The Traverse City songwriter plays Spread the Music Festival today and was featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Medicinal Groove, Laine Rex, KJ & The Good Time Family Band & more.
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As an “avid outdoor guy,” Shawn Butzin’s move to Traverse City from the Detroit area made perfect sense.
“Traverse City really appealed to me – the scenery and outdoor activities,” he reasoned. “I’ve been here going on three years and haven’t looked back since.”
The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has even written about northern Michigan’s breathtaking beauty, reflected in songs such as “Indigo Sky,” which was inspired by a striking sunset. He released the track as a single last year.
Butzin, who’s performed his “yacht rock” and indie-folk tunes regularly at various breweries and wineries, even immerses himself in grooming trails and assisting with social media marketing as a weekend volunteer for the U.S. Department of the Interior at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
It’s part of his philosophy to soak up nature and let new songs incubate freely, with an eye toward a possible fall release of a follow-up to his 2018 EP, “Adventures,” and 2017 full-length debut, “Northern Trails.”
“I am sitting on a few songs that have been recorded, just the instrumentations, but I’m not putting any pressure on myself to finish these within a certain time frame,” insisted Butzin, an ardent mountain biker and photographer.
“I believe when the right time comes, it’ll happen naturally. For me, being in nature tends to help get the creative flow back.”
Part of that creative flow will be on display later today (Friday) when Butzin performs a live-streamed set as part of the Michigan Music Alliance’s Spread the Music Festival that’s showcasing five days of performances by more than 200 Michigan artists to raise money for the Michigan Artist Relief Fund. Butzin plays at 3 p.m. Friday, streaming on the Michigan Music Alliance Facebook page.
For this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Butzin spotlighted “Indigo Sky” and his most recent single, “Smell the Roses,” while discussing his career as a performer and songwriter. Watch the video for “Indigo Sky” here and scroll down to listen to the full radio show podcast.
VIDEO: Shawn Butzin, “Indigo Sky”
Butzin readily admits he’s “a late-bloomer, slow to the game” when it comes to music – learning to play drums and guitar in his late 20s and early 30s – after growing up in Chesaning, Mich., “hooked” on the records of his father and older siblings.
After spending several years in Colorado playing drums for the garage-surf band Thee Dang Dangs, Butzin returned to Michigan and began working on his solo career in earnest.
His music is heavily influenced by ’70s artists such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Mac Davis, Michael Murphy and Bread, as well as more contemporary acts Ryan Adams, Damien Jurado and Jason Isbell.
“I just eat that stuff up,” he said. “I get sappy in the knees, weak in the knees, when I hear that stuff.”
Butzin also finds lots of inspiration in watching bands in concert and solo artists performing live in breweries and other venues. Consequently, the year-long shutdown of live music due to the pandemic has had “a huge impact on the psyche and everything” by limiting his contact with “other musician pals throughout the state.”
While he’s eager to return to northern Michigan stages, Butzin said he’s cutting back on his travels and touring across the state for now.
In the meantime, he’s concentrating on expanding and enhancing his sound.
“As far as the direction of my music, I’d like to focus on having more of electric guitar sound,” he said. “My past few songs have been focused on the acoustic guitar and I’m looking forward to more of an electric style.”
Butzin plays Traverse City’s Bonobo Winery on June 11 and July 13; Beulah’s Five Shores Brewery on June 18; Petoskey Resort on June 26 and July 31; and Cheboygan Brewing Co. on July 14. Learn more about Butzin at shawnbutzinmusic.com.
In addition to interviewing Butzin, this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE – which focuses on Michigan music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – featured the on-air debut of tracks by Medicinal Groove, Snacks & Five, Brian Vander Ark & Channing Lee, KJ & The Good Time Family Band, Laine Rex, Amy Love, DL Rossi and Shady Groves, as well as music from The Accidentals and Mike Galbraith (the musician’s pick by Butzin). Listen to the complete radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (3/26/21)
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