The West Michigan band releases a new album next week, spotlighted at Local Spins, which also debuted music by Fake Baseball, EPCYA, Justin Avdek, Wills Piff & Samil and more.
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After nearly 15 years as a band, the guys in Roosevelt Diggs owned up to some nervous jitters in leaning on a producer in the recording studio for the first time.
“We wanted some of that additional collaboration,” singer, songwriter and guitarist Logan Duddles said of working with Joe Hettinga, not only at Kalamazoo’s La Luna Recording and Sound but at Hettinga’s Grand Rapids studio.
“Giving up some artistic control is a scary thing that we wouldn’t give to just anyone. Our relationship and past experience made Joe a clear choice. … It came out great. Joe’s input was huge.”
After self-producing its three previous recordings, the West Michigan Americana band’s new album, “Reverie,” resonates with the rousing, genre-melding and harmony-driven power familiar to the group’s devoted fan base but with a more confident, expansive and lustrous sheen.
Brothers Logan and Levi Duddles, upright bassist Jon Shears and drummer Jeff Leitch celebrate release of the new album at The Stache inside Grand Rapids’ The Intersection on Oct. 28, with several special guests joining the band on stage, including Hettinga on keyboards, Andy Szumowski on pedal steel and Dobro, Keala Venema on fiddle, Nate Wagner on banjo, Valley Duddles on backing vocals and Nathan Walton on guitar.
Walton and Shelby Leigh will open the 8 p.m. show. Tickets are $20 and available online here.
VIDEO: Roosevelt Diggs, “Alcohol” (from “Reverie”)
‘GREAT EXPERIENCE’ RECORDING TRACKS IN KALAMAZOO
Band members initially had planned to just record an EP in early 2020, a follow-up to their Jammie Award-winning 2018 album, “Better Days.” But the pandemic forced a long delay and a change in plans.
When Leitch joined the group last year, the Duddles already were armed with a passel of new songs – inspired by “a lifetime of influences” from a wide range of artists – and ready to get back into the studio.
“It was a great experience,” said Levi Duddles, noting the band rented a place in Kalamazoo and spent three straight 10-hour days laying down tracks at La Luna, described as “the perfect environment” for recording the songs live.
The album also features guests Eric Engblade on banjo, Paul Niehaus on pedal steel and slide guitar, Meredith Krygowski on fiddle, Hettinga on keyboards and Valley Duddles on vocals.
The latest project comes courtesy of a band that’s honed its skills over the years, from demonstrating “better efficiency in songwriting,” as Levi puts it, to improving musicianship and building camaraderie as a band.
“My favorite nights are Wednesday nights (for rehearsals) because not only do we just get to make music together, but we get to be family together,” Leitch said, calling the band friendships “the core and the glue” that fuels their music.
That fellowship extends to the band’s live performances, high-energy affairs that often involve their audiences in the fun. And they do it while wearing suits that carry on a tradition of well-dressed musicians dating back to the 1930s.
“We love to take what we’ve created and what we get to do live on stage – which is an honor – and give it to the audience,” Shears offered. “That energy comes back to us and we feed back and forth off each other, and we have a great time.”
Logan Duddles noted that their songs also take on a life of their own with new intensity on stage. “An album is a snapshot in time,” he said. “We don’t hold ourselves to keep it there (when playing a song live). … It’s almost a different version of the song.”
That “Reverie” album snapshot brims with “positivity, perseverance, connection and living life to the fullest” – themes that Roosevelt Diggs has long embraced.
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE (which showcases Michigan music at 11 a.m. Fridays on 88.1 FM WYCE and online at wyce.org) spotlighted two tracks from the new Roosevelt Diggs album: “I Am Everything” and “I’ll Find You.”
The show also featured new music from Fake Baseball, Toby Bresnahan, Nathan Walton & The Remedy, EPCYA, Lynn Callihan, Justin Avdek, Wills Piff & Samil and Hannah Rose Graves. Listen to the radio show here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (10/20/23)
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