Celebrities love The Making of Ann Arbor

The Local History databases aren't just for Ann Arborites, international celebrities like them too! The AADL's resources got some national attention this weekend when Russell Crowe retweeted a link to our The Making of Ann Arbor database!

Ann Arbor has been a used as a film location for many years, which means we've had our fair share of celebrity visitors to our fair city. This weekend, actor Russell Crowe tweeted about enjoying a visit to Ann Arbor and asked his followers if they knew the origin of the name. Local History Databases to the rescue! Woo hoo!

As Russell and his followers soon found out, the origin of the name "Ann Arbor" is still hotly debated. Ann's Arbor? Annarbour? Depending on which tome you consult, the name has a different origin. There are a litany of possible Ann's from history that could hold the honor of having the city named after them but which one? The world may never know! But if you want to do your own research beyond The Making of Ann Arbor be sure and check out:

Still Young After All These Years

Neil Young takes the stage at Fox Theater in Detroit on Wednesday, May 4, as part of his eleven city solo tour, Twisted Road. Playing acoustic and electric guitars, pump organ, piano, and (of course) harmonica, the folk-rock legend is likely to play a mix of his greatest hits, like "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)", "Tell Me Why", and "Cinnamon Girl" along with a strong helping of songs from his 2010 Grammy award winning release, Le Noise, produced by Daniel Lanois. Young won Best Rock Song for "Angry World", his second ever Grammy in a career spanning more than four decades.

Later this year, Neil Young will rejoin Stephen Stills and other members of short-lived '60s band, Buffalo Springfield, for a reunion tour that will make stops in California before headlining the multi-day music and arts festival, Bonnaroo, in Tennessee. Looks like it's going to be a great year for Neil Young fans.

The AADL music collection includes dozens of albums that span Young's impressive career. If you're new to his music, this writer recommends starting with Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Harvest, and On the Beach.

Jamey Johnson: Rekindling Country Music

Grammy nominee, Jamey Johnson, is the kind of country singer that skeptical country music fans have been waiting a long time for. Unlike most popular country stars, like Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, or Brad Paisley, where most of the songs sound like straight-ahead pop tunes with some pedal steel guitar and twangy vocals thrown in, Johnson is all substance over style. He is a songwriter first and wrote hits for other country musicians before recording under his own name.

Cut from the cloth of honkey-tonkers like George Jones and Alan Jackson, Jamey Johnson breathes his Montgomery, Alabama heritage and bourbon-soaked baritone into his narrative songs, though he can write the honest-as-bones Hank Williams style ballad just as well. Which is why he was able to successfully release 2010’s double-disc album, The Guitar Song, with the first disc titled “The Black Album” and the second “The White Album”. Black is laced with the darker themes of rejection and loss, while White highlights the more optimistic moments in life.

The Guitar Song comes two years after Johnson’s superb 2008 record, The Lonesome Song, with the latest album building strongly on the gritty lens and focused musicianship that sets him far above his peers.

Josh Cox Breaks American 50k Road Record

A couple of Sundays ago, 35 year old American distance runner, Josh Cox, won P.F. Chang's Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon with a blistering, Olympic Trial qualifying time of 2:17:48. But that's not all. After crossing the finish line, Cox kept running in the 50k race (31.07 miles) and not only won that but set a new American record for the 50k road distance, while coming in just 7 seconds shy of the world record. His marathon pace was a crushing 5:15 minutes per mile, while his 50k pace was only one second per mile slower at 5:16 m/m. Unbelievable. As a litmus test for the age group athlete, the current Boston Marathon qualifying time for men under 35 is 3:10:59, or 7:16 m/m. Josh Cox was running 2 minutes per mile faster than that.

If you're inspired to take a crack at a 5k or an ultramarathon or something in between, the AADL has a wide range of run training resources for both the beginner looking to cross the finish line for the first time and the veteran aiming for a new personal record.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

AADL's music collection continues to grow with thirteen Gil Scott-Heron CDs that span his recorded work from the late 1960s to his critically acclaimed 2010 release, I'm New Here.

Gil Scott-Heron is a poet, musician, and author who is credited with essentially creating the genre of Rap with his rhythmic, aggressive, politically charged spoken word performances set to jazz and R&B music. In the 1970s, Scott-Heron collaborated with legendary jazz producer Bob Thiele and pianist Brian Jackson throughout his most prolific decade, releasing nine records that confront controversial issues such as racism in the inner city, media portrayal of African Americans, equity among classes and races, and homophobia.

On last year's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West was the latest in a long line of artists to use Gil Scott-Heron samples in his music, closing his chart topping album with the poet's "Who Will Survive in America," further evidence of the lasting resonance of Scott-Heron's work.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Kanye Blog

The Rolling Stones. Guns 'n' Roses. U2. Radiohead. These bands were known as the biggest recording artists in the world at one point in their careers. And they each went for the epic album. The magnum opus. The record that their label told them not to do, under any circumstances. Sometimes it worked. Other times it flopped. Remember Exile on Main Street? How about Chinese Democracy? It can be about timing, but mostly it's about quality. This year, it's Kanye West's shot with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Why is this album 'epic'? A few things to consider: the songs average six minutes apiece. Twenty-nine guest stars lend their talents over thirteen tracks. Justin Vernon, aka Bon Iver, indie darling, was personally flown to Oahu (where recording took place) to contribute backing vocals. There are six alternate covers. One former President mentioned an incident with West in his recent memoirs just before the album release. A 35-minute short film has already been released for the track, Runaway. Finally -- and most decisively -- listen to it for yourself. It's definitely out there.

Lyrically, the album touches on more topics than a UN summit, albeit one hosted by a sardonic megalomaniac. And I mean that in a good way. Sonically, West samples the likes of King Crimson, Black Sabbath, Aphex Twin, and Gil-Scott Heron, and his signature production lifts these songs into the stratosphere. You can almost see a manic Kanye running from recording booth to production studio to tweak the beats and layer the vocals. Epic? Oh, indeed.

Teen Stuff: "I Am Number Four"

Pittacus Lore's sci-fi thriller, I Am Number Four, is best tagged as Alex Rider meets The Hunger Games, as readers tail 15-year-old John Smith, one of nine refugees from Planet Lorien who is hiding on Earth from the merciless Mogadorians. Aiming to wipe out the super-powered teens one number at a time, the Mogadorians have killed three of the Loriens already, and John is Number Four.

John plans to hide out in the rural town of Paradise, Ohio, with his guardian, Henri, and blend in as an average high school student. But several challenges, including a burgeoning love interest, a particularly sinister bully, and Number Four’s own growing powers are rapidly making him a marked target.

I Am Number Four is the first novel in the planned six-book series, "The Lorien Legacies." A film version is already in production for a 2011 release, with producers Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay behind the action, and hotly buzzing actor Alex Pettyfer in the lead role.

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards

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The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards aired on Sunday, August 29th on NBC and highlighted the best of the best in primetime television. Why not take the time to watch a few of the primetime TV series' nominees and winners?
The most anticipated categories include Outstanding Comedy, Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Reality Competition Program.

Outstanding Comedy nominees were ABC's Modern Family, Showtime's Nurse Jackie, NBC's 30 Rock and The Office, HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and FOX's Glee. Modern Family won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series marking the show's first win and nomination in the category.

Outstanding Drama nominees were AMC's Mad Men and Breaking Bad, CBS's The Good Wife, HBO's True Blood, Showtime's Dexter and ABC's Lost. Mad Men won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for its' third year in a row.

The Outstanding Reality Competition Program category was introduced in 2003. This year's nominees included Bravo's Top Chef, CBS's The Amazing Race, FOX's American Idol, ABC's Dancing with the Stars and Lifetime's Project Runway. Top Chef won the award in this category for the first time and defeated The Amazing Race which has dominated and won the award every year since the inception of this category.

Good Listening: Speaking of Faith

One of my favorite podcasts is Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett from American Public Media. Next month the show's name becomes "Krista Tippett on Being" -- and it sounds like Krista has more good shows planned. This summer, my favorite was her interview with Shane Claiborne, a 30-something social activist you can read about in Esquire magazine accessible in General Reference Center Gold.

Melody Non-Pareil

On a cold January night in Koln, Germany, 1975, jazz pianist Keith Jarrett sat alone on stage before a baby grand piano, with a rapt audience filling the Koln Opera House seats. Non-classical music had rarely been played within the Opera House's utilitarian walls, but this wasn't the only ground-breaking the pianist would accomplish this evening. What became The Koln Concert was the beginning of something much greater.

Jazz-rock fusion had taken over the jazz scene in the '70s after the success of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew and the popular Weather Report albums. Jarrett himself was a part of Miles' fusion bands, but after leaving the band, he began forging a new sound, which was more closely tied to the acoustic and melodic roots of jazz, and this concert signaled the re-birth of that sound. Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, Brad Mehldau, and other contemporary jazz performers owe much to Jarrett's return to melody to allow for their success.

Jarrett entered this performance with a few chord progressions in mind, but everything else was improvised. You can hear him playing one melody, then reshaping it, inverting it, and refining it into a line so beautiful you'd swear he spent years writing it. The styles he mines here flow from swing to pop to bebop so effortlessly that it's as much an homage to jazz as it is an original piece.

The album is broken into three parts: Part I, Part II, and encore. Throughout, you can hear Jarrett humming along with the melodies as he invents them, vocally expressing his excitement amidst a line, and pounding out the rhythms on the frame of the piano, all of which add to the sheer joy of this recording. As the bestselling solo jazz recording of all time, this is no secret, but for those who haven't heard it yet, it's an amazing experience. And it's one of my favorite album covers.

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