Musicians and fans united for the gift of music on the River Raisin with the soulful sounds of Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar and special guest Juston Brady.
Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar – Musicians and Fans United
This pandemic has hit everyone hard. In response, many have rallied to support those in need. One area of need is our local music scene. Venues and concert promoters such as Manchester Underground Music and Art canceled shows to keep audiences safe. This has led to tremendous financial and psychological stress for many musicians, road crews, live sound engineers, venue staff, and owners.
There are some big national associations such as NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) and Sweet Relief who are pivoting to provide support for musicians. However, it takes grassroots efforts to make a difference. Enter husband and wife musical team Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar. You may know them as Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils. Since the start of the lockdown to control the pandemic, they have been in action.
Jennifer and Dylan refocused the Facebook group Playing in the Detroit area Tonight into a fundraising freight train for local music. The Playing in the Detroit area Tonight group was started to allow fans and musicians to share information about new music and upcoming shows. Given the audience, it was a natural fit to bring awareness to the financial needs of those in the local music scene.
Every week, people can nominate a musician or someone in the music business (such as a venue work, sound guy, etc). People who can spare a buck can contribute via PayPal to Passenger Recovery (PassengerRecovery@gmail.com) with a note saying “Musicians Fund”. On Sundays, Dylan and Jennifer host a Facebook live event to draw “winners”. These folks get a share of the funds raised each week. As of last weekend (June 27th), they have raised close to 12 thousand dollars for local music folks.
Manchester Underground brings music to the River Raisin
Our friends at Manchester Underground Music and Art have been doing all they can to support live music remotely during the lockdown. Now that there is a measure of safety outside if everyone keeps their distance and wears a mask when near others; it is time to celebrate summer with music. With the gracious approval of the village council, Manchester Underground moved into the beautiful summer sunlight to host a show at the pavilion at River Raisin Park. This beautiful river side facility is now a part of the village thanks to the generosity of the DuRussel family.
Juston Brady Unplugged (yet amplified)
I was intrigued when I read that Juston Brady was opening up this show. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Juston in Risky Brenda. I loved his new bands Dull Grave and Sometimes Pretty. I say intrigued because these prior encounters were gritty hard hitting alt-rock with a splash of punk attitude. The question in my mind, how would he sound throttled down?
The answer is smashing. His musical selection had a bit of alt-rock grit, yet it was contemplative and soothing. Dressed in black, I could hear in his voice the storytelling of Cash combined with the cool comfort of Wilco. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t write down his setlist. I just listened and let his performance take me away. Juston dedicated a tune to his friend Grant as well as a fun cover from Ween. If you get an opportunity to see Juston Brady unplugged, you won’t be disappointed.
Jennifer Westwood and Dylan Dunbar – Summer never sounded so sweet
Jennifer mentioned that she and Dylan had not done a live show in Michigan since January. I’d dare say they were nearly as excited to play for us as we were to see them. It was tough to tell how many people had come out as we were spread out across the hill that slopes down to the banks of the River Raisin. The Manchester Mirror mentioned 75 and that sounds good to me. The pavilion provided a wide stage. This allowed you to interact with Jennifer and Dylan without having to be concerned with being too close for comfort.
The evening sky was simply gorgeous. Big billowy clouds bathed in a beautiful evening glow made the music pop. Dylan and Jennifer played a number of their originals such as the dreamy “Marfa Lights” and the feisty “Divorcee”. On top of their splendid originals, they included some stellar covers. My personal favorite was “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones. Jennifer and Dylan make this song their own through graceful pacing and impassioned soul.
Jennifer joked that Dylan was picking the set as they went. He gave a grin with a side-eyed glance. The seamless ease in which they performed made it easy to forget. For a moment, we had a release from these troubling times. Thank you, Dylan, Jennifer, Juston, and the great folks behind Manchester Underground Music and Art for giving us this much needed gift of music. If you need a moment of music this summer, be sure to contact Jennifer Westwood and the Handsome Devils on Facebook or via their website. They are providing “Shows To Go” with self-contained power to give you an hour of outdoor music. It could be the perfect cure to the pandemic blues.
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