Friday Five: Ma Baker, Chris DuPont, Mike Dos, Nick Melody, Prol'e

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 02-12-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists.

This week features jams courtesy Ma Baker, Americana from Chris DuPont, R&B hip-hop by Mike Dos, indie rock from Nick Melody, and hip-hop from Prol'e.
 

UMMA + Chill serves up virtual social engagements with a side helping of art

VISUAL ART

UMMA + Chill

Michigan is already a tough place to be during the winter. Double triple quadruply so when you can't go anywhere.

That's why the University of Michigan Museum of Art has created a series of online events that encourage you to travel the spaceways of your mind in order to deal with this oppressive season (and all the other things going on).

UMMA + Chill is a series of programs throughout February—and perhaps beyond since winter in Michigan usually ends in, what, mid-June?—that will allow you to connect with fellow art fans via group-chat Zoom tours of the museum's interior while accompanied by a drinks mixologist, in-person outdoor tours, music playlists, meditation sessions, poem writing, game shows, live performances, film screenings, luminary art-making, and 30-minute discussions with a chef, cultural curators, and more.

EMU professor Christine Hume's "Saturation Project" offers a lyric memoir composed of three essays

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Christine Hume and her book Saturation Project

Three essays fill Saturation Project, a new book by Christine Hume, a professor at Eastern Michigan University. Described as a lyric memoir, the text obliquely depicts various moments, ranging from Hume’s childhood to interactions with her daughter.  

In the first essay, “Atalanta,” first-person accounts about personal thoughts, family, and a daughter intermingle with Greek mythology and examinations of feral kids raised by bears. Wanderings in the woods and through memories merge with ancient stories and animals in such a way that the distinctions between them blur, as Hume elaborates: 

I read the story of Atalanta as if I were swallowing it, but it swallows me. Then I tell it to my daughter because I don’t have a childhood I can tell her about yet. I steal Atalanta’s, which is like mine in that the most longed for moments are inaudible.

It’s as if the essays are a way of remembering, but recollections are transposed, taking inspiration from other places. 

Gabba gabba, we accept you, one of us: A history of The Ramones in Ann Arbor

MUSIC BOOTLEG WASHTENAW

Flyer for the first Ramones concert in Ann Arbor, March 28, 1977.

The flyer for that first Ramones' first concert in Ann Arbor, March 28, 1977.

[Updated February 9, 2021, with photos and reviews from The Ann Arbor News].

The Blind Pig is a favorite club of many rock musicians, and the venue has hosted so many legendary bands over the years.

But The Ramones' love lay elsewhere in Ann Arbor.

Between 1977 and 1983, the New York City punk godfathers played Tree Town seven times—and every show was as headliners at The Second Chance, which is now Necto, 516 E. Liberty St. The Blind Pig was still a blues bar back then while The Second Chance was hosting numerous rockers, from Bob Seger (when the club was known as Chances Are) to Bow Wow Wow. In fact, during that period The Ramones headlined nearly as many shows in Ann Arbor as they did in Detroit (nine).

The first time they played Michigan was as the opener for Flamin' Groovies, October 17, 1976, at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

But The Ramones' first show as headliners in Michigan was a little over five months later in Ann Arbor on March 28, 1977, with Sonic's Rendezvous Band opening. There doesn't appear to be any audio or video of this show, but here are two excellent photos by legendary Detroit Rock City and Creem magazine photographer Robert Mathieu of Tommy and Johnny Ramone backstage with the Fred "Sonic" Smith, Ron Asheton, and Scott Asheton:

Catching up with WSG Gallery's "Blue," "Winter Show," and "Something About the Light" exhibits

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Takeshi Takahara, Out of the Mud II

Takeshi Takahara, Out of the Mud II, multiple color intaglio and woodcut with mica printed on Japanese paper. From the WSG Gallery exhibition Something About the Light.

Since its launch in late May, WSG’s online gallery has hosted seven exhibits, six of which are technically “over."

But they are all still available for viewing on the online exhibitions information page, a benefit not available to latecomers to the gallery's offerings when it had a physical space at 306 S Main Street, which was shuttered in May 2020 when WSG lost its lease.

WSG Gallery's three most recent exhibits offer meditative spaces, addressing the color blue, winter, and light as themes. 

Blue, the exhibit featured from November to December 2020, presented works of 14 WSG Gallery Artists and is described on the website as ranging from:

Friday Five: Nickie P, Aareus Jones, Modern Lady Fitness, Weekend Hours, Safa Collective

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 02-05-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists.

This week features hip-hop from Nickie P and Aareus Jones, indie rock from Modern Lady Fitness and Weekend Hours, and a multigenre compilation by Safa Collective.
 

Afa S. Dworkin on the Sphinx Virtuosi and their UMS concert "This Is America"

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Afa Dworkin and Sphinx Virtuosi

Afa S. Dworkin photo by Kevin Kennedy. Sphinx Virtuosi photo by Brian Hatton.

Classical music has had a long history of lacking diversity, which is why Aaron P. Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1997 to encourage and support minorities in this art form. The name was inspired by the iconic Great Sphinx of Giza statue in Egypt, which “reflects the power, wisdom and persistence that characterize Sphinx’s participants," according to the Detroit-based organization's website.

Today, the Sphinx Organization’s programs reach more than 100,000 artists and students, while performances by the orchestras and ensembles are viewed and attended by more than two million people each year.

UMS recorded a special performance by the Sphinx Virtuosi, an orchestra of the Sphinx Organization, for its 2021 season of virtual programming, and the concert is streaming for free on ums.org through February 8. The program is titled This Is America and includes works by Michael Abels, Jessie Montgomery, and Xavier Foley. On the final day of the stream, there will also be a special conversation with three Sphinx artists: Gabriel Cabezas, Bill Neri, and Melissa White. Each musician will discuss the performance as well as talk about their musical careers. You can download a PDF for the This Is America concert notes here.

A 2005 MacArthur Fellow, Aaron P. Dworkin was dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance and is now a tenured professor of arts leadership and entrepreneurship at SMTD who also hosts the weekly videocast Arts Engines; he currently serves as a strategic advisor for Sphinx. Afa S. Dworkin, his wife, is a celebrated violinist and educator who now leads the Sphinx Organization.

Afa S. Dworkin, who has been honored with the Kennedy Center’s Human Spirit Award and was named one of Detroit Crain’s 40 Under 40, has expanded Sphinx's outreach and range enormously during her tenure as president and artistic director.

I spoke to the Ann Arbor-based Afa S. Dworkin about the Sphinx Organization and the Virtuosi concert recorded for UMS.

Dance past winter's midway point with vintage Carlos Souffront mixes at WCBN

MUSIC

Carlos Souffront

At 4:49 pm today it's the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it's time to hit the cosmic dancefloor and celebrate the fact that we're halfway through the worst season.

Cue DJ Carlos Souffront

The Troy, Michigan, native became part of the Crush Collison legacy sometime in 1995 when he joined host Brendan M. Gillen at WCBN-FM. Soufrront eventually took over the long-running techno and electronica show with Todd Osborne and Pete Liedy, and he was still doing Crush Collision in 2010 according to this blog post. The former Zingerman's employee has lived in San Francisco since 2011, but one of Souffront's sets from his Ann Arbor days resurfaced recently thanks to it being highlighted on Resident Advisor's Mix of the Day.

Gigolo Mix (Unreleased EFX mix) was posted on Soufrront's Soundcloud about a year ago along with this description: "Unreleased version (sans announcements) of 'The Great Gigolo Swindle' recorded live at WCBN-FM Ann Arbor in 2000." 
 

Review: "Story Word Sound Sway" exhibit at Stamps Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Wes Taylor, Ann Arbor Undercommons

Wes Taylor (BFA ’04), Ann Arbor Undercommons, 2020, Installation detail. Lead Archivist Jamall Bufford with assistance from Athletic Mic League. Photo by Nick Beardslee.

The MFAs and BFAs produced each year by the nation’s academic art programs far exceed the ability of the art establishment—fine art galleries, museums, collectors, and the like—to absorb them.

What happens to all those aspiring and hopeful young creatives upon graduation?

How do contemporary artists pay rent and continue to work in a world that doesn’t reliably support them financially?

The Story Word Sound Sway exhibit at Stamps Gallery from now until February 28 provides a provocative answer of sorts. 

Friday Five: John Beltran, The Kelseys, Kat Steih, Exjx, Othercast

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-29-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists.

This week features ambient-tinged techno from John Beltran, guitar pop from The Kelseys, jazzy pop from Kat Steih, and electronica from Exjx and Othercast.