Escaping Pavement

Americana Wildflowers amongst blades of Bluegrass. Have you Escaped the Pavement lately?

“Emily and Aaron literally brought our audience to their feet. They got a standing ovation. That is an outstanding achievement for an acoustic folk duo. Ours is an outside show with well over 400 in attendance and they were able to hold the audience completely. They were lovely to work with and completely professional. I highly recommend them.”

-Matt Spransy (Magic Mansion Concerts on the the Porch)
“What a terrific concert! The musicianship, skill on their instruments, and gorgeous voices made for an energetic, captivating evening. Our audience loved this duo as much as we did.”

-Suzyn Mills (former director of the Acoustic Renaissance Series)

Hailed as "The most dynamic Americana group out of Detroit, Michigan" Escaping Pavement masterfully blends and blurs the lines of Bluegrass, Folk, and Americana. Their unique joint frontperson arrangement, with Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz sharing equally in singing, songwriting, and guitar playing allows for astounding, harmony-driven, musical interplay that has earned them slots on bills with the likes of The Tim O’Brien Band, Front Country, The Dead South, Justin Townes Earle, Mountain Heart, and Joan Osborne. With multiple festival appearances scheduled, a 2017 Detroit Music Award win for Outstanding Americana Recording, over 700 shows under their belt, an ongoing project comprised of music inspired by the National Parks, and a non-stop touring schedule, this duo is spreading their roots-based message, far and wide. Americana fans will find a lot to love in Escaping Pavement. Find out why Jeff Milo of the Detroit Free Press and Deepcutz Blog said, "Escaping Pavement make sparseness stunning. The acoustic guitar and mandolin crackle together like a mesmerizing bonfire, and the voices of Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz blend together like the azure purple and tawny oranges of vibrant sunset…"

The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI - SOLD OUT SHOW
Coffee Gallery Backstage, South Pasadena, CA - SOLD OUT SHOW
20 Front St, Lake Orion, MI - 4 Headlining SOLD OUT SHOWS
Wheatland Music Festival, Remus, MI
Riverhawk Music Festival, Date City, FL
Black Bear Americana Festival, Goshen, CT
Oyster Ridge Music Festival, Kemmerer, WY
Zion Canyon Music Festival, Springdale, UT
Meadowgrass Music Festival, Black Forest, CO
Buttermilk Jamboree Music Festival, Delton, MI
Beaver Island Music Festival, Beaver Island, MI
Charleston Bluegrass Festival, Charleston, SC
Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, CA
Rockwood Music Hall, NY
Black Hawk Folk Society, Wautoma, WI
Magic Mansion Concerts on the Porch, Oconomowoc, WI
Folk Festival Event night on WDCB (with Claudia Schmidt), Chicago, IL
South Florida Folk Festival, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Anderson Fair, Houston, TX
Driftless Books and Music, Viroqua, WI
Seven Steps Up, Spring Lake, MI
Red Sky Stage, Petoskey, MI
The Orpheum Theater, Hancock, MI
Black Rose Acoustic Society, Colorado Springs, CO
Gold Hill Inn, Gold Hill, CO

2019 Artist-in-Residence at The White Rock Conservancy, Coon Rapids, IA
2018 Listening Room Network/Concerts in your Home Artists-of-the-Year
2018 Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Official Showcase Artist
2018 Listening Room Network Festival Official Showcase Artist
2017 Folk Alliance Region Midwest Official Showcase Artist
2018 Honorable mention in the Mid-Atlantic Songwriters Contest in Instrumental category
for Bryce from Wilderness Cathedrals
2017 Detroit Music Award for Outstanding Americana Recording for The Night Owl

"Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz, who embrace holistic living that emphasizes the natural and the organic, forge their music on acoustic guitar and mandolin. Their interwoven voices serve as the radiant heart of their folk tunes. Don't let their minimalist instrumentation suggest to you that this is soft-coffeehouse music. Burns and Markovitz bring a lot of energy as they carry forward the torch of modern Americana a la The Punch Brothers and Lake Street Dive” - Jeff Milo, Detroit Free Press

“Detroit, Michigan has a group to be proud of in Escaping Pavement...they show that they’ve got the chops to hang with the big boys, combining gifted vocals together with strong musical arrangements and songwriting to create a warm atmosphere of Americana-inspired music.” - Andrew Greenhalgh, Along the Journey Music Blog

"Road Warrior embodies everything that makes Escaping Pavement tick as an extraordinary acoustic duo: stirring harmonies, splendid hooks, bluegrass-worthy instrumental charm and a passion for Michigan's, "White Pines" and the treasures found in traveling America's highways.... " - John Sinkevics, Local Spins Blog & WYCE DJ

Escaping Pavement “Road Warrior” REVIEW-Local Spins Blog/John Sinkevics

“Road Warrior” embodies everything that makes Escaping Pavement tick as an extraordinary acoustic duo: stirring harmonies, splendid hooks, bluegrass-worthy instrumental charm and a passion for Michigan’s “White Pines” and the treasures found in traveling America’s highways and byways. The Ferndale-based folk/Americana group featuring guitarist Emily Burns and mandolinist Aaron Markovitz (with Kosta Kapellas on bass and Loren Kranz on drums) follows up its 2017 “Wilderness Cathedrals” EP – a tribute to National Parks – with this five-song testament to the beauty, “trials and tribulations” of the road. And it’s only apropos that the recording produced by Andy Reed and officially being released on March 22 would kick off with the infectious, uptempo milieu of “White Pines,” a poignant salute to the natural wonders of their home state, a song written upon Escaping Pavement’s return to Michigan after a long tour. But make no mistake: All five tracks ooze the sort of vocal majesty and heartfelt delivery that sets their music apart. – John Sinkevics

Detroit Bluegrass: Escaping Pavement at the Americana in Houston-Americana Music News/Paul T Mueller

Unfamiliar performers and a rainy weekend can make for a small crowd, even on a Saturday night in a big city. Such was the case when Michigan-based folk-bluegrass duo Escaping Pavement played Houston listening room The Americana on Feb. 24. But guitarist Emily Burns and guitarist-mandolinist Aaron Markovitz, both veterans of what they described as a thriving Detroit bluegrass scene, were undeterred by the sparse turnout, playing three enthusiastic sets that showcased their strong vocals and instrumental skills.

Burns, on acoustic and electric guitars, and Markovitz, alternating between guitar and mandolin, are fine singers, both separately and together. On many songs, they alternated singing verses and harmonizing on the choruses. They featured several songs from their recent EP, The Night Owl, among them the folkie-sounding “Wanderers,” the more uptempo “Fuel the Fire” and the slow and sweet “Dumb Luck,” featuring some intricate interplay between Burns’ acoustic guitar and Markovitz’s mandolin.

They demonstrated what they called their “Southern Michigan rock” chops on “Burn This Bridge” and showed off their bluegrass abilities on “Boll Weevil,” “Old Daingerfield” and “Angel Band.” Other highlights included “Hetch Hetchy,” a tribute to a Northern California valley that was controversially flooded in 1923 to form a reservoir to supply the San Francisco Bay area, and “What Will We Do Then?,” which they recorded last year as a benefit for Earth Day.

The duo also offered interesting interpretations of songs by a diverse group of fellow singer-songwriters, including The Civil Wars (“From This Valley”), Bruce Springsteen (“Atlantic City”), the Rolling Stones (“Wild Horses”), Bob Dylan (“Girl from the North Country”) and Lady Gaga (“You and I”). They regretfully declined an audience request for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” even though it was accompanied by an offer to pay their bar tab.

Escaping Pavement’s Southwest Tour continues next month with several dates in Texas and New Mexico; their schedule for the rest of the year shows gigs in the upper Midwest and across the country, mostly in smaller venues from Florida to California. This is music worth hearing, from musicians worth watching.

Escaping Pavement strives for ‘human element’ in music-Detroit Free Press

The  best  Americana-folk acts have a charm that brings to mind dirt roads and grassy fields. They come from a place where there's no need for amps and synthesizers and where there are no guitar pedals, snare drums or hi-hats in sight.

Ferndale folk duo Escaping Pavement (Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz) makes music for listeners who are eager to get away from it all, eager to embrace a life that's more natural, more authentic, more human. Burns sings and plays acoustic guitar, banjo and ukulele, while Markovitz harmonizes with her on lead vocals, while playing mandolin and guitar.

Burns was raised in Oxford, while Markovitz grew up in Ferndale. They both attended music school in California and initially specialized in jazz guitar. However, as they began writing and performing together, they found themselves pulled toward the country, the wilderness, the earthy goodness of acoustic folk. What stands out when you hear their music is their obvious musical chemistry. Their collaboration and their romantic relationship have sustained and evolved over 11-plus years, and their voices and talents have truly merged. Both believe their new album, "The Night Owl," is their most representative work to date. They spoke about it recently with the Free Press.

QUESTION: Your band’s name is a rallying cry in itself. Can you talk about making a soundtrack for getting back to our roots?

MARKOVITZ: I find that most of the things I listen to, and it’s the same for Emily, are songs that have something human about them. It’s music that I can connect with. When we record, we want to connect on that human level. I want it to where it sounds like a couple of people standing close around a microphone, to where you feel you’re in the room. It can be mixed well and sound good, but we need that human element.

BURNS: Something else along with that: In my late teens, I went through a pretty debilitating illness, and a whole mill of doctors that I saw had no idea what was wrong. My mother, who’s a master gardener and an herbalist, knew of a naturopathic doctor, and she wound up figuring out exactly what was going on with me and corrected it. And Aaron went through that ordeal with me, so I feel like ever since then, we’ve both been about returning to and utilizing the natural things in life and doing things that are truly good for us. I think that applies to our music, as well.

Q: During your performances, you often achieve an amazing level of intimacy with your audiences. 

BURNS: And that’s the kind of concert experience we both love when we go see the artists we love. We like shows where it feels like you’ve pretty much just sat down with the performer in their living room, talking, just the two of you. ... I feel those kinds of performances almost have this strange ability to change you, or just move you.

MARKOVITZ: Going on that first tour together as just a duo, which was early last summer, we found a great response with the stripped-down setup. And that caught us off guard, just the way we could see and feel everyone really listening closer because our music had gotten quieter. Just receiving these really attentive audiences like that was a formative moment certainly because it gave us more confidence to move forward as a duo and make ("The Night Owl").

Q: What’s key to the chemistry, songwriting-wise and performance-wise? 

BURNS: I think it’s the mix of different yet similar musical backgrounds that we have and just our personal strengths in relation to music. We’re kind of a yin-yang. Aaron is technically speaking a highly skilled instrumentalist on just about any instrument he plays. I’m very strong with vocally making things interesting. As far as songwriting, we've done so much of it together, it's almost like we can finish each other's thoughts — like when one of us has started a song and is maybe not sure where to go with it. I think we write far better songs when we work together on it as opposed to when we come up with a whole song individually.

MARKOVITZ: We’ve been singing together for so long, I almost think that if I’m ever doing another project where I don’t have Emily with me, I feel a bit little lost. I feel like after years together, we can make what would normally be difficult to do with another singer, that vocal harmony, happen without thinking too much about it.

Q: You mention "years" of singing together. What's the story behind that?

MARKOVITZ: We met as teenagers over a decade ago at an open-mic night. We played in many different bands together, but I think we had this musical relationship before anything. So it was a romance born out of music.

BURNS: After we went to (Los Angeles College of Music) in Pasadena, we did the Top 40, cruise-ship dance-band thing for a while, which was very, very strange, but fun. We moved back to Michigan four years ago, and that’s when we started Escaping Pavement, first as a quartet. But it’s when we decided we wanted to be able to play more, to tour more, that streamlining into a duo made it much easier.

MARKOVITZ: And the music Emily and I had been writing (around 2013’s "UpRooted" album), was starting to go more toward the direction of folk and Americana. We were getting away from that rock edge and figuring out more what our sound really was. But that cruise ship did do something for us! We were singing together seven days a week for four hours a day for two years! After that, you start really getting in sync with someone.

Q: What can you tell us about how you found your sound and the process of making "The Night Owl"? 

BURNS: Soundwise, we’re just drawn by that feeling, maybe the earthiness, of acoustic folk or Americana. To us, it just feels like home. ("The Night Owl") feels like the album that’s finally the truest representation of who we are. It was done almost entirely live, at least our parts as a duo were 100% live. Which is intense, because you’re relying on four different variables sounding totally right for five straight minutes! These songs all come back to that idea of escaping pavement, getting away from it all, not identifying any longer with material objects and being able to find the good and the beauty in everything.

MARKOVITZ: Back to that human feel to a recording. You can’t go back and fix something if it’s live, so all these sounds in the room, in that moment, can bleed together. If there’s a bump in the song, but you listen back and it feels right, you can keep it. I think what’s more important was that live performance on record, overall, rather than the Americana vibe of the songs themselves. The way the songs sound is how it all actually happened, rather than everything being perfect. We chose to go that way.

The Night Owl Review by Anne Carlini Exclusive Magazine

The phrase, Escaping Pavement means more to singer-songwriters Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz than their band’s name; they see it as a life mantra. “In this very technology-based day and age, we feel it is more important now than ever to hold on to the things that ground us and remind us we’re all in this together,” says Emily.

The Detroit, MI-based duo, which arose from the ashes of a quartet, recently released their sophomore project, The Night Owl - and boy, is it good.

The Night Owl is a compilation of stories about life’s complexities and the ways we handle them. Themes such as the search for true happiness, the loss of a loved one, and the aftermath of a tragedy are found throughout the record. The album begins with the gently guitar strumming of 'Wanderers', before heading into both the rueful 'Sweetest Lady' and the upbeat bluegrass new age feel of 'Fuel The Fire'.

The laid-back mandolin-themed 'Dumb Luck' is next and, for me personally, is one of the true stand out highlights of this delightful, rich album. A cover of Bob Dylan's 1963 cut 'Girl From The North Country' is next and, once again, it's Aaron's vocals that steer the track home perfectly. Combining some flirtatious mandolin work, re-harmonization's, and a chance for Emily to vocally come to the fore also, the track pays its dues to the original; whilst always remaining its own.

The subtle string work and melodies of 'Mary' is next, before a real pair of beauties come forth. The first is 'Derailed' ("Suffer in silence, inside these four walls like an island"), a feisty, hard driving bluegrass gem of a track that truly personifies everything great about the band, but then, well, wow - a re-imagined cover of one of my favorite ever John Lennon songs, 'Watching The Wheels'. I have to admit I was skeptical going into its listening, being that the last thing I wanted was for this one song to tarnish my thus-far good memories of this album, as a whole, but I needn't have worried. For 'Watching The Wheels' done by Escaping Pavement is wonderful, absolutely magnificent. As fresh, as inspired, as crisp as it should be here today in 2016 (some 35 years on).

Along next is '3 Weeks', a song that advocates the freedom of mind to do whatever it is you want to do, and that's backed by the title track, a song that has been noted as actually being one of the last songs written for the album. Reminiscent of a traditional hymn, 'The Night Owl' is basically an upbeat spoken word musical reveal about how the Owl is a symbol of wisdom; both within folklore and mythology. The album then comes, sadly, to a close with both 'Silver Lining' (based on the Japanese proverb: "My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon."), and then the smooth twangy baritone guitar and pedal steel ride home of 'Leave The Light On'.

Being hailed as, “One of the best Americana bands out of Detroit, Michigan,” Escaping Pavement hopes to spread its roots-based message far beyond its home state. With a lengthy summer 2016 tour, the pair will be taking their “Americana-master blend” to the west coast and back making stops in Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, California

DeepCutz Music Blog review

Escaping Pavement make sparseness stunning. The acoustic guitar and mandolin crackle together like a mesmerizing bonfire, and the voices of Emily Burns and Aaron Markovitz blend together like the azure purple and tawny oranges of vibrant sunset…

Their arrangements never need to be any overly showy folk-rock fling; the pureness of the scant instruments at play, the stringed hollow wood and the two human voices, have enough heart in their harmony to carry each song.

The Ferndale based duo thrive on this close, introspective folk sound, but somehow augment an otherwise intimate occasion and make it tacitly tremendous. Maybe you’re hiking and you come to a clearing and a doe patters right into your path and startles you and the wilderness around you freezes for unmeasurable moments? You know… That’s what Escaping Pavement can do with a song; not to retro-anthropomorphize them into a woodland creature, or anything; but that is part of the idea behind their enchantments… escaping the crowds, clamor and commotion of the city and reconnecting with something organic, getting dirt back under your fingernails and relying exclusively on the bare instrumental necessities for your desired wow-factor.    

Now, that’s not to say these two can’t get fired up. “Fuel The Fire” features a kinetic percussive pick upon the mandolin and baritone guitar, fretting along at a furious rate to the point where you could almost run to it…The vocal refrain has just the right amount of twang upon it to give it that Americana charm; but it’s also one of the most demonstrative moments for their complimenting harmonies. They can also bring in a showstopping cover, as with “Girl From The North Country,” dressing in a bit more tinny frills from the banjo and mandolin, while also putting a syrup-thick surge into the vocal intonation.

Their new album, The Night Owl, which comes out June 4th, opens with what could potentially be Escaping Pavement’s theme song, with “Wanderers.” The guitars flourish in with steady pulses and the purring voices hover like a haze in the opening, but it the soundscape starts to take on a fullness, the voices acquire a radiance and the synced strums start to kick along in the chorus, enough to spur you up out of your chair “We ride with the wind on our own….” Get out of the city. Escape pavement…. Let the twangs’ resonating echo fill the quiet spaces in between and find peace between the finer pieces.