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This month, we’ll look back at three of 2017’s “Under-the-Radar” albums by West Michigan bands; three terrific recordings folks might have overlooked.

The Turnips - StopWatchTimeDrop

Joey Schultz

Finding inspiration for writing and making music can be a challenge for songwriters. But, for Brandon and Bethany Foote it's the place they call home that fuels their imagination.

The duo known as Gifts or Creatures is out with their third full-length album, Fair Mitten (New Songs of the Historic Great Lakes Basin).

Their music celebrates the rich history and beauty of the upper Midwest.   

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

It’s pretty hard to live in Chelsea, Michigan and not know Jeff Daniels. He’s an accomplished actor both on stage and on screen, he’s a musician who frequently tours, and he founded the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea.

Daniels joined Stateside to explain what’s been keeping him so busy.

HarperCollins, 2017

A music lover can likely pinpoint the moment a song or a lyric crashes its way into your young consciousness. And then things are never the same.

For writer Daniel Wolff, that moment happened in 1965, when he first heard Bob Dylan.

Wikicommons

What is the best way to keep a soldier’s morale up? This was a serious question for government officials during World War II.

America’s soldiers were experiencing the most traumatic events of their lives, away from their families and surrounded by the horrors of war.

Officials concluded that perhaps the best way to keep soldiers happy was the power of music.

David James Swanson

Michigan singer-songwriter Joshua Davis released a new studio album, The Way Back Home, on Oct. 13.

The album comes some two and a half years after NBC’s The Voice introduced the rest of America to Davis, who had already built a strong fan base throughout his home state.

Davis joined Stateside to talk about his music and his inspirations.

Courtesy of Andrew Cohn

A Detroit-based hip-hop artist is the subject of a new documentary film released on Apple Music. 

Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic follows Brown’s life and visits with him on tour. 

Stateside host Lester Graham spoke with the film's director Andrew Cohn, who is also from Michigan.

This week, John Sinkevics introduces us to three new albums coming out in November. Sinkevics is the editor and publisher of Local Spins, which covers west Michigan’s music scene. 

Bigfoot Buffalo, The Sun is the Moon

Singer-guitarist Kyle Brown is the frontman and chief songwriter for this Grand Rapids-based roots rock band that’s been inspired by the likes of The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and The Band.

actors on stage
Lisa Gavan

 


Each time a show opened at the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, Alexandra Berneis would send an email. As the theater's executive director, Berneis had a strong relationship with Jen McKee, the local critic at The Ann Arbor News. It was a symbiotic one: invitation, access, coverage, repeat.

Then one day in January 2016, she didn’t get an email back. The critic and other colleagues lost their jobs. Mainstream arts coverage in Ann Arbor was gone.

Michigan communities have been experiencing this with increasing frequency over several years. As the internet changed how people got their news, media entities shifted and consolidated, and arts communities across the state are feeling the loss.

may erlewine
John Hanson

May Erlewine is out with her newest album Mother Lion. And she’s introducing it first to Michigan audiences.

"I’ve been so lifted up and supported by the community here, so it seemed really fun and sort of tangible to actually be able to physically give the record and present the songs," Erlewine said. "I also haven’t played most of them live ever, so it’s sort of really presenting all of it as a piece for the first time."

Psychedelic Eyes Photography

Desmond Jones, the funk/rock/jazz fusion band is releasing its debut album on October 10.

After meeting in college at Michigan State University and playing gigs around the Lansing area, the five-piece band has settled in Grand Rapids.

I spoke with drummer John Nowak and guitarist Chris Bota about their eclectic musical diversity. 

Courtesy of the University Musical Society

Editor's note (Oct. 2): A quote from VanBiesen's interview has been expanded below in order to clarify a point the guest was making about the role of the arts in society. 

The University Musical Society recently welcomed its 7th president, and he’s already contributing to a season of what he calls socially conscious theater.

Matthew VanBesien, formerly the director of the New York Philharmonic, says he wants the UMS “to help spark dialogue and help move it forward around sometimes very difficult issues.”

Seth Thompson/Revue​

 

Each month, Stateside checks in with John Sinkevics, the editor and publisher of Local Spins, a site that covers West Michigan’s music scene. Sinkevics discusses new artists, their backstories and what makes their music great.

Joybox Express

Take one 385-pound piano, and strap it onto a tricycle. Add a piano player and then hit the road from Flint to Mackinaw City.

Plop that piano on a barge, tie it to your ankles, and then swim all the way to Mackinac Island. 

That's the gist of the memorable fundraiser Sprint for Flint that's taking place this weekend.

chris atto / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Looking for new music from the Detroit area that's perfect for the dog days of summer?

Khalid Bhatti​, executive editor of Detroit Music Magazine, has your back. So does Paul Young, the magazine's founder and publisher.

Courtesy of Barbara Schmid

He’s been writing and singing about Michigan for a good many years, and on Tuesday night, Michigan will say thank you to Jay Stielstra.

Michigan Senator Rebekah Warren will present Stielstra with a state of Michigan legislative tribute for his contributions in conserving Michigan’s natural resources. She’ll do this during a show called “A Michigan Tribute to Jay Stielstra” at The Ark in Ann Arbor, where an all-star group of Michigan singers, musicians and actors will perform in his honor.

Emmanuel Smith / MrEintheD.com

The Next Idea

If you’re old enough, you might remember Schoolhouse Rock, a series of musical films that helped kids learn.

Emmanuel Smith is “Mr. E in the D,” and he’s updating that concept by using hip-hop to teach kids math.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

When it comes to building love and connection between mother and baby, it’s hard to beat the ancient magic of a lullaby.

Those moments holding your baby, singing a lullaby, can live in a mother’s heart long after that baby is grown.

So imagine the extra power of a lullaby you write just for your baby. The Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project at the Flint School of Performing Arts helps young mothers do just that.

Lizzy Shell is a newcomer to Michigan’s music scene. 

The singer/songwriter has roots in Ypsilanti, but grew up in Tempe, Arizona.  Now, she's back in Michigan and out with her debut album Seed.

In the interview Shell talks about her faith, struggling with depression and dropping out of college. For Shell, healing came through writing and making music.  

Stephen Edwards with his mother, Rosalie Edwards, in 1980.
Harlan Underhill / RequiemForMyMother.com

Ann Arbor native and Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards owes his successful career of creating scores for movies and TV to his mother, Rosalie Edwards. She was a well-schooled musician trained at the University of Michigan, so Stephen was immersed in music from a very young age.

Courtesy of Theo Katzman

 


Theo Katzman is coming back to Ann Arbor for a one night open air concert featuring a few of the area’s beloved musicians. While Katzman is still the drummer and guitarist with the funk/fusion band Vulfpeck, he’s been promoting his latest solo album, "Heartbreak Hits."

Courtesy of Ralph Giese

 


He calls himself the World's Greatest Whistler.

 

It’s hard to argue with that. Check out his song "Peanut Butter Blues" below.

 

Courtesy Photo

This week, Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers are releasing their newest album, Pluto.

 The six-member band is rooted in Lansing, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. They're known for their eccentric style of mixing elements of funk, dance, pop and R&B.

Frontman Joe Hertler stopped by Stateside to preview the new album and the inspiration that brought it together.

nico7martin / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

I was sad to hear about Chuck Berry’s death last weekend.

When I worked in St. Louis two decades ago, getting an interview with Berry was a challenge for every reporter in town. He hadn’t given an interview in more than two years when I decided to give it a shot. The owner of a venue where Berry played every couple of months suggested I come to the 40th anniversary of Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode. The idea was the club owner would help me get an interview before the show.

Laurel Premo and Anna Gustavsson
Courtesy of Premo & Gustavsson

 

Take fiddle and banjo tunes of the United States and mix them with the music and dance tunes of Sweden, and there you have Premo & Gustavsson.

Our Songs from Studio East series explores music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world. Premo & Gustavsson fit that bill perfectly.

Courtesy of the Flint Scottish

For over a hundred years, the Flint Scottish Pipe Band has celebrated the Scottish highlands in mid-Michigan. It is the oldest pipe band in the state of Michigan, and the eleventh oldest in the nation. 

Frontier Ruckus
Noah Elliott Morrison

Enter the Kingdom is the 5th LP from Michigan's own Frontier Ruckus.

Rolling Stone calls it "a serious and thought-provoking record."

As part of our Songs from Studio East series, we look at how the band continues to evolve musically while still holding on to their roots.

It took four years for Frontier Ruckus to come out with their newest album.

Courtesy: Seth Bernard (left), Sean Carter (right)

Independent musicians in Michigan are up against a fast changing music landscape.

Despite the challenges that come with producing, recording, releasing and touring, one music label is cultivating a community of artists who help each other succeed.

"All of us are using music as a way to build community, to empower youth and to uplift good work already happening here," said Seth Bernard. He's is the founder of Earthwork Music, a collective of artists with similar interests, but ranging in musical styles.

For the first time in 16 years, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will embark on an international tour. This will mark the first time that the DSO will perform in China.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO).

With the orchestra back on solid financial footing, the DSO is embarking on its first international tour in 16 years. This July, Maestro Leonard Slatkin will take the orchestra overseas for the first time since he took over as music director in 2008. The conductor and his 87 musicians will make stops in Japan and, for the first time, China.

Courtesy of Lester Monts

Michigan boasts an exceptionally rich mix of folk, ethnic and immigrant music, and it goes back centuries.

Music professor Lester Monts wanted to capture that rich tapestry, so he spearheaded the Michigan Musical Heritage Project.

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