Blaster in the Flatlands: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore at The Ark


It might seem like Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore come from very different places musically.

Alvin is best known as a core member of the roots-rock band The Blasters, often considered part of the 1980s Los Angeles punk scene. Gilmore is a Texas troubadour who helped start the alt-country/Americana movement as a member of The Flatlanders. But the two came of age loving the same kinds of authentic folk and blues music -- and today, they’re both comfortable working in a laid-back singer-songwriter format.

In fact, they’ve been friends for more than 30 years. So when Alvin suggested the two start doing some shows together -- including on at The Ark on Oct. 30 -- it seemed like a natural pairing.

READ MORE  

Hell's Bells: "The Haunted Belfry" casts creepy chimes across campus


Haunted Belfry

The community can try their hands at clanging the carillon at The Haunted Belfry -- don't be scared of no ghost.

Spooky music is coming from somewhere on the University of Michigan’s campus. You move toward the creepy, clanging sound, the bells getting louder and louder with every passing step as the sky turns dark and everything suddenly seems eerie. Finally, you arrive at the carillon in the Burton Memorial Tower and you see people going inside. You pause at the entrance and wonder whether you should go in. The thunder crackles as you cross the precipice and step into the unknown.

Welcome to The Haunted Belfry.

“It’s a really good opportunity for people to actually connect with the carillon and understand that it’s (played by) a human and not, like, a robot,” laughed Hoai An Pham, one of the family-friendly event’s organizers. “The event is very casual and really a chance for people to get to learn about the carillon and also, get in the Halloween spirit.”

The Haunted Belfry has been helping students, and the community, get in the Halloween spirit since 2015 after Tiffany Ng, University of Michigan assistant professor of carillon, spearheaded it. This year, the annual event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3:30 pm. It’s being organized by three carillon students: Pham, Michelle Lam, and Rachael Park.

READ MORE  

Scary Rituals: U-M's Halloween concert has haunted for 4 decades


U-M Halloween Concert

Conductor Kenneth Kiesler will direct a bunch of li'l monsters -- and maybe a banana-clad cellist -- at U-M's annual Halloween concert.

Sunday’s 40th annual Halloween concert at Hill Auditorium -- which combines the Campus Symphony Orchestra with the Campus Philharmonia Orchestra -- will mark conductor Kenneth Kiesler’s 23rd time on the podium while in costume. (What he’ll be dressed in this year is under wraps.)

But what you might not know is that he and the student musicians get one chance each year to raid the theater department’s costumes.

“They have a huge warehouse,” said Kiesler. “You could get just about anything you want.”

READ MORE  

Tools Crew Live: Stef Chura


Downloads:
MP3 for "Slow Motion"
720p video

Tools Crew Live is an ongoing video series where we invite artists to perform with gear borrowed from the Ann Arbor District Library's Music Tools collection: aadl.org/musictools.

When not on tour, indie-rocker Stef Chura runs several karaoke nights in Detroit, the city where she lives. It's common for karaoke hosts to sing a few songs to set the stage and encourage the crowd, and Chura told MTV.com in a January 2017 interview that The Cranberries are one of her go-to bands to croon.

Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan comes up a lot in articles about Chura. Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks comes up, too. So does Liz Phair and The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde. Bettie Serveert's Carol van Dijk has also been mentioned, and so have Destroyer's Dan Bejar and Television's Tom Verlaine. There are hints of Billie Holiday, too.

READ MORE  

"River in Our City, the River in Our Veins" celebrates the Huron

The River in Our City, the River in Our Veins

U-M's Christianne Myers said River in Our City... is "a combination of performance and museum" -- with music and puppets.

The 130 miles of the Huron River have inspired everyone from poets and writers to biological researchers and naturalists. Now, it’s serving as inspiration for The River in Our City, the River in Our Veins, a processional performance at 12 noon on Friday, Oct. 27, in celebration of the University of Michigan’s bicentennial.

“Part of it was wanting to find something that impacts everybody on campus,” said Christianne Myers, associate professor of theater (costume design) and head of design and production at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. She’s also one of the event’s organizers. “Whether it’s actually something people are studying or doing research on, or if its just students riding inner tubes. It can be a lot of things to a lot of different people."

READ MORE  

Bent into Shape: Circuit Bent Organ Duo at Kerrytown Concert House


Grammy-nominated and Hammond-endorsed organist Brian Charette’s music encompasses a jostling, unruly mix of influences and timbres. While powered by groove-centric basslines, peppered with blistering bebop licks, and firmly grounded in the Hammond B-3 canon, Charette's sound also includes crunchy waveforms flowing from an array of analog synthesizers and custom electronics in his Circuit Bent Organ project.

Fresh off the summer release of its latest album, Kürrent -- which one reviewer described as the kind of soundscape that might result if Jimmy Smith and Kraftwerk collaborated on the score to a ‘80s video game -- two-thirds of the Circuit Bent Organ Trio returned to the Kerrytown Concert House on Monday, Oct. 23, to showcase some new tunes. The pared-down duo format left plenty of auditory space for the kind of sonic exploration and experimentation that Charette clearly thrives on, and Jordan Young’s sensitive and dynamic approach to the drums provided an impactful and grounding counterpoint.

READ MORE  

Singing Truths: Mary Gauthier's raw, vulnerable songs are like short stories


Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier's forthcoming LP, Rifles and Rosary Beads, was co-written with wounded veterans. Photo by Jack Spencer.

Mary Gauthier is the perfect songwriter and performer for an intimate venue like the Green Wood Coffee House, where she plays Friday, Oct. 27.

Her voice is untutored and unassuming but deeply evocative and powerful, and her songs go straight to the heart in a way that is personal, candid, and unaffected by artifice or unnecessary frills. Every line of every song is its own entire world, its own little gem of a thought. Her straightforward and relaxed style of performance lends these songs a truthfulness which is best experienced up close.

“Small venues lend themselves to a more personal show. Small rooms suit my music and storytelling,” she says.

READ MORE  

Imaginary Landscapes: UMMA concert explores the sonic side of abstraction


Jonathan Ovalle

U-M assistant professor of percussion Jonathan Ovalle compiled a program of music that complements the visual art in the exhibit Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction.

When most of us think about the word “abstract” our minds go directly to pieces by artists like Jackson Pollock or Pablo Picasso. But "Angles of Abstraction" will let guests see -- well, hear -- that the word abstract can apply to much more than just visual art.

Curated by University of Michigan's Jonathan Ovalle, "Angles of Abstraction" (Sunday, Oct. 22, UMMA) started to come together after the assistant professor of percussion was approached by a colleague over the summer and asked him to create a concert that tied into the themes of the UMMA exhibit Victors for Art: Michigan's Alumni Collectors -- Part II: Abstraction.

“The big buzz words were ‘abstract’ and ‘exploration,’” Ovalle said. “Both of those words are super intriguing to me.”

READ MORE  

Edgefest & Piotr Michalowski have helped make A2 a haven for avant jazz


Ballister by Geert-Vandepoele

Piotr Michalowski, Andrew Drury, and Joe McPhee played Encore Records on October 17 as a warm-up to Kerrytown Concert House's annual Edgefest (Oct. 18-21). Photo by Eric Gallippo.

As free-jazz hero Joe McPhee got started on the third movement of Tuesday night's Fringe at the Edge concert at Encore Records, he settled into a minimalist, two-beat groove that was sometimes barely audible.

While McPhee patted his palm against the mouthpiece of his pocket trumpet, drummer Andrew Drury fell in, lightly tapping skins, rims, and cymbals for a nervous, anti-beat.

Piotr Michalowski held his sopranino saxophone and listened a moment, then completed the percussive theme by popping and puffing through his horn, before the trio opened up into long-toned exuberance. When it was over, Drury made Michalowski jump and then grin, as he frantically bowed away at some metal for a screeching effect.

READ MORE  

In Their Own Voices: Michelle Held & Frank Allison at Crazy Wisdom


Frank Allison & Michelle Held

Frank Allison and Michelle Held have found their voices through song. Allison photo by Doug Coombe.

Detroit-based Michelle Held was a professional actress, appearing at the best theaters in Michigan, including the Purple Rose, where she trained, and the Williamston Theatre near Lansing. Her then-boyfriend gave her a guitar, but Held hardly touched it because she was busy with day jobs and rehearsals. And when she did try to play it, it didn't go well. “I would pick it up and get frustrated,” Held says.

When she took a full-time job at a production house, Held took her guitar to work but had too little time to do more than tinker with it. It wasn't until she was laid off from that job in 2009 that Held could work on her guitar skills and, finally, she says “began to get the hang of it.” In 2011, she wrote her first song.

READ MORE