City of Smooth Jazz: Michigan CD Focus

The Robert Lee Revue's new CD, "City of Smooth Jazz" was selected by MRRL as one of 2012's Noteworthy Michigan Albums. Its two founding members hope that their unique brand of smooth jazz will eventually be heard and recognized around the world. They have achieved that lofty goal once before while in a rock and roll band and recording for a major label; but will they be able to grab that elusive brass ring a second time as independent artists?

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Best Albums Of 2012 And More: Two Views

What are the best bets if you're planning to give someone the gift of music? We're here to help. For the third consecutive year, my friend and fellow music fanatic Larry Van Cleve and I have put together our lists of what we feel were the best CDs of 2012. We put the lists together independently of each other, and since there are no record companies that are sending us free albums to review, our choices are made up of what we have bought, and sometimes, borrowed and burned. We’ve also each included a Blast From The Past section that deals with some older material we’ve listened to during the past year that we think is worthy of comment.

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96 Tears and Art Schiell's Recording Studio

On Saturday, October 1, 1966, ? (Question Mark) and The Mysterians made their network television debut on American Bandstand with host Dick Clark.  The band performed its hit single, "96 Tears".  Ten days later, on October 11th, ? and The Mysterians would perform "96 Tears" on another Dick Clark production, ABC-TV's 4:30 to 5:00 p.m. daily pop music show, Where The Action Is. The group also performed the song that fall on Swingin' Time, Detroit's popular teen music program hosted by Robin Seymour.

By the end of the month, the song would reach # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Very few viewers on either of those days knew that "96 Tears" had been recorded in Art Schiell's small studio, located in the back of his home on Bay City's West Side. Watch ? and The Mysterians perform "96 Tears" on Swingin' Time in 1966.

Looking at the small house at 405 Raymond Street in Bay City, Michigan, it's hard to imagine that it was once the home of the Schiell Recording Studio or that a hit record was made there. Although it's largely forgotten in Bay City and mistakes about it are found in most of the rock and roll historical accounts concerning the # 1 song "96 Tears", Art Schiell's studio represented an important first step to completing a seemingly improbable quest for the young musicians who recorded it there.

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Not Only Women Bleed - Sex, Drugs, and "Rock And Roll Music" in Digital

Dick Wagner is one of the all-time greats in the vast and varied history of Michigan rock and roll. Being a fan of Wagner since his days as the lead singer and songwriter of The Bossmen, the Saginaw Valley’s answer to The Beatles, I was looking forward to the publication of his long-rumored book that covered his remarkable career in music. Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician was published as an eBook early in January, 2012. One hoped that this would be the vehicle that would bring Wagner the national attention he so richly deserves.

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The Boy Who Shot Buddy Holly (in color)

“That’ll be the day, when I die” B. Holly

You won’t find Tom Cederberg’s name listed in any of the biographies or documentaries concerned with the life and career of Buddy Holly, but in the spring of 1958, the thirteen-year-old Michigander accomplished something unique in regards to Holly’s storied career. Just months before his tragic death, Cederberg shot the only known color movie footage of Buddy and the Crickets performing on stage in the United States.

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Free John Sinclair (Revisited)

“They gave him ten for two, what else can Judge Columbo do” – John Lennon

On December 10, 1971, fifteen thousand people filled Crisler Arena on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor for the Free John Sinclair Rally to protest the harsh ten-year prison sentence he was currently serving for offering two marijuana joints to an undercover policewoman. Although almost everyone in attendance was supportive of Sinclair’s plight, the main reason for the overflow crowd was the promised appearance of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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Best Albums of 2011: Two Views

For the second consecutive year I’ve invited my friend and fellow music lover, Larry Van Cleve, to join me in making a list of the best CDs released during the past year. No one sent us any free CDs to review, so our lists are made up of what we bought, borrowed, and burned.

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