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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for September 2022: Martin interviews Mark Clague, author of O Say Can You Hear?: A Cultural History of The Star Spangled Banner.

Wed, 09/07/2022 - 3:47pm

Most Americans learn the tale in elementary school: During the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key witnessed the daylong bombardment of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry by British navy ships; seeing the Stars and Stripes still flying proudly at first light, he was inspired to pen his famous lyric. What Americans don’t know is the story of how this everyday “broadside ballad,” one of thousands of such topical songs that captured the events and emotions of early American life, rose to become the nation’s one and only anthem and today’s magnet for controversy.

In O Say Can You Hear? Mark Clague brilliantly weaves together the stories of the song and the nation it represents. Examining the origins of both text and music, alternate lyrics and translations, and the song’s use in sports, at times of war, and for political protest, he argues that the anthem’s meaning reflects―and is reflected by―the nation’s quest to become a more perfect union. From victory song to hymn of sacrifice and vehicle for protest, the story of Key’s song is the story of America itself.

Each chapter in the book explores a different facet of the anthem’s story. In one, we learn the real history behind the singing of the anthem at sporting events; in another, Clague explores Key’s complicated relationship with slavery and its repercussions today. An entire is chapter devoted to some of the most famous performances of the anthem, from Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock to Jose Feliciano at the 1968 World Series. At every turn, the book goes beyond the events to explore the song’s resonance and meaning.

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A Short Telephone Interview with Howlin' Wolf, conducted by Doug Fulton, circa 1970

Wed, 06/08/2022 - 11:53am

This short telephone interview with Chicago blues musician and singer Howlin' Wolf was conducted by Doug Fulton, noted blues photographer and writer, prior to a performance by Wolf in Ann Arbor, Michigan, sometime in the early 1970s. Wolf talks for a few minutes about a fishing trip and then mentions personnel on his upcoming tour. 

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2022: Martin interviews Lenny Kaye, author of Lightning Striking: Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll.

Thu, 03/31/2022 - 1:16pm

Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2022: Martin interviews Lenny Kaye, author of Lightning Striking: Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll.

“We have performed side-by-side on the global stage through half a century…. In Lightning Striking, Lenny Kaye has illuminated ten facets of the jewel called rock and roll from a uniquely personal and knowledgeable perspective.” –-- Patti Smith

An insider’s take on the evolution and enduring legacy of the music that rocked the twentieth century

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for February 2022: Martin interviews Marc Ribot, author of Unstrung: Rants and Stories of a Noise Guitarist.

Thu, 02/03/2022 - 2:59pm

Throughout his genre-defying career as one of the most innovative musicians of our time, iconoclastic guitar player Marc Ribot has consistently defied expectation at every turn. Here, in his first collection of writing, we see that same uncompromising sensibility at work as he playfully interrogates our assumptions about music, life, and death. Through essays, short stories, and the occasional unfilmable film "mistreatment" that showcase the sheer range of his voice, Unstrung captures an artist whose versatility on the page rivals his dexterity onstage.

In the first section of the book, "Lies and Distortion," Ribot turns his attention to his instrument--"my relation to the guitar is one of struggle; I'm constantly forcing it to be something else"--and reflects on his influences (and friends) like Robert Quine (the Voidoids) and producer Hal Willner (Saturday Night Live), while delivering an impassioned plea on behalf of artists' rights. Elsewhere, we glimpse fragments of Ribot's life as a traveling musician--he captures both the monotony of touring as well as small moments of beauty and despair on the road. In the heart of the collection, "Sorry, We're Experiencing Technical Difficulties," Ribot offers wickedly humorous short stories that synthesize the best elements of the Russian absurdist tradition with the imaginative heft of George Saunders. Taken together, these stories and essays cement Ribot's position as one of the most dynamic and creative voices of our time.

Martin’s interview with Marc Ribot was recorded on September 9th, 2021.

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Body of Work: Martin Luther King Jr.

Mon, 01/17/2022 - 9:14am

We talk about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as a pop culture figure. Also, the words "hot preacher" may have been involved....

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for December 2021: Martin interviews Michael Spitzer, author of The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth

Wed, 12/01/2021 - 2:01pm

165 million years ago saw the birth of rhythm.

66 million years ago was the first melody.

40 thousand years ago Homo sapiens created the first musical instrument.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for September 2021: Martin interviews Jonathan Taplin, author of The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life

Fri, 09/03/2021 - 1:27pm

Martin Bandyke Under Covers for September 2021: Martin interviews Jonathan Taplin, author of The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life.

Jonathan Taplin’s extraordinary journey has put him at the crest of every major cultural wave in the past half century: he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band in the ’60s, producer of major films in the ’70s, an executive at Merrill Lynch in the ’80s, creator of the Internet’s first video-on-demand service in the ’90s, and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium. His is a lifetime marked not only by good timing but by impeccable instincts―from the folk scene to Woodstock, Hollywood’s rebellious film movement, and beyond. Taplin is not just a witness but a lifelong producer, the right-hand man to some of the greatest talents of both pop culture and the underground.

With cameos by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, and countless other icons, The Magic Years is both a rock memoir and a work of cultural criticism from a key player who watched a nation turn from idealism to nihilism. Taplin offers a clear-eyed roadmap of how we got here and makes a convincing case for art’s power to deliver us from “passionless detachment” and rekindle our humanism.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for August 2021: Martin interviews Richard Thompson, author of Beeswing: Losing My Way and Finding My Voice 1967 – 1975.

Wed, 08/11/2021 - 2:26pm

In this moving and immersive memoir, Richard Thompson, the brilliant and beloved music legend, recreates the spirit of the 1960s, where he found, and then lost, and then found his way again.

Known for his brilliant songwriting, his extraordinary guitar playing, and his haunting voice, Thompson is considered one of the top twenty guitarists of all time, in the songwriting pantheon alongside Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Randy Newman. Now, in his long-awaited memoir, the British folk musician takes us back to the late 1960s, a period of great change and creativity—both for him and for the world at large.

Thompson packed more than a lifetime of experiences into his late teens and twenties. During the pivotal years of 1967 to 1975, just as he was discovering his passion for music, he formed the band Fairport Convention with some schoolmates and helped establish the genre of British folk rock. That led to a heady period of songwriting and massive tours, where Thompson was on the road both in the UK and the US, and where he crossed paths with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix. But those eight years were also marked by change, upheaval, and tragedy. Then, at the height of the band’s popularity, Thompson left to form a duo act with his wife Linda. And as he writes revealingly here, his discovery and ultimate embrace of Sufism dramatically reshaped his approach to music—and of course everything else.

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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.