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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 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 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.

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Legacies Project Oral History: Herb David

Mon, 09/28/2020 - 10:05am

Herb David was an Ann Arbor luthier.  Originally a research psychologist, David was taught how to make and repair stringed instruments by his mentor, Sarkis "Sam" Varjebedian.  At the age of 30, David started Herb David Guitar Studio, a shop where he produced, repaired, and sold guitars, dulcimers, harps, banjos, and many other types of stringed instruments.  He passed away on July 25, 2020.

Herb David was interviewed by students from Skyline High School in Ann Arbor in 2016 as part of the Legacies Project.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for September 2020: Martin interviews Chris Frantz, author of Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina.

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:33am

One of the most dynamic groups of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Talking Heads, founded by drummer Chris Frantz, his girlfriend Tina Weymouth, and lead singer David Byrne, burst onto the music scene, playing at CBGBs, touring Europe with the Ramones, and creating hits like “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House” that captured the post-baby boom generation’s intense, affectless style.

In Remain in Love, Frantz writes about the beginnings of Talking Heads―their days as art students in Providence, moving to the sparse Chrystie Street loft Frantz, Weymouth, and Byrne shared where the music that defined an era was written. With never-before-seen photos and immersive vivid detail, Frantz describes life on tour, down to the meals eaten and the clothes worn―and reveals the mechanics of a long and complicated working relationship with a mercurial frontman.

At the heart of Remain in Love is Frantz’s love for Weymouth: their once-in-a-lifetime connection as lovers, musicians, and bandmates, and how their creativity surged with the creation of their own band Tom Tom Club, bringing a fresh Afro-Caribbean beat to hits like “Genius of Love.”

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Community High School 45th Year All-Class & 34th Commstock, 2017

Mon, 08/03/2020 - 2:08pm

Short film of the Community High School 45th Year All-Class Reunion and 34th Commstock music festival, produced in conjunction with the feature-length documentary Welcome to Commie High from 7 Cylinders Studio.

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AADL Talks to: Jay Stielstra

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 10:11am

In this episode, AADL Talks to Ann Arbor playwright, coach, teacher, and songwriter, Jay Stielstra. Jay discusses his life and work as a teacher and a coach in the Ann Arbor Public Schools; how he became a playwright without ever having been backstage; and how a kid from Ludington, Michigan who just wanted to be a football coach ended up being one of Ann Arbor's most prominent singer-songwriters.

Historical articles and photographs about Jay Stielstra in our Community Collections 

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for July 2020: Martin interviews Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 9:48am

In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Over the course of ten days, he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader. Brubeck opened up as never before, disclosing his unique approach to jazz; the heady days of his "classic" quartet in the 1950s-60s; hanging out with Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis; and the many controversies that had dogged his 66-year-long career.

Alongside beloved figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, Brubeck's music has achieved name recognition beyond jazz. But finding a convincing fit for Brubeck's legacy, one that reconciles his mass popularity with his advanced musical technique, has proved largely elusive. In Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, Clark provides us with a thoughtful, thorough, and long-overdue biography of an extraordinary man whose influence continues to inform and inspire musicians today.

Structured around Clark's extended interview and intensive new research, this book tells one of the last untold stories of jazz, unearthing the secret history of "Take Five" and many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck's early career - and about his creative relationship with his star saxophonist Paul Desmond. Woven throughout are cameo appearances from a host of unlikely figures from Sting, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, and Keith Emerson, to John Cage, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Partch, and Edgard Varèse. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. To quote President Obama, as he awarded the musician with a Kennedy Center Honor: "You can't understand America without understanding jazz, and you can't understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck."