Friday Five: Martes Martes, Tanager, Benji Robot, The Missing Cats, Totalitarians


Art for the albums and singles featured in this week's Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features quirky sounds by Martes Martes, indie pop by Tanager, downtempo electronica by Benji Robot, fusion-jazz pop by The Missing Cats, and pure noise by Totalitarians.

Monday Mix: MEMCO and Immaculate Conception dance sets, Indie Pop Takeout radio shows


Cover art for the collections discussed in this edition of Monday Mix.

Every week since September 11, 2020, we've published the Friday Five to highlight local music. By my abacus, that's more than 150 columns spotlighting nearly 800 music projects—singles, EPs, albums, and videos—by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

Dance mixes by student DJs at the (University of) Michigan Electronic Music Collective (MEMCO) are featured frequently on Friday Five, as are those by Immaculate Conception, a group comprised of MEMCO grads that promotes works by women and gender-nonconforming people.

With MEMCO and Immaculate Conception cranking out mixes almost weekly, it made sense to highlight these DJ sets alongside various other Washtenaw County music-based podcasts and radio shows in an occasional column: Monday Mix. 

For our first round, here are five recent dance mixes by MEMCO and Immaculate Conception members along with recent episodes of the weekly internet radio program Indie Pop Takeout.


Friday Five: Milan Seth, Skyline, Jah Sun / WhereIsJah, Nancy Zeltsman, Eve Machines


Cover art for the music featured in this Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features Americana by Milan Seth, downtempo jams by Skyline, hip-hop productions by Jah Sun / WhereIsJah, marimba music by Nancy Zeltsman, and rocktronica by Eve Machines.

Sobering Thought: Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds Remember a Late Friend’s Determination to Overcome Alcoholism on “Liquor Store” Single


The Ragbirds' Shannon Wade, Erin Zindle, Loren Kranz, and TJ Zindle gather on The Ark's stage in Ann Arbor.

Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds honor a late friend's memory and his determination to overcome addiction on the new single, "Liquor Store." It's the latest release in a series of new singles from the band, which includes Shannon Wade, Erin Zindle, Loren Kranz, and TJ Zindle. Photo courtesy of Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds.

Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds remember a late friend’s strength and determination to overcome alcoholism on “Liquor Store.”

The bluesy new single from the Ann Arbor folk-rock band addresses the daily struggle Nelson Whitehorse faced while trying to fight addiction and follow a path to recovery.

“He was from St. Louis actually and moved to Ann Arbor to be in a band with me, and we lived together for a year,” said Zindle about Whitehorse, who passed away several years ago. “We lived on the west side of Ann Arbor and he had been an alcoholic since childhood.”

Throughout “Liquor Store,” Erin Zindle and bandmates TJ Zindle (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Loren Kranz (drums, vocals), and Shannon Wade (bass, vocals) chronicle Whitehorse’s ongoing challenge of having to walk past a liquor store each day to visit the local Alano Club.

Ominous keys and drums follow Zindle as she sings, “You said ‘Grace is new every morning’ / As you stared into your black coffee cup / Today you’re gonna make it past the liquor store / To get to the Alano Club.”

“I saw that battle play out over and over every day, and sometimes he made it, and sometimes he didn’t,” she said. “The daily work is just getting there every day.”

The band opted to release “Liquor Store” on September 14, which coincides with National Sober Day, to celebrate sobriety and raise awareness about addiction. 

The track also helps Whitehorse’s family and friends to take comfort in his memory as a “hilarious, loyal, giant-hearted friend” as Zindle noted in a Ragbirds’ Facebook post

“The message I hope people will take away is that today you’re going to make it,” Zindle said. “It literally is just that one day at a time. I’m so grateful that the song came to me, and it came with that wisdom to know not to add any message to it.”

We recently spoke to Zindle about the band’s new single, its strategy for releasing new songs and an upcoming album, the inspiration behind several tracks, the creative process for writing and recording them, a Halloween show at The Ark, and additional plans for new material.

Friday Five: James P. Johnson & U-M Opera Theatre, Couch, Dagoretti Records compilation, Same Eyes, Darrin James


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features a James P. Johnson blues-opera recording by the University of Michigan Opera Theatre, noise rock by Couch, a Dagoretti Records comp of Kenyan music, synth-pop by Same Eyes, and Americana by Darrin James.

Timothy Monger cleaned out his songwriting notebook for a new album recorded at home


Timothy Monger holding an acoustic guitar on a porch.

Timothy Monger photo by Doug Coombe.

This story originally ran on May 30, 2023. We're featuring it again because Timothy Monger State Park plays an after-hours show at AADL’s Downtown Library on September 9.

Long known as one of the leading talents on the local music scene, Timothy Monger has always had a distinctive songwriting voice. The names of two of the bands he’s led—the late, lamented Great Lakes Myth Society and the current Timothy Monger State Park—give some clues to the subjects of his songs, which often look to the outdoors, history, and other rootsy pursuits. 

Those sorts of themes show up again on Monger’s new album, his fourth as a solo artist, which is simply titled Timothy MongerYet as he always manages to do, he finds fresh perspectives and new approaches, and the result stands out from his previous body of work.  

The album is literally the result of Monger returning to his notebooks and fleshing out ideas found there, recording the songs entirely at his home in a style he describes as “homespun psych-folk.” A few of the songs are snippets of less than 30 seconds, but that’s all they require to tell their particular story. Others bring characters to life, such as a fictional “Cub Reporter” or the real-life theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore, who Monger memorably describes as “the one who finally gave the ghosts a voice.” 

“Shadow of the Weka” is a charming instrumental with Celtic overtones. And there are several nods to Michigan, including “Cranberry Bog,” “Luna Pier,” and “Sa-Wa-Quato.” 

Monger recently answered a few questions about the new recording, which comes out on June 2, the same day as his album release show at The Ark.

Friday Five: 1473 and Actually, Records, Canterbury House's Sound and Silence podcast, Annie Bacon, Mad Myth Science, Troikastra


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features recent releases by Chien-An Yuan's1473 and Actually, Records labels, Canterbury House's Sound and Silence podcast, atmospheric folk by Annie Bacon, and experimental sounds by Mad Myth Science and Troikastra.


Things to Do: Fall Festivals Spotlight Arts, Culture, and Music in Washtenaw County


Totally Awesome Fest event poster

Ypsilanti's Totally Awesome Fest is a free, family-friendly, all-ages, and all-species event that has become an annual “carnival” since 2004. Artwork taken from Totally Awesome Fest's Facebook page.

This fall brings plentiful opportunities to celebrate local arts, music, and culture through several Washtenaw County festivals. Peruse our list of fun things to do with family and friends in September and October.

WCBN Fundraiser
September 9
The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan student-run radio station, WCBN-FM 88.3, is hosting a fundraising show at The Blind Pig with two Ann Arbor bands—no-wave duo Lunch and hardcore quartet Tried—along with Lansing alt-indie rockers Harper. You can purchase tickets here.

Friday Five: Timothy Monger, Jojo Engelbert, Fred Thomas, Josh Woodward, Latimer Rogland


Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features a music video by Timothy Monger, pop-punk by Jojo Engelbert, a reissue from Fred Thomas, jazzy folk-pop by Josh Woodward, and ambient by Latimer Rogland.

Utility Player: Jonathan Hammonds performs and books all kinds of music at Ziggy's in Ypsi and beyond


Jonathan Hammonds performs on his bass at Ziggy's in Ypsilanti.

Jonathan Hammonds performs at Ziggy's in Ypsilanti. Photo via Hammonds' Facebook.

Classical, jazz, R&B, music of the Arab world—this range of musical styles could be a description of the diverse concert offerings one expects in southeast Michigan. 

But it is actually a summary of genres Ann Arbor-based bassist Jonathan Hammonds has played in his career.

“I’ve always been interested and pursued different genres of music,” the 33-year-old Huron High School grad says about his eclectic skill set.

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Hammonds earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical bass performance from the University of Michigan and Yale University, respectively, before returning to Washtenaw County in 2014 to gig and teach private lessons.

Currently, Hammonds performs as a member of the Ann Arbor Symphony and an extra player for the Toledo Symphony. He also gigs throughout the region with his jazz trio and has been part of Dearborn’s National Arab Orchestra since it was formed in 2009.