Local Music

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

Bob Stesheltz Photography

Tina Truax, an organizer of the Kalamazoo Blues Festival and an 11-year member of the Kalamazoo Valley Blues Association, says she became a blues convert as an adult. She went to hear a live band at a club in Grand Rapids, and and as she listened to more and more blues, she realized how much rock & roll and pop music had borrowed from the blues, a music that started as a response to slavery. Truax tells Cara Lieurance that there are signs a new generation is returning to the roots of blues, and the Kalamazoo Blues Festival is a way to hear a range of music from west Michigan, from national acts, and styles that range from New Orleans to Chicago to New York and beyond. It runs Friday and Saturday, July 12 and 13, at the Arcadia Festival Site in dowtown Kalamazoo.


Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck

Summer chamber music concerts have been a tradition in the city of Saugatuck for over 30 years. On Thursday and Friday, July 11 and 12 at 7:30 pm, the Woman's Club of Saugatuck will open its doors for the first program of the season, "A Mighty Handful." Clarinetist Bradley Wong, a Western Michigan University professor and School of Music director, tells Cara Lieurance about the quartets and quintets on the program. He'll be performing alongside long-time festival players Barbara Corbató, Sarah Southard, Gabe Southard, and Paul Austin, as well as newer players Yu-Lien Thé and Haijin Choi.

Wong, who joined the WMU School of music faculty in 1983, plans to retire at the end of the next school year. He says he looks forward to more performing and, equally, attending the wide variety of music concerts available to residents in West Michigan.


Klose2U Photography

The sometimes naughty but always endearing modern classic Avenue Q is the 11th season closer for Kalamazoo's Farmers Alley Theatre, running July 19-Aug 11. An innovative adult musical with puppets, it won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score, says director Rob Weiner. In a conversation with Cara Lieurance, Weiner and actors Cat Greenfield (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut) and Teresa Attridge (Christmas Eve) talk about their characters and the way the show invites the audience to become fully involved in the complicated lives of the characters living on Avenue Q.

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."

Kindlebergerarts.org

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.


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