Review Magazine Bob Martin

Brush Street at Pit and Balcony Theatre brings the holidays home to Saginaw By Sue White | For on December 11, 2012 at 8:30 AM, updated December 11, 2012 at 8:31 AMJulie Mulady & Mike Brushcourtesy SAGINAW, MI – It was a near perfect night when Brush Street, featuring Julie Mulady, brought a few friends along for a night of holiday music at Bay City’s State Theatre.“About the only thing missing was Saginaw,” Michael Brush said, laughing. “So we started thinking of a way to bring it home.”It was easier than he thought, with Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, impressed by the musicians’ donation of their talents to a benefit for the CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region and Hidden Harvest, opening its doors to the event.The encore performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at the theater at 805 N. Hamilton. Tickets, available at the CAN Council office, 1311 N. Michigan; Hidden Harvest, 940 E. Genesee, and dawn of a new day, 210 S. Washington, cost $15 for adults and $10 for students.“I’ve worked with the CAN Council and with Hidden Harvest through the years, and I know the great work they do,” said the retired Saginaw music teacher who calls Freeland home. “I’ve written songs for them, and we did events with my kids,” even before he started teaching at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy.And Brush is bringing a new wrinkle to the Saginaw show, big band orchestra stands that light up the stage like the starship Enterprise.“They are so awesome,” he said. “Marty Kempf came over to show me some pictures he took at the SASA show they did for me, and he wondered if I knew of anyone who could use the stands.“They had been a gift from his father before he died, and Marty had sold them to a man who had a big band up in Tawas. We got them out of the case and they had this Plexiglass panel that curved up.”They turned on the lights “and whoa, it was so retro. I can’t wait to use them at the Pit. We could probably even put different colors in each one. They are just so awesome.”The brass and strings, tweaked to better accompany the holiday fare, are cool, too, he said. While a few of the musicians from the Bay City show had earlier commitments, he has Mike Curtiss, Jim Fulkerson and Ryan Fitzgerald joining him in the rhythm section; Sarah Schmidtke, Kunio Ouellette and Archie Sawyer providing flute and brass; Nate Wilkins and Rod and Nathan Bieber bringing in the strings and Brandy Hecht, Mariama Sharper, Dan Taylor and David Horwath singing background vocals for Mulady.Among the holiday pieces are some of Brush’s own compositions, including “Contemplation of Snow,” “Decembering,” “Seasonings” and “Christmas Eve for Two,” along with Mulady’s personal favorite, “The Bells of St. Paul.”“I started working on the arrangements last summer and you really needed the flute, bells and chimes more than the sax and trombones we usually bring along,” Brush said. “It’s a lot of work but it went so well in Bay City. We just had to do it again.“And with those stands, it’s going to be an awesome night.”” - Sue White


The Year in Music * 2012From Issue 761 (Published December 20th, 2012)Written By Robert E Martin Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, National Music, More Sharing ServicesShare |EXCERPT: Michael Brush & Brush Street * In his retirement the creative juice of keyboardist, songwriter, and vocalist Mike Brush is flourishing at full-steam. Apart from journeying back into the studio with vocalist Julie Mulady, guitarist Matt Corrigan, drummer Jordan Edwards, and bassist Ryan Fitzgerald, Brush put on a landmark performance at Bay City's State Theatre earlier in the year, reworking musical gems in his original catalog for full orchestra, adding violins, cellos, saxophones, trombones and trumpets to this sound; and signifying a pivotal new musical direction as an arranger. Book-ending the year with a series of holiday concerts consisting of a similar orchestral line-up, Brush has proven he's in a professional league with such luminaries as Burt Bacharach and Henry Mancini. Additionally, Brush released a new book of his lyrics entitled Words that is available on Speaking of books & musical artists, Saginaw's legendary guitarist/songwriter Dick Wagner clocked high on the best-seller list this year with his memoir Not Only Women Bleed, which covered his early beginnings and memories with The Bossmen and The Frost, and led into his high-flying days with Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Aerosmith. And Wagner wasn't alone. Neil Young, Pete Townsend and Rod Stewart all weighted in with autobiographies and memoirs this year, proving that when rock stars start to push into their late 60's, obviously chronicling and making sense of their legacy becomes a top priority. While I've only read excerpts from Townsend's and Stewart's bios, Neil Young's 'Waging Heavy Peace' is one of the most intimate and revelatory reflections and meditations on the creative process and the price of success that I've yet to absorb. While most rock biographies all follow a similar story-line: young artist gets signed, manager rips him off, drugs & decadence litter the landscape, followed by recovery and rehab; Neil's spare time is spent much differently. Apart from surviving polio as a child, and driving to stratospheric success with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby Stills & Nash, not to mention his own solo career and work with Crazy Horse, in his spare time Young concentrates on developing LinkVolt - a new type of 'Green' environmentally friendly way to run classic cars; and invests heavily in the development of 'PureTone' - a revolutionary way to present digital MP3 downloads so that 95% of the music isn't lost in translation. Indeed, it's Young's theory (and a sound one) that one of the reasons music doesn't carry the same weight with younger generations as it once did is because with MP3-s and digital downloads, you only get 5 % of the sound that is recorded through analog. PureTone is one road to opening the full power, fury, and impact of recorded sound - for that alone, Young is to be commended. And as if this guy isn't prolific enough, he also managed to release two great new CD's in 2012: the electrified translation of old cowboy/campfire songs, Americana; and the jam-laden thunder of Psychedelic Pill with his old cohorts Crazy Horse. Glen Thomas Rideout is an award-winning conductor and baritone and once again led the Saginaw Choral Society into impressive new creative directions in 2012. A native of Baltimore, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Voice from Vanderbilt University and a Master's degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree. Rideout's passion for music and the capacity it possesses for drawing seemingly disparate people and groups together stems from the fact that he views music as truly a 'universal language' - a notion that he developed during childhood; and has tested numerous times since with people from different cultures, persuasions, and backgrounds. Developing the 2012-13 Choral Society series around a thematic motif that matches music with colors, his talent for creatively advancing choral music is decidedly impressive. Equally gifted musical director Brett Mitchell also piloted the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra into new dimensions in 2012, assembling programs and works that showcased and melded the classics with the creative originality of younger classical composers surfacing throughout Michigan. In the process, he managed to set attendance records for the SBSO and is to be truly commended for his achievements. And while we're on the topic of local legends & musical excellence, the musical collective of Tammy, Tim & Andrew Grefe, Stephan Gaus, and Carter Roberts performed what they claim will be their last concert fund-raiser in 2012, going out in style with an incredible series of performances entitled Running On Empty that nailed the vocal complexity and musical textures of groups like America, The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and Santana to letter-tight perfection. Shifting to the Midland area, Timothy Boychuck re-convened the musicians from The Timothy Hyde Project to present a 10th Anniversary performance of his epic-rock opera Heal - a creative achievement that has set a standard in local songwriting. Thematically, Heal functions as a compilation of 15-songs that explore the various human conditions of Fear, Rage, Abuse, Sadness, Hope and Salvation from the ostensibly incongruous perspective of a canine animal. Similar to the way the Broadway classic Cats succeeds - by looking at diametrically opposed dualities of the human condition such as grace and greed, cruelty and kindness that is embedded within the human condition from a dog's perspective, Boychuck managed to hold a mirror up to the self-centered nature of humanity in general to allow us insight into ways we can grow to become positive forces upon the canvas of a world that often seems bleak. Also deserving a huge shout out are the people that pull the Matrix:Midland Festival together. This year they showcased two of the finest live concert performances of the year by bringing Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt to the stage in May, along with young jazz dynamo Esperanza Spaulding. Touring behind the recent release of her 19th album, Slipstream, Raitt was in fine spirits and polished form as the unmistakable timber of her lush and pristine vocal range wrapped emotive clarity around each syllable that she sang, while those nimble fingers traveled over the fret-board of her guitar, proving to the sold-out crowd that Raitt's signature slide-guitar playing is distinctly singular and unmistakably occupies a class all it's own. Indeed, as opening act Marc Cohn noted, “Bonnie is such a class act that it's easy to forget what a badass she is.” “If it's not broke, don't fix it,” stated William Koepke, event coordinator for the annual Saginaw On Stage Music Festival, which also turned out to be a musical high-water mark in the Great Lakes Bay region for 2012. Since its inception 9 years ago, SOS has evolved into a pivotal fundraising event for the Saginaw Rotary Club, raising over $120,000 for local charities and organizations, while serving as a broad showcase to feature over 30 musical groups & artists that define the canvas of musical talent populating the Great Lakes Bay region. As for the silver screen, Detroit-born Tony D'Annunzio awakened a sleeping beast with the release of his incredible documentary on the legendary musical scene created at the Grande Ballroom back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Shown at the Hells Half Mile Film Festival in Bay City this fall, the film Louder Than Love is an epic chronicle of a time when Michigan was giving birth to the White Panther Party, women's liberation, and the Grande served as the scaffolding for groups like the MC5, The Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad to explore new forms of industrial music and free speech. Forget such truffles as Almost Famous - this film is the 'real deal' - a portrait of a time of change when freedom of expression took on a brand new hue and cry and Rock Music as an art from ascended on par with the classical masters. On other fronts, the 26th Review Music Awards honored the area's best, brightest and most talented in late April of this year. Top winners voted by the public at large consisted of Best New Artist Killer Kong, Hip Hop-artists M-20 and Alphabetics, Best Original & Alternative Band, The Banana Convention; Most Innovative artist & Best Rock Songwriter Andy Reed; Dave Kellan & Gutbucket securing a majority of the Blues honors; Steve Armstrong & 25 Cent Beer Band nailing the Best Country Band category, with long-standing stalwarts Burnaround honored as Best Rock & Metal Band. Also deserving praise for top-notch musical events in 2012 are Ben Cohen for pulling together the 5th Annual Free Music Fest in Freeland; as well as the folks at PRIDE for keeping downtown Saginaw alive with their annual Friday Night Live summer musical series. And finally, closing things out in the embrace of musical releases that were committed to posterity, here's a short list of what I feel were the best new original CD releases of 2012: * City of Smooth Jazz - The Robert Lee Revue. Ex-Question Mark & the Mysterian guitarist Bobby Balderama and company have created a musical masterpiece that takes the fluidity of George Benson and the tonal sting of Carlos Santana and wraps it in an entirely unique and distinguishable package of sound. Decidedly not be missing from your collection. * Autumnal Equinox - Equinox. The Celtic musical combination of talent presented by Jean Marie Learman, Katherine Morris, Vern Pococke and Company resulted in a spirited and authentic amalgamation of the traditional and the contemporary, with songs like Are You Sleeping, Maggie? taking the familiar elements of Celtic Folk music and opening them up into lush musical tapestries sounding like they could have been created on an acid-tinged desert by The Doors. * Garbage * Not Your Kind of People. The first Garbage album since 2005 brought everything that made this group unique to the forefront: Shirley Manson's tough shimmering vamped-up voice, solid yet sleek beats; and drummer-producer Butch Vig running all of it through waves of majestic distortion. * Bob Dylan * Tempest. Dylan's 35th album encompasses all we love about this artist. Difficult to approach initially, the work grows upon the listener, gaining deeper meaning and nuance as each layer of the onion is pulled away. Teeming with wit and history and soaked in centuries of folk and pop music, it's difficult to peg a period or a time-frame on this music. In short, the songs are timeless - especially the ironic poetics of the Titanic disaster into an ode for our currently beleaguered ship of state.” - Robert Martin

Review Magazine

Brush Street sets the bar high at Saginaw's Pit and Balcony By Sue White | For on December 23, 2012 at 9:09 AM, updated December 23, 2012 at 9:10 AMSponsored Link SAGINAW, MI – “Hee Haw” meets “Star Trek” is the way composer and pianist Mike Brush called Saturday’s concert at Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, a benefit for the CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region and Hidden Harvest.Performed in front of the Grand Ole Opry set left over from the recent “Nuncrackers” and debuting the orchestra stands that eerily glowed when you turned the lights low, it was spot on.But the more interesting dichotomy evident on a stage stuffed with some of our most talented musicians was how the addition of horns, strings, back-up singers and a terrific rhythm section anchored by bass player Ryan Fitzgerald, percussionist Mike Curtiss and drummer Jim Fulkerson turned even more focus on the duo at its core.It’s a credit to violinists Rob and Nathan Bieber and cellist Nate Wilkins that they slipped into the mix, creating a warm soundscape. Vocalists Brandy Hecht, Mariama Sharper, Dan Taylor and David Horwath did the same for Mulady, bringing depth without drowning anyone out.Even Sarah Schmidtke, Kunio Ouellette and Archie Sawyer’s horns were a bright addition rather than a dominating force.Instead of distracting from Brush Street featuring Julie Mulady, the others enhanced the musical chemistry Brush and Mulady share and even drew something more from their great well of talent.We saw at last spring’s Saginaw on Stage how Mulady swelled before the wall of sound, moving from the breathy chanteuse to a tower of power, belting the big band numbers out like Ethel Merman.Saturday’s Brush Street with Brass & Strings Holiday Show found her striking the perfect balance, in the holiday classics and even more so in Brush’s original works. It’s as if Brush pens songs such as “Christmas Eve for Two” to Mulady’s strengths, or maybe, through years of working together, she knows how to pull out every nuance.In any case, it makes songs like “Decembering,” “Seasonings” and a musical dialogue with Brush as Joseph and Mary searching for shelter as satisfying as “The Holiday Season (Happy Holiday)” and “The Bells of St. Paul.” And you only had to hear her “Mary, Did You Know” to realize what that means.It was a holiday show, an encore performance of an earlier concert at Bay City’s State Theatre that drew back more than a few Saturday, but Brush managed to change things up a little. He brought a few new arrangements, a variation of “Jingle Bell Rock” that bordered on the big band, and medleys of favorite classics.Then he opened the second half with a sparse set, with Curtiss on the drum and Fitzgerald on bass as he went bluesy with “Bells Will Be Ringing” before welcoming everyone back for a round that drew a handful of standing ovations and a pair of encores.The musicians were jubilant afterwards; they knew they were part of something special out there. And the near-capacity audience was ecstatic in their praises.“This is something like you’d expect to see in New York,” said Kevin Profitt as he headed home, and he was right. And it’s just the latest in a stellar assortment of seasonal concerts that continues Friday, Dec. 28, with the Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band concert at Midland’s Memorial Presbyterian Church.Still, Saturday set the bar high for all to come.” - Sue White


Saginaw Choral Society launches its 77th season on a promising note By Sue White | For on October 28, 2012 at 8:08 AM, updated October 28, 2012 at 8:09 AM Enlarge Theophil Syslo | The Saginaw NewsGlen Thomas Rideout, 26, of Ann Arbor, conductor, is holding a rehearsal at the Temple Theatre for the Saginaw Choral Society Christmas concert on December, 10th.Glen Thomas Rideout Conductor gallery (7 photos) SAGINAW, MI – The Saginaw Choral Society waded into many different waters in its season premiere, “Shades of Blue,” on Oct. 27 at the Temple Theatre.It was a challenge, admitted artistic director Glen Thomas Rideout, in his second season at the helm, and his singers agreed. But the gamble, tackling everything from Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” a number they performed years ago with Brubeck himself, to the lively vocal rhythms of the Cuban folk song “Son de Camaguey” and a different sort of Sanctus from “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass,” revealed an ensemble poised and ready for a season where anything’s possible.And in the spirit of collaboration, the concert was punctuated with performances by Michael Brush and a host of others, at one point premiering “Blue,” a song the Freeland jazzman composed for the occasion, and original art in the theater’s Leopard Lounge that reflected the same many variations of blue in works like Kathy Brush’s “In and Out of Blue” and Tara Snyder’s “Forbidden Ghost.”Moses Hogan’s arrangement of “Wade in the Water” showed the choral society at its best, soloists Jean Cole, Betty Mayer, Jennifer Pollack and Nancy Stevenson’s altos and sopranos raising a plaintive voice across the tapestry of the choral backdrop.Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” was another where you could appreciate the complex vocal undercurrent in a song that at first listen reflects the simple beauty of Appalachian folk music through soprano Shannon Morse.The choral society, sporting splashes of blue, opened the show with the soaring “The Blue Bird,” soprano Cindy Humphreys’ playful lilt weaving in and out. It was a sharp contrast to the almost skat-like sounds an otherwise quiet Rideout offered soon after, in turn leading the audience through a series of finger-snapping and thigh-slapping rhythms.It was a perfect segue into “Breaths” and its reminder to listen more often to things rather than beings as the voices of the ancestors are carried in the crackle of the fire.And while pianist Carl Angelo and drummer Steve Nyquist added some accompaniment in the concert’s first half, Angelo showcased in “La cathedrale engloutie,” it was in Act Two that the night’s guests truly stepped forward.Brush, with Nyquist and bassist Ryan Fitzgerald, threw a quick curve, calling young violinist Nathan Bieber forward for some truly amazing improvisation in “Blues in the Name.”And David Brown, joining the trio in Brush’s “Blue,” brought its premiere to full life.“David is one who really needs to understand and feel the emotion of the song to give it his all,” Brush said after the concert, and he obviously delivered in his exploration of blue’s many moods. Brown raised a powerful voice, reminiscent of Johnny Mathis, in the showpiece.Brush closed his set with “U,” featuring Julie Mulady, before relinquishing the stage again to the choral society. But it wasn’t long after Stephen Zegree’s engaging arrangement of “Blue Skies” that bluegrass musicians John Upton, Gregg Powell, Eric Gibelyou joined the fun, after Sanctus closing the night on a lively note with the hoedown-worthy “Bile Them Cabbage Down.”If there was on constant through the night, it was the pure joy of the night’s performers. They took on the challenge, and they knew, onstage Oct. 27, that they nailed it.And that’s reason enough to see what comes next in a season of “Living Color.”” - Sue White

Saginaw News

What a super concert last night at the Temple Theatre -- "Holiday on Brush Street.Five of Mike Brush's own excellent (and unusual) seasonal compositions – oh my God we loved and grooved to "Have You a Room?" And other goodies by the likes of Irving Berlin, Gustav Holst, Frank Loesser and Mozart's dad.Songstress extraordinaire Julie Mulady, and when she and Brush combine on vocals it sends things into the stratosphere. Professional musicians, many of them teachers, sharing the stage with members of the string section of the Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra.Totally relaxing and refreshing -- and classy -- evening of easy listening music. So much so it led to a wonderful sleep last night after many many many insomnia nights.” - Janet Martineau

— Independent

A full house saluted Saginaw music man Michael Brush in a night full of memoriesPublished: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 11:03 AM By Sue White | The Saginaw News A program saluting Michael C. Brush's long career reached all the way back to his days as a Pauper.Michael C. Brush Day, as designated by the Saginaw City Council, is history now, but not the memories of Friday's love-fest with Saginaw's music man.The best part of "Melodies & Memories: A Community Tribute to Michael C. Brush in 4 Acts" was watching Brush himself, incredulous at the flood of people who filled the seats and the stage at the Performing Arts Auditorium at Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy.Politicians read resolutions, kids returned to sing his praises, and videos caught him at every turn, from a teenage Pauper to a national peace-maker to a community cheerleader, bursting with pride.With his wife Kathy and children Adam and Erin at his side, Brush watched it all, running onstage on occasion for a quick embrace and a chance to deflect the recognition.Crunching his life into two-and-a-half hours was ambitious, and, ultimately, impossible. But that's only testimony to all he's done as a performer, a teacher and a proud citizen.And the show-stopping moment came near the end, when a bearded Ron Lopez walked onstage for a Brush-Lopez reunion. It only lasted for two songs – "Route 66" and "Moondance" – but time stood still as Lopez made that guitar sing again.If you missed Friday's tribute, you can buy a DVD by calling 989-399-6250 or going to the SETV offices on the campus of the Saginaw Career Complex at 2102 Weiss in Saginaw.The rest of us have great memories, and a new respect for the man who has given Saginaw so much.” - Sue White

— The Saginaw News