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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Album preview: Jay Gavan's "A Public Thing"

Cover art for "A Public Thing"
Jay Gavan
courtesy of the artist
Cover art for "A Public Thing"

In late-night sessions during the pandemic at the Kalamazoo Academy of Rock where he is an instructor, musician Jay Gavan recorded all the tracks, one by one, for his first solo album since 2014’s Breather. It’s called A Public Thing, and is available online and locally at Greenlight Music & Video.

A key player in the Kalamazoo music scene — the Corn Fed Girls, Red Sea Pedestrians, The Birdseed Salesman, Guitar UP! and the Brothers Kalamazov are some of the groups he’s worked with — Gavan says this album is a return to his 90s rock scene roots, when he played with Mom Handy. But it’s also a reaction to current events.

A history teacher, Gavan began writing songs about today’s world using his understanding of the rise and fall of democracy in Ancient Greece. The album’s title “A Public Thing” is “democracy” translated to English — and that’s just the first of so many historical references that Gavan included a glossary in his liner notes.

In a preview with Cara Lieurance, Jay Gavan tells stories about writing and recording the music. They listen to “Collapse,” “Meet the Press,” “Spartan Education,” and “Wine Dark Sea.”

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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