The Already Dead Family Reunion is only one week away! For me, this is by far the most magical music experience of the year and I’m incredibly excited to share it with all of you! In the next few days, you’ll be seeing posts from several DIT writers about the Family Reunion, what it means to them and what they’re looking forward to this year. Seeing as how I am the one booking the festival, I’m gonna start by sharing my perspective and hopefully encouraging you to join us on September 24th – 28th!

Over the past couple years of booking this annual event, I’ve had a number of people tell me it is best festival they’ve ever been to. I’ve also heard folks say that they’ve never seen this big a lineup without any filler acts or that they’ve never been so consistently blown away by this many new bands. Very high praise and I do not take it lightly!

The Family Reunion is a deeply important experience for me and I take great pains to ensure it is the best event I can possibly put together. I carefully pick bands that are creative, challenging, passionate and inspiring. I’m not concerned with booking artists that have been hyped on Pitchfork or can draw a big crowd. Instead, I want this to be a special experience for all playing and attending. You may not know all the performers ahead of time, but I guarantee that if you have an open mind, you will enjoy every minute of it!

For those not familiar, here is a quick bio on what the ADFR is and what you need to know about this year:

The Already Dead Family Reunion is an annual music festival based around the label Already Dead Tapes & Records which was founded by Josh Tabbia and myself (Sean Hartman) in late 2009. The first Reunion was a one day event in the Fall of 2011. We wanted to put together an event that allowed label bands from across the country to meet and collaborate. We wanted to inspire local creativity by bringing in fresh and forward thinking artists. Most of all, we wanted to build a festival where people attend because of the event’s reputation, not just because their favorite band is playing. Every year it has grown both in scope and attendance. This year includes 36 bands from all over the country playing at 4 different venues over the course of 5 days!

A lot of amazing acts have played the Reunion over the past three years and I wholly believe this year is the best lineup yet!

We’ve got some heavy hitters from previous Reunions -
(About A Million, Grow Fangs, Problems That Fix Themselves, The New Diet, Spelling Bee, U.S. Tribes, Morseville Bridge, AM Stations)

Newer label bands making their Kalamazoo debut -
(Shitstorm, Ant’lrd, Silence Dogood, Yeesh, Miami Dolphins, Watermelon, Kyle Kaos)

Locals bands -
(The Reptilian, Forget The Times, Boring People, Vermillion Father, Boron Nuzzle, Guppy, Anybody But The Cops, Axel Quinlan, Dumbelievers, ARGERN, M. Sord)

Plus fan favorites, label associates and friends in the making – (Child Bite, Cheer-Accident, Cellular Choas, Chris Brokaw, Spanyurd, Regular Fucked Up People, Victoria Blade, Comfort Food, Law$suits)

We’ve even got a special event at the Alamo Drafthouse where a few hand picked musicians will be improvising a live soundtrack to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari!

For more info on what these bands sound like, when and where they’re playing and how you can get tickets, go to
You can also find a Facebook event here:

I’ll leave you now with a few videos of the bands playing. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you next week!

- Sean Hartman


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The Aptly Named ALREADY DEAD FAMILY REUNION 4 – Day One – Milhouse/Satellite 9.24

As someone who has been on the periphery of involvement in Already Dead Tapes & Records, and in the Family Reunion, I have often felt that Family Reunion VS Festival is such a fitting title for the event. If your friends are your family, like so often is the case in my life personally, you may feel similarly. Many of the artists who have played this fest have a vested interest in Kalamazoo – they live here currently, they’ve played here, they’ve ADstickfound meaningful relationships here, and they’ve all been honing their craft for the year to showcase to you, and to the rest of the family/friends/aacquaintancesnewcomers in attendance.

But if you feel like you don’t know anyone on this list (and that might be true, this event focuses on some fairly unknown or under-praised artists) the structure allows for you to not even get to know some art you’ve never heard, but to get to know the people involved. This is what Kalamazoo does best and what keeps people coming here, the open mind about all sorts of music, and the openness to new people from near and far. Come meet the family – chances are it’ll actually be less awkward than an actual Family Reunion.

DAY ONE of ADFR will ease us in with a potluck gathering and (weather permitting) acoustic acts on the Milhouse porch (contact for address)

VICTORIA BLADE (Chicago) will showcase her talents for the first time as a solo artist in Kalamazoo. This former resident

AXEL QUINLAN (Kalamazoo) is an unsung hero of modern folk music, and there’s little chance you wont be taken in by his writing and steadfast presentation.

PLUS SHOW AT SATELLITE (starts at 9:00)

ARGERN (????) I can’t find anything about this artist, you’ll just have to come and see!

FORGET THE TIMES (Kalamazoo) are noise guitar/drums abstract expressionists .

DUMBELIEVERS (Kalamazoo) are highly hyped bizarre guitar

CELLULAR CHAOS (Brooklyn) a project of Weasel Walter of The Flying Leuttenbachers  that plays some of the best freakout jazz punk you’ve never heard or will ever hear.

Find more info about the entire fest at / (1 day passes available as well, but this is the best deal!) or stay tuned for more individual posts on DITK about individual days!

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Thunder from Down Yonder: Deaf Wish, No Bails, The Uncanny @ Louies 9/23

This show is gonna be awesome so I’ll make this quick:

DEAF WISH is a noisy, clangy garage-punk act hailing from the inhabited continent furthest from us: Straya.

NO BAILS is Kalamazoo’s Goner-esque garage-warrior outfit. They’re doing it and doing it for real.

Finally, THE UNCANNY are just that. Freaked-out surf rock that will upset your mother and infuriate your dog.

Show starts at 9pm. Bring some money for merch and 5 bucks is suggested at the door because Australia is a long drive or so I am led to understand.

Plus, if enough people by Deaf Wish records, KURT MIGHT TAKE OF HIS T-SHIRT.

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9/18 – King Median, #timdoesnotexist, Shark Attacks Baby @ Satellite Records


Satellite Records has only been open for about three months, but in that short amount of time, the neighborhood record store has hosted an already countless number of shows.  This Thursday, King Median and #timdoesnotexist make their respective second visits to Satellite Records joined by a new Kalamazoo project entitled Shark Attacks Baby.

King Median is a psychedelic pop/rock outfit comprised of Kalamazoo College students who just finished recording an album with Kalamazoo-based recording studio / music collective Double Phelix.  King Median was very likely the last artist to record at the now deserted Double Phelix recording facility on Kalamazoo Ave.  The band takes influence from classic and modern psychedelic music, citing such influences as Animal Collective and The Beach Boys.

#timdoesnotexist is the singer-songwriter project of a Kalamazoo musician named Tim Tapper.  Tim has been known as a songwriter in Kalamazoo since moving to the area in 2007, playing songs under varying monikers (The Number Eight, Tim Tapper & the Terribles) over the years.  Distinctions from the projects previous are few and far between, but with #timdoesnotexist, elements of comedy and conceptual songwriting that were not previously present are revealed.

Shark Attacks Baby is a new Kalamazoo band.  The world wide web offers no information on this band, but with a name like that, one can only assume they’ll bring an interesting time.

Satellite Records is an all ages, substance-free venue located at 808 S Westnedge Ave.  The show will kick off around 8:30, and there is no cover charge.

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Satellite Records has got an evening astounding entertainment lined up! Ava Luna dropped one of the best records of 2014 and we’re super excited to see them right here in Kalamazoo!

Ava Luna is a band that defies normal genre constraints. The instrumentation is often based in Punk, No Wave and Experimental roots but the vocals are straight Soul Music. They craft their songs so beautifully that any listener can enjoy them for the Pop masterpieces they really are. This is adventurous, passionate music that absolutely must be heard!

Check out these videos and you’ll see exactly what we mean:

Satellite Records is located at 808 S Westnedge Ave
Show starts at 9pm
$5 suggested minimum donation with all money going to the touring bands
All Ages
No alcohol / drugs / jerks
Opening bands include: Celestial Shore, Saxsquatch & Bridge Band 


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The KCAC (Kalamazoo Collective Arts Center) has announced an afternoon event to explain what the hopes and goals of the organization are! More importantly, this meeting KCACtshirt3hopes to collect information from the community about just what exactly you would like out of the arts center itself.

Since acquiring a space and keeping afloat is a big endeavor, the KCAC board is being cautious and thoughtful when it comes to the creation of this endeavor. That’s why it’s vital to get community input, so that the efforts will go to what people really hope to get out of a local art/community center.

If you have absolutely any thoughts on the matter, come to 511 w Vine (the Vine Neighborhood Association) between 2-4 to ask any questions and to verbalize/write down your perspective. The KCAC hopes to have more open to the public meetings such as this, so help start this off on a good note!

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The Making of Maraj’s Voyager, By Andy Catlin

When we set out to make our first full-length album as Maraj, we had one simple goal: start and don’t stop until it’s done.  We are a new band with a lot of internal momentum, and a strong, but loose process: I write the music, Ben makes it better, Kam and Darius rap, and Sam sings the hooks. From the onset, we’ve had a natural sense of unity and liberty; a feeling that arose out of our diversity, drive to create, and primary focus on the groove. The following three months turned into the most prolific, focused, and fun period I’ve ever had as a producer and collaborator.

On our first EP, I wrote all of the music as I had in the past for other projects; I sat at the guitar or piano, wrote chords and melodies, then started arranging and overdubbing until it was time to write hooks and lyrics. I am devoted to creating a mix of organic and electronic instrumentation, respecting the feel and necessity of human time and error, but not denying the power of drum machines and precise “in the box” synthesizers. While I’m proud of the funk and hooks on the EP and the opportunity it gave us to become a unit, it lacked the multi-dimensional aesthetic that is a hallmark of my favorite producers from Madlib to Van Dyke Parks.

As I was working at Hillside Middle School this past spring, teaching kids about vinyl for the Gift of Music program, it became clear that the root of our next album would be my collection of world and novelty records I’ve collected over the years. When I compose on an instrument, as opposed to staff paper, midi, or a DAW, I often find my compositional choices are based on my physical habits as a player rather than exploration of and reflection upon the infinite possibilities of any musical moment. I made it a goal to make the melodic and chord structures based on samples, and to use performance to sweeten and enhance the framework created by the vinyl samples. I would take the role of translator as opposed to author. As weeks and months went by, I came to find that I was freer than ever to shape my musical aesthetic, and began to access grooves and sounds that I long attempted, but fell short of due to my limitations as an instrumentalist.

Those of you who sample know that the more you look, the more the connections start to reveal themselves, no matter how disparate the source material may be. The first beat I created for the album, “Two Trips”, features samples from Faust, Scott Joplin, Sons of Pioneers, and a Martin Denny exotica record. I can barely remember how it all came to be, but through intense focus and the action/reaction process of composing in the studio, everything fell into place. I took the half finished record to the Double Phelix and added pianos, guitars, Hammond organ, percussion, and Ben sweetened the vinyl drum breaks with a Roland 707. Often times, this process includes our incredible bass player, Joel Pixley-Fink, cutting funky live bass. Between April and July 2014, we went on to create about 15 more tracks along the same lines, ten of which have made it onto the final release.

All the while, as the beats became more complete, I was passing demos to Kam, Darius, and Sam to write hooks and lyrics. While I am a vocalist and contribute to most tracks, I amazed by the power of great vocalists and MCs to turn sound into concept and concept into content. When I hear a track, I hear microphones, instruments, chords, and grooves, while Kam and Darius are able to fluidly translate sounds into visions; a multi-tracked add 6 chord of Sam’s voice may be the rainforest, while a roomy piano trill may be the disillusion of a lover. From there we take an image, and we grow a concept; a rainforest feels free, freedom takes liberation, and we’re off. However broad a concept like ‘freedom’ or ‘time’ may be, the details and meaning of a Maraj song become clearer and more concrete as the voices enumerate.

Just as the disparate samples come together through an unspoken action/reaction, each vocalist found their place in the music, and helped form the concept by adding their unique perspective. The more we searched, the more options were revealed. Within in this framework, we were not only able to push our collaboration conceptually, but also play with our given roles as musicians and people. Our live vocalist turned full time member, Toro, started to spit verses, while Darius and Kam wrote more hooks.

This is not to say we got it all figured out or that we don’t have room to grow; the voyage of a musician is never ending. We certainly aren’t the first or the last to create in this style; we’re always connected to those who came before. While we’d like to sell some CDs and have people come to our shows, for us the inspiration and the payoff is in the process itself. Maraj wasn’t planned, it just happened. As we say on the title track, “Who do you trust, when the road just rolls out behind us?”

In a world that continuously grows more fragmented and polarized through absurdist media, technological dependency, institutionalized racism, and apathetic cool, music offers us a breeding ground for self-definition and universal understanding. Music is the language of the soul. We are overjoyed to have found each other at such a ripe time and hope our music can help spark new avenues of exploration and connection for others to build off of. Our ears are tired from months of post-production, but our minds are our racing, and this album leaves us with so much room to grow and discover as long as we continue to be ourselves, together, in the studio, having fun.

Maraj is: Andy Catlin, Ben Lau, Kameron Potts, Sam Cooper, Darius Greer, Julia Toro, and Joel Pixley-Fink.

VOYAGER is out today on CD and digital download through


Maraj plays for free tonight, Sept. 12, at Louie’s Trophy House in Kalamazoo, MI. The show is free, 18+, and begins at 930pm. Fellow Michigan voyagers Ty Beat and MC Friendly support, with DJ Surge spinning throughout the night.


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