This is a great moment of DIY record label community – we’re releasing the 7-inch with our pals in Silver Maple Kill Records (our first official co-release with them in more than a decade!), the band consists of friends from many of our extended family projects like Scary Women, Jackpine Snag, Hat Madder, etc, and Jeremy Porter himself produced the songs with engineering assistance by Gabe from the Tucos. Releases like this are what it’s all about – and the music itself is a compelling blend of moody alternative rock with rich vocal harmonies and engaging instrumental arrangements.
I hastily wrote blog updates on Instagram while on tour with The Wild Honey Collective (featuring Harborcoat) and after a few mild “getting to work on it on a laptop as opposed to on a phone right before getting in the car” edits, here’s the whole thing! I used to write tour journals like it was my job, maybe this’ll get me rehired! – Tommy Plural
7/25/22: Day 1 of #wildhoneycollectivetour w/ @harborcoat_music is in the books! We met up at Adam’s and got out of town around 2 PM, Matt and Joel in Joel’s wagon stuffed full of gear, and Danielle, Adam, Michael and I (ol Tommy Plural) crammed into a much-smaller-than-advertised rental “SUV.” We had clear skies and open roads getting to Cleveland and before too long we got to @medievalpubcle for the show.
We had only gotten one rehearsal in with this particular combo so we booked the night as a sort of dress rehearsal/warm-up show with a vague expectation that maybe some local regulars would enjoy the music and hang out. We got a few nods but our only real audience was the legendary Scott Goldy @projectconcert150scottygold who stood up front and cheered us on as we called out the changes to each other. We had a blast playing Hoop Fever (@michaelboyesphotography is the new high score holder) and almost as much fun playing our set. The cobwebs are shaken, we’re ready for more! This band sounds great and we can’t wait to take it to upstate New York and New England this week.
We got to our very orange Airbnb and scarfed some Taco Bell before quickly crashing out. Next we’re in Syracuse, NY for a house show with @theoldmain and friends. Yay tour!
7/26/22 – Day 2 of #wildhoneycollectivetour w/ @harborcoat_music ! We got on the road from our orange Airbnb around 10:30 and headed towards Syracuse. This was an uneventful drive with occasional hints of east coast terrain poking through the Midwestern landscape. Lunch was found at a Buffalo Whole Foods and by late afternoon we got to the house of our old friend Blake from @theoldmain which was both the venue and crash pad for the night.
This was a warm, friendly, beautiful night of music and a very welcome change from the previous night. Tunes were played in the backyard (opening set duties were handled by The Old Main as a duo – Blake was hostin’ – and Katie Allesandra as a solo-full band) before we finished off the night semi acoustic in the living room. Seth from Old Main added a rippin’ mando solo to “You Ain’t Goin Nowhere,” so add him to the Collective roster now too! New and old friends, delicious food, great music – the way a house show should be. Thanks so much to Blake and family and band, we can’t wait to return the favor in Michigan. Now on to Troy, NY at @troyspeakeasy (after we stop at the orchard of some of our new friends). Yay tour!
7/27/22 – Day 3 of #wildhoneycollectivetour featuring @harborcoat_music found us in Syracuse and Troy, NY. We woke up after a great late night at Blake’s and after saying our thankful goodbyes made our way to the outskirts of Syracuse to check out the property of our new friends Kevin and Zach. They have a beautiful orchard with many varieties of peach, apple, pear and beyond, plus great animals and delicious brunch. These two awesome people made our day and we can’t wait to see how their property grows (in all ways). Tour friends are the best.
The subsequent drive found us truly in some idyllic upstate NY landscape and about 3 hours later we made our way to Troy and hit the @troyspeakeasy before doors. This is a big old house that the owner Dan is renovating by living upstairs and using the downstairs as a DIY venue. A few neighbors hung out and we really hit a groove with our set, putting is in great shape for the weekend.
We headed an hour east to a historic Howard Johnson in Lenox, MA, putting us closer to the start of our New England weekend that this whole thing is built around. Bodies are rested, spirits are high, onward to @portcityblue where we we play from 7-8:30. It’s good to be back!
7/28/22 – Day 4 of #wildhoneycollectivetour feat. @harborcoat_music took our pile of musicians to one of our favorite rooms, @portcityblue in Portland, ME. We shook off the HoJo one-room-of-six-adults night of sleep with a great breakfast at Electra Diner in Lenox, MA. With bellies full of lamb, Mediterranean omelet and various form of eggs, bread, and coffee we hit the MA turnpike, crossed New Hampshire and (with a wild Dunkin’ “Don’t Call Me Donuts” experience in there) got to Portland in mid-afternoon. We had a few hours to kill so we hung out at Blue and met Maddy and Addy who were opening the show. I ducked out to the parking lot to restring my guitar and mandolin and returned to the room to hear that Maddy and Addy were fantastic singers with very good songs. The 5 PM slot is a tough one so they were mostly performing for our motley collective but that didn’t stop them from delivering an engaging and memorable performance.
The room started filling up as we readied the stage for our 7 PM set, including Matt and Joel’s old Pantones bandmate Jake, who would be hosting us for the next two nights. We finally got to present our full show for an engaged audience, starting off with a few Dani ‘n Tommy fiddle tunes, some solo @drinkingmercurymusic songs by @michaelboyesphotography , @phonophore_records Matty doing some solo material, a few acoustic Wild Honey songs, and then an hour of full band country rock. Put simply, it was a great room and audience and we had a blast. We’ll be back!
After a mildly eventful and radio station contest winning (sort of) drive (more on that later) we got to Jake’s house in Wiscasset for a very welcome whole-home-homebase for our Maine dates. After killing a few Red Baron pizzas we hit our beds for a nice night of rest. Next we’re in @threshersbrewingco in Searsmont, another spot we played last fall with @jeremyportermusic. Looks like it’ll be warmer this time!
7/28 Epilogue – After our great gig at @portcityblue we headed out of Portland to stay at ex-Pantone Jake’s house. On the way up to Wiscasset, Dani, Adam and I were tuned into local radio 90.9 and the late night DJ offered $20 to anyone that could guess the theme of his next block of songs. He announced Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Black Crowes, Less Than Zero soundtrack, and Bangles to get it started. After we ran down the commonalities, eventually I asked Adam to look up what label put out the first Crowes album – Def American. Danielle then called up the DJ and we asked him if the theme was “Rick Rubin related” and he was blown away that we got it. The guy was flustered on-air after this and was kind enough to plug our band and our show at @threshersbrewingco tonight, and even attempted to play our recording of “Ode To Thor” but couldn’t get it to play, with an audible cry of “son of a biscuit.” Thanks for the effort, DJ, and feel free to Venmo that $20 anytime.
7/29/22 – Day 5 of #wildhoneycollectivetour featuring @harborcoat_music was a wonderful and laid back day in Maine. During our post-gig drive to stay at Jake Pantone’s house I didn’t realize where we were going on the map, but we woke up to learn we were in Wiscasset, ME… where we had been last fall with @jeremyportermusic and @theplurals to find some fresh lobster roll. So, I’ve been to Maine twice now and visited the exact same 3 towns both times. This time, however, Jake was a fantastic guide and we got to see some cool spots in the town before diving into the lobster at Sprague’s seafood. Dani, Adam, and I got steamed lobsters that we tore apart ourselves and I think we were all mildly disturbed and have that one permanently checked off our lists. Jake then took us to a river to go swimming and it would have been difficult to be a more beautiful day.
@threshersbrewingco is in the tiny hamlet of Searsmont, which was about 40 minutes from our swimming river, so we got to the venue with plenty of time to set up on the outdoor stage and enjoy some beer and pizza. When we were here in the fall it was cold and they were still working on renovations/kitchen so it was really nice to see it all put together and thriving. We did a full 3 hour revue of traditional folk songs, @drinkingmercurymusic material, Harborcoat, Wild Honey originals, and in the second half of the show a mini Pantones reunion happened when Jake sat in with Matt and Joel for a few songs. The band played better than ever, people were dancing around the fire pits, and before long the set was over. Many thanks to all the staff and patrons of Threshers. We’ll be back!
Our friend from last time Eero took a few pictures which are the last three in the gallery below – what a great night. We hung out with the locals for a bit and then headed back downstate to Jake’s where we all crashed pretty quick. Two more days of this run and it’s feeling bittersweet, but we’re having a blast. Next we’re back in Brattleboro, VT for a free 2 hour show at River Garden Marketplace.
7/30/22 – Day 6 of #wildhoneycollectivetour featuring @harborcoat_music was set largely in Brattleboro, VT. We had one more morning at Jake’s and then departed for parts south, cutting across the freest of all states, New Hampshire. This was the second appearance of Wild Honey in Brattleboro and we began our return visit with a round of drinks and some dinner at @whetstonebeer (where Danielle still has a mug from her east coast living days of a few years back), enjoying the river view and the beautiful countryside. After this we popped into @brattleborolounge to say hi to a few locals before setting up for our gig at River Garden Marketplace.
We had our best set yet with a tight two hours of our shared catalog and everyone was in fine voice (and string and drum). @berniesanders was stage managing and we can’t thank him enough for keeping us in line. Thanks to all the local friends for coming and supporting, and to the staff who totally had our number and played Townes, Prine, Dead, Little Feat and all the twangy hits as we tore down. We headed back over to The Collective to catch the tail-end of the queeraoke dance party before heading to our amazing digs outside Wilmington, VT.
We’ve got one more show in Easthampton, MA at @marigoldtheater and then it’s back to the mitten! This has been a great run and we’ll definitely keep coming back to New England!
7/31/22 – Day 7 and final day of #wildhoneycollectivetour feat @harborcoat_music began in our far too beautiful digs in the hills of southwest VT. Thanks Julia and Gunther! This was the perfect final full day of tour as we got to relax and gear up for our final date at @marigoldtheater and the following overnight drive home. We got an amazing meal at @jezebelseateryandtavern and hit the road for Easthampton in the late afternoon.
Matt booked this date last minute after we had a cancellation, with the help of Jon from @starlandvocalband (that’s a true statement), and man, what a great spot to end the tour. Thank you Glenn, the staff, and the crew of supportive locals that came out on less than a week’s notice. We’ll definitely be back! The set was a ton of fun, including a full mini-@drinkingmercurymusic set that was enabled by the beautiful acoustics of the room, and a particularly rockin’ full Wild Honey band set.
It was hard to say goodbye to this room (Dani and Glenn got a little piano jam in to serenade the final load-out), especially knowing we had an overnight drive, but eventually we got back #ontheroad . Thanks to the @pilotflyingj in central New York state for making us a pizza at 2 AM, the Cleveland morning rush hour for being almost non-existent, and Michael and Adam for doing the whole damn drive. We got back to Lansing around noon on Monday and said bleary goodbyes (Kernel and Matt were about two hours behind us, having stopped for a couple power naps). Now Adam is off to Las Vegas (happy birthday!), Matt and Kernel have a weekend with @stick_arounds in the Midwest, @michaelboyesphotography is building a barn before a photography trip up north, and the originalish Wild Honey string band lineup of Tommy, Dani, @sleepingtimmy and @exocytoticrelease is playing #lakeodessaartinthepark the morning of August 6. Jesus! This was an incredible tour and we’re looking forward to keeping the New England-Wild Honey network going! Thanks to Michael, Joel, and Matt for rounding out our tour band and to all the great folks we met along the way. See you next time!
The obvious lead thought here is that The Wild Honey Collective Volume 2 is now available digitally and on CD. I’ve been chipping away at this project since LAST July so it looks like I need to find a new hobby. Or, a new volume. Check it out on all the streaming platforms – vinyl pre-orders are still happening too, fingers crossed our September projection for that release holds up. We’re celebrating the release of the new album with a few things this month, starting with a 6:45 set TONIGHT at Smiling Acres Music Festival in Trufant, MI. Then we’ll be all the wau up (UP) in Copper Harbor, MI later this month, before a certified weird GTG Revue tour will take a few Wild Honey folks and a few Harborcoat folks on the road at the end of the month. But, that’s later. Let’s check out the general show calendar for all the GTG-ers this July:7/1 – The Wild Honey Collective @ Smiling Acres Music Festival (Trufant, MI)
7/4 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ Michigan Rib Fest (Lake Orion, MI) 7/7 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ 11 Mile Sessions Live (Royal Oak, MI) Live audio/video webcast 6-8PM EST 7/8 – A Rueful Noise @ The Old Miami (Detroit, MI)
7/21 – The Wild Honey Collective @ Concert In The Park (Copper Harbor, MI) 7/22 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ Short`s Brewing Company (Bellaire, MI) 7/22 – Narc Out The Reds @ The Avenue (Lansing, MI) 7/23 – Jeremy Porter & The Tucos @ The Workshop Brewing (Traverse City, MI)
7/26 – Cavalcade @ Sanctuary (Detroit, MI) w/ Cave In
7/29 – Erotic Novels @ The Saint (Asbury Park, NJ)
7/29 – A Rueful Noise @ The Avenue (Lansing)
Not bad for a mid-summer run! So, as mentioned above, at the end of the month we’ll be doing The Wild Honey Collective Featuring Harborcoat Tour 2022, following the lead of the run we did last fall with Jeremy Porter. For this tour Tommy (me), Danielle (my wife), and Adam (my Aymor) will be joining up with Matt and Joel from Harborcoat and whoever else gets in the van to do a revue and supergroup through the Midwest and up to New England. Matt will do some songs solo, we’ll back him up, he’ll play some songs with us, we’ll do some string band stuff, some electrified stuff, on and on it goes:
The Wild Honey Collective Featuring Harborcoat Tour 2022
7/25 – Cleveland, OH @ Medieval Pub
7/26 – Syracuse, NY @ House Show
7/27 – Troy, NY @ Troy Speakeasy
7/28 – Portland, ME @ Blue
7/29 – Searsmont, ME @ Threshers Brewing
7/30 – Brattleboro, VT @ River Garden Marketplace
7/31 – New City, NY @ District 96
Summer tourin! We love New York (state)! Looking forward to it very much…
In other news, Narc Out The Reds is on track for a fall release, Bank Of America is set to begin album recording sessions this month, Cavalcade is havin’ at it, A Rueful Noise will have their debut 7-inch out in August, and Jeremy Porter and the Tucos will hopefully have their latest 7-inch out by year’s end. And…
GTG Fest is October 21&22 in Lansing. Mark it down!
4/23 2 PM show @ The Record Lounge/Record Store Day (Lansing, MI) 4/28 Acoustic @ Beards Brewery (Petoskey, MI) 4/29 @ The Workshop Brewing Company (Traverse City, MI) 4/30 @ Short’s Brewing Company (Bellaire, MI)
Those two shows are part of the Capital City Film Festival 2022, which includes a series of six shows at The Avenue featuring artists like Chirp, NWRH, Ozay Moore, James Gardin, Lipstick Jodi, Mark Lavengood, Jen Sygit and more from 4/7-4/16. Read about the fest in general here and check out their whole schedule of movies and music here.
4/22 – Harborcoat @ Dogwood Center (Fremont, MI)
4/22 & 4/23 – STOOPFEST(Lansing) feat Screaming Females, Sidney Gish, Frontier Ruckus and many, many more! (Including Cavalcade, Wild Honey and A Rueful Nosie)
4/29 – GTG House Show w/ Mistic Mountian, Two Houses, Foxgrave (Lansing)
4/30 – Narc Out The Reds, A Rueful Noise @ The Avenue
Does that cover it?? Lots of shows! Great stuff. As always, folks are in the studio and GTG Family labelPhonophore Records just released a tribute to Guided By Voicesfeaturing brand new recordings from The Stick Arounds, The Plurals, Jeremy Porter and The Tucos, Harborcoat, Isaac Vander Schuur, The Wild Honey Collective, Gumsmack, A Rueful Noise, The Soods, No Skull, Cutlass Supreme and many more… 23 tracks!
Lots of great events at our home base of The Avenue this month. Thursday November 4th features GTG family Mistic Mountian (Nich Plural, Blaine “And His Keyboard”), and LoLo (Pudvay, Hunky, Knights, et al), November 5th is a sticky sweet Stick Arounds night, November 12 features the first-ish show by Cutlass Supreme (Frank and Earnestish), November 24 will have a cover band of Baratonos, Plurals, Aymors ‘n such, and every weekend is chock full of a wide variety of music! Whoo!
The phrase “Joy Is Elusive” appeared in Harborcoat’s Matthew Carlson head one day, and the singer/songwriter/guitarist wrote it in black Sharpie on a piece of paper and tacked it to the wall above his studio computer. Those words became a conceptual signpost for the Harborcoat’s sophomore album, aptly titled, Joy Is Elusive.
“Not that joy doesn’t happen, or that we can’t find a lot joy in life and work, but it seems it can be difficult to find these moments and hard work to sustain them,” the Lansing, Michigan artist shares. “I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life and it has always crept into my songwriting as a sort of veiled subtext. With this new batch of songs, I made a conscious effort to write about it more directly. They aren’t mopey or deliberately maudlin, but I think during these times people are feeling a lot anxiety, depression, and they have been grappling with isolation. These topics are part of the human condition.”
Matthew is the main songwriter in Harborcoat. Previously, he led The Pantones for more than a decade, and currently he writes songs and plays and sings in Lansing power pop outfit, The Stick Arounds. In addition, he is the owner and operator of Phonophore Records.
Harborcoat began as a songwriting outlet for Matthew in 2016 for output that didn’t fit with The Stick Arounds. The vision was initially a bedroom artistic venture, but a dear friend suggested Matthew make a real record, and Harborcoat became a functioning band that plays shows and records with an ever-evolving cast of musicians. Previously, Harborcoat issued the 2017 single, “See The Sun,” and the 2019 full-length, Brutal Gravity.
Harborcoat specialize in short stories with chords. The lyrics are novelistic and almost standalone pieces rife with emotive and well-crafted narratives. The band name is pulled from an early R.E.M. gem, and the music brims with nods to Matthew’s heroes. The songs recall the crunchy power pop and harmonies of Teenage Fanclub; the introspection and melodic storytelling of Billy Bragg; and sprinkled in are moments of 80’s esque Brit-Pop or working-class anthems. These influences, however, do not define the record, but are they are merely a strand of DNA in Harborcoat’s collective musical helix.
The songs on Joy Is Elusive are buoyant and energetic and are a powerful juxtaposition to the weighty lyric content. “I wanted there to be a sense of joy and excitement even though the lyrical themes are often terribly dark. There was a direct effort to play to that old maxim of ‘beautiful melodies telling me terrible things,’” Matthew admits. He continues: “On this record I wanted to write more intently about all of our unseen struggles and the baggage we travel with each day. There is a greater thread lyrically and musically rooted within the themes of the album and the fictional town in which they occur. As much as I cringe at the idea of a concept record, this is a record with a pretty clearly defined concept.”
The 12-song album is a cohesive and conceptually immersive collection that warrants a full album listening experience. That said, select record standouts include “Transit Town,” the title track, and “Where The River Bends.” “Transit Town” is a power-pop anthem with Who-style ringing guitars and a rich tapestry of sing-along harmony vocals. The song’s sugar rush is offset by the bummer of the fleeting nature of relationships in a college town. “The story here is of a self-contained world in a mid-sized industrial city not on an upswing where one person comes into town, they partner with someone for a period of time, and then move on, and that other person is stuck and doesn’t want to be where they are,” Matthew shares. This sentiment is epitomized by the lyric: This city is just a stepping stone/And so I guess am I/Everybody else has flown/I’ve got nowhere to fly.
The deeply emotive piano ballad, “Joy Is Elusive,” is a character-driven piece about a mentally ill sibling who does a stint at a state hospital, but is later returned to his family and they have to find a way to build a life together. The song is filled with poignant scene-setting lyrics such as: We picked you up in Traverse City, scars across your arms/Drove along the country roads, you stared out at the farms/Asked you twice if you were hungry you simply shook your head/We inquired if you were better this was all you said. The dynamic and imaginatively arranged literate rocker, “Where The River Bends,” paints a powerful picture of the terror of getting what you want.
The album was tracked at Matthew’s family cabin. Before the sessions began, his father died suddenly, and Matthew thought to cancel, but his family and friends convinced him to proceed with the sessions. “That week of recording was the first time in four weeks that I had managed to find any degree of happiness or hope,” he recalls. “It was cathartic, it was beautiful, and it was the perfect distraction.”
(writeup c/o Phonophore Records)
Local Lansing folk will probably be hip to this now, but GTG is more-or-less booking and promoting the majority of the music at The Avenue Cafe these days. Here’s what we’ve got for the whole month of August:
That’s a good run there, eh? We’ve got the first full-length show by The Wild Honey Collective, the first public Lansing shows from Cavalcade and The Plurals in at least 18 months, a record release by the Cartridge Family(?!?!??), GTG Fest familiars like The Ryne Experience, LVRS, and Marsha, Mike Reed from Small Brown Bike… great stuff all around!
Shows are getting to be a little more commonplace – on top of the above listed we’ve got The Plurals playing Taste of Michigan City (Michigan City, IN) the afternoon of August 7, The Wild Honey Collective play from 5-9 at the Beer Garden at Horrocks Farm Market in Lansing on August 21 as well as an afternoon slot at Sundried Music Fest in Mason on August 28, and then The Stick Arounds take the Horrocks stage themselves on August 28 too. All of these events are free and promise great times. We need ’em! Stay safe out there everyone, masks are still a good thing!