“Music is happening in our area, and people need to realize it,” said Brad Howell, vocalist for the Ann Arbor-based group Nightdaze. Howell and his band have been doing their part to bring that realization to their fellow students. Known for their constant shows on and around campus, Nightdaze is nothing if not ambitious.

Julie Rowe
(Photo courtesy of Kass)

“We want to be that band that all of our kids will still listen to, and talk about the glory days of rock’n’roll,” said Howell. Lofty goals, true, but why not aim high?

Nightdaze began as The Presence in the spring of 2005, when several of its members were freshman at the University. The group broke up at the end of the school year, but Howell and drummer Dan Charette wanted to keep the project going. After keyboardist Jeff Wenzinger got on board, they changed their name to Nightdaze and began work on their first album, Back to You – it’s subsequently been released on iTunes and Amazon.com by Kass Record Group. Since the record’s release, the band has played all over Ann Arbor, and will begin touring soon.

Back to You is a collection of straight-up rock songs, showcasing Nightdaze’s diverse influences. Their most comparable contemporaries would be the sometimes-defunct Dispatch, with Howell’s earnest vocals and Andrew Fink’s choppy, lightly distorted guitars.

“We’ve listened to a lot of ’90s rock, and more than that, classic rock. We take the music we’ve learned to play and put it into our music,” Howell said. Each member brings his own musical background to the table. Howell learned his trade from The Doors, Pink Floyd, the Allman Brothers, Led Zeppelin, Cream and Dave Matthews Band. Wenzinger, on the other hand, is an ardent follower of Elton John and Ben Folds. Like his heroes, Wenzinger’s piano playing is at times driving and aggressive, and at times quiet and plaintive – and everything is pulled together by Dan Charette’s deft drumming.

All this, of course, doesn’t mean that Nightdaze hasn’t developed its own sound. They flow seamlessly from the hard rock of “Shake Love Up” to the mid-tempo, piano-driven “Velveteen.” They have a penchant for soaring guitar solos and funky bass grooves, as on “One.”

The lineup has changed a bit since the recording of Back to You. Guitarist/bassist Andrew Fink has been replaced by Howell’s brother, guitarist Mickey Guess, and bassist Eric Hughey. The new lineup has proven entirely able to bring the album’s songs to the stage. Nightdaze’s live shows are characterized by high, positive energy. When Howell sings “Brothers / we are one / Sisters / Dance ’till the night is done,” he means it, and that’s just the vibe they’re going for.


Tomorrow at 10 p.m.

At the Heidelberg

18+, $5

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