Frank Allison, opera, and the Ypsi Songfest …on this weekend’s Saturday Six Pack

The 9th annual Ypsi Songfest kicks off this Saturday morning at the Whittaker Road library with an all-ages performance by Frank Allison… a fellow who, back in the day, pretty much shared ownership of the Ann Arbor music scene with John Brannon. Or at least that’s how I remember things back around 1990, when I was still relatively new to Michigan. I remember Brannon and the Laughing Hyenas kind of owning the darker side of the Ann Arbor scene, and Frank Allison and the Odd Sox on the other side, pulling the same kinds of crowds with their decidedly happier and less threatening brand of rock. While my temperament probably drove me more into the Hyenas’ camp, I saw the Odd Sox play quite a bit. And, while I don’t recall ever joining in on the choreographed dances made up by Allison’s fans, I’m sure I sang along enthusiastically with his local hits like, Cash for My Car. And, on this Saturday’s show, we’ll have Frank in the studio to reminisce about the old times, tell us what he’s been up to recently at the Clinton Theater, and perhaps play a few songs. [I’ve also been asked to talk with him about his fascination with insect photography.]

And, no promises, but I suppose it could also come to pass that Marshall Crenshaw may drop in and say hello, seeing as how he’s going to be playing an acoustic set a few doors down at Bona Sera later that evening as part of Songfest. [If he does pop by, I’ll be sure to ask him about his portrayal of “Lightning” Mel Ratner on The Adventures of Pete & Pete. And, if there’s still time, I’ll ask him about having grown up in Detroit, and about getting his start in the industry performing as John Lennon in Beatlemania.]

And, at some point in the evening, we’ll be joined by University of Michigan Professor Emeritus Dr. Willis Patterson, who, if things go our way, will be accompanied by local opera singer Kira Monae Turner. [Turner will be performing on October 4 with Dr. Patterson’s Our Own Thing Chorale at Ypsilanti’s Community Church of God.]

And, here, thanks to AM 1700 graphic designer Kate de Fuccio, is this week’s poster, in case any of you want to print copies and leave them laying in stacks around Ann Arbor.



Unless you live inside the AM 1700 studio, chances are you won’t be able to pick the show up on your radio. As that’s the case, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

One last thing… If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing.

And do call us if you have a chance. We love phone calls. So please scratch this number into the cinder block wall of the recreation room of whichever facility you’ve been assigned to… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. The show is nothing without you. And I mean that.

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  1. Bob
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Frank is a whole lot more than your sort of backhanded compliment would suggest. A near genius pop song constructionist. His lyrics and rhyme schemes are pretty much unmatched in these parts. I don’t know a songwriter who isn’t in awe of him. Those Hyenas records don’t hold up like Monkey Business, that’s for sure. As with films, dark, “serious” material is somehow seen as more worthy than artists who mine humor and joy in their work. I suspect it’s takes a lot more skill to be Frank, than John Brannon.

  2. Pete Larson
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Brannon is great.

    Frank Alison is not.

  3. Posted September 26, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    I didn’t mean it as a backhanded compliment. I meant it as a straightforward compliment. When I was new to Ann Arbor there were two big bands in town, at least as I perceived it. They were the Hyenas and the Odd Sox. And I saw them as being on different sides of rock spectrum. I didn’t mean to suggest that one was “good” and one was “bad.” As I said, I liked them both. I didn’t mean to turn this into a Brannon vs. Allison debate. They were both great at what they did (and still are, I might add), and there was room for both on the scene. It was an interesting time to be in Ann Arbor… lots of choices, lots of variety, lots of creativity. That’s all I was saying.

  4. Bob
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Peter, you’re wrong as usual.
    Mark, I get that you are basically saying good things, but it was certainly qualified. “Less threatening,” citing the dancing of some of his admittedly dorky fans. Apologizing for being a fan. I don’t know. It’s a bigger point I’m trying to make, I guess. I would argue there’s more heart and as much heartbreak in Frank’s songs. They certainly hold up better than Brannon’s stuff. I like Brannon, I said hello to him a few weeks ago, as much as you can to that guy anyway.
    Hard drugs and gloom don’t necessarily mean better. Cheap Trick and NRBQ aren’t in the rock and roll hall of fame, but Patti Smith is.

  5. Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    I get what you’re saying, Bob. People tend to value the outwardly brooding musician more than they do the outwardly smiling one. And I don’t think I was making a judgment in my post when I presented Barndon and Allison as equals back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. I did, however, note that Brannon’s music probably resonated more with me however, given where I was at that point in my life. That doesn’t mean, though, that I didn’t appreciate both… At any rate, I’d encourage you to call in tonight and continue the conversation.

  6. Stupid Hick
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Surprised to read John Brannon is alive. Bob might be right but Brannon is internationally known where Allison is more of a regional hero.

  7. Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Someone ask me a question with an obvious “yes” answer.

  8. Frank Allison
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Is Peter Larson a complete tool?

  9. Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Does John Brannon need a nap?


  10. Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Nothing against John. He’s perpetually sleep deprived.

  11. Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    This was a weird tangent. I really didn’t mean to stir shit up between Frank and John. They’ve both incredibly talented. And I’d love to have them on the show together sometime in the future to sing a song together or something.

  12. Posted September 26, 2015 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Actually… how cool would it be to put out a single with Frank covering John on one side, and John cover Frank on the other? I think I might actually be on to something. [note to self: Ask Frank about this tonight.]

  13. Posted September 26, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I should also add that I’d love to have John on the show sometime, if one of you could make that happen. I’ve always wanted to ask him about being in the SNL audience the night that Fear shut down the show.

  14. Stupid Hick
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Don’t invite John Brannon to the show, he might kill you, or steal something.

  15. Bob
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I love Brannon, don’t get me wrong. I’ve bought and duped a lot more copies of Monkey Biz and Hokey Smoke for people though, over the years. I have never once given anyone a Peter Larson recording, for the record.

  16. Jean Henry
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Music feuds are boring and vicious, boys.

  17. Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    He’d probably just make me a salad.

  18. Posted September 26, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    [make, not toss]

  19. Peter Larson
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    No feud.

    I dislike Frank Alison, but very much like John Brannon.

    As for myself, I don’t care.

  20. Peter Larson
    Posted September 26, 2015 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

    I know full well my music sucks. I don’t care. Music is fun. That is all that matters to me.

    A statement that I dislike Mr. Alison’s music, however, is a personal opinion. I would assume that Mr. Alison, with his extensive local career, is used to people not liking his music.

    I guess not.

  21. Elviscostello
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 5:49 am | Permalink

    I had a friend who saw Marshall Crenshaw at the Ark a few years back. When the audience stood to clap, my friend heard him say softly, “The highlight of my career, a standing ovation at the ark”, snarkily. He thought it was hilarious.

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  1. […] to it, but I think it could be a really cool way to mark the fact that 25 years have passed since they fronted the two biggest bands in Ann Arbor. Who knows… if we sold enough copies, maybe we could afford to put up a plaque or two around […]

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