Friday Five: Ma Baker, Chris DuPont, Mike Dos, Nick Melody, Prol'e

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 02-12-2021

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

This week features jams courtesy Ma Baker, Americana from Chris DuPont, R&B hip-hop by Mike Dos, indie rock from Nick Melody, and hip-hop from Prol'e.
 

Gabba gabba, we accept you, one of us: A history of The Ramones in Ann Arbor

MUSIC BOOTLEG WASHTENAW

Flyer for the first Ramones concert in Ann Arbor, March 28, 1977.

The flyer for that first Ramones' first concert in Ann Arbor, March 28, 1977.

[Updated February 9, 2021, with photos and reviews from The Ann Arbor News].

The Blind Pig is a favorite club of many rock musicians, and the venue has hosted so many legendary bands over the years.

But The Ramones' love lay elsewhere in Ann Arbor.

Between 1977 and 1983, the New York City punk godfathers played Tree Town seven times—and every show was as headliners at The Second Chance, which is now Necto, 516 E. Liberty St. The Blind Pig was still a blues bar back then while The Second Chance was hosting numerous rockers, from Bob Seger (when the club was known as Chances Are) to Bow Wow Wow. In fact, during that period The Ramones headlined nearly as many shows in Ann Arbor as they did in Detroit (nine).

The first time they played Michigan was as the opener for Flamin' Groovies, October 17, 1976, at the Royal Oak Music Theater.

But The Ramones' first show as headliners in Michigan was a little over five months later in Ann Arbor on March 28, 1977, with Sonic's Rendezvous Band opening. There doesn't appear to be any audio or video of this show, but here are two excellent photos by legendary Detroit Rock City and Creem magazine photographer Robert Mathieu of Tommy and Johnny Ramone backstage with the Fred "Sonic" Smith, Ron Asheton, and Scott Asheton:

Friday Five: Nickie P, Aareus Jones, Modern Lady Fitness, Weekend Hours, Safa Collective

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 02-05-2021

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

This week features hip-hop from Nickie P and Aareus Jones, indie rock from Modern Lady Fitness and Weekend Hours, and a multigenre compilation by Safa Collective.
 

Afa S. Dworkin on the Sphinx Virtuosi and their UMS concert "This Is America"

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Afa Dworkin and Sphinx Virtuosi

Afa S. Dworkin photo by Kevin Kennedy. Sphinx Virtuosi photo by Brian Hatton.

Classical music has had a long history of lacking diversity, which is why Aaron P. Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1997 to encourage and support minorities in this art form. The name was inspired by the iconic Great Sphinx of Giza statue in Egypt, which “reflects the power, wisdom and persistence that characterize Sphinx’s participants," according to the Detroit-based organization's website.

Today, the Sphinx Organization’s programs reach more than 100,000 artists and students, while performances by the orchestras and ensembles are viewed and attended by more than two million people each year.

UMS recorded a special performance by the Sphinx Virtuosi, an orchestra of the Sphinx Organization, for its 2021 season of virtual programming, and the concert is streaming for free on ums.org through February 8. The program is titled This Is America and includes works by Michael Abels, Jessie Montgomery, and Xavier Foley. On the final day of the stream, there will also be a special conversation with three Sphinx artists: Gabriel Cabezas, Bill Neri, and Melissa White. Each musician will discuss the performance as well as talk about their musical careers. You can download a PDF for the This Is America concert notes here.

A 2005 MacArthur Fellow, Aaron P. Dworkin was dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance and is now a tenured professor of arts leadership and entrepreneurship at SMTD who also hosts the weekly videocast Arts Engines; he currently serves as a strategic advisor for Sphinx. Afa S. Dworkin, his wife, is a celebrated violinist and educator who now leads the Sphinx Organization.

Afa S. Dworkin, who has been honored with the Kennedy Center’s Human Spirit Award and was named one of Detroit Crain’s 40 Under 40, has expanded Sphinx's outreach and range enormously during her tenure as president and artistic director.

I spoke to the Ann Arbor-based Afa S. Dworkin about the Sphinx Organization and the Virtuosi concert recorded for UMS.

Dance past winter's midway point with vintage Carlos Souffront mixes at WCBN

MUSIC

Carlos Souffront

At 4:49 pm today it's the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it's time to hit the cosmic dancefloor and celebrate the fact that we're halfway through the worst season.

Cue DJ Carlos Souffront

The Troy, Michigan, native became part of the Crush Collison legacy sometime in 1995 when he joined host Brendan M. Gillen at WCBN-FM. Soufrront eventually took over the long-running techno and electronica show with Todd Osborne and Pete Liedy, and he was still doing Crush Collision in 2010 according to this blog post. The former Zingerman's employee has lived in San Francisco since 2011, but one of Souffront's sets from his Ann Arbor days resurfaced recently thanks to it being highlighted on Resident Advisor's Mix of the Day.

Gigolo Mix (Unreleased EFX mix) was posted on Soufrront's Soundcloud about a year ago along with this description: "Unreleased version (sans announcements) of 'The Great Gigolo Swindle' recorded live at WCBN-FM Ann Arbor in 2000." 
 

Friday Five: John Beltran, The Kelseys, Kat Steih, Exjx, Othercast

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-29-2021

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

This week features ambient-tinged techno from John Beltran, guitar pop from The Kelseys, jazzy pop from Kat Steih, and electronica from Exjx and Othercast.
 

The Ark's Ann Arbor Folk Festival goes virtual for its 44th edition

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

The Ark by Dwight Burdette, Creative Commons

Photo by Dwight Burdette.

Like any town, Ann Arbor has annual events that help define the place: Art Fair, University of Michigan's first home football game, the summer closings of nearly every road in downtown due to construction.

The Ark's annual Folk Festival is an important part of that list, too, but with the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on traditions big and small, the venue was forced to take the fest virtual for the 44th edition. This year's Folk Festival happens on January 29 and 30, along with a bonus show on the 31st featuring several of the previous days' performers to celebrate the life and music of the late John Prine, an Ark regular.

Friday's lineup includes Raul Malo, Colin Hay (Men at Work), Alan Doyle, The War and Treaty, Kiefer Sutherland (yes, him), Joe Pug, Glen Phillps, Amythyst Kiah, Gina Chavez, Willie Watson, Ron Pope. All these acts' performances will be remote other than Michigan's The Accidentals with special guest Kim Richey who will play The Ark's stage.

Saturday's concert offers Bruce Cockburn, Dar Williams, David Bromberg, Todd Snider, George Winston, Vance Gilbert. Dom Flemons, Matt Andersen, Crys Matthews. Sierra Ferrell. and Andrea von Kampen performing remotely, with Ann Arbor's The RFD Boys playing at The Ark.

Jeff Daniels will be the MC both nights.

Sunday's Prine tribute will feature The Accidentals, Al Bettis, Annie and Rod Capps, Chris Buhalis, Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis, Dick Siegel, Erin Zindle, Jill Jack, Joshua Davis, Matt Watroba and Robert Jones, May Erlewine, Michigan Rattlers, The RFD Boys, Seth Bernard, and The War & Treaty.

"Remote performances have all been prerecorded by the artists," says The Ark's marketing director, Barb Chaffer Authier, "but specifically for the festival—no 'recycled' material—so only the opening set each night will be live in real time."

All performances will be viewable through February 7.

We talked with Authier about what it's been like for this historic music operation since the pandemic started and what it was like to book a virtual Folk Festival, the nonprofit's most important concert event every year.

Friday Five: Lily Talmers, Natura, Men in Dresses, content., Dire Wolf

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-22-2021

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

This week features folky indie from Lily Talmers, Euro-pop from Natura, low-brass-Nintendo-wave from Men in Dresses, shoegaze from content., and hardcore from Dire Wolf.
 

Together in Electric Dreams: Same Eyes keep feeling fascination with '80s synth-pop on their debut album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Same Eyes duo, Chad Pratt and Alex Hughes

There is a well-documented history of painters making music, from Miles Davis and Jean-Michel Basquiat (Gray) to Patti Smith and John Lurie (Lounge Lizards).

Less well-known is the history of house painters who make music, but Same Eyes is ready to join the story.

"Chad was painting my parent’s house right when I was graduating high school," says Alex Hughes of Chad Pratt, his partner in the Ann Arbor synth-pop duo. "He hired me and I have worked for him painting in the summers and on breaks since."

They started making music together as Same Eyes in summer 2019, with both members playing synths, Hughes on vocals and guitar, and Pratt programming the drums. The first fruits of the duo's efforts was the two-song single featuring "Cry for Us" and "Hawk," which came out March 20, 2020, a week after the world shut down for the pandemic. Those two songs plus six more are on Same Eyes' debut album, Parties to End

Friday Five: Isolation Daze, Crossover, Tanomura, Stormy Chromer, Shitty Sons

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 01-15-2020

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

This week features funk-jazz-whatever by Isolation Daze, pop by Crossover, instrumental R&B by Tanomura, live jams by Stormy Chromer, and sax-drums duets by Shitty Sons.