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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to David Yaffe, author of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:53am

Joni Mitchell may be the most influential female recording artist and composer of the late twentieth century. In Reckless Daughter, the music critic David Yaffe tells the remarkable, heart-wrenching story of how the blond girl with the guitar became a superstar of folk music in the 1960s, a key figure in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1970s, and the songwriter who spoke resonantly to, and for, audiences across the country.

In this intimate biography, drawing on dozens of unprecedented in-person interviews with Mitchell, her childhood friends, and a cast of famous characters, Yaffe reveals the backstory behind the famous songs-from Mitchell's youth in Canada, her bout with polio at age nine, and her early marriage and the child she gave up for adoption, through the love affairs that inspired masterpieces, and up to the present-and shows us why Mitchell has so enthralled her listeners, her lovers and her friends. Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark in American music.

Martin's interview with David Yaffe was recorded on November 1, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin talks to author Tim Harford about his new book Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 2:43pm

Named a best book of 2017 by Bloomberg Businessweek, the Financial times and Amazon, Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy paints an epic picture of change in an intimate way by telling the stories of the tools, people, and ideas that had far-reaching consequences for all of us. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette’s disposable razor to IKEA’s Billy bookcase, bestselling author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford recounts each invention’s own curious, surprising, and memorable story. 

Invention by invention, Harford reflects on how we got here and where we might go next. He lays bare often unexpected connections: how the bar code undermined family corner stores, and why the gramophone widened inequality. In the process, he introduces characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, and were ruined by them, as he traces the principles that helped explain their transformative effects. The result is a wise and witty book of history, economics, and biography.

Martin's interview with Tim Harford was originally recorded on September 6, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Bandyke interviews Ann Powers, author of Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 2:49pm

In this sweeping history of popular music in the United States, National Public Radio’s acclaimed music critic examines how popular music shapes fundamental American ideas and beliefs, allowing us to communicate difficult emotions and truths about our most fraught social issues, most notably sex and race.

In Good Booty, Ann Powers explores how popular music became America’s primary erotic art form. Powers takes us from nineteenth-century New Orleans through dance-crazed Jazz Age New York to the teen scream years of mid-twentieth century rock-and-roll to the cutting-edge adventures of today’s web-based pop stars. Drawing on her deep knowledge and insights on gender and sexuality, Powers recounts stories of forbidden lovers, wild shimmy-shakers, orgasmic gospel singers, countercultural perverts, soft-rock sensitivos, punk Puritans, and the cyborg known as Britney Spears to illuminate how eroticism—not merely sex, but love, bodily freedom, and liberating joy—became entwined within the rhythms and melodies of American song. This cohesion, she reveals, touches the heart of America's anxieties and hopes about race, feminism, marriage, youth, and freedom.

In a survey that spans more than a century of music, Powers both heralds little known artists such as Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, and gospel queen Dorothy Love Coates, and sheds new light on artists we think we know well, from the Beatles and Jim Morrison to Madonna and Beyoncé. In telling the history of how American popular music and sexuality intersect—a magnum opus over two decades in the making—Powers offers new insights into our nation psyche and our soul.

Martin’s interview with Ann Powers was recorded on September 27, 2017.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin Bandyke interviews Dylan Jones, author of David Bowie: A Life.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 2:46pm

Dylan Jones’s engrossing, magisterial biography of David Bowie is unlike any Bowie story ever written. Drawn from over 180 interviews with friends, rivals, lovers, and collaborators, some of whom have never before spoken about their relationship with Bowie, this oral history weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds the story of a remarkable rise to stardom and an unparalleled artistic path. Tracing Bowie’s life from the English suburbs to London to New York to Los Angeles, Berlin, and beyond, its collective voices describe a man profoundly shaped by his relationship with his schizophrenic half-brother Terry; an intuitive artist who could absorb influences through intense relationships and yet drop people cold when they were no longer of use; and a social creature equally comfortable partying with John Lennon and dining with Frank Sinatra.

By turns insightful and deliciously gossipy, David Bowie: A Life is as intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn. It sparks with admiration and grievances, lust and envy, as the speakers bring you into studios and bedrooms they shared with Bowie, and onto stages and film sets, opening corners of his mind and experience that transform our understanding of both artist and art. Including illuminating, never-before-seen material from Bowie himself, drawn from a series of Jones’s interviews with him across two decades, David Bowie is an epic, unforgettable cocktail-party conversation about a man whose enigmatic shapeshifting and irrepressible creativity produced one of the most sprawling, fascinating lives of our time.

Martin’s interview with Dylan Jones was recorded on September 21, 2017.

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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.