tales from the subterranean playground

by Mark Alan Jay

Part one of a conversation with Mark Jewett about the making of his CD "The Lucky One (the album)" recorded at Big Sky Recording, Ann Arbor Michigan. This segment also features Billy Harrington, Mike Harrington, and Amy Petty, all of whom performed on the record. Excerpts from “Voices” and “The Lucky One” used by permission. This episode was hosted by Mark Alan Jay, immersifi recording services, llc. Album credits: All songs w ...   ...  Read more

Podcast episodes

  • Season 1

  • Michael Harrington and the Pedal Steel Guitar

    Michael Harrington and the Pedal Steel Guitar

    Our post-summer hiatus episode...Episode 9 picks up where episode 8 left off. That is, in episode 8 we met Dr. Mark French, University Professor and Luthier, and Michael Harrington, professional musician / session guitarist / pedal steel guitar player.Episode 8 was really focused on Dr. French and his skills building guitars over the past three decades. In this episode, we get a sort of Reader's Digest version of just how the pedal steel guitar works. Michael Harrington has been playing said instrument for the past five years or so, and has really embraced the same.In this episode, he explains the construction of the guitar, as well as gives some demonstrations. Moreover, he speaks a bit about its development and just how it came to be such a staple in Country and Western music (and of course, in pop music as well).There's also a brief revisit to the two guitars that were featured in Episode 8 in order to allow the listener to hear the guitars back-to-back. This was done because it allows the listener to much better discern the differences in timbre (pronounced "tamber") between the two guitars, because the comparison is immediate.

  • Dr. Mark French: The Philosophical and Practical Elements of Acoustic Guitar Luthiery, Part I (with guest guitarist Michael Harrington)

    Dr. Mark French: The Philosophical and Practical Elements of Acoustic Guitar Luthiery, Part I (with guest guitarist Michael Harrington)

    Do you like guitars? Have you ever thought about building a guitar, or playing one? Maybe you've thought about both? Do you think you know the sound of a great guitar when you hear it? Do you think you know what makes a guitar sound great?In this episode we discuss the practical and philosophical elements of luthiery with Dr. Mark French, a Professor at Purdue University's School of Engineering Technology. You may know Dr. French from his YouTube channel, where he addresses a wide variety of engineering topics, or, perhaps you know him from his three published books on Acoustic Guitar: "Engineering the Guitar: Theory and Practice", "Acoustic Guitar Design", and "Technology of the Acoustic Guitar". He's also published more than 100 technical papers on noise and vibration, and several articles in various publications. He has also provided (and continues) technical consultancy services to some very well known guitar manufacturers.If you know stringed instruments you probably know the names Bob Benedetto, Carleen Hutchins, Paco Chorobo, and Charles Fox. How do they feature in this podcast? Tune in to find out.We also discuss the unusual career path to luthiery taken by Dr. French, as well as his educational background and related work experiences that give him some rather - for the lutherie community - most unusual insights and perspectives into building and testing acoustic guitars. We also discuss some elements of his employment history that, oddly enough, happen to cross paths with the podcast host, Mark Alan Jay.Michael Harrington is a professional musician who hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan. He's a 2016 graduate of Eastern Michigan University where he studied Classical Guitar; he's been playing guitar professionally since the age of 19. As a result of an independent study during his Senior year at Eastern, Michael also published an article in Just Jazz Guitar magazine on the great jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.Mr. Harrington primarily freelances in - but not limited to - the southeast Michigan area performing on six-string guitar as well as pedal steel guitar for live performances and studio sessions. He's worked with musical acts Mark Jewett, Adam Plomaritas, Linen Ray, Rachel Brooke, Bovine, Royal Garden Trio, Fun on the Frets, and others. Apart from private teaching services for his guitar students, Michael has also performed as part of various musical theatre orchestras for live musical theater events in Michigan and elsewhere.For this episode Michael agreed to sit-in in order to play two guitars built by Dr. French, as well as to discuss guitars in general. The two guitars were tracked in the recording space at immersifi recording services, llc and brief recordings of each are featured in this podcast (with minimal processing to preserve their true sonic characteristics). Episode 9, currently slated for publication on August 1, 2023, continues the discussion about what makes a bad, good, great, and legendary-sounding acoustic guitar, but also, takes an unusual turn in that the pedal steel guitar is featured; Mr. Harrington delves into some of the historical and practical elements of pedal steel, as well as provides us with some demonstrations on the same.

  • Steve Osburn: Oz's Music, Know Obstacles, and The Music Environment

    Steve Osburn: Oz's Music, Know Obstacles, and The Music Environment

    Steve Osburn, Oz’s Music, Know Obstacles, and The Music Environment.Episode 7 deals with a very talented and giving person, Mr. Steve Osburn. Steve is a highly skilled musician who attended Interlochen Academy three times in pursuit of further training in classical guitar. He’s also master of many instruments, including keyboard, bass, and the Chapman Stick (which is a cross between guitar, bass and keyboard with 12 strings), his mastery of which led him to give instruction on the same at the prestigious National Guitar Summer Workshop in Connecticut.Additionally, Steve is the organizer of the band “Know Obstacles”, which serves individuals on the spectrum, as well as those with physical disabilities. Steve seeks to enhance the lives of the band members through music in a role which he calls “Music Enrichment Specialist”. Ken Kozora (S1E3) also plays a role in the summer camps which in part help those in Know Obstacles get ready for the show that’s to be performed by them later in the summer.In addition to Steve’s efforts with Know Obstacles, he also runs The Music Environment, which dates back to 1979. The Music Environment, is an unusual place that features a wide variety of musical instruments in a no-pressure environment; individuals interested in learning an instrument can come in and try them out to see what best suits their interest and ability. It’s located right next door to Oz’s Music, which is run by his wife Leslie Zager, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been since 1990.Additionally, Steve has studied classical guitar with Nelson Amos at Eastern Michigan University and has also performed for Master Classes with Michael Lorimer and Manuel Ramos.Also, Allison (Alli) Doxie should be mentioned here in that a few years ago, she produced a short-form documentary on Steve and his work with the Know Obstacles Band. You can find that video by searching for it on Vimeo (hint: it’s definitely worth watching). Just look for "I'm With The Band: The Know Obstacles Story" on Vimeo.Lastly, Steve also attended training at the New England Montessori Training Center – but not to become a teacher, rather, in order to understand how such an instructional ethos might be adapted to teaching young children music. He has taught within Montessori schools in the past but now focuses on musical tutelage and life enhancement outside of the school system.

  • Jesse Thomas Morgan: Of Community Music Therapy, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and Sophie's Place

    Jesse Thomas Morgan: Of Community Music Therapy, C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and Sophie's Place

    Jesse Thomas Morgan is a board-certified Music Therapist presently working at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital on the Pediatric Cardio-thoracic Unit (PCTU) and Sophie's Place (a recording studio within the hospital) in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He provides therapy-based treatment to young people within the hospital who are there for treatment of life-threatening heart conditions; he also works with infants in a similar role. Additionally, for one hour each weekday, Jesse plays the baby grand piano that resides in the lobby of the hospital - performances which help to provide a therapeutic element for those waiting for consults, treatments, or other related functions.As you will hear in this episode, his focus has pretty much always been on helping to improve the lives of others, but how this all played out is an interesting story of self-discovery and reserve in the face of adversity, leading to more than 30 years of helping families in oppressed communities.In addition to his duties at C.S. Mott, Jesse is also a gigging musician who plays in the band "The Crossed Lines", and as a musician / pianist of 40 years' time he also performs Karaoke accompaniment at Sid Gold's in Detroit, Mi, as well as with his Karaoke company "Ear Candy".He's worked as a high school English teacher, has been instrumental in helping homeless teens, and also formed and managed the community-focused youth-oriented non-profit Community Records Ypsilanti (CRY - a program to help young people learn how to make, record, and distribute music), which he managed for a period of six years - itself a manifestation of Jesse's desire to help build community and personal growth among under-resourced and / or oppressed communities.A very uplifting story about a career and personal epiphanies for a man who's raison d'etre is to help improve the lives of his fellow humans.

  • John Churchville, Soundtrap, & Tabla Drums (Part 2 of 2)

    John Churchville, Soundtrap, & Tabla Drums (Part 2 of 2)

    WARNING: After the 24:40 mark, the podcast contains a discussion about suicidal ideation. If you believe that this will be a trigger for you, stop listening at the 24:40 mark.Episode 5 starts off with a short excerpt from Episode 4 in which John Churchville paraphrases an element of his teaching philosophy: “just listen to everything” as a sort of reminder of where we left off in Part 1 of our discussion with John about Soundtrap, teaching, and fostering musical education in the Ann Arbor Public School system.Part 2 picks up more of less where we left off, however in this episode there’s discussion alone, unlike episode four which featured actual music instruction. We discuss how music education also serves, oftentimes, to allow students to grow on a personal level; to address and possibly even confront issues, work through feelings by channeling those thoughts into a musical creation. We also circle back to the importance of Soundtrap in this instruction process.John discusses a tenet attributed to John Dewey, namely “the ownership of the impulse to create” and discusses how difficult that can be as an instructor to convey, but how he sees it as central to the creative process (and how it can be a struggle – albeit in a good way – to impart such a concept).Consistent with one of John Dewey’s tenets “arriving at one goal is the starting point to another” you’ll hear how John helps his students to connect the dots – to move forward from where they were to wherever it is they are going musically. Moreover, you’ll hear about how John allows his students to see “the kitchen” of the music creation process, and how he was able to leverage his own musical group’s musicianship (those in the “C.A.R.Ma. Quartet”) to help further the musical education of his students.