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The 47th Ann Arbor Folk Festival @ Hill Auditorium 01/26/2024 (Review by Vicki H. & Anja S.)

Hill Auditorium was set on fire Friday night, January 26, by the 2024 47th Ann Arbor Folk Festival’s headliner band, Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS). They rocked the house and brought the audience to their feet with their high energy country roots stringband music. Discovered by Doc Watson in 1998 where they were busking on a street corner in Boone, North Carolina, they proved Friday night just how far they’ve gone since Doc introduced them to the music scene in Nashville. OCMS’s Americana sound encompasses hillbilly, bluegrass, old-timey, folk, country, and loud country rock. On top of their instrumental and singing expertise, they have an exuberant sense of humor and stage presence—they clearly love being on stage, performing skits that evoke the old hillbilly TV show “Hee Haw.” I couldn’t help but notice all the instruments on stage including: two fiddles, an upright bass, several acoustic guitars, several electric guitars, electric bass, at least three different banjos, a mandolin, a baritone ukelele, an accordian, drums, piano and what sounded like a hammond B organ hidden inside a piano, and even a key flute blow organ toy piano called a melodica! All the members are multi-instrumentalists, sharing all those instruments as well as everyone singing solos, duets, and the whole group together. Dynamic and tireless, they performed songs from nearly all eight of their records, released from 2004 through a few months ago, including “Take ‘Em Away,” their wildly popular “Wagon Wheel,” their raucous version of “Cocaine,” my favorite “Tell It To Me,” and covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Rollin’ the River,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” The Band’s “The Weight,” Neil Young’s “Ohio,” and a sweet tribute to Pete Seeger with their own rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” During their bittersweet tribute to the legendary people and musicians who died in 2023, they covered David Crosby’s “Teach Your Children Well, “Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain,” Bobby Osborne’s “Rocky Top,” and even Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.” Along with their big stage presence, a nearly floor to ceiling back wall of flashing white lights created a throbbing beat to go hand-hand-in-hand with their huge message: WE ARE OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW, cowboy shirts and big Stetsons and all! The evening ended with the band inviting all the musicians from the evening on stage for a heartfelt cover of the Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” Now that I’ve told you about the end of the show, let’s go to the beginning of Friday night at the festival, with a nearly packed house. Actor, musician, comedian, film director, singer/songwriter, and founder of Chelsea’s Purple Rose Theater, Jeff Daniels (who lives with his family in their hometown of Chelsea,) emceed to perfection. Casually dressed like an Ann Arborite wearing a faded blue t-shirt and jeans and an old brown Fedora topping his head, Daniels was absolutely brilliant both nights. He kept the audience entertained between acts, while stagehands moved sets around at the end of each act. Daniels is great

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Letter to the DJ

Hi WCBN, I am a UofM Alumnus from the 1980’s, and I had a number of WCBN DJ friends back in those days. (I’m not sure if I should name names… there was often some drama going on down there! One of them broadcast me snoring in a chair during his midnight shift when I dropped by.) Anyway, I moved to Zurich Switzerland in 1991 and gradually lost track of my Ann Arbor colleagues. Fast forward the late 2010’s, when I re-discovered WCBN streaming on the Internet – it’s been my constant companion ever since, and I’m still amused and enthused by the youthful student broadcasts and bantering during the week. But Saturdays are my faves! With a 6 hour time difference, my afternoons start with Roberto’s Burnt Offering show, then followed by the great Just Folkin’ Around at 3pm – just as finish my weekly shopping, or a long ½ marathon training run on iPhone. I can’t imagine a weekend without this stuff. And Tex & LongHandle Bob taught me to appreciate county music with the Down Home Show. The Sunday shows of RadioZilla / Turkish Delight / Sounds of the Subcontinent are quite amazing as well. Wires and Cords is great when I’m trying to sleep, but I’m sad that Ethan Rosenberg’s Mediterranean show has gone offline. I hope he’s OK. During the week, as I’m in and out of the office, I routinely tune into Shimmy Shimmy KoKo Bop from the weekly archive – as it airs in the wee hours of the morning here, but your robot regularly provides me a reprieve and sometimes I replay it multiple times. I really hope you can keep her online, and the more the merrier. It’s incredible how much effort these DJ’s make to curate great playlists – stuff you just don’t hear on the commercial channels, or most other channels for that matter. By the way: I was especially impressed when one of your DJ’s played the MSU Michigan State football anthem a while ago in solidarity with the victims of a tragic shooting incident. In all my years of Michigandering, I’ve never actually heard that tune – I was most impressed. John Buehrer, Zurich

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Billie Marten photographed by Katie Silvester

In Conversation with Billie Marten (Interview by Dexter K.)

UK Singer-Songwriter Billie Marten joins WCBN’s Dexter Kaufmann ahead of her tour stop in Detroit on November 12th at St Andrew’s Hall. Billie gained popularity in the UK folk scene as a teenager and has spent the last decade evolving her sound. The culmination of this evolution is her latest album “Drop Cherries”, which features tender lyrics over slick production by Marten and the Grammy-nominated Dom Monks (Big Thief, Ray LaMontagne, Nick Cave). Listen to “Drop Cherries” and see her live with Canadian band Half Moon Run.    Dexter Kaufmann: The act of making a setlist is difficult because you want to exhibit your original work, especially when you’re promoting a new album. But at the same time, there’s something so fun about playing or hearing a cover at a live show. Do you have any covers in your back pocket for this tour?  Billie Marten: Well funny you should say that because last night I ended the set. I’ve been doing completely different set lists every night because it’s fun for me, and last night we were in Victoria, which is where Nelly Furtado is from, so we played “I’m Like A Bird” at the end.  DK: You’ve mentioned Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell as some of your influences. Anyone who’s tried to learn their songs will notice the bizarre alternate guitar tunings. Do you also enjoy playing with alternate tunings? BM: I do. I do it quite often because I find that it helps me write new, different-sounding songs. A lot of the Drop Cherries album is in a low C sharp tuning which I think is a John Martyn tuning. But sometimes you just turn the tuning pegs and then it comes out into a completely different tuning shape that hasn’t been done before and then it kind of opens the gateway to another song.  DK: I’m glad you brought up John Martyn because I know that you took your stage name from him. Do you think that your name Billie Marten is a stage name that’s separate from your personal life, or do you feel like at this point, you and Billie Marten are one and the same?  BM: Funny question. I think it’s important to have a little bit of separation between performance you and artist you and personal home life you. But everybody knows me as Billie anyway, so I find that keeping them close in terms of character is also quite beneficial. I suppose you are acting in a way when you’re performing because I’m certainly not a natural performer but there are elements of that performance where you know that the things people want to see and hear are parts of you that are personal and hidden. So you have to reveal, kind of systematically, parts of yourself. It’s very calculated.  DK: Do you enjoy that aspect of performing? Do you enjoy the act of making a character and sort of creating a movie and an aesthetic for an album, or do you

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Saint Andrew's Hall after the show

Kota The Friend @ Saint Andrew’s Hall 11/19/2023 (Concert review by Marco M.)

I arrived early to the venue on Sunday night, excited not only to see Kota the Friend live but also to experience my first show at Saint Andrew’s Hall. “Doors 7PM” held true, and my naïveté with the venue meant that I was slightly underdressed for the wait outside on Beaubien Blvd. It proved to be worth the wait, as I quickly warmed up inside as many dedicated fans trickled towards the historic stage onto the main floor. The size and simplicity of Saint Andrew’s lends itself to a perfect balance of known acts in a relatively intimate setting; I have had similar experiences with comparably sized clubs such as Minglewood Hall (Memphis, TN) and Middle East (Cambridge, MA). A rap playlist providing passive entertainment eventually led to an active entertainment with DJ AK mixing for about twenty minutes before Price took the stage. Price put on a great show and overachieved as the opener. He bounded around the stage full of energy, engaging with the crowd. With one very engaging crowd member – a belligerently drunk yet positive Lions fan – Price showed great patience, acknowledging his energy without letting him become too big of a distraction. The rest of the crowd enjoyed the show less demonstrably, but still happily echoed his choruses when called upon. The new single “MANSA MUSA” was a highlight, as were “FLAWS” and “Selfish,” but I enjoyed every song in the set. In the end, Price’s patience paid off: the drunk Lions fan worked his way towards the stage and threw his Barry Sanders throwback jersey on stage as a gift! A fittingly eventful finale to an energetic and entertaining performance. Kota took the stage and was well received by the zealous fans in the audience. Both he and Price noted throughout the show how much energy and love was in the crowd, and it certainly fueled great performances. Kota told a story that his last time performing in Detroit was 2018. For that show, he booked a Detroit rapper as his opener, and when their set was over, only two people in the crowd stayed for Kota’s show! He was motivated and very grateful to be back and receive all of the support. With nearly five more years of music, Kota effortlessly went all across his catalog to treat the audience to a blend of rap, R&B, and pop, from “Summerhouse” to “Fireplace” to “For Troubled Boys,” which he told the crowd he wrote for his kids after Nipsey Hustle’s murder. The last section of the show ratcheted up the energy, as he had the crowd call out places for us to “travel” to based on his song titles. It is a signature of Kota’s to have a place-based song title his albums, so the audience had many places to guess. We didn’t hit every eligible city, but Kota’s music took us to “Hollywood,” “Sedona,” “Long Beach,” and “Colorado” among others. To close the show out, Kota and AK selected fans from the

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Ayreon Beneath the Waves @ Poppodium013 09/17/2023 (Concert Review by Jeremy H.)

Ayreon is a hard project to describe succinctly, but then, Ayreon isn’t succinct. It is a musical project where only the complexity of the sound outweighs the complexity to bring the project to the stage. Led by Dutch singer, songwriter, musician and record producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Ayreon is a mix of progressive rock, metal and elements of folk and classical music. Arjen will happily tell you on stage that he hates to travel, so rather than tour, he has fans come to him to experience his projects at a venue called the Poppodium 013 in Tilburg, Netherlands. This year’s Ayreon show was the third such series of live shows in Tilburg; the other two being in 2017 and 2019. This year’s iteration was titled Beneath the Waves and it was performed in 6 shows over four days, from Sept 15-17, 2023. This year there were 12,000 fans from over 60 countries collectively attending. This show featured a performance of one of the most ambitious albums that Arjen has made, the album 01011001, with 12 of the original 17 vocalists in attendance, 4 special guests filling in for the 5 who couldn’t attend, 3 backing singers, and a rock band consisting of a keyboardist (Arjen’s musical partner and producer of the show Joost van den Broek, with no less than 5 keyboards including a vintage Hammond), drums, bassist, two guitars, a flutist, violinist, and cellist. There were pyrotechnics, lasers, surround sound speakers echoing certain sounds around the venue and five massive floor to ceiling video screens. As Arjen would tell you, ‘more is more’. It’s a proper 70’s prog show.  This was our third Ayreon trip, having seen single shows in each of the prior iterations. Like those years, this show did not disappoint. We attended both the Friday night and Saturday night shows this year.. The show started with a bang with the first tracks to 01011001, the 11 minute long ‘Age of Shadows’ and the more sedate ‘Comatose’. ‘Age of Shadows’ has most of the talent on stage, with Tom Englund (Evergrey) opening the album, followed by most of the rest of performers; Michael Mills (Toehider), Daniel GIldenlow (Pain of Salvation), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Anneke van Giersbergen (ex- TheGathering), Brittany Slayes (Unleash the Archers), Damien Wilson (Headspace, ex-Threshold), and John Jaycee Cuijpers (Supersonic Revolution) all made their appearance as various aspects of the Forever, along with the heavy instrumentation that Ayreon is known for, long rock instrumental pieces and solos interspersed with flute, violin and cello. ‘Comatose’ is more sedate as a duet between Damien Wilson and Anneke van Giersbergen. The show carried on from there with a succession of epic tunes, complete with huge solos and choruses like ‘Newborn Race’ and ‘The Fifth Extinction’, split with more approachable tracks, like ‘Connect the Dots’, with Arjen himself singing in the place of Ty Tabor (Kings X), ‘Web of Lies’, a duet with Simone Simons (Epica) and Phideaux Xavier (best known as a director on

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Dogs in a Pile @ The Magic Bag 9/28/2023 (Concert Review by Elisabeth B.)

At the historic theater The Magic Bag, Desmond Jones and Dogs in a Pile provided an evening full of grooving fun. Michigan Natives Desmond Jones took the stage and I could tell off the bat these guys loved providing a true show. The performance was full of funky swaying instrumentals, with a few comical lyrics mixed in here and there. The band didn’t take themselves too seriously, and the element of humor to their performance suited the crowd well. Their second to last song, “Poor Sylvester” was one of my favorites. I was really impressed with this band’s ability to create tension within the music and then release it. The saxophone and bass created a steady flow. The drums and guitar countered that by ramping up the tempo and releasing the built up tension that was built. This made it so the instrumentals were never background music, even though there were no lyrics people were attentively bopping along and then proceeding to jam out. Then Bryan Murray of Dogs in a Pile came out on stage to join Desmond Jones for my favorite song of their set, “Smoke the Ashes.”  The bluegrass influence really shone through on this track in particular. Throughout the show, I was amazed by how versatile George Falk was on his saxophonist.  After a wonderful start from Desmond Jones, Dogs in a Pile and their almost cult-like fanbase–referred to as the “Dog Pound”–proceeded to fill the venue with energy. WCBN had a chance to interview Dogs in a Pile before the show and the guys were able to provide some amazing insight into their writing process, their origins, and their influences. The band members Jimmy Law, Jeremy Kaplan, Brian Murray, Joey Babick, and Sam Lucid were all interesting and charismatic guys, and the interview made me excited going into the show. The laser displays and space-like orb light structures hanging from the ceiling helped transport me to a new and exciting world as their performance started.  I started out the main show sitting in quite comfortable seats at the Magic Bag where I could still see the band, and then when we were more energized by the music we moved into the crowd by the stage to dance. The range of seating options that the Magic Bag offers is a positive addition to the concert experience. Dogs in a Pile’s show was for the most part instrumental, with a lot of Grateful Dead and Phish influence. They performed an excellent cover of “Apeman” by The Kinks that Jeremy Kaplan led, which was great. My favorite originals were definitely “Samba for Sam” and “Bugle on the Shelf.” I loved the slight bluegrass influence that could be heard in certain songs. By the end of the night I was dancing and having a wonderful time. The Dogs are continuing their North American tour and for any fans of jazz, jam band style or psychedelic rock, or just looking for a good time–I highly recommend checking them out!

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50 Cent & Busta Rhymes @ Pine Knob Theater 9/17/2023 (Concert Review by Marco M.)

The last time Busta Rhymes was at Pine Knob, I missed him. The night was Sep 3, 2022, and Nas & Wu-Tang Clan came to town for their “NY State of Mind Tour.” I left the show towards the end, having already heard all of my favorite hits from each act (notably “Hate Me Now,” “Made You Look,” “One Mic,” and “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta F’ Wit,” respectively), and figured there was nothing left to see. How wrong I was – Busta came out as a surprise guest… based on what I read the next day. Alas, what a difference a year makes! On Sep 19, 2023, Busta Rhymes was billed as the opening act for 50 Cent on the “Final Lap Tour,” and I made amends for my mistake. It was a damp night from an early evening rain, but thankfully the crowd avoided any precipitation during the show (as a lawn seat veteran, this was especially important). The evening started off with a DJ playing hip hop old and new to get the crowd going. Jeremih came on next, which was a surprise to me at least, and a delightful surprise at that. He played exactly all of his songs I know – “oui,” “Down on Me,” and “Birthday Sex” – and then was done. A perfect opener! Busta Rhymes’s set was next, and he was introduced by a video recording of Chris Rock hyping up Busta Rhymes; upon research, this video was originally released to announce the “Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God” album (Chris is also featured on the intro track of that excellent 2020 album). A set piece turned, and Busta appeared on a throne to join his trusty sidekick Spliff Star. A great way to start the show! Unfortunately, Busta’s raspy voice put a mild damper to that introduction, but thankfully the rasp was less evident when he did not yell (about 70% of the time). Another miss early in the show was when Busta’s microphone went out during “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See,” which is a bummer because it is one of his classic songs. Later in the show, Busta played two new singles (“Luxury Life” and “BEACH BALL”) off a new album coming out this year and announced its dream team of producers – Pharrell, Timbaland, and Swizz Beats! He and Spliff, the consummate showmen, continually asked the crowd to get loud throughout the show, which at times was fun and aligned with their playful nature, but at other times got tiring. Overall, it was great to see Busta live and would certainly recommend; highlights of the set were “Touch It,” “Break Ya Neck,” “Pass The Courvoisier” and his verses on “Scenario” and “Look At Me Now” (DISCLAIMER – the author does not support Chris Brown in any form or fashion, but that is still a blistering guest verse). The people came to Clarkston en masse to see 50 Cent as the main event, and

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In Conversation with Jim McCullough of CIVIC (Interview by Dexter K.)

Australian punk rockers CIVIC launch their first-ever US tour later this month, with a stop in Detroit at The Sanctuary on October 11. Frontman Jim McCullough joined WCBN’s Dexter Kaufmann to discuss CIVIC’s new record and give a crash course on the history of Punk Music in Australia. Catch them live, and listen to Dexter’s radio show Baby Blue, Tuesdays 2/3 pm on WCBN. Dexter Kaufmann: Your album and your upcoming tour are both called Taken by Force. Which song on the album are you most looking forward to playing live? Jim McCullough (CIVIC): Oh, I mean, End of the Line. The first track’s always a fun one to play live, just because Lewis’s guitar comes in with that riff. DK: The new album has surfing imagery on the album art, the last song has some beach wave sounds, and the song Trick of the Light, which is my favorite on the album, has a surf rock psychedelic sound that tonally sounds very different to the rest of your discography. How did you choose to go with that aesthetic and sound? JM: I think it’s one of those things where we wanted it to be a record that you can put on and then listen through and then flip it and listen to it again, and I think to get that you kind of need to have a moment or two on the record where it kind of slows down or might change pace a little bit. Also, having a slow song is important. You can’t just do fast songs the whole time, you know.  DK: Yeah, you got to give the mosh pit a chance to rest a little.  JM: Exactly, man, yeah.  DK: This is your first-ever US tour. Had you been to the United States before, or is this your first time?  JM: This is my first time. Well, we played South by Southwest in March, which was fun. We played like 12 shows in three days, which was a bit psycho. But yeah, this is I mean it’s our first tour here and it’s mine and Eli’s first time coming over here as well.  DK: Was CIVIC the first choice for your band name, or did you have a few other ideas floating around before you landed on that one?  JM: We had heaps man, it was a conversation in our group chat, throwing band names around for probably a good two or three weeks and then finally we just stuck with CIVIC. There were some fucking bad ones. I think one of them was Diamond Dust. DK: When your band was just starting, did you already have a full set of originals to play, or were you relying on covers to fill out the setlist?  JM: Actually no. We’d all been in bands before, so we kind of wanted to stay in the jam room and get a bunch of songs together before we even hit the stage. That was always the plan, to have

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Headliners, Quarters of Change brought the energy to Ann Arbor

Luna Pier, Never Ending Fall, and Quarters of Change @ The Blind Pig 9/21/2023 (Concert Review by Wyatt M.)

If I had to limit myself to a single word to describe this lineup, it would be best delineated as this: electric. The concert began with Luna Pier, an indie rock band based right here in Ann Arbor, Michigan and fronted by WCBN’s very own, Dexter Kaufmann. Luna Pier demonstrated tremendous versatility and eclecticism, incorporating elements of surf rock, new wave, and garage rock into their act. They even delved into country music with their original song, “Jewish Cowboy” and a cover of Dolly Parton’s 1973 classic, “Jolene.” Their cover was a well executed amalgamation of the original and the rock-oriented version done by The White Stripes during their live shows throughout the 2000s. Luna Pier set the tone of the night by constructing a unique set that allowed them to showcase their musical talents and their ability to engage with the audience. Next to take the stage was Never Ending Fall, a Los Angeles based band that delivered a funky, California sound that had the crowd grooving for the entirety of their performance. One of many highlights possessed by NEF was their three guitar attack, which proved to be an absolute tour de force. Each guitarist exhibited immense technical skill and inherent feel when it came to their instrument. As a guitarist myself, I was beyond impressed by their playing abilities. Original songs such as “Bad Taste,” “Like She Does,” and “Wasn’t So Bad” displayed the band’s ability to write and perform catchy, hooky songs that can instantly resonate with an audience. The moment from NEF’s set that captivated me the most, however, was their rendition of Childish Gambino’s 2016 hit song, “Redbone.” During the middle section of the song, the band broke into a jam of epic proportions, where frontman Jack Miller played a masterful, melodic guitar solo that exuded intense emotion. Never Ending Fall is certainly a band that is now on my radar and I am extremely excited to hear more from them in the future. As the lights dimmed, chants of “QOC!” erupted throughout The Blind Pig. I was first introduced to Quarters of Change when I heard their song “T Love” on TikTok in 2022, a video that has now surpassed 1.2 million views on the platform. This prompted me to listen to the rest of their discography, and I have been a fan ever since. When I saw that QOC were coming to Ann Arbor on their tour, I did not want to miss the opportunity to see them live. And let me tell you, they did not disappoint. The band commanded the stage with a sense of swagger, much like fellow New York City alternative rockers, The Strokes and The Bravery. This is very much in part to frontman Ben Roter’s on-stage charisma and frequent interactions with fans throughout the show. Guitarists, Jasper Harris and Ben Acker and drummer, Attila Anrather are all excellent musicians in their own right. The band’s sophomore album “Portraits” is set to be released on January 26th,

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Alex G + Alvvays @ Royal Oak Music Theatre 8/30/2023 (Concert Review by Ciarán C.)

After a summer devoid of live music experiences (and the cash necessary to enjoy them), I yearned to catch a concert upon returning to Michigan. Hearing wind of Alex G and Alvvays’ co-headlining tour stopping in Royal Oak, I spent the time between moving in and the FDOC scouring for cheap tickets on shady resale websites; more eagerly with the knowledge that Tanukichan – a household name on Teen Dreamz episodes – was opening. I was immediately comforted by the distorted numbness of Tanukichan’s (unexpectedly short) set, as reverb-laden guitars and vibrating bass waves descended into the pit of the Royal Oak Music Theater. Van Loon’s ennui-tinged vocals complemented and held intimate dialogue with these instrumentals. The audience, however, did not seem entirely receptive to this dialogue: throughout the rather short set, they remained static and possessed a rather quizzical air – I couldn’t help but overhear a few people expressing confusion during songs. Thus, it made sense that the set would end after only five songs – much to my late-arrival dismay. Thirty minutes later, under the cover of large video screens and an Enya song, Alvvays descended onto the stage. Expectedly, the majority of songs performed were from 2022’s Blue Rev, their triumphant return from hiatus. The range of this album amazed me, especially hearing it live: I just as easily went from bouncing along to jangly and energy-infused songs like Pharmacist and Very Online Guy to swaying gently to Tile by Tile. An infectious energy of mutual appreciation between the band members and the dancing crowds became obviously visible, as one could clearly see how ecstatic both parties were to be experiencing new Alvvays. The band commanded a diverse crowd, with 15-year-olds, obvious Tumblr veterans, and the occasional father dotted (and dancing) across the pit. I felt especially enthralled with their cheeky decision to “take it back to 2014” by playing songs off of their debut album, communing with a 13-year-old version of myself listening to “Marry Me, Archie” on a pair of chewed-up earbuds. As Alvvays closed out with Lottery Noises and went backstage, I felt as if they had taken my energy along with them. Unsurprisingly, I was fairly tired for the first half of Alex G’s set, drifting in and out through God Save The Animals. It was halfway through his set with Brick (and the subsequent mosh that formed), that I was quite literally thrown back into the show and realized the energy that he brought to the stage. Under the dimly-lit stage artwork of God Save The Animals, the second half of his set traversed a variety of albums, featuring earlier songs off Trick like Mary (which commanded a horde of teenagers singing along), and more contemporary ones like Blessing. I appreciated how Alex G remained engaged on a variety of instruments, frequently switching between playing the guitar and piano. Moreover, he remained deeply engaged with the crowd, frequently telling jokes and engaging in horseplay with his on-stage band members, creating a

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Kid Koala On His New Album and How To Approach Björk at a Party (Interview by Dexter K.)

The Montreal-based Producer-DJ Sits down with WCBN’s Dexter Kaufmann to discuss the influences behind his latest album Creatures of the Late Afternoon, tour stories, and his collaborations with filmmaker Edgar Wright.  What was the creative process like for Creatures of the Late Afternoon? What do you want this record to represent in the broader context of your discography? It is definitely a turntable record. First and foremost, I went in saying I wanted to see where I could take this scratching production style and see if I could push it into some other areas that I hadn’t tried before. It’s really a combination of everything that I’ve learned to date in the last few decades on tour and releasing records and scoring films and video games and stuff like that. I think I brought a bit of some of that concept, narrative, and sound design even and, yeah, songwriting and lyric writing and things like that and putting that all in the mix somehow. You made the vinyl for your most recent album Creatures of the Late Afternoon into a board game, what inspired that idea? I mean I’ve always had a lot of fun with packaging records. My first album has a comic book and my second album has a chess set. 12-Bit Blues had a little cardboard gramophone kit with a flexi disk that you could actually build and it worked. During the pandemic, I was playing a lot of games with my family, and I thought it would be fun to package the new album with a board game and use the characters from the Creatures of the Late Afternoon story. The game has character cards that you collect and try to assemble your own creature bands during the gameplay. Your song When U Say Love is one of my favorites from the new album. The vocals resemble a Motown song which gives it that timeless feel. What inspired that record? So I was helping my parents clean up their storage container, and we were going through the boxes and I found some suitcases that were just full of letters and reel-to-reel tapes. My mom and dad told me they were the letters that they wrote to each other when they were apart. They met right after my dad graduated high school and he emigrated to Canada to start a summer job and attend university. He was a student and didn’t have much money, and long-distance phone calls were expensive. So he wasn’t able to visit my mom, but they were very much in love at the time, and still are.  So for the next seven years, they just wrote letters to each other, two letters a week in both directions. They wouldn’t even wait for a response. He would record songs from the radio, from the Ronettes, Shangrilas, or whatever love song was popular on the radio at the time, and then send them on reel-to-reel tapes. Then he would transcribe the lyrics for my mom

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Arctic Monkeys + Fontaines D.C. @ Pine Knob Theater 8/29/2023 (Concert Review by Saima S.)

Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C.–with former Palma Violets member Chilli Jesson as their bassist–opened to the moody atmosphere created by the downpour that started minutes before their set at the Pine Knob Theater. Frontman Grian Chatten broke the calm, indifferent facade he had during the first song when he took his tracksuit jacket off and began skipping and swaying in circles to “Televised Mind” while banging his tambourine. He seemed to be having a lot of fun as he stood on the edge of the speakers and flailed his mic stand in the air. However, the crowd reciprocated with a few forced head nods and looks of confusion. The 14-year-old girls and millennial AM fans of the pit seemed to be a little scared of Fontaines D.C. The band remained unruffled and almost seemed prepared for this reaction. With a well-crafted setlist of their relatively tamer songs, they delivered a smooth yet lively performance of “Roman Holiday,” which seemed to engage the audience the most out of their show. It’s truly a bummer that the unruly, and slightly hazardous audience you would expect to see with a band like Fontaines D.C. was nowhere to be found. Fontaines D.C.’s consistently vibrant set is definitely a highlight of this tour, even if Clarkston, Michigan wasn’t ready for it.  Arctic Monkeys began the show by setting off their large ominous glowing ring to the intro of “Sculptures of Anything Goes.” Hidden behind the thick fog and a pair of sunglasses, frontman Alex Turner slowly crept onto the dimly lit stage. The lights finally came on for “Brianstorm,” revealing Turner in a silly mood. Embodying the dancing man emoji, Turner sported a sassily unbuttoned button-up shirt as he energetically danced into the next song, “Snap out of it.” He stared deep into my camera’s soul and even gave me a double thumbs up.  I heard echoes of “Crying Lightning” and “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” on my golf cart ride through the muddy parking lot to drop off my camera gear and the experience was surreal. I thankfully got back to the pavilion just in time for “Cornerstone,” and I truly appreciated the coverage of their 2009 album, Humbug. There were plenty of songs from their album AM–that is, when Turner wasn’t asking the crowd how they were doing and referring to us as “pine knobs.” It felt as if every single person in the Pine Knob Theater transformed into a teenage girl when they played Intro to “Arabella,” with the audience shrieking, jumping, and screaming to the infamous guitar riff.  The giant Arctic Monkeys branded mirror ball that had been looming over the band their entire set was finally lowered at the end of “There Better Be a Mirrorball,” and it was genuinely beautiful. Usually, Turner’s disregard for the pace of his songs while performing live is confusing yet slightly entertaining, but his changes to “505” sounded mature and reflected the new direction the band is taking as seen through their

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Hip Hop Live 50

Hip Hop 50 Live @ Yankees Stadium (Concert Review by Marco M.)

I forgot why I originally signed up for email updates Mass Appeal, but on June 9, 2023, that decision paid off.  The email informed me of an all-star line-up for a massive concert at Yankee Stadium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip hop, specifically 50 years to the day and in the same borough as DJ Herc’s back-to-school block party on August 11, often cited as the genesis of the genre.  Seats were quickly disappearing off of the online ticket site, so I impulsively bought four and would figure out the details later.  Two months and two days later, I was in New York on the subway going to the Bronx with my sister, sister-in-law, and one of their friends for the show! The concert started at 6PM, an early start time for a Friday, and we were hoping the actual music would start later on.  However, due to the giant setlist, the music was well underway by the time we arrived at Yankee Stadium around 7PM.  There was a sea of people waiting to get in, and after some misinformation on which line to be in, we got to our seats 45 minutes later.  Sadly, we missed the legends and DJ sets at the start of the bill:  DJ Kool Herc, Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shante, Melle Mel, The Sugarhill Gang, and many more.  This concert was very intentional to give props to the founders and to emphasize the Bronx as the birthplace, which we genuinely appreciated.  On the other hand, there was certainly a lack of emphasis on the women in hip hop and hip hop artists outside of New York, with no international acts outside of Slick Rick.  While notable, that did not put a damper on the dozens of performers all gathered for a one-night only birthday extravaganza! By the time we got to our seats, we caught “The Light” at the end of Common’s set, which was a good way to start the evening.  The next part of the show was the “Queens of Hip Hop” set, which despite what you may have read sadly did not include Eve.  Trina kicked off the set, and was just fine as a live performer.  Remy Ma was next and put on a good show, with my highlight being her verse on “Ante Up.”  Lil’ Kim closed that set and was its star.  She entered using a trap door to pop up on stage (the only artist we saw use that), and the energy kept going from there!  There was a huge fanbase for her in the crowd, and the women seated behind us knew all of the words every time she put her mic towards the crowd.  She played seven songs, and “It’s All About the Benjamins,” “Get Money,” and “Money, Power & Respect” were strong highlights. The next set was a solid set of non-headlining MC’s.  Havoc of Mobb Deep was the first of that group, and “Shook Ones, Part II” certainly stood out.  T.I. was

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Eluveitie/Omnium Gatherum/Seven Spires @ Majestic Theater (Concert Review by Jeremy H.)

It’s not often you get to see a show that puts on display the breadth of styles in a genre in metal, but here we are. Each band on this bill put on a display of the different influences you can match up with death metal (specifically on this bill) to make a wildly different sound than the band before it. This was the Eluveitie (pronounced eh-loo-VAY-tee), Omnium Gatherum, and Seven Spires set at the Majestic in Detroit a few weeks ago.  Opening the show were the theatrical death metal act Seven Spires, a four piece act coming at us all the way from Boston. They have a very unique take on metal, a theatrical sound with heavy Disney-soundtrack vibes combined with blast beats and harsh blackened death vocals, all coming from Adrienne Cowen, a woman whom you aren’t sure how she can sing both harshly and cleanly in alternating vocal lines and pull it off so well. For such intricate music, they pull it off beautifully. The only downside with their live sound, and especially given the bands they share the stage with, there’s no keyboardist, so all keyboard tracks are pre-recorded. Also unfortunately, their setlist is short, 30 minutes, and only 5 tracks. But, opening with the title track from their last album Gods of Debauchery and closing with Dare to Live off the same album, they bring a lot of energy to the stage, and win the crowd over as best they can with such a short set.  Up next is perhaps the oddball for this particular bill, Omnium Gatherum. The odd thing is perhaps they are the most straightforward death metal act on this stage tonight, six Finns bringing a melodic bent, mixing a hint of odd time signatures and heavy keyboards with brutal death metal vocals. Their set is relentlessly heavy from back to front, firing off frequent circle moshpits from the death metal faithful in the middle of the crowd. Like Seven Spires before them, their vocalist Jukka Pelkonen alternates clean and harsh vocals, and their keyboardist, a big burly Finn named Aapo dwarfs his single keyboard, but their twin guitar act carries the day, slashing through the dark venue and leaving a mass of satisfied metal listeners in their wake.  Their set is about 60 minutes long on the dot, and they play a nice mix of 9 tracks across all of their albums, including their newest, Slasher, and 3 off of Origins, which was released in 2021. There were several highlights on the night, but Reckoning and Slasher, two of their newer tracks back-to-back in the middle of the set, were equally outstanding.  Finally,closing out were the headliners, the Swiss folk metal band, Eluveitie. Eluveitie is somewhat unique in that they bring a substantial number of folk instruments with them: a violinist, hurdy-gurdy player, a heavy dose of wind instruments (recorders, piccolos, tin whistles, a harpist, and bagpipes). They bring in a heavy dose of Celtic folk melodies and intersperse them with

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We Remember: A Tribute to Michael G. Nastos

Last month, devoted music lover, sporting enthusiast, journalist, and WCBN deejay Michael G. Nastos passed away. Michael G’s influence and legacy cannot be appropriately summarized by one page; like a thread, he wove himself through the instrument keys of Eclipse Jazz, along vinyl grooves of Bonzo Dog Records, between the text of AllMusic, and of course, amongst the fibers of the carpeted Student Activities Building’s basement. Below are some words from Michael G’s many friends at CBN… all of whom miss him dearly and are thankful to have been graced by his presence. May he rest peacefully. Commemorations “It has been my pleasure to know MGN since I began at WCBN in 2016. He was the consummate professional both on the air and in his dealings promoting local concerts. As I got to know him, I came to understand that his Holy Trinity was music (jazz, ambient and World Music of course, but even hard rock!), baseball, and drag racing. We developed a close friendship based upon these foundations. As a deejay, MGN was unfailingly supportive of me and my work on the radio. We had many lengthy conversations about our personal lives, music, enjoyed meals together, traveled to Milan Dragway and Comerica Park, saw many of the local shows he promoted, and in some small way helped him out in these last few increasingly difficult years he endured. His sudden passing has left a gap in my life. I will miss him greatly.” -Robert Craig (Roberto) “Michael Nastos was the most professional radio broadcaster I ever met.  He was unfailingly kind and considerate, and never lost his cool on the air.  He was able to keep talking to bridge gaps during many of the live broadcasts we were a part of, and he never talked about equipment in the studio or problems with it: he just kept his listeners feeling welcome and needed, and talked about the music.  May we all aspire to be as selfless and generous on the air as Michael G.” –Tom Bray “He was a wonderful member of our community and someone who I felt so lucky to learn from. My first show on the station was on a Sunday, and it would always be a pleasure on the one Sunday he would come in to DJ Sounds of the Subcontinent. A massive loss for sure.” -Lara Tobias-Tarsh (Lara) “Michael was not only a great mentor, but one of my best friends.  At one time, he and I lived at the same apartment complex. We would do errands as well as several shows together (Milkman’s Matinée, Jazz Till Midnight and others). He was, of course, an incomparable expert on jazz, but loved many other types of music as well. One of his favorite bands, among many, was King Crimson.  In short, I am going to miss my dear friend enormously.” -Alex M “Michael was great! He appreciated everything from the most arcane forms of jazz and world music to the Milan Speedway. And he was

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