On Fri. Dec. 2,, The Ferndale Area District Library opens their doors for an after-hours gig! A live concert inside a library! First Stop Friday, the library’s bi-monthly showcase of two great local bands, is sponsored by The Friends of the Ferndale Library.
This month, we’ll be helping Ferndale music fans get better acquainted with the scheduled performers at the next installment of First Stop Friday.
Escaping Pavement recently released their second full-length album, The Night Owl: an instant classic of modern bluegrass and fiery folk ballads. The Ferndale-based duo features Emily Burns on guitar/vocals and Aaron Markovitz on vocals/mandolin; they have an impeccably sweet harmonization with their voices and dynamic synchronization of strums from a wooden stringed instruments. Sometimes they bring a banjo and a ukulele to the party… The idea is to pare the purity of folk and bluegrass back to its earthiest basics; to rethink Americana twang, rethink folk; and get back to the natural acoustic sounds. “Escape the pavement…” of dissonant, electro-heavy cityscapes and get a musical breath of fresh air.
Burns and Markovitz are native Michganders but they spent their formative years out in California, where they attended music school. They’ve got some interesting anecdotes to share, to be sure, from the several years spent as part of an ensemble of rock-centric musicians performing as the house band for luxury cruise ships.
Out at sea, under glitzy auditorium lights, performing plugged-in rock music began feeding this urge they both shared to get back to the roots of music, back to something with grit and soul. Escaping Pavement became the perfect vehicle for that, Burns said. The couple had been writing acoustic based, folk-inclined songs on the side for years during their tenure as professional musicians aboard cruise ships, but they’d kept it a secret more or less until 2011, when they started the earliest incarnation of Escaping Pavement back here in metro Detroit, essentially as a southern-rock quartet.
“After the first two years of being primarily bar band, we decided our music was once again taking a turn towards the more acoustic, folky, bluegrass side of things and we became a duo to better facilitate performing in those genres,” said Burns. “Also, the lyrics of the original music we were writing took more of a turn towards awareness of the human mind and the current state of society, which are messages much better delivered through folk and bluegrass music.
The Night Owl is their second album, but it certainly feels like their most comprehensive statement, a true arrival and idealization of their message and motif. The voices, the sentiments, the musicality, and a lot of the heart poured upon the notes exudes an endearing authenticity.
Burns and Markovitz have been working on music for as long as they’ve been together, coming up on almost 12 years, now. So, of course, that accounts for their chemistry and charisma as a duo both on recordings and on a stage. “A big part of what we do though also involves watching what the other is doing,” said Burns. “The way they’re forming their mouth, the way they’re timing their words, a lot of different factors come in to play when syncing up harmonically.”
Coming up for Escaping Pavement, new music is coming together for their third album, which they hope to start recording soon. Meanwhile, they’ll be applying for an Artist in Residency program next year at a national park. Imagine this pair, living in- and creating music about- nature, the outdoors, the earth, ecology, amid a setting such as that!
Escaping Pavement are streaming on Spotify. Or, find them via soundcloud.