Indie-Folk Duo “Gifts or Creatures” to Perform at The Peoples Church

Tuesday, February 6, 2018, 8:16 am
By: 
Christopher A. Wardell

Gifts or Creatures will perform at The Peoples Church on Saturday, February 10 alongside singer-songwriters and Michigan contemporaries Monte Pride and Timothy Monger.

Music isn’t a full-time gig for the Michigan-based, indie/folk duo, but you wouldn’t know it from their music. Husband and wife Brandon and Bethany Foote create lush, pastoral musical landscapes that take you back to fond memories in your mind.

The two started making music together after their marriage in 2009, and according to Brandon, have yet to look back. Gifts or Creatures seems to be influenced by slowcore acts like Low and Mazzy Star, and the Spaghetti Western sounds of Calexico, but with their own imprint. Their music can be inspirational, happy, and forlorn in one fell swoop.

More succinctly, there’s hope in the music of Gifts or Creatures.

“Bethany and I started making music shortly after we were married in 2009.” Brandon said. “My wedding gift to her was a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano. We recorded our debut album in early 2010 with Seth Bernard and Trevor Hobbs of Breathe Owl Breathe, and have been performing and recording ever since. Bethany is my sounding board. It’s really been incredible to have her as a taste tester over the years once I have a song concept in the works. She started playing as a child, whereas I picked music up in early high school. So, in general we look at music slightly differently. Our biggest challenge of playing music together is making sufficient time for it. Music is not a full-time endeavor for us. Our two-year-old also keeps us incredibly occupied these days.”

The duo has three albums under their belts, and they’re currently out playing shows in support of their latest release, “Fair Mitten (New Songs of the Great Lakes Basin), a love letter to the mighty lakes of Michigan. A highly valuable resource which must be protected, according to Brandon.

“Fair Mitten is our tribute to the Great Lakes region, and the album offers up a collection of songs that celebrates the rich history and timeless significance of the area,” Brandon said. “I spent the last three years digging into the history of the Great Lakes, dreaming and conceiving a modern soundtrack to the past. I also spent some time at the Archives of Michigan in Lansing, sifting through their vast collection for inspiration. Our sincere hope is that this album will inspire others to protect the Great Lakes for future generations. We also hope that it allows people to reflect on the region’s history as to how and why we ended up living here in the Great Lakes Basin.”

The duo is based out of Kalamazoo, which is where Fair Mitten was recorded, along with a cast of other Michigan musicians including Max Lockwood, Seth Bernard, and Dan Rickabus. The album’s tracks were recorded live over 18 months, which according to Brandon, gave a more organic process to creating the album. Engineer Ian Golden (May Erlewine, Nervous But Excited) helped to bring it all together.

“We had an absolute blast crafting it together.” Brandon said. “We have worked with both Ian and Seth on numerous occasions now, and we have a powerful unspoken sense of what we all want out of the songs and core tracking sounds. Adding Max and Dan to the mix was truly a treat. They're quite the rhythm section together. Consummate professionals who really know how to dial things in quickly and efficiently. And they're really just two of the sweetest guys and gentlemen on the planet. We love them dearly.”

They also had a little good luck charm with them in the form of their two-year-old, Simon.

One fun piece of the puzzle for us was having our son in the studio.” Brandon said. “For the first session in October of 2015, Bethany was six and a ½ months pregnant. For the November 2016 session, Simon was in the live room wearing headphones and snuggled in a carrier on Bethany. For the winter of 2017 session, he spent time in the control room with Ian.”

For the show at The Peoples Church, Gifts or Creatures will share the stage with Monger and Pride. Brandon is excited about the acoustics of the church that will lend itself to the sound.

“The chapel at Peoples Church is a small and intimate space, and we are excited and honored to share the evening with Timothy and Monte.” He said. “Timothy Monger is a seasoned performer and one of my favorite Michigan songwriters. His tunes are refreshing and unique. Monte Pride is a brilliant songwriter who offers a timeless element well beyond his years in his songwriting. Both Timothy and Monte share a deep mutual love of Michigan with Bethany and me.”

Pride echoed Brandon’s excitement for the show, and the collective closeness the Peoples Church chapel has to offer.

“I am looking forward to the humbling opportunity to share the stage with such talented, esteemed artists.” Pride said. “I’ve looked up to Gifts or Creatures and Timothy Monger for years, and feel incredibly grateful to have the chance to join them on stage. I’m also looking forward to sharing our songs and stories in the church’s intimate chapel space. Listening room environments such as the chapel at Peoples Church can be hard to come by.”

After a short run of shows, Brandon said there are plans to start a new project soon, but not until after taking some much-needed time to rest and enjoy life.

“We are slowly working on some new original material and playing a few select shows over the season ahead.” He said. “We moved to Kalamazoo last September, and are still settling in here. Both Bethany and I are truly enjoying spending time with our little boy. We are finding joy in the slower pace of life and looking for ways to quietly explore some new ideas in the coming year.”

The show starts at 8:00 p.m., and tickets are $10 and $5 for students.

The Peoples Church of East Lansing is located at 200 W Grand River Avenue.