Friday Five: JTC, Tyvek, C.R. Odette, .SSJ, Zilched

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

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 leftfield acid house from JTC, garage-punk by Tyvek, quiet synth psychedelia by C.R. Odette, forward-looking R&B by .SSJ, and noise-pop via Zilched.

 

Kelli O’Hara brings the bright lights of Broadway to the Michigan Theater

MUSIC THEATER & DANCE PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Black and white photo of Kelli O’Hara sitting in chair, wearing a black dress, and laughing.

Photo courtesy of Kelli O’Hara.

Kelli O’Hara is one of those versatile Broadway stars who shines in every show she’s in. 

She originated the role of Clara in The Light in the Piazza; played feisty union leader Babe opposite Harry Connick Jr. in The Pajama Game; washed a man right out of her hair as Nellie Forbush in South Pacific; originated the role of Francesca in the stage musical adaptation of The Bridges of Madison County; and charmed her young charges, royalty, and audiences alike in The King and I, for which O’Hara won the 2015 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. 

All the other O’Hara performances I mentioned earned her Tony nominations, too, plus two more besides: Kiss Me, Kate and Nice Work If You Can Get It. So to call O’Hara one of our era’s greatest leading ladies of the stage isn’t hyperbole; it’s just true.

And although O’Hara’s slated to star in the world premiere Broadway musical adaptation of Days of Wine and Roses, scheduled to start previews January 6, she’s also recently been performing concerts in different parts of the country, and she’s headed to Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater on Sunday, November 12 at 7 pm. 

In advance of the show, the native Oklahoman answered a few questions via email about what inspired the concert tour; her newest upcoming show; and her memories of working alongside Ann Arbor native Ashley Park in The King and I.

Friday Five: First Tone, Liam Charron, Verzer.ren/Thynk, DÆmons, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

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 drift music by First Tone, piano jazz from Liam Charron, minimalist techno via Verzer.ren/Thynk, and technical metal courtesy of DÆmons and The Strange Theory of Light and Matter.

 

For Real: Judy Banker Explores the Power of Emotions on New “Bona Fide” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Judy Banker is wearing a black shirt and black pants with a pink, orange, and black robe. She's playing a brown acoustic guitar on an outdoor stage.

Judy Banker explores the cycle of relationships and the emotions that accompany them on Bona Fide. Photo by Misty Lyn Bergeron.

Judy Banker keeps things real on Bona Fide.

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter explores genuine feelings of heartbreak, grief, and love on her new Americana album.

“One of my litmus tests for myself with a song is: Does it ring true to me? When I think of the vignette, the experience, or the feeling of that kind of relationship dynamic, does it say what I want to say?” said Banker, who’s a University of Michigan alumna and a therapist.

“That’s what I do with my songs—if it doesn’t say it strong enough or it doesn’t capture it quite right—there’s a certain tension that I want to be able to express. I feel like every single one of those songs is like my diary.”

On Bona Fide, Banker takes listeners on a personal journey that explores the cycle of relationships and the emotions that accompany them. The album’s rich harmonies and rootsy instrumentation bring those experiences to life across 11 heartfelt tracks.

“I’m a therapist by day, and on a big-picture level, my adult life has been dedicated to trying to help people to name, understand, and get the complexity of emotions … and that it’s important to work with them and embrace that,” Banker said.

“It’s a very selfish motive in the sense that these are my expressions and my songs, and I like them, but I just hope people say, ‘Oh, I’ve had that feeling.’”

Monday Mix: Low Pony, Merekat, MEMCO, Mercury Ulia, DJ Bayb33, DJ Sphinx, Amber Gillen, Jonathan Taylor, WCBN Local Music Show live, We're Twins Halloween comp

MUSIC MONDAY MIX

Cover art for the compilations featured in the Monday Mix.

The Monday Mix is an occasional roundup of mixes, compilations, podcasts, and more by Washtenaw County-associated artists, DJs, radio stations, and record labels.

For this edition, there's Michigan Electronic Music Collective Exposure electronica mixes by Low Pony and Merekat as well as an 11-track comp of original music by MEMCO members; Immaculate Conception Fruits of Our Labor dance mixes by Mercury Ulia, DJ Bayb33, and DJ Sphinx; an all-over-the-place Moods mix by former WCBN-FM DJ and Interdimensional Transmissions visual director Amber Gillen; a new Sounds and Silence podcast from Ann Arbor's Canterbury House featuring drummer Jonathan Taylor; a WCBN Local Music Show studio performance collection; and a resurrected Halloween comp by the We're Twins label.

 

Friday Five: Chill Place, Doogatron, Ahmad, Opius, Fred Thomas

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

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 R&B by Chill Place, techno from Doogatron, drum 'n' bass via Ahmad and Opius, and Fred Thomas live on WCBN-FM.

Inside Out: Kylee Phillips Gets Vulnerable and Introspective on New “Long Time Coming” EP

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Kylee Phillips sits down while wearing all black and has a green light shining on her.

Kylee Phillips shares a spectrum of emotions on Long Time Coming. Photo by Kris Herrmann.

Kylee Phillips deliberately steps outside herself and looks inward on Long Time Coming.

The indie-pop singer-songwriter and keyboardist examines past vulnerabilities and realizations through a wiser lens on her new EP.

“It’s very autobiographical. Honestly, writing them was less about sharing them with other people and more about admitting things to myself,” said Phillips, who lives in Ypsilanti.

“In the writing process, I struggle sometimes to be vulnerable or to process my own feelings in real life. I joke that sometimes you could ask me how I feel about a situation and I would say, ‘I don’t know,’ and then I would write a song and go, ‘I guess that’s how I feel about it.’”

On Long Time Coming, Phillips shares a spectrum of emotions—ranging from disappointment to anticipation to relief—across five introspective tracks. The EP’s cathartic lyrics and atmospheric pop instrumentation allow listeners to instantly grasp and connect with Phillips’ perspective.

“A lot of these songs were things that I was describing, especially ‘Long Time Coming,’ and are like the closets in your house where you put stuff and you’re like, ‘I’m not going to think about it; I’m going to pretend that all that crap has been in there,’” Phillips said. “Then at a certain point, you say, ‘I’m gonna have to look in that closet.’”

Friday Five: Taproot, Tension Splash, Kool Ade Kam, Child Sleep, Drew Graham

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

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 nu-metal from Taproot, grunge by Tension Splash, hip-hop by Kool Ade Kam, indie rock by Child Sleep, and rap by Drew Graham.

Cutting the "Edge": Ann Arbor experimental jazz festival returns for its 27th year

MUSIC PREVIEW

Edgefest 2023 banner

Excerpted from "Things to Do: Fall Festivals Spotlight Arts, Culture, and Music in Washtenaw County" [Pulp, August 31, 2023]

Edgefest
October 18-21
Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor

Edgefest returns to Ann Arbor for its 27th year to celebrate all kinds of exploratory jazz and improvisation. The festival features a roster of local and international artists performing at Kerrytown Concert House as well as the everybody-is-invited-to-play Edgefest Parade in the Farmer's Market area and a massive closing-night concert at Bethlehem UCC featuring Tim Berne’s Oceans AndThe Forest Percussion Ensemble, and the Michael Malis Ensemble premiering a new composition written specifically for Edgefest 2023.

Other highlights include Ann Arborites Tim Haldeman and Jesse Kramer paying tribute to the late Barbara Kramer, a longtime supporter of local artists and Jesse’s mother, on October 18; Dave Rempis/Joshua Abrams/Tomeka Reid trio on October 19; the Luke Stewart Exposure Quintet, Jason Kao Hwang’s Human Rites Trio, and Alexander Hawkins/Joe McPhee/Tomeka Reid trio, and James B. Lewis/Chad Taylor duo on October 20; the Kaleigh Wilder and Ben Hall quartet with Jaribu Shahid and Ken Vandermark as well as the Tomeka Reid-led Hemphill Stringtet on October 21 honoring the music of Julius Hemphill.

Listen to music from some of the artists at this year's Edgefest:

Until Now: Bill Edwards Shares Personal Tales of Life and Love on "So Far" Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Bill Edwards leans against a brick wall wearing a navy blue T-shirt and blue jeans.

Bill Edwards reflects on a life filled with optimism, love, gratitude, loss, and wisdom on So Far. Photo by Chasing Light Photos.

As an accomplished songwriter, Bill Edwards often tells stories from multiple perspectives across an astonishing catalog of songs.

This time, the prolific Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist opted to share his own stories on his new Americana album, So Far.

“The songs are all, without exception, autobiographical, making this the most personal record I’ve ever released. I’ve reached an age where it seemed like it was time to look both backward and forward,” Edwards said.

“The future is never guaranteed, and I wanted some of these feelings captured. There’s a lot of emotional territory covered on the album, and it all feels true to me.”

On So Far, Edwards features 14 tracks that collectively reflect on a life filled with optimism, love, gratitude, loss, wisdom, and nostalgia. The album’s honest sentiment, introspective lyrics, and earnest instrumentation invite listeners to contemplate their own lives alongside Edwards.

“I wrote probably 50 songs that may have been candidates for this record over the past year or so,” he said. “I’m always writing, and these tunes got swapped in and out as new material came to be.”

I recently spoke with Edwards about opening for Rodney Crowell, writing tracks for So Far, recording his new album, hosting an October 18 album release show at The Ark, and working on new material.