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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for June 2021: Martin interviews Scott Eyman, author of Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise.

Fri, 06/04/2021 - 1:08pm

Film historian and acclaimed New York Times bestselling biographer Scott Eyman has written the definitive, “captivating” (Associated Press) biography of Hollywood legend Cary Grant, one of the most accomplished—and beloved—actors of his generation, who remains as popular as ever today.

Born Archibald Leach in 1904, he came to America as a teenaged acrobat to find fame and fortune, but he was always haunted by his past. His father was a feckless alcoholic, and his mother was committed to an asylum when Archie was eleven years old. He believed her to be dead until he was informed she was alive when he was thirty-one years old. Because of this experience Grant would have difficulty forming close attachments throughout his life. He married five times and had numerous affairs.

Despite a remarkable degree of success, Grant remained deeply conflicted about his past, his present, his basic identity, and even the public that worshipped him in movies such as Gunga Din, Notorious, and North by Northwest.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for May 2021: Martin interviews Harvey Ovshinsky, author of Scratching the Surface: Adventures in Storytelling.

Tue, 05/11/2021 - 10:21am

Scratching the Surface: Adventures in Storytelling is a deeply personal and intimate memoir told through the lens of Harvey Ovshinsky's lifetime of adventures as an urban enthusiast. He was only seventeen when he started The Fifth Estate, one of the country's oldest underground newspapers. Five years later, he became one of the country's youngest news directors in commercial radio at WABX-FM, Detroit's notorious progressive rock station. Both jobs placed Ovshinsky directly in the bullseye of the nation's tumultuous counterculture of the 1960s and 70s. When he became a documentary director, Ovshinsky's dispatches from his hometown were awarded broadcasting's highest honors, including a national Emmy, a Peabody, and the American Film Institute's Robert M. Bennett Award for Excellence.

But this memoir is more than a boastful trip down memory lane. It also doubles as a survival guide and an instruction manual that speaks not only to the nature of and need for storytelling but also and equally important, the pivotal role the twin powers of endurance and resilience play in the creative process. You don't have to be a writer, an artist, or even especially creative to take the plunge, Ovshinsky reminds his readers. "You just have to feel strongly about something or have something you need to get off your chest. And then find the courage to scratch your own surface and share your good stuff with others."

Martin’s interview with Harvey Ovshinsky was recorded on March 10, 2021.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2021: Martin interviews Michael Hurtt, co-author of Mind Over Matter: The Myths and Mysteries of Detroit’s Fortune Records.

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 8:50am

The wife and husband team of Devora and Jack Brown formed Fortune Records in 1946. Much like Sam Phillips did with Sun Records in Memphis, the fiercely independent Browns did everything in-house in Detroit.

The now legendary label self-recorded and released stacks of brilliant records. From its early days of pressing big-band and polka records, through its transition into R&B, blues, gospel, rockabilly and country, Fortune laid the groundwork for Motown and other more prominent Detroit imprints. While its releases sputtered out by the early ‘70s, and the company completely folded in the 1980s, record collectors from across the globe still seek out Fortune’s impressive and wildly eclectic discography of vinyl.

A hefty new book, Mind Over Matter: The Myths & Mysteries of Detroit's Fortune Records, by Michael Hurtt and the late Billy Miller, chronicles the entire history of this blue-collar label and humble storefront studio. Over 576 pages, this deluxe, full-color hardcover tome is essential for anyone interested in obscure but astounding records.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for March 2021: Martin interviews Reuben Jonathan Miller, author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 3:49pm

Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record.

Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledge member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast.

Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate, and that parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society.

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Nerd Nite #72 - Exploring Nonconformity Through Graphic Novels

Mon, 02/15/2021 - 3:16pm

I used to think that comics were about stereotypical heroes who saved the day in spandex and capes. Then I discovered graphic novels, a more “niche” category of comic books that often defy traditional storytelling and explore unique perspectives: From quirky girls who hunt monsters at summer camp to badass lady-warriors who defend their castle with care and compassion, rather than with violence. I want to highlight some of these stories that rebel in their nonconformity, and how we can embody that in our everyday lives.

About Julie Cruz: Julie Cruz has lived in Ann Arbor for 8 years, but is a New Yorker at heart. Even though she has only visited twice. You may have seen her speeding past you on the street on her lime-green racing bike, flower-patterned leggings, and bright yellow backpack. She makes her living as a UX designer for a local startup, and does some writing on the side. Follow her on Twitter at @julieoncruise or check out her work at bit.ly/juliecruz.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for February 2021: Martin interviews Sandra B. Tooze, author of Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond.

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 3:07pm

Levon is a dazzling, epic biography of Levon Helm––the beloved, legendary drummer and singer of The Band.  He sang the anthems of a generation: "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek," and "Life Is a Carnival." Levon Helm's story––told here through sweeping research and interviews with close friends and fellow musicians––is the rollicking story of American popular music itself.

In the Arkansas Delta, a young Levon witnessed "blues, country, and gospel hit in a head-on collision," as he put it. The result was rock 'n' roll. As a teenager, he joined the raucous Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, then helped merge a hard-driving electric sound with Bob Dylan's folk roots, and revolutionized American rock with the Band. Helm not only provided perfect "in the pocket" rhythm and unforgettable vocals, he was The Band's soul.

Levon traces a rebellious life on the road, from being booed with Bob Dylan to the creative cauldron of Big Pink, the Woodstock Festival, world tours, The Last Waltz, and beyond with the man Dylan called "one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation."

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for January 2021: Martin interviews Ken McNab, author of And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles.

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 8:35am

Ken McNab's in-depth look at The Beatles' acrimonious final year is a detailed account of the breakup featuring the perspectives of all four band members and their roles. A must to add to the collection of Beatles fans, And In the End is full of fascinating information available for the first time.

A lifelong Beatles fan and well-respected journalist with Scotland's Evening Times, McNab reconstructs for the first time the seismic events of 1969, when The Beatles reached new highs of creativity and new lows of the internal strife that would destroy them. Between the pressure of being filmed during rehearsals and writing sessions for the documentary Get Back, their company Apple Corps facing bankruptcy, Lennon's heroin use, and musical disagreements, the group was arguing more than ever before and their formerly close friendship began to disintegrate.

In the midst of this rancor, however, emerged the disharmony of Let It Be and the genius of Abbey Road, their incredible farewell love letter to the world.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for December 2020: Martin interviews Graydon M. Meints, author of Pere Marquette: A Michigan Railroad System Before 1900.

Tue, 01/05/2021 - 8:25am

The Pere Marquette Railroad has not one but two histories—one for the twentieth century and one for the nineteenth. While the twentieth-century record of the Pere Marquette Railroad has been well studied and preserved, the nineteenth century has not been so well served. Pere Marquette: A Michigan Railroad System Before 1900 is the latest book by railroad aficionado Graydon M. Meints which aims to correct that oversight by focusing on the nineteenth-century part of the company’s past, including the men who formed and directed these early roads, and the development of the system. 

The Pere Marquette Railroad was formed in 1900 by a merger of three Michigan railroad companies and lasted forty-seven years, disappearing in June 1947 by merger into the maw of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Prior to the 1900 merger, the Pere Marquette Railroad’s predecessors made up a motley collection of disconnected and unaffiliated short, local rail lines. After the financial panic of 1893, and with some commonality of ownership, the companies worked together more closely. Before the end of the decade, the three main railroads—the Flint & Pere Marquette; the Detroit, Lansing & Northern; and the Chicago & West Michigan—had decided that the only way to maintain solvency was to merge. 

Using a plethora of primary sources including railway timetables and maps, this work lends insight into the little-known corporate business history of the Pere Marquette Railroad.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for November 2020 : Martin interviews Ken Fischer, author of Everybody In, Nobody Out: Inspiring Community at Michigan’s University Musical Society.

Tue, 11/03/2020 - 10:57am

Housed on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University Musical Society is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country. A past recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest public artistic honor, UMS connects audiences with wide-ranging performances in music, dance, and theater each season. Between 1987 and 2017, UMS was led by Ken Fischer, who over three decades pursued an ambitious campaign to expand and diversify the organization's programming and audiences--initiatives inspired by Fischer's overarching philosophy toward promoting the arts, "Everybody In, Nobody Out."

The approach not only deepened UMS's engagement with the university and southeast Michigan communities, it led to exemplary partnerships with distinguished artists across the world. Under Fischer's leadership, UMS hosted numerous breakthrough performances, including the Vienna Philharmonic's final tour with Leonard Bernstein, appearances by then relatively unknown opera singer Cecilia Bartoli, a multiyear partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and artists as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma, Elizabeth Streb, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Though peppered with colorful anecdotes of how these successes came to be, this book is neither a history of UMS nor a memoir of Fischer's significant accomplishments with the organization. Rather it is a reflection on the power of the performing arts to engage and enrich communities--not by handing down cultural enrichment from on high, but by meeting communities where they live and helping them preserve cultural heritage, incubate talent, and find ways to make community voices heard.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for October 2020: Martin interviews Grace Elizabeth Hale, author of Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture.

Mon, 10/05/2020 - 12:14pm

In the summer of 1978, the B-52's conquered the New York underground. A year later, the band's self-titled debut album burst onto the Billboard charts, capturing the imagination of fans and music critics worldwide. The fact that the group had formed in the sleepy southern college town of Athens, Georgia, only increased the fascination. Soon, more Athens bands followed the B-52's into the vanguard of the new American music that would come to be known as "alternative," including R.E.M., who catapulted over the course of the 1980s to the top of the musical mainstream. As acts like the B-52's, R.E.M., and Pylon drew the eyes of New York tastemakers southward, they discovered in Athens an unexpected mecca of music, experimental art, DIY spirit, and progressive politics--a creative underground as vibrant as any to be found in the country's major cities.

In Athens in the eighties, if you were young and willing to live without much money, anything seemed possible. Cool Town reveals the passion, vitality, and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that became a model for others to follow. Grace Elizabeth Hale experienced the Athens scene as a student, small-business owner, and band member. Blending personal recollection with a historian's eye, she reconstructs the networks of bands, artists, and friends that drew on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way. In a story full of music and brimming with hope, Hale shows how an unlikely cast of characters in an unlikely place made a surprising and beautiful new world.

Martin's interview with Grace Elizabeth Hale was originally recorded on July 7, 2020.