Friday Five: Dani Darling, Matthew Kiser, John E. Lawrence, Cece June, Das Chritz


Friday Five 07-02-2021

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

This week features R&B/funk/disco by Dani Darling, dance and pop via Matthew Kiser, smooth jazz from John E. Lawrence, anthemic pop by Cece June, and glitchtronics via Das Chritz.


Using archival materials, photos, and art, Stamps Gallery's "Halal Metropolis" explores the Muslim world of Southeast Michigan


U-M Stamps Gallery's Halal Metropolis

Front gallery, Halal Metropolis, Stamps Gallery. Photo by Nick Beardslee.

Dearborn has one the largest Muslim population in the U.S. and Michigan as a whole is in the top 10, but the faith's followers are sometimes overlooked when discussing culture and presence in the Southeastern part of the state.

University of Michigan's Stamps Gallery has hosted an exhibition, Halal Metropolis, since May 22 that explores the Muslim world in Southeast Michigan, blending "archival mate­ri­als, social and polit­i­cal arti­facts, pho­tog­ra­phy, and art to explore the con­gru­ent and con­tra­dict­ing ideas, aes­thet­ics, and cul­tures work­ing to make the halal metrop­o­lis both a real and imag­i­nary entity," according to the gallery's webpage.

Halal Metropolis features works by Amna Asghar, Qais Assali, BGIRL MAMA, Nour Ball­out, Adnan Charara, Kecia Escoe, Parisa Ghaderi, Anthony Keith Giannini, Razi Jafri, Osman Khan, Maamoul Press, Endi Poskovic, Haleem ​‘Stringz’ Rasul, and Reem Taki.

“This is part of a series of exhibitions we’ve presented in recent years that looks at the visibility, and in some sense, the invisibility of the Muslim population in our state,” artist and co-curator Omar Khan told the University of Michigan News in a recent article. “They’re very visible, but in the Detroit narrative, they’re sort of lost.”

In the same piece, artist Razi Jafri said, “Often stories about Muslims in America in general are not very nuanced. They’re presented as monolithic or single-minded. What we want people to really take away from this exhibition is an understanding of how diverse, multiethnic and multicultural we are—and we also want to highlight how Muslims are inextricable from the cultural fabric and of American history.”

I've not had a chance to see the exhibition yet, but it was recently extended to July 20, so it gives us all a chance. The show is free and the gallery is open to the public but it's still appointment only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with advance registration.

In June, Stamps hosted four Zoom chats discussing elements of the show and interviews with some of the artists, creators, chefs, Con­gress­woman Rashida Tlaib, co-cura­tor Sally How­ell, and more. We've collected those videos below along with some images from the gallery and additional short video interviews with some of the artists.

The Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Series brings free Friday concerts throughout the summer


Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Series

Between 1982-2001, Ypsilanti’s Frog Island Park hosted a jazz, blues, and zydeco festival sponsored by WEMU 89.1-FM. I remember seeing the Sun Ra Arkestra there on June 24, 1990, and hearing Ra talk about being from outer space during an interview broadcast on the station blew my young mind.

The Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Series won't have any outer-space vibes; it will evoke more of a classy nightclub or a tropical beach—or perhaps even a Depot Town breeze—rather than interplanetary travel because the artists who are appearing in the series are in the smooth jazz, groove/blues, and straightahead veins.

And because of flooding, it looks like the series won't even be held at Frog Island; it's now at nearby Riverside Park, 5 E. Cross St. in Ypsilanti, though there's been no official update on either the series' website or Facebook page.

Organized by guitarist John E. Lawrence, who was an instructor and chair of the music department at Washtenaw Community College through 2014, The Ypsilanti Frog Island Jazz Series will feature a concert nearly every Friday between July 2 and September 3 (there's no show July 23). Lawrence and his group will open every gig, all of which are free. The series schedule is:

Friday Five: Kenyatta Rashon, Matthew Milia, Andrew W.K., No Author, Tanomura


Friday Five 06-25-2021

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

This week features R&B from Kenyatta Rashon, roots rock by Matthew Milia, techno-metal by Andrew W.K., techno via No Author, and jazzy electro-pop by Tanomura.

Friday Five: Sean Curtis Patrick, weretwins compilation, London Beck, Lightning Love, Jamie "Pops" VanEffen


Friday Five 06-18-2021

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

This week features ambient from Sean Curtis Patrick, an experimental compilation from the weretwins label, progressive R&B from London Beck, indie rock from Lightning Love, and psych-rock from Jamie "Pops" VanEffen.


Friday Five: A.D.D., Rudolf Steiner High School students, JDSY, Ma Baker, Barbaric Yawps


Friday Five 06-11-2021

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

This week features rap/R&B by A.D.D., music from Rudolf Steiner High School students, video-game soundtracks via JDSY, jams from Ma Baker, and progressive world-jazz by Barbaric Yawps.


Friday Five: Disaster Relief with Thornetta Davis, The London Beck, Joshua Logan Alexander, G.B. Marian, Isolation Sundaze


Friday Five 06-04-2021

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

This week features soul from Disaster Relief with Thornetta Davis, hard rock from The London Beck, acoustic from Joshua Logan Alexander, industrial from G.B. Marian, and eclectic everything from Isolation Sundaze.


International DJ and Ann Arbor native Tim Baker passed away April 4


DJ Tim Baker

On April 4, Ann Arbor native DJ Tim Baker died of a heart attack while spinning for a charity live stream on Easter morning.

A 1985 graduate of Huron High School and Eastern Michigan University, Baker had residencies at Ann Arbor's Nectarine Ballroom in the late 1980s and in the 1990s he started touring Europe and producing his own Detroit techno- and Chicago house-influenced tracks for a variety of labels including his own, Real Estate Records.

Baker died in Chicago, where he had lived since 1998.

A service was held April 15 at Nie's Family Funeral Home on Carpenter Road in Ann Arbor, and according to a friend, Baker was "laid to rest in a U of M casket with a [drum machine] on his lap and some silver shoes."

Below are a selection of Baker's tunes, mixes, live appearances, and some remembrances by several electronic-music website's and the family's obituary.

Soul Message Band's "Live at Blue LLama" launches the club's new record label


Soul Message Band, Live at Blue LLama CD back cover

When you walk into Ann Arbor's Blue LLama Jazz Club, the first thing you notice isn't the sound booth. It's the curved long bar that starts near the front door, the ceiling's circle lights, or perhaps the textured sound-absorbing panels that line the back wall of the club. But the sound booth is outfitted with oodles of high-end audio and video gear, and Blue LLama is able to document every performance it chooses to with relative ease. Since the venue often books local artists, recording these shows will provide an invaluable resource covering the recent history of the Ann Arbor and Michigan jazz scenes.

But touring artists are also taking advantage of Blue LLama's high-tech capabilities.

The first live album recorded at the club came out last September on Denmark's venerable Storyville RecordsAdonis Rose Piece of Mind-Live at Blue LLama. The New Orleans drummer and Blue LLama artistic director Dave Sharp discussed making this record while the club was still being designed, and the results are an excellent mix of electric and acoustic jazz.

The club has now taken the next step and formed a label, Live at Blue LLama Records.

Friday Five: John Beltran, Approachable Minorities, Prhyme Rhyme Boss, Canada, Velveteen Blue


Friday Five 05-28-2021

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

This week features ambient techno by John Beltran, hip-hop from Approachable Minorities and Prhyme Rhyme Boss, indie-folk rock by Canada, and neo-lounge via Velveteen Blue.