We're here at Grush Audio in Fenton recording five songs for our LP. It was serious business which for us is always cause for periodic silliness. Driving our producer Shane insane. Songs slated for the LP. There's a Nest in My Umbrella, Tornado Weather, The Secrets of Men, Inland Seas and Nobody Dies Down South.
We had a dry run as an ensemble in January 2013. We decided to come back together and form a band later that year. In September we did three songs publicly. In December 2013 we had our first little Taller Than They Appear "show" at Goldfish tea. We did about 10 shows in our debut year as a band in 2014. And now, in 2015 we are beginning to hang together as a band. We call ourselves a band of songwriters, we sing and play each others songs. Our words, our feelings, our experiences. I have never done anything like this in my life. It is a sharing of souls. We laugh and we sing and we have crabby days or hurried days. Gathering and packing and hauling gear and juggling schedules. It's a lot of work, but never, for more than a moment do I think of giving it up. For me this is my band of friends. I see our relationships deepening rehearsal by rehearsal, show by show. I love Bobby Pennock and Sigrid Christiansen and Jere Stormer. Thank you for some of the best times in my life. Thank you for nudging this fledgling singer/songwriter/musician into this world of performing. You are the nest in my umbrella, the ice in my river, as close to me as this old skin and my wings of love.
OP-ED published in the Detroit Metro Times 11/06, written by Jere Stormer
Subject: "Hard Listening" Future of Music in the Motor City
I've been a part of a few scenes in this town… From the first wave of the Bookie's bands to hair bands to not-so hair bands."
Easy Listening it's not. The Detroit scene is about Hard Listening. I mean Titanium-Hard. Always been that way. Focused. Intense. Leave the comedy to Soupy… Let's start in the 1930s: Cutting contests at the Graystone that made the cats on the coasts afraid to come back. Hard. Paradise Valley getting ploughed over by I-75. Hard. Be-boppers leaving town to be appreciated. Hard. Moving up in time: The competition to create the perfect pop song in the snakepit. Hard. MC5, & running from tear-gas. Hard. Iggy's chest. Hard. Cybotron to Eminem to the White Stripes… They love us everywhere. It's like Woody said: "Hard Travellin'"
I've been a part of a few scenes in this town… From the first wave of the Bookie's bands to hair bands to not-so hair bands. Now I'm considered a "folkie" and my scene is ultra-vibrant but so what? It doesn't stand a chance of breaking out -- It can't spread because it's too hard to get around in this town … (Then you have to park!)
Like everyone else holding down this fort, I am tired of musicians leaving to make someone else's scene. But UNTIL folks from Bloomfield can get to Jefferson-Chalmers, and folks from Green Acres can get to Northville; our city is never really going to grow a scene. Scenes are intrinsically a "walking distance" phenomenon. You can get to Greenwich Village as long as you can make it to the subway stop. You can get to Old Town if you can get to the south side. Beale Street… Austin…Toronto… Everybody can WALK everywhere. . .
Cities have scenes because they maintain dependable public transportation. The day Detroit gets a good rail or bus system that unites the Urbs with the Burbs will be the day multi-scenes will spontaneously birth themselves. Hard Labor.
Recently, one member of Taller That They Appear (we’ll call him Member #4), asked his band-mates about their musical influences. Actually, he specifically requested the Top 5. Below are the results of his query:
Member 1: Richard Thompson, Steve Earle, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen
Member 2: Child Ballads, the songs of Chilean writer Violeta Parra, Leonard Cohen, Michael Smith,
Member 3: Gospel hymns, musicals (loved stories that were sung), Johnny Cash, The Beatles, The Supremes. Saturday Texaco Opera and the American Songbook I'd check out every week to read
Member 4: Bruce Cockburn, Richard Thompson, CSN, Andy Williams, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, The Monkees, Joe Jackson, Brian Wilson, Squeeze, Adrian Belew, Stan Kenton, Gordon Lightfoot, Marvin Gaye*...wait, there’s more!
(*Please note that Member 4, who asked for a Top 5 list, provided over twice the requested number of influences. That’s how this outfit rolls.)
While there is some overlap in influences, overall, these chicks and chaps are worlds apart in what makes them tick, musically. Yet, these seemingly strange bedfellows, as it were, are able to come together and make it work.
My guess is that, music is music, and even those from different planets can come together to make beautiful music.
Attend a show. Then you decide. Does it work? Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? Or is it that some of the parts, though different, make for a great whole even though the parts, on their own, are also great? I just can’t know!
Does the name Taller Than They Appear actually equate to the whole being great than the sum of the parts? No, they just thought it was silly. They aren't deep thinkers --Band Member 4
A world without time … just a musing.
Our world is purgatory. Our existence shaded in endless gray. We live in, and are trapped by, the dimension of time. Nothing stops time. However Art, specifically our appreciation of Art seems to stop time… and it’s a window worth looking through…
Give this a thought: Whether you believe in a literal Adam and Eve in an actual Garden of Eden or an allegorical rendering of the story, it seems that all God had to do in order to kick the sinful couple out of the Garden was to impose the dimension of time.
Look at Nature’s beauty. If TIME stops, you’re in Heaven. Heaven might exist in the beauty of acknowledging the perfection around us: Living in a moment without TIME.
Now here comes TIME: Deadlines, weather, physical ravages, stress … Kind of a working definition of Hell. That’s how we might recognize our little TIME here on Earth – It’s really purgatory. We sort out the grays and wait for TIME to end and for Karma to begin.
In the meantime, ART is a portal to Heaven: Lose yourself in a painting. Engross yourself in music. Wonder at the beauty surrounding us and we STOP TIME – at least that’s the way it seems. It’s as close as we can get. Art is our glimpse of Heaven: A world without TIME. -- Jere Stormer
Last Saturday evening, the band had the pleasure of performing at the home of Al Cholger and Maureen (Mo) Sheahan, hosts of "Al & Mo Present," a series of concerts they host at their home. Al loves to cook and Mo loves to organize. They both love music and the artists who make it. Put all of that together and you have a great night of gourmet food and live entertainment. Al prepared the finest BBQ that night with all the fixin's -- slow-baked beans, cornbread with chiles, slaw, you name it. Mo made her famous desserts. (I sampled a bit of the deep dish apple pie.) Oh, lordy. Guests brought sides and drinks and on the table lay a feast. Al & Mo invite their friends, charging $20 for the meal and the music, but get this … they give all of the proceeds to the musicians. The food and the venue is their gift. I asked why and how it started and Mo's answer was, "Because we wanted to help support musicians." Al & Mo and their guests are true patrons of the arts, generous in every way, from applause and compliments to giving beyond the price of admission. We all had a great time on a beautiful summer evening. Singing, playing and enjoying the company of new friends. It's a night we will remember for a long time to come. We were full of BBQ and gratitude! -- Lauren Crane
EP: Track #2 -- July 17, 2014
About once a month a musician or band shows up at my house, usually around dinnertime. Sometimes they set up a sound system, but most often they don’t because wood floors and tall ceilings make voices and instruments ring and shimmer. I move my furniture and set up chairs in readiness for an audience. I cook, put food and drink on tables and light candles. Around 7:30 people start arriving and the magic begins. This is the set up for a house concert, one of the best ways to celebrate community, fellowship and life.
The musicians who come to my house are songwriters, each with different stories to tell and different styles of telling. The people who come to listen are friends, neighbors and strangers, friendships developing with the frequency of the shared experience of music and fellowship.
In the revelation of stories told in song we learn personal histories, cultural histories and imagined histories woven with the thread of vocal and instrumental grace. No corporations are involved, no by-laws govern the gathering but the strength of fellowship, community and the unique pleasure of these evenings imbue each of us with formidable feelings of well-being.
That is the magic of the house concert. -- Sigrid Christiansen