Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2021: Martin interviews Michael Hurtt, co-author of Mind Over Matter: The Myths and Mysteries of Detroit’s Fortune Records.
Mon, 04/05/2021 - 8:50am
The wife and husband team of Devora and Jack Brown formed Fortune Records in 1946. Much like Sam Phillips did with Sun Records in Memphis, the fiercely independent Browns did everything in-house in Detroit.
The now legendary label self-recorded and released stacks of brilliant records. From its early days of pressing big-band and polka records, through its transition into R&B, blues, gospel, rockabilly and country, Fortune laid the groundwork for Motown and other more prominent Detroit imprints. While its releases sputtered out by the early ‘70s, and the company completely folded in the 1980s, record collectors from across the globe still seek out Fortune’s impressive and wildly eclectic discography of vinyl.
A hefty new book, Mind Over Matter: The Myths & Mysteries of Detroit's Fortune Records, by Michael Hurtt and the late Billy Miller, chronicles the entire history of this blue-collar label and humble storefront studio. Over 576 pages, this deluxe, full-color hardcover tome is essential for anyone interested in obscure but astounding records.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers for March 2021: Martin interviews Reuben Jonathan Miller, author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.
Mon, 03/08/2021 - 3:49pm
Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record.
Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration, spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. The idea that one can serve their debt and return to life as a full-fledge member of society is one of America’s most nefarious myths. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast.
Halfway Home shows that the American justice system was not created to rehabilitate, and that parole is structured to keep classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers for February 2021: Martin interviews Sandra B. Tooze, author of Levon: From Down in the Delta to the Birth of The Band and Beyond.
Thu, 01/28/2021 - 3:07pm
Levon is a dazzling, epic biography of Levon Helm––the beloved, legendary drummer and singer of The Band. He sang the anthems of a generation: "The Weight," "Up on Cripple Creek," and "Life Is a Carnival." Levon Helm's story––told here through sweeping research and interviews with close friends and fellow musicians––is the rollicking story of American popular music itself.
In the Arkansas Delta, a young Levon witnessed "blues, country, and gospel hit in a head-on collision," as he put it. The result was rock 'n' roll. As a teenager, he joined the raucous Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, then helped merge a hard-driving electric sound with Bob Dylan's folk roots, and revolutionized American rock with the Band. Helm not only provided perfect "in the pocket" rhythm and unforgettable vocals, he was The Band's soul.
Levon traces a rebellious life on the road, from being booed with Bob Dylan to the creative cauldron of Big Pink, the Woodstock Festival, world tours, The Last Waltz, and beyond with the man Dylan called "one of the last true great spirits of my or any other generation."
Martin Bandyke Under Covers for January 2021: Martin interviews Ken McNab, author of And in the End: The Last Days of The Beatles.
Tue, 01/05/2021 - 8:35am
Ken McNab's in-depth look at The Beatles' acrimonious final year is a detailed account of the breakup featuring the perspectives of all four band members and their roles. A must to add to the collection of Beatles fans, And In the End is full of fascinating information available for the first time.
A lifelong Beatles fan and well-respected journalist with Scotland's Evening Times, McNab reconstructs for the first time the seismic events of 1969, when The Beatles reached new highs of creativity and new lows of the internal strife that would destroy them. Between the pressure of being filmed during rehearsals and writing sessions for the documentary Get Back, their company Apple Corps facing bankruptcy, Lennon's heroin use, and musical disagreements, the group was arguing more than ever before and their formerly close friendship began to disintegrate.
Martin Bandyke Under Covers for December 2020: Martin interviews Graydon M. Meints, author of Pere Marquette: A Michigan Railroad System Before 1900.
Tue, 01/05/2021 - 8:25am
The Pere Marquette Railroad has not one but two histories—one for the twentieth century and one for the nineteenth. While the twentieth-century record of the Pere Marquette Railroad has been well studied and preserved, the nineteenth century has not been so well served. Pere Marquette: A Michigan Railroad System Before 1900 is the latest book by railroad aficionado Graydon M. Meints which aims to correct that oversight by focusing on the nineteenth-century part of the company’s past, including the men who formed and directed these early roads, and the development of the system.
The Pere Marquette Railroad was formed in 1900 by a merger of three Michigan railroad companies and lasted forty-seven years, disappearing in June 1947 by merger into the maw of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad. Prior to the 1900 merger, the Pere Marquette Railroad’s predecessors made up a motley collection of disconnected and unaffiliated short, local rail lines. After the financial panic of 1893, and with some commonality of ownership, the companies worked together more closely. Before the end of the decade, the three main railroads—the Flint & Pere Marquette; the Detroit, Lansing & Northern; and the Chicago & West Michigan—had decided that the only way to maintain solvency was to merge.
Using a plethora of primary sources including railway timetables and maps, this work lends insight into the little-known corporate business history of the Pere Marquette Railroad.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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."