It’s pretty tough to leave the world of Blueflowers once the song starts. You may not want to. The Detroit-based outfit set the mood, they dim the lights, they spark the projector and they transport the listener.
Led by the husband/wife songwriting-duo of singer Kate Hinote and guitarist/producer Tony Hamera, Blueflowers evoke a noir-drenched neverland clouded by a surreal, cinematic haze of reverb.
The group began performing and recording in 2008, eventually self-releasing their debut Watercolor Ghost Town, in 2009. Produced by Hamera, The Metro Times called it “…a genuinely beautiful and touching piece of work…Hinote’s voice remains note-perfect and goosebump-inducing throughout; the musicianship is finely executed and lovingly arranged.”
The Metro Times would crown their 2011 follow-up In Line With The Broken-Hearted, Detroit’s “Best Indie-Release” of the year. Retrospective Magazine credited their sensibility for striking “a weepy but wonderful wall of sensuous sounds, sad but strengthening, emotionally deep without being a downer.” With longtime members David Johnson and Erica Stephens on acoustic guitar and bass, the group welcomed talented journeyman drummer Jim Faulkner on drums after their first couple of years together.
2012’s Stealing the Moon was a transcending trip “down the rabbit hole,” as RUSTZINE called it, inducing vibes of a “David Lynch-esque Blue Velvetworld of dark shadows, cigarette smoke and strong liquor…” Hamera, meanwhile, with his production of the record, cited the dreamy, mellifluous melodrama of icons such as Roy Orbison, The Zombies, Mazzy Star and Nick Cave. Local keyboardist/singer Erin Williams joined to further augment the dark beauty of these songs after having enhanced The Blueflowers’ live show the year leading up to Stealing the Moon’s release.
Hamera and Hinote welcomed their first child in 2012, which surrounded them with the creative chaos and energy they needed to write and record their fourth full-length album, 2014’s At the Edge of Disaster, and earned them a nomination at that year’s Detroit Music Awards, as well as their introduction to the world of licensing, with multiple television placements. “This is one of the most sumptuous albums I’ve heard in forever. Every chord, every note, every word out of Kate Hinote’s lovely throat drips with dark, romantic foreboding. …this is what Patsy Cline would be doing were she alive today. Hamera’s ringing, jangly guitars call to mind everything from Duane Eddy to Peter Buck, and the trippy title track that leads off the CD has a sultry neo-Spaghetti Western vibe.” – Scholars & Rogues
In 2017, Stephens left the band to pursue other interests and Blueflowers’ original drummer, Marvin Shaouni, returned on bass with a few song ideas of his own to hash out. Shortly after, when keyboardist/vocalist Williams moved out of state, Blueflowers returned to a five-piece, and had some creative energy to expel. The result of all this transition and new collaborative effort is the 2018 release Circus on Fire, which may sound like a different band to some.
After nearly 10 years, Blueflowers are still exceptionally adrift between cemented genres. They were never “country,” in the traditional sense, though they’re “western” in a surreal sorta way. It was the twang and the reverb, the mystique and the neo-goth splendor, the evocation of a sound, a style, and a presence that pulled you away toward some lucid dreamsphere beyond a sunless horizon. They diverged from the woolly garage and howling rock n roll of its native music scene and glided further still from the post-punk and indie-pop that propagates along the east coast, and took you west, or at least elsewhere, into a sort-of weird west, into the dark west.