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Bring the Noise: Benjamin Miller's Porcelain Hammer and Mark Morgan explore the far side of music

Thu, 12/12/2019 - 4:45pm by christopherporter

Screenshot from Ben Miller's live performance at Detroit's Eastown Theatre, 2015

Screenshot from Ben Miller's live performance at Detroit's Eastown Theatre, 2015.

It was nearly 10 am on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2019, when I turned on WCBN in my car. The University of Michigan student radio station is a staple in my listening routine, but even my catholic ears were surprised to hear noise icon Merzbow power-sawing his way through two tracks followed by fellow Japanese screechers Otomo Yoshihide and Keiji Haino just after breakfast time.

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Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Yeomen of the Guard" casts a darker shadow for light comic opera

Thu, 12/05/2019 - 9:00am by christopherporter

UMGASS's Yeoman of the Guard

Photo courtesy of UMGASS.

Comic operas usually live up their genre name: lively songs, light humor, and endings filled with satisfied characters.

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Wisconsin indie-folk band Dead Horses look to the moon and Midwest for inspiration

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 12:15pm by christopherporter

Dead Horses

Music from the indie-folk and Americana band Dead Horses grapples with hope and pain -- how to reconcile sorrows and desires -- through both songwriting and sound. Lyrics on the 2018 album, My Mother the Moon, draw on frontwoman Sarah Vos’ life story, including experiencing an unsettling childhood and finding her way as an adult, as well as her observations as a musician. The track “Turntable” offers this image:

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"Last Letters" documents a love story among German Resistance fighters in World War II

Mon, 12/02/2019 - 11:00am by christopherporter

Last Letters book

“We are only here because of Harald Poelchau, the prison chaplain who risked his own life to smuggle these letters back and forth to my grandparents,” says author Johannes von Moltke. “There is no other way that my grandmother would have gotten these letters and been able to keep them the rest of her life.”

The messages von Moltke refers to are the heart of Last Letters: The Prison Correspondence Between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, 1944-45, which contains the intimate notes between German Resistance fighters in World War II. The book is published in English for the first time thanks to von Moltke, his sister Dorothea, his uncle Helmuth, and translator Shelley Frisch. 

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Bill Kirchen reminiscences on Commander Cody, Iggy Pop, and Bob Dylan before the Ann Arbor guitar legend's Honky Tonk Holiday

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 9:00am by christopherporter

Excerpt from Bill Kirchen's Holiday Honk Tonk 2019 poster

Ann Arbor native Bill Kirchen is instrumental in creating the rootsy country-rock-blues-folk mix we today call Americana. 

Kirchen hit it big early in his career as the lead guitarist for Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen; he’s responsible for the dazzling guitar work on their enduring 1972 hit “Hot Rod Lincoln.” He’s since become known as an absolute master of the Telecaster guitar, playing with a nearly endless list of impressive names through the years. 

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U-M brings diversity to Steinbeck’s "Grapes of Wrath"

Mon, 11/25/2019 - 11:15am by christopherporter

Grapes of Wrath book cover

Excerpt of the book cover for the first edition of The Grapes of Wrath, 1939.

John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is a great American classic.

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Get Away With She: Nellie McKay wants to escape from it all

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 1:30pm by christopherporter

Nellie McKay

Photo by Shervin Lainez.

This story was originally published on May 9, 2018, ahead of Nellie McKay's May 13, 2018, concert at The Ark in Ann Arbor. McKay is returning to The Ark on Monday, November 19 in support of her new 8-song EP, "Bagatelles," which you can hear below in addition to her 2018 LP, "Sister Orchard."

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Malcolm Tariq's poetry book, "Heed the Hollow," examines blackness, queerness, and the South

Thu, 11/14/2019 - 10:45am by christopherporter

Malcom Tariq and his book Heed the Hollow

Author photo by Karisma Price.

To say that Heed the Hollow by Malcolm Tariq is about the queer black experience is both true and also too simple. The poetry collection engages with the American South, the history of slavery, and sexuality and eroticism in candid, unexpected ways.

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"Staying Power: Concrete, Not Wood" is a multigenre production by youths in Ypsilanti, Mich., and Richmond, Calif.

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 1:30pm by christopherporter

Jua'Chelle Harmon

Jua'Chelle Harmon is a 17-year-old student at Washtenaw International High School and Middle Academy and member of the activisit-poetry collaboration Staying Power.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, a cohort of teen artist-activists from Ypsilanti, Michigan, and Richmond, California -- collectively known as Staying Power -- will put on a multigenre production that will culminate a year-long cultural exchange program between teens from these two communities.  

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Regrets, He's Had a Few: Former Wolverine and NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards is forever "Doing It My Way"

Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:00am by christopherporter

Braylon Edwards' book Doing It My Way

Former University of Michigan All American wide receiver and NFL Pro Bowler Braylon Edwards has a reputation for being outspoken, to say the least. But even so, he had to warm up to the idea of writing Doing It My Way: My Outspoken Life as a Michigan Wolverine, NFL Receiver, and Beyond.