Indie-folk’s Shawn Butzin embraces Michigan’s beauty in song

The Traverse City songwriter plays Spread the Music Festival today and was featured for Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted tracks from Medicinal Groove, Laine Rex, KJ and the Good Time Family Band & more.

‘Creative Flow’ triggered by nature: Singer-songwriter Shawn Butzin. (Courtesy photo)


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As an “outdoor enthusiast,” Shawn Butzin’s move from the Detroit area to Traverse City made perfect sense.

“Traverse City really appealed to me – the scenery and the outdoor activities,” he argued. “I’ve been here three years and haven’t looked back since.”

The singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has even written about the breathtaking beauty of northern Michigan, which is reflected in songs like “Indigo Sky”, which were inspired by a breathtaking sunset. He released the track as a single last year.

Yacht Rock: Butzin was influenced by CSNY, Bread, and Mac Davis.

Butzin, who has regularly performed his “yacht rock” and indie folk tunes in various breweries and wineries, even dives into care as a weekend volunteer for the US Department of the Interior in Sleeping Bear Dunes and supports the social media Marketing.

Part of his philosophy is to soak up nature and let new songs incubate freely, with a view to the possible release of a follow-up to his 2018 EP “Adventures” and his 2017 debut “Northern Trails”.

“I just sit on the instruments on a few songs that have been recorded, but I don’t put any pressure on myself to finish them within a certain time frame,” emphasized Butzin, a passionate mountain biker and photographer.

“I think when the time is right it will of course happen. For me, it helps me to be in nature to restore the creative flow. “

Some of that creative flow will be seen later today (Friday) when Butzin performs a live streaming set as part of the Michigan Music Alliance’s Spread the Music Festival that features performances by more than 200 Michigan artists for five days, to raise money for the festival Michigan Artist Relief Fund. Butzin plays on Friday at 3 p.m. and streams on the Michigan Music Alliance Facebook page.

In this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, Butzin introduced Indigo Sky and his latest single, Smell the Roses, while discussing his career as a performer and songwriter. Watch the Indigo Sky video here and scroll down to hear the full podcast from the radio show.

VIDEO: Shawn Butzin, “Indigo Sky”

Butzin readily admits that he is “a late bloomer who plays slow” when it comes to music – he learned the drums and guitar in his late 20s and early 30s – after growing up in Chesaning, Michigan, ” addicted “to his father’s records and older siblings.

After spending several years in Colorado playing drums for garage surf band Thee Dang Dangs, Butzin returned to Michigan and began working seriously on his solo career.

Autumn release? Butzin says he’s sitting on a few songs for additional lyrics, bridges. (Courtesy photo)

His music is heavily influenced by artists of the 70s such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Mac Davis, Michael Murphy and Bread, as well as by contemporary acts such as Ryan Adams, Damien Jurado and Jason Isbell.

“I’m just eating that stuff,” he said. “I get juicy in my knees, weak in my knees when I hear this stuff.”

Butzin also finds a lot of inspiration in watching bands in concerts and solo artists performing live in breweries and other venues. As a result, years of pandemic shutdown of live music has had “a tremendous impact on the psyche and everything” by restricting his contact with “other musicians across the state”.

While eager to return to the stages in northern Michigan, Butzin said he is limiting his travel and touring the state for the time being.

In the meantime, he’s focused on expanding and improving his sound.

“As for the direction of my music, I want to focus on having more electric guitar sound,” he said. “My last few songs have focused on the acoustic guitar and I’m looking forward to a more electric style.”

Butzin will play Bonobo Winery in Traverse City on June 11th and July 13th. Beulah’s Five Shores Brewery on June 18; Petoskey Resort June 26th and July 31st; and Cheboygan Brewing Co. on July 14th. Learn more about Butzin at

In addition to the interview with Butzin, this week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE, which focuses on music from Michigan on Fridays at 11 a.m. on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at, made the on-air debut of Tracks from Medicinal Groove, Snacks & Five, Brian Vander Ark & Channing Lee, KJ & The Good Time Family Band, Laine Rex, Amy Love, DL Rossi and Shady grovesas well as music by The accidents and Mike Galbraith (the choice of the musician von Butzin). Listen to the complete radio broadcast here.

PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (03/26/21)

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