The Legendary Weed Contest of 1975 wasn’t just any contest. It was more than just a sweepstakes where the grand prize winner received one full-scale pound of Columbian smoking marijuana. It was a statement. A call to revolution. A brilliant marketing plan hatched during a smoke-filled discussion among the braintrust of the Ann Arbor Sun, looking for a way to increase the paper’s circulation.
One of the defining rock groups of the post-punk / new wave era, XTC was led by the gifted British singer-songwriters Andy Partridge and Colin Moulding. Active from the mid-70s through the early 2000s, the band is best known for the songs Dear God, Senses Working Overtime, Making Plans for Nigel, Life Begins at the Hop, and Mayor Simpleton. I still have fond memories of seeing the band perform with the Police at the Michigan Theater back on Jan. 22, 1980!
The book Complicated Game offers unique insights into the work of XTC founder Andy Partridge, one of Britain's most original and influential songwriters. It is also an unprecedentedly revealing and instructive guide to how songs and records are made.
Developed from a series of interviews conducted over many months, it explores in detail some thirty of Partridge's songs - including the controversial 'Dear God' - from throughout XTC's thirty-year career, as well as an extensive interview dedicated solely to the art and craft of songwriting. While the interviews cast new light on the writing of lyrics, the construction of melodies and arrangements, the process of recording, and the workings of the music industry, they are also filled with anecdotes about Partridge, his XTC bandmates, and their adventures around the world - all told with the songwriter's legendary humour.
Martin’s interview with Andy Partridge was originally recorded on March 8, 2016.
Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond has written a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America.
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of several families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don’t pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Martin Bandyke’s interview with Matthew Desmond was originally recorded on March 9, 2016.
For a town as old as Ann Arbor, it has surprisingly few ghost stories. But in the late 1950s, the congregation of the First Methodist Church in Ann Arbor was pretty convinced they had a spirit on their hands. Caretakers sometimes heard footsteps late at night, but never spotted anyone in the church. Until the early morning hours of August 30, 1959, when they made a chilling discovery.
It started on April 30, 1949, when Cupid Bar rebranded itself as The Flame Bar, turning a popular downtown student watering hole into a slightly more popular downtown student watering hole. Almost 50 years later, The Flame would close, shuttering an Ann Arbor institution. It wasn’t Ann Arbor’s first gay bar, and certainly not its last, but The Flame played a major role in the lives of many among Ann Arbor’s LGBT community - for good and ill.
Muskegon claims him because he was born there. Ypsi claims him because, for most of his childhood, he lived in a trailer park on the outskirts of town. But it’s Ann Arbor - along with cocaine, meth, acid, booze, pills, AND ambition - that deserve the credit for turning James Newell Osterberg into Iggy Pop.
On the night of March 20,1966, Frank Mannor’s six dogs started barking like they’d never done before. He went outside to shut them up and that’s when he saw what he saw. Something flying through the night sky. At first it looked like a shooting star, then it slowed. It changed color. And it landed in the woods a few hundred yards from his Dexter farmhouse.
Music by Diego & The Dissidents and The Dead Bodies.
Crime was never a big problem in Ann Arbor in 1935. There were occasional break-ins, robberies, stolen vehicles, assaults, a riot or protest or two, but Prohibition was over and the gangsters and bootleggers had moved on. An Ann Arbor police officer had never been killed in the line of duty, nor even died from a horse, car, or motorcycle accident while on duty. Not even a random heart attack. Until March 21, 1935.
Music by Ben Benjamin, and Aeroc made possible by Gholicense. Additional music by Chris Bathgate.
In 1824, John Allen of New York and Elisha Rumsey of Connecticut bought up 640 acres of prime Michigan land, paying $1.25 per acre. Those 640 acres, purchased in a tiny federal land office in Detroit, would become known as Ann Arbor. This is the story of the founding of Ann Arbor and how the town grew from its ragamuffin roots into what it has become today.
Peter Guralnick, author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography Last Train to Memphis, brings us the life of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who singlehandedly steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records.
The music that Sam Phillips shaped in his tiny Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, introduced a sound that had never been heard before. He brought forth a singular mix of black and white voices passionately proclaiming the vitality of the American vernacular tradition while at the same time declaring, once and for all, a new, integrated musical day. With extensive interviews and firsthand personal observations extending over a 25-year period with Phillips, along with wide-ranging interviews with nearly all the legendary Sun Records artists, Guralnick gives us an ardent, unrestrained portrait of an American original as compelling in his own right as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Edison.
The interview with Peter Guralnick was originally recorded on December 10, 2015.