Local Spins’ July segment highlighted two Grand Rapids acts who’ve retooled a little bit, and a new band with members from another group with a vastly different sound. Listen to the podcast.
Two female-fronted acts and a Grand Rapids duo that’s found its ideal sound by paring back to what’s really important: the songs.
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August, Molly and Winnow also found a statewide audience during this month’s Local Spins segment on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside.”
Local Spins editor/publisher John Sinkevics and Stateside’s Cynthia Canty chatted about new releases from all three artists — from the alt-country/folk of Winnow to the soulful sheen of Molly and August.
Listen to it here and check out full versions of songs by the featured artists. Also tune in to Local Spins on WYCE (88.1 FM) at 11 a.m. Friday when August will be the special in-studio guest.
LISTEN: Local Spins on Michigan Radio (July 2019)
1. Winnow, “Minnesota Cold” (from “Light the Match) – This represents the successful reinvention and reorientation of the popular Grand Rapids folk-rock band Watching for Foxes, which released albums and performed regularly in West Michigan after being initially founded in Fremont six years ago. After several lineup changes, singer/frontman Joey Frendo and guitarist Jared Meeuwenberg – longtime pals and high school classmates – decided a year ago to change their name to Winnow and move ahead as a duo with an alt-country foundation. After playing in a band that had morphed into a large ensemble featuring a host of musicians, Frendo and Meeuwenberg decided they wanted to “strip away everything else and focus on what made that project special in the first place,” namely the songs created by the two of them, with Frendo as lyricist and Meeuwenberg as song arranger. Frendo has since added piano to his repertoire and Winnow is officially releasing its first EP – the six-track, “Light the Match” – on July 19. “For the first time,” Frendo says, “these songs feel like they embody our musical spirit and turned out exactly the way we wanted to.” The resulting EP – recorded at Plymouth Rock Recording in Plymouth and at Jake Kalmink’s The Stooge in Zeeland – is part alt-country, part rock, part folk, and all very heartfelt. The band plays SpeakEZ Lounge in Grand Rapids on July 10 and opens for the Michigan Rattlers at Mac’s Bar in Lansing July 19, the same day the EP is released.
LISTEN: “Minnesota Cold”
2. Molly, “Grey Matter” (from “EP”) – This also qualifies as a reinvention. Soulful and exceptionally dynamic singer Molly Bouwsma Schultz first made a splash with the Grand Rapids blues band Blue Molly and an even bigger splash later when fronting the award-winning soul/rock band Vox Vidorra. After that band split a couple years ago, Molly launched a solo career with help from her multi-instrumentally talented husband, Scott, and she just released a three-track solo EP titled, well, “EP.” As I put it in my recent feature story about her, Molly has never been afraid to express herself through the music she writes and she’s found even more freedom as a solo artist, with songs that boldly dive into politics, race and social issues. There are elements of soul, pop and rock weaving their way through this EP recorded at Grand Rapids’ Goon Lagoon. I should also point out that Molly and Scott are co-owner of Creston Brewery here in Grand Rapids, which has become a popular watering hole and music. In fact, Molly recently staged her EP-release part at Creston Brewery backed by Kalamazoo’s The Go Rounds. You can next catch her performing live on Aug. 1 on the terrace of the Grand Rapids Art Museum in downtown Grand Rapids part of the GRAM on the Green series and Aug. 30 at Grand Rapids’ Blandford Nature Center as part of the Bands at Blandford series.
LISTEN: “Grey Matter”
3. August, “Nobody Else” (from “Bloom”) – While on the subject of female-fronted projects – and we have many of them in Grand Rapids I’m proud to say – this new soul/pop band called August recently unfurled its first full-length album the same night that Molly released her EP. This band is fronted by songwriter, singer and keyboard player Olivia Vargas, who may be best known in West Michigan as a member of the rock band Conrad Shock + The Noise. In fact, two other members in August – guitarist Michael Pierce and drummer Bailey Budnik – also hail from the Conrad Shock camp, but the noise that these players make is far more pop and soul oriented (with help from William Wright on bass and Theresa Redmond on backing vocals). The album recorded at River City Studios here in Grand Rapids has a surprisingly mature and polished vibe for a bunch of musicians who just graduated from college, and like Conrad Shock’s album a few years ago, ranks as one of most impressive debuts of the year by a West Michigan band. The group is exceptionally busy touring behind the new album this summer with upcoming performances July 8 outdoors at Collins Park in East Grand Rapids and every Monday night in August at the Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill in Grand Rapids as part of a monthly residency. They also have shows at the Livery in Benton Harbor on Aug. 10, Workshop Brewing in Traverse City on Aug 17 and the Willowsong Music Festival in Sidney on Aug. 24. (They also play Local Spins on WYCE 88.1 FM at 11 a.m. Friday.)
LISTEN: “Nobody Else”
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