The following bands will comprise the official 2016 Sonic Lunch Line-up:
6/2 Wild Belle
6/9 Laith Al-Saadi
6/16 Frontier Ruckus
6/23* JR JR w/s/g Joe Hawley of Tally Hall
6/30 Ben Daniels Band
7/7 The Outer Vibe
7/14 The Suffers
7/28* Brett Dennen w/s/g The Accidentals
8/4 Joshua Davis
8/11 The Ragbirds
8/18 Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
8/25 Serena Ryder
*All concerts with a special guest (w/s/g) will begin at 11:30am
“Bank of Ann Arbor is very excited to announce our ninth consecutive year for Sonic Lunch. We have brought over 100 acts to Liberty Plaza for tens of thousands of cheering, dancing people,” said Tim Marshall, President and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor and Founder of Sonic Lunch. Tim adds, “It’s great to see all the different people come together for a summer lunch-break from babies to seniors, business people and tourists with a large group of BOAA staff volunteers. We love to contribute positive economic and social impact to Ann Arbor and to the artsts that we bring in. Giving back is what we do!”
June 2nd Wild Belle
Wild Belle – multi-instrumentalist Elliott Bergman and his younger sister Natalie Bergman – is an American indie reggae and rock band based in Chicago. Their debut studio album Isles was released 2012. Wild Belle’s latest album, Dreamland was released in April of 2016.
Elliot and Natalie Bergman are two of four children born to musician parents, who brought them up in a house full of music. Elliot, the older sibling, is a multi-instrumentalist studied at the University of Michigan where he started an Afrobeat band called Nomo. His younger sister, Natalie, started performing with Nomo, playing tambourine and singing backing vocals when she was sixteen. Elliott and Natalie decided to branch off with their own project and chose the name, Wild Belle. Wild Belle has gained recognition through touring with Toro y Moi in the past. Wild Belle will continue with their touring kick by appearing at music festivals across the United States, including Lollapalooza, Coachella, Forecastle Festival, and others. http://www.wildbelle.com
June 9th – Laith Al-Saadi
Laith will be returning for his 9th season of Sonic Lunch but this time as a national act after making his triumphant rise on NBC’s The Voice. Laith Al-Saadi was crowned “King of the Blues” by Guitar Center making him one of the top 4 Blues guitarists in the Country. Laith has been a staple of the Michigan music scene for most of his adult life. He has shared the stage with greats like Buddy Guy, BB King, Taj Mahal, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Luther Allison, Son Seals & Johnny Winter. Laith is one of the best and most polished guitar-driven acts you are likely to find on earth. In 2013, Al-Saadi teamed up with producer Jeffrey Weber and an all star cast of L.A. session legends to make his third release “REAL.”. The album was recorded live to 2-track with no edits, overdubs, autotune or compression at the world famous Ocean Way Recording Studios in Hollywood. The album features a dream-band of musicians such as Jim Keltner (Drums), Leland Sklar (Bass), Larry Goldings (Hammond B-3), Jimmy Vivino (Rhythm Gtr/ Backing Vox), Tom Scott (Sax), Lee Thornburg (Tpt), Brandon Fields (Bari Sax), Nick Lane (Trombone / Horn Arranger) and more…
The soulful new album harkens back to the great musical traditions of New Orleans and Chicago with a splash of Blues, Country, Gospel, and Roots Rock and is arguably Al-Saadi’s best work to date.
June 16th Frontier Ruckus
Frontier Ruckus is an American folk-rock band from Michigan. Frontier Ruckus was named “Best Folk Group” in Detroit by Real Detroit Weekly. They’re centered on the lyrically intensive songs of Matthew Milia, and was formed by Milia and banjo player David Winston Jones while living in Metro Detroit. Frontier Ruckus released their fourth full-length album, Sitcom Afterlife. Prior to the complete album release, the tracks “Sad Modernity”, “Bathroom Stall Hypnosis”, and “Darling Anonymity” were released individually, highlighting the band’s shift toward a greater focus on classic power pop arrangements, while still remaining densely lyrical
June 23rd JR JR
With an ear for Brian Wilson-esque harmony, JR JR swirl indie pop, folk, and electronic elements into one breezy package. Originally named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. with typical irreverence, the duo of Joshua Epstein (also of the Silent Years) and Daniel Zott came together in Detroit in 2009. Working out of a basement studio, the pair worked to create a sound that was danceable without sacrificing anything in the songwriting department, merging intricate and airy melodies with solid programmed beats and synth atmospherics.
Their hard work bore fruit in 2010 when they released their debut EP, Horse Power, on Quite Scientific, quickly followed by the EP My Love Is Easy: Remixes Pt. 1. That same year, the pair was also tapped to do a remix of Moby’s “Wait for Me.” The resulting buzz from their early releases led to a record deal with Warner Bros., who released their Record Store Day-exclusive EP titled We Almost Lost Detroit in spring 2011. The duo’s full-length debut, It’s a Corporate World, followed that summer. In 2013, they returned with an EP, Patterns, before releasing their sophomore full-length, The Speed of Things, later that year.
In 2015, even though they had the blessing of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. himself, to avoid ongoing confusion by fans and seekers of the race car driver, Epstein and Zott decided to change the band’s name to simply JR JR. Their first LP under the shortened handle and their third with Warner Bros., the endearing JR JR was released that September
w/ Joe Hawley
Joe Hawley of Tally Hall (red tie) will be making his triumphant return to the city where it all started. Joe has already had great success after Tally Hall with the release of Hawaii Part ii and now is starting to embark on playing live for his fans.
JUNE 30th Ben Daniels Band
When Ben Daniels decided he was going to be a musician, it was more than a career choice. A natural poet, this young songwriter went to school on Bob Dylan, Robert Johnson, and Jack White, among others. His lyrics speak directly to a younger generation that hears, sees, and thinks about the very things he’s writing. From their opening song to the finale of their set, the Ben Daniels Band cuts through with their originality, musicianship, and a sound that spans Americana, Blues, Jazz, and Rock.
Throughout years of touring, BDB has played numerous venues in Michigan, New York City, Washington D.C., and Nashville . As a solo artist, Ben has stepped on the stage in Austin, TX at the Cactus Cafe, as well as The Barns at Wolf Trap. The son of actor Jeff Daniels, he has quietly monitored what it takes to live life as an artist. Beyond a passed down talent, the Ben Daniels Band believes in hard work, perseverance, and creatively challenging themselves and their audience.
With George Merkel on guitar, Tommy Reifel on bass, Wesley Fritzemeier on drums/mandolin, and Amanda Merte on percussion/vocals, BDB’s live show never fails to take over the venue. With five CDs under their belts – Coming From The C, Checkin’ In To The Michigan Inn, Can’t You See, The Mountain Home EP, and their dual album & movie release Old Gold – the Ben Daniels Band is has grown to be a formidable group that sounds pleasantly familiar, yet unforgettably unique.
July 7th The Outer Vibe
The Outer Vibe is a musical vacation where everyone enjoys a slice of paradise delivered by the band’s feel-good nostalgic and energetic concert experience. “Clint Eastwood drinking a pina colada at a Dick Dale concert” is how the band describes the sounds and styles of their 2015 full-length release “Full Circle,” a collection of songs they often describe as cinematic surf disco.
“Full Circle” was created in collaboration with producer Brad Dollar (Grateful Dead, Keb-Mo, The National) and mastering engineer Joe LaPorta (The Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, Vampire Weekend). Upon its release in May 2015, “Full Circle” was supported by a national tour, along with radio airplay in 11,000 retail stores, commercial radio airplay in 5 midwest states, and airplay on 200+ college radio stations.
Dollar says, “When I listen to the latest batch of The Outer Vibe productions, I feel like I’m on a vacation I don’t want to leave. The guitars feel like a Cheshire smile on a sunny beach, the drums beat like perfect waves on the shore. Everything stays glued together with sticky-sweet vocals, trumpets sounding from the west, and bass sounds that walked down from another planet. All at the same moment providing reflection and rejoice.”
“Full Circle” is a follow-up to their 2012 album “Hoka Hey”, which independently achieved much success, achieving top 5 request at radio in Michigan, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas and licensing from ABC News’s “Good Morning, America” and West Michigan’s Baker College in 2013.
July 14th, THE SUFFERS
The Suffers are here to shake up the notion that they’re another soul revival band. Just as much influenced by classic rock & roll, country, Latin and Southern hip hop as they are the Stax/Volt or Muscle Shoals era, The Suffers are bringing a fresh approach to what they have coined Gulf Coast Soul. Late night legend David Letterman proclaimed in early 2015 “If you cant do this, get out of the business”, let it be known that The Suffers are here to stay! With a year that included performances for NPR’s Tiny Desk, Newport Folk Fest, Austin City Limits Music Festival and The Late Show, The Suffers have delivered over 150 stirring performances of their signature 3rd Coast Soul sound to thousands of new and old fans alike. The large ensemble packs each position of the rhythm and horn section with a level of talent and taste that provides the perfect foundation for singer Kam Franklin’s massive voice. The band’s sincerity and emotion are laid bare in their music, which has garnered an audience so broad and varied that they may prove to be the panacea for a jaded and stratified live music scene. Their 2016 self-titled debut album is set to hit shelves on February 12th and will be the continuation of what 2015’s Make Some Room EP started. Expect to see the band’s name continue to climb up the tier on posters of the best festivals around!
July 28 Brett Dennen w/s/g The Accidentals
Youthful West Coast singer/songwriter Brett Dennen, with a fragile, high-pitched voice that makes him sound at times like a cross between Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon and Neil Young, first drew attention in 2004 with the single “Desert Sunrise.” The tune, with its easy groove and soulful phrasing, garnered enough spins on KCRW to warrant the release of his self-titled debut the following year. In 2006, Dennen signed with Dualtone and released So Much More. Hope for the Hopeless followed on the same imprint in 2008. Dennen’s fourth studio effort, Loverboy, which featured subtle African rhythms and more of a pop veneer, arrived in April of 2011, followed in 2013 by the sparser acoustic-based Smoke and Mirrors and 2014
release of Out of My Head. Brett’s latest release Por Favor is getting released on May 20th, 2016. http://brettdennen.net
w/ The Accidentals
Multi-instrumentalists Katie Larson and Savannah Buist are creating quite a name for themselves among music lovers of all genres. Described as, “A duo giving an edge to folk with unique instrumentation,” Z93 FM DJ, Matt Mansfield writes: “Combine musicality, originality and melodic beauty with a welcome and unexpected bite to clever lyrics and you’ve got Accidentals music. Songwriters, look no farther to find a new pairing to be jealous of, especially with such a bright future ahead of them.”
They met in 2011 at their public high school. Katie (15) was a freshman cello player, “playing up” in the Philharmonic Orchestra and Savannah (16) was Concert Master, violinist. They volunteered for a class assignment that threw them together for their first rehearsal and The Accidentals were born.
Growing up in musical families with professional pianists for fathers and vocalist for mothers, their influences bounced between classical, jazz, bluegrass, country, alt-rock, and the obscure. Their collective playlist you won’t find on mainstream radio
In 2015, the band won Traverse Magazine’s “Red Hot Best” of Northern Michigan Music for their third year in a row, The Emerging Artists Series at Summerfest hey were named one of the top seven breakout artists at SXSW 2015 by Billboard Magazine. Their album, Bittersweet, won “Album of the Year” and the band landed, “Best New Artist” 2015 WYCE Jammie awards. Their song, The Silence, won St. Cecilia, Art Prize People’s Choice.
August 4th Joshua Davis
Joshua’s amazing talent led him on a journey that landed him as a finalist on the most recent series of NBC’s The Voice. Michigan’s Joshua Davis was raised in the folk tradition: the music, the social movements, the land. He writes songs that blend the roots of American music with gritty rock n’ roll and vintage soul. For over 15 years Joshua has made his living sharing his songs, stories and knowledge across the US and Canada at festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses and dives – as a solo act, front man for roots ensemble “Steppin’ In It”, classic swing band “Shout Sister Shout”, songwriter showcase band “The Starlight Six” and frequently as a workshop facilitator, presenter or instructor.
August 18th Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers will make a sprightly young groove doctor out of anyone. With spectacular energy pulsating from every member of the band, its no wonder why they are headlining festivals and one of Michigan’s top rising stars. Lead singer and Amish excommunicate Joe Hertler splashes through lyrical puddles of golden rain, leaving his audience wearing flowery headdresses and bubbling smiles. A ride on the Rainbow will take you across the mountains of Motown, through the fjords of folk, over the archipelagos of Americana, and—at last—into a funky firth, where only the fiercest of friendships can be found. Their new album “Terra Incognita “ goes beyond their comfort limits into new styles, new instruments, and new vocals. Everything works out in favor of Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers. It might be early to say, but Terra Incognita could be just what they need to push them over the threshold. Fans that love Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers for their folk melodies will not be disappointed. Though they’ve gone in new directions, the new album still features songs similar to those on On Being. With slow, precise fingerpicking Joe gently sings poetry similar to their old stuff in “Betelgeuse” and “Red Wings.”
August 25th Serena Ryder
Ryder is an artist adored by fans, peers and critics alike which is due mainly in part to her immense raw and earnest songwriting talent and beautifully electric live performances. Over the years, she has received numerous accolades including three prestigious Juno Awards that include: 2008 New Artist of The Year, 2009 Adult Alternative Album of The Year (Is It O.K.) and 2010 Video of The Year (Little Bit of Red). Ryder has also seen fantastic album success over the years, with If Your Memory Serves You Well (2007) and Is it O.K. (2009) both achieving Gold selling status. In 2012, her single “Weak In The Knees” also achieved Gold Certification.