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Detroit, Michigan, United States | MAJOR

Detroit, Michigan, United States | MAJOR
Band EDM Bluegrass


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"Eye on Indie - Joe Hertler"

When a single musician rises from obscurity to become a local favorite, the spectacle surrounding the metamorphosis can become truly a sight to behold, filled with questions about whether the artist will become famous, or when his first major album will be released.
Click to enlarge

Joe Hertler's mixing setup

A young talent in Mount Pleasant is currently going through his “local favorite” phase, yet he stands out due to his complete and utter modesty, and general disinterest in the monetary value of his skill. Joe Hertler simply wants to keep writing, performing, and mixing music, going so far as to maintain a website, participate in interviews, and release all of his music free of charge, all the while taking on a full class load with aspirations of becoming a teacher.

Open mic night at Kaya Café.

Characterizing the solo aspect of his work, Hertler not only records and writes everything by himself, but will routinely prerecord secondary instrumentals, vocals, and tracks to accompany him while onstage. This facet of his process truly identifies him as a “one man band” who frequently turns down offers to join his colleague’s groups, although he is not adverse to the occasional jam session.

Joe Hertler performs for the crowded Kaya Café.

Modesty is paramount when describing Hertler’s attitude towards his music, although few in Central Michigan University’s independent music world agree. On top of limitless praise from his fellow musicians, Hertler caught the attention of Moore Media Records, a student run record label that assists promising local musicians to record, promote, and market their music, all in the interest of cultivating CMU’s independent music scene. Hertler gained notoriety on CMU’s campus when he began playing the “open mic nights” at Kaya Café, a coffee shop in the area that caters to burgeoning musicians.

One key element of Hertler’s music is his attachment to Michigan, which he lovingly calls his “hood.” Hertler said that he has spent all his life here, has enjoyed the many wonders the Michigan has to offer, natural or otherwise, and has a deep connection to the state despite its current financial and economic position. In his music, Hertler continues this sentiment, titling his songs with such names as “Welcome to Michigan” and “Pontiac.”

Hertler recently released his first physical album, complete with had illustrated cover art and his complete library of songs. Joe is a senior at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant.
-Gabriel Ouzounian - Pixel Bean

"Speaking of Michigan, Joe Hertler Welcomes You!"

So looking for a Michigan singer-songwriter who clearly is someone you both want to hang out with and listen to? Well, for all of you that are not (or are) Michiganites/Michiganers/Mittens, you have the guitar strumming of Joe Hertler to help if you are lacking.

Joe Hertler’s music is why we are here and Joe has the songs that cause you to almost enjoy life (despite what the subject matter might be) and I like it. I thought of Joe when I posted that Frontier Ruckus piece earlier today (as they are from Michigan and he has shared the stage with them previously). I do think that the obvious choice right now is a song like “Welcome to Michigan” for it’s appropriateness – and here we go.

So, now you are welcomed, what else is there? Well there is much more from Joe on his Bandcamp page – notably the fantastic “the Hard Times LP” that can be downloaded for “name your price” (which includes free you cheapies… just kidding, I love all of you). So let’s have another taster before you head over for a download of this young talent. You can’t help but want to sing along, the hook in the chorus is almost bullet proof and I am always a sucker for acoustics that bring harmonica to the party. - Slowcoustic (Yer Bird Records)

"DRB Emerging Artists"

Despite the fact he's been gigging around Lansing and Mt. Pleasant, and already has an established nice guy reputation among his musical peers, DRB was sadly oblivious to Central Michigan University's Joe Hertler. That is, until a random Detroit search on turned up Hertler's magnificent SLEEPING GIANT ep.
Among the four acoustic, chillout tracks on GIANT is a cover of 'My Own Home' from Disney's The Jungle Book. This is going to sound utterly preposterous, but Mr. Hertler has managed to take a throwaway Disney tune, that even Rudyard Kipling would find chafing and transform it into a tantalizing piece of gourmet ear candy.
Aside from the EP, in October of 2009, Joe released 'The Hard Times' LP, also via bandcamp, and went the extra mile to personalize each copy of the album with a hand drawn CD, and five photo prints. But more importantly, 'The Hard Times' includes the depressive brilliance of 'Dancing With A Ghost' which will have you sprawled on your green couch contemplating your great lost love and just what the hell went wrong. The other standout track is 'Pontiac', which will have you genuinely, stupefyingly, wondering how this 21 year old can so effortlessly capture an evening at the Crofoot (or Industry for those of you as old as I am!) gone totally and completely wrong. Who among us hasn't found themselves sitting out on the streets of downtown Pontiac sad and drunk on evaporated love, as the police handcuff us ?
Yes, to be fair, some of this is sad bastard music, but Hertler's artistry shines through on every song and he even manages to take some of the 'woe is me lyrics' to a heavier, more reflective place. The Hard Times LP is an excellent break up record, in the same vein as Beck's landmark 'Sea Change' album. It stays with you days after you listen to it, like a cold you can't seem to shake.
Joe Hertler has a undeniable gift, not just for singing, but for also for songwriting and production. We at the DRB strongly recommend you give his music a listen. You won't be disappointed.

Let's start off with everything that we should immediately know about you?

I'm 21 years old. I like computers, fly-fishing, Magic the Gathering, microphones, DJing, dancing, audio production, snowboarding, and writing. I drink Rolling Rock when I have money and Red Dog when I'm broke. Other than that, I'm in the school of Elementary Education at CMU. I've always wanted to be a teacher, but with music going as well as it has lately, I'd much rather be singing songs for people!

What genre of music do you consider your work to be?

I'd say it's soul music with folk influences.

Musical Influences?

Cursive, David Bazan, Sufjan Stevens, and St. Vincent to name a few, but listening to other local musicians/friends (Jeff Pianki, Frontier Ruckus, Chris Bathgate, The Silent Years, Prussia, Loune, Daniel Zott) always gets my creative juices flowin!

What was the inspiration behind recording 'My Own Home' from The Jungle Book film ?

My friend Caleb (Happiest Lion) approached me with the intentions of doing an all Disney compilation album from various artists around the country, including JT Royster, Jeff Pianki, and Kiersten Holine. I really didn't want to do it at first simply due to time, but once I stopped procrastinating and finally hit the studio, the end result was something I was quite happy with. I wanted to make the original song sound thick and dirty with harmonies all over the place. I think there's like 14 guitar tracks alone in that song with 7 vocal tracks.

Who writes your songs and what are the main themes ? Do you believe these topics will change over time?

I write all of my songs. A stupid break up went into a lot of the first album, but my new stuff has found a heavy focus on human nature and my own battles with religion and faith; substance dualism vs materialism for the philosophy people out there... Anyways, I think it's the most honest stuff I've written in a long time. I'm saving most of those songs for my next full length. I'm just playing them live now. The themes will always change. You grow and learn with every song.

Are you affiliated with any record labels?

I'm currently recording a few songs with CMU-based label Moore Media Records. I'm planning on doing a release through Lansing's Lower Peninsula records in the future. I also proudly belong to an artist collective, called Bigger Brush Media. Other than that, I'm a free musician in search for the right label.

What can you tell me about the instruments you prefer?

On stage, I bring a reed accordian, my Taylor 314ce, a banjo, and a shitload of harmonicas. Other than that, I play bass, cello, and piano decently well. I wanted to be a stand up bass performance major, but I wasn't good enough to get into the school of music at CMU. That's why I went the education route.

Where have you performed? Do you have any upcoming shows?

I've performed all over Michigan at some of my favorite venues. Personally, I love the Pike Room in Pontiac and Mac's Bar in Lansing. Still, my favorite shows are the unplugged house shows, where you're right in front of the crowd. It's intimate and I can really dive down into myself while playing, you know, totally lose it.

Where have you performed most frequently?

Mount Pleasant and Lansing have become my musical homes lately, especially Mac's bar. I'd love to start playing more in K-zoo and Detroit.

What's your experience with been like ?

It's been great! I started my account while it was in Beta and it's been cool shooting emails back and forth with the developers. They're all really cool guys and they've built an incredible platform for music distribution. It's allowed my music to easily be downloaded to thousands and thousands of people's computers. I'd recommend it to anyone!

What do Detroit, Michigan, and Mt.Pleasant mean to you as a musician?

I lived in the Orion/Pontiac area my entire life until enrolling at CMU. My parents both peaced out to other states when I left, so Mount "Pleezy" is my permanent home. However D-metro holds a soft spot in my heart. It's my home and always will be. I look forward to every event I get to play in the area. A few weeks ago I played a concert in benefit of Belle Isle... it's just great going back to the city. I love the geography of Detroit; there's just so much beauty to be seen there. I want Michigan artists to be proud of where they're from. There are a lot of young, creative people moving to Detroit; they're proud of their city and want to see it bloom. So much amazing art and culture has arisen in the area and I just really hope people keep pushing to see Detroit grow. And that goes for the rest of Michigan, too. I love this place... you gotta rep your hood, ya know?

Where will you be with your career in five years ?

I try not to look too far into the future. One show at a time. I try to focus my energy on writing songs that mean something to me and playing them as fucking hard as I can. Also, I'm always looking for ways to improve my live set, for the sake of entertainment. Regardless, I'm having an absolute blast playing music right now. It's an awesome adventure that's just now starting and I couldn't be any more thankful. As long as I'm having fun and being honest with myself as an artist, then I can care less what happens. - Detroit Rock Blog

"Musician Frequents Lansing for Supportive Scene"

In the middle of Joe Hertler’s freshman year at Central Michigan University, he bought his first guitar and started what would become a lifelong relationship.

Although not from the area, Hertler said the East Lansing music scene is one that makes the trip to town worth his while because it’s supportive of blossoming musicians like himself.

“I have a lot of friends in the area,” Hertler said. “I really like playing at Mac’s (Bar) — I’ve played there a couple of times. There’s a scene there and I’ve met a lot of people.”

CJ Kjolhede, a fellow musician and drummer for local band Elliot Street Lunatic, said Hertler’s genuine personality is palpable when he performs, and it adds a note of honesty that is absent from many performers.

“His songs are laid-back but they still command your attention,” Kjolhede said. “He has great melodies and he’s a very impassioned singer — you believe what he’s doing on stage and it doesn’t come off as contrived at all.”

Recently, Hertler has taken this coupling and dove head-first into the East Lansing music scene.

Nate Dorough, owner of Lansing-based Fusion Shows, said it’s his instrumental versatility that makes Hertler stand out from the crowd.

“Nowadays it’s important for musicians to be able to express themselves in different ways,” Dorough said. “To not be pigeonholed as a guy with an acoustic guitar.”

It’s this versatility that Kjolhede said makes Hertler’s stage show unique from other local acts.

“He’s very different,” Kjolhede said. “He uses a lot of different instruments when you see him live. He bounces from acoustic guitar to banjo a lot.”

Although Kjolhede said Hertler is good at connecting with the audience, Hertler said he often feels he completely retreats into his own head when he performs live.

This makes performing in front of people an entirely different experience from playing music privately, he said.

“There’s a total difference between playing in your bedroom and performing, so it’s hard to compare the two,” Hertler said.

Kjolhede said that aside from his stage show, Hertler’s solid songwriting is what really sets him apart from other new or local acts.

“He’s a songwriter, and that’s not to be taken lightly,” Kjolhede said. “There’s a lot of local bands that have a sound they’re getting right, or they perform great, but they don’t have the songs — he definitely has the songs.”

Hertler said he hopes his career continues on the path it recently has taken and would like to continue to play music well into the future.

“It’s what I love to do and I want it more than anything else. … I work really hard at it and it’s been picking up quickly,” Hertler said. “I’ll go as far as it will take me; it would be a total blessing to be able to support myself one day through (music).”

For more information or to hear samples of Hertler’s music, visit his website at - Michigan State News

"Joe Hertler Plays Guitar, Banjo, Violin"

Joe Hertler wants to share his music with the world.

This hope started when he first picked up a violin in elementary school. Then, in high school, he added bass and piano to his repertoire.

It was not until the Troy junior got to Central Michigan University that Hertler played the guitar.

“I started seriously writing music during my second semester of my freshman year in college,” he said. “I just bought a guitar and it started from there.”

Hertler said he plays “folky-soul” music.

John Krohn, who mastered Hertler’s first full-length album “The Hard Times LP,” might agree.

“I think it’s the soul part of it that sets Joe apart from a lot of other dudes that are slinging acoustic guitars around,” said the Deep Deep Pink studio owner.

“The Hard Times LP” was completed at the end of last month. Hertler is planning to have a CD release party in the near future.

Over the past few weeks, Hertler has become a frequent guest on Modern Rock 91.5’s Indie Queens show. Macomb junior Jamie Favazza hosts the show.

She calls Hertler a one-man band.

“When you see him live, he obviously can do more than he can in our studio,” Favazza said. “But even with just his guitar, harmonica and vocals, he seems to just captivate the listeners.”

Into the spotlight

Hertler first started playing shows in Mount Pleasant at Kaya Coffee and Tea Co., 1029 S. University Ave. It was there he started to gain a small following of people, including Moore Media Records President James Slider.

“I met Joe at a coffee house concert, probably a year and a half to two years ago. I really liked his set,” the Williamston junior said. “So I went up to him and talked with him about his music and we became friends pretty quickly.”

It was this friendship that opened the door for Hertler to be involved in MMR and he is now a candidate for one of MMR’s next releases.

Hertler said he is inspired by the people around him.

“I have met just a ton of talented kids,” Hertler said. “When I listen to my friends music, and it’s really good, it gets me into a song writing music mood.”

Since starting at Kaya, Hertler said he has played more than 100 shows — playing with several bands such as Frontier Ruckus, Jeff Cramer and Husband and Wife.

Pleasant art

Hertler’s desire to share his art with the world doesn’t end with music.

He said he is in the final steps to create a registered student organization called The Pleasant Town Art Collective with a goal to bring more art to Mount Pleasant.

“There are definitely talented people up here,” he said. “But I just want to bring that talent out, but not just music, but photography, fine art, everything. And really bring about a cohesive force and there is nothing out there like that.”

The Pleasant Town Art Collective is scheduled to be approved next week and Hertler hope soon after it will begin hosting events.

“I’d like to bring a little more culture to this town,” he said. - Central Michigan Life





innovative live performances. He loves Earth Wind and Fire,