamming together at the Stone House, which was my Oma & Opa's old communal home on the outskirts of Brighton, MI. I'm pretty sure I'm wearing a durndel here. I'm also pretty sure my triplet cousins are doing their devious low laugh in the periphery. Cleaning the garage with motown music blaring was a surprisingly fun way to start the year.
In late January, we had a great few days of home recording sessions at Michael and Laurel’s house in Kalamazoo for our upcoming BOWHUNTER string band record. Laurel engineered the sessions, and we broke it up by playing for the monthly Square Dance Kalamazoo dance that we help produce. This below photo of Laurel captures the excitement and enthusiasm we all felt during those sessions! The next photo gives you a sense of how fun it is to play dances with this band. You can check us out in Ann Arbor this weekend for two dances, and view our upcoming shows here.
I also recorded strings for Seth Bernard's upcoming album in January at La Luna studios in Kalamazoo, in a strings trio with me, May Erlewine and Micah Ling. Here’s a picture from the shoot, along with Flat Stanley, who I was toting around all week. Many thanks to Seth kept us well fed and laughing. It was moving to hear his songs, created in the midst of so much personal loss for Seth. It's an honor to work for someone who's inspired me, and so many others so deeply. I can't wait to hear how all of his songs come together.
Other than studio work, I've been lucky to do some after school programming with SEEDS in Northern Michigan, and with the Gift Of Music (GOM) organization that works as an enrichment provider for Communities In Schools. GOM was spearheaded by my friend Graham Parsons. You can learn more about the organization in this MLive article. The main goals of the program are to expose students to music, and engage them with songwriting, improvisation and instrumental activities. Pictured below is my friend Andy Catlin, rocking out with a few GOM students.
My friend Lillie Wolff was recently named the new Executive Director of the organization called ERAC/Ce, or Eliminating Racism and Claiming/Celebrating Equality. I've heard great things about their trainings. So, I decided to take one this February with encouragement from Lillie, and from a generous organizational scholarship. It's hard to explain what the experience was like, because much of it's value lies in being there with the group, and engaging in a social learning process together. But, I highly recommend it, and I'll be writing more in the future about this experience.
This past weekend, I got to hang with two of my favorite Chris's. Chris Koltay owns High Bias Recordings, a building next door to Slows BBQ that serves as a recording studio and a home. I've recorded with Koltay in the past on some unreleased Chris Bathgate material, and I love working with him. Chris Bathgate is recording music there this winter for his Skullls project, and I was lucky enough to try out one of my songs during some down time. It's not done yet, but it gave me a better sense of what's possible in his studio.
The rest of my late winter, early spring will involve doing more studio work, and SEEDS after-school programming (more details forthcoming.) I'll also be spending more time honing my craft at home. I'm really excited about the richness of home studio time.
Hearth & Hymn Drops Debut Album and Kicks Off CD Release Tour This Weekend
Happy holiday season y’all. Old Man winter is upon us, at least up in Michigan he is. I’ve been busy in the Double Phelix Studio trading between working on Andy Catlin’s "Golden Lasso" album, doing overdubs and mixing for our upcoming Hearth & Hymn album, and recording an original tune that I’m going to release as a single this winter called, “The Days They Wane”. Check out this video clip of Andy laying down some organ for a preview. Watch till the end and see Andy’s reaction to some guys doing repair work on the roof that day.
This Thursday December 5, I’m helping to put on a benefit for Follow The Buffalo, a local organization that gives aid to the Lakota nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Check out the event here.
Andy Catlin is also hosting the first ever Double Phelix Winter Gala on December 6 and 7, held inside the studio in Kalamazoo. I look forward to playing there, along with some other local musicians who make up the Double Phelix Collective. I’ve been really enjoying doing studio work with Andy. Here we are with matching hoodies, and overall color schemes it seems:
On December 7, I’ll also be teaching an afternoon “Songshop” at Miss Muse, which is a monthly event that invites songwriters of all levels to learn a song written by the guest teacher. The songshop runs from 10 am to 2 pm this Saturday in Kalamazoo. I’ll be teaching my tune “The Days They Wane”, giving a talk and facilitating some fun activities. If you’re interested in coming to the songshop, please see this event or contact Paul Janson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FYI: I’d come for the lunch alone! Lots of good cooks around this house where I'm currently living!
Other December ventures include some after-school music programming with SEEDS and Earthwork in Traverse City, and taking part in a collective winter concert at the Circuit in Traverse City on December 13. (And skiing!) After that, I’ll be gearing up for our winter Hearth & Hymn tour! We are still filling in some dates, but please go here to check out our band page and tour details. Here is an excerpt about our project from our band page: “On December 15th, 2013, Earthwork musicians Elisabeth Pixley-Fink and Samantha Cooper release the first in their new album series, Hearth & Hymn. The Kalamazoo-based close-harmony singing duo created Hearth & Hymn as a setting to interpret old songs. This project is also an avenue to showcase original verses & pieces inspired by hymns and the sacred harp tradition.”
Here is a link to me and Elisabeth singing the song "Sonny" duo style. The video was edited from Pat's wake by our friend from the Back To Your Senses video series, Andrea Claire-Maio.
Initial Tour Dates (more to follow!)
Saturday, December 21 First Congregational Church, 345 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI, Showtime: 7 to 9 pm. Dessert potluck to follow! Website: http://www.kazoofcc.org/
Sunday, December 22 House Show at the Birdhouse, 622 Benjamin, Grand Rapids, MI, Potluck at 6 pm, Showtime: 7 pm
December 26 or 27 (unconfirmed but likely!) Webster Church, Dexter, MI, Address listed once confirmed, Showtime: 6 to 8 pm
Sunday, December 29 Sola Gratia Music Series, 19631 Maple St., Lake Ann, MI. Showtime: 7 pm. Website: http://solagratiaproductions.org/
Monday, December 30 Northern Naturals Winery, 324 E. Front St.Traverse City, MI. Showtime: 6 to 8 pm. Website: http://www.northernnaturalwinery.com/11/where-to-find-our-products
More shows TBD, stay tuned!
Next to my October ISLAND Residency, playing and experiencing the Lamplight Festival this year in Grand Rapids was my highlight of the season. Lamplight is a festival of arts & culture in it’s second year, housed in five beautiful homes, complete with outdoor costuming that you can see pictured here! I had a great band that worked hard to pull together a set of my music, including Fiona Dickinson on cello, Joe Lucas on bass, and Adrian O’barr on guitar, along with myself. I also called in Jackie and Ashley from The Soil & The Sun band to help me do an a capella tune of mine called "Unafraid".
Right after Lamplight, I started gearing up for the Earthwork Music Michigan tour, which was really uplifting. It was fun to sit in with other musicians I don’t typically play with, and a real honor to have some Earthworkers back me up. Having a professional bluegrass band at the caliber of Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellies backing your fiddle tune is a real thrill too. (Here’s a video of it: Witchin' In The Kitchin). A top notch choir of Earthwork women live looping your song is quite lovely too. (Video to come, I hope.) I think my favorite thing about Earthwork musicians is their tendency to be silly, theatrical and tell a good story. There was so much laughter and clowning around.
If you’re curious, here’s an article with an overview of our tour. Also, here’s a brief write up my friend Mark did. The picture below was taken by Janine Andrew at Milliken Auditorium in Traverse City.
The picture below is of my string band BOWHUNTER. It was taken by Steven Holmes of Mostly Midwest during the Earthwork Harvest Gathering this fall. This photo was also used in the aforementioned article.
During the Earthwork tour, we tended to sing Pat’s tune “Glow In The Dark” to open each show, walking up from the back of the room. When we began singing at the back of the First Congregational Church (the FCC) in Kalamazoo, I nearly lost my balance because the sound in the church was so incredible. Each voice was rich with reverb, and the instruments really sang. It was a real honor to get to play there, and I can’t wait to experience the new concert series taking shape at the church.
Samuel Seth Bernard and Earthwork Music helped build a beautiful memorial site for Pat at the Earthwork Farm in Lake City, MI this fall. The beautiful copper plate was designed by one of Pat's best friends, Will Thomas.
Earthwork farm was one of Pat's favorite places to be, and so we placed some of Pat's ashes inside the memorial site. Sam & Micah also etched a cat paw into the bottom left corner for our favorite perilous cat.
All are welcome to spend time here during public events at the farm. Please contact Samantha Cooper at email@example.com if you'd like to visit Pat's site outside of public Earthwork events, and I'll help arrange a visit. Pat's site is located behind the Hill stage, near David Fetzer and Phil Wintermute's memorials.
Please also consider giving a donation to the new Patrick J. Carroll Foundation during this upcoming holiday season: http://www.gtrcf.org/give/our-funds.html/235/
Here's a note about Pat's endowment from his mother Beckie Carroll:
"We are excited to share with you the endowment we have established in Patrick’s name. This endowment was made possible through your generous gifts, talents and donations, so we wanted you to be the first to know how your donations to our cause were used! We also are planning another endowment/scholarship to WMU for a student who is accepted into either the Sound Engineering program or the School of Social Work in Patrick’s name. This will be ready to go after the first of the year.
We know Patrick was eager to “give back”, and we think this represents his way of doing that, combining working with children and his love of music. These community endowments/scholarships will help Patrick’s legacy live on forever and help countless children and families. We thank you for your generosity, love and commitment to our family."
Photo by John Krohn. (Thanks for sharing John.)
I'm thankful for my time in northern Michigan this October between the Hill House Artist Residency at the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND), the Martha Wagbo Farm & Education Center, Magic Central & my family cabins. Did lots of writing, practicing, demo'ing and blow-me-over sunset watching.
I ate some primo duck with elderberry sauce that my friend Fischer Jex hunted, and I ate one of the best slaws ever with spruce-tip "poor man's" balsamic that my friend Jennifer Lynn Lewis made.
I also did a fair bit of wallpaper-gigging for harvest parties with Bowhunter, Adrian O'barr and Brenin Wertz-Roth. I got into dance-walking while writing songs en route to the Jordan River too. Highly recommended.
Anyhow, there were too many highlights, and I'm glad about that. Thanks to John Hardy for this lovely photo. Just outside the frame was a broody chicken- determined to hatch a curing onion at Birch Point Farm.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.