America's librarian, Nancy Pearl, penned her own novel for the stacks


Nancy Pearl

NPR regular Nancy Pearl wrote her debut novel after longing for the "perfect thing to read."

Nancy Pearl -- coming to Nicola’s Books on Wednesday, October 4 at 7 pm to talk about her new novel, George & Lizzie -- may be the only person in America who could be referred to as a “celebrity librarian.”

For she’s regularly featured on NPR, where she recommends and discusses books; and she was the model for a librarian action figure that boasts “amazing shushing action!”

But locals who’ve heard Pearl on the radio may not realize that she has deep local roots. Though she now calls Seattle home, Pearl grew up in Detroit and studied library science at the University of Michigan.

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Still Sunshining: Jonathan Edwards at Green Wood Coffee House


Jonathan Edwards at Green Wood Coffee House

Jonathan Edwards earned his first performing check 50 years ago and his first hit with “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” in 1971.

When Jonathan Edwards’ song “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” came out in 1971, it seemed to speak to the anger and the frustration that many felt at Nixon, the war in Vietnam, and other aspects of the establishment. But it did it in a memorable, catchy, almost joyful way.

Another song on that first Edwards recording, “Shanty” is still played by many classic rock stations around the country on Friday afternoons as a way of signaling and celebrating the beginning of weekends. (“'Cause we gonna lay around the shanty, mama / And put a good buzz on.”)

Edwards still tours and plays in Ann Arbor regularly, and he’ll be at the Green Wood Coffee House on Friday, October 6 at 8 pm. I spoke with him on the phone recently.

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Universal Horror: Classic monster movies at the Michigan Theater


Classic Monster Movies

The Michigan Theater is dedicating Mondays in October to Universal Studios' classic monster movies.

In the '30s and '40s, the most horrific words in Hollywood were "Dracula," "Frankenstein," "Mummy," and the names of the iconic creatures that implanted themselves into the popular culture.

For people who love cinema, an even more horrific word reigns supreme in Hollywood's marketing lexicon today: universe. This is the idea that several movies can be grouped together in order to manipulate ticket buyers into seeing films they might otherwise skip. We have the Marvel Universe (Avengers, Iron Man, Thor) at Disney and the DC Universe (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman) at Warner Brothers, and Universal attempted to launch their "Dark Universe" last summer with the Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy. Yes, Universal plans to make a series of films connecting their classic monsters.

Thankfully, the Michigan Theater comes to the rescue every Monday in October by offering up the Classic Monsters series featuring the Universal originals: 1931's Dracula (Oct. 2, 7 pm) and Frankenstein (Oct. 9, 7 pm), 1935's Bride of Frankenstein (Oct. 9:45 pm), 1932's The Mummy (Oct. 16, 7 pm), and 1941's The Wolf Man (Oct. 23, 7 pm).

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Author Events: October 2017


September 2017 Author Events

Manipulated original image from StockSnap/Pixabay.

What does having an amazing university, a plethora of fantastic local independent bookstores, and a pretty slam-bang public library system (if we do say so ourselves) bring to a town?

Authors. Lots and lots of authors.

In fact, so many authors pass through the area that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who is speaking and when and where. To help guide you, Pulp curated a highlights list of October 2017 author events.

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Deep in the Roots: The Low Voltage plugs in to a sound that's both earthy and haunting


The Low Voltage

Colin Simpson, aka The Low Voltage.

Colin Simpson was a veteran of bands in Oregon and Washington before returning to his home state of Michigan a few years ago. He arrived in Ann Arbor with no job and no connections to the local music community. But he did have an idea that he wanted to try something a little different.

“I knew I wanted to continue with music, but I also knew I didn’t want to just be the guy at the back of the coffee shop with a guitar,” he recalls now. So he created the concept of The Low Voltage to play out his musical ideas, adding a kick drum and some electric guitar -- and, later, a musical partner, singer-instrumentalist Emily Fox.

The result is a remarkably distinctive sound, sitting somewhere in the realm of Americana/folk/indie rock but managing to find its own unique niche. The sound is effectively evoked by the name The Low Voltage.

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Flexible & Free: Dave Rempis' Ballister at Kerrytown Concert House


Ballister by Geert-Vandepoele

Locked-in: Ballister is a spontaneous trio whose music often still sounds composed. Photo by Geert Vandepoele.

Saxophonist Dave Rempis has fond memories of playing Ann Arbor over the years. The Chicago-based improviser and long-time member of renowned free jazz group The Vandermark 5 fondly recalls late-'90s gigs with locally grown and trained players, such as Colin Stetson, Stuart Bogie, and Matt Bauder.

But none were likely more memorable than a workshop for students at the University of Michigan School of Music, where Rempis had applied and been rejected a few years earlier.

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PencilPoint TheatreWorks' Ypsi THRIVE highlights new one-act plays


Ypsi THRIVE

Four of Ypsi THRIVE's seven plays are by women, as are five of the directors, and the majority of the roles are for females.

Brian Cox returned to creating theater about five years ago when he began writing his first full-length play, Clutter, based on one of his short stories. Since then, he has written multiple one-act plays, directed, produced, and devised many more shows and storytelling nights, and started his own theater company, PencilPoint Theatreworks in Ypsilanti. He’s an accomplished director, producer, and artistic director, and earlier this year Cox won Encore Theatre's Wilde Award for Best New Script with Clutter.

After offhandedly mentioning this during the interview, Cox pauses, glancing down and blushing slightly. “But I don’t act. No acting.”

So what is Cox’s newest project? On Sept. 28 he’s opening Ypsi THRIVE, a three-day, new-play festival at Riverside Arts Center that features seven short plays.

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Akropolis Reed Quintet debuts its latest web series with a world premiere


The local ensemble Akropolis Reed Quintet made waves nationally in 2014 when the group won the prestigious Fischoff Gold Medal, the first group of its kind to win the award. Tim Gocklin (oboe), Kari Landry (clarinet), Matt Landry (saxophone), Andrew Koeppe (bass clarinet), and Ryan Reynolds (bassoon) founded Akropolis at the University of Michigan in 2009. The reed quintet has been extremely prolific from the start, including releasing albums, streaming concerts online, and conducting educational programs locally, nationally, and internationally (when I reached out to the group, they were in Abu Dhabi).

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, Akropolis will relaunch its web series on akropolisquintet.com and youtube.com/akropolis5tet: "In 2011, we created our YouTube Web Premiere Series as a platform to showcase new works for reed quintet online, around the world," the group wrote on the Facebook event page for its latest, which will feature a live studio recording of Gregory Wanamaker's new arrangement of "Elegy" from his Duo Sonata written specifically for Akropolis. "This series has over 31,000 views, 522 subscribers, and features 13 online premieres, 9 of which are from American composers!"

I caught up with ensemble member saxophonist Matt Landry to chat about the group’s latest album, The Space Between Us (“pure gold” according to the San Francisco Chronicle), classical music and popular culture, and what’s next for the group.

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Theatrical Projections: Major plays and operas are just a movie ticket away

HD theater

Clockwise from upper left: Angels in America, Uncle Vanya, The Exterminating Angel, Norma, and Yerma are but a few of the HD theater broadcasts at two Ann Arbor movie theaters.

If you don’t live in New York City or London, and perhaps don’t have the money to go to The Metropolitan Opera or the National Theatre on a regular basis, you might feel like you’re missing out on some amazing arts events.

But HD broadcasts of productions from these venues to movie theatres around the world are a way for people all around the world to see legendary works like La Bohéme, Hamlet, Everyman,Der Rosenkavalier, and more, performed by legendary performers such as Helen Mirren, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Plácido Domingo, Vittorio Grigolo, and Renée Fleming. NT Live has been broadcasting shows from the National and other theaters in London to movie theaters since 2009, and The Met: Live in HD has been broadcasting operas since 2006.

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U-M’s "Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" draws parallels with current events


The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is Bertolt Brecht's satire of Hitler and organized crime set in 1930s Chicago.

He drew support from working class people by appealing to their fears and their prejudices in a time of economic strife. He went into angry rants blaming minorities for all the country’s problems. He encouraged his supporters at rallies to punch out those who protested against him. He came to power in an unusual though legal way, while claiming the support of the nation. He pushed a philosophy of racial and ethnic superiority. He told the crowds that “I and I alone can make this nation great again.”

He was Adolph Hitler.

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