June 4th – Martha Reeves
Join us on June 4th as we kick off the Sonic Lunch series with Motown legend, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame member and undisputed diva, Martha Reeves! Martha Reeves and the Vandellas recorded throughout the 60’s for Motown’s Gordy label, charting 24 R&B hits including, “Nowhere to Run”, “Jimmy Mack”, “Heat Wave”, and their signature “Dancing in The Street”.
June 11th – Joshua Davis
Joshua’s amazing talent led him on a journey that has 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 a living sharing his songs, stories and knowledge across the US and Canada.
Joshua has an extensive performing background, having appeared at festivals, concert halls, coffeehouses and dives as both a solo act and a member of a group. In addition to his solo act, Joshua has also been the front man for roots ensemble Steppin’ In It, been a member of the classic swing band Shout Sister Shout, been in the songwriter showcase band The Starlight Six and much more.
June 18th – Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas have had an incredible year including a performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and festival appearances at major shows including Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza.
Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas are a wide-ranging, high-energy rock n’ roll band from Detroit. Their mercurial, often gritty sound reflects all of the Motor City’s musical traditions, as well as some outside its geographical and multicultural boundaries. In their thoroughly modern, driving sound are traces of Motown, tough vintage R&B, Latin grooves, raucous surf, neo-psych, roots rock, cinema jazz, and retro ’60s girl group pop.
6/25 – Michelle Chamuel w/s/g Absofacto
From the moment Michelle made her television debut on season 4 of NBC’s The Voice, the bespectacled Massachusetts native and University of Michigan Alumni singer charmed audiences and pop stars alike with her soulful covers. While some may have leapt at the chance to be on The Voice, Chamuel was initially wary of the realities (no pun intended) of submitting to a reality television show – though she soon found herself happily on team Usher and taking home 2nd place.
“I went to the show looking for a teacher and it turned out Usher was looking for a student”, says 28-year-old Chamuel. “I was craving the challenges and rewards of being part of a top musical community, and I found that on The Voice.”
By the time she took The Voice stage in 2013, Chamuel had spent the better part of a decade fronting the seven-piece Michigan rock band, Ella Riot (formerly My Dear Disco). In the band, Chamuel learned the artistry of performing by touring around the country 200 days a year, releasing several albums, and learning to drive a tour bus that ran on waste vegetable oil. Eventually the fuel ran out; Ella Riot parted ways in 2012 and Chamuel returned to Massachusetts in search of home and solitude.
Considering all the emotion contained within it, “Face the Fire” came together at a breakneck pace. For three weeks, Chamuel and her collaborators, Tyler Duncan and Theo Katzman – college pals and My Dear Disco band members – holed up in Chamuel’s home, building the album from musical nuggets each had brought to the sessions. The trio takes influence from several genres across the history of music – spanning from 80’s pop (“Rock It”) and melodic house (“Weight of the World”) to VHS-infused reggae (“Money”). The title track on the album is no exception – showcasing the convergence of Chamuel’s vision and her collaborators ingenuity. “Face the Fire” serves as a sort of pulsing mission statement, a vamping call to action that Chamuel relates to her own experience in harnessing musical passion. This track, which like the rest of the album, was recorded and produced in Chamuel and Duncan’s home studios, features a tapestry of interlocking percussion, surf-punk bass tones, and a rousing call and answer between Chamuel and her choir.
“The imagery I get when singing the song is that I’m in front of a big, camp-like fire. There are people all around, and I’m not sure if they’re ghosts or strangers, but they chime in while I sing. It’s almost a trance-like state – being pulled towards this fire. Everyone is being pulled towards it.”
Absofacto is the solo moniker of Jonathan Visger, who is also the lead vocalist and songwriter for Hollow & Akimbo and Mason Proper, in addition to being the former bass player of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Absofacto’s latest single “Dissolve” was #1 on Hype Machine’s non-remix charts immediately upon release. “Dissolve” can be described as a well-executed burst of eclectic stylistic flair, enjoyably difficult to classify in its welcome mixture of nostalgic pop, electronica and hints of R&B. The impressive stylistic balance is reminiscent of artists like Gorillaz and Beck at their best and most stylistically intuitive — lofty comparisons but well-deserved comparisons in this case.
July 9th – 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, it’s no wonder why they are headlining festivals as 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.”
July 23rd – Laith Al-Saadi
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 to 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 and 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, auto tune 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 Guitar/ Backing Vox), Tom Scott (Sax), Lee Thornburg (Trumpet), Brandon Fields (Bari Sax), Nick Lane (Trombone / Horn Arranger) and more…
The soulful new album is reminiscent of 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.
July 30th – Bennett
Bennett is a 3-piece folk-rock group from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Described as “powerfully original” and “hauntingly beautiful”, their music is as unique as it is authentic and matured well beyond its age, garnering praise from both local and national media outlets. Boasting first place in regional competitions, climbing local music charts and playing alongside acts such as The Avett Brothers, OAR, Easton Corbin and Bela Fleck, these boys have quickly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with on the American music scene. Their lush, string driven sound, seemingly effortless harmonies, and willingness to evolve their style set them apart as somewhere between up-and-coming and (somehow) already there.
August 6th – Luke Winslow-King
Cadillac, Michigan native Luke Winslow-King made New Orleans his home about a dozen years ago, and the Crescent City has definitely left its mark on King’s music. The singer, songwriter and guitarist specializes in the classic sounds of early folk, blues, rock n’ roll and ragtime, played with soulful New Orleans flair.
A seriously gifted musician with a degree in Jazz guitar from Michigan’s prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy, King paid his dues by busking on the streets of New Orleans during his early days in Louisiana. Since then he’s shared stages with Jack White, Taj Mahal, Nickel Creek’s Chris Thile and the Rebirth Brass Band. Deftly mixing original material with songs from a bygone era, Luke Winslow-King brings his dynamic five-piece band to Liberty Plaza once again.
August 13th – BØRNS w/s/g Chris Bathgate
The nom de plume of singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and Michigan native Garrett Borns, Børns, crafts big-hearted, alternately dreamy and danceable, falsetto-driven electro-pop confections that have been dusted with glam rock and folk. Raised in the great lake coastal town of Grand Haven, Michigan, Børns studied music at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and Grand Rapids Community College, while becoming a fixture in the local music scene. After a brief stint in New York City, Børns decided to relocate to Los Angeles, where he set up shop in a self-described “treetop sanctuary” just outside of the city, and began honing what would eventually become his debut EP, the Interscope-issued Candy. His new single “Electric Love” is on the Billboard Heatseekers chart and in rotation on every rock station in America. https://www.facebook.com/bornsmusic
Bathgate’s signature country-tinged gothic folk has been perfectly honed in his latest critically acclaimed album Salt Year.
August 20th – Theo Katzman w/s/g Joey Dosik
A scholar from the prestigious University of Michigan Music School and multi-instrumentalist, Theo played drums, guitar, and the majority of the bass on his debut album Romance Without Finance. During his college experience, Theo was a member of My Dear Disco and still stays very involved in the Ann Arbor music community. In Theo’s brief career since becoming a solo artist he has achieved unprecedented success having performed at the heralded Ann Arbor Folk Festival, selling out venues everywhere in America and opening for Darren Criss for his Listen Up Tour. Theo is also very involved in many other music production projects including Vulfpeck, Jason French and Michelle Chamuel.
8/27 – Vulfpeck
Vulfpeck is an out-of-the-box, unorthodox, funk band that has reached the point of mastery. The band originally formed at the University of Michigan before residing in Los Angeles. Vulfpeck is essentially a rhythm section; the group has backed numerous singers and soundtrack work. Though other musicians occasionally contribute, the core members are Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Woody Goss, and Joe Dart. Every player is a multi-instrumentalist with the exception of Dart, who sticks to bass for every song. Vulfpeck recently made headlines in March 2014 after they released their debut album Sleepify exclusively on Spotify; an album containing 10 songs of silence, each around 30 seconds in length. Vulfpeck’s concept for the album was simple – they asked fans to listen to the album on repeat while they slept, in order to generate enough money in royalties for the band to play an admission-free tour.