Art & Music

By Ingrid Sjostrand

PRISON POPULATION IN AMERICA KEEPS RISING BECAUSE OF EARLIER FAILED PROGRAMS, SUCH AS THE ‘WAR ON DRUGS,’ AND THE CURRENT, ’MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.’ The U.S.A. simply warehouses people without any real rehabilitation. These people become part of a cycle of incarceration and punishment, usually returning to society very angry, and with even better criminal skills,” musician Tino Gross says.

Gross is working to change the stigma that prisoners cannot be rehabilitated by providing them with new skills through a 501c3 program called Jail Guitar Doors (JGD). The nationwide program run by Michigan rock icon Wayne Kramer provides prisoners with musical instruments and instruction in songwriting and playing to reduce prison violence and reoffending. JGD is in over 120 U.S. prisons, and just expanded to the Ryan ReEntry Facility in Detroit the summer of 2018.

“JGD is a program that reaches out and rehabilitates convicts through music, helping them to work on themselves and return to society as contributors, instead of dangerous ex-cons,” Gross explains. “The social aspects of playing guitar and singing give the inmates a pathway to self-improvement, and prevents future violence.”

As a musician, Gross has seen how music can tap into people’s emotions and touch on topics that might not otherwise be discussed or explored. Through JGD, he teaches guitar to inmates and helps them explore songwriting. They meet once a week for a ten-week period.

“We focus on their life experiences, presenting song topics like freedom, anger, and forgiveness; The process never fails to produce incredible lyrics which are then put to music,” he says.

“GUITAR-PLAYING CAN TAKE A WHILE TO LEARN, SO WE START SIMPLE, with blues and gospel material so that everyone can join in. The first day I went in to teach at the Detroit prison, I was moved by how hard these guys worked in their orange jumpsuits. In a few hours we were all laughing and singing together, and these are some tough guys!”

This reaffirmed to Gross that this program was worthwhile and meaningful. “Music has a power that is mystical, defies science, it really does work,” he says.

Jail Guitar Doors would never have started without the power of music. It all began in 1977 when The Clash wrote a song by the same name about an imprisoned fellow musician – none other than Wayne Kramer — who helped bring JGD to the US. Musician Billy Bragg launched JGD in the UK in 2007, and collaborated with with Kramer to bring the program to the United States in 2009.

Kramer, a Metro-Detroit native, has been building the program across the country for over ten years and funding it through benefit concerts, TV appearances, CDs and even concerts within the prison system. He and Bragg have even received brand-new guitars donated for JGD from manufacturers like Fender.

Gross got involved through his friendship with Kramer, and he urges people to donate or, if they have an interest in music, to volunteer. Those interested can learn more at jailguitardoors.org.

“The purpose of this program is to lend a helping hand to your brothers and sisters that have made bad choices, but are salvageable as productive human-beings. We are all in this life together,” he says.

By David Ryals

THIS YEAR, RUSSELL TAYLOR – AKA SATORI CIRCUS­ celebrated his 30th anniversary as Detroit’s premier performance artist. His performance persona has musical roofs, and has evolved info one of the most dynamic and creative solo acts in Detroit history. Taylor spoke with Ferndale Friends to talk about the entire span of his career.

“I had been in a punk art band in Detroit called Fugitive Poetry, and we were doing unusual things on stage that we tied into our music. There were a few groups doing wacky things, but I think we stood apart primarily because we pre-recorded our music and acted out the little stories we created to coincide with the music. Singing all vocals live. We were a three-piece at that time. This was 1983 to about 1986.

“One of the fellows in the group left shortly after we released a full-length album. So, we delved deeper into what we could do as a two-piece with pre-recorded music and props and character sketches. All performed live. About a year later, my dear friend in the group, Rick Maertens was diagnosed with bone cancer. So we retired Fugitive Poetry. I think our last performance was Spring of 1986, in Windsor. Rick and I were living together at this time and his fiance and myself, along with Southeast Hospice, we all took care of him.

“ABOUT A YEAR LATER, I was getting restless and started writing things on my own while Rick worked on a book of his short stories and poems. Once I started to collate material, I asked for his feedback. It started to really come together and make sense to me. Rick was a great friend and brother, and was instrumental in pushing me. Even the name Satori Circus is part his, really. Satori is a zen term meaning pure illumination, pure truth. Perfect for what I was writing or how I wrote, and followed suit of what Fugitive Poetry had begun.

“Circus: Growing up in parts of Detroit and certain parts of Dearborn, my life was always a circus. My family was a free group of folks, most importantly my mom. It was never a dull moment, from folks fighting at wee hours of the morning, to fires being set by vigilantes on crack homes, to sex workers servicing their johns outside our side windows. So yes, it was a circus.

“Rick finished his book and, if memory serves me, he passed away from the cancer about a week later. He was barely 25, and two weeks later Satori first hit the stage.”

LOOKING BACK ON THE LAST 30 YEARS IS ASTONISHING. Any performer who has lasted this long, let alone evolved constantly, has a few tricks up their sleeve. Taylor talked about his evolution and where it has taken him.

“Satori Circus has evolved on so many levels, it blows my mind. It started out being so simple and self-contained. Now I work with a few folks to make things happen. Granted, it’s not this huge ensemble that travels around with me, but it’s miles away from where I first began. Over 30 years, I have managed to perform for all sorts of adult audiences in the macabre, fetish, drag, cabaret scenes, and with bands and orchestras. Something I never saw coming. And I’ve even done a few children’s shows. I still do things myself, and explore thrift store and dollar stores for props and costumes. I feel you just don’t need that big of a budget to make groovy things and I’m pretty sure it won’t stop! I love that aspect. Simple.

It’s not just his performance that has changed; the entire Detroit performance artist scene has shifted over time. Russell talked about how other artists helped him change, and vice­ versa. “When I started, Detroit was barren of wild performance-type stuff, with the exception of some very cool dance parties and drag events going on around town. Mostly in places you wouldn’t want to wander about solo. There were some bands doing some very wonderful dark performances. And a handful of other performers crossing borders and challenging themselves as artists. But not a lot. I think I can safely say that it 1988 to about 1998, Satori Circus was kind of it.”

“I then left Detroit for a few years in 2001 to come back in 2005 to find circus, aerial, fire, cabaret, burlesque and others forms of time­ movement based arts sneaking into the bigger community’s fabric. It was amazing. It’s always wonderful to see so much stuff going on. So much talent exploding. Did it affect my work? A little I’d say. But I’m my biggest motivator. I’ll do whatever it is that I want or can do. I just keep searching. Keep picking up rocks to see what’s underneath. I don’t think I’ve ever waited for something to happen.”

His plans for the future are no less ambitious, “I plan to take on the world. To show folks that things can happen. Things can be done no matter where you’re from or who you are, or how old you are. I’m not a youngster by any means. And I ain’t going to stop. Not ever, if all goes well. My goals are to do more throughout the U.S. Canada would be awesome as well. And, of course, Europe. It’s going to happen.

By Jeff Milo

LISA HAGOPIAN AND ERIC HARABADIAN ARE THE MARRIED VIDEOGRAPHY DUO behind two full-length documentary films focusing on local music and celebrating the heritage of Metro Detroit’s blues and rock ‘n’ roll.

They completed their new film, Paradise Boogie, this past Summer. And they just hosted an event for the.ir previous film, Nothin’ But Music, at Found Sound last month, complete with an in-store DVD ­signing and acoustic performances from some of the musicians prominently featured, including local icons Benny Jet, Howard Glazer and Nate Jones.

Harabadian is a longtime musician with experience as a freelance culture reporter; he also knows his way around a camera. Hagopian, meanwhile, was “the real shutterbug” of the two, with extensive experience as a photographer. They caught the filmmaking bug in 2007, when the opportunity to collaborate on a documentary film on Cobo Hall briefly manifested. They knew they wanted to try something on their own and inspiration struck when Harabadian considered how remarkable it was that his longtime friend, Benny Jet, had found the right combination of drive, intuition and determination to forge a career out of music.

“(Jet)’s been able to make a living for 40+ years. Same with Howard Glazer,” said Harabadian. “(Music)’s all they’ve ever done and that’s always blown my mind. And, so we were trying to tap into what it is that they do to make it work, and how they define success.”

“I think it’s fascinating,” Hagopian said, “that through the making of documentaries, we’re able to get to know and learn about interesting people we might not have met otherwise.” Some of those folks include former MC5 manager jazz-artist/poet John Sinclair and legendary local blues musician Billy Davis. “(Documentary filmmaking) becomes a way of expanding our world and continually exploring and learning about people.”

While Nothin’ But Music took six years to complete, Paradise Boogie was finished in 18 months. But Hagopian particularly enjoyed the narrative arc of those six years’ worth of interviews, as it was tied together poignantly by an early interview in 2010 with Jet during which his then-10-year-old grandson, Dominic, made some exuberant cameos, cross-cut with a 2016 clip of Dominic as a young adult, performing alongside his grandfather. In fact, the way Nothin’ was able to intertwine music-making generations in that way would go on to inform their approach to the narrative of Paradise Boogie.

“Once you start something like this, you get so intrigued that you don’t want to give it up. So, we continued with Paradise Boogie, but this time we wanted to do something different. We wanted to make it not just about the past, but about the present and then the future (of blues music).” That arc is embodied endearingly in their film when they captured Billy Davis, a veteran performer at age 80, with ‘Mighty Michael,’ a spry new torchbearer of the Blues at just ten-years-old.

With a few other credits to their resume, they’ve co-founded their own production company, Vision 561. Both Hagopian and Harabadian consider the last eight years of work to be revelatory -­informing their own approach and work ethic, but also opening their eyes to the vastly deep well of talent residing right here in southeast Michigan.
“For Paradise Boogie,” Hagopian said, “I learned that it’s not just the musicians, but also the fans who are very passionate; it’s a tight-knit, supportive community.”

“I thought I knew a lot of the scene, already,” Harabadian remarked, “but as we dug into the history, particularly talking about Paradise Valley and the Black Bottom neighborhoods of Detroit in the ’40s and ’50s and to then see what’s going on throughout the blues scene today, I realized I just knew the basics. But this led us to do a lot of research. That’s the beauty of this journalistic aspect of making documentaries: You do your homework, and then it comes to life (on film).” And they admit that there are still so many blues musicians they could’ve covered.

Looking back on two films, the pair have a piece of advice for aspiring documentarians. “The DIY­ philosophy that people can sometimes pay lip­service to … ? It’s real. .. !” Harabadian said. “Go out there and start filming!”

Nothin’ But Music was screened at several notable venues (Magic Stick, PJs Lager House) as well as film festivals like North By Midwest. Paradise Boogie was accepted into this year’s Royal Star Film Festival and, as we went to print, they’re awaiting word back from 15 other film festivals, including a new event in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

For more information, follow the filmmakers at: facebook.com/Vision561ProductionsLLC or through their main site: www.vision561.com.

By David Ryals

THIS MONTH MARKS THE SIXTH ANNIVERSARY OF JUST 4 KICKS: a Ferndale Elementary School fundraiser benefiting the Ferndale Elementary Camp Scholarship Fund. The event is an adult-only talent show where parents perform for parents at the Loving Touch to raise money.

Amy Tarrant is the lead person for the fundraiser, and recently spoke to Ferndale Friends about the up-coming event. “Just 4 Kicks started in 2012. My sister Tess lives in Huntington Woods, and her kids go to Berkley Schools. The elementary school parents at the time came up with this idea for a fundraiser for their school, but it only lasted a few years. Tess reminded me that Ferndale has so many amazing musicians and talent and that I should start this at our school. So eventually I did. The parents love this event and look forward to it. We always have a fun and entertaining show.”

The program has a made a positive impact since it started, and has helped kids get out in nature and experience camaraderie. “Just 4 Kicks is a fundraiser for Ferndale Elementary Schools outdoor education. All the money raised goes toward camp scholarships. If you need money for your kid to go to camp, you just say so. No questions asked, your kid will go to camp. Not to discount or undermine any of our other wonderful fundraisers we do – I think a lot of parents would agree that this is the one event not to miss. It is way better than selling wrapping paper or waiting outside a grocery store asking people for money.”

To make it more enticing for adults to participate in the event, it’s held at the Loving Touch every year in downtown Ferndale. “No kids are allowed! It is a time where you can meet other parents from our school family, network and really enjoy yourself. Even our teachers and principals show up and are often on stage. It’s so very different than getting to know someone at a PTA meeting and way more fun.”

Amy knows the importance of extracurricular activities for children and emphasizes using nature as a tool for learning. “Outdoor education is very important to Ferndale parents and educators. Using the outdoors as a classroom can really help a child bloom in ways he or she never had before. All kids K-5 have the opportunity to participate.”

The Loving Touch
Doors 7:00 PM
Show 8:00 PM
After party with DJ Royal-T |$15 at the door

By Sara E. Teller

BOBBY EMMETT IS A TALENTED COMPOSER AND MUSICIAN FROM THE DETROIT AREA who originally played in a band called The Sights. When he decided to pursue a career in music, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and it didn’t take long for success to come.

“I moved to Nashville around 2012 to take a break from the treadmill garage scene, and work and play on Sturgill Simpson’s first record,” he said. “The day I got to Nashville, coming right off the freeway, Dan Auerbach was in the parking lot of the bar I arrived at. He hired me to play on a song, which turned into several full albums with him.”

Soon after that, Emmett was doing sessions for Dave Cobb in the morning, and Auerbach in the evening. “I sort of hit the ground running,” he said. “Those studios are insane. The coolest. I also made a soundtrack to a film that won an Emmy.”

Emmett spent a couple of years playing on records in Nashville. He was involved in what he describes as “some really cool stuff,” including working with John Prine, Kurt Vile, Bombino, The Arcs, Chris Hennessy, and Cowboy Jack Clement’s final album. “I also got a call from Rick Rubin to do a record with him. That recording session was hilarious,” he reminisced. When he began to work with Simpson, they opened for Guns N’ Roses and even made an appearance on Saturday Night Live. “Sturgill’s stuff started getting big and he asked me to tour with him,” Emmett said. “We made another record that won a Grammy for Country Album of The Year last year.”

EMMETT IS STILL PLAYING WITH STURGILL. He also recently produced and played on a new record for a band called Welles. “I am back in Michigan now, engaged to the love of my life,” he said. Emmett lives in Hazel Park and is pursuing another passion-project. “I bought a condemned house and completely gutted the entire thing, rebuilt everything. It was a true test of will power, standing on a dirt floor swinging a sledge hammer for a year with snow coming in the windows, no heat or water, and no end in sight. It turned out really beautiful, though. Never worked so hard on anything in my life.”

He’s also been spending some time on a project with this partner, saying, “My favorite thing that I am doing right now is with my fiancé. We have a project called Monster Fighters. It’s both of us singing and playing mostly everything, very ‘60s rock ‘n roll influenced. We work really well together. The stuff is really special to me.”

As far as future plans, Emmett said he played at Fuji Rock Fest last year in Japan, and brought home “this thing called a Daruma Doll. The concept is you color in one eye, write a goal on the back of the doll, then color in the other eye when the goal is achieved.” The goal the couple has in mind is to make a song together as Monster Fighters with a focus on getting a TV/movie sync to pay for their wedding. He explained, “So we plan on doing that, and having a family. We are always working on really cool music – doing her solo record now, too, which is sounding incredible. I also have a record of my own in the works. Never ending. I’m still trying to work my way up to getting a DMA nomination –maybe one day.”

BY INGRID SJOSTRAND

HOW DOES A CITY FIND A WAY TO STAND OUT from its neighbors? And how can it highlight its residents and bring them together? The City of Hazel Park is using art as one way to set itself apart.

The Hazel Park Arts Council was founded in 2010 when City Council Members Andy LeCureaux and Jeff Keaton discovered they shared a love of art and wanted to display the work of local artists. Amy Aubry, treasurer of the Arts Council and Chair of the Art Fair Planning Committee, explains the goals of the organization:

“To bring art, in all its forms to our community. This means everything from public art installations with sculptures and murals to finding ways to feature our performing arts such as dancers and musicians, as well as hosting events that feature our local artists and engaging our residents in making their own art,” she says.

In the group’s eight years, they have built an art garden and created three annual events to pro-mote the creativity and craftsmanship of residents. The most permanent of those is the Art Garden, dedicated to former Mayor Jan Parisi and located next to Dairy Park at 21809 John R Rd. It features a sculpture by local business owner Richard Gage, and has a chess table, benches and a “Little Free Library” where residents can take and leave books. The group is working to bring more sculptures and murals to the city.

“This not only beautifies our town but provides work for our local artists,” Aubry says.

Another way the Arts Council brings local art to the forefront is through their events, the largest of which is the Hazel Park Art Fair. Now in its seventh year, the fair is held August 25th and 26th at Green Acres Park.

“Currently we are focused on having between 50 and 70 amazing artists who bring a variety of work to the fair,” Aubry says. “In addition to live music, we have artists that will produce art on-site while you watch, a magician is known to make an appearance or two, and even aerialists. The fair is free, so come join us to see it all!”

Other events produced by the Arts Council include Art in the Park – a free children’s crafting event held during the Growers and Makers farmers market on Sundays through summer and fall – and the Artober Art Crawl where temporary art pieces are installed around Hazel Park throughout the month of October.

Art Council currently has 10 members and Aubry encourages anyone to join, noting you don’t have to be a resident to become a member. Just fill out an application at hazelpark.org.

Aubry and other Art Council members, including its Vice President and City Council Member Alissa Sullivan, praise the city and its residents for their creativity and involvement, and realize they wouldn’t be here without the support.

“The community is so very helpful and supportive – they have embraced our art ‘offerings’ and really seem excited to participate,” Sullivan says. “It’s nice to bring things to our community that other communities have – art fairs, bazaars, murals, free kids art. I’m proud to be a part of that!”

By Ingrid Sjostrand

ARTS PROGRAMS IN K-12 SCHOOLS ALWAYS SEEM TO BE THE FIRST TO GO WHEN BUDGETS GET TIGHT, AND SCHOOLS OFTEN HAVE TO GET RESOURCEFUL TO FIND FUNDING. This is what prompted the creation of Hazel Park Creative Arts, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting the Hazel Park School District’s art programs.

“We noticed that while the band program had a booster organization to raise money for the band, the other art programs did not,” Mike Vanderveer, president of Hazel Park Creative Arts, says. “We formed Hazel Park Creative Arts in an effort to support all of the art programs in the Hazel Park School District that do not have their own booster organization.”

Since its founding in 2014, the group has accomplished quite a few noteworthy projects. They started small by collecting art supplies for Hoover Elementary and tuning the piano for the high school choir, but quickly moved on to larger, more impactful goals like procuring a new kiln in November 2016.

“Our first major project was an effort to replace the pottery kiln in the high school. The kiln was estimated to be about 30-years-old and was showing its age in down time, repair costs and electricity usage,” Vanderveer says. “Working with the high school art department, we helped raise $15,000 to replace the old kiln with a brand-new, front-loading kiln. Many students in the district have been awarded scholarships for their ceramic art abilities, and the new kiln is a small part of that success.”

Most recently, they replaced the high school auditorium’s lighting control console. The mechanism was 15-years-old and produced by a company no longer in business, making it hard to find repair parts. Hazel Park Creative Arts was able to raise $6600 through fundraising and had the new lighting console installed just in time for theater season.

“The new console arrived at the school in February of 2018, and was used for the first time in the Hazel Park Drama Club’s performances of Seussical the Musical in April,” Vanderveer says.  Hazel Park Creative Arts is made up of four board members that meet the first Monday of each month. The majority of their work is completed through fundraising events; their two largest being a Fall Dinner held at the Junior High on October 5th and a Spring Night Out the Friday before the high school drama club performance.

“We very much appreciate the support the City of Hazel Park, its residents, and local businesses have given our organization and fundraising events,” Vanderveer says. “It’s great to see our city come together to support the arts in the school district;  None of what we do is possible without that support!”
Hazel Park Creative Arts is currently looking for their next major project. Anyone interested in attending board meetings or donating can reach out through their website, hpcreativearts.org.

By Maggie Boleyn

THE PHOENIX CAFÉ, FORMERLY LOCATED AT 24198 JOHN R RD., CLOSED ITS DOORS ON DECEMBER 23, 2017. While founder and co-owner Steve Gamburd says it wasn’t so well-known by Hazel Park
residents, it continues to hold a legacy among artists and musicians in the area.

“We created an art and music scene like no other, and it was never a bar! It was one of the few all-ages venues at the time, and now there are none in the area,” he says. “Unfortunately, I would guess that only five percent of the population of Hazel Park knew what we were.”

First opening in 2009, Gamburd, along with partners Hans Barbe and Michael Wiggins, successfully hosted themed art shows, concerts, community fundraisers and other events. The original goal was to create a community that supported sustainable living and held workshops; my goal was to have an art gallery, concert venue and community space,” Gamburd says. “Others that shared this vision made this place what it was.”

When The Phoenix Café hit a lull in late 2012, they decided to spend some time and money renovating. “I wanted a space free of old carpet, with matching furniture, an open stage, a solid cafe counter and a nice gallery. I wanted people to come in and buy art or enjoy a show in a clean space,” Gamburd says. “We completed renovation within six weeks and had our grand re-opening party on February 15th, 2013.”

After re-opening, some roles shifted with Wiggins leaving for other projects and Been Frank, a community organizer and music producer, joining the team. Been acted as sound engineer and helped coordinate events at The Phoenix Café, like Maybash – a popular, four-night concert series over Memorial Day weekend.

“Soon enough, our art events were huge, as well as many of our concerts. We had Tuesday figure drawing, Wednesday Open Jam Club, and Friday and Saturday shows on a regular basis,” Gamburd says. “Artist Steve Czapiewski became a major Phoenix associate with the figure drawing classes and art exhibits.” That success continued with local press attention for their festivals, involvement in the Hazel Park Arts Council and planning of the Hazel Park Art Fair, and a variety of themed art exhibits at The Phoenix – including Hallow Art, Steampunk Art Show, See What Stacey Started Art Show and a Nintendo Art Show. Musicians were thriving there too.

“Many bands got their start at The Phoenix, many musicians formed new bands out of the Phoenix, touring bands made The Phoenix an easy go-to for booking,” Gamburd says. “We were known on a national and regional level for booking in Detroit as a primary D.I.Y. space and resource.”

Despite success, in 2017 Gamburd made the decision to shift his career focus and close The Phoenix Café. “I wanted to be an artist again, create more and gig more with my bands. “We threw a huge, four-night closing party just before Christmas and invited all of the bands that frequented the place over the years.”

While the space has closed, pieces of its legacy remain. Several Hazel Park bars have started picking up where the Café left off: Joebar hosts occasional concerts and Cellarmens books bands and hosts monthly figure-drawing classes. Even its mural (hand-painted by Gamburd) still remains – for now – on the north wall of the barber shop and men’s clothing store that previously filled the space.

“My mural of the phoenix on the north wall of 24918 John R states the motto of Detroit, ‘We hope for better things. It shall rise from the ashes’,” Gamburd says. “As 2018 began, we already have spread our wings and are now both mobile and stationary at new venues!” Gamburd continues to hold figure-drawing classes around Metro Detroit at places like Scribblz in Utica and held a fundraiser in May for the Art Council with Hazel Park BDT. Frank still uses The Phoenix Cafe’s social media for booking concerts at Hamtramck Korner Bar and New Dodge Bar.

Gamburd sees this continued success as an extension of The Phoenix Café, and doesn’t expect it to change anytime soon.

“The Phoenix wasn’t just a space. It was and still is a strong community that will be in our hearts forever!”

By Jon Szerlag

MUSIC, ESPECIALLY ON A WELL-CRAFTED INSTRUMENT, IS ONE OF THE FEW THINGS THAT INFLICTS EACH OF THE SENSES. It can stir emotions at a single strum of a guitar or stanza of lyrics. There are songs of romance and heart-ache; persecution and redemption; empowerment and admitting weakness. The thud of a beat you feel in your chest can make you want to move, and a three-chord song can stop you in your tracks.

Music is powerful, and the owners of a newly opened music store in Ferndale, Andrew Pursell and Joel VanderLinde, want musical instruments to be within reach for anyone, no matter their economic status or talent yet to be discovered.

Bayberry Music, located at 23420 Woodward Ave., primarily only stocks acoustic stringed instruments – from guitars to ukuleles, banjos to violins – but also carry accessories for acoustic and electric. The location also performs repairs on stringed instruments.

THE OWNERS DON’T NECESSARILY COME from a musical background, but life took them down a path where music became an integral part of their existence, including making and repairing stringed instruments from their basement before opening their store.

Pursell, who grew up and lived in Illinois before moving to Michigan, obtained a degree in engineering. He moved to Michigan with the thought of working for the Big Three in the early 2000s, but work in the auto industry was not easy to get into during that time. So, his brother, who was working at a violin store, offered him a job.

“[My brother] said, ‘You like woodworking, come work for us,’” said Pursell. “I happened into it, which led to here – I found a passion for it and I never looked back. I started making instruments out of my house 11 years ago, while I was working there.”

Pursell was talking with his friend VanderLinde about making ukuleles, and VanderLinde took an interest. From there, an online music store came to be with both working out of their basements.

VanderLinde, who has a degree in computer science, fell in love with music, and his sales and business expertise made it a perfect fit for the two to go into the stringed instrument business.

“I love playing guitar, and I built my first ukulele with Andy,” said VanderLinde. “After that I was hooked. [Before Bayberry Music] I had some office jobs and it didn’t feel right. With Bayberry Music, everything fell into place. I get to build a little and sell a little, and still do some computer science.

AFTER HAVING AN E-COMMERCE STORE for roughly five years, the demand they saw for instruments, repairs and accessories was growing. Moving to a brick-and-mortar location was natural. And Ferndale was a perfect for them.

“Ferndale is fantastic, and we love it here and we love the community,” said VanderLinde. “It is a big change from working in the basement by our-selves all day. We love seeing new faces walk through the door every day.”

With their mindset of music being powerful and important for everyone, they not only offer stringed instruments at different price points, but they also are giving back to the community by helping organizations, like Detroit Youth Volume, by performing repairs on their instruments.

“We love music. It bridges the gap of classes and culture and it is a peaceful thing that everyone can get behind,” said VanderLinde.

“Our sole mission is that music should be easily accessible to all people,” said Pursell. “People should be able to get a good, quality instrument for themselves, or for a child to learn to play on.”

To contact Bayberry Music, you can visit their location, call 248-439-0700 or visit their online store at www.bayberrymusic.com.

SENDS MUSICAL MESSAGES OF HOPE & CATHARSIS

Story by Jeff Milo
Interview with singer/songwriter Maggie Cocco

SINGER/SONGWRITER MAGGIE COCCO RECORDS AND PERFORMS UNDER THE MONIKER “SCIENCE FOR SOCIOPATHS,” and she realizes that hearing that phrase “…might scare some people.” But it’s an integral part of her story and she wants anyone out there listening who has a similar story to not feel alone.

“I used to be afraid to tell this story,” Cocco said. “It’s not that I’m saying: ‘Hey, pay attention to me.’ It’s that it’s so powerful to meet somebody else who’s been through something traumatic. That’s how my producer (Benjamin Warsaw) and I first connected, because he had a similar story and said that he just wanted to be a part in creating music that speaks to this experience.”

Cocco is already a professional, even at 27. She’s been playing music from a very young age, and has been a lifelong writer (first poetry, then songs). She was raised in Sterling Heights, listening to classic rock, Motown and some of the heavier alternative groups of the ‘90s. She played the viola between sharpening her lyrical sensibilities with poems, but went to study classical music at Oakland University. She started making an impression around the local music scene by the age of 22, but says she really came in to her own only recently, and blossomed, with Science for Sociopaths.

Cocco said her father, also a musician, exhibited ostensible sociopathic behavior as her manager when he instituted a ‘pop-star-or-bust’ level of expected perfection. Circumstances were exacerbated enough to where Cocco struck out on her own, three years ago, and has since developed her own solo career—writing a blend of blues, Americana-rock and jazzy folk ballads that are radiant but raw, presenting beautifully melodic odes of unvarnished truths that tap into experiences that could be specific to her yet nevertheless create an empathic and relatable response from a listener.

“I’m not over-assessing my writing, like before, wondering whether it’s commercial enough or not,” said Cocco. “I used to feel really isolated, like no one has gone through this particular life experience. All the stuff I’ve gone through might not be universally relatable, but it is to some people on a deeply personal level. It’s not going to be fun-time dance music, but it’s relatable and I see a lot of value in that. That’s the music I’m drawn to, anyway.”

Cocco is newly inspired. She’s constantly working on material; she released two EPs earlier this summer and already has a full set of songs for another album after that. What’s changed, said Cocco, is that she’s receiving positive encouragement. The musicians she’s working with now, along with Warsaw, “respect me as a songwriter and I’m feeling very encouraged. After my Dad, there was a period where I didn’t trust anybody… But I’ve realized there’s a ton of really great people out there who are just passionate (about this music) and offer to help, and that just makes me want to try my best, because I want to be worth it.”

The intention, above all, is catharsis. Writing and performing her music and sending these lyrical messages is one unique way in which Cocco can make a difference. She’s been able to impact the lives of others through other outlets,like teaching and volunteer work, but she can’t ignore the potential that her music has to reach people; people who might be in dire need of receiving a message of hope.

And even though the name of the project might put some on edge, Cocco knows that it will nevertheless draw an audience. She said she was done trying to be a pop star and appeal to everyone. Now, she’s writing down, recording and releasing whatever comes to her and putting it out there so that it can be found, so that it can speak to someone, rather than fixating on reaching everyone.

Cocco set up a Patreon to create an online community for fans of Science for Sociopaths, including exclusive access to her new releases. Her output continues to accelerate—she’s been delivering a new song each week to Patreon supporters online (which could be a new single, a new cover, responding to a special request, or just jamming with other artists).

Science for Sociopaths performs August 17 at PJs Lager House. After, she’ll be leaving for a patron-sponsored week-long tour in Ireland (Sept 3-10).