Cerny Brothers / Sarah Burton / Zander Michigan
Wed, Sep 14, 2016 @ 8:00 pm to 2:00am
Wednesday September 14- 8 P.M.- $5
The Cerny Brothers: A weekend boating trip on the Mississippi River was the occasion for young brothers Robert and Scott to decide they would start a band. Robert would sing and Scott would play guitar, even though at the time Robert had never sung in his life, Scott had never touched a guitar, and neither brother made preparing for their piano lessons — which their mom forced them to take — a priority. Instead of practicing their assigned music, they would write their own pieces and record them with a small cassette recorder, selling them at their high school for five dollars each.
The house where they grew up during their high school years was located in a small town in rural Illinois. Robert and Scott would lock themselves in their upstairs bedroom and toil away at their next creative project. They wrote dozens of songs and played them whenever they had a chance at local cafes, friends’ birthday parties, and barns in the middle of nowhere. They put together a high energetic punk band with their close friends that later evolved into a more hardcore, metal mosh phenomenon. Soon after the band began to dissipate.
After high school the brothers stuck together and went to the same college so they could continue writing and working together. Robert majored in music and was trained as a classical singer, while Scott studied media, a degree that gave him school credit to direct and produce a feature length film on a very small budget. Robert ended up playing one of the lead roles as well as scoring the movie, while Scott spent endless hours editing all the footage. During the production and completion of the film, their music had now turned toward a more electronic sound. Their shows consisted of the brothers switching back and forth between piano, guitar and synthesizer, while both operated the laptop that acted as their drummer. After awhile, the stage set up became so complex that they decided to get back to the basics of songwriting, stripping their musical world down to a guitar and a voice. After focusing on crafting even better songs, they teamed up with their friends in The Giving Tree Band and recorded their debut record under the name The Cerny Brothers in Yorkville, Illinois.
Their first album “Dream” was what they carried with them as they packed up everything they had and headed out to Los Angeles. Robert started to learn the banjo, and they practiced for hours writing new songs in their apartment. At this point they didn’t know anyone, and on top of that started to receive complaints from the neighbors that they were being too loud. The brothers soon took to parking their van for hours on the side of the road while they rehearsed inside it. In a musical climate so bloated that it was easy to get buried in the noise, Robert and Scott set out for a sound that would project in the midst of it. They played for a while with a drummer, which set apart their breed of folk rock from any other acoustic music happening in LA. The Cerny Brothers played all over the city and soon found a bassist and a practice space in the basement of their church. They recorded an album in Ojai, California, which included popular songs like “Ohio” and “Don’t Run,” with “beautiful folk melodies and extremely catchy and chorus driven sing-a-longs.”
Soon after the release of the album, The Cerny Brothers hit the road, first up and down the west coast and then all the way back to the Midwest. After splitting off with their previous bass player, they met Albert Hickman, who learned the whole set in about a week and then set out on another tour. Alby heard the band at a recording session back in LA and said there had been an immediate connection. Growing up in Santa Monica while studying classical guitar and mandolin, he was moving a million miles a second between all types of music. He went from playing Bach and Hank Williams to buying an upright bass and joining the band. It was Alby’s friend Robert Anderson who would later join the band as the new drummer. Robert came from the other side of the country in Florida, where he studied drums, mostly with an emphasis in jazz. Other than the fact that there were now two Roberts in The Cerny Brothers, the transition was a great addition to the group.
Buzzbands.LA call The Cerny Brothers “a group without any trendy gimmicks, a lead banjo player strumming with the same vigor as if on the electric guitar and simplistic lyrics delivered with strength.” This year marks the release of their new album “Sleeping Giant,” which they recorded at Bear Creek Studios in Seattle with producers Jerry Streeter and Ryan Hadlock, who are known for their work with Brandi Carlile and The Lumineers. The album signifies a new direction for the band, as the music has turned from an acoustic, folk element to a more electric, American rock sound while still keeping the folk spirit from their earlier work. The songs on “Sleeping Giant” deal with becoming a man and finding identity in a constantly changing world, staying rooted in something that can be shaken but not moved, and realizing that we all have a sleeping giant inside of us waiting to be set free.
Sarah Burton: A rambler, a gambler, a lover and a fighter
“Here is acoustic, rock, bluesy, torch, indie jive, country psychedelic, soul-baring beautiful music that those with a need to hear a new point of view ought to get off their butts and obtain. This album matters.”
(John C. McClure, Victory Review Nov. 2011)
“a country dusted folk album of steel guitars and sweet sorrow”
(Brad Wheeler, The Globe & Mail)
Zander Michigan is a folk/blues singer/songwriter from Detroit, MI. He plays the guitar, the harmonica, and sometimes even plays the fool. His Bob Dylan style vocals, heavy strum, and cheeky lyrics make him a classic sounding musician in an age of futuristic banter. His second album has just been released. Titled Zander The Great, this album is going to have all the power of the Greek Gods behind it. Zander has gone full production with this record, using not only his harmonica and acoustic guitar, but drums, piano, and electric guitar, along with his characteristic howling vocals. With track names like “The Great” and “Bathtub Gin” the album sets the tone for an in-your-face, no cares given experience that everyone can get excited about. He decided to go full band to add some depth to his music. He felt that the stripped versions of songs didn’t have the same bite that he wanted.
From humble beginnings Zander Michigan has come quite far. In just four months of starting out, Zander had written enough songs to compile an album, so in the summer of 2013 he went to the studio. In September of 2013 he released his first 14-song album, “Never Going Back Home”. He since has been featured on Local 4 News, on Ann Delisi’s Essential Music, TV Warren, WAYN Radio, and in Metrotimes. Also upon releasing his album, Zander played shows whenever the opportunity arose. He has played at Arts, Beats, and Eats, the Detroit River Days, The Magic Stick, Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Metro Times Blowout Festival, Ann Arbor Art Fair, Birmingham Street Fair, Dino’s Lounge, Goldfish Tea, The Pike Room, The Plymouth Coffee Bean, The Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, Crazy Wisdom and many more. He hopes that by putting out his sophomore record, people will start to see the seriousness he puts into his work and the labor that goes along with it. He hopes to tour the US and get out the message of Zander Michigan with his new record Zander The Great.
He says, “I’m making my way both eastward and westward in my pursuit of becoming a household name.” The young Midwesterner sounds like Bob Dylan, but when people spout the word “Dylanesque”, he doesn’t mind. He thinks it’s endearing that people would compare him to such a great. Metrotimes even said, “Bob wouldn’t be too upset”. Who knew sounding dangerously like Bob Dylan could be such a perk?