San Francisco, CA
Meanwhile, Chuck joined acclaimed indie-rock act Freelance Whales, with whom he recorded and toured with as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter for several years. But in 2016, the two finally decided it was the right time to revisit their teenage ambitions and launch a guitar-fueled alt-pop band that they’ve named Computer Games.
“The basement was a really hallowed place for us growing up, and spending all that time knocking around and making music together is what made us into the people we are now,” says Darren, lead singer for Computer Games. “So to finally follow through on that dream, and start this band together after wanting it for so long—it’s just wildly exciting for us.”
With its blazing guitar solos and boundless energy, Computer Games’ debut EP Lost Boys Life perfectly captures the spirit of adolescent abandon. At the same time, Computer Games show a sharp sense of songcraft born from years of refining their musical vision. “One of the things about this project being a long time coming is that we’re taking the kind of riffs that we would’ve played back in the basement, but adding different layers to turn it into something new to put out into the world,” notes Chuck.
With the band name referencing a bit of low-key childhood mischief (“As kids we weren’t allowed to play video games, but we had games on our computer—so there was a loophole there,” explains Chuck), Computer Games delights in what Darren refers to as nerdstalgia. “As we’re crawling out of our 20s, a sentiment shared by the band is this eternal sense of nostalgia, which is something pretty prominent in nerd culture,” he says. “It’s about liking whatever you like, and not needing to ever apologize for that.”
For Chuck and Darren, there’s at least one major upside to the long delay in launching Computer Games: that hard-won sense of freedom that comes with pursuing their purest passions. “Instead of trying to chase what’s next, we’re trying to do right by those kids in the basement,” says Darren. “We’ve learned to embrace our love of what makes music fun for us, and we’re putting that into a project that’s 100 percent dedicated making people happy. It’s about creating something completely unique to us and trying to make as many smiles as humanly possible.”
As high school kids, Darren Criss and his older brother Chuck spent nearly every afternoon playing music in their basement for hours upon hours. With Chuck on guitar and Darren on drums, the San Francisco natives tapped into everything from British power-pop to Bay Area punk to create their own rowdy breed of garage rock. Though they’d always planned on forming a bona-fide band together, each ended up striking out on his own path: Darren embarked on a singing/acting career that’s included the creation of YouTube sensation StarKid, starring on Glee and in the next season of American Crime Story, and a string of successes on the Broadway stage.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh man, this guy might be better than me, and that’s really awesome.’ I always wanted to work with people who I was a little bit intimidated by,” says Josh Epstein of how he came to collaborate with fellow Detroit-area native Daniel Zott to form JR JR. Coming together through a shared love for bands that effortlessly flexed harmonies like the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel, the multi-instrumentalists recorded a couple songs in 2009 just for fun. It wasn’t until their friends started reacting with genuine excitement to their music that they realized they had something real on their hands, and with that Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. was born (the band’s original name).
“We suddenly had this thing that people wanted, and we were sort of forced into it, but it was a natural thing,” recalls Josh. They put out two EPs on Quite Scientific Records in 2010, Horse Power (which included a cover of The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”) and My Love Is Easy: Remixes Pt. 1, and soon major labels were reaching out to them. The band shortly thereafter signed with Warner Bros. Records to its 2011 full-length debut, It’s A Corporate World.
With 2013’s The Speed of Things and 2015’s JR JR (which featured the top 10 Alternative single, “Gone”), the duo continued to expand its already broad fanbase. Listeners across genre lines were drawn in by their adventurous, danceable blend of classic songwriting, intricate melodies and electronic elements. “Epstein and Zott remain purveyors of kaleidoscopic pop music,” said Paste. AllMusic noted, “Despite the use of zingy electronics and an array of mechanical drums, they maintain a warmth and humanness to their sound led by frequent McCartney-esque turns of melody…”
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers will make a sprightly young groove doctor out of anyone. With spectacular energy pulsating from every member of the band, the Rainbow Seekers could illuminate the very chambers of Heaven. Lead singer Joe Hertler splashes through lyrical puddles of golden rain, leaving his audience wearing flowery crowns and bubbling smiles. A ride on the Rainbow will take you across the mountains of Motown, through the fjords of folk, over the archipelagos of Americana, and-at last-into a funky firth, where only the fiercest of friendships can be found.
The Rainbow Seekers began their historic quest 8 years ago, revolving around the pure, unadulterated songwriting of their fearless leader, Joe Hertler. Ryan Hoger was the first among the Seekers to find this lonely songsmith and recognize the twinkling magic in his beard.
The young boy gave up all his earthly possessions (besides his guitar, of course) and became the first disciple of the Rainbow. With this, the core of the Rainbow was thereby established, and it didn’t take long for the Rainbow Seekers to continue their expansion. Multi-instrumentalist and notable auxiliary percussion maestro Micah Bracken journeyed from the bowels of Atlantis when he heard tell of the Rainbow, and the earth trembled as saxophonist and all-around badass Aaron Stinson descended from Olympus on a golden rainbow of his own. Then came thunder from the depths of space and as it picked up the bass, a soft exhale escaped the lips of every princess within a hundred moons, “Bambis,” they cooed. All the while, on the other ends of the earth, a young boy was hard at work, honing and sharpening his sticks for the day that the Rainbow would come his way, and when it landed at his door, Ryan McMahon climbed aboard.
Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers
If you're still reading this, at least one thing is true: The Rainbow Seekers have been waiting for you. If you'll only let them, they will shake the dust from your wildest expectations. They will roar into your life with rapturous frequencies, exuberant tone, and a joyfulness of purpose that has truly become a rare sight on stage. Join them in their celebration, and they will take you on a never-ending journey to a place you'll never be able to describe in words.
Though the deceptively complex pop of Quit The Cursemarks the debut of Anna Burch, it’s anything but the green first steps of a fledgling new artist. The Detroit singer/songwriter has been visible for the better part of her years-long career singing in Frontier Ruckus, or more recently co-fronting Failed Flowers, but somewhere, a vibrant collection of solo material slowly began taking form.
Growing up in Michigan, her fixation with music transitioned from a childhood of Disney and Carole King sing-alongs to more typically angsty teenage years spent covering Bright Eyes and Fiona Apple at open mic nights. By 18 she was deep into the lifestyle of the touring musician, juggling all the regular trials and changes of young life while on a schedule that would have her gone for months on end.
After a few whirlwind years of this, exhausted and feeling a little lost, she stepped away from music completely to attend grad school in Chicago. This respite lasted until 2014 when she moved to Detroit and found herself starting work in earnest on solo songs, she’d been making casual demos of for a year or so. Friends had been encouraging her to dive into solo music, and one particularly enthusiastic friend, Chicago musician Paul Cherry, went so far as to assemble a band around scrappy phone demos to push for a fully realized album.
Emerging from years spent as a supporting player, Quit The Cursestands as a liberation from feeling like Burch’s own songwriting voice was just out of reach — an opportunity, finally, for the world at large to hear what’s been on her mind for quite a while.
A tried and true Michigan musician, Joshua Davis, released The Way Back Home in September 2017. Produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, The Way Back Home is Davis’ latest full-length studio album and first since his 2015 appearances as a Top 3 finalist on NBC’s “The Voice” (season 8). The 11 original Americana songs featured on The Way Back Home reflect an honest, hardworking family man scribing scenes of the cycle of life through dark, broken, hopeful, and triumphant times. Interviews and hi-res photos are available upon request.
An upbringing residing in the city of Detroit while spending summers on the southern tip of Lake Superior in Marquette, MI brings into view the backdrop of Davis’ latest works. The Way Back Home follows a series of singular recordings (Fool Rooster, Magnolia Belles, A Miracle of Birds) by the prolific songwriter who has shared the stage with a “Who’s Who” of
American folk music icons such as Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Greg Brown, and Abigail Washburn. Recorded in East Lansing, MI by legendary engineer Glenn Brown, The Way Back Home highlights Davis’ longtime collaboration with Jack White’s bassist Dominic John Davis, pianist Mike Lynch (Willie Nelson, Leon Russell), and drummer Mike Shimmin (The Olllam).
"The Way Back Home” is a very personal look at where I’ve been and who I’ve become,” says Davis. “In my 20’s, I felt like a disconnected ghost going town to town performing every night, and it just wasn’t a healthy life. I’ve learned many valuable lessons in how to be a better person, husband and father. Home grows and changes with or without you. If you don’t pull it together, it’ll leave you behind. I feel very reassured to have found stable ground in life and in a career that isn’t necessarily filled with security. The album takes listeners through my own trials and tribulations.”
Traverse City, MI
Tunde Olaniran is one of the most beloved fixtures of the Detroit music scene, as well as a driving force within the growing artistic community in Flint, MI (where he currently resides.) His debut album (Transgressor) led to praise from critics at The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Stereogum, Noisey, Afropunk and countless others. On the heels of that release, Olaniran embarked on his first U.S. national tour in the support of noise pop darlings Sleigh Bellls. He was named NPR’s Top Artist to Watch at SXSW 2017 and performed to the homecoming audience of 5,000+ at MoPop Festival in Detroit. Tunde also made his first European appearances in London, Derbyshire (Y Not Festival) and France (Festival Les Escales).
He released his second studio album (Stranger) in 2018, which was called a “finely calibrated mix of purpose and playfulness, executed to stylish perfection” by NPR, “pop caffeine” by Bust Magazine, a “totally vibrant declaration of worth” by The FADER, and “at once triumphant and defiant” by The New Yorker.
In addition to his own work, Olaniran has collaborated with fellow Michigan artists Flint Eastwood(“Push”) and Mona Haydar, whose 2017 viral track & video “Hijabi” was co-written, produced and video directed by him. Tunde also worked with indie folk singer-songwriter and musician Chris Bathgate, co-writing and performing on Bathgate’s single “Hey Low.”
Olaniran was named a 2019 United States Artists Music Fellow, alongside artists like Juliana Huxtableand Helado Negro. He was recently named by Yo-Yo Maas one of the three most inspiring artists of 2019.
Every bit of inspiration counts for Corey Harper.The Topanga-based troubadour uncovers an era-spanning style of his own at the crossroads of traditional folk songcraft, impressive guitarwork, bluesy gusto, and 21st century pop adventurousness. The singer and songwriter sifts through a lifetime of influences in order to assemble a vibrant, vivid, and vital vision.
This poignant, passionate, and personal style resounds throughout his 2018 EP. “It’s a mixture of popular music that I respect and the classics I grew up on, because they will always be a part of who I am,” he explains. “I started out by making a lot of Americana folk rock, but I really wanted to explore new sounds. For the first time, the new music reflects everything—from what inspired me to be a musician and a guitar player in the first place such as Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jackson Browne to artists I’ve just discovered in recent years like Ed Sheeran. There are those songwriter elements as well as the modern nuances. I feel as if I’m moving with a new generation.”
Since his emergence in 2015, he has quietly set the stage for such an evolution. At 19-years-old, Corey dropped out of college in Eugene, Oregon, grabbed his guitar, and relocated to an eternal haven for creatives of all kinds: Venice Beach, CA.
Just blocks away from the Pacific Ocean, he spearhead the genesis of an arts collective and hangout known as Winston House. After reposting clips of Corey on guitar, Cody Simpson tapped him to handle six-string duties on a national tour. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber caught a Winston House performance and invited Corey to open up a run of Pacific Northwest dates on the sold-out Purpose Tour in 2016.
Teaming up with producer Andrew Wells [Meghan Trainor], he unveiled the On The RunEP following his appearance on the historic tour. Its title track racked up 7 million-plus streams as he garnered widespread acclaim from Rolling Stone, Billboard, American Songwriter, TeenVogue, Baeble Music, and more. Along the way, he toured with the likes of Allen Stone, Noah Kahan, and more.
Motown funk bleeding into contemporary pop to create a sound awash with upbeat energy and soul. Jacob is a recent University of Michigan graduate and finished his first national tour in spring of 2019 with Mat Kerekes.
Jacob describes his music as a distinct blend that was developed relatively organically. “It’s a really active process,” Sigman said. “From song to song, your sound slowly develops… I guess for me it just sort of depends on what I’m listening to.” And the influences he stated, from the honey of Tom Misch’s melodies to Vulfpeck’s lackadaisical charisma, are highly apparent in his music; the smooth layering and breezy falsetto of his latest release, “Think About You,” reveals the track’s distinct medley of upbeat pop and R&B components. And in line with his music’s airy, near effortless quality, Sigman is equally as carefree when he performs.
The North 41 is a Funk/Rock band based out of Chicago, IL. The band’s members all grew up in or around the Windy City. The name N41 is a shout out to beautiful Lake Shore Drive - a scenic highway that runs along the east side of the city and Lake Michigan.
The band released their debut album Dancing & Praying in September of 2015 and has since been playing festivals and clubs all over the Midwest. In early summer of 2018, they made a splash with their funked up version of “Enter Sandman” that has reached over 4 million views on Facebook. World on Fire, the band’s second LP, dropped in September of 2018 and was welcomed to the world with a sold-out album release show in their hometown of Chicago.
The North 41
Dr. Ross Federman received his PhD from Yale School of Medicine in spring of 2019.
Prior to his science career, Ross was a full-time recording artist and touring musician as drummer in the rock band Tally Hall. Ross is interested in the role that trans-membrane domains play in surface receptor functionality and how this ultimately affects the dynamics of our immune systems. The Traptamer platform provides a novel approach to better understanding the basic principles governing protein-protein interactions within biological membranes. As most aspects of the immune response rely heavily on the activity of integral membrane proteins, a deeper understanding of the interactions of these receptors will afford a more detailed picture of the signaling and activation events responsible for protection against foreign entities as well as pathologies associated with the immune system.
Ross Federman PhDJ