by Dan Bolles
Vermonters are all over public television this week.
Last night, our old pal Neil Cleary made his PBS debut, scoring and producing the music for a program called "American Blueprint: Beyond the Motor City." The 90-minute documentary is part of a larger series focusing on infrastructure in urban areas around the country. Cleary's episode centers on Detroit, a city profoundly ravaged by economic woes. And ironically, given its very name once represented the iconography of the American automobile, a city practically crippled by a lack of public transportation.
That's all well and good. But what about the music?
In an email sent to friends, family and colleagues, Cleary writes that he had fun playing with Motown sounds — a fact evident within the doc's first few minutes. But to solve its transportation woes, and perhaps those of America as well, Detroit is casting an eye towards high-speed rail projects in Spain and California. So Cleary also had the chance to explore "Spanish and futuristic computer-y sounds." Nifty.
You can watch the entire episode here. And I'd recommend it, actually, even beyond merely to keep tabs on Cleary. It's an interesting look at the history — and maybe the future — of transportation in the US. And Cleary's score does a nice job of augmenting the story.
Moving on, tonight marks the debut of Cumbancha founder Jacob Edgar's musical travelogue "Music Voyager" on PBS. I wrote about the show in last week's paper, which you can read here. But for those too lazy to click through, here is the Reader's Digest version: Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations," only about music instead of food. And instead of a brash New Yorker, it's hosted by a pleasant guy from Plainfield.
I've seen a few clips and enjoyed them. Then again, I'm also a big fan of travel shows, in general. Tune in for the first episode tonight at 9:30 p.m. on Vermont Public Television. In the meantime, here's a trailer for the show.