Various writings on music and music history
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October 8, 2016
By Michael Erlewine (

Yesterday (Friday) I was up and out by around 5:30 AM and heading for the Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor to watch the sun come up. It was still dark out, but there I was with my tripod and camera set up to catch the very first, as the Greek poet Ovid put it, "rosy fingers of dawn" as they back lighted the tops of the trees. Meanwhile, I was not the only being up. The pond, at the edge of where I stood in the very wet grass, was already alive with the chattering of the waterfowl that had spent the night on its protective surface.

As I picked my way around the pond's edge, I could hear the excitement of the birds waiting for that first ray of sunlight. Me too. By 9 AM I had too much light and was off to Ann Arbor to meet Margaret and my daughter Iotis and her husband Dana for breakfast at Cafe Zola Bistro, where I found steel-cut oats on the menu and they browned up some rosemary potatoes without salt, just for me. After breakfast and much discussion, we were off to Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor to climb the hills and walk in the meadows of tall prairie grass. I have been coming to the Arboretum since I was a young kid, when I used to hunt butterflies in a small microclimate there of ferns, where the Zebra and Giant Swallowtails could sometimes be found -- very rare butterflies for Michigan. There were sassafras trees that are two-feet wide and who knows how tall? Very. The day was gorgeous, even hot for October.

Then it was back to the house, playing with the dogs, having dinner and (for me) to bed early. Tired. It is now 1 AM and I am up and writing this. Will be heading for Detroit today to share in the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Grande Ballroom, where my band used to play in 1966-1967. That was when Iggy Pop was our drummer. The "Yardbirds" will be flying in for a special concert and I spoke with their manager today and found that Margaret and I will be on the guest list, with all-access passes to go back stage and meet them during the sound-check. I am friends with the original Yardbirds’ drummer Jim McCarty (who will be there) and I interviewed him years ago.

In later years, McCarty produced some of the most compelling music that (for me) represents the true spirit of the 1960s. He told me recently that he has a new album that he thinks I will like that is coming soon. I am sure I will. So, there you have it. Off to Detroit and hopefully seeing a lot of vintage folks around my age and hanging out with them.

"OUT OF THE DARK." There are few modern albums that reflect the real spirit of the music in the 1960s. The haunting effect of something like Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is hard to find today. James McCarty's has survived a long musical journey through the 1960s and beyond to the 1990s with his message quite intact. The whole album has an other-or future-world feel and yet no fussiness. There is real clarity here. The title cut is remarkable.]
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