Friday Five: Chris Bathgate, The Rick Burgess Trio, Kelly Hoppenjans, Katie Pederson
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features a new single by singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate, a memorial compilation of live jazz by The Rick Burgess Trio, crunchy and atmospheric indie rock by Kelly Hoppenjans, country-tinged pop by Katie Pederson, and innovative R&B via Where She Creep.
Chris Bathgate, "Bruises"
It's been five years since singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate released his last album, but it's been a really busy half-decade for him based on the bio his label, Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific, put out to preview his forthcoming record, The Significance of Peaches. In that time he moved to the West Coast, then back to Michigan, where he was living (homeless?) in a National Forest, and also welcomed the birth of his son. The album comes out May 13 and the gospel-inflected first single, "Bruises," gives us a taste of one of the LP's dominant sounds: a parlor organ.
The Rick Burgess Trio, 2020
Russell Tessier was an Ann Arbor bassist who moved to Los Angeles in 2015 to fulfill his dream of being a full-time musician. His life was cut short by cancer on January 22, 2022, and 2020 is a compilation of straightahead jazz live recordings he made over two days with Robert Warren (drums) and Patrick Whitehead (piano) at Ann Arbor's The Earle Restaurant. The album is credited to Rick Burgess, a jazz pianist who died in 2009. who was also the former co-owner of The Earle (and owner of the Del Rio). This trio kept the band name as tribute to Burgess, who performed at the restaurant for decades, and 2020 serves as a lovely tribute to Tessier, too. This group of musicians has also released other tracks under the Burgess name here.
Kelly Hoppenjans, "Stain"
The crunchy guitar-rocker "Love of My Life (In My Living Room)," the first song on the new EP by Kelly Hoppenjans, sounds like a diary entry for how she found her partner during the pandemic. It's not truly that, but you could say Can't Get the Dark Out is all about finding amor during difficult times. “I wanted this album to be a messy love story,” Hoppenjans said in a press release, “the joys and struggles of finding love in a dark, difficult world.” She's a terrific singer, with a husky, powerful voice, and her songs are catchy and atmospheric indie rock with just a touch of twang. The first single, "Stain," is out now; the whole EP releases on May 6. Hoppenjans is from Nashville but now calls Ann Arbor home, teaching at A2 Guitar.
Katie Pederson, One Before the One
In a reverse move from Hoppenjans, singer-songwriter Katie Pederson left Ann Arbor for Nashville, where she's carving out a career as a country-pop artist. Her new record, One Before the One, is a crystalline collection of ballads and radio-ready tunes, and she's returning home to play The Ark on Sunday, April 24, to celebrate the release of this excellent album.
Where She Creep, Feels
Ypsi's Kyle Love is a soul singer who records under the name Where She Creep, and his aptly named debut album, Feels, isn't afraid to be real and raw with the emotions. The album's 10 tracks feature a variety of excellent producers, but the standout takeaway is Love's voice, which is so smooth and buttery you're gonna wanna spread it on toast. Recommended for fans of Ne-Yo and James Blake. You can check out an interview with Love here on the Two Hip Hop Senseis and a Casual podcast.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.