Funky Flights: Chirp to welcome 2018 with a new album


"This is for all you strutters out there," announced Jay Frydenlund midway through Chirp’s headlining set at the Blind Pig on Saturday. On cue, the Ypsi-based quartet of fusion rockers launched into a swaggering, deep-pocket jam ("Dickerville") that sent an obvious ripple through the crowd as folks remembered what they came for and got their boogie on.

READ MORE  

A Women's College? Maddest Folly Going!


Dress Rehearsal photo from UMGASS's production of Princess Ida

Princess Ida and the Undergraduates of Castle Adamant. Photo courtesy of UMGASS.

The University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society (UMGASS) is one of campus's most venerable and long-lived community arts organizations, and they can be counted on to produce two excellent classic operettas each year. This term, they've taken on Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant; not one of Gilbert & Sullivan's most popular works, but just as delightful and witty as ever.

Directed by David Andrews, a cast of UMGASS regulars and some campus rising stars come together this weekend to stage this story of betrothal, education, evolution, the military, tenure, cross-dressing, and generally singing "hoity-toity" a lot.

READ MORE  

Townie Tales: Richard Retyi's "The Book of Ann Arbor" at Literati


Richard Retyi by Melanie Maxwell

Richard Retyi features all the stories fit for print (from his podcast) in his new collection, The Book of Ann Arbor: An Extremely Serious History Book. Photo by Melanie Maxwell.

On Dec. 7 at Literati, Richard Retyi read from his new book, The Book of Ann Arbor: An Extremely Serious History, which tells 41 townie tales in a humorous, accessible fashion.

But Retyi didn't originally set out to write a book. His project began as a podcast, Ann Arbor Stories, which Retyi produces with Brian Peters in partnership with the Ann Arbor District Library. (Retyi recently became the marketing and communications manager at AADL.) The podcast was modeled after another audio show, Memory Palace.

READ MORE  

Remake, Remodel: The State Theatre rises once again


State Theatre, grand opening, March 1942

The State Theatre's grand opening, March 1942. Eck Stanger/Ann Arbor News photo from oldnews.aadl.org.

The March 17, 1942, edition of The Ann Arbor News was mental about the State.

The paper’s entire second section was dedicated to the first movie theater to open in Ann Arbor since the Michigan Theater flung open its doors Jan. 5, 1928. “ABLAZE WITH RADIANT BEAUTY” trumpeted the all-caps headline above a glowing black-and-white photo of the State Theatre’s gorgeous marquee. At least 18 stories were published about the State (“New Local Theater Most Modern Found in Michigan”), its owners (“Butterfield Theaters, Inc. Now Operating 114 Houses”), and other film-related tales, including “Opening Of New Theater Revives Memories Here Of Student Riot In 1908,” which destroyed Ann Arbor’s original movie house, The Star.

And the section was filled with congratulatory advertising, including one headlined “The New Pride of Ann Arbor,” purchased by the George W. Auch Co., the State Theatre’s general contractor, though 35 different firms worked on the build.

That edition of the newspaper was a full-on love letter to the State Theatre, and The Michigan Daily was similarly smitten, dedicating six pages to movie-house-related stories.

There’s akin ardor in today’s digital-media realm about the venerated movie house’s latest reinvention, which opens its doors to members on Friday, Dec. 8 and to the public on Saturday, Dec. 9.

READ MORE  

Change & Growth: "Violet" at U-M's Arthur Miller Theatre


Violet at U-M's Arthur Miller Theater

U-M's production of Violet doesn't shy away from looking at the play's themes of racism and acceptance in the context of today's socio-political troubles.

Violet is a musical that’s known both for its soaring gospel- and blues-infused score and for its social commentary about race relations. Originally written for Off-Broadway back in 1997, the show follows a young, facially disfigured Caucasian woman in 1964 who travels across the United States in the hopes of having her outward scars healed by a TV evangelist. Over the course of her journey, she meets and falls in love with an African-American man.

“It’s about finding out who you are, accepting who you are, appreciating who you, and loving who you are. And then being able to navigate this world,” says Mark Madama, who is directing a production of Violet this weekend through the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance department.

READ MORE  

Pop-up exhibit "What Were You Wearing?" at UMMA examined sexual assault


What Were You Wearing?

More than 500 people pondered the pointed question, "What were you wearing?" at the exhibition of the same name. Photo by Sherlonya Turner.

The last time I asked myself, “Was it what I was wearing?” was last Friday. I had been eating my dinner at the bar of a local restaurant when a man struck up a conversation with me. Eventually, he made a joke to the bartender about bringing me a “roofie colada.” The bartender responded disapprovingly. Then, the man doubled-down on his joke, adding, “Don’t worry; she won’t remember a thing.”

As the evening went on, I couldn’t quite shake that joke.

What Were You Wearing? is a pop-up installation that sets out to challenge the idea that sexual assault is somehow about clothing choice. On Monday, Dec. 4, this exhibit was at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, brought there in partnership with the HeForShe student organization.

READ MORE  

Sonic Sculpture: Adam Shead's "Adiaphora Music," a master's recital


Adam Shead

Adam Shead's mix of punk, free jazz, and university-trained music gives his compositions a combination of raw grit and deep study.

As someone with a bachelor's of music in percussion performance from Columbia College Chicago and, soon, a master's degree in improvisation from the University of Michigan, drummer Adam Shead sounds like an academic.

But while growing up in South Bend, Indiana, it was hardcore punk that first informed Shead's attitude and artistic aesthetic.

That combination of academic rigor and raw energy is what makes Shead's drumming such a potent force, which he'll get demonstrate live on Friday, Dec. 8, at U-M's Duderstadt Video Studio when he presents his master's recital, Adiaphora Music. The seven-part suite features 11 musicians along with Shead exploring his influences, which run from Chicago visionaries AACM, Ken Vandermark, and Tim Daisy to South Africa's Dudu Pukwana, and contemporary classical giants Morton Feldman and John Luther Adams to H.R., lead singer of the groundbreaking punk band Bad Brains.

We talked to Shead about his philosophy, sound, and the meaning of Adiaphora Music.

READ MORE  

Craft Services: A peek at Winter Art Tour 2017


Winter Art Tour 2017

The second annual Winter Art Tour spans 10 locations across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

For the past few years in Washtenaw County, the second weekend of December has been the time to shop for wonderful handcrafted goods from local artists at pop-ups, craft fairs, and studio shows.

An easy way to find out what’s happening where is to check out the stops on the second annual Winter Art Tour, which takes you to 10 venues across Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti where you can shop handmade goods from over 300 artists during the weekend of Dec. 8-10. There's a passport to get stamped as you visit each of the tour's locations, and if you hit at least four spots, you have a chance to win beautiful handcrafted prizes.

The event features two large craft fairs and several smaller studio sales across Washtenaw County:

READ MORE  

Poems Provoke: U-M's Institute for Research on Women and Gender discussed Petra Kuppers’ "PearlStitch"


Petra Kuppers, PearlStitch

U-M professor Petra Kuppers' PearlStitch poetry collection was the focus of a panel discussion.

The cover of Petra Kuppers’ PearlStitch is provocative. It draws the eye and keeps it as the viewer takes in an open mouth and an extended lace-covered tongue with a bead of clear fluid at its tip.

Her poetry is provocative, too, and after the Nov. 29 panel of University of Michigan faculty members discussing PearlStitch as a part of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender’s "Gender: New Works, New Questions" series, I knew I wanted to dive into Kuppers’ latest collection. But I wasn't unable to put my hands on a copy of the book following the reading as Ann Arbor bookstores were sold out.

READ MORE  

Ebird & Friends celebrate the holidays & A2’s musical diversity at The Ark


Erin Zindle, Ebird & Friends Holiday Show

Erin Zindle's annual Ebird & Friends Holiday Show is a December tradition.

Growing up, Erin Zindle -- leader of the Ann Arbor global-roots band The Ragbirds -- loved her extended family’s Christmas Eve gatherings. Her “very large and very musical family” would traditionally gather to perform Christmas songs together.

“It was my favorite thing all year round. Honestly, it was better than the presents,” she says. “I was known for making everyone sing all seven verses of everything. I didn’t want it to end.”

That’s the spirit she and her fellow musicians will re-create at the annual Ebird and Friends Holiday Show at The Ark Dec. 7-9. “It was just a real natural extension of that childhood experience,” Zindle says. And indeed, the holiday concert has become a tradition all its own, now marking its 10th year.

READ MORE