Folk Tales: Bill Edwards Channels Different Characters on “Thirteen Stories” Album

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Bill Edwards writes from different perspectives on his new album, "Thirteen Stories."

Bill Edwards writes from different perspectives on his new album, Thirteen Stories. Photo by Chasing Light Photos.

Bill Edwards prefers to keep his songwriting in perspective—though not necessarily his own.

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist pens sentimental narratives from different viewpoints on his new Americana album, Thirteen Stories.

“Sometimes [people] listen to or see a singer, and they assume the song you’re singing is from your own perspective. It doesn’t always have to be; that’s very limiting I find,” Edwards said.

“You can use your imagination and sing from somebody else’s perspective. It’s all colored by my personal experience, and some of it’s very personal, but not all of it.”

Throughout Thirteen Stories, Edwards channels the mindset of a hall of fame baseball player, a seasoned songwriter, a nostalgic boater, a distraught wife, and other compelling characters.

“I want [listeners] to get outside themselves a little bit and experience emotion from somebody else’s point of view,” he said. “Can you identify with this even though it’s not necessarily my point of view or their point of view? Do the songs communicate well enough what somebody else might be going through?”

Friday Five: X-Altera, Mr. Vale's Math Class, Kingfisher, 14KT, Iggy Pop

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 drum 'n' bass by X-Altera, funky fusion-pop from Mr. Vale's Math Class, orchestral indie rock by Kingfisher, hip-hop beats by 14KT, and neo-proto punk by Iggy Pop.

Everything’s All Right: Jonathan Crayne Finds the Way Forward on “Oknow” EP

PULP MUSIC INTERVIEW

Jonathan Crayne includes flavors of ‘90s alt rock on his <i>Oknow</i> EP.

Jonathan Crayne includes flavors of ‘90s alt rock on his Oknow EP. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Crayne.

Jonathan Crayne’s debut EP is like a self-pep talk the Adrian alt-rocker wrote to tell himself every little thing’s going to be all right.

The six-song Oknow chronicles Crayne’s emotional resilience and personal growth after experiencing previous challenges in life and love.

“I wanted it to be character pieces that depict going through different stages—whether it’s being a kid or trying to persevere—while ending things on a high note,” said Crayne, who’s also a guitar, bass, and percussion instructor at Ann Arbor’s School of Rock. “I write a lot of sad stuff, but I don’t want to leave anyone like that.”

He delivers on that promise across Oknow’s six insightful tracks, starting with the hopeful opener, “The Good Kids.” Alongside contemplative electric guitar, Crayne sings, “I think I finally found the meaning / Now it’s time to tell yourself / This will not end!”

To further explore his optimistic mindset, we recently chatted with Crayne about his musical journey and latest EP.

Good C.A.R.Ma.: Peter Madcat Ruth's latest band and album mix Indian music, blues, jazz, and more

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Peter Madcat Ruth's C.A.R.M.A. Quartet poses on the wooden steps of an outdoor stage.

Cosmic Concertos: Dan Ripke, John Churchville, Peter Madcat Ruth, and Brennan Andes are the C.A.R.Ma. Quartet whose debut album, Cosmic Convergence, explores sounds from across the musical universe. Photo courtesy of the band.

Ann Arbor’s beloved harmonica virtuoso Peter Madcat Ruth recorded a new album, Cosmic Convergence, with his genre-jumping C.A.R.Ma. Quartet, which is playing a concert at The Ark on Sunday, November 6. The Quartet gets its name from the initials of the band members’ names: John Churchville (drums); Brennan Andes (bass); Dan Ripke (electric guitar); and the Ma taken from the first two letters of Ruth’s longtime Madcat alias.

Ruth's a musical explorer whose career goes back five decades and includes recordings with everyone from jazz pianist Dave Brubeck to funk king George Clinton to classical composer William Bolcom to word-jazz artist Ken Nordine. Cosmic Convergence continues Madcat's exploratory ways, moving in all sorts of satisfying directions by deftly incorporating elements of Indian music, folk, blues, jazz, Americana, and more. (The album isn't streaming yet, but CDs will be available at the show and vinyl at a later date.)

In a recent phone conversation, Ruth talked about the origins of the C.A.R.Ma. Quartet, his nonexistent retirement plans, and the inspiration he got from playing music with Brubeck.

Friday Five: Athletic Mic League, Kingfisher, Normal Park, Michael Abbey, Chirp

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers for the music featured in this Friday Five column.

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

This week features hip-hop from Athletic Mic League, chamber rock by Kingfisher, emo-punk via Normal Park, art-pop by Michael Abbey, and an Ypsi jam from Chirp.

 

Newer Jack Swing: Ypsilanti R&B singer Where She Creep was inspired by the past for his debut album, "Feels"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Where She Creep standing against a brick wall, wearing a animal-print fur-like jacket.

Kyle Love is clear about his primary musical inspiration: the new jack swing sound of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that melded hip-hop with R&B.

The 32-year-old Ypsilanti singer who performs as Where She Creep has created a fresh twist on that classic sound with his debut album, Feels, which came out earlier this year. He describes it as “healing music” that deals with new-age concepts to explore the politics of love. 

“These are songs that aren’t afraid to be vulnerable, touching on the framework of healthy relationship dynamics and what honoring some of these values might look like and what they might not look like,” Love said. “It’s here to sharpen your belief system, make you want to hug a loved one, but most of all, to encourage you to analyze for yourself, for better or for worse.” 

Influenced by Michael Jackson and many other soul-singing greats, Where She Creep also cites his cousin Brian Campbell, who taught him songwriting, and his producer and best friend, Pranav Surendran, as inspirations. 

After dealing with some setbacks during the pandemic, Where She Creep recently declared he is throwing himself fully into his career, giving it 100 percent of his attention. 

Pulp caught up with the singer to talk about Feels, his Chill Place Parties project, and more.

Friday Five: Old Trout, Balint Karosi, Sinbad, Same Eyes, MEMCO mixes by MIMIMIMI & Sunjam

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Album and single covers for Friday Five artists.

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

This week features fishing-themed hip-hop from Old Trout, Balint Karosi playing the new organ in Ann Arbor's St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, gothy indie-pop by Sinbad, a new video by synth-poppers Same Eyes, and MEMCO mixes by MIMIMIMI and Sunjam.
 

Wynton Marsalis' "All Rise" stirred souls at Hill Auditorium—and his trumpet fired up The Big House crowd

MUSIC REVIEW

More than 200 musicians on stage at Hill Auditorium rehearsing Wynton Marsalis' "All Rise."

More than 200 musicians are shown rehearsing Wynton Marsalis' "All Rise" on stage at Hill Auditorium. Photo courtesy UMS. 

For nearly two decades, I've attended Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis concerts hosted by the University Music Society (UMS). The shows and attendant residency are an institution now in Ann Arbor, and under Marsalis' stewardship, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO) is the current reigning G.O.A.T. of large ensembles.

But Marsalis' latest Ann Arbor production with the JLCO was the most ambitious undertaking of his 22-year association with UMS. 

You can always bank on Marsalis to deliver monumental projects like culturally and politically relevant recordings such as From the Plantation to the PenitentiaryThe Abyssinian Mass, and his 1997 Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio Blood on the Fields. On Friday, October 14, at Hill Auditorium, Marsalis pulled off another massive undertaking: "All Rise (Symphony No. 1.) For Symphony Orchestra Jazz Orchestra, and Chorus." 

Friday Five: Night Office, Shells, Dr. Pete Larson, Benoît Pioulard, Kai West

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 an ambient-autumn theme with Night Office, Shells, Dr. Pete Larson, Benoît Pioulard, and Kai West soundtracking fireside chats and haunted nights. Immerse yourself.

"North Country" Fare: The 40th-anniversary edition of Jay Stielstra's folk opera sails into The Ark

MUSIC THEATER & DANCE PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Rochelle Clark and Brad Phillips as the young couple Sari and Michael talk things over in front of David Menefee, who plays Old Man, as they rehearse for the 40th-anniversary production of Jay Stielstra's North Country Opera.

Rochelle Clark and Brad Phillips as the young couple Sari and Michael talk things over in front of David Menefee, who plays Old Man, during rehearsals for the 40th-anniversary production of Jay Stielstra's North Country Opera. Photo courtesy of North Country Opera.

Forty years ago, Jay Stielstra was playing his songs to enthusiastic listeners around Ann Arbor, mostly at Mr. Flood’s Party, a bar that once stood on 120 West Liberty. Bouyed by the response to his tunes, the folk singer decided to write some continuity and put them together in a play, North Country Opera

“The main thing that carries it are the songs,” Stielstra says. “I asked other musicians I knew in Ann Arbor if they wanted to be in a play, and they all said yes.”

Stielstra knew one of the founders of the Performance Network, the late David Bernstein, and brought the work to him. “David was very enthusiastic,” Stielstra says, and North Country Opera premiered in 1982 as the fledgling theater's second production.

The play was revived in 1992, 1993, and 2003 in Ann Arbor, and in 2022 it toured Northern Michigan, with the 89-year-old playwright along for the ride. North Country Opera returns to Ann Arbor for one night, October 18, at The Ark