music

As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series, this year we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.

Today we met Ann Arbor native Tyler Duncan and Irishman John McSherry. 

Despite being an ocean away, they play in a band together, called the olllam. The two have toured across the U.S. and in Europe producing a fusion of pop, rock and Irish music.

Duncan's musical career has included a variety of genres, like pop, rock and electronic. He has won international awards for playing traditional Irish instruments, like the uilleann pipes, a lighter version of Scotland's bagpipes, and whistles, a staple in Irish music. 

He discovered Irish music when he was 11, when his aunt gave him a VHS copy of Riverdance​. A pipe solo in the middle of the show grabbed his attention.

"As a kid I just was like, 'Woah, what is that? What is that instrument?'" he said. "And that got me really interested in the pipes."

Years later, as a 13-year-old Duncan moved to Ireland for a year with his family. His father took a sabbatical there.

He was given a tape he loved, which he later learned featured John McSherry, a rising star in the traditional Irish music scene. Then, when Duncan was in western Ireland, he had a chance to meet that musician.

He said it was a "serendipitous" meeting at a jam session in Milltown. Someone told Duncan that McSherry was at the bar. So Duncan started to stare. When McSherry's girlfriend noticed, the two introduced themselves.

That was the origin of the friendship that lead to the olllam.

Jodi Westrick

One of the big treats of doing Stateside live from the Charles H. Wright Museum was the live music from the Marcus Elliot Quartet. 

Elliot talked with Cynthia Canty about getting hooked on jazz,  teaching jazz at Troy High School and influences from his travels around the world, plus much more.

The Girls Rock Detroit band The Tiger Bots performs
Peter Smith / Girls Rock Detroit

The Next Idea

There are plenty of ways to empower young girls, but Melissa Coppola has a new approach: rock ‘n' roll.

Coppola, a graduating masters-level piano student at the University of Michigan, launched Girls Rock Detroit. The summer camp is a crash course in creating rock music for girls ages eight to 16.

Vincent York

Vincent York, the front man for the Vincent York +4 will be performing in Ann Arbor on April 30, which is International Jazz Day. The composer, bandleader, educator and advocate for the arts joins Stateside to talk about his upcoming performance and why jazz should be celebrated.

Listen to the full interview below.

The Ann Arbor-based Indian fusion band Sumkali performs at the Michigan Radio studios.
Michigan Radio

The Ann Arbor-based fusion band Sumkali brands themselves as “Indian music made in America.” Everyone in the band calls Michigan home, but according to the band’s founder John Churchville, half of them have family ties to India.

All the different band members bring their own skill sets, instruments, and influences that make the group the very definition of a fusion band. In the end, they create a sound intended to reach many different people.

The Ragbirds

The Ragbirds have been touring the state and country for the past 10 years. Their sound is a fusion of folk, rock and world music. You can hear that fusion in their latest album, called The Threshold and the Hearth being released today.

Erin Zindle is the lead singer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist for the Ragbirds. Zindle spoke with me about the album, motherhood and the craft of songwriting.


Charles Steen

Ann Arbor’s Chris Buhalis is releasing an album.  It’s called Big Car town.

A few years ago, when Chris was finishing up the album, he severely injured his left thumb and three other fingers in a table saw accident. He remodels houses for his day job.  As a guitarist and singer/songwriter, there was a point where he thought he would never be able to play guitar again.

Laith Al-Saadi on The Voice.
screen grab / YouTube

Last night's episode of The Voice, a reality show singing competition on ABC, featured a hard-working singer-songwriter from Ann Arbor.

Laith Al-Saadi has been playing around this region for a long-time.

"For the last 20 years, I've played over 300 dates a year," Al-Saadi told the judges last night.

Now he's working to up his national exposure -- and it worked.

Watch Al-Saadi's performance on The Voice below:

NPR Tiny Desk Contest
NPR

It’s time to throw away the objective journalist hat for a moment and put on my completely biased music-loving shoes because the submissions are in for NPR’S Tiny Desk contest.

The judges at NPR are pouring through all the entries right now to pick their national winner (their announcement is expected in the first week of March).

In the meantime, I watched all 129 of the videos submitted to the contest from our lovely mitten state.

Here are my top 10 picks.

Shane Ford

    

Detroit-based duo Gosh Pith released their second EP Gold Chain.

Josh Freed and Josh Smith are the artists behind the band. 

Their music is difficult to categorize – think heavy beats and drum loops juxtaposed with soft melodies, easygoing vocals and traces of electric guitar.

These self-proclaimed "children of the Internet" say their musical influences are wide-ranging, from folk and rock to hip-hop, techno, and R&B. But it's ragga – often called dancehall or dub – that has won them over in recent years. 

"Songs for the Union"
University of Michigan Library Edison Sheet Music Collection

Music that hasn’t been played, or even heard, in centuries could be coming to a concert hall near you in the coming years. This is thanks to a rare sheet music collection donated to the University of Michigan that includes tens of thousands of pieces that date as far back as 1790.

Kristen Castellana, a music librarian at the University of Michigan Library, is helping lead the charge on a massive project to catalog and digitize about 115,000 sheets of music. The sheet music collection belonged to Thomas Edison and was donated by the Edison Phonograph Company.

Greg Oberle

A few established Michigan musicians and public radio nerds have joined forces to start a new band called Public Access.

They’re releasing an album today and every track is named after a public broadcaster.

There’s Jack Speer, Dave Mattingly, Ira Glass and Michigan Radio’s own, Jennifer Guerra!

The instrumental songs kind of represent the broadcaster’s persona or the sound of their name.

Here's my review (listen below). 


Jonathan Craven

It has been quite a journey for Northport native Nathan Scherrer.

Four years ago, he moved from Michigan to Los Angeles with a few hundred dollars and was working as an intern, hoping to find a way to get into the business of making music videos. He was living off of macaroni and cheese, barely making ends meet, and now, this Monday (Feb. 15), he will be at the Staples Center hoping to hear his name called at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards.

Jennifer Harely

Michigan’s Chris Bathgate has gotten national acclaim in recent years, touring the country playing music and even being featured in one of NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts.

For the past four years, he’s taken a little hiatus.

He stepped away from performing for a while and tucked away an EP he had, until now.

Chris Bathgate is touring again and is releasing that EP. It’s called Old Factory


Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

 

Rapper Jon Connor says he’s "Flint to the bone."

He was born and raised in the city, but moved to California around two years ago after he was signed to Dr. Dre’s music label: Aftermath.

But Connor says his heart still remains in his hometown.

Flint’s water crisis drew Connor back home these past two weeks. He came home to check on his friends and family.

He also took time to volunteer at the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the Boys and Girls Club in Flint. He also wrote a song while he was in town. It’s called Fresh Water for Flint.

Ovi Gherman/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Wayne State University has received a $7.5 million gift from Detroit philanthropist Gretchen Valade to transform the university’s programming, teaching and scholarship in jazz performance and education.

Chris Collins, director of Jazz Studies at Wayne State, says Valade’s support is so much more than just financial.

What it means to be from "Downriver"

Jan 14, 2016
Jodi Green / flickr

If you follow the Detroit River south of the city, you’ll hit the working class communities of River Rouge, Ecorse and to the west, Taylor. These, so called “Downriver” cities sometimes get a bad rap. As part of our Community Vibe series, Michigan Radio’s Emily Fox introduces us to two long-time residents of River Rouge who are trying to help shape the next generation of residents.


Christine Cha

If you’re already getting tired of the same old Christmas tunes this year, look no further than a new album called Creole Christmas. It’s by trumpet player and Michigan State University jazz professor, Etienne Charles.

The album combines, jazz, soul, and Creole music into a holiday mix with both instrumental tracks and vocal tracks that put a soulful spin on some standards, like Go Tell It on the Mountain and This Christmas to some holiday songs from Trinidad that you’ve probably never heard of.

Lauren Dukoff

Michigan native Garrett Borns is better known by his stage name, BORNS. He recently released his debut album, Dopamine.

Before wrapping up his U.S. tour, BORNS will be performing at The Shelter in Detroit on Wednesday. 

He explains the song Electric Love is his contemporary take on '60s and '70s glam rock. BORNS talks about the influence his favorite musicians had on him, like Michael Jackson and Prince.

Chris Switzer

Olivia Mainville is a 19-year-old from Holland, Michigan. She’s releasing her first full-length album on Thursday.

Mainville describes her music as gypsy swing folk. Her playful voice has hints of a young Alanis Morrissette and sometimes Regina Spektor.

Mainville has already spent a lot of time touring the state playing music. She’s had more time on her hands than most teenagers. When she was in 9th grade, she decided to leave high school and become homeschooled so she could focus on her music.

Courtesy of Nessa

Kelly McDermott’s musical career is well-established in the U.S., Canada and Europe with degrees in flute performance and music therapy from Michigan State and graduate degrees from Temple University.

McDermott talks with Stateside's Cynthia Canty about going from working as a teacher, a chamber and orchestral flute player to Celtic music. 

"I started to just really find some amazing kind of energy in singing these old ballads, the old really, really sad stories."

The new album, Ancient Song Discoveries Vol 1 is available now.

Bennett / Ashlee Kristin Photography

 

The Grand Rapids based band Bennett is releasing their second EP Friday called A Moment’s Time.

 

 


Emmanuele Coltellacci / flickr

 

When Zach Saginaw plays electronic music, he goes by the name Shigeto. He was born and raised in Ann Arbor and has performed across the globe.

 


Courtesy of Flint Eastwood

Flint Eastwood has a new EP out this week. It’s called Small Victories.

The music was recorded at Assemble Sound, a repurposed church in Detroit.

Bandleader Jax Anderson says the studio played a huge factor in determining the sound of this new collection of songs.

On Assemble Sound

www.stoneyworld.com

Musician Britney Stoney is a born-and-raised Detroiter and she's inspired by her hometown in all kinds of ways. She's especially influenced by the people she calls "hustlers and grinders," meaning everyday people who work hard and live good lives, regardless of their circumstances. 

Stoney says her mother is a great example of a grinder, who raised her as a single mom while working as a waitress and bartender.

Here are a few lyrics from the song "Organ Donor:"

George Shirley, emeritus professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Dance and Theatre, recently received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

HMN Photography

A year ago, Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Chris DuPont found himself coping with depression and questioning his faith.

DuPont spoke with Michigan Radio's Mercedes Mejia about his renewed outlook on life and the stories that inspired his new album, Outlier.

DuPont is also the music director at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ypsilanti. 

Holding it Together

Jeremy Peters

You don't hear a lot of hot, danceable tracks about gentrification.

But Detroit emcee/slam poet/teacher Mic Write writes ear worms about the city’s evolution, his pride in its unsung neighborhoods, and how good it feels to disprove anyone who didn’t expect much of a kid from the D.

Catie Laffoon

Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr made it big back in 2011 when they covered the song, “We Almost Lost Detroit.”

They went on to play big music festivals with Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo.

The duo is out with a new album and have changed their name to simply, "JR JR".

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