Music: First Aid Kit

Anthemic folk-rock has been buzzing loudly in 2012, with northern European-based bands like Mumford & Sons and Of Monsters and Men stomping their way up to the peaks of the Billboard 200 and selling out arenas worldwide. The Denver-based folk-rock band, The Lumineers, have steadily gained momentum with their self-titled debut, joining the Avett Brothers near the Billboard top-10 and at the pointy end of many listeners' and critics' best-of-the-year lists.

For those that like their folk-rock a little quieter, more introspective, and heartbreaking, give First Aid Kit a try. Their second album, The Lion's Roar, released January 2012, features the Swedish sisters' lush harmonies and gorgeous melodies, with lyrics that linger like wine, for example, the following chorus from their single, Emmylou, which speaks to the relationship between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris as well as Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash:

I'll be your Emmylou and I'll be your June
If you'll be my Gram and my Johnny too
No, I'm not asking much of you
Just sing little darling, sing with me

First Aid Kit would make a fine pairing with Tallest Man on Earth, Iron & Wine, and Bon Iver.

Mittenfest VII is coming up soon!

Mittenfest is an annual local music festival held in Michigan and played by Michigan bands. The festival serves as a fundraiser for 826michigan, dedicating 100% of its profits to the non-profit organization which helps tutor students ages 6-18 with writing. 826michigan is part of a nationwide network of non-profits, started in San Francisco by the acclaimed author Dave Eggers. Last year, Mittenfest raised $21,290.00 for 826michigan, bringing the total raised over the last six years to $55,000.00!

For its seventh consecutive year running strong, Mittenfest is going to run a full 5 days, over which 50 Michigan bands will perform live, including Frontier Ruckus, Starling Electric, Shigeto, Patrick Elkins, and Our Brother the Native, just to name a few! To see the other 45 bands and a complete 5-day schedule, click here.

Mittenfest VII will be held this year at Woodruff's at 36 East Cross Street in Ypsilanti, starting Friday Dec. 28th and running through Tuesday Jan. 1st. Bands will starting playing at 5:30pm and will run through 12:30am each day. Tickets are $10/day or $82.60 for the full 5-day pass. It's only 9 days away - don't forget! - head on out next weekend to hear some great live music and support a great local organization!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #371

O.K. I will admit it. When my copy of City of Dark Magic arrived in the mail, I was more intrigued by the fact that they claimed to know nothing about the author Magnus Flyte. He appeared to have operated under several identities, and may have ties to one or more intelligence organizations, including the CIA, the Mossad, and a radical group of Antarctic separatists. They also claimed that the manuscript came manually typed on Marrakesh's Hotel La Mamounia stationary, and mailed to offices of Penguin Books in New York in January 2012.

But almost immediately, I was hooked, hooked by the story, the mystery, the fantasy, the alchemy, the romance, the music, and the old world charm that is Prague - home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it's whispered, hell portals.

When impoverish grad student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven's manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Upon arrival, she learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide, and the cryptic notes he left could be warnings.

What reviewers called "a rom-com paranormal suspense" could simply be one of the most entertaining novels of the year. Will appeal to fans of Deborah Harkness and Beatriz Williams.

It turns out Magnus Flyte is a pseudonym for the writing duo of Meg Howrey (see FFF blog) and Christina Lynch. Howrey was with the Joffrey Ballet and winner of the Ovation Award. Lynch is a television writer and former Milan correspondent for W magazine.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Christmas is Coming!

YOU can access almost 1,000 digital music albums directly through our AADL.org catalog. Stream or download as much as you like, DRM free, on any device you choose. No waiting for a copy. No due dates. Hooray!

NEW AGE / JAZZ / CHRISTMAS
Jeff Wahl: Acoustic New Age and Jazz Guitar
"Christmas has become a pretty loud holiday. To me, Christmas is a celebration and recognition of the power of simplicity. This album is a collection of solo guitar arrangements of classic Christmas songs that reflect this belief. I believe that beauty of these songs shines forth even stronger in these simple, quiet arrangements. There are no overdubs on this album and all songs are played in standard tuning." - Jeff Wahl

CLASSICAL / CHAMBER MUSIC / CHRISTMAS
Ralph Rousseau Meulenbroeks: Virtuoso Viola Da Gamba
A wide array of traditional Christmas carols become rich, resonant poetry in the hands of Ralph Rousseau Meulenbroeks. This album of instrumental holiday music strikes just the right balance between an elegant and a rustic mood, and the burnished versions of carols like "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" ("Komt allen tezamen") and "Silent Night" ("Stille Nacht") usher you directly into the fire-lit parlor of Christmas.

ELECTRONICA / CHRISTMAS
Osamu Kitajima and Chris Mancinelli: Pan Pacific Ambient Dance Masters
With their album "Christmas Through the Gateway", Osamu Kitajima and Chris Mancinelli have created Christmas music with an electronic Asian flavor. Take a musical sleigh ride with the infectious beats, ambient stylings and Japanese influences of these holiday classics. It is an innovative and playful set of music that sounds both familiar and undeniably unique.

CHRISTMAS
Magnatune Christmas Compilation
Create a toasty, elegantly merry mood with the Magnatune Christmas Compilation featuring over 60 minutes of the most timeless and classic carols of the season as played by ten different best-selling artists from Magnatune Records. The predominantly instrumental selections range from the simple acoustic guitar of James Edwards to the rich viola de gamba of Ralph Rousseau Meulenbroeks and the snowy, sparkling harp of Cheryl Ann Fulton. A few select vocal pieces include the absolutely angelic-sounding Con Brio children's choir, as well as the renowned women's vocal ensemble, Kitka. This is one of those albums to which you'll return again and again, season after season, and it's absolutely perfect for holiday dinners.

Classical Bells Holiday Concert

Saturday December 15, 2012: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Classical Bells returns to the Library for their annual concert! The group's primary instrument consists of 68 bronze plus 6 aluminum English handbells, a range of more than six octaves.

This eclectic programming, combined with sensitive musical interpretation, technical skill, informal choreography, and a dash of humor, gives Classical Bells the well-deserved reputation of Michigan's Premier Handbell Ensemble. Check out or place a hold on their albums!

Music: Polica -- Give You the Ghost

The best-in-music 2012 lists are coming out every day on music blogs, which is a great chance to pick up on music that you might have missed throughout the year. Even better news is that the AADL has many of the albums on these lists.

Polica (pronounced POE - LISA) is a band from Minneapolis led by singer, Channy Leaneagh, with co-producers Ryan Olson (Gayngs) and Jim Eno (Spoon). Give You the Ghost is their solid debut release, and it makes me think of what the Blade Runner soundtrack would have sounded like if it were written by Florence + The Machine. For a 9 minute snapshot of Policia's story, music, and live show, check out this mini-documentary on youtube.

Polica's songs are about loneliness, separation, and desperate situations. Leaneagh has a powerful yet ethereal voice, carrying lyrics like "wind, you roll me like a viper / time, you lead me to the fire" without sounding melodramatic. Producer Eno contributes polyrhythmic drum patterns and a rich array drum sounds, like his rolling use of floor toms on the third track, "Violent Games". Olson's use of distorted guitar and a mix of keyboard sounds adds texture unlike anything else in music today.

Ravi Shankar, sitarist and Friend of The Beatles, has died

Ravi Shankar, India's most famous sitarist due to his embrace of and collaboration with many well-known Western artists, especially the Beatles, died yesterday in California.

In 1952, Shankar performed with Yehudi Menuhin and 15 years later they recorded West Meets East. In 1965, George Harrison began sitar lessons with Shankar. When Harrison then used the sitar on the Beatles' 1965 album, Norwegian Wood and its popularity took off.

Other notable Western musicians who worked with Shankar were: saxophonist John Coltrane (who named his son Ravi]; Jean Pierre Rampal (flutist); and composer Philip Glass.

Two DVDs highlight Shankar's influence on the world of music: Ravi Shankar in Portrait was a live concert that took place in London on July 22, 2012 in Union Chapel. Exactly five months later, again in London,Concert for George was filmed. This event honoring George Harrison was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 22, 2002.

Shankar, who had undergone heart surgery last Thursday, was 92.

Rhythms of Cuba With Tumbao Bravo

Sunday December 9, 2012: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Experience the authentic rhythms of Cuba with the rich jazz harmonies of this award-winning band, Tumbao Bravo.

The title cut on their 2009 CD, Un Systema Para Todo, was used as a soundtrack to an episode of the USA Network TV show, Burn Notice. In June 2012, the band released their 4th critically acclaimed CD, Casa Versailles.

Tumbao Bravo is known for their authentic Cuban polyrthymns including mambos, cha chas, rhumba, boleros, and danzon all based on the Cuban montuno.

The Yellow Room Gang Concert

Thursday December 6, 2012: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Join us for a special December concert featuring the celebrated The Yellow Room Gang - which includes acclaimed local musicians.

These accomplished Michigan songwriters have been meeting monthly since 2005. What began as a casual meeting in the brilliant yellow living room of David Tamulevich's Ann Arbor home has evolved into one of the most exciting musical super groups to ever join forces on one stage.

Dave Brubeck, jazz giant, has died

Dave Brubeck, known for as a mesmerizing improv jazz pianist and for merging many elements of the classical and jazz genres for a uniquely appealing sound, has died.

Brubeck, born in 1922 to a cattle rancher father and a mother who was a classically trained piano teacher, was born with a musical ear. As a child Brubeck was able to hide his inability to read music by his ability to play a piece after hearing it once or twice. In fact, the University of the Pacific only agreed to graduate him with a degree in music if he promised never to teach music.

After serving in the Army during WW II, he studied under the famous French composer, Darius Milhaud, who encouraged Brubeck to pursue his obvious gifts in jazz. In 1951, Brubeck formed the The Dave Brubeck Quartet which solidified his lifelong association Paul Desmond, who wrote the iconic Take Five, Brubeck's haunting piece that blends his knowledge of European harmonies with his irresistible attraction to African rhythm.

Brubeck disbanded the Quartet in the late 1960s and focused renewed interest in composing jazz symphonies and sacred music

Despite the best efforts of harsh jazz critics to take Brubeck down a notch or two over the decades ("...[Brubeck plays]...as if a man who knew 500 words of French were to attempt a novel in that language." - Joe Goldberg. Or this: "...the galloping pomposity of his piano solos." -- Dave Gelly), his fans apparently didn't get the word; Brubeck continued to pack any venue where he performed. His sons joined him in concert tours starting in the 1970s.

Brubeck, who would have been 92 tomorrow, died of heart failure while on his way to a regularly scheduled appointment with his cardiologist.

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