Bassist and Blue LLama Jazz Club booker Dave Sharp picks five albums that influenced him


Dave Sharp

When he's not playing bass in his Worlds band—or any number of other jazz and world-music groups in the Southeast Michigan area—Dave Sharp books the talent at Blue LLama Jazz Club on Main Street in Ann Arbor.

Based on his own music and the groups he has play Blue LLama, you can tell Sharp has big ears and catholic tastes. 

But if you ever wondered what records influenced his own musical journey, Sharp talked to the Analog Attack vlog out of Japan for its new series, Leaders and Sidemen.

In just under 35 minutes, Sharp picked out five albums from his collection that made a big impact on him and talked about why. But the twist with this process is that Analog Attack's host then has to find LPs from his own collection that feature sidemen from the records his guest picks:

U-M prof wins SMTD award and produces shortened, virtual version of Giacomo Puccini’s opera "La bohème"


Original 1896 poster of La boheme by Adolfo Hohenstein

Original 1896 poster of La bohème by Adolfo Hohenstein.

There's no doubt the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance's Stephen Lusmann loves opera in its original, unadulterated form.

After all, he's a voice professor who has taught for nearly 20 years at SMTD.

But Lusmann is also cognizant of the time-crunched—and, now, the sequestered, pandemic'd world—we live in. Those are two of the reasons why he created a shortened version of Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera La bohème, whose two-hour running time is cut in half.

Plus, the original has eight soloists whereas most young-artists programs only have four, and throwing a student singer—or even an audience member new to the genre—into a two- or three-hour opera performance might be overwhelming.

But the main reason why Lusmann made an abbreviated version of The Bohemians is that his SMTD colleagues gave him the 2020 Harold Haugh Award, which was founded in 1975 and named after the U-M professor and oratorio soloist. The honor is given to an SMTD professor to recognize his or her excellence in studio teaching. Recipients are awarded $5,000 and they're usually honored with a public event that includes a lecture and a performance. Lusmann had to make do with our current situation, so he and his SMTD students staged his version of The Bohemians sans audience and posted the performance to YouTube:

Friday Five: JTC, The Kelseys, Diesel Marine, Lily Milo, and DJ FLP


Friday Five 10-16-2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists.

This week we start in the club, head down some dark country lanes, then head back to the dancefloor with new music by Tadd Mullinix's JTC, The Kelseys, Diesel Marine, Lily Milo, and DJ FLP. 

Bootleg Washtenaw: Nirvana, April 10, 1990, at The Blind Pig


Someone recently uploaded Nirvana's April 10, 1990, show at The Blind Pig to YouTube for the umpteenth time with the bad audio and wonky video.

Why bother when there's the version above, which has been online since 2012 and it sounds pretty good? It also boasts the following: "New Custom 2-Camera Mix/Deshaked with synced Audio (Aud1 JWB remaster)."

"Deshaked" is a shaky but accurate technical term, and for that alone, I'm entering this version of the video onto the record as the definitive edition of this bootleg.


WCBN's "The Local Show" honored the end of summer with a guest mix by Isaac Levine


WCBN - The Local Music Show

Since the pandemic forced WCBN's DJs out of the studio, the station has run a mix of previously aired shows and, as time has progressed, gradually added programs that the hosts record at home. Shelley Salant, who helms The Local Music Show, is one of those folks who has provided home-recorded shows the past few months, but she's also had some friends DJ from their pads. A few weeks ago, Ypsilanti's Isaac Levine—he of numerous bands and the Fish People Birds label—programmed a setlist dubbed "Summer Is Over and I Feel It" for The Local Music Show, and it's an excellent cross section of indie rock, hip-hop, electronica, and general weirdness from Washtenaw County artists.

Not every Local Music Show is posted to the archival Soundcloud page immediately, so the only other pandemic-era program on there right now is from July 22. But it's a prime example on how wide open The Local Music Show is to styles: the show features Dr. Pete Larson—a U-M epidemiologist by day; a nyatiti player and Dagoretti Records chief at night—along with Dr. Tiffany Ng's carillon concert in solidarity with Black Lives Matters.

I've embedded these two Local Music Shows below, but there's a weath of great shows going back years over on the Soundcloud.

Friday Five: Fred Thomas, Isaac Levine, Briaa Dupree, Jib Kidder, Aye Hawk


Friday Five 10-08-2020

Friday Five is where we celebrate new and recent music by Washtenaw County artists. This week we feature Fred Thomas, Isaac Levine, Briaa Dupree, Jib Kidder, and Aye Hawk. 

Jazz on the Small Screen: Concerts by Danielle Gonzalez, Beartrap, and various sets at Blue LLama Jazz Club & Kerrytown Concert House


Live jazz

Back in April or so, I got overwhelmed with the number of music livestreams popping up on my radar. Anybody with an instrument and a cell phone was broadcasting from their bedroom stages, and I pretty much shut down on trying to follow livestreams. But as the pandemic wore on and venues figured out how to safely present music, I started to peek at livestreams every now and again because curation helped narrow down the list of things I might want to watch rather than me remaining forever frozen by decision paralysis.

Ann Arbor has a small but vibrant jazz scene thanks to the University of Michigan's robust music school, so I thought it was time to give a nod to that genre's artists and the host venues whose livestreams have caught my eye. (In many of these cases, you can tip the artists for the shows you've just watched, too.)

If you really want to keep up on the neverending supply of improvised music livestreams, check out the Facebook group LiftingUpA2Jazz, which is a comprehensive source for events in Washtenaw County.

I Want My Music TV: Dre Dav, The Kelseys, Towner, Hi Potent C & Dyelow, and DruziBaby734


Music videos

A collection of recent-ish music videos from Washtenaw County artists Dre Dav, The Kelseys, Towner, Hi Potent C & Dyelow, and DruziBaby734.

Friday Five: Speak Mahogany, The DayNites, Mogi Grumbles, X-Altera, and John Beltran


Friday Five 10-02-2020

Jazzy hip-hop, neo-soul, '80s synth sounds via a modular setup, drum 'n' bass, and trance techno are all on tap for this week's Friday Five spotlighting Washtenaw County artists. But also know that this is Bandcamp Friday, so any purchases made through that site will benefit the artists immensely since they'll get 100% of the revenue. Only two of the five selections below are on Bandcamp right now, but peruse the last six months of Pulp's Music section and you'll find plenty of Washtenaw County artists you can support via that site.

Now, go listen to Speak Mahogany, The DayNites, Mogi Grumbles, X-Altera, and John Beltran.

Athletic Mic League returns after a 15-year hiatus to confirm its status as Ann Arbor's "Playground Legends"


Athletic Mic League

The Ann Arbor hip-hop collective Athletic Mic League was on hiatus for more than 15 years as its members pursued solo projects—and life.

The group formed in 1995 at Huron High School and released three albums during its 10-year run—The Thrill of Victory...The Agony of Defeat (1998), Sweats and Kicks (2002), Jungle Gym Jungle (2004)—and two EPs: Feel Good (2001) and Isolation (2005).

But right before the pandemic started, Athletic Mic League reunited for a four-day studio retreat and recorded the majority of Playground Legends there, a seven-song mini-album that will come out soon. But the group has released three singles from the sessions: "Hold My Hand," "Finish Line," and "Complications." The current lineup of the collective includes Grand Cee, Buff1, Trés Styles, 14KT, Wes Taylor, VaughanTego, and Mayer Hawthorne (not shown in the photo above). 

Athletic Mic League (AML) takes inspiration from Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan, and Hieroglyphics Crew, as well as soul and jazz music. AML's songs showcase sharp lyrical content and instrumentals decorated with soul-music loops. "Hold My Hand" and "Complications" feature retro-soul vocals over laid-back beats. In contrast, "Finish Line" is a nice uptempo track that opens and closes with a sample from motivational speaking guru Eric Thomas.

Below, AML dishes on the stories behind its new singles, the reunion, and what’s next for them.