LowellArts has launched a new music program for 2021 called the Featured Artist Series: Connecting You with the People Behind the Music. This monthly feature offers audiences a personal, insider view into the current music scene from the perspective of West Michigan’s talented performers. Check back on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month for a new article or interview from the featured artist. The October artist of the month is FlyLiteGemini.
Article by Sue Clements
Have you listened to their music? Whoa! Going through their recordings and listening to one song after another has been a little bit like opening up a present or treasure box. I was thrilled to hear their unique sound. There is something new and delightfully different about FlyLiteGemini’s sound, and, at the same time, their music is comforting and familiar like a long lost friend.
After reading a description of their music as Alternative Folk/Blues Rock, I connected with the band’s Joe Chamberlin and asked him to describe their music. “We play a lot of different kinds of songs, so it can be hard to fit us in a genre. Lyrically we are very optimistic and honest.” He continued, “Our music is kind of like 90’s alternative meets classic rock with a touch of psychedelia. I think what we do appeals to a pretty wide and diverse audience of music fans. As a band, the music expresses hope that everyone has love in their life and can find the freedom to be themselves. Hopefully, it inspires people to take the time to let go of their troubles and sing along or dance a while.” I agree, you’ll want to get up on your feet and dance!
Joe explained how FlyLiteGemini came to be. “Well the band kind of started out of a solo project that I thought may be my epitaph, so to speak. I had some health issues a few years ago. Having lost my father to cancer, I thought I might not be around much longer either. So, I decided to put together a collection of folk, rock, and blues songs I had written that I thought represented my experiences living in this world.” Joe goes on to say, “in the process of making the first FlyLiteGemini album, I reconnected with my current duo partner Sam Rice. I sorted out the health issues, which were mostly drinking too much coffee and not enough water, and started gigging solo under the name FlyLiteGemini.” He continues, “What started as Sam sitting in on guitar every so often, grew into a full band with Sam on drums.”
Band members of FlyLiteGemini include Joe Chamberlin on guitar, Sam Rice on drums, Dan Hildebrandt on bass guitar (recently replacing Zach Potter), and Nate Karnes on keyboards.
These guys are true songwriters. I always want to know how that magic happens. Luckily, Joe shared his experience. “For me, it’s often like I’m grabbing something that already exists in the ether… and then filtering it through my emotional experiences. I can’t really plan it… It just happens…I mean, it will just come out of nowhere sometimes, I have to stop what I’m doing and find a guitar or start humming a melody. When it comes to the band, a lot of times what I have is verses, a chorus, and maybe a bridge, and the band or Sam and I finish the arrangements. Sam is really awesome at adding harmonies to my songs and it’s become so natural to have them there, that I often hear his voice singing along, when I’m writing new material even if he’s not with me. We’ve recently been trying to write more together and have both contributed to each other’s more recent songs in various ways either lyrically or musically. We pretty much have a 4th and 5th album of songs almost ready to go.”
FlyLiteGemini’s debut album was released in October of 2017, and was nominated for Best Blues/Soul album, Best album from a New Artist, and Album of the Year at the 2018 South West Michigan Jammie Awards. It’s no surprise their album received such acclaim.
The band released their second album, Bigger on the Inside, in July of 2019. Listening to their music I am continuously struck by Joe’s rich voice. Each song is fresh, but with the same compelling voice calling you in. “Take Me Home” on this album is an example of the honest, open lyrics that are so often easy to relate to. These, combined with clever and sweet instrumentals, keep you going back for more.
FlyLiteGemini has finished mastering their third album, Time & Space. It is currently in the queue to be pressed at 3rd Man Pressing in Detroit. Time & Space will be their first release on vinyl. The band hopes to start releasing digital singles this fall until the physical release, which will most likely be scheduled in spring of 2022. Joe shared that Time & Space “is a great representation of the evolution of our sound. Our guitar duo sets evolved out of Sam and I being available for gigs more often than the rest of the band.” They are super excited to have Dan Hildebrandt on bass guitar and are looking forward to the way his contributions will evolve their sound even further.
FlyLiteGemini is looking forward to being a part of the Michigan festival scene next year. You catch them at Short’s Brewing company in Bellaire Michigan on November 20th.