Michigan Marching Band puts on impressive display memorializing 9/11

MUSIC

I spent a lot of time in downtime Ann Arbor on Friday and Saturday, and the town was buzzing with energy for the second Michigan Wolverines home football game of the 2021 season.

The streets were full of students clad in maize-and-blue casual wear as countless khaki-shorted, running-shoe-wearing Michigan Dads carried M Den bags.

I was excited to watch the game, too, but not necessarily for the football. It was because I read a story on September 8 titled "Michigan Marching Band commemorates 20th anniversary of 9/11 with ‘most spectacular halftime show to date.'"

I wanted to see the band, which has only performed twice at a football game since 2019 due to the pandemic, put on a huge show, full of pagentry and making full use of this being one of the few U-M football games to happen at night.

But instead of showing the halftime tribute at the stadium, the TV broadcast featured commercials plus highlights of games by, like, Southeastern Northern Alabama State College vs. Eastern Christian Southern Methodist Commonwealth University as loud men talked loudly over the video clips.

Thankfully, the marching band's spectacular presentation—which included remarkable choreography accompanied by lasers, glowing orbs, and high-powered flashlights—is now on YouTube.

Friday Five: Big Vic, Ma Baker, Stormy Chromer, Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack, David Matthew

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 09-10-2021

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

This week features punky shoegaze from Big Vic, live jams from Ma Baker and Stormy Chromer, grungy rock from Jeremiah Mack & the Shark Attack, and meditative percussion by David Matthew.

 

Kenyatta Rashon explores "The Art of Keeping It Real" on her accomplished debut album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Kenyatta Rashon in a green hoodie

Photo by Kyla McGrath

Ypsilanti singer and songwriter Kenyatta Rashon showcases a polished R&B sound spiced up with some hip-hop accents on her terrific debut album, The Art of Keeping It Real.

Rashon has a distinctive singing voice, both expressive and powerful. And her songs are uniformly strong, with memorable melodies and vibrant lyrics. “YoFi” and “W.rong” express regrets for lost love, while “I am” and “H4L” are anthems of self-empowerment. The single “Free” establishes a great summer listening vibe over wistful and wise lyrics: “Some things could change and some things could not / But I made peace with the things I got / I’m free”

Rashon answered a few questions about the album for Pulp.

Friday Five: Hannah Baiardi, Druzi Baby, Tom Smith, Bennett / Endahl / Sutherland, Atlas the Kid

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 09-03-2021

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

This week features sophisti-pop by Hannah Baiardi, hip-hop from Druzi Baby and Atlas the Kid, comedy-rock from Tom Smith, and a sax-synths-drums improvisation by Bennett / Endahl / Sutherland.

 

Kool Ade Kam aka Kam Komics aka Kamron Reynolds is a Washtenaw County Creative With Drive, Energy, and a whole lot of multifaceted talent

MUSIC VISUAL ART

Kamron Reynolds

"It's your friendly neighborhood comic book artist and rapper, Kool Ade Kam," wrote Kamron Reynolds in an email that was as breezy and direct as his stylings on the mic.

I knew the Ann Arbor-raised, Ypsi-residing Reynolds' art via his DIY comic-book series Kam Komics and his cover illustration for fellow rapper Nickie P's recent EP, Collective Thought. But I had somehow missed Reynolds' own music until I discovered his new and joyous Strictly for My Homies mini-album on Bandcamp—his ninth release as a solo artist. That led me back to The Gostbustaz, his long-running hip-hop group, whose members include "Bredd Loaf, JU-C Juice, and Grandmaster Kas," Kam said. "Sometimes Ant the Champ is in the group too. I don’t really know what the future of the Gostbustaz is. I think for the Gostbustaz to happen again we’d all have to sit down and talk about it."

The Gostbustaz last released a slew of singles in 2016, including the absolute banger "Banned in Ann Arbor," which is based on a massive guitar riff.

Friday Five: Head Full of Ghosts, EnD, V8 Spellbook, Ma Baker, and Men Wearing Dresses

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 08-27-2021

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

This week features folk-grunge by Head Full of Ghosts, industrial electronics from EnD, avant hip-hop by V8 Spellbook, jams from Ma Baker, and I dunno what from Men Wearing Dresses.

 

Bill Edwards made the most of the pandemic era with an ambitious new album, "Whole Cloth"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Bill Edwards

Where some musicians may have understandably felt limited by the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ann Arbor singer-songwriter Bill Edwards took it as an opportunity. 

Unable to collaborate with other musicians, Edwards decided to record full-band music all by himself—playing instruments both familiar and new, and learning software packages as well. He wrote, recorded, and started the process again, ultimately finding himself with 30 fully finished songs. 

The resulting album, Whole Cloth, is a major achievement, filled with gems about chasing love, finding love, losing love, and more—and shifting among various musical subgenres that all fit under the broad umbrella of Americana, from old-time country to roots rock to western swing.

While nearly all the songs concern relationships in one way or another, “You’re Still Here” is a touching ode to a friend long gone, while “Ain’t Wet Yet” finds some humor in the politics of trickle-down economics and “Sing Me” praises the power of music itself.

Edwards, who was already skilled on multiple instruments, uses his versatile abilities to great effect throughout the album, such as a warm acoustic guitar solo on “Slow Down the Moon” and wistful fiddle on “Billy’s Lament.” The latter is one of three instrumentals on the album, crafted while Edwards had a paralyzed vocal cord— even that couldn’t slow down his creative process.

He's performing a free-admission album release concert on Aug. 27 with Lauren Crane opening the show.

"I’ll play a short selection of my favorite older songs, and then dig into the new record," Edwards said. "For the latter, since the arrangements rely heavily on drums and a variety of lead instruments, I’ll play acoustic guitar and sing to tracks from the album. I’ve got them recorded in my looper pedal, and it works quite well."

Edwards agreed to answer some questions about the new album.

Friday Five: Mark Kirschenmann, Estar Cohen, Isaac Levine, Rod Johnson, Mark Jewett

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 08-20-2021

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

This week features experimental trumpet by Mark Kirschenmann, jazz vocals by Estar Cohen, an indie-waltz by Isaac Levine, and Americana from Rod Johnson and Mark Jewett.

 

"Whip" It: Nadim Azzam's new YouTube show cruises with Michigan musicians

MUSIC FILM & VIDEO INTERVIEW

Ki5 and Nadim Azzam in the car for the show Whip Jams

Ki5 and Nadim Azzam in a still from the first episode of Whip Jams. Photo courtesy of Whip Jams.

[This story was originally published on December 9, 2020. The entire first season is out now on YouTube and the show is having a concert at The Blind Pig on Saturday, September 11 featuring everyone who has appeared in the series so far: Dani Darling, Pariis Noel, D. Vaughn the Illest, Mirror Monster, KI5, and host Nadim Azzam.]

Artists performing songs being driven around in a car by a congenial host. Sound familiar?

But Whip Jams isn't Carpool Karaoke.

Host Nadim Azzam doesn't fuss around with wacky comedy. He gets right to the point with his guests, reciting a short bio, picking the musician up in his car, letting them perform, and concluding with a brief interview.

The first episode of this YouTube show clocks in at 4 minutes, 57 seconds. A quick ride indeed.

In the Whip Jams debut on December 9, Ann Arbor's Ki5 performs a song in Azzam's vehicle by sampling his voice with the Boss RC-505 Loopstation sitting in his lap. That kind of compact setup works fine for him, but some future episodes will feature artists holding acoustic instruments—might get a little cozy in Azzam's Honda Civic.

Friday Five: Grandmaster Masese, Otto Turtle & Friends, John Bunkley, Michael Malis, Disaster Relief

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 08-13-2021

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

This week features Kenyan music by Grandmaster Masese via Ann Arbor label Dagoretti Records, kids music from Otto & Friends, reggae-soul from John Bunkley, experimental piano by Michael Malis, and Afro-jazz-funk by Disaster Relief.