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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for November 2020 : Martin interviews Ken Fischer, author of Everybody In, Nobody Out: Inspiring Community at Michigan’s University Musical Society.

Tue, 11/03/2020 - 10:57am

Housed on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the University Musical Society is one of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country. A past recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest public artistic honor, UMS connects audiences with wide-ranging performances in music, dance, and theater each season. Between 1987 and 2017, UMS was led by Ken Fischer, who over three decades pursued an ambitious campaign to expand and diversify the organization's programming and audiences--initiatives inspired by Fischer's overarching philosophy toward promoting the arts, "Everybody In, Nobody Out."

The approach not only deepened UMS's engagement with the university and southeast Michigan communities, it led to exemplary partnerships with distinguished artists across the world. Under Fischer's leadership, UMS hosted numerous breakthrough performances, including the Vienna Philharmonic's final tour with Leonard Bernstein, appearances by then relatively unknown opera singer Cecilia Bartoli, a multiyear partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and artists as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma, Elizabeth Streb, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Though peppered with colorful anecdotes of how these successes came to be, this book is neither a history of UMS nor a memoir of Fischer's significant accomplishments with the organization. Rather it is a reflection on the power of the performing arts to engage and enrich communities--not by handing down cultural enrichment from on high, but by meeting communities where they live and helping them preserve cultural heritage, incubate talent, and find ways to make community voices heard.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for October 2020: Martin interviews Grace Elizabeth Hale, author of Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture.

Mon, 10/05/2020 - 12:14pm

In the summer of 1978, the B-52's conquered the New York underground. A year later, the band's self-titled debut album burst onto the Billboard charts, capturing the imagination of fans and music critics worldwide. The fact that the group had formed in the sleepy southern college town of Athens, Georgia, only increased the fascination. Soon, more Athens bands followed the B-52's into the vanguard of the new American music that would come to be known as "alternative," including R.E.M., who catapulted over the course of the 1980s to the top of the musical mainstream. As acts like the B-52's, R.E.M., and Pylon drew the eyes of New York tastemakers southward, they discovered in Athens an unexpected mecca of music, experimental art, DIY spirit, and progressive politics--a creative underground as vibrant as any to be found in the country's major cities.

In Athens in the eighties, if you were young and willing to live without much money, anything seemed possible. Cool Town reveals the passion, vitality, and enduring significance of a bohemian scene that became a model for others to follow. Grace Elizabeth Hale experienced the Athens scene as a student, small-business owner, and band member. Blending personal recollection with a historian's eye, she reconstructs the networks of bands, artists, and friends that drew on the things at hand to make a new art of the possible, transforming American culture along the way. In a story full of music and brimming with hope, Hale shows how an unlikely cast of characters in an unlikely place made a surprising and beautiful new world.

Martin's interview with Grace Elizabeth Hale was originally recorded on July 7, 2020.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for September 2020: Martin interviews Chris Frantz, author of Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina.

Tue, 09/01/2020 - 10:33am

One of the most dynamic groups of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Talking Heads, founded by drummer Chris Frantz, his girlfriend Tina Weymouth, and lead singer David Byrne, burst onto the music scene, playing at CBGBs, touring Europe with the Ramones, and creating hits like “Psycho Killer” and “Burning Down the House” that captured the post-baby boom generation’s intense, affectless style.

In Remain in Love, Frantz writes about the beginnings of Talking Heads―their days as art students in Providence, moving to the sparse Chrystie Street loft Frantz, Weymouth, and Byrne shared where the music that defined an era was written. With never-before-seen photos and immersive vivid detail, Frantz describes life on tour, down to the meals eaten and the clothes worn―and reveals the mechanics of a long and complicated working relationship with a mercurial frontman.

At the heart of Remain in Love is Frantz’s love for Weymouth: their once-in-a-lifetime connection as lovers, musicians, and bandmates, and how their creativity surged with the creation of their own band Tom Tom Club, bringing a fresh Afro-Caribbean beat to hits like “Genius of Love.”

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for August 2020: Martin interviews Carl Safina, author of Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace.

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 9:36am

Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt.

In Becoming Wild, the acclaimed ecologist and author Carl Safina offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity. With reporting from deep in nature, alongside individual creatures in their free-living communities, this book offers a very privileged glimpse behind the curtain of life on Earth, and helps inform the answer to that most urgent of questions: Who are we here with?

Martin's interview with Carl Safina was originally recorded on June 3, 2020.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for July 2020: Martin interviews Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 9:48am

In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Over the course of ten days, he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader. Brubeck opened up as never before, disclosing his unique approach to jazz; the heady days of his "classic" quartet in the 1950s-60s; hanging out with Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis; and the many controversies that had dogged his 66-year-long career.

Alongside beloved figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, Brubeck's music has achieved name recognition beyond jazz. But finding a convincing fit for Brubeck's legacy, one that reconciles his mass popularity with his advanced musical technique, has proved largely elusive. In Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, Clark provides us with a thoughtful, thorough, and long-overdue biography of an extraordinary man whose influence continues to inform and inspire musicians today.

Structured around Clark's extended interview and intensive new research, this book tells one of the last untold stories of jazz, unearthing the secret history of "Take Five" and many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck's early career - and about his creative relationship with his star saxophonist Paul Desmond. Woven throughout are cameo appearances from a host of unlikely figures from Sting, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, and Keith Emerson, to John Cage, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Partch, and Edgard Varèse. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. To quote President Obama, as he awarded the musician with a Kennedy Center Honor: "You can't understand America without understanding jazz, and you can't understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck."

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for June 2020: Martin interviews Cliff Eisen, co-editor of The Letters of Cole Porter

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:41am

From Anything Goes to Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter left a lasting legacy of iconic songs including "You're the Top," "Love For Sale," and "Night and Day." Yet, alongside his professional success, Porter led an eclectic personal life which featured exuberant parties, scandalous affairs, and chronic health problems. This extensive collection of letters (most of which are published here for the first time) dates from the first decade of the twentieth century to the early 1960s and features correspondence with stars such as Irving Berlin, Ethel Merman, and Orson Welles, as well as his friends and lovers.

Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh complement these letters with lively commentaries that draw together the loose threads of Porter’s life and highlight the distinctions between Porter’s public and private existence. This book reveals surprising insights into his attitudes toward Hollywood and Broadway, and toward money, love, and dazzling success.

Martin’s interview with Cliff Eisen was recorded on January 8, 2020.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for May 2020: Martin interviews Andrew Blauner, editor of The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life.

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 8:45am

Over the span of 50 years, Charles M. Schulz created a comic strip that is one of the indisputable glories of American popular culture - hilarious, poignant, inimitable. Some 20 years after the last strip appeared, the characters Schulz brought to life in Peanuts continue to resonate with millions of fans, their beguiling four-panel adventures and television escapades offering lessons about happiness, friendship, disappointment, childhood, and life itself. 

In The Peanuts Papers, 33 writers and artists (including Jonathan Lethem, Ann Patchett, Adam Gopnik & George Saunders) reflect on the deeper truths of Schulz’s deceptively simple comic, its impact on their lives and art and on the broader culture. These enchanting, affecting, and often quite personal essays show just how much Peanuts means to its many admirers - and the ways it invites us to ponder, in the words of Sarah Boxer, “how to survive and still be a decent human being” in an often bewildering world. Featuring essays, memoirs, poems, and two original comic strips, here is the ultimate listener's companion for every Peanuts fan. 

Martin’s interview with Andrew Blauner was originally recorded on November 26, 2019.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2020: Martin interviews Will Birch, author of Cruel to Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe.

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 3:11pm

Described as "Britain's greatest living songwriter," Nick Lowe has made his mark as a pioneer of pub rock, power-pop, and punk rock and as a producer of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, the Damned, and the Pretenders. He has been a pop star with his bands Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile, a stepson-in-law to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and is the writer behind hits including "Cruel to Be Kind" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." In the past decades, however, he has distinguished himself as an artist who is equally acclaimed for the second act of his career as a tender yet sharp-tongued acoustic balladeer.

Biographer Will Birch, who in addition to being a music writer was a drummer and songwriter with The Records, has known Lowe for over forty years and melds Lowe's gift as a witty raconteur with his own authoritative analysis of Lowe's background and the cultural scenes he exemplifies. Lowe's parallel fame as one of the best interviews in the business will contribute to this first look into his life and work--and likely the closest thing fans will get to an autobiography by this notoriously charming cult figure.

This is not an authorized biography, but Lowe has given it his spiritual blessing and his management and label are fully on board. Cruel to Be Kind will be the colorful yet serious account of one of the world's most talented and admired musicians.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for March 2020: Martin interviews Louie Kemp, author of Dylan & Me: 50 Years of Adventures.

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:48am

"It was at summer camp in northern Wisconsin in 1953 that I first met Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing. He was twelve years old and he had a guitar. He would go around telling everybody that he was going to be a rock-and-roll star. I was eleven and I believed him.'' So begins this honest, funny, and deeply affectionate memoir of a friendship that has spanned five decades of wild adventures, soul searching conversation, musical milestones, and enduring comradery. As Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan and Louie Kemp built a successful international business, their lives diverged but their friendship held fast. No matter how much time passed between one adventure and the next, the two ''boys from the North Country'' picked up where they left off and shared experiences that will surprise and delight Dylan fans and anybody who loves a rollicking-good rock-and-roll memoir.

 

Martin's interview with Louie Kemp was recorded on September 18, 2019.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for February 2020: Martin interviews Jeff Guinn, author of The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 12:51pm

Jeff's book tells the fascinating story of two American giants—Henry Ford and Thomas Edison—whose annual summer sojourns introduced the road trip to our culture and made the automobile an essential part of modern life, even as their own relationship altered dramatically.

In 1914 Henry Ford and naturalist John Burroughs visited Thomas Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The following year Ford, Edison, and tire maker Harvey Firestone joined together on a summer camping trip and decided to call themselves the Vagabonds. They would continue their summer road trips until 1925, when they announced that their fame made it too difficult for them to carry on.

Although the Vagabonds traveled with an entourage of chefs, butlers, and others, this elite fraternity also had a serious purpose: to examine the conditions of America’s roadways and improve the practicality of automobile travel. Cars were unreliable and the roads were even worse. But newspaper coverage of these trips was extensive, and as cars and roads improved, the summer trip by automobile soon became a desired element of American life.