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/// LOCAL MUSIC In the Studio:

A Red Letter Year Gets Original


OP-PUNK OUTFIT Red Letter Year began performing testosterone- injected versions of radio hits as a way to be remembered, explained vocalist

Nathan Krikke, and the songs quickly became one of the most popular ele- ments of the band’s live show. “Obviously, no one really

knows our songs right now,” he said. “But we play those songs at the end and people are like ‘Oh, yeah! It’s the one band that played ‘Dynamite!’” But the members of A Red

Street Sound recording studios to begin work on a currently untitled debut EP. Guitarist Heath Hoffstra said he hoped

the finished product would lend the project credibility.

“We’re really excited to

A RED LETTER YEAR Front Street Sound

Members Pran Bhausar Heath Hoffstra Nathan Krikke Brian Zajac

Letter Year want to be remem- bered for something else — their own music. Late last February, after only five months in existence, the band entered Front

have something to show for all our hard work,” he said. “It sucks when someone asks if we have a CD and we’re just like, ‘Well, we have some live record- ings that are OK.’” The band is working with

producer David Mouatt, who also fronts the Grand Rapids band The Envy League.

“Sometimes I wonder if he knows our music better than we do,” said Pran Bhousar,

who plays bass in A Red Letter Year. “That’s what I like about him. I got a guy I can trust who knows what he’s doing.” Drummer Brian Zajac said Mouatt’s ex-

perience on the scene and in the studio helped the band refine their sound in the studio, giv- ing them exactly what they wanted out of the recordings. “Our biggest goal is to capture the energy of our live show,” Zajac said. “None of us

would call ourselves the best musicians in Grand Rapids, but our show is fun and that’s why people like us. That’s what we’re trying to capture.” The album is expected to drop during the

summer of 2011. n

by Kevin VanAntwerpen |

Artist Spotlight: Seth Bernard on May Erlewine and Earthwork Music


OCAL SINGER-SONGWRITERS Seth Bernard and May Earlewine share a lot of things. Not only did they both come home from February’s WYCE Jammies victorious (Bernard in the best pop/rock record category

for his album Is This You? and Earlewine under best Americana Record for her album Golden), but they also help manage a collaborative organization of around a dozen local musicians called Earthwork Collective. “For May and I, it’s kind of our baby,” Bernard said of the

organization, which has been in existence for a better portion of the last decade. “But a lot of people do a lot of things as far as projects go. It’s shared leadership — we work on projects together, organize events, work with kids, stuff like that.” Both Is This You? and Golden were released through

Earthwork. Each musician contributed to the other’s album, proving just how successful Earthwork’s collaborations can be. For Bernard and Erlewine, it’s more than just the bonds of

musical creation that bring them together — it’s also something far deeper. The two have been an “item” for seven years now

and are set to marry in July. With everything the couple has in common, some may say it was meant to be. “We grew up in the same area,” Bernard said. “Our paths

probably crossed when we were kids at music festivals like Wheatland. But we officially met at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in 2003, and since then we’ve been sharing work and making music together.” Planning a wedding hasn’t stopped Bernard and Erlewine

from creating music together. In January, they travelled to Ethiopia to support the Run Across Ethiopia, a 400km “ultra- marathon” to benefit Ethiopian education. During that time, they had what Bernard called a “songwriting spree,” during which the pair wrote around 20 songs for an upcoming col- laborative album. Bernard said the environment fueled the songwriting. “The best part was being part of the cultural exchange,” he

said. “Ethiopia is just an amazing country with a deep culture.” Bernard said he expects the album to be released sometime

next fall. He will be appearing at Wealthy Theater to perform a tribute to Cat Stevens on May 7. n


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