The new recording by the West Michigan band was spotlighted for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks by Common Molly, The Missing Generation, Rustbell, The Rockit King and more.
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When it comes to striking harmonies, it’s a true family affair for The Schrock Brothers.
Not only did Mark “Papa” Schrock grow up singing with his siblings and parents, but he passed that tradition on to his own sons, Jasen and Andrew, who’ve embraced the joy of exquisitely synchronized vocals, honing those talents starting at a very young age.
“There’s just something incredibly unique about that pure family harmony,” asserted Andrew Schrock, who recalls joining his dad on stage for the first time at the age of three or four.
Noted his father, who also polished his three-part harmonies in the 1970s as part of the popular West Michigan bluegrass band Cabbage Crik: “Harmony is a thing that I’ve been doing since I was very young. It’s something we’ve always done.”
The Schrock Brothers recently decided to showcase those harmonies in the studio with help from all-star Michigan musicians who’ve been part of the band’s “extended family” – laying down versions of several original songs they’ve performed for years.
Originally planned as just a limited EP, the sessions at La Luna Recording and Sound in Kalamazoo ended up producing the full-length, “Faith in Love,” officially being released this weekend.
Filled with the rootsy Americana, blues, rock and folk that’s served as the band’s trademark, the project also leans on comrades from the group’s “big band,” which features Michael Shimmin on drums, Terrence Massey on trumpet, Daniel Giacobassi on saxophone, Drew Howard on guitar and pedal steel, Tom Eldred on keyboards and harmonica legend Peter Madcat Ruth.
“It’s pretty special,” Mark Schrock said of the band’s seasoned lineup, noting that the new recording is “very much a collection of favorite songs that we’ve written and performed live over the years. Even though it’s a ‘studio’ record, we recorded a lot of it live, going for dynamics and interaction.”
‘SONGS OF LOST LOVE AND HEARTACHE’ AND A BUSY SUMMER SCHEDULE
Influenced by The Band, The Neville Brothers, Lyle Lovett, Little Feat, Bob Dylan and “any of that rootsy soulful stuff,” The Schrock Brothers also embraced some wide-ranging themes on the new studio collection.
“Some of the tunes do deal with more big picture socio-political themes, like how do we combat arbitrary forms of domination and oppression,” Andrew Schrock offered. “Like most art, it touches on these themes, and poses more questions than providing any definitive ideas for action. Most tunes are songs of lost love and heartache.
“Musically, we’ve all just continued to improve and mature as musicians throughout the years. Sometimes that might mean exploring harmonic, melodic and rhythmic ideas that we previously couldn’t even hear. It may also mean embracing the simplicity that comes with maturity. It’s the old adage, ‘less is more.’ ”
The Schrock Brothers plan plenty of summer appearances across Michigan in support of the new album, starting with a Sunday performance at Buttermilk Jamboree being held next weekend at Circle Pines Center in Delton, south of Grand Rapids.
Other upcoming shows include playing the Onekama concert series on July 3, Lakeview on July 19, Caledonia on Aug. 22, Lowell on Aug. 24 and Earthwork Harvest Gathering outside Lake City on Sept. 17. Follow the band online at Facebook here, with the album available at Bandcamp.com.
Several band members also are involved in other groups with busy performance schedules, including The Mainstays, Drew Nelson & Hwy. 2, Funktion, Jive at Five and Great Lakes Brass, among others.
“The Schrock Brothers has been sort of a side project for us while we were involved in other projects. With our hundreds of years of collective experience, the number of our collective projects is lengthy,” Mark Schrock conceded, adding that it’s great to focus on The Schrock Brothers and a new studio album.
“We’re excited to get out and play these tunes for our friends and fans.”
The band highlighted two tracks from the new album – “Faith in Love” and “I Can’t Stand the Rain” – for this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org.
The show also featured music by other Michigan artists, including Common Molly, The Missing Generation, C.A.R.Ma Quartet (The Schrock Brothers’ musicians’ pick), The Rockit King, After Ours (with Hannah Laine and Dutcher Snedeker), Rustbell, The Whiskey Charmers, Silver Creek Revival and Asamu Johnson & The Associates of the Blues. Listen to the full radio show podcast here.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (6/9/23)
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