After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Steve Taylor returned to Michigan and became a fixture in the Detroit music scene. Blending soulful music and intimate lyrics, Steve Taylor performs all over Michigan as a solo acoustic artist and with his band, The Steve Taylor Three.
Mike Gentry is a singer-songwriter, entertainer. Telling stories and bringing the audience in with humor and engaging banter is his trademark. Playing his heartfelt, true-to-life songs on his old Gibson acoustic guitar, Mike Gentry is a must-see performer.
In 2017, Mike Vial knew it was time to get off the road and spend more quality time with his family.
“I released my first record ten years ago,” he said. “When I left my teaching job at Holly High, I assumed I’d do music full-time for four years.”
Instead, 1000+ gigs later, music took Vial across most of the United States, east of the Mississippi River, and Ontario…and he felt it was time to get back into the classroom; however, finding a teaching job proved more difficult than he expected. Underfunded school budgets left few schools interested in hiring an experienced teacher. After 20+ applications without an interview, Vial assumed it was time to for him to hit the road again.
Then the unexpected happened in last September: Vial got a call from his dad that a position suddenly opened up at Farmington Public Schools. The application was due by midnight! After the tired musician returned home from a late night gig, he submitted his application an hour before the deadline.
Stars aligned. He is now teaching freshmen English and Language Arts at Harrison High School.
“Life never works out perfectly like you plan it,” Mike joked, describing the stress of taking over a classroom with little notice. “Each lesson plan is like playing a short, fifty minute gig!”
Vial’s music career isn’t on hiatus. He’s been playing three gigs a month, including his monthly residency at the mash bar in Ann Arbor. Plus, he’s working on new material for his fifth record. While most teachers enjoy their summers off, Vial will be using his to get back to work. He embarks on a short tour across the Midwest in July and August.
This time, he’s taking Mike Gentry along for the ride. “I pitched to him the idea to tour together this summer like old folk artists did in the 60s!” Like Paul Simon describes in “Homeward Bound,” the Mikes will complete a tour of one-night stands with suitcases and guitars in hand, performing as solo artists and ending shows as a duo.
Their musical partnership feels fated, since Gentry produced Vial’s latest record, the ambitious A World That’s Bigger, in 2016. Gentry and Vial went to a cabin in Indian River, and Vialplayed 100+ takes to get the right versions of ten songs, live, just like how Nick Drake recorded Pink Moon. That musical reflection of becoming a father continues to resonate with local audiences across Michigan.
2018 now has Vial considering his role as a teacher, which is spilling into his songwriting. “I’m working on new material that addresses American history, civil rights, and individual acts of courage,” Vial said, as he road tests the new songs. “I hope to find time to record between grading papers and changing diapers.”
Barelyon is what happens when the Big Apple meets the Motor City. A champion and an underdog rolled into one. A ton of hustle and zero ounces of quit. Stylistically, raw, soulful, pop rock with influences from Amy Winehouse, Frank Sinatra, The White Stripes, John Mayer, and other artists known for embracing the history of music while molding it into something new. Originally from NYC and Detroit respectively, Barelyon is a collaboration between Leona CW and Brion RGB (Riborn) –and often other groovy music people at live shows– creating music with a focus on duets and harmonies. Almost every song is an interaction between singers. There is no lead. Barelyon is a duo. Barelyon is a band. Barelyon is.