Knoxville to portray film’s “Bad Grandpa”

It’s that time again. “Jackass” and MTV Pictures are teaming up for a fourth film, “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” Set to be released Oct. 25, it follows 86-year-old Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville, in plenty of makeup, obviously) on a cross-country road trip with his 8-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). It’ll be filled with all of the crass hidden camera debauchery that we’ve come to know and love, with a bit more direction than the previous “Jackass” films. In between pranks and stunts, there is a plot about Zisman and Billy.

“I think you’ll be surprised at how much you’re going to be invested in the relationship between me and my grandson,” said Johnny Knoxville. “There’s a loose narrative in the movie, taking my grandson across the country, deliver him to his father and across the way, we prank people.”

“Bad Grandpa” has been in the works for a quite some time. The idea was actually brought up years ago, but Knoxville didn’t see much potential in it at the time. But once it got going, it took over a year for Jeff Tremaine, Spike Jonze and Knoxville to write it, and the filming process took ten months. Setup took a long time, because the movie doesn’t just have a few sets. Cameras were hidden in vans, baby strollers and purses, and when the pranks took place inside a business, they would install two-way mirrors the night before. Before shooting, Knoxville had to spend three hours in makeup for his face, and five hours for skits that involved him being shirtless.

“I started looking forward to it because I could spend those three hours in the chair thinking about what we are doing that day and writing and thinking about the scenario we’re going to try, and just try to troubleshoot every possible thing that could happen,” said Knoxville. “So if something happens, I’m one step ahead. So that was actually very beneficial.”

At one point in the film, Zisman decides that he doesn’t feel like taking Billy across the country and decides to ship him instead. Not on a plane or anything, in a cardboard box.

“Before the prank, I’m like ‘OK. This one is way, way in left field.’ Nobody is going to fall for this or buy it,” said Knoxville. “But we found two ladies in North Carolina. I was pranking them for 30 minutes and I had to stop because I didn’t know what else to do. It was a really unbelievable reaction.”

Since Zisman is a staple character for anyone who has seen any of the “Jackass” films, Knoxville and the rest of the crew make a point to try not to waste their time pranking someone who knows that Zisman is just Knoxville in makeup. They even ask the owners of businesses in which they’re pranking employees not to have people who are known “Jackass” fans work that day, to make sure the prank isn’t given away.

Knoxville cannot get enough of Nicholl, the kid who plays Billy. “He is eight years old and completely fearless,” he said. “And sometimes, if we were pranking someone and we didn’t get the desired result, he would yell an insult at them as they walk away … He’s unbelievable, I can’t wait for you guys to see Jackson.”

A father of three and a family man himself, Knoxville doesn’t exactly see himself as Zisman in the future.

“I hope that I’ll be a much better grandfather than Irving Zisman, but hopefully I’m years away from being a grandfather. But I won’t be downing beers with my grandchildren,” he said. “But my body is so banged up that I almost walk like Irving anyway.”

The “Jackass” franchise has always been in good fun. Well, except for the time a man named Jack Ass, who blamed them for ruining his credibility and good name, sued them. “That actually happened,” said Knoxville. “You can look it up.”

They’re not trying to shock people or push boundaries, they’re just trying to make everyone laugh.

So, is “Jackass” nearing the end? After the show ended in 2002, they said they were done with the whole stunt thing. Then, two movies later, they said they were done. “So, now we’re not going to say ‘No, we’re not doing anything else,’ because then we just look like assholes a third time,” said Knoxville. “What brings us back, I love it. We love it. We enjoy what we do and that’s what keeps bringing it back.”

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Grand Rapids band creates unique sound

7249_tov_presso“Everything from Bach to rock,” is cited as an influence on Grand Rapids band The Outer Vibe’s Facebook page. Consisting of Eastern Michigan Universitry alum Nick Hosford on lead guitar, Sean Zee on vocals, Lisa Kacos on the trumpet and keys, Andrew “Wonder” Dornoff on bass and Jeff Brems on drums, The Outer Vibe is pairing pop and rock like it’s never been done before.

“Writing, recording and producing all of our albums and maintaining a DIY operation in nearly everything we do is one of our biggest accomplishments,” Hosford said. They’ve even built their own recording studio located just north of Grand Rapids.

Their influences include classic musicians like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and pop legends like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga. They also admire the work of rock powerhouses like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and the soul of James Brown and Ray Charles.

To date, The Outer Vibe has four releases: 2003’s “Pretty Good,” 2006’s “Games We Play,” 2009’s “Monster EP,” on both CD and vinyl, and 2012’s “Hoka Hey.” The title track of the album is currently being played on multiple Top-40 radio stations throughout the Midwest.

The Outer Vibe has played for crowds as large as 35,000, sharing the stage with acts such as REO Speedwagon, We The Kings and Detroit legends Electric Six.

Hosford and Zee made music together as friends in high school, later adding Kacos and Dornoff to the mix and finding Brems on Craigslist.

EMU guitar professor Nelson Amos had a hand in shaping Hosford’s guitar skills. He taught him for four years while Hosford completed the undergrad and master’s program in guitar performance.

“In addition to his ‘wild’ stage persona, Nick has a serious academic side,” Amos said. “He was the winner of our Music Department graduate competition several years ago.”

The Outer Vibe has made appearances in Ypsilanti a few times, playing a hemophilia benefit and an EMU campus radio event at The Tap Room.

“We’d love to come back soon,” Hosford said. “EMU and Ypsilanti are great places full of great people.”

The band has a “bucket list,” starting with international travel and touring.

“We love to travel and to meet new people,” Hosford said. “It’s so cool to see new cities with their culture, architecture and unique flow of life. The more of that we get to do, the better. We’d also like to visit more college campuses and keep growing our radio airplay markets.”

The journey of The Outer Vibe has been anything but boring. When asked about some of their best stories as a band, Hosford said, “Well, there’s the alpaca sneezing in Wonder’s face, cooking breakfast on our tour bus griddle at a biker rally, riding motorcycles through a downpour mixed with hail, visiting the Chief Crazy Horse monument, TP-ing the bathroom of a venue in the middle of a set and getting the same in return to our tour bus, ferry rides in a hurricane on Lake Erie, consuming giant bags of popcorn weekly, ninja stars, stair sledding, Dance Dance Revolution, lighting the street on fire while filming our ‘Hoka Hey’ music video – and those are the PG-rated ones.”

The Outer Vibe’s music is making its way around cyberspace. With their material on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon, as well as their official website, they’re getting their name out there. You can also check them out at and on Twitter: @TheOuterVibe.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

Ypsilanti musician Watabou works on new projects, shows

6957_wantabouoTravis Jarosz is a pretty common name in the Ypsilanti music scene. He’s been involved in a few musical projects, ranging from metal bands to some short-lived jazz projects. He’s currently working with indie band Walk Your Bike, electro-punk Crochetcatpause and his electronic side project, Watabou. Watabou started in April 2009 as a general outlet for Jarosz’s musical ideas. He was involved in a couple of bands, but many of his bandmates were focused on the sound their band was creating or weren’t able to fully dedicate themselves to being in a band.

“That’s not to say that they weren’t good friends or talented musicians though,” Jarosz said. “So I stayed a part of those bands while trying to create electronic music as an outlet for my creative ideas that I felt weren’t being properly expressed.”

Jarosz was avidly studying music, learning new instruments and discovering new musicians, which helped him gain his fairly new appreciation for electronic music. Since he was new to electronic music, he wasn’t sure how to go about creating his own. He sought out the help of Steve Metz, a teacher at the Ann Arbor Music Center who knew plenty about electronic music composition and Matt Morden of the electronic project, Bubblegum Octopus.

“From there I was able to create, learn and network alongside many newfound friends who had similar ambitions to me,” he said. “I’ll never be able to thank them enough.”

It’s hard to put Watabou into a concrete genre. Jarosz’s focus is always different, but he’s always had four themes consistent in everything he’s done: love, nature, energy and discovery.

“It’s sort of hard for me to define Watabou without going into detail about its past because it’s never remained stagnant for too long,” he said. “At one point it was essentially a metal project using digital synths instead of guitars, it’s been a pop project, an IDM project, an industrial project, but aside from style it’s varied in intentions and ambitions greatly.”

Though Jarosz has played plenty of Ypsilanti venues with other bands he’s been involved in, Watabou has frequented house parties and shows. He’s played in Ypsi attics, basements and even kitchens. That’s just fine with him, though.

“I actually somewhat prefer house shows while performing as a solo act, it really allows me to interact with other people during the performance and doesn’t feel like I’m isolated from anyone else,” he said. “There’s usually no defined stage or anything, which really helps break down the barriers that sometimes get subconsciously created between the performer and the audience.”

Jarosz has just recently returned from a series of out-of-state performances at the beginning of March with Watabou. He prefers to travel in the winter and has been taking this time to incorporate more into his live show, so that by the spring he’ll have a whole new stage performance to unveil for Ypsilanti. He also wants to record more of his live sets.

Three EP splits with other artists have been released, but Watabou hasn’t released any full length records yet. That’s on Jarosz’s to-do list, though.

“I have album after album of songs and song concepts that I haven’t managed to finish out of a goofy sense of perfectionism about my sound,” he said.

“Along the way, I’ve met people who have radically helped shift the intentions of Watabou from being a self-serving delivery of creative energy to a community and socially oriented multi-media project centered around musical composition and performance,” Jarosz said. “It took a long time and is still happening more and more every day, but over the past few years Watabou’s managed to drastically alter my perception of music as well as my perception of my own ability to grow and learn. There’s still so much more to learn through the project and I’m really excited to see what the future holds, but I know whatever it is that it will help me develop my ambitions and better express my compassion.”

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Weekend jamming creates Congress

It was approximately 10:45 on a gray Saturday morning in January 2011 when Jim Cherewick, Eric Gallippo, Ed Golembiewski and Aaron Quillen met at Ypsilanti’s Hen House and wrote six songs. This was
the day that Congress was officially born.

“I was not entirely stoked on the idea of what I thought was going to be a random day of jamming and nothing else,” said Quillen.

“However, something magical happened, and we churned out six full, completely arranged songs in three hours or less. By the end of that jam session, all four of us were extremely excited about the music we created and agreed on our status as a real band.”

Congress is a local band based out of Ypsilanti. It features Cherewick on vocals, Gallippo on guitar and backup vocals, Golembiewski on bass, and Quillen on drums.

“We played our first show in June 2011,” said Gallippo. “We all knew each other and had all played with at least one of the other guys in some other project before, which I think made it come together really easily.”

R.E.M. and The Jesus Lizard are huge influences on the band, and they consider them when they think of a music genre to describe Congress.

“We liked to call it domesticated punk rock at first, but I think we could probably now safely call it punk domesticated,” said Golembiewski.

Cherewick described the band as, “Rock ‘n’ roll and punk. ‘Punk ‘n’ roll.’”

In the area, Congress has taken the stage at Woodruff’s, Café Ollie and the Blind Pig. They’ve also performed at Ypsilanti’s Ypsifest, Mittenfest and in Hamtramck, Mich. for the Metrotimes Blowout.

“Last year we made it out to Grand Rapids [Mich.] to play a festival and we were fortunate enough to share a stage with Trans Am, Jaill and Future Islands,” said Golembiewski. “Blown away by this fact, as it was our third show, we were amused when everybody vanished to see George Clinton when our set time started.”

They’re planning to play in Chicago sometime within the next year.
Last fall, Congress wrapped up the recording of their EP “Maker” at Dreamland Theater with Brad Perkins of Wormfarm Recordings, it was released this past September. They’re currently in the process of recording a split with another local band, Green Lights at SPUR Studios.

“My hope is that we record a full-length record before the end of 2013 as well, though interest has been expressed internally about just being a singles and EPs band. We’ll see,” said Quillen.

Before their EP was recorded, though, Congress did release 25 copies of a cassette tape that they recorded. It was very exclusive, for people driving cars that still have cassette players in them. They didn’t even get to give their moms copies.

It hasn’t all been music, fun and festivals for Congress, though. Beer has been a big part of their development.

“I’m glad that we chose the name Congress and not Beer Dads. I love beer, but I ain’t your dad,” said Cherewick.

“It bears note that we really truly miss Kid Rock’s Bad Ass beer. We almost had to break up the band when that stopped being available,” said Golembiewski. “Serious. But I think we all feel really fortunate to be playing exactly what we want to in a band of good friends. This band is a true partnership of four people with unique contributions and perspective. Hopefully we keep it up cuz being in your 30s is boring without loud stuff going on in your basement.”

You can check Congress out on Facebook at, and listen to their EP at

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The Vagrant Symphony celebrates 9th anniversary with show at Blind Pig

It’s been nine years since the idea for local outfit The Vagrant Symphony was formed on Eastern Michigan University’s campus in 2003. Chris “Chewy” Anderson, the founder, Joe O’Dell, the 12th member, Alexis King, the 13th member and Bennie Phinisee, the 14th member, are the backbone of the giant psychedelic folk band that’ll be celebrating its ninth anniversary in December.

“We wanted to call it a traveling symphony or mobile symphony, then we came across ‘vagrant,’ which was like a random thesaurus find,” Anderson said. “Vagrant’s not necessarily a term of endearment; it’s like a homeless man.”

Anderson founded The Vagrant Symphony, and over the years members have come and gone. Some have even been dubbed “honorary members” by the band. The list of past, present and honorary members of The Vagrant Symphony just recently hit 20, most of whom have been involved with other local bands, but Anderson insists that he’s extremely picky when it comes to the members that he chooses.

Everyone who performs during a Vagrant Symphony set doesn’t play a set instrument. O’Dell usually plays guitar, though, and King frequents the drums, but she’s been playing bass a lot lately.
Anderson started as a solo artist before he put the Vagrant Symphony together.

“I was like a shaky leaf on stage,” Anderson said. “I couldn’t get through a song effectively and having a band helps, hugely. You’ve got to have backing. It’s hard to be a Bob Dylan.”

Other than Bob Dylan, The Vagrant Symphony takes inspiration from Motown music, Pink Floyd and The Doors. They try to go for a low-fi, old school sound at their shows. While they hope to release a 7-inch vinyl recording soon, The Vagrant Symphony is focusing on their live show.

Having gone on a few tours, including a brewery tour that extended to Illinois and Wisconsin, they’re back in Ypsilanti, playing shows all over the area.

“Woodruff’s is one of our favorites,” King said.

“But in terms of old-school Ypsilanti,” Anderson said, “My roots definitely lie with the Elbow Room.”

“There was this one time we played Crossroads, and he [Anderson] wanted to open up the show out front, so we had an acoustic set outside opening the show. It’s all about the shows at our shows,” King said. “Chewy is an amazing visionary. He envisions these awesome shows and gets so many people booked. People are dancing, everybody’s hugging each other and things really come together. It’s a beautiful thing.”

On Dec. 28, The Vagrant Symphony will be celebrating their ninth anniversary with a show at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. Nine bands will be accompanying them, and they plan on breaking the Blind Pig’s record of most people performing on stage at once, which is currently 17.

“Our music isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is the people we’re spending our time with at the shows,” O’Dell said. “Our music is important to us, but it’s more important to get together with the bands so they can get coverage and be seen too.”
They’ll even cut their sets short to allow more time for the other bands, or to fit more acts in at a show.

“We’re all about having fun, letting loose and being yourself,” King said. “It’s about the music, it’s about the local people, it’s about the community. Just bringing people together.”

Up next for The Vagrant Symphony is another tour. This time they’ll be with Bowling Green, another local Ypsilanti band, and they plan to hit every Bowling Green in the country, including Ohio, Kentucky, Virgina and anywhere else where there’s a Bowling Green.
You can check out The Vagrant Symphony’s music and news at and

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Music is rockin’ at the Blind Pig

There is one thing that many of the local bands covered in The Eastern Echo have in common: They have performed at Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig. Celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2012, the venue is a crucial part of the city’s culture and the music scene in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area.

Ann Arbor natives hang out at the Pig on the weekends, and so do people from surrounding areas who like live music and cheap drinks. The clientele of the Blind Pig tend to be loyal.

It’s a small, dirty joint. Your feet are liable to stick to the floor and the smell of smoke lingers from when it was legal to smoke indoors at bars. It is a cash only business, so don’t bother trying to start a tab. This is the kind of place that music was meant to be played in; it’s intimate and charming to say the least.

“It’s divey, but chill. If you don’t want to hang with bros, come here,” Sean Flores, a senior at the University of Michigan, said jokingly.

In 1971, the Blind Pig was opened by Tom Isaia and Jerry DelGiudice with the intention of housing a European-styled cafe, complete with espresso, wine and biscotti. There was blues entertainment, but it wasn’t the Blind Pig’s main selling point like the musical entertainment is now. In 1975, DelGuidice started Blind Pig Records to showcase the regular acts and it is still in operation to this day.

In 1981, Isaia and DelGuidice packed up, and sold the Blind Pig to it’s current owners: Roy and Betty Goffett. The Goffetts bought the building next door, expanding the venue and adding the charming little Eightball Saloon downstairs, which has also become a popular hangout for college students.

In the ’80s, the Blind Pig became a notable stop for touring acts such as Joan Baez and George Thorogood and later, like almost everything else in the ‘90s, it started housing alternative and grunge bands.

The Rollins Band, R.E.M., Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam made stops at the Blind Pig before making it big. One very notable, some might even say legendary, staple of the nineties even cited the Blind Pig as their favorite venue of all time to play at during an interview with MTV. That band was Nirvana.

“Blind Pig Beginnings,” a little-known recording of Nirvana’s show at the Blind Pig, is almost impossible to find a hard copy of, but can be streamed online. Recorded in 1990 and released in 1992, it features hits like “Breed” and “About a Girl,” and lesser known tracks like “Love Buzz” and “Scoff.” There are even videos of their Blind Pig performance on YouTube.

Most small venues have a certain niche of performers that tend to play there: The Ark usually houses indie acts and the Magic Stick tends to gravitate toward rock ‘n’ roll acts, but the Blind Pig doesn’t discriminate.

“It’s what you think of when you think of Ann Arbor,” said John Riley, a U of M graduate. “It’s the best venue in the city and the people that run the sound are great.”

In addition to the number of local acts that perform at the Blind Pig, touring acts are still booked there, making for a show almost every night of the week. Punk act The Adicts performed there Sept. 16 and rapper Brother Ali will be playing Oct. 2. They even hold dubstep shows.

Steve Gertz of The Michigan Daily said it best, “Although Ann Arbor may not be the largest spot on the map, the Blind Pig is to the city what CBGB’s is to New York or what the Whiskey A Go Go is to Los Angeles. It is a living legend, a place that has seen history unfold in its very confines.”

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Ypsilanti houses diverse, friendly music community

Ypsilanti has never fallen short when it comes to diversity.

The same can be said when it comes to the music scene. Iggy Pop was raised here, Sufjan Stevens wrote a song called “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti,” and even Elvis Costello has mentioned Ypsi in his song “Sulphur to Sugarcane.” Ypsilanti has a rich musical history and it’s growing more and more as the years go by.

“Ypsi is between Detroit and Ann Arbor and those crowds sort of meet in the middle here,” Phil Boos, EMU student and guitarist of local progressive grunge group Algernon, said. “In Ypsi, you can find a lot of indie folk and soft rock stuff from the Ann Arbor area, but also some hard rock, like us, some hip-hop stuff, art rock/musical poets, funk, and even some electronica stuff.”

Ypsilanti’s many music venues have housed acts, ranging from punk and hardcore bands like Lovesick to rap musicians like the guys on Smoking Good Entertainment and indie bands like Little Island Lake.

“When I first think of the Ypsilanti music scene the first thing that comes to mind is a diverse community. Everyone is incredibly friendly and supportive out here,” Boos said. “This may have to do with the fact that most of the audience and concert goers are musicians and vice-versa, but this makes the scene a little tighter knit.”

Algernon consists of Boos on guitar, Lee Renaud on vocals, Roy Jackson on bass, and Ryan Jurado on drums. Jurado took over as Algernon’s drummer in October 2011, following the fatal car crash in April 2011 that took the life of former drummer Ted Weindorf.

“Music for us is very communal, transcending and fun for us and we—well, at least for me; I can’t speak entirely for the whole band now, can I?—can always rely on the jam to help unify us and to celebrate life,” Boos said. “For me, there’s no greater experience than jamming with this three great guys. It’s as if it’s a spiritual experience and a party at once.”

A big part of Ypsilanti’s music scene is the Poke Tri Rx House. It’s a mock fraternity located on College Place that gives local artists and musicians a place to mingle and hang out, housing concerts and other events. Many local acts perform there on a regular basis, along with national touring acts.

Some of the Poke Tri Rx’s regulars include Ypsilanti’s Clara Balmer, a ukulele player and an EMU student, and Walk Your Bike, which includes Seth Weddle, EMU student and Poke Tri Rx organizer. He also runs Sweddle Records and Community in the Poke Tri Rx House. He manages, records and books the bands on the label.

“In addition to playing, his main goal in the music scene is to create this sense of community,” Boos said of Weddle. “I feel he’s doing a good job of it.”

“It seems that anyone and everyone who plays an instrument in this town knows each other, either from a show, a street performance, a party or some other means such as the six degrees of separation,” Boos said.

In addition to performing and recording with Walk Your Bike and organizing the events at the Poke Tri Rx House, Weddle also hosts open mic nights at EMU.

The Ypsilanti music scene might not get the kind of publicity that the Ann Arbor or Detroit scenes do, but we have our own special thing going on here. With a great music program at EMU, the people involved learn from the best. It’s light and genuine and it’s fun for the performers and the fans.

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Summer BLED Fest becomes local staple

It’s just not summertime without music festivals. Some students around Eastern Michigan University may have traveled to Indio, Cali. for the famous Coachella, they might be going to Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn. during June or Lollapalooza in Chicago during April. We can’t leave out Warped Tour, the legendary punk rock touring festival, and of course there’s Howell, Michigan’s annual BLED Fest.

BLED Fest is an acronym for Big Love’s Education Festival, a reference to its roots. It has come a long way in the past eight years, from its start as Hartland resident, and then-high school junior Ben Staub’s end of the school year celebration taking place in his basement and backyard, to the grand event it is now. BLED Fest 2012 is being held at Hartland Performing Arts Center on May 26, its fifth year at that location.

BLED Fest has become a local staple in the early summer. It has steadily grown every year, last year topping out at almost 3,000 attendees, and has even been mentioned in Alternative Press magazine.

There are 70 bands on this year’s roster and six stages. Bands of all different genres are showcased, ranging from ska to metal. In addition to the big names playing this year’s BLED Fest, like The Early November, The Wonder Years, Comeback Kid and The Swellers, many local bands who have been influenced by them will be taking the stage. Ypsilanti-based hardcore band SycAmour will also be performing.

“This will actually be our first time playing BLED Fest,” said SycAmour vocalist Jeremy Gilmore. “Earlier this year we were also fortunate enough to play Toledo’s Jamboree Festival. That was our first major festival. We’re all really glad to be given opportunities like these.”

The camaraderie between the bands at BLED Fest is great. They’re not in competition; they’re all sharing the spotlight with each other. Some band members will even make appearances onstage with other bands. Not to mention, being fans of the multiple genres that play at BLED Fest, they can wander the festival themselves.

“There are a lot of bands on the bill this year that are relatively new to us, so we’re excited for the entire day, really,” said Gilmore. “But we’re familiar with and pretty stoked for Endeavors, Wilson, The Crimson Armada, The Plot in You, Of Virtue, American Opera, Ice Nine Kills, Strangers to Wolves, Volumes, Siren the Escape and Inhale Exhale.”

Once SycAmour is finished focusing on BLED Fest, they’ll be setting out on a small tour and working on their new EP, “Obscure.”

“No festivals or anything like that line-up for now. I’m sure we’ll fill out our weekends though,” said Gilmore. “We’ve also recently released a cover of Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ that’s getting some pretty positive feedback.”

BLED Fest is an all-age, alcohol-free show. At the high request of the attendees last year, this year’s show’s vendors will also be serving vegan and vegetarian friendly foods. Each year Fusion Shows produces BLED Fest and this year it’s being sponsored by Michigan Rehabilitation Specialists, LXR Biotech, Black Numbers Recordings, No Sleep Records and Capeside Records.

A festival just wouldn’t be the same without merchandise and swag. While most of the bands will obviously have merchandise for sale, there are also plenty of vendors, many of which are Detroit or Michigan based, who will be attending. No Sleep Records, Run For Cover Records, Topshelf Records, Capeside Records, Specs Howard School, Black Numbers, Eternal Energy Shot, Kalamazoo Coffee Company, Rockstar Energy Drink U.S. and Fall Press Screen Printing will all be there, just to name a few.

Tickets for BLED Fest are $20 in advance and $25 at the door the day of the festival. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and you can view the full lineup, schedule and map at

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Little Island Lake: Local band with unique, folksy sound

Regulars at Ypsilanti’s Woodruff’s and Ann Arbor’s Blind Pig know of local indie band Little Island Lake, who are celebrating the end of the school year along with the rest of us.

401003_10150604317319935_168685766_nListing all sorts of influences from Pink Floyd and Motown to Chromeo and My Morning Jacket, Little Island Lake consists of Bobby Voorhies on the banjo, acoustic guitar and vocals; JT Garfield on electric guitar and vocals; Mary Fraser on mandolin, organ, acoustic guitar and vocals; Zach Harris on bass and Eric Hurd on drums. The combination of the not-so-common instruments gives them a folksy, unique sound that not many bands around here have.

The band started in 2009, when Voorhies wrote a few songs, which ended up being a part of their debut album, “Jawbones,” and posted an advertisement on Craigslist saying he was looking to start a band. “Hey, that stuff can actually work,” Fraser said.

She responded to the ad and set up a meeting with Voorhies at Ypsilanti’s Ugly Mug to discuss the direction and concepts of Little Island Lake. A mutual friend introduced them to JT Garfield and the band began as a trio.

Harris became a part of Little Island Lake before their album debut, and while
they were recording “Jawbones,” Fraser played percussion. They planned on touring and playing live shows, though, in order to do that they would need a drummer. That was when Harris’ roommate, Hurd, entered the picture as Little Island Lake’s drummer.

“We just do what we love and let things unfold how they will,” said Garfield. “And as a band, I would say we love to ride bikes more than any other band in Ypsi,” he added.

“Jawbones” was released in July 2011, and since then, Little Island Lake has also recorded a live session album with Detroit’s up-and-coming Groovebox Recordings this past February. “GBS is doing some great things with independent artists,” Fraser said. “They help them raise money through a kickstarter to record a live album, all shot in one take. They also include a video.”

In addition to the regular Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor hotspots, Little Island Lake has also performed at the Corner Brewery and the Dreamland Theater, and festivals like The Totally Awesome Fest, The Michigan Roots Jamboree and Frog Holler Farm’s Holler Fest.

“We’ve also played more acoustic-type shows at Beezy’s Cafe, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room in Ann Arbor,” Fraser said.

Little Island Lake is venturing outside their comfort zone as well, playing shows in Kalamazoo, Lansing and even Traverse City.

“We don’t have any grand vision of world domination or anything of the sort. We don’t approach our music as a profit-making venture. Good music is the first priority,” said Voorhies.

Right now, Little Island Lake is in the process of recording a new album, which will feature vocals split evenly between Voorhies, Garfield and Fraser. They’ve been collaborating on songwriting as well. They’re very excited for the release, but don’t have a set date yet. It’ll be quite a bit different than “Jawbones,” because they’ll be using a full drumset. “It’ll have a more rock, live feel than the chill ‘Jawbones,’ ” said Fraser.

While their main focus is on their album right now, Little Island Lake will be playing at Woodruff’s and other places throughout the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas in the coming months. Keep an eye out for them and check out their albums, “Jawbones” and “Live at GBS” at

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.

Joys of pop punk made music buffs

For someone who has attempted to play multiple instruments and failed, and couldn’t carry a tune if my life depended on it, music plays a huge part in my life and has for a long time. My first cassette tape was Hanson’s “Middle of Nowhere.” I was torn between Backstreet Boys and N*Sync, and my first concert was Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” tour. Those days got me into music, but it wasn’t until my discovery of pop punk I became the music buff I am today.

In middle school, I spent all of my allowance on CDs that were on sale at Target. I would shout along to Good Charlotte’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” and my parents took away my Simple Plan CD when they heard “Addicted” coming from my room. It was in eighth grade I started expressing my opinions of George Bush… because Green Day’s “American Idiot” told me to.

My freshman year of high school is when “From Under the Cork Tree” by Fall Out Boy was released and I learned about the greatness of the Fueled By Ramen record label.

Instead of spending my money on Good Charlotte and Simple Plan CDs, I was spending my money on concerts my parents had to drive me to. I was a regular at St. Andrew’s Hall and the Magic Stick, and I fan-girled while trying to meet Cobra Starship (back when they still were pop punk) and The Academy Is… too many times to count.

Sure, pop punk bands didn’t have the deepest lyrics and their power chords weren’t particularly difficult to play, but there was just something so appealing about the genre, especially for high school kids. Most of the “real” punk bands either stopped existing in the ’80s or were singing about political things 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds didn’t care about or understand. Pop punk’s simple lyrics about teenage romance, boredom and dealing with friends and parents are what kids who bounced around and “moshed” in those pits could relate with.

That’s why we screamed along with them.

While at times I wish that I existed in the 1960s so I could dress like the people from Mad Men, I feel like I was a teenager at a great time. I was a teenager when all of these pop-punkers were at their peak, and I can’t think of a better way to have put off my algebra homework than waiting in line outside to see the Pink Spiders, or sweating my shutter shades off at Warped Tour.

A few months ago, I went to the Royal Oak Music Theater to see New Found Glory on their “Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour.” While I was pumped to hear their movie soundtrack covers and “My Friends Over You” live since I never got a chance to back in the day, it wasn’t as fulfilling as I expected it to be. Maybe it’s because I’m no longer a teenager, but since I can still listen to those albums and appreciate them for what they are, I think the real reason is that, contrary to NFG’s statement, pop punk is dead.

It’s upsetting, but it’s true. New Found Glory recently released “Radiosurgery,” and Blink-182 released “Neighborhoods.” But did anyone really like them? Did they leave as big of an impact as “Sticks and Stones” or “Enema of the State”? Versions of pop punk still exist, but with variations. Synthesizers and dance beats seem to be a popular replacement of power chords (remember my snarky comment about Cobra Starship earlier?).

As years go on, music changes, genres change. While it’s sad to see your favorite bands start to stink or break up, remember the good times you had with them. Think about when you were getting ready for one of your first dates listening to “First Date,” or singing along in your first car with your friends pulling out of the high school parking lot.

View the original post at the Eastern Echo.