Real Cool Times: WCBN's "Local Music Show" has documented Michigan music for the past 20+ years


WCBN Local Music Show logo

WCBN's Local Music Show's (LMS) is a staggering live performance archive of southeast Michigan music stretching back to 2003 -- and that's not even a complete archive of the program.

"It seems like no one really knows when it started, but I think it was at least the mid-'90s," says Shelley Salant, a longtime LMS host. Offering an eclectic mix of both recordings and in-studio performances by area musicians, the show has become something of an institution not only at its host station 88.3 FM but within southeast Michigan's music community itself.

"As One" opera explores a trans woman's journey to find her true voice


As One composer Laura Kaminsky. Photo by Rebecca Allan.

As One composer Laura Kaminsky says the work didn't follow a typical path for creating an opera. Photo by Rebecca Allan.

Those who don't closely follow the opera world may not think of the artform as a medium that addresses issues any less than a century old. But the 2014 opera As One, which will run April 6-7 at the Kerrytown Concert House, addresses one of the biggest social issues in our current public discourse: the experience and rights of transgender people.

A Welcome Return: Theo Katzman at the Blind Pig


Theo Katzman

Theo Katzman's show at The Blind Pig sold out weeks before the show date. When I say that people were excited to see Katzman's return to Ann Arbor, I mean it: The line at The Blind Pig was already snaking its way down the block 20 minutes before doors opened. 

Theo Katzman studied jazz at the University of Michigan in the early 2000s. Since then Katzman has toured with the band Ella Riot, created the trio Love Massive, and released his first album, Romance Without Finance, in 2011. Katzman is also a prominent member of the funk band Vulfpeck, which has toured with Darren Criss and played on The Late Show with Steven Colbert. In 2017, Katzman debuted his latest album, Heartbreak Hits

Katzman's no stranger to playing The Blind Pig and fans were happy to have him back. I spoke to one woman who said that she hasn't missed one of Katzman's shows since she got her license in 2012. Once, she saw Katzman play at The Blind Pig and then drove to Chicago the next day to see him again.

The Unknown Guitarist: Throwaway's Kirsten Carey is in the bag for avant sounds



Brown-paper frag: Kirsten Carey's explosive avant-punk-metal-jazz fits in every genre bag. Photo by The Ottolab.

Kirsten Carey shreds on guitar like free-jazz icon Derek Bailey.

She also wears a paper bag on her head like The Gong Show's Unknown Comic.

That combination of avant-garde string slaying and performative humor defines Carey's art-punk duo Throwaway, which just released the songs "Bonathan Jyers" and "Exotic Bird" as a digital single and booked several shows in Southeast Michigan, including March 16 at Ziggy's in Ypsilanti.

See Shells: Michigan music MVP Shelley Salant on her new solo LP


Shelley Salant, Shells LP2

Shelley Salant's second solo LP, Shells 2, features a cover painting by her mom, Katherine Salant.

Between all the various ways she's involved in southeast Michigan's music scene, it's almost surprising that Shelley Salant has any time to make music of her own. By our count, Salant is a member of at least four different bands at the moment: Tyvek, Bonny Doon, Chain and the Gang, and The Vitas. She DJs regularly, hosts the Local Music Show on WCBN, and books and promotes numerous shows.

Somewhere in the midst of this maelstrom of creative activity, the Detroit resident (and Ann Arbor expat) recently released Shells 2, her second full-length solo record.

And what a record it is.

Salant's solo instrumental guitar work is vibrant and layered, with reverb-soaked melodies washing over one another. Salant has a terrific grasp of how to build a song's momentum and emotional power, and the distinct moods that come through on each track feel deeply revealing. Salant's music certainly seems to be the purest personal outlet for a woman who comes off as quiet and unassuming in person. On the new record, her sound is rounded out just a tad by synths and production work from another local music titan, Fred Thomas -- but the sound is still wholly Salant's.

We chatted with Salant about her writing style, the recording process for Shells 2, and a frightening and inspiring trip she took to Big Sur. If the end of the interview seems abrupt, it's because she was running out the door to tour Europe with Chain and the Gang.

Just another day in the life of Shelley Salant. 

From Bach to Rock: California Guitar Trio at The Ark


California Guitar Trio

Classical rock: Hideyo Moriya, Paul Richards, Bert Lams are the California Guitar Trio.

If you are unfamiliar with the artful pyrotechnics of the California Guitar Trio, simply buy a ticket to their upcoming show at The Ark on March 11 and get ready to have your mind blown.

California Guitar Trio is comprised of Bert Lams, Hideyo Moriya, and Paul Richards, who combine exquisite musical chops with an omnivorous, multi-genre approach to music. On stage and on their albums, CGT includes all manner of acoustic cover versions as well as dazzling original material. Whether it's rock, classical, jazz, country, or surf music, CGT perform with style and skill that’s hard to match elsewhere.

I’ve been a fan of the Trio since the beginning of their career, so it was a real treat to catch up with band member Paul Richards by phone in advance of the group’s Ark date on Sunday.

Syncretic Sounds: Tim Haldeman's "Jazz + Film" blends art forms


Tim Haldeman by Miles Larson

Saxophonist Tim Haldeman and bassist Dave Sharp are teaming up again for "Jazz + Film." Photo by Miles Larson.

When the Tim Haldeman Quartet assembles at Hathaway’s Hideaway in Ann Arbor on Sunday, March 11, to play improvised jazz while films are screened, the musicians will continue a tradition that is most associated with a pioneering soundtrack by trumpeter Miles Davis.

At the end of November 1957, Davis flew to France to begin a monthlong series of concerts, including a three-week stint at Club Saint-Germain in Paris.

But the trumpeter didn't bring the musicians who comprised his first great quintet.

Gaining Experience: A2SO's "Music From Harry Potter"


Sherlonya Turner and her son at the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra's performance of the Music From Harry Potter

“I’m going to have to make you a wand. You can’t be out with me without a wand.” --My son

On more than one occasion, my son has pointed out to me that I’m lucky that he, a teenager, still wants to hang out with me, you know, a mom. With that in mind, as soon as he mentioned that the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra would be at Michigan Theater playing songs from Harry Potter, I pulled out my debit card and secured tickets for the Sunday, March 4, afternoon matinee performance.

Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder put on a clinic in classic bluegrass at The Ark


Ricky Skaggs

He is just so good. They are all just so good.

Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder played The Ark on Saturday, March 3, for a concert to benefit the Breakfast at St. Andrews. And the sold-out crowd enjoyed an absolutely first-rate bluegrass show that transported the spirit of Kentucky fully intact to Ann Arbor.

Cultivate's Songwriter Sunday series demystifies the process


Katie Pederson and Tim Monger at Cultivate in Ypsilanti

Katie Pederson and Tim Monger are two of many area artists who have participated in Songwriter Sunday at Cultivate in Ypsilanti.

Many of us wonder what the creative process for an artist is like. How do they come up with ideas for their songs? What inspires them? How do they start to write and compose an original song?

Beginning in November 2017, Cultivate Coffee and Taphouse has held Songwriter Sunday bi-weekly, offering local artists the chance to share their songwriting and creative process, and giving interested members of the public the chance to answer some of those questions.