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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to Howard Markel, author of The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 10:09am

John Harvey Kellogg was one of America’s most beloved physicians; a best-selling author, lecturer, and health-magazine publisher; founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium; and patron saint of the pursuit of wellness. His youngest brother, Will, was the founder of the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which revolutionized the mass production of food and what we eat for breakfast.

In The Kelloggs, Howard Markel tells the sweeping saga of these two extraordinary men, whose lifelong competition and enmity toward one another changed America’s notion of health and wellness from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, and who helped change the course of American medicine, nutrition, wellness, and diet.

As Markel chronicles the Kelloggs’ fascinating, Magnificent Ambersons–like ascent into the pantheon of American industrialists, we see the vast changes in American social mores that took shape in diet, health, medicine, philanthropy, and food manufacturing during seven decades—changing the lives of millions and helping to shape our industrial age.

Martin’s interview with Howard Markel was recorded on August 23, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar, editors of Shake It Up: Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z.

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 12:32pm

Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar's Shake It Up invites the reader into the tumult and excitement of the rock revolution through fifty landmark pieces by a supergroup of writers on rock in all its variety, from heavy metal to disco, punk to hip-hop. Stanley Booth describes a recording session with Otis Redding; Ellen Willis traces the meteoric career of Janis Joplin; Ellen Sander recalls the chaotic world of Led Zeppelin on tour; Nick Tosches etches a portrait of the young Jerry Lee Lewis; Eve Babitz remembers Jim Morrison. Alongside are Lenny Kaye on acapella and Greg Tate on hip-hop, Vince Aletti on disco and Gerald Early on Motown; Lester Bangs on Elvis Presley, Robert Christgau on Prince, Nelson George on Marvin Gaye, Nat Hentoff on Bob Dylan, Hilton Als on Michael Jackson, Anthony DeCurtis on the Rolling Stones, Kelefa Sanneh on Jay Z. The story this anthology tells is an ongoing one: “It’s too early,” editors Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar note, “for canon formation in a field so marvelously volatile—a volatility that mirrors, still, that of pop music itself, which remains smokestack lightning. The writing here attempts to catch some in a bottle.”

Martin’s interview with Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar was originally recorded June 7, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Drew Philp about his new book: A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City.

Thu, 08/03/2017 - 12:04pm

Martin talks to author Drew Philp about his new book: A $500 House in Detroit: Rebuilding an Abandoned Home and an American City.

Drew Philp, an idealistic college student from a working-class Michigan family, decides to live where he can make a difference. He sets his sights on Detroit, the failed metropolis of abandoned buildings, widespread poverty, and rampant crime. Arriving with no job, no friends, and no money, Philp buys a ramshackle house for five hundred dollars in the east side neighborhood known as Poletown. The roomy Queen Anne he now owns is little more than a clapboard shell on a crumbling brick foundation, missing windows, heat, water, electricity, and a functional roof.

A $500 House in Detroit is Philp’s raw and earnest account of rebuilding everything but the frame of his house, nail by nail and room by room. We witness his concept of Detroit shift, expand, and evolve as his plan to save the city gives way to a life forged from political meaning, personal connection, and collective purpose. As he assimilates into the community of Detroiters around him, Philp guides readers through the city’s vibrant history and engages in urgent conversations about gentrification, racial tensions, and class warfare.

Part social history, part brash generational statement, part comeback story, A $500 House in Detroit “shines in its depiction of the radical neighborliness of ordinary people in desperate circumstances. This is an unforgettable, intimate account of the tentative revival of an American city and a glimpse at a new way forward for generations to come.

Martin’s interview with Drew Philp was recorded on May 23, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews veteran sports journalist Tom Gage about The Big 50: The Men and Moments that Made the Detroit Tigers.

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 12:00am

In his first-ever book, the award-winning beat writer Tom Gage recounts the living history of the Tigers, counting down from No. 50 to No. 1. The Big 50 brilliantly brings to life the Tigers' remarkable story, from Ty Cobb and Kirk Gibson to the rollercoaster that was the ‘Bless You Boys’ era to Justin Verlander's no-hitters and up to today.

Tom Gage covered the Detroit Tigers beat for The Detroit News from 1979 to 2014. In 2015, Gage was elected the 2015 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The longtime chairman of the Detroit Chapter of the BBWAA, Gage also serves on the screening committee that formulates the annual Hall of Fame ballot. The forward to The Big 50 was written by the 1984 World Series MVP Alan Trammell, who was a six-time All-Star while playing for the Detroit Tigers from 1977-1996.

The interview with Tom Gage was recorded on May 2, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Martin Torgoff, author of "Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs"

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 9:10am

From the author of the acclaimed Can't Find My Way Home comes the gripping story of the rise of early drug culture in America.

With an intricate storyline that unites engaging characters and themes and reads like a novel, Bop Apocalypse details the rise of early drug culture in America by weaving together the disparate elements that formed this new and revolutionary segment of the American social fabric.

Drawing upon his rich decades of writing experience, master storyteller Martin Torgoff connects the birth of jazz in New Orleans, the first drug laws, Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Harry Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, swing, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, the Savoy Ballroom, Reefer Madness, Charlie Parker, the birth of bebop, the rise of the Beat Generation, and the coming of heroin to Harlem. Aficionados of jazz, the Beats, counterculture, and drug history will all find much to enjoy here, with a cast of characters that includes vivid and memorable depictions of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Jackie McLean, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Herbert Huncke, Terry Southern, and countless others.

Bop Apocalypse is also a living history that teaches us much about the conflicts and questions surrounding drugs today, casting many contemporary issues in a new light by connecting them back to the events of this transformative era. At a time when marijuana legalization is rapidly becoming a reality, it takes us back to the advent of marijuana prohibition, when the templates of modern drug law, policy, and culture were first established, along with the concomitant racial stereotypes. As a new opioid epidemic sweeps through white working- and middle-class communities, it brings us back to when heroin first arrived on the streets of Harlem in the 1940s. And as we debate and grapple with the gross racial disparities of mass incarceration, it puts into sharp and provocative focus the racism at the very roots of our drug war.

Having spent a lifetime at the nexus of drugs and music, Torgoff reveals material never before disclosed and offers new insights, crafting and contextualizing Bop Apocalypse into a truly novel contribution to our understanding of jazz, race, literature, drug culture, and American social and cultural history.

Martin’s interview with Martin Torgoff was originally recorded March 7, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to Ed Ward about The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963.

Tue, 04/04/2017 - 11:31am

Ed Ward covers the first half of the history of rock & roll in this sweeping and definitive narrative: from the 1920s, when the music of rambling medicine shows mingled with the songs of vaudeville and minstrel acts to create the very early sounds of country and rhythm and blues, to the rise of the first independent record labels post-World War II, and concluding in December 1963, just as an immense change in the airwaves took hold and the Beatles prepared for their first American tour. The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1 shines a light on the far corners of the genre to reveal the stories behind the hugely influential artists who changed the musical landscape forever.

In this first volume of a two-part series, Ward shares his endless depth of knowledge and through engrossing storytelling hops seamlessly from Memphis to Chicago, Detroit, England, New York, and everywhere in between. He covers the trajectories of the big name acts like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Ray Charles, while also filling in gaps of knowledge and celebrating forgotten heroes such as the Burnette brothers, the “5” Royales, and Marion Keisker, Sam Phillips’s assistant, who played an integral part in launching Elvis’s career.

For all music lovers and rock & roll fans, Ward spins story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, introducing us along the way to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre and had a hand in creating the music we all know and love today.

The interview was originally recorded on February 7, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Mark Ribowsky about Hank: The Short Life and Long Country Road of Hank Williams.

Mon, 03/06/2017 - 2:22pm

After he died in the backseat of a Cadillac at the age of twenty-nine, Hank Williams -- a frail, flawed man who had become country music's first real star --- instantly morphed into its first tragic martyr. Having hit the heights with simple songs of despair, depression, and tainted love, he would, with that outlaw swagger, become in death a template for the rock generation to follow. Six decades later, Mark Ribowsky now weaves together the first fully realized biography of Hank Williams in a generation. Examining his music while also re-creating days and nights choked in booze and desperation, Ribowsky traces the miraculous rise of this music legend from the dirt roads of rural Alabama to the now-immortal stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and finally to a sad, lonely end on New Year's Day, 1953. The result is an original work that promises to uncover the real Hank beneath the myths that have long enshrouded his legacy.

The interview was recorded on January 26, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Steve Turner about Beatles '66: The Revolutionary Year.

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 1:08pm

The year that changed everything for the Beatles was 1966—the year of their last concert and their first album, Revolver, that was created to be listened to rather than performed. This was the year the Beatles risked their popularity by retiring from live performances, recording songs that explored alternative states of consciousness, experimenting with avant-garde ideas, and speaking their minds on issues of politics, war, and religion. It was the year their records were burned in America after John’s explosive claim that the group was "more popular than Jesus," the year they were hounded out of the Philippines for "snubbing" its First Lady, the year John met Yoko Ono, and the year Paul conceived the idea for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Music journalist and Beatles expert Steve Turner slows down the action to investigate in detail the enormous changes that took place in the Beatles’ lives and work during 1966. He looks at the historical events that had an impact on the group, the music they made that in turn profoundly affected the culture around them, and the vision that allowed four young men from Liverpool to transform popular music and serve as pioneers for artists from Coldplay to David Bowie, Jay-Z to U2.

By talking to those close to the group and by drawing on his past interviews with key figures such as George Martin, Timothy Leary, and Ravi Shankar—and the Beatles themselves—Turner gives us the compelling, definitive account of the twelve months that contained everything the Beatles had been and anticipated everything they would still become.

The interview was recorded on November 10, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to musician and author Lol Tolhurst about his new memoir Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys.

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 10:16am

“On our first day of school, Robert and I stood at the designated stop at Hevers Avenue with our mothers, and that's when we met for the very first time. We were five years old.”

So began a lifelong friendship that fourteen years later would result in the formation of The Cure, a quintessential post-punk band whose albums—such as Three Imaginary Boys, Pornography, and Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me—remain among the best-loved and most influential of all time.

As two of the first punks in the provincial English town of Crawley, Lol Tolhurst and Robert Smith didn't have it easy. Outsiders from the start, theirs was a friendship based initially on proximity and a shared love of music, from the punk that was raging in nearby London to the groundbreaking experimentation of David Bowie's “Berlin Trilogy.” First known as The Easy Cure, they began playing in pubs and soon developed their own unique style and approach to songwriting, resulting in timeless songs that sparked a deep sense of identification and empathy in listeners, songs like “Boys Don't Cry,” “Just Like Heaven,” and “Why Can't I Be You?,” spearheading a new subculture dubbed “Goth” by the press. The music of The Cure was not only accessible but also deeply subversive, challenging conventional notions of pop music and gender roles while inspiring a generation of devoted fans and a revolution in style.

Cured is not only the first insider account of the early days of the band, it is a revealing look at the artistic evolution of the enigmatic Robert Smith, the iconic lead singer, songwriter, and innovative guitarist at the heart of The Cure. A deeply rebellious, sensitive, tough, and often surprisingly “normal” young man, Smith was from the start destined for stardom, a fearless non-conformist and provocateur who soon found his own musical language through which to express his considerable and unique talent.

But there was also a dark side to The Cure's intense and bewildering success. Tolhurst, on drums and keyboards, was nursing a growing alcoholism that would destroy his place in The Cure and nearly end his life. Cured tells the harrowing and unforgettable story of his crash-and-burn, recovery, and rebirth.

Intensely lyrical and evocative, gripping and unforgettable, Cured is the definitive story of a singular band whose legacy endures many decades hence, told from the point of view of a participant and eyewitness who was there when it happened—and even before it all began.

The interview was recorded on October 13, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Heather Ann Thompson about her New York Times bestseller Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy

Wed, 10/26/2016 - 12:48pm

On September 9, 1971, nearly 1,300 prisoners took over the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York to protest years of mistreatment. Holding guards and civilian employees hostage, the prisoners negotiated with officials for improved conditions during the four long days and nights that followed.

On September 13, the state abruptly sent hundreds of heavily armed troopers and correction officers to retake the prison by force. Their gunfire killed thirty-nine men—hostages as well as prisoners—and severely wounded more than one hundred others. In the ensuing hours, weeks, and months, troopers and officers brutally retaliated against the prisoners. And, ultimately, New York State authorities prosecuted only the prisoners, never once bringing charges against the officials involved in the retaking and its aftermath and neglecting to provide support to the survivors and the families of the men who had been killed.

Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research, historian and University of Michigan professor Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on every aspect of the uprising and its legacy, giving voice to all those who took part in this forty-five-year fight for justice: prisoners, former hostages, families of the victims, lawyers and judges, and state officials and members of law enforcement. Blood in the Water is the searing and indelible account of one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century.

The interview was recorded on September 14, 2016.