Local Music

Hear interviews with guests on music programs produced here at WMUK, as well as program news.

Keith Hall

A greatly respected Michigan jazz artist, Steve Talaga says although he was tempted to uproot himself at times to pursue music, it turned out that Michigan was a wonderful place for him to play thousands of concerts, record albums, compose music, and teach the next generation of players. In a studio session at WMUK with Jazz Currents host Keith Hall, Talaga reminisces about the people and projects that have defined his career, which includes two decades as a faculty instructor at Hope College.

Herbie Hancock is probably his biggest musical hero, he tells Hall, saying it would be a dream come true to share tunes with the master. As a teacher, he admits he learns as much from his students as they do from him. Talaga is a prolific songwriter. He's appeared as a sideman on dozens of albums, and has released five solo albums under his name, filled with original material. In the WMUK studio, Talaga plays five solo versions of original tunes: "Comes the Dawn," "And Then Again," "Sacred Gifts," "Spikey," and "Country Dog."


Festival director Kris Jordan previews the 2019 Summer Concert Series and the July 10-14 Kindleberger Summer Festival of the Performing Arts, touching on popular returning acts, such as Matt Giraud and the Beatles tribute band Shout!, and a Festival Day filled with activities, from a Boy Scout French Toast Breakfast, to a Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show, Book Sale, Arts & Crafts Show, a Youth Production of The Skokie Detective Charter School, and the Family Musical, Disney's Freaky Friday. 

Jordan says the free festival, now in its 38th season, was something she appreciated as a parent with young children, when her family moved to Parchment in the early 1990s. In the beginning, her children wanted to act in the youth theatre productions, and she soon found herself helping to organize the festival in various capacities. She credits hard-working volunteers, community support, and a wide range of sponsors with the long-term success of the festival and concert series.

Craig Freeman

Kids and their vivid imaginations are no mystery to Paul Bauer, who grew up with young nieces and nephews, watched his mother run a home daycare, and became a pre-school teacher himself before turning to music full-time. An instructor at Kalamazoo Kids in Tune and at the Crescendo Academy, he's also the drummer for the  local band The Mainstays. Bauer started another project, Small Sounds, a few years ago with his wife, Katrina Davidson. In the studio with Craig Freeman, Bauer and Davidson talk about how they write songs and engage children with their live shows. 

Drawing from a variety of music genres - pop, rock, electronic, and more - Small Sounds released its first album, Good Morning, Sun!, in 2016. In the studio, they play a stripped-down version of "Hey, Alligator!" from that release, and two newer songs, "My Pet Possum," and "Life on the Seven Seas."

Kalamazoo Irish Festival

The Kalamazoo Irish Festival will return to the Old Dog Tavern in Kalamazoo for its 19th year on June 21 and 22, featuring live music by  12 bands on two stages, dance performances from the Quinn School of Dance, Kalamazoo Pipe Band processions, and Liam the Leprechaun providing emcee duties. Cara Lieurance spoke with Erin Quinn and organizer Brian Abbott about this year's event.

C Lieurance

Founded in 2013 by Laura Kay Henderson, Queer Theatre Kalamazoo offers productions four times a year, including this weekend's Step Three, by New York playwright Michael Aman, directed by Connar Klock. It runs through June 9 at the First Baptist Church of Kalamazoo.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Henderson, Klock, and Kalamazoo playwright Gordon Bolar preview Step Three and the upcoming Summer Shorts Play Festival, a free festival of scenes and one acts written by local playwrights. Running June 20-23, it features four new works, including Bolar's Good Advice '49