Quick Wit and High Kicks: Theo Katzman at Sonic Lunch


“I can do my comedy thing up here, and I’m not afraid to do it,” joked guitarist, singer-songwriter, and Vulfpeck drummer Theo Katzman to a packed Sonic Lunch crowd on Thursday, June 29, at Liberty Plaza. “I have a safety net of 300 people to catch me if I fall”

Katzman’s songs are filled with this kind of honesty and humorous self-reflection, which is what makes them instantly relatable. His poetic and catchy sound blends elements of classic rock, soft rock, pop, and R&B, and his lyrics often revolve around the difficult and rewarding aspects of romantic love.

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Manifesto Destiny: Melting Watch Press debuts with Beats-inspired poetry anthology


Melting Watch Press

Cousins Joe Provenzano and Mike Benoit aren't short on proclamations. Their new Ann Arbor-based Melting Watch Press was inspired by a shared love of the Transcendentalists -- particularly Walt Whitman -- and the Beats, and the duo aren't afraid to claim their place in that lineage.

“We really consider ourselves to be part of their tradition,” says Provenzano. The cousins believe in "the idea of writing things that we’re actually thinking, and taking ourselves away from academic pseudo-poetry and (the) shielding of ourselves and opening our hearts to the page.”

Melting Watch Press' first salvo against "academic pseudo-poetry" is Chattering of the Subconscious Toybox: A Radical Anthology of Emerging New Poets, an anthology featuring Provenzano, Benoit, and their friend Jake Camaj.

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Of Jokes and False Starts: The Church's merry psychedelia rocked The Ark


The Church

The Church spent a few days in Ann Arbor soaking up the vibes before its show at The Ark.

Before the first encore of The Church’s set at The Ark on Wednesday, June 28, guitarist Peter Koppes joked, “We can use the encore to rehearse for tomorrow's festival.”

Every good jape contains a kernel of truth, and Koppes’ honesty hit the mark. Singer-bassist Steve Kilbey said this was the band’s first show in a year, and The Church spent a lot of the show working out the kinks: adjusting their sound mid-song, dealing with equipment malfunctions, and relearning songs new and old.

Even after hitting stages around the world for 37 years, it's nice to know that the band best known for the 1988 hit "Under the Milky Way" can sometimes still feel like absolute beginners again -- and do so with giant smiles on the muscians' faces.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #642 & #643



Fabulous Fiction Firsts #642

The Garden of Small Beginnings * by Abbi Waxman is a story of loss but also the joy of second chances.

It has been three years since Lilian watched her husband died in a car accident 50 feet from her front door. After a breakdown and hospitalization, she is back at her job as a textbook illustrator in a small LA publishing house and making a life with her two young daughters, Annabel and Clare.

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Instinct to Play: Thollem McDonas at Kerrytown Concert House


Thollem McDonas might be a compulsive collaborator. The American pianist, composer, keyboardist, songwriter, activist, teacher, and author's many projects have included several renowned, and lesser known, players over the years, and he doesn't seem to be slowing.

From improvisations with perennial experimental music headliners -- guitarist Nels Cline; double bassist William Parker; the late composer, accordionist, and electronic music pioneer Pauline Oliveros -- to his Italian agit-punk unit Tsigoti and the art-damaged spiel of the Hand to Man Band (also featuring American punk icon Mike Watt on bass and Deerhoof's John Dietrich on guitar), there's little ground McDonas hasn't covered or isn't covering. He might just be the ideal "six-degrees-of" candidate for people into that particular Venn diagram of weird improv, challenging chamber music, and thinking-people's punk rock.

McDonas plays Kerrytown Concert House on Friday, June 30, with a trio completed by two accomplished locals: reedman Piotr Michalowski and cellist Abby Alwin. We talked with the restless, and very thoughtful, pianist by email about his many collaborations, balancing political action with music, and sitting down at Claude Debussy's piano.

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Deep in the Mix: REMIX & ReMIXED Reality at Ann Arbor Art Center


REMIX & ReMIXED Reality

Andrew Rosinski and ICON Interactive created these virtual-reality works that are only viewable through a phone app.

REMIX, an exhibition at the Ann Arbor Art Center’s 117 Gallery, contains two exhibitions: one in the physical space of the gallery and one virtual. Described as an “augmented reality experience,” ReMIXED Reality was created by Andrew Rosinski and ICON Interactive.

In addition to the works of art hanging on the walls, visitors can download the custom virtual reality app, which can be found in your phone’s app store. The app creates a virtual gallery that is “superimposed” over the physical artworks on the gallery walls and can be viewed on your phone. Throughout the gallery are small symbols on the wall that can be scanned by the ReMIXED application to bring up an array of virtual works of art.

The virtual gallery includes imagery ranging from digitally made virtual paintings to photographs and kaleidoscopic views. Some of the pieces move with you as you move through the gallery space. Other symbols create a perspectival virtual space that extends behind the square, black symbol, or projects in front of it.

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Diving Into the Devine: The Church at The Ark


When The Church announced its summer 2017 North American tour, I was surprised the band was booked at The Ark. When I saw the group play in 2015, the long-running Australian rockers filled the large Fillmore venue in Silver Spring, Md., with loud, room-rumbling psychedelia. The intimate Ark and its acoustic-friendly acoustics might have to call in the remodelers after The Church is done blowing the roof off the place on Wednesday, June 28.

Led by prolific singer-bassist Steve Kilbey, The Church formed in Sydney, Australia, in 1980. While the group will forever be best known for its 1988 hit "Under the Milky Way," the band has survived lineup changes, record label problems, and a changing marketplace to continue producing smart, sonically compelling songs that reward close listening. (Kilby's numerous solo albums and collaborations fit that description, too.)

The Ark show kicks off The Church's North American tour, and my colleague Amanda Szot -- AADL's graphic designer -- bought a ticket as soon as they went on sale. We've talked about The Church many times, so we decided to create a Spotify playlist of our favorite songs -- including the lovely new single "New Century" -- and have a GChat about the band.

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Elly Griffiths' "The Chalk Pit" continues one mystery's best current series


Elly Griffiths, The Chalk Pit

Deep inside The Chalk Pit is a strong female lead who is written so well that she feels real.

Secret societies, cannibalism, and ritual killings? Bones found in an old chalk-mining pit? Labyrinths and tunnels and a forensic specialist who keeps finding herself embroiled in murders?

Where do we find all of this?

Deep inside The Chalk Pit, the ninth book in the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths.

The novel finds our intrepid forensic archeologist far beneath the streets of Norwich, England. The seed for the setting of this book was planted when Griffiths gave a talk at an independent bookstore in Norwich.

“The manager happened to mention that there was a tunnel under the store and asked if I wanted to see it,” Griffiths says. “(The chalk tunnel) was low-ceilinged and damp and led off into darkness. (My research) found that you can walk the length of Norwich underground because there are so many old chalk-mining tunnels, crypts, and undercrofts.”

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Purple Rose’s “Harvey” reveals poignancy along with whimsy


Purple Rose Theatre, Harvey

Purple Rose Theatre's Harvey is oh so pleasant.

Mary Chase’s Harvey has been entertaining audiences with its gentle humor for more than 70 years. It’s a play we think we know well.

The new Purple Rose Theatre production of this Broadway classic reveals a deeper, richer, and more focused Harvey. It’s still funny, still frantic at times, but so much more.

We are most familiar with James Stewart’s Elwood P. Dowd. He’s a sweet charmer and he drinks a bit but has a sense of the whimsical and a good heart. He can see eye to eye with a six-and-a-half-foot rabbit, or more precisely a pooka, a Celtic spirit with an affection for rumpots and others.

Now imagine instead a different kind of Elwood P. Dowd. He’s still a charmer with a whimsical streak. But he’s a smaller man and maybe he drinks a little more than he should and those ideas he floats about life might just be worth our attention.

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Off-the-Cuff Comedy: Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie


Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie

Hand jive: Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie are always trying to crack each other up.

Whose Line is It Anyway? stars Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie -- appearing Saturday night at the Power Center as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival -- have been doing improv comedy together since they met in the early '90s, so they have a long-established, familiar rapport with each other.

“There’s almost a sibling rivalry that happens backstage and on stage, and that becomes part of the show, watching us try to outdo each other,” said Mochrie.

Sherwood, meanwhile, confessed that he’s always looking for the chance to make his improv partner laugh on-stage. “It’s hard, because (Mochrie’s) the most stoic of all of us,” said Sherwood. “He’s granite. … If I actually say something that makes him laugh, I’ll hear, under his breath, an involuntary spasm for half a second. But that’s about it.”

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