Review: The Midwest Home Grown Band, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippiness” (2009)
The first track of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippiness” introduces a theme which persists throughout the music of The Midwest Home Grown Band: balancing nostalgia for unfulfilled possibilities with a clear eyed view of what is. In the act of balancing these two views, the band takes the listener on a tour of American pop music, from the familiar sound of singer-songwriter classic guitar in “The Courthouse Clock”, to the jazzy, slinky whisper of Frank Zappa and dark social observations of Leonard Cohen on “The City” to the melodic, but punchy “Tears” that calls up Mary Chapin Carpenter at her best, and finally the banjo picking in “Road Trip.” The centerpiece that grounds the collection is “God Bless Our Troops” which synthesizes twangy country music, a plea for harmony among diverse political viewpoints, a plea for peace in the Middle East, and a solid recognition of pluralism as an American way of life. The song is appropriately paired with the libertarian nostalgia of “Hooker’s Mill”, reminiscent of Southern rock of the early 1970s. The collection taken as a whole presents a series of accomplished musical snapshots, which comes across as personal and sincere, like pictures taken from a traveling car as it passes by the panoramas of America. Along the way, the traveler experiences the variety of emotions most Americans feel at this complex time in history: fondness when recalling memories of simpler times, cynicism, love, patriotism, and a poignant hope that we will return to best America has to offer in wide-open spaces and the freedom of the unexplored road. As the collection ends, the listener can’t help wanting to raise a glass to the sentiments, musical ability and sense of American pride this band conveys.
The Midwest Home Grown Band: Press
December 21, 2009
Songwriter's debut CD has a distinctly Lenawee County flavor
Lenawee County residents who listen to "Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness," a CD of original songs by Adrian resident Eric Einhorn, might find a few things that seem familiar.
One song makes reference to M-52, another to Division Street in Adrian. The cover was photographed near Morenci, on property belonging to one of Einhorn's friends.
Most of the musicians who came together to work on the project are Lenawee County residents. And even the guitar Einhorn played while recording the album came from here, having been handmade by Hesh Breakstone of Tecumseh.
Einhorn, 47, said he's been performing for about 25 years. After eight years in the Army, he settled in Adrian with no connections here other than a friend who had a place where he could stay while getting himself set up. He knew he wanted to do more with music, so being close to Detroit made sense - and having moved around a lot as a child, he said, "moving to someplace new was no big deal for me."
Einhorn, who earned two degrees from Siena Heights University and now works as human resources manager for the Spartan Stores distribution center in Plymouth, has lived in Adrian for 20 years.
"I've played probably every venue there is in this neck of the woods," he said.
Einhorn wanted to make a CD of songs he'd written, and started recording at Bluegills Studio, run by Wayne Morton in the Irish Hills. A tour of Pac 3 Recording Co. in Dearborn, where Stevie Wonder and other Motown artists once played, led to him recording at that studio and working with producers from Counter Clockwise Music. The CD was mastered in England by Andrew Jackson, who had done sound engineering for Pink Floyd.
The musicians who worked with Einhorn on the project - together, known as The Midwest Home Grown Band - are all people he'd worked with at one time or another.
"One of the things I think I did right was get really good musicians to surround myself with," he said.
"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippyness" blends several musical genres. Several of the songs are rock numbers, but one - "Don't Call Me Loser" - is straight-up classic country. Another song, "The City," is a jazzy, bluesy, spoken-word piece.
"I get an idea for a song, " Einhorn explained, "and if the song takes me country, I go country, and if it's a rock song, I go rock."
The first number on the album, "The Courthouse Clock," is about the racism that can linger under the surface in a small town. "Just a Song" is a love song Einhorn wrote for his fiancee, Kathy Mende. The album also includes a spoken-word track titled "God Bless Our Soldiers," which Einhorn said reflects the fact that although he prefers peace to war, "no matter how we got into the war, we're there" and need to support the people fighting in it.
Einhorn, who is credited on the album under the stage name Eric Greengartner, lists several of classic rock's biggest names among his musical influences.
"I'm a big Beatles fan," he said. "I like guys like Tom Petty, I like Steely Dan. Definitely bands like Boston." Other favorites include The Cars and Pink Floyd.
Mark Meisel of Counter Clockwise Music, who produced the CD with partner Robert Becker, said he found Einhorn's lyrics to be "quite profound."
"After I heard them, they were still bouncing around in my head for a while, which is always a good sign," he said.
Joining Einhorn in the band are Dale Beagle of Adrian on keyboard, Bill Sisk of Plymouth on guitar, Rob Brines of Ann Arbor on drums, Steve Meyer of Adrian on bass and Amy Mohr of Tecumseh on vocals.
Beagle, who helped with some of the arrangements in addition to playing keyboard, said he enjoyed working on the album, an experience that allowed him to play the same instrument that Stevie Wonder had once played.
"Eric's a great guy," he said. "We've been in and out of playing with a couple of different groups together."
Beagle said the musicians involved in the project work well together, and he believes they'll collaborate on more projects in the future.
"We've got other tunes under our belts," he said.
"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippyness" is available at D&M Musical Circus and The Book Abbey in Adrian and at Mac's Traxx's in Tecumseh.
Copyright 2009 The Daily Telegram. All Rights Reserved.
The Midwest Home Grown Band is a unique assembly of gigging troubadours mostly known for their migratory touring of the pubs and clubs throughout America’s Heartland. Bartering their craft for alcohol, cigarettes, gasoline, and an occasional buck, they are a happy-go-lucky bunch that cares more about playing their tunes to an enthusiastic audience than about monetary remuneration. With the release of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippiness, they hope to expand their audience and hopefully you will join them on their musical journey. Check out thier new video "Sturgis Calls” which is a song they came up with for the Sturgis Rally held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota. The Sturgis Rally was founded on August 14, 1938 by the Jackpine Gypsies Motorcycle Club and now with the Help of The Midwest Home Grown Band, Eric Einhorn songwriter and guitarist, Amy Moore vocals, Bill Sisk on acoustic and electric guitar, Steve Meyer on Bass Guitar, and Rob Brines on drums, Sturgis now has an anthem. Listen, you can hear they put there heart into it.
The Midwest Home Grown Band Hits A Wide Range Of Genres In One Unique SoundPosted on December 5, 2012 by
From an old timey bluegrass tune to a jazzy blues song (or maybe bluesy jazz song) that makes you feel like you’ve just stepped into a speak easy, country and even a bit of rock and roll, The Midwest Home Grown Band seems to cover it all.
I had a chance to interview Eric Einhorn, the singer and guitarist for the Adrian, MI-based band.
Give a brief history of your musical career(s), how you got started, why you picked your instrument of choice, and if you’re a band, how you met and came together as a musical act.
I started playing guitar in 8th grade. I was an okay guitarist at best but there were some other guys my age that could really tear it up. I figured out that if I switched to bass which I was pretty good at, I could jam with some of the best lead players around. I played bass for 20+ years until I started to get serious about writing my own songs, then I switched back to guitar which is what I play in the Midwest Home Grown Band. It is a small musical world and I met most of my bandmates by jamming with them in the local clubs. You kind of get to know all of the musicians in the area over time and then you put together the group like a jigsaw puzzle. Some pieces fit better than others so sometimes there is tweaking going on but mostly it is about synergy. I feel that The Midwest Home Grown Band has become an awesome puzzle.
How would you describe your style of music? What makes your music unique compared to others in your genre?
I describe our music as Heartland style Americana. It is tough to define it more specifically than that because our songs are very diverse (Rock, Country, Blues, Spoken Word, Jazzy). When I write songs, I usually tell the story in words and then go where story takes me musically. A good example is our song The City from the CD Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness. I wanted the song to bring to mind a smokey, dark jazz club in the heart of the city and then give it a kind of beatnik delivery. Take a listen and see if you think it worked. I think our songs have clever lyrics and unique melodies, which probably separates us a bit from the main stream pack.
Who are your biggest musical influences and in what way have they influenced your own music?
I love all sorts of music from A to Z (Aerosmith to Zeppelin). I like Elvis Presley to Elvis Costello and Frank Sinatra to Frank Zappa. When I was learning guitar I started playing the Beatles and my favorite band of all time is probably the Cars. The exposure the whole band has had to all sorts of music is probably why our musical genre can’t be easily fit into a bottle.
What is your favorite song to perform (if applicable, otherwise what is your favorite song) and why?
My favorite cover song to perform is Melt With You by Modern English. I have always loved it since the Valley Girl movie in the late 70s. That whole soundtrack rocks and people respond well when we play it. My favorite original tune is called Hooker’s Mill and I wrote it about a place I used to go when I was skipping school and getting my head straight.
What is your favorite Toledo-area venue to play and why?
I think my favorite Toledo venue is Frankie’s. Probably because we were playing Frankie’s the night our newest band member made her debut. Her name is Maijel and she rocks. We brought a school bus loaded with friends from over the Michigan border and rocked the house along with 3 other great bands, Titus County, RMO and Black Mountainside. The sound crew there was awesome. That is the night I knew we finally had the puzzle complete.
In what ways do you promote your music to your target audience? What unique tips do you have for new bands to get the word out about their music?
I wish I had a good answer to this question. The music industry is reinventing itself and although Johnny Martsolf our Manager and I send promotional stuff out constantly it is like wishing on a star. I have learned to build mutual relationships and have some success using the barter system along with relentless positive action. It is a tough business, God bless people like you that offer a hand up! My advice to other musicians is stay the course and keep upbeat.
What is your favorite Toledo-area band or musician (besides yourself, of course)?
I would have to say that I have two favorites. The 56 Daze Band is a band that I started a while back and had a lot of success with. I would probably still be with them except they are pretty strictly a cover band all be it a damn good one. I had the need to do my own music and that band was having great success doing everyone elses. I still catch their act when I get a chance and I give a big shout out to Tony Poling who fronts them, if you haven’t heard them, it is a must if you like good rock. The other band is the Fabulous Rock Hard Band that I played withor a while. They are also great rockers but only covers. Bill Sisk my current lead player was with me in that band and once again, if not for the desire to write, record and perform our own stuff, we might still be jamming with those guys.
Is there anywhere on the Internet where your fans can hear your music?
Our website is www.themidwesthomegrownband.com and we would love to have folks check it out. We have lots of music, videos and photos there. It also will let you know about upcoming shows. If you stop by, please let us know by signing in on the guest list. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention my bandmates: Backseat Billy Sisk (don’t ask why) on Lead Guitar, Maijel Hickok Lead Vocals, Rob Brines on Drums, Steve Meyer on Bass, Pat Ulanowicz on Sax, Keys and Guitar. Everyone in the band sings as well which gives us some versatility. The group is The Midwest Home Grown Band and I hope you guys will check us out in person and on the web. Rock out!