Fruitful Experiment: Chris Bathgate explores thematic writing on his new album, “The Significance of Peaches” 

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Chris Bathgate photo by Misty Lynn Bergeron

Ann Arbor singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate uses the pump organ as the sonic centerpiece on The Significance of Peaches. Photo by Misty Lyn Bergeron.

Chris Bathgate sees his first album in five years, The Significance of Peaches as "an experiment in thematic writing and recording with limitations … the significance of peaches is not necessarily the thread or some keystone idea. It is like a loose fishing net that I can cast into my life and see what I harvest."

Throughout The Significance of Peaches, released on Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific Records, Bathgate searches for a holistic sense of self while fostering a spiritual connection to the outside world using pithy lyrics and nature-rich imagery set atop a pump-organ-drenched landscape.

“The peach thing is from my total adoration for the stone fruit itself as the corporeal experience of physically eating a peach," said the Ann Arbor indie-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "But I’m also interested in the peach as a metaphor throughout history. The thing I became most obsessed with was its use as a way to describe the ephemeral nature of life, time and joy, moments, and carpe diem.

Friday Five: TJ Zindle, Doogatron, TYRU$ARCHER, MEMCO comp, Paper Petals

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-27-2022

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

This week features '90s-esque alt-rock courtesy of TJ Zindle, freaky techno from Doogatron, leftfield hip-hop by TYRU$ARCHER, a MEMCO comp of electronic music, and dark ambient from Paper Petals.

Friends and musicians remember Walrus founding member and longtime Ann Arbor bassist Kim French at a tribute concert

MUSIC

Kim French sitting with his bass in front of a poster of The Yardbirds

Kim French photo from his Facebook page.

Ann Arbor bassist Kim French passed away from heart failure on January 13, 2022, according to an obituary in Marquette's Mining Journal newspaper. French was a native of Marquette before moving to Ann Arbor in 1970.

In 1969, French was a co-founder of the psych-folk-jazz band Walrus, whose members started playing together in The Mike Koda Corp., a band featuring future Brownsville Station and solo star "Cub" Koda. Walrus later featured another Marquette musician named Randy Tessier, who moved with the band to Ann Arbor in 1972. While French's Marquette buddies had joined him in Washtenaw County, he didn't rejoin Walrus, which ended up making some studio recordings in 1973 and 1973 that would go unreleased until 2019. ["After 45 years, dreams do come true: Marquette native 70s band Walrus releases first album," The Mining Journal, January 27, 2020]

Friday Five: Killa Kam, Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet, Fred Thomas, Golden Feelings, Saajtak

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-20-2022

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

This week features hip-hop by Killa Kam, Ukrainian folk by Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet, instrumentals by Fred Thomas, ambient by Golden Feelings, and off-kilter pop by Saajtak.

The Years Before Punk Broke: Remembering Roland Diaz-Pérez, who put Ann Arbor's Club Heidelberg on the map in the pre-grunge era

MUSIC HISTORY PROFILE

Maureen Maki and Roland Diaz Perez

Maureen Maki and Roland Diaz Perez. Photo courtesy of Maureen Maki.

From August 1989 through the fall of 1991, dozens of concerts occurred above the German restaurant at 215 North Main Street in Ann Arbor, often featuring national touring bands who would become household names during the grunge era.

Rolando “Roland” Diaz-Pérez and his No Bull Productions team were responsible for producing these shows at Club Heidelberg, and these concerts deeply influenced the 1990s DIY music scene in Washtenaw County.

News surfaced that Diaz-Pérez died in April 2022 in Paraguay, where he had lived for two decades, but his legacy will live on in Ann Arbor music history.

Feel Good Friday the 13th: UMMA's monthly series offered no bad luck, just great music

MUSIC REVIEW

A participant at UMMA's Feel Good Friday, May 13, 2022. Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon

Somebody feels good at UMMA's Feel Good Friday on May 13, 2022. Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) showed that Friday the 13th doesn’t have to be an unlucky day.

Every second Friday the museum presents a self-described "gathering of art and humans." The May 13 edition of Feel Good Friday featured Detroit- and Ann Arbor-based DJs and artists showcasing experimental film and Detroit techno, along with all the UMMA galleries being open for viewing.

Ann Arbor artists Mark Tucker (FestiFools) and Alvin Hill opened the evening by leading a hands-on workshop to celebrate the opening of FUN, UMMA's latest exhibit, which is in the Stenn gallery facing State Street. It's a space where visitors can contribute to a summer-long creation using materials provided in the gallery.

The up-and-coming Detroit-based DJ AK then took listeners through a musical history of Afrofuturism, spinning ghettotech, dubstep, and deep house in the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Apse. The crowd, whose ages ranged from young to old, all got to dancing, whether it was right in front of the speakers or as they took in the UMMA galleries. 

Friday Five: The Olllam, Hannah Baiardi, Matthew Dear, Mark Zhu, Nickie P. & Duke Newcomb, Sean Curtis Patrick, Tom Smith, Danger Room, The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Thomas Gun

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-13-2022

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

We're doing this again? Doubling the size of Friday Five for the second time in two weeks?

If area musicians keep this up, I'm going to have to change the column name to Tuesday Ten, which will be really confusing when I run the post on Fridays, the day all new music comes out. (Back in the olden days, release day used to be on Tuesday, which would be a strange day to run a column called Friday Five, but I digress so hard.)

This week features:

- Irish fusion by The Olllam
- sophisti-pop by Hannah Baiardi
- electronic pop by Matthew Dear
- ukulele-driven pop by Mark Zhu
- hip-hop by Nickie P. & Duke Newcomb
- a moon-landing soundtrack by Sean Curtis Patrick
- parodies by Tom Smith
- noise by Danger Room
- metal-tronica by The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
- rockabilly-tinged punk by Thomas Gun

 

Friday Five: ​​​​​​​Towner, Warren & Flick, Hannah Baiardi, Mirror Monster, 1473 label live compilation

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-06-2022

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

This week features the fuzzy Midwestern power-pop of Towner, country-tinged instrumental duets by Warren & Flick, R&B pop by Hannah Baiardi, new wavy electronica by Mirror Monster, and a compilation of live ambient performances on the 1473 label.

 

In Real Life: Indie rocker Kelly Hoppenjans shares pandemic-era experiences on “Can’t Get the Dark Out”

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Kelly Hoppenjans photo by Autumn Dozier

Kelly Hoppenjans dissects past heartbreak, navigates newfound love, and weathers interstate moves on Can’t Get the Dark Out. Photo by Autumn Dozier

Kelly Hoppenjans prefers to view love and life through a realistic lens.

The Ann Arbor indie-rock singer-songwriter and guitarist shares a real-life account of pandemic-era relationships, life changes, and personal growth on her introspective new EP, Can’t Get the Dark Out.

“This pandemic has been a really tough time to be alone, and it’s made it difficult to navigate changing relationships, too.," she said. "I wrote ‘Love of My Life (In My Living Room)’ about my frustration with online dating, and a few months after writing it met the love of my life through a dating app.”

Hoppenjans, who relocated from Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a doctorate in musicology at the University of Michigan, said, "By the time I met him, I’d already decided I was leaving town for my doctorate, and I wrote ‘Parallel Lines’ about the irony of meeting someone when I had one foot out the door, wanting to leave town but not him. He moved up here with me, so that worked out in the end.”

On Can’t Get the Dark Out, Hoppenjans dissects past heartbreak, navigates newfound love, and weathers interstate moves across five journal-entry-inspired tracks. The 20-minute EP seamlessly flows through alt-rock and folk-rock sensibilities with forthright lyrics.

“I feel like sometimes when we envision positive things, like love or marriage or children coming to us in the future, we think, ‘That will fix everything,’ like the struggles will evaporate once we achieve those goals. That’s just not how it works,” she said.

“Being in love has brought so much joy to my life, and it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It doesn’t fix anything magically … all the baggage we bring with us … it haunts us in our relationships, and we work through it together.”

Hoppenjans will share her Can’t Get the Dark Out experiences and songs during a May 6 EP release show at The Bling Pig with special guests Ani Mari and Clay in the Woods.

Friday Five: Double-length premium super-deluxe bonus edition

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 04-29-2022

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

Normally I just feature five artists in the Friday Five. It says so right in the column title. No lies told here.

But what if Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels don't respect the arbitrary limit I place on the number of releases I feature in this column every week, and instead they just keep putting out so much high-quality music that I gotta run a double-length column just to keep up? 

I respect your right to disrespect my artificial ceiling, Washtenaw County creatives, and I offer up this double-length premium super-deluxe bonus edition of the Friday Five.

This week features:

- the brilliant art-jazz-funk of Miles Okazaki
- techno by JTC
- metalcore by ONI featuring Iggy Pop and Randy Blythe
- jazz-drone by Colin Stetson, Elliott Sharp, Billy Martin, and Payton MacDonald
- Kenyan folk by Makadem and some Ann Arbor all-stars
- sound sculptures by Kikù Hibino
- video-game songs by mathew
- ghettotech by zagc
- Kraftwerk-ian pop by Telesonic 9000
- and emo-y pop by Premium Rat