Elvis Costello and Cup Noodles

Momofuku Ando, the inventor of cup noodles, created a product guaranteed to give the consumer the same sensual experience with every purchase. The same has not been true for the Elvis Costello listener. Costello's first albums in the late '70s - early '80s were practically lessons in popular music genres, from New Wave in This Year's Model (deluxe edition released this year) to Soul in Get Happy!! to Country in Almost Blue. The years in between have seen the former "angry young man" further explore these genres while honing his distinctive craft of pop songwriting. Momofuku, Costello and the Imposters' latest release -- available at the AADL -- documents the artist in top form, combining the acerbic wit and frenetic energy of his early work with the quirky, soulful melodies of the last 10 years. Expect to see this album in December on the inexorable lists of what critics call the best of 2008.

He wrote "This land is your land..."

Today, July 14 is the birthday of folksinger and songwriter Woody Guthrie who was born in Okemah, Oklahoma in 1912. Guthrie never finished high school and spent his spare time reading books at the local public library. He taught himself guitar with one he found in the street. When the drought hit in Texas in the 1930's causing the same devastation as the Dust Bowl, Woody joined displaced workers who were moving to California and chronicled their struggles in some of his songs including "So Long. It's Been Good to Know Yuh," in which he wrote,:

"A dust storm hit, an it hit like thunder;
It dusted us over, an 'it covered us under;
Blocked out the traffic an' blocked out the sun.
Straight for home all the peole did run,
So long, it's been good to know yuh..."

Guthrie continued writing about people facing hard times. Many of his songs still ring true: "Hard, Ain't It Hard," "This Train is Bound for Glory," Sharecropper Song," and "Someday."

He Lost Control

Ian Curtis, frontman for the seminal '70s New Wave band, Joy Division, committed suicide at age 23, just as his band was peaking in popularity and nearing their first tour in the United States. Despite being a gifted lyricist and an electric performer, Curtis was wracked by guilt and depression, the latter being exacerbated by periodic epileptic seizures. Control, released in theatres in 2007, is the taut and unflinching biopic of the lead singer, based on the biography by Deborah Curtis, his wife. Filmed in stark black and white, Anton Corbijn's debut film will satisfy dedicated fans of Joy Division, while intriguing those less familiar with the band to give their minimalist sound a first listen. The AADL owns copies of this film, its soundtrack, and several of Joy Division's finest albums.

The Steve Miller Band

This Friday night there will be a Steve Miller Band concert at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. Going to the concert would be great, but not everyone is able to get home from work, change clothes, meet up with friends, and then make the drive all the way to Clarkston by 7:00 pm. For everyone that can't travel all the way to the concert, you can still have a great blues rock themed night by checking out some CDs, having friends over, and barbecuing the night away. The library contains CDs by several bands that would fit the bill, such as The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers, The Yardbirds, and The Steve Miller Band itself.

Words and rhythmns of Cape Verde


Experience the rich culture of Cape Verde, a collection of small islands off the coast of Senegal with the sultry voice and music of Mayra Andrade who will be at the Ark this Friday, June 27. Andrade sings in French, Portuguese and her native Creole. Following in the tradition of acclaimed Brazilian singer, Cesaria Evoria, she epitomizes the emergence of new world music.

Top of the Park


Have you been to Top of the Park this year? If not, this week is a perfect opportunity to come on down and support the Ann Arbor Summer Festival!

This week's entertainment includes performances from The Dream Engine (Wednesday -Saturday this week only), enchanting aerialist performers that suspend themselves from a larger-than-life helium balloon, wonderful musical performances, and an ecclectic collaboration of movies at dusk for all to enjoy...and it's all for free!!!

You can view the entertainment schedule at the Festival Website.

Top of the Park is located at Ingalls Mall, directly in front of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies on Washington Street near the Burton Memorial Tower.

The Festival runs till July 6th, so come prepared to dance, sing along and have a good time!

Music for a good cause


Tomorrow, June 5, there will be a benefit concert for the Shelter Association of Ann Arbor. Even if you don't go to Grillin' this Sunday, you can still donate to the cause (Food Gatherers provides much of the food prepared by the Delonis Center), and hear some great music. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Genesis of Ann Arbor, 2309 Packard Rd. Lee Daniels & Jazz Constellation are the featured group which plays a mix of classical, contemporary and jazz and whose instruments range from bass to flute to glockenspiel. Vocals are provided by local chanteuse, Kathy Moore.

The Play Ground

The Play GroundThe Play Ground

It's been 25 years since Mr. B, Steve Nardella, and George Bedard played together as members of the Steve Nardella Band. Since then, each has gone on to make his own mark. They get back together Saturday night for a show that no fan of American jazz should miss. The past six annual concerts have been standing room only so get there early. 8 p.m., Firefly Club, 207 S. Ashley. Saturday, May 31, 2008, Tickets $20 at the door only. 665-9090.

So It’s Come To This

Growing up, I had the mentality that in order for The Beatles to be so popular, they can’t have much substance to them. Bear in mind, I concluded this when I was 14, at which point it was ’99, and I think we all can remember the kind of musical tripe popular then. But in my orchestra class junior year, I ended up playing a Beatles Medley—and yes, it was as kitschy as it sounds—including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “When I’m 64,” and “Yesterday,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band (Reprise.)” So, after listening to the original versions of those songs and I thought, “Well, this is pretty good, it’s not that poppy garbage that they do.” Actually, I really started liking those songs to the point I got frustrated because this medley, despite being for a full orchestra, decided to omit the wonderful string arrangements from “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.” By the end of the high school, I conceded The Beatles had a few good songs, mostly their later stuff.

When I got to college, I started listening to their older stuff, and that’s really good too. Even the terrible songs are good (“Mr. Moonlight,” anyone?) Pretty soon, I found myself a Beatlenut like so many others before, listening to The Beatles Anthologies 1, 2, and 3. Watching the Anthology. Reading about the history of every song, learning the names of people like Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, engaging in debates about which is better Abbey Road or Let It Bleed (Abbey Road, by the way.)

Not Quite a Mop, Not Quite a Puppet, But Oh, Man…

Catchy songs, cute characters, funny voices, good versus evil, a wonderful moral of friendship and never giving up on dreams: The Muppet Movie works perfectly as a kids’ movie. But when I watched again as an adult, the moral remained just as relevant, the humour just as funny, and the songs remained just as catchy (I like “Movin’ Right Along,” a Fozzie and Kermit duet, as well as “Can You Picture That?” a psychedelic freak-out c/o Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.) The Muppet Movie, though, despite coming out the year The Muppet Show ended, is not a continuation of the sketch comedy show within a show. The movie is indeed the story of Jim Henson’s rise to glory.

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