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Public Event

Ann Arbor Synth Expo

Saturday November 10, 2018: 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

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Blog Post

Celebrating the AACM

Thu, 11/02/2017 - 10:44am by JonesM

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) is an iconic collective of musicians based in Chicago. Founded in 1965 through the vision of composer Muhal Richard Abrams, they have spent over five decades pushing the boundaries of jazz and music as an art form, incorporating theatrical performance, costuming, visual art, and unusual instruments into their work. AACM members are active around the country and abroad as performers, teachers, and activists.

In honor of Muhal Richard Abrams' passing this week, here are some AACM-related books and recordings from the AADL collection.

A Power Stronger Than Itself, scholar and trombonist George Lewis' incredible and readable history of the AACM.

Urban Bushmen by the Art Ensemble of Chicago

Coming Home Jamaica by the Art Ensemble of Chicago

Sound by Roscoe Mitchell

Sonic Rivers by Wadada Leo Smith

In for a Penny, In for a Pound by Henry Threadgill

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Public Event

Introduction to Theremini

Monday January 29, 2018: 7:00pm to 8:00pm
Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room
Grade 6 - Adult

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Blog Post

The Alphabet with Funk and Glam

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 9:47am by manz

Here are two new amazing small books to help adults learn the alphabet in style! Bowie A to Z and Prince A to Z each offer short bits of info about each musician, paired with whimsical illustrations. Written by Steve Wilde, The Life of an Icon From Alphabet Street to Jay Z and the The Life of an Icon from Aladdin Sane to Ziggy Stardust are both entertaining, quick reads with great illustrations.

As a fan of both artists I was delighted when I happened upon the Bowie title, and I squealed when I found out there was a Prince title as well. They would make great gifts or coffee table books.

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Blog Post

A Portrait of Bowie

Sat, 07/08/2017 - 1:36pm by howarde


It’s mid-2017 and I still find myself missing David Bowie. After his death in January of last year, we read a lot about him in my household—a lot. Several books on Bowie were published in 2016 alone, in addition to lengthy tributes in magazines and online. One book escaped my notice until recently—A Portrait of Bowie: A Tribute to Bowie by his Artistic Collaborators & Contemporaries. This collection of interviews, art, and photographs was edited by Brian Hiatt, a senior writer for Rolling Stone. Honestly, my hopes for this book weren’t too high. I figured it would contain some slap-dash Bowie-themed art and a bunch of sentimental sound bites from famous people. But I put myself on the hold list for it anyway.

A Portrait actually surprised me by how good it is. The unexpected strength of the book is that Hiatt shifts the focus away from Bowie’s more famous collaborators like Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and Tony Visconti—who have already said a lot about working with Bowie. Instead, he interviews people you may not have heard of, but who have been key to Bowie’s sound and success in the studio and on tour: Mike Garson, Carlos Alomar, Earl Slick, and Gail Ann Dorsey, for instance. Hiatt also interviews photographers other artists who have worked with Bowie over the years. There are a few appearances by artists who never worked with Bowie but were influenced by him, and these are fun to read but didn't add much to my knowledge about Bowie.

And, as promised, A Portrait contains a lot of visual art too, most of which was done in collaboration with Bowie himself. For me, most of the art is hit or miss. But I especially enjoyed Hiatt’s choice of photographs, which cover Bowie’s career from the mid-1960s to the 2000s, many of which I had never seen before.

The truism about Bowie is that he was a shape-shifter, that he was constantly re-inventing himself as an artist. But these interviews give us insight into why and how Bowie performed his transformations. A Portrait of Bowie shows us David Bowie as a person, but goes further in revealing his creative process and how he managed his public image.

If you’re a Bowie fan, don’t pass this one up. The artist Derek Boshier, who painted Bowie and worked on his album covers, says, "I always tell people that we think we know what we look like, and we know each other by looking in the mirror and photographs and films, but David knew what he looked like from every angle, from the back of his head even. He knew every part."

A Portrait helps us know Bowie in that way, too.

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Saturday July 8, 2017: 11:00am to 5:00pm
Downtown Library Lobby and Garden
All Ages

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DATE CHANGE: Tonks & The Aurors: Wizard & Nerd Rock Concert!

Tuesday June 27, 2017: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room
Grade K–Adult

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Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire

Saturday June 3, 2017: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Downtown Library: 1st Floor Lobby
All Ages.

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Blog Post

The Summer of Love Turns 50!

Tue, 05/30/2017 - 11:24am by amy

The Summer of Love’s foggy origins lay in the Bay area’s 1950s Beat culture, the merry pranksters’ 1964-66 acid tests, and politically disaffected Berkeley students. In January 1967, The Doors release their eponymous album in Los Angeles and the Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park promotes cultural decentralization, communal living, radical politics, and higher consciousness fueled by drug use. In February, Jefferson Airplane takes off with their breakout album, Surrealistic Pillow, and by May the Mamas and the Papas’ John Phillips writes “San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” whose Scott McKenzie cover will hit #4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 by July 1. As if all this wasn’t enough, the Beatles release Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band on June 1 and two weeks later The Jimi Hendrix Experience performs at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, the Detroit race riots at the end of July bring John Sinclair’s Trans-Love Energies commune (and future White Panthers) to Ann Arbor, and in August they stage a free concert by the Grateful Dead in Ann Arbor's West Park.

And this is how the summer of 1967 gave birth to the hippie!

Here are a few videos to help you make sense of all this hippie love:

Beatles Anthology
Berkeley in the Sixties
Complete Monterey Pop Festival
The Jimi Hendrix Experience live at Monterey