Popular Culture

Rockin’ prof explores ways pop music has been trashed over the decades

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Popular Culture Professor Matthew Donahue took listeners on a trip through the hit parade Thursday at Jerome Library on the Bowling Green State University campus. His hot tracks weren’t just there because they were popular, but because they were also unpopular with authorities, pastors, parents, politicians, and even white supremacists. Donahue’s presentation, “Popular Music Controversies and Banned Popular Music: The Ascent from Low Culture to High Culture,” in the Pallister Conference room was held in conjunction with Banned Books Week and to celebrate Jerome Library’s 50th anniversary. Donahue’s trip down memory lane began at the dawn of the previous century when blues was labeled devil’s music, as was its close cousin, jazz. Maybe concerns about those styles provoking illicit coupling was warranted, since they gave birth, with some country added to the gene pool, to rock ‘n’ roll. The emergence of rock ‘n’ roll opened a chasm between America’s teenagers and their parents and others. Drawing on YouTube videos, Donahue showed one Rev. Jimmy Snow declaring that young people were marching on the road to hell to the beat of rock ‘n’ roll. More sinister condemnation came from a member of the Alabama White Citizens Council, who said the music was intended to bring white children “down” to the level of African-Americans. And the sartorial style inspired by the music drew the ire of middle school administrators in a clip about the dangers of tight skirts, snug fitting sweaters, unbuttoned shirts, “dungarees,” and leather jackets. With the advent of television, the music – though critics often didn’t consider music at all – “brought rock ‘n’ roll into people’s living rooms.” That meant they witnessed the gyrations of Elvis’ pelvis. Even the title of a song could get it banned as was the case with guitarist Link Wray’s “Rumble.” And all this led to the Beatles. Donahue played clips showing the reaction to the band’s Cleveland show where 14,000 teenagers, mostly girls packed the auditorium. They were, the commentators said, intentionally whipped into a frenzy, some ripping their dresses, and some even slipping notes of an indecent nature onto the bandstand. Later when John Lennon opined that the band was more popular than Jesus, another frenzy ensued. This one, spurred on by radio stations called for people to bring in their Beatles records and memorabilia to be destroyed. Donahue said for collectors like himself and Bill Schurk, his mentor and retired archivist at the Sound Recording Archives, there’s a sadness in seeing what now would be valuable records stomped on. The pattern, Donahue said, was the same: music got popular, there was a backlash, giving it more exposure. As country singer Loretta Lynn noted, when her hit “The Pill” was on the charts radio stations had no choice to play it despite complaints. The pattern remained through the years as one…

BGSU library hosts presentation on banned music

Submitted by MATTHEW DONAHUE In recognition of Banned Books Week, Bowling Green State University’s Jerome Library will present “Popular Music Controversies and Banned Popular Music: The Ascent from Low Culture to High Culture” by Dr. Matthew Donahue, of the Department of Popular Culture, Thursday, Sept. 28 at 1 p.m. in the Pallister Conference Room. The free presentation will highlight some of the controversies surrounding rock and roll music and various subgenres from the 1950s to the present. In addition to examining some of the controversies surrounding rock and roll and its many subgenres, this presentation will also examine how certain popular music styles have gone from being labeled as “low culture” and being banned or controversial, to being celebrated and embraced by so called “high culture” institutions such as museums and universities. There will also be a brief musical performance by Dr. Matthew Donahue (guitar) and BGSU alumni Craig Dickman  (drums) and Tyler Burg (bass). Dr. Matthew Donahue is a lecturer in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University, teaching a variety of courses related to popular music and popular culture. In addition he is a recognized musician, artist, filmmaker and writer, his academic and creative pursuits can be viewed at www.md1210.com .  

Dancing the night away at Toledo Museum’s Block Party

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Toledo Museum of Art’s annual Block Party takes place throughout the museum’s campus. And for the fourth party held Saturday night, even the lawns and terrace didn’t seem like they were quite big enough as thousands of neighbors, coming from as close a few blocks away or neighboring communities, jammed the museum grounds for a night of entertainment, food, beverages, and camaraderie. The air throbbed with the sounds of hip hop, electronica and funk. Two dance groups performed, including the Hellenic Dancers. The troupe’s performance was tied to the opening in the museum’s Canaday Gallery of the major exhibit “The Berlin Painter and His World.” The show showcases dozens of vases painted in 5th Century B.C. in Athens, Greece. Considered the finest representations of their time, the vases come from museums around the world.  During a glass demonstration tiny replicas of those vases were being created. Greek food was also among the cuisines available from the food trucks arrayed along Monroe Street. The evening also featured The Dancers of Aha! Indian Dancers and Birds Eye View Circus. Despite the international flare, all the performers come from Toledo, a nod to the area’s cultural richness. The multi-ethnic throng ranged in age from babes in arms and hard-to-corral toddlers to elders, who for whatever their infirmities, still could move to the music. As closing approached, people were still dancing to the throbbing beats delivered by DJ Folk. In the middle of it all, Alexander Calder’s sculpture “Stegosaurus” presided, poised it seemed to snap its moorings and join the dance.    

WGTE radio launching new programming

WGTE Public Media will begin broadcasting a selection of new programs July 1 on WGTE FM 91.3 in Toledo, WGLE FM 90.7 in Lima, WGBE FM 90.9 in Bryan and WGDE FM 91.9 in Defiance. Ask Me Another Saturdays from 10 – 11 a.m. beginning July 1 Ask Me Another brings the lively spirit and healthy competition of your favorite trivia night right to your ears. With a rotating cast of funny people, puzzle writers and VIP guests, it features the wit of host Ophira Eisenberg, the music of house musician Jonathan Coulton, and rambunctious trivia games, all played in front of a live audience. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio Saturdays from 12 – 1 p.m. beginning July 1 From street food in Thailand to a bakery in a Syrian refugee camp to how one scientist uses state of the art pollen analysis to track the origins of honey (and also to solve cold murder cases), Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio goes anywhere and everywhere to ask questions and get answers about cooking, food, culture, wine, farming, restaurants, literature, and the lives and cultures of the people who grow, produce, and create the food we eat. With a four-star cast of contributors including Sara Moulton (long-time public television host and cookbook author), Adam Gopnik (contributing writer for The New Yorker), Stephen Meuse (wine writer and expert), Dan Pashman (host of The Sporkful podcast) and host Christopher Kimball (founder of Cook’s Magazine, long-time public TV and radio host, and founder of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street), Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio is recorded in the studios of WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. Sunday Baroque Sundays from 11a.m. – noon beginning July 2 Fresh and inviting, upbeat and inspiring, Sunday Baroque is a weekly radio program featuring beloved and appealing music composed in the baroque era (1600-1750) and the years leading up to it. The music may be centuries-old, but it’s the perfect antidote for the stress and distractions of our modern lives, so you can relax and recharge for the week ahead. Host Suzanne Bona offers a huge variety of beloved and appealing music performed by the world’s finest musicians on a wide variety of instruments. Conversations from the World Café Sundays from 9 – 10 p.m. beginning July 2 A weekly one-hour show hosted by Talia Schlanger presenting interviews and performances of the daily show while exploring trends in contemporary music and culture and the artists who create it. Serving up a blend of blues, rock, world, folk, and alternative country, live performances, and intimate interviews, the program is produced by WXPN-FM in Philadelphia. Concierto Mondays from 10 p.m. – midnight beginning July 3 Concierto is a weekly program of classical music presented in Spanish and English. The program features classical music by Latin American and Spanish composers and musicians. Hosted by WDAV’s Frank Dominguez. Collector’s Corner…

Paul Simon mixes new work with fan favorites in Toledo Zoo concert

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media The dilemma of Paul Simon came to the fore in one brief moment at Sunday night’s concert at the Toledo Zoo. He’d just performed “Stranger to Stranger” the title track from his latest album. That was new, he said, now I’ll play something old. A female voice exclaimed from the audience: “Oh, yeah!” Simon knows that most of those who packed the Zoo Amphitheatre were there to hear the hits, especially those dating back to his Simon and Garfunkel days. That was evident from the rapturous greeting those numbers received. But Simon has never stopped growing as a songwriter and musician in the almost half century since the duo broke up. Each album – and that really starts with “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” the last Simon and Garfunkel studio effort that is a bridge into Simon’s solo career – has been a sonic experiment, first in the textures of the sounds of the American soul – rock, jazz, gospel, rockabilly – and later extending to South African, Brazil, and electronics. He’s grown into the most sophisticated American pop songwriter, whose evocative lyrics float over complex, multi-rhythmic grooves. Encapsulating such multidimensional body of work into a single concert is daunting. Simon and his wildly talented band of musical wizards managed it easily. Like his albums, the zoo show had a unified sound that captured the textures of Simon’s various musical phases. He opened with a blast – “Boy in the Bubble” from 1986’s “Graceland.” “A bomb in a baby carriage shattering a shop window,” he sang, a line sadly still current. The “Graceland” album was the most referenced during the set. The best-selling album’s infectious cross rhythms provided consistent bursts of energy. Simon negotiated the audience’s expectations. After the opener, he slipped into the familiar “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” with drummer Jim Oblon paying homage to, but not aping, Steve Gadd’s original funky, march cadence. Given Simon’s taste in collaborators, the band was playing in the shadow of musicians who left indelible marks on his music. The presence of Bakithi Kumalo, the original bassist from “Graceland” was a boost. Too bad guitarist Vincent Nguini, also from that band, had to bow out because of illness leaving guitarist and baritone saxophonist Mark Stewart to fill the void. Having served up something familiar, Simon slipped into something that should be more familiar “Dazzling Blue” from 2011’s “So Beautiful or So What.” At 75 Simon voice has a certain graininess, he still sounds great, and his enunciation of his lyrics is clear, a plus for his less well known songs. Each word registered. Each phrase was well shaped. Each song a drama in its own right. Then it was back to the “Graceland” album for the zydeco romp “That Was Your Mother,” before 2011’s “Rewrite.” Having made it clear that he…

Gathering Volumes hosting Harry Potter House Party, June 26

In celebration of their one year anniversary Gathering Volumes invites you to a Harry Potter House Party on June 26 at 7 p.m. Gathering Volumes bookstore in Perrysburg will be hosting events throughout the day on Monday, June 26 to celebrate their first anniversary. The day will include special discounts throughout the day, children’s activities including an introductory class on coding, a special story time, and book giveaways. They will end the day with a special house-themed Harry Potter party at 7 p.m. During the party guests will be sorted into their house based on the color of their clothes, so if you know your preferred house, dress appropriately. “Many fans know what house they belong to based on personal preference or the quiz on the Pottermore site,” says Denise Phillips, owner of Gathering Volumes. “So we have encouraged them to attend the party dressed in the color of their house. For example, anyone wearing predominantly green apparel will be sorted into Slytherin. E ach house will compete in four competitions and one house will be deemed the winner of the house cup. Members of the winning house will receive prizes at the end of the night.” Additionally, the party will involve Hogwarts appropriate snacks, and The Glass City Mashers will be offering samples of beer brewed locally, possibly even a Butterbeer. The Glass City Mashers are a beer, mead, and cider homebrewing club of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, formed in 2011. The non-profit organization looks to find ways to raise awareness for homebrewed and craft beer along with helping other charities in Northwest Ohio. “Internationally the first book of the Harry Potter series Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released this month in special house versions to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter,” says Denise. “We are working with a Canadian company to bring those to our customers and thought it would be appropriate to host an anniversary party with that theme. We are currently taking orders for the house books. There is an option of a paperback or a hardcover for each house: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. They are very colorful versions of the first book in the series and are the original/international version of the book.” Gathering Volumes opened in Perrysburg on June 26, 2016. (http://bgindependentmedia.org/gathering-volumes-in-perrysburg-offers-place-for-book-lovers-to-congregate/) At opening they sold new books and book related items. Throughout their first year they have adapted to customer needs. “We have a different mix of new books than when we opened,” Phillips explains. “For example we have a larger selection of Spiritual books than when we opened and a small selection of Travel books. We also added Used Books after the New Year. We now accept Used Books for trade credit in the store and even have a Rare/Collectible selection. Our goal has always been to be the local, independent bookstore for…

Popular culture scholars to mine the resources of Jerome Library during summer institute

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Lynn Bartholome first heard about Professor Ray Browne of Bowling Green State University when she was teenager in the late 1960s. She read a magazine article about Browne’s pioneering work at BGSU creating the academic discipline of popular culture. “This is incredibly cool,” she thought. Here was a way of explaining to her father why she spent so much time watching television. After raising her children, Bartholome went on to earn a doctorate in humanities, studying the popular culture of classical times. A former president of the Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association, she is directing the association’s Summer Research Institute that runs Sunday through Thursday at BGSU. Popular culture, she explained in a recent telephone interview isn’t just about what’s popular now, — that would best be called “pop culture” – but rather the culture of everyday life in any time period. Bartholome said she once talked to Ray Browne, and he said he regretted terming the phrase “popular culture,” thinking that the phrase “common culture” would be best. Bartholome never studied with Browne. Instead she attended Florida State, where she worked with one of his close colleagues Jerome Stern. “Popular culture is something we’ve had since the beginning,” she said. “It’s the culture of the average man and the average woman.” That means the scholar not only studies Van Gogh, but the street painters of his time. One of Browne’s own favorite topics was wallpaper because it reflects the way people thought of their lives and the times they were living in. Browne’s work, Bartholome said, is still “very pertinent.” “Ray Browne and his peers struggled to gain legitimacy for popular culture,” she said. “We don’t bat an eyelash now at a course on the Rolling Stones. We don’t even think about it anymore.” But when Browne was first advocating for popular culture’s inclusion in the curriculum other academics “thought it was crazy.” “He fought for legitimacy. We are fortunate we no longer have to do that.” In its second year, the institute celebrates Browne’s legacy. The institute welcomes 23 scholars who will conduct research using the resources in Jerome Library, primarily those in the Ray and Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies and the Music Library and Bill Schurk Sound Archives. “If you’re a popular culture scholar, this is the place you go,” she said. The BGSU collection and the collection at Michigan State University “are the best popular culture collections in the country and probably the world.” The scholars had to submit proposals about what they would be studying during the institute. Those were vetted by BGSU Music Librarian Susannah Cleveland and Popular Culture Librarian Nancy Down to make sure those subjects fit with the resources at the university. The scholars include graduate students completing their work on master’s degrees, tenured professors, and independent scholars….

Scruci sends message of caution regarding “13 Reasons Why” to all BGCS families

Caution for Families about Students Viewing “13 Reasons Why” BGCS staff has heard, and many families may be aware from recent media reports, about concerns that have been raised about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.  Many youth, including BGCS students, are watching the Netflix series, which was adapted from a popular book of the same title by Jay Asher.  The book and series follow a group of students as they piece together a story left behind by a classmate who died by suicide. While the story touches on important topics, the content is very graphic in nature. Critics have raised concerns that the series romanticizes or glamorizes suicide but gives no healthy alternative to kids struggling with emotional problems.   Although we do not encourage viewing, we believe it is critical for our children and youth to process this information with a trusted adult if they have watched this series.  For this reason, we encourage you to talk with your children about what they are watching, either at home or elsewhere in the company of their friends. BGCS resources related to suicide prevention are available through the Wood County Children’s Resource Center – links can be found on school websites. Finally, as always, we want to remind families that all of our school counselors, school psychologists and staff are available whenever you have questions or concerns.     Precaución para Familias Sobre la Serie “13 Reasons Why” El personal de BGCS está consciente de las preocupaciones sobre la serie de Netflix, “13 Reasons Why.” Usted tal vez ha escuchado estas mismas preocupaciones mediante los recientes informes de prensa. Muchos jóvenes, incluyendo los estudiantes de BGCS, están viendo la serie, adaptada por el libro popular del mismo título, escrito por Jay Asher. El libro y la serie se tratan de un grupo de estudiantes que intentan de reconstruir una historia dejada por una compañera de la escuela, que murió por suicidio. Mientras que la historia toca temas importantes, el contenido es bastante gráfico. Los críticos han expresado su preocupación de que la serie idealiza o glorifica el suicidio, sin dar alternativas saludables a los jóvenes que luchan con problemas emocionales. Aunque no recomendamos ver la serie, creemos que es fundamental que si nuestros niños y jóvenes han visto esta serie, analizen esta información con un adulto de confianza. Por esta razón, le recomendamos que hable con sus hijos sobre los programas que ven en casa o con amigos en otros lugares. Los recursos del BGCS relacionados con la prevención del suicidio están disponibles a través del Centro de Recursos para Niños de Wood County – se pueden encontrar enlaces en los sitios web de la escuela. Finalmente, como siempre, queremos recordar a las familias que todos nuestros consejeros escolares, psicólogos escolares y personal están disponibles para cualquier pregunta o preocupación que pueda surgir.

Record Store day is a hit at Finders

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News National Record Store Day has turned into a record-setting day for sales at Finders Records in downtown Bowling Green. “The last three or four years for Record Store Day have been record-setting days for us in the history of Finders,” said the shop’s founder and owner Greg Halamay. He was standing inside the door greeting people as he let them in. With 200-300 people waiting outside the downtown Bowling Green shop for the 10 a.m., opening he was controlling how many people were in so the store didn’t become too crowded. The most popular area was the crates of vinyl records. In its 10th year, Record Store Day was founded to celebrate the resilience of the local record store. Getting ready for the day is a lot of work, Halamay said. “But it’s a celebration of what we are, who we are, and where we’ve been down the path.” The beginning of Record Store Day coincided with the rediscovery of vinyl records, the music format of choice when Finders first opened its doors in 1971. “Vinyl is back,” Halamay said. “Vinyl has been embraced at Record Store Day with all the special editions that’ve come out and created a lot of enthusiasm for the record collectors.” Some of the earliest arrivals were from Columbus and Cincinnati, Halamay said. And collectors travel from Michigan to shop. Zachary Weymer drove up from Sidney with his best friend from childhood for Record Store Day. They’d previously gone to a store in Lima, but decided the extra miles were worth a trip to Bowling Green. “These guys have a way better selection.” They got in line at 9:30 a.m., and 50 minutes later he was in the store. He carried his purchases in a special issue Record Store Day cloth bag, the perfect size for LPs. One of his finds was a special issue by the band Bullet for My Valentine. These songs will only be released on this format, he said. The record is pressed in a clear, crimson vinyl. Ordering online is also an option, but Weymer said he wants to handle a record before buying. “You can really check it out.” For Weymer, as with other collectors on hand, vinyl delivers a better sound. “I just love it sitting around the house listening.” Larry Walker, of Findlay, will be listening to some classics – Neil Young, The Doors, and Grateful Dead, not to mention a Beatles single. The sound of vinyl, he said, is “crisper.” He said tries to make it the Finders a couple times a year. Now retired, this is the first time he’s been able to get to the shop on Record Store Day, though he’s always come up later to get special issues that were still available. There’s no place closer to his home here he…

BGSU Arts Events through April 12

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS March 31 – Jazz Week continues with a trombone performance from Jazz Lab Band I with Grammy-nominated guest artist Alan Ferber. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Wolfe Center, by phone at 419-372-8171, or online at www.bgsu.edu/the-arts/. Advance tickets are $3 for students and children and $7 for adults. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. April 1 – Bravo! BGSU celebrates the very best of the arts. Experience a magical evening of vocal, instrumental and theatrical performances, plus exhibitions and demonstrations by student and faculty artists in glass, ceramics, metals and digital arts. Enjoy a festive atmosphere and an array of appetizers and tasty treats. The celebration will begin at 7 p.m. in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. To purchase tickets to the event, contact Lisa Mattiace in the President’s Office at 419-372-6780 or by email at lmattia@bgsu.edu April 1 – Students from BGSU’s College of Musical Arts will be featured in an afternoon chamber music concert at 1 p.m. at the Way Public Library, 101 E. Indiana Ave., Perrysburg. Hosted by Pro Musica, friends of music at the college, the program will feature students who have received travel grants from the organization. The concert is free and open to the public. April 2 – The Gish Sunday Matinee series kicks off with the 1945 film “And Then There Were None,” directed by René Clair. Agatha Christie’s celebrated who-done-it “Ten Little Indians,” under the deft guidance of French director Clair, becomes a delightful, sly, topnotch film noir. The skillful adaptation boasts a strong cast of Hollywood’s most memorable character actors, with a score by esteemed Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The program will also include a Technicolor cartoon. The screening begins at 3 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater located in Hanna Hall. Free April 2 – The A Cappella Choir and University Men’s Chorus will perform at 3 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased at the box office in the Wolfe Center, by phone at 419-372-8171, or online at www.bgsu.edu/the-arts/. Advance tickets are $3 for students and children and $7 for adults. All tickets are $10 the day of the performance. April 3 – Pianist Phyllis Lehrer is the next performer in the Guest Artist Series. Known internationally as a performer, teacher, clinician, author and adjudicator, Lehrer has enjoyed an active concert career as a soloist and collaborative artist in the United States, Canada, Central America, Asia and Europe. Her performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall of the Moore Musical Arts center. Free April 4-6 — The College of Musical Arts at Bowling Green State University will host a residency on the…

Browne Conference deemed a success

BY BINCY ABDUL SAMAD Culture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’ Association The Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Ray Broadus Browne (1922-2009), a visionary and pioneer in the academic study of popular culture. A folklorist and literary scholar, Dr. Browne was instrumental in the expansion of popular culture studies and founded the Center for Popular Culture Studies, the BGSU Department of Popular Culture, the Popular Press (now at the University of Wisconsin), the Popular Culture Association, the Journal of Popular Culture, and the Popular Culture Library, which now bears the names of he and his wife, Alice Maxine “Pat” Browne (1932-2013). The 2017, fourth annual Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies is co-hosted by the BGSU Culture Club: Cultural Studies Scholars’Association and the Popular Culture Scholars’ Association at BGSU. Bincy Abdul Samad, president of Culture Club and Courtney Bliss, president of PCSA were the co-chairs of the program. This year’s conference is titled, “Intersections of Identities: Difference and Coalition in a transnational Context.” And the conference theme draws on multiple perspectives of difference and coalition, as well as how we write about, discuss, and even experience them in our own lives. It was held from March 17-19, at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union in Bowling Green State University, Ohio, and there were over 127 participants for this year’s conference, which also included interesting events such as Safe Zone training, the Latino Student Union, and Black Student Union workshops, Scholar works workshop, discussion on Sanctuary campus, the second Annual Ray Browne film festival/screening, and also the tour of the Ray and Pat Browne Popular Culture library. President Mary Ellen Mazey delivered the opening remarks and there were two keynote speakers, Staceyann Chin for the Culture Club, and Laurenn McCubbin for the PCSA. Chin is a spoken-word poet, performing artist, activist, and novelist. Chin currently teaches a seminar at the arts-oriented Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn and is working as a part-time faculty member at New York University. McCubbin is a large-scale, immersive installation artist, documentarian, and Associate Professor of Foundations at Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio. The conference was a grand success with concurrent panels happening all three days and the turnout was high even on Sunday, the final day of the conference. The conference concluded with the closing remarks by Dr. Angela Nelson, Interim Director of the School of Cultural and Critical Studies. Bincy Abdul Samad, president of the Culture Club seems very happy about the immense success of the conference. She said, “The conference was the dream and hard work of many people, including the Culture Club and PCSA members who had been planning this since last August.”

Music rings out up & down BG’s Main Street

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music brought people together in downtown Bowling Green Friday night. On South Main Street more than 100 people gathered at Grounds for Thought for “Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song” a protest song singalong led by three of the four members of the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. A couple blocks north more than 100 people celebrated the ageless power of rock ‘n’ roll with The Welders, who for more than 30 years have been staging a spring break show at Howard’s Club H. Mary Jane Saunders, co-pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, opened “Singing for Our Lives” at Grounds by explaining her rationale for suggesting the event. Many are feeling stressed and uncomfortable in the current political climate, she said. That’s been expressed in several rallies, most held in the green space next to the Presbyterian Church.             The sing-along of classic songs was offered as an occasion “to have fun together” while not forgetting the cause that has united so many in the community. “Music has the power to empower and to energize us,” she said. Pop music historian Ken Bielen gave a brief introduction to protest music, much of it by simply quoting memorable lines. He recalled that it was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who urged Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech. “When people get together in the right combination, history is made.” He then recalled Country Joe McDonald’s admonition to the throngs at Woodstock singing along to “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” “I don’t know how you expect the stop the war when you can’t sing any better than that.” And at first the singing at the Grounds event was, let’s say,  dutiful. But humor, another unifier, helped pull everyone in. After singing the Holly Near song that gave the event its title, Jason Wells-Jensen joked about the setting of the microphone, saying all short people were the same height to him. At which point bandmate Anne Kidder, started singing “we are tall and short, together” with the audience spontaneously picking up the tune and continuing even after Kidder had stopped singing. From then on, the singing grew more enthusiastic, even as some of the lyrics were tough on the tongue or the music was in 5/4 time and the audience was supposed to clap on the fourth and fifth beats. The sound ranged from Don Scherer’s seismic bass to the jangle of percussion. The GRUBS for the occasion loosened their prohibition against non-ukulele instruments and employed guitars and Sheri Wells-Jensen’s banjo. That was a fitting choice given banjo was the instrument of activist and folk singer Pete Seeger, whose songs and spirit infused the gathering. The repertoire included the lesser known verses of such standards…

Residents to lift voices in protest song at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When people are frustrated, sometimes the only thing to do is sing. Pastor Mary Jane Saunders, of the First Presbyterian Church, knows many people are concerned about the current state of affairs, and she decided to help organize an event that will enable them to give voice to their frustrations. She was inspired in part by a video of Pete Seeger, Holly Near and others who use music as a form of activism. So Friday, March 3, at 7 p.m. ‘Singing for Our Lives: Empowering the People through Song’ will be presented at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Saunders enlisted the local ukulele quartet the GRUBs – Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp – to be the house band for the event. Sheri Wells-Jensen, of the GRUBS, said the set list will include both old and new material. The GRUBS have already dipped their toes, or ukuleles, into current issues when they recorded “Where’s Bob?” a humorous song about Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s unwillingness to hold a town hall meeting. Wells-Jensen and her husband, Jason Wells-Jensen, added their voices to last Sunday’s rally to support immigrants. They have written a call and response blues number “Send Them All to Me” for “Singing for Our Lives,” she said. “The purpose is to reintroduce people to the power of singing together and why people do that,” Wells-Jensen said. The event seeks “to reclaim the label ‘protest music,’ and to give people permission to ditch that label if it gets in the way.” “We Shall Overcome” has to be on the setlist, Wells-Jensen said. They will also include “This Land Is Your Land” with all the verses. The Woody Guthrie classic has come to be perceived as a harmless ditty, but taken in its entirety it is “a marvelously rich and wide-ranging song that includes a lot of people,” she said. “We’ll sing patriotic music, too,” she said, “because these folks are patriots.” So “America the Beautiful” will be on the program. Even if a song doesn’t connect with their concerns, it may mean something to the person sitting next to them. “The thing is you don’t have to love all the songs,” Wells-Jensen said. “These are not songs for the individual these are songs for the community. … Any time people share a concern, .they get together, and sing about it, it can make things better.” She and Saunders hope this will be the first of a series of gatherings. While the GRUBS will be the house band for this, Wells-Jensen said, she looks forward to passing the torch. “There are so many great musicians in our area, it sort of astonishes me.” She’d love to see someone pick it up, adding wryly, “if we don’t wreck it.”  

“Activism from Where You Are” theme of BGSU Women’s History Month events

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS “Activism from Where You Are” is the theme of the keynote event in this year’s Women’s History Month celebrations at Bowling Green State University. New York poet and political activist Staceyann Chin will conduct a workshop on the topic Saturday, March 18 , from 5-8 p.m. Chin, an “out” poet and Jamaican national, has starred in the Tony Award-nominated “Def Poetry Jam on Broadway,” has performed in “Voices of a People’s History of the United States,” in one-woman shows off-Broadway and at the Nuyorican Poets’ Café. The workshop, geared toward students, she will share her own story about how a girl “born into denial and contempt can grow up resilient, sane and full of purpose.” The workshop will include a gathering of participants’ family narratives and how those unique narratives can inform their activism. Pre-registration for the workshop is required. Email the Women’s Center at womencenter@bgsu.edu. The overarching theme of the month’s events is “Get in Formation: Women of Color and Contemporary Activism.” Sponsored by the Women’s Center and the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, there are activities for people of all ages. Below is a sampling of what’s happening. The annual “Toss the Tiara,” an alternative dress-up day for boys and girls, takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday (March 4) in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom at the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Also on March 18, the National Council of Negro Women Empowerment Conference will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Pre-registration is also required for this event. Faculty members from BGSU and other universities will speak at and host conferences and events throughout the month. On March 22, “Focused Falcons: BGSU Alumni Activists” will feature a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Sandra Faulkner, director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. The discussion begins at noon in the Women’s Center, 107 Hanna Hall. A discussion on “Indigenous and International Women Activists,” at 2:30 p.m. March 23 in 410 Kuhlin Center, will be moderated by Dr. Jackie Sievert, political science. Dr. Nicole Jackson, history, will lead a screening and discussion of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” at 7 p.m. March 27 in 107 Hanna Hall. She will also present “Say Her Name: Justice and Honor for Murdered Black Women” at noon March 15 in the Women’s Center. The month wraps up with the annual Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Colloquium on March 31. Sessions will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Union. The keynote speaker for the colloquium will be Dr. Roopika Risam of Salem State University. Her address, “Decolonizing Digital Cultural Memory: Digital Humanities as Digital Activism,” will take place at 2 p.m. in 308 Union.

Kehinde Wiley’s portraits bring people from the street to museum walls

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Kehinde Wiley found his direction as a painter on a street in Harlem. He’d recently finished his graduate studies in art at Yale and had enrolled the Studio Museum of Harlem’s art residency program in 2001. At Yale he painted black males with extravagant hair styles. Thursday in a talk at the Toledo Museum of Art, he said that had completed his study “at the feet of the fathers,” and was in a crisis as to where to go next. There at his feet he found a piece of paper. A rap sheet. On it was the young man’s mug shot. Wiley said at that instant he thought: “This is a really cool portrait. I know that’s kind of screwed up. If you’re thinking like I think which is to use your life to tell a story about the world you live in, finding this piece of paper tells a story about the world we live in.” He turned the mug shot into a portrait, and that painting is now hanging in the Toledo Museum of Art’s exhibit Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic. The major retrospective of the Brooklyn-based artist’s career is now on exhibit through May 14. In the 15 years since finding that mugshot Wiley has achieved “super star status,” said Brian Kennedy, director of the Toledo Museum. That was evident by the standing-room-only crowd that gathered in the Peristyle on Thursday to hear the artist’s talk on his work. Wiley has achieved fame by both celebrating and challenging the notions of Western art. He has highlighted the lack of black bodies depicted in the paintings of museums such as the TMA. “That’s not right,” Kennedy said. Wiley has set about redressing that by setting young people of color who he meets on the streets and dance halls around the world and placing them within the context of Western classic art. So it is a black man wearing a bandana, sweat wristbands and camouflage who leads the army over the Alps, not Napoleon. Through Wiley’s work black bodies command their place on museum walls in monumental form dressed in the best urban fashion. Some of the women wear gowns designed by a top designer. All this came about because his mother sent Wiley and his twin brother to after-school art classes when they were 11. They lived in South Central Los Angeles and were coming of age in the late 1980s, the same time the Crips and the Bloods were emerging. “My mother put me through art school as a kid not because she particularly cared about the paintings on the wall but because she wanted to keep us off the street.” The classes required two-hour treks across the city and back to the museum where they met kids from different neighborhoods who spoke different languages and…