Otto’s Band used to help Ann Arbor celebrate Labor Day, marching from downtown to Schwaben Park at Madison and Fifth for a picnic for labor union members. Starting around 1875 and continuing for about 50 years, this fascinating band drummed up enthusiasm by marching in parades, playing at dances, giving concerts, and sending soldiers off to war. Once the band became professional, participants became the first local members of the musicians’ union. Among other honors was being the first to play the U-M fight song, “The Victors.” Read all about the band in Ann Arbor Observer Then and Now.
Peter "Madcat" Ruth, a world-class harmonica player who's lived and played in Ann Arbor for over 30 years, celebrated his 60th birthday last April. We had the privilege of talking with Madcat about his varied career, which included lessons from Chicago blues harmonica legend Big Walter Horton; touring with Dave Brubeck; inventing the Madcat harmonica microphone; and winning a Grammy for his solo performance in Songs of Innocence and Experience. Madcat also reminisces about playing the many lost music venues in Ann Arbor and treats us with his signature harmonica rendition of "Take Five".
In celebration of the 50th Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, AADL brings you an interview with the only artist whose art has appeared in every fair, JT Abernathy. Fresh off a recent successful show at the Clay Gallery, JT sat down with us and Stan Baker, another Ann Arbor pottery great and former student of JT's, to talk about his career and how pottery is different from half a century ago. Stan and JT gives us a good look at how they think about their work and how their 30-year relationship has shaped them as artists.
Local musician Mark Lincoln Braun, aka Mr. B, is celebrating his 30th year playing street boogie-woogie piano as part of the original Ann Arbor Street Art Fair. We talked recently with Mr. B about his memories of art fairs past; his musical influences; and his most recent venture, Mr. B's Joybox Express, a 125-mile bike ride he began July 13 for charity, riding a special bike designed to haul his piano. You'll find Mr. B playing every day during the art fair, Wednesday, July 15 through Saturday, July 18, on North University near Ingalls Mall.
Last week we had the opportunity to talk with local historian, author and teacher, Grace Shackman, about how Ann Arbor has changed over the years. Throughout the discussion, Grace looks back at articles she's written; how she got her start writing about Ann Arbor history; the importance of preserving local landmarks; and her memories of early Ann Arbor art fairs. Over 130 of Grace's articles are featured in Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, a new website with full text searching and browsing access to articles on local history from the Ann Arbor Observer.
This Wednesday, June 24, we'll be launching Ann Arbor Observer: Then & Now, a new site with searching and browsing access to over 130 full-text articles on local history written for the Ann Arbor Observer over the past three decades by local historian and author, Grace Shackman. Stop by for a demonstration of the site, refreshments, and a lively discussion by Grace and Observer editor, John Hilton, at 7:00 p.m. in the Downtown lower level Multi-Purpose Room.
I’m sure many aadl.org visitors are familiar with the staff written blogs that show up on the main catalog page. If you don’t wish to read through them all and just want to read ones on music, magazines, or perhaps movies, with a few clicks you can. Blogs are accessible on various pages of aadl.org, under Services, Events, Research, etc. (You can also see a refined list by clicking on the blog’s categories.) Did you know there is a Local History blog and a Developer’s blog? Have a peek! Here is a quick list of the blogs, with a quick link so you can easily RSS them and stay on top of AADL and community happenings.
AADL has partnered with the Street Art Fair to create a history of the event that has defined Ann Arbor summers for half a century. This exhibit brings together images, videos, and audio memories from fairgoers and fair participants alike to paint a picture of Ann Arbor's most creative festival.