AADL Talks to Steven Ball

steven ballsteven ball

In this episode, we talk with Ann Arbor's "village bell ringer," Steven Ball, about the history of the carillon in civic life and his experience writing and performing accompaniment to silent film. Steven also chronicles his journey as a carillonneur and organist, and his unique role in the restoration of two of Ann Arbor's rare and beautiful public instruments--the University of Michigan's Charles Baird Carillon and the Michigan Theater's Barton Pipe Organ.

On Tuesday, June 28, the Ann Arbor District Library and the Michigan Theater are pleased to present the WORLD PREMIERE of "Back Page: A Super Colossal Production," a silent film made in 1936 by Ann Arbor News staff and recently unearthed from the archives of the Ann Arbor News. This event, which is free, will also include a second short film from 1936 titled, "The Casting of the Baird Carillon." Steven will accompany both on the Barton organ following a brief talk at 4:30 p.m. And don't miss Steven's performance on the Baird Carillon that evening when he provides live accompaniment to the Top of the Park screening of "The Phantom of the Opera" (1927).

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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:

Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley

Goodbye TrolleyGoodbye Trolley

While browsing through old newspapers and listening to the radio at our archive this afternoon, I caught part of a 2006 interview with Hugh Martin, composer, lyricist and arranger of such classics as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "The Boy Next Door" and "The Trolley Song" from the great 1944 musical Meet Me In St. Louis. Martin, who died last Friday explained that he was browsing through an old newspaper at the Beverly Hills Library when he saw a photograph of a trolley with the caption, "Clang! Clang! went the trolley"...and three hours later the song was done. In his honor, and because my love of old musicals, libraries, newspapers and photographs just collided and I can't help myself, here's a photograph of an old Ann Arbor trolley. May it inspire you to write the next great American song.

Thanks to Site 3 of the Downtown Historical Street Exhibits Program there are several photographs of old Ann Arbor trolleys to choose from. And if songwriting isn't really your thing, we have an entire book on the subject.

101 Things You Didn’t Know About Ann Arbor…

…But Are About to Find Out Why is a new book by Martin Woodhouse. The author presents “fascinating tangents and tidbits in purposely random sequence” about the fair city of Ann Arbor. He ups the “quirk quotient” and treats readers to some interesting stories and facts about A2 and some of its story-worthy inhabitants.

Perhaps you’ve read Wicked Washtenaw County, Strange Tales of The Grisly and Unexplained, and are looking for more facts about the area. This book is right up your alley. Also recommended for some local trivia is another new book, Ghostly Tales of Michigan, which shares ghostly tales of some of Michigan’s more ghostly places.

AADL Talks To: Brett Callwood

Detroit author and music critic, Brett Callwood, was at AADL recently for a public talk about his book MC5: Sonically Speaking: A Tale of Revolution and Rock 'n' Roll. Prior to this event, I had the chance to chat with Brett about the MC5--their legacy, their significance to other musicians, and the influence of former manager, John Sinclair. Brett also discusses his journey to becoming a music critic and the inspiration behind his writing, most notably his love affair with Detroit and its music.

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Brett Callwood to discuss MC5: Sonically Speaking

Brett Callwood, music journalist and frequent contributor to the Detroit Metro Times, will be at the Downtown Library on Wednesday, December 1, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. to discuss the North American release of MC5: Sonically Speaking, a Tale of Revolution and Rock 'n Roll, the definitive biography of legendary Detroit band MC5. Born and raised in England, Callwood, who now lives in Detroit, has a deep affection for the Motor City and its music. His book is a compelling read that includes interviews with surviving band members and, says Callwood, is "...an unusual story that has every controversial thing that's ever happened to rock 'n roll bands--but in this case, they all happened to one band." Whether chronicling a hair-raising 1968 tour with the Velvet Underground or their connection with former radical and White Panther leader, John Sinclair, this is a great read...with plenty of local history right here in Ann Arbor.

This event includes an author signing and books will be available for sale.

An Intimate look inside one of the oldest estates in Barton Hills

Brushwood_frontBrushwood_front

Jean Spero, granddaughter of former Detroit Edison president, Alex Dow (1862-1942), recently sent us several photographs of her childhood home in Ann Arbor. Known as "Brushwood," this country estate was one of the first homes to be built on the rolling slopes above Barton Dam, which eventually became Barton Hills. Local historian Grace Shackman covers the origins of this area in her article, "The Buried History of Barton Hills."

Spero's childhood memories color her personal tour of Brushwood. For example, here's one about the Brushwood Library, her grandfather's favorite hideaway:

"There were two walls filled with books, a special radio, a fireplace, two desks, one his and one for the secretaries who often came out for a week or so to work with him....they were very sweet and two became especially good friends of mine. As a teen when Grandfather wasn't there I would use that room to 'entertain' my friends by listening to the radio in front of a roaring fire...wonderful atmosphere. As a little one I read all I could get my hands on, including the Encyclopedia Britannica which was thoughtfully put on a lower shelf! The collection was very diverse, lots of folklore, philosophy or religious tomes of every sort of religion, history, plus, of course, current novels, etc. I have two of the books, Willa Cather's My Antonia and a huge coffee table-sized book on Scottish tartans...." (J. Spero)

AADL Productions Podcast: Michael Erlewine

Michael ErlewineMichael Erlewine

Michael Erlewine, author, archivist, and founder of the All Music Guide recently spoke at the Library about his new book with photographer Stanley Livingston, Blues in Black & White: The Landmark Ann Arbor Blues Festivals. In this interview prior to the public talk, Ann Arbor's old music clubs and coffee shops come alive as Michael takes us on a personal journey of the Ann Arbor music scene circa 1962-1972. He covers a range of musical topics, including the early folk era, when he hitch-hiked with Bob Dylan; the influence of pre-hippie culture on Iggy Pop; the influence of John Sinclair on Ann Arbor culture; and his personal passion for Chicago city blues, which led to the Ann Arbor blues festivals and inspired the formation of his band, The Prime Movers Blues Band, shown below playing at the Schwabin Inn.

You can listen to the interview below. You can also view Michael's public talk at the Library.

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Halloween in Ann Arbor, 1957

halloween parade, 1957halloween parade, 1957

Here are a few photographs from the Ann Arbor News archive to give you a taste of what Halloween was like in Ann Arbor 50 years ago. The first photo, below, is of a girl trying on a mask in a Main Street dime store. The second photograph is of a boy looking at candy. Both were taken on October 21, 1957. Does anyone recognize the store? Could it have been Kline's? Or maybe Kresge's?

The two photographs at the bottom are from the Burns Park School Halloween Parade in 1957: children marching in the parade ; and, my favorite, the Burns Park band playing in costume.

The Peace Corps turns 50 on October 14

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The University of Michigan will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps with a variety of events during the month of October, including an exhibit at the Hatcher Library (running through November). Travel writer, Paul Theroux, will speak on October 13 at 7:00 p.m. and Tom Hayden, past editor of the Michigan Daily and founding member of the Students for a Democratic Society, will be speaking on October 14 at 8:30.

Also, the Downtown Historical Street Exhibit Program will unveil a new exhibit about the Michigan Union and the Peace Corps across the street from the Michigan Union. Get a sneak peek right here!

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