Many genres of music have deep roots in the city of Detroit, including punk, rock-and-roll, blues, techno and soul music. A new organization wants to help connect people and groups that have been archiving Detroit’s musical history.  

Carleton Gholz is the president and founder of the Detroit Sound Conservancy. He’s been researching a book about the rise of DJ and hip-hop culture in Detroit. During that time, he’s come across small archiving groups, music journalists, and older musicians. Now Gholz wants to unite them.

Several weeks ago, The World did a story about dance clubs popping-up in Europe for one hour, during lunchtime. (Basically people can swing by an alcohol-free, make-shift dance club at noon. Organizers even provide free lunches!)

While we don’t quite have anything like this in Michigan, we do have events where people can enjoy free music and get their dance on—if they want to.

Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival / Facebook

Some people went north, or headed to the pools for the Memorial Weekend, others danced the weekend away at the Movement: Detroit Electronic Music Festival at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit.

NPR's All Songs Considered put up a recap of the Festival:

Now in its thirteenth year, Movement: Detroit's Electronic Music Festival has featured an enormously diverse group of electronic producers and DJs from around the world. Detroit is the birthplace of Techno and after all these years of being more popular nearly everywhere but Detroit, there was a feeling at this year's festival that it's all coming back home.

Here's host Bob Boilen talking with NPR's Sami Yenigun and U Street Music Hall promotions director Morgan Tepper about their experiences at the festival:

And here's a sampling of music heard at the festival (included is a song title using a phrase I often heard in grade school - *chuckle*).

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

It's graduation season across the country, and students are deciding what they want to do with their lives.

Seventy-one-year-old Ernie Caviani is a piano tuner and technician. He says following your passion is key.

Michigan Radio producer Mercedes Mejia has this audio postcard.

Ernie Caviani: This A is vibrating at 220 beats per second. This A is supposed to vibrate, if it matches it at 440, it’s just twice as much.

In my lifetime I’ve tuned a little over 30,000 pianos.

user ladydragonflycc / Flickr

What do experimental composer John Cage and Ann Arbor have in common, you ask? Morels. Story goes that John Cage was something of an amateur mushroom hunter, and he used to hunt for morels in the woods around Ann Arbor.

And since Spring means morel hunting season in Michigan, and many mushroom-enthusiasts are out foraging for the delicacy, a group in Ann Arbor is putting a musical twist on the annual spring hunt.

To celebrate what would be Cage’s 100th birthday this year, U of M music professor Michael Gurevich teamed up with U of M mycology professor Tim James for a new kind of morel hunt.

"I thought, as an homage to Cage, let’s create this performance where we tell stories, which Cage really liked to do, while hunting for edible mushrooms in the woods," explains Gurevich.

If you like gospel music you might want to check out the 20th Annual Gospelfest in Ann Arbor.

The idea behind the event is to celebrate the diversity of music among different communities and faiths in southeast Michigan. Participants seek to bridge cultural, racial, and religious gaps between different churches, and develop friendships.

Jean Wilson is the co-founder of Gospelfest, and choir director at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Saline. She sat down with Michigan Radio’s Jennifer White to talk about the event’s 20-year history.

Wilson says the event offers a variety of music, from traditional black gospel to contemporary Christian, pop-rock, and more. And she says the event is about diversity and unity.

“Although we are so diverse in our different ways of worship, we are all headed in the same direction; we are all children of the same creator. Although we have so many differences, we do have that thing at the core of our very being that really says that we are all related and are one, and we get to celebrate it.”

On Saturday March 10, choirs from Ann Arbor and Detroit will come together for the 20th Annual Gospelfest at Bethlehem United Church of Christ in Ann Arbor.

The gospel choir of New Prospect Baptist Missionary Church in Detroit will also participate in this year's event. Here's a video of the choir during a Saturday morning practice.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Share your story here.

Photo courtesy of Seth Bernard and May Erlewine.

Listen to the interview.

Michigan natives Seth Bernard and May Erlewine have a new album inspired by their journey across Ethiopia.

Last year they were invited to join the project “Run Across Ethiopia," of the Michigan-based non-profit On the Ground. A group of eight eventually ran 240 miles across southern Ethiopia and raised over $200,000 to build schools in the coffee growing region of that country.

The album New Flower is based on that experience.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White interviewed Seth & May. You can see them perform in Michigan Radio's Studio East.

Produced by Mercedes Mejia and Cade Sperlich. Our audio engineer is Bob Skon.

screen grab from YouTube

Don Cornelius, the smooth talking creator of the popular dance television show Soul Train, died today at the age of 75.

From the Los Angeles Times:

"Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius was found dead at his Sherman Oaks home Wednesday morning.

Law enforcement sources said police arrived at Cornelius' home around 4 a.m. He apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing.

The sources said there was no sign of foul play, but the Los Angeles Police Department was investigating.

Soul Train was a springboard for new Motown artists in the 1970s.

NPR's Michele Norris tweets, "Soul Train showed us what to listen to, what to wear, how to dance, how to VIBE, how to be unapologetically fabulous. RIP Don Cornelius."

Cornelius hosted the show from 1971-1993 and coined the show's famous introduction:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is offering enhanced webcasts of its concerts this season.

A "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast will be held tomorrow night January 28, beginning at 7:50 p.m. Participants have to register before watching.

More from the Associated Press:

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is introducing a new webcast player designed to make online concert viewers feel as if they're in Orchestra Hall.

More than 30,000 people from over 40 countries are expected to view Saturday's high-definition "Live from Orchestra Hall" webcast.

The DSO says it's the only U.S. orchestra to offer a free series of webcasts.

The Symphony says the webcast player "mimics the actual interior" of Orchestra Hall. Dimming controls allow the virtual viewer to adjust lighting.

Saturday's webcast will feature a performance of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 4.

The piece will be highlighted on a live repertoire tracker, and live program notes will post below the viewing window with trivia about the piece and the artists.

Here's a promotional video from the DSO about it's webcasts:

Photo courtesy of Philip Glass

On today's Artpod, we head back to school.

When "Einstein on the Beach" opens in Ann Arbor this Friday, Jan. 20, it'll be the first time the opera has been performed in 20 years. But be warned: this isn’t your typical opera.

Photo courtesy of Philip Glass

When "Einstein on the Beach" opens in Ann Arbor on Friday, Jan. 20, it’ll be the first time the work has been performed in 20 years. But be warned: this isn’t your typical opera.

Einstein on the Beach 101

It was first produced in France in 1976, and until now has only been performed in Europe and on the east coast.

Photo courtesy of Aretha Franklin

We kick of the first Artpod of 2012 with an appearance by none other than the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.

I interviewed Franklin last month about her search for the next great opera star. That's right, opera star. Franklin wants to get in on the singing contest circuit, and she's turning her searchlight on the world of classical music.

user anon / morgueFile

For all your late holiday shoppers out there, today's Artpod is filled with ideas for giving local.

I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to hear your thoughts on Michigan-made gifts you'd like to give (or receive) this year. I also reached out to the owner of an independent bookstore in Grand Rapids, and the owner of an independent music store in Ann Arbor to get their suggestions, too.

So without further ado, here's what you had to say about giving local:

The Marvelettes have been nominated for a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Please Mister Postman" by The Marvelettes hit number one on Billboard Magazine's Hot 100 the week of December 11th, 1961. The group was formed by five high school students in the Detroit suburb of Inkster, originally going by the name The Casinyets (short for “Can’t Sing Yet").

"Please Mister Postman” featured lead vocals by Gladys Horton, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 66. It was the biggest hit The Marvelettes would have. The group also scored with classics like "Beechwood 4-5-7-8-9", "Too Many Fish In The Sea", and "Don't Mess With Bill".

Courtesy of Red Tail Ring

Red Tail Ring is a musical collaboration between Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo. 

The two combine traditional American music with their own modern approach. 

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with the duo about their vocal harmonies and lyrical sound.

Here's their live performance at Michigan Radio:

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

The duo Red Tail Ring goes back to traditional old-time music--because that’s what they love.

Michiganders Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo’s interpretation of Appalachian and folk songs come from their “strong connection to the outdoors and the natural world.”

Laurel is from the Upper Peninsula and Michael from the Kalamazoo area. The music they play is what you might call “backwoods music.”

“We’re modern people reaching back to older songs and traditions; we’re interpreters and explorers of older culture. Learning from the past is an essential aspect in art, and for us it’s been formative. It’s important to show how older words and melodies can be honored, not compromised, in reinterpretation, and that the world has been doing this since the beginning of time.”

This year they released two albums - the first - Middlewest Chant, is a collection of original songs.

The second album - Mountain Shout - is a compilation of traditional songs.

Red Tail Ring performed in Studio East, here at Michigan Radio, and we were all enthralled by the vibration of the fiddle and banjo--and the eerie harmonies that Laurel and Michael create together.

Here's their performance:

The Interlochen Center for the Arts is creating a program that will teach young musicians the "discipline of popular music songwriting."

Interlochen has traditionally been a mecca for classical music, but in recent years the institution (which hosts both a summer camp and a year-long school) has embraced more contemporary art forms.

For example, students can major in "motion picture arts" and study the latest filmmaking techniques.

Interlochen has just posted a job opening for a lead instructor for its new singer/songwriter program.

From Interlochen's website:

This program will lead students to creative approaches to popular musical composition by developing skills in melody, harmony, arranging, and lyric writing, while seeking to nurture a distinct individual writing and performance style.

The northern Michigan institution has taught many young musicians who've gone on to become successful singer/songwriters, including

  • Norah Jones,
  • Rufus Wainwright,
  • Sufjan Stevens,
  • and, most famously, Jewel Kilcher.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When something big happens in your life, sometimes you just have to get it out.

Talk to a friend. Share it with your family, or just shout it out loud.

You know, express yourself a little.

Expression through song writing and production are skills that the organizers of Studio on the Go hope to teach kids in Michigan.

Kyle Norris reports the program "travels to schools and community centers in Flint, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo":

Kids use computers and keyboards to make music and beats and then they write lyrics about their lives, and finally record the songs. Kids are given a topic to write about, like "education," “making it” and "family"... The results are songs about their personal struggles along with heartfelt tributes. Some kids sing about what it’s like to have someone they love die or to have a family member in jail. Instructors say the kids learn a combination of technical skills along with life skills.

Michigan Radio's Multimedia Producer Mercedes Mejia and Reporter Kyle Norris put this video together about the program:





If Studio on the Go came to your town, what would your "making it" or "family" song be about?

Clarence Clemons, saxophone player for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, has died of complications of a stroke. He was 69.

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio Newsroom

Madonna, Iggy Pop and The White Stripes got their start in Michigan, but they left the state to make it big in the music industry. Today, some musicians want to stop that migration and keep talent close to home. 

Kevin Prichard is with Bigger Brush Media in Lansing. He thinks music collectives can help keep people in Michigan.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

""It must be something in the water." - Paul Tinkerhess.

Last Sunday, I walked around a neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side and witnessed a new music phenomenon - the Water Hill Music Festival - where neighbors played music from their front porches, backyards, and garages.

The idea for the festival came from Paul Tinkerhess, a local business owner and musician.

Tinkerhess described the concept in Groundcover News:

"The concept is simple," Tinkerhess said. "On the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st, everyone in the neighborhood who either is a musician or wants to pretend to be a musician is encouraged to step out onto their front porch and play music. That's it. Or half of it. The other half is that we are inviting all the other neighbors, and the rest of the world, to wander through the neighborhood that afternoon and enjoy something like a music festival with a lot of stages."

The neighborhood in Ann Arbor's west side, dubbed "Water Hill" by Tinkerhess, if filled with musical talent.

I caught a small fraction of the festival, and made this video:

One festival attendee, Patti Smith, said the event was "Ann Arbor covered in awesome sauce."

(flickr Barry Cornelius)

Its all about ringtones.     

The Associated Press reports the U.S Supreme Court won't get involved in a fight between Eminem's former production company and Universal Music Group over downloads of the rapper's songs and ringtones.

The high court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from Universal Music Group. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said F.B.T. Productions LLC's contract entitled Eminem and his producers to a 50-50 split with Universal for recordings licensed to digital distributors such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes.

The record label had paid F.B.T. and Eminem 12 percent of sales, the agreed-upon rate for physical albums. F.B.T. discovered Eminem in 1995 before he signed in 1998 with Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. Universal's Interscope Records distributes Aftermath recordings. The case is Aftermath Records v. F.B.T. Productions, LLC, 10-768.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Business owners who want to serve as a venue for ArtPrize this fall can now begin registering. The winner of the art competition is decided by the voting public who visit the event in downtown Grand Rapids. The top prize is $250,000.  

ArtPrize founder Rick DeVos says this year they’re opening the historic St. Cecilia Music Center to host more than two dozen performance pieces. They’re hoping to attract more musicians and dancers to enter the contest.

“ArtPrize has already been open to all these things. The difference is with St. Cecilia coming on we’re being a little more intentional about trying to create a very specific space for it and draw more attention to it.”

St. Cecilia Music Hall opened its doors in 1894. The classically styled gold trimmed music hall will welcome all sorts of performances during ArtPrize this year. The music hall will have listening stations to hear the contestants – in addition to the live performances.

“There have been dances and performance art pieces that have been a part of ArtPrize the first two years. And we see that continuing. We just wanted to continue to press the envelope.”

Artists can begin registering in four weeks. ArtPrize runs from late September through early October.