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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Mon, 05/09/2016 - 12:42pm

Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond has written a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of several families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Martin Bandyke’s interview with Matthew Desmond was originally recorded on March 9, 2016.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Peter Guralnick, author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll

Wed, 02/17/2016 - 1:28pm

Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick.

Peter Guralnick, author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography Last Train to Memphis, brings us the life of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who singlehandedly steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records.

The music that Sam Phillips shaped in his tiny Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, introduced a sound that had never been heard before. He brought forth a singular mix of black and white voices passionately proclaiming the vitality of the American vernacular tradition while at the same time declaring, once and for all, a new, integrated musical day. With extensive interviews and firsthand personal observations extending over a 25-year period with Phillips, along with wide-ranging interviews with nearly all the legendary Sun Records artists, Guralnick gives us an ardent, unrestrained portrait of an American original as compelling in his own right as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Edison.

The interview with Peter Guralnick was originally recorded on December 10, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Chris Morris, author of Los Lobos: Dream in Blue.

Tue, 01/05/2016 - 9:25am

Los Lobos leaped into the national spotlight in 1987, when their cover of “La Bamba” became a No. 1 hit. But what looked like an overnight sensation to the band’s new fans was actually a way station in a long musical journey that began in East Los Angeles in 1973 and is still going strong. Across four decades, Los Lobos (Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, David Hidalgo, Louie Pérez, and Steve Berlin) has explored virtually the entire breadth of American vernacular music, from rockabilly to primal punk rock, R&B to country and folk, Mexican son jarocho to Tex-Mex conjunto and Latin American cumbia. Their sui generis sound has sold millions of albums and won acclaim from fans and critics alike, including three Grammy Awards.

Los Lobos, the first book on this unique band, traces the entire arc of the band’s career. Music journalist Chris Morris draws on new interviews with Los Lobos members and their principal collaborators, as well as his own reporting since the early 1980s, to recount the evolution of Los Lobos’s music.

The interview with Chris Morris was originally recorded on November 18, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Stephanie Steinberg, editor of In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at The Michigan Daily.

Fri, 12/18/2015 - 9:15am

At a time when daily print newspapers across the country are failing, The Michigan Daily continues to thrive. Completely operated by students of the University of Michigan, the paper was founded in 1890 and covers national and international news topics ranging from politics to sports to entertainment. The Daily has been a vital part of the college experience for countless UM students, none more so than those who staffed the paper as editors, writers, and photographers over the years. Many of these Daily alumni are now award-winning journalists who work for the premier news outlets in the world, including Sara Krulwich, Michael Rosenberg, Laura Berman, and Rebecca “Becky” Blumenstein.

In the Name of Editorial Freedom, edited by Stephanie Steinberg, compiles original essays by some of the best-known Daily alumni about their time on staff. Stephanie Steinberg was a Michigan Daily reporter and news editor from 2008 to 2010 and editor-in-chief in 2011. She is currently an editor at U.S. News & World Report.

The interview with Stephanie Steinberg was originally recorded on November 3, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Tony Barrell, author of Born to Drum: The Truth About the World’s Greatest Drummers

Wed, 10/28/2015 - 10:33am

From John Bonham and Keith Moon to Sheila E. and Dave Grohl, the pulse of rock’n’roll—the drummer—finally gets its due in this unique, all-encompassing inside look at the history, artists, instruments, and culture of drumming. Playing a drum kit is hard, sweaty, demanding work. Yet instead of being showered with respect, drummers are often viewed with derision—stereotyped as crazy, borderline psychotic, or just plain dumb. But as every musician knows, to have a great band you need a great drummer: Ginger Baker. John Bonham. Chad Smith. Stewart Copeland. Mitch Mitchell, Bill Bruford. British journalist Tony Barrell shines a long overdue spotlight on these musicians, offering an exciting look into their world, their art, and their personalities. In Born to Drum, Barrell explores the extraordinary history of the world’s most primitive instrument and the musicians who have made it legend. He interviews some of the most famous and revered and well-known drummers of our time—including Chad Smith, Ginger Baker, Clem Burke, Sheila E, Phil Collins, Nick Mason, Butch Vig, and Omar Hakim—who share astonishing truths about their work and lives. He investigates the stories of late, great drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham, analyzes many of the greatest drum tracks ever recorded, and introduces us to the world’s fastest drummer, the world’s loudest drummer, and the first musician to pilot a “flying drum kit” on stage.

The interview with Tony Barrell was originally recorded on August 11, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews David Stubbs, author of Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 1:08pm

West Germany after World War II was a country in shock: estranged from its recent history, and adrift from the rest of Europe. But this orphaned landscape proved fertile ground for a generation of musicians who, from the 1960s onwards, would develop the strange and beautiful sounds that became known as Krautrock.

Eschewing the easy pleasures of rock and roll and the more substantive seductions of blues and jazz, they took their inspiration from elsewhere: the mysticism of the East; the fractured classicism of Stockhausen; the grinding repetition of industry; the dense forests of the Rhineland; the endless winding of Autobahns.

Kraftwerk, Neu!, Faust, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, Amon Düül II, Can—the influence of these groups’ music on Western popular music is incalculable. They were key to the development of movements ranging from post-punk to electronica and hip-hop and have directly inspired artists as diverse as David Bowie, Talking Heads, and LCD Soundsystem.

Future Days is the brilliantly reported, deeply researched story of the groups that created Krautrock, and a social and cultural history of the Germany that challenged, inspired, and repelled them.

David Stubbs is an author and music journalist whose work has appeared in the The Times (London), The Sunday Times, Spin, The Guardian and GQ, and his books include Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen.

The interview with David Stubbs was originally recorded on October 8, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews David Browne, author of So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead.

Mon, 07/06/2015 - 12:09pm

They hold a place in history and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They helped spawn jam bands and social networking. Just in time for the fiftieth anniversary of a band that changed rock & roll musically and culturally, David Browne’s So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead takes us deep into the world of the Dead in ways that will be eye-opening even to the group’s most rabid fans.

By way of an altogether unique and striking structure – each chapter centered around a significant or pivotal day in their story – Browne, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone who has written extensively on the band for that magazine, lends this epic musical story a you-are-there feel unlike any other book written on the Grateful Dead.

David Browne’s previous book Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970, was called “one of the most entertaining and informative books of the year” by NPR.

The interview with David Browne was originally recorded on June 10, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Charles Leerhsen, author of Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty.

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 4:51pm

Ty Cobb is baseball royalty, maybe even the greatest player who ever lived. His lifetime batting average is still the highest of all time, and when he retired in 1928, after twenty-one years with the Detroit Tigers and two with the Philadelphia Athletics, he held more than ninety records. But the numbers don’t tell half of Cobb’s tale. The Georgia Peach was by far the most thrilling player of the era: “Ty Cobb could cause more excitement with a base on balls than Babe Ruth could with a grand slam,” one columnist wrote. When the Hall of Fame began in 1936, he was the first player voted in.

But Cobb was also one of the game’s most controversial characters. He got in a lot of fights, on and off the field, and was often accused of being overly aggressive. In his day, even his supporters acknowledged that he was a fierce and fiery competitor. Because his philosophy was to “create a mental hazard for the other man,” he had his enemies, but he was also widely admired. After his death in 1961, however, something strange happened: his reputation morphed into that of a monster—a virulent racist who also hated children and women, and was in turn hated by his peers.

How did this happen? Who is the real Ty Cobb? Setting the record straight in Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, Charles Leerhsen pushed aside the myths, traveled to Georgia and Detroit, and re-traced Cobb’s journey, from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time, to America’s first true sports celebrity. In the process, he tells of a life overflowing with incident and a man who cut his own path through his times—a man we thought we knew but really didn’t.

The interview with Charles Leerhsen was originally recorded on May 5, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Andrew Grant Jackson, author of 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music.

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:15am

During twelve unforgettable months, in the middle of the turbulent sixties, America saw the rise of innovative new sounds that would change popular music as we knew it. In his new book, music historian Andrew Grant Jackson chronicles a groundbreaking year of creativity fueled by rivalries between musicians and continents, as well as sweeping social and technological breakthroughs.

In 1965 there was incredible music being made by an incredibly wide variety of artists, including the Beatles, the Temptations, the Rolling Stones, John Coltrane, James Brown, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Marley, Johnny Cash, Vince Guaraldi, Otis Redding, and dozens of others. Andrew Grant Jackson’s comprehensive coverage of this unforgettable year in music is a terrific, fascinating read.

The interview with Andrew Grant Jackson was originally recorded on April 8, 2015.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews George Hodgman, author of Bettyville.

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 11:08am

George Hodgman is a veteran magazine and book editor who was worked at Simon & Schuster, Vanity Fair, and Talk magazine. His writing has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Interview, W, and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications.

A few years ago, Hodgman returned to his hometown of Paris, Missouri, for his mother Betty’s ninety-first birthday, for what he thought would be a brief visit. He soon discovered that his mother had lost her driver’s license and her in-home help, and desperately needed the assistance she would rather die than ask for.

Despite his doubts and total lack of cooking skills, Hodgman left New York City and moved back in with his mother, facing the juncture that every son or daughter understands, the reversal of roles that rarely goes smoothly as a parent grows older and both struggle to hold on to what once was. Bettyville is an exquisitely written memoir about the complicated but deeply genuine love a son feels for his courageous, headstrong, vulnerable mother in the twilight of her life.