The short documentaries "Boogie Woogie Express" and "Mr. B's Joybox Express" showcase Michigan piano titans

FILM & VIDEO

Mark "Mr. B" Braun and Bob Seeley, two masters of boogie-woogie piano, sit on the same piano bench while performing a tune together in front of a crowd at the Ann Arbor Art Fair

Image from an Ann Arbor News video.

On the surface, Boogie Woogie Express is a short film about piano player Bob Seeley, who was born in Detroit in 1928. But at 11-minutes long, there's not a ton of room for biography in this movie by Ypsilanti filmmaker Donald Harrison of 7CylindersStudio—yet it's the perfect amount of time for a quick and fun primer on the art of boogie-woogie piano. It's especially interesting to hear and see how boogie-woogie evolved into rock 'n' roll, with Seeley demonstrating the rhythmic differences between the two styles.

Shot in 16mm black and white film, Boogie Woogie Express premiered in 2007 at the Detroit Docs International Film Festival and on YouTube on February 1, 2022.

Because boogie-woogie piano is a niche community, it's no surprise that Seeley has performed with Ann Arbor's Mark "Mr. B" Braun on numerous occasions; the twosome even made a concert film together in 2009 called Back to Back Live. Both were heavily influenced by boogie-woogie giant Meade Lux Lewis and the duo covered his "Honky Tonk Train Blues" in the concert film.

Boogie Woogie Express is embedded below, along with a couple of videos of Seely and Braun performing together on a single piano—back to back, cheek to cheek—and Mr. B's Joybox Express, a 15-minute documentary from 2017 on Mr. B.

Friday Five: Lily Talmers, Daring Detour, Meg Brennan, Joshua Orange, Samn Johnson

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five album covers for January 28, 2022.

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

This week features electric solo folk from Lily Talmers, acoustic folk by Daring Detour, jazz by Meg Brennan, a techno/house mix by Joshua Orange, and experimental ambient and pop by Samn Johnson and friends.

 

UPDATED: Soul Message Band's "Live at Blue LLama" launches the club's new record label; album release concert announced

MUSIC

Soul Message Band, Live at Blue LLama CD back cover

This story was originally published on June 2, 2021. An album release concert is happening Saturday, January 29, 2022 at Blue LLama.

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: Winged Wheel, Rebekah Faidia, VBlank, Edward Diehl, Ness Lake

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

The rectangular image features five square record covers from this week's Friday Five feature. The far left image is the largest square; it's for Winged Wheel's album and it's all white with a photo of an empty room with cream carpet and walls and a window on the left side; there is sunlight on the floor in the shape of the window pane. The square to the upper right of the main square is for Ness Lake and features a child's drawing in back crayon features people, animals, ghosts, and stars; the square below that is for Edward Diehl's album and it's a close-up of a green leaf with a water drop. To the right of those are two shots of the sky: the upper image is for Rebekah Faidia's song and it has a blue sky with barren branches and a lone bird; below that is VBlank's cover and it features a tree and sky shot digitally altered to be pink and blue.

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

This week features hypno-rock with Winged Wheel, folk-pop soul by Rebekah Faidia, sci-fi soundtracks via VBlank, solo piano from Edward Diehl, and lo-fi indie courtesy of Ness Lake.

 

Friday Five: Hi Potent C & Omnichron, Test Device, Quality Jones, Morel Compass, Price

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-14-2022

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

This week features hip-hop from Hi Potent C & Omnichron, video-game-inspired music from Test Device and Quality Jones, funk and fusion by Morel Compass, and dance-floor bangers from Price.

 

Friday Five: Scotty Karate, Nadim Azzam, Chris Purdy, Chirp, Chris Bathgate

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-07-2022

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

This week features country-blues from Scotty Karate, hip-hop folk by Nadim Azzam, an uplifting dance mix courtesy of Chris Purdy, a single and video by R&B-influenced jam band Chirp, and a Chris Bathgate folk-rock reissue.

 

Fred Thomas hosts a podcast commemorating Polyvinyl Records' 25th anniversary

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Polyvinyl Podcast logo

Ypsi-Arbor mainstay Fred Thomas has been creating and releasing music since he was a teenager—only slightly before the Illinois-based record label Polyvinyl launched in 1996.

Polyvinyl made its name initially by featuring punk-inspired, melodic-emo ragers by the likes of Rainer Maria and Braid before its evolution into a more indie-rock-oriented label with the signings of eclectic artists such as Of Montreal and Thomas' Saturday Looks Good to Me (SLGTM).

While Thomas often releases music from his various projects on his Life Like label, the prolific artist's relationship with Polyvinyl has carried on ever since SLGTM's 2002 LP, All Your Summer Songs: The Champagne-based label put out the last three full-length "proper" records Thomas made under own name, and now he's the host of a podcast that looks back at Polyvinyl's history.

It's a rich past to dig through, too: Polyvinyl has released music by more than 100 artists, many of whom Thomas will speak with as the podcast plays out, including members of American Football, Alvvays, Japandroids, of Montreal, Laura Jane Grace, and Xiu Xiu along with the label's Natalie Dávila, Andy De Santis, and Seth Hubbard.

Friday Five: Same Eyes, Jim Cherewick, Chip Clip, Adam J. Snyder, Dre Dav

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 12-31-2021

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

This week features synth-pop by Same Eyes, indie by Jim Cherewick, orchestral crooning by Chip Clip, folk by Adam J. Snyder, and hip-hop by Dre Dav.

 

Friday Five: The Lawrence Bond Miller Collection

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 12-24-2021 - Lawrence Bond Miller

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

This week features Laurence Bond Miller who has been making music in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area for nearly 53 years, ever since he and his brothers, Roger (Mission of Burma) and Benjamin, formed Spronton Layer in 1968 while at Ann Arbor High School (Pioneer). Check out Miller's prolific discography to see a career that has spanned progressive rock, punk rock, experimental rock, novelty rock, lounge music, kids music, singer-songwriter musings, and everything in between.

 

Friday Five: Towner, Scary Steve, Comma, Cory Sibu Tripathy, John Hughes

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 12-10-2021

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

This week features power-pop from Towner, ambient by Scary Steve, vaporwave weirdness via Comma, experimental electronica courtesy of Cory Sibu Tripathy, and worship music by John Hughes.