May Erlewine & The Motivations brought a soulful groove to Sonic Lunch


May Erlewine & the Motivations at Sonic Lunch

Photo by Leisa Thompson, courtesy of the Bank of Ann Arbor and Sonic Lunch.

Michigan singer-songwriter May Erlewine is well known for her moving songwriting and expressive voice, generally showcased in a folk-country style with a slight pop edge. In recent months, though, she’s been working with more of a retro-soul sound -- and as everyone at Thursday’s Sonic Lunch saw and heard, the shift in style suits her very well.

“This winter, things got so bad I decided I had to have some dance parties to get through it,” she told the crowd. And that’s what she did Thursday, with her sharp six-piece band, The Motivations, playing an hour and a quarter of irresistible, infectious grooves in a mix of Erlewine originals and soul classics.

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Encore offers diverting, funny, and timely ‘9 to 5’


Purple Rose Theatre, Harvey

Photo courtesy of Michele Anliker Photography.

A video projection of Dolly Parton hovers over the Encore Theatre stage. The always charming country singer/songwriter plays host to Encore’s production of 9 to 5, a Broadway musical of the hit movie 1970s comedy starring Parton, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Dabney Coleman.

Parton teases that what we are about to see took place in 1979, a time of disco music, no internet and less enlightened thinking.

Unfortunately, last year’s presidential campaign made it clear that issues of gender equality and sexual harassment are still alive and kicking. And 9 to still gets a lot of knowing laughter about a workplace culture skewed to male privilege.

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Livin' Large: Lyle Lovett & His Large Band at The Michigan Theater


Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at The Michigan Theater

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band filled up The Michigan Theater -- both on stage and with a sold-out house.

Fans of Lyle Lovett know a solo concert by the great Texas troubadour will be a reliably good time. But a show by Lovett with his Large Band, a 12-member ensemble of brilliant musicians -- well, that’s a real occasion, an event not to be missed.

The reasons for that were on full display Friday night at the Michigan Theater, as Lovett and his Large Band entertained a sold-out house for two and a half hours, exploring any number of different musical styles and evoking a full range of emotions.

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The Record Company lifted Sonic Lunch "Off the Ground"


The Record Company at Sonic Lunch

The Record Company doesn't need a guitar to rock Sonic Lunch. Photograph by Christopher Porter.

“We’re The Record Company, and we play rock-n-roll,” frontman Chris Vos said in opening and closing Thursday’s Sonic Lunch concert. He didn’t really need to say it, since any doubts about that would have been wiped out by the raucous and energetic hour of music in between.

Thursday’s show marked the public return of Martin Bandyke, popular local DJ for WQKL (107.1-FM) and longtime Sonic Lunch MC, who is recovering from recent heart surgery. Vos dedicated the show to him before the trio launched full force into the blues rocker “On the Move” -- one of the highlights of last year’s acclaimed and Grammy-nominated debut album, Give It Back to You -- with Vos punctuating his intense vocals with some equally intense harmonica lines. That led into their latest single, “Baby I’m Broken,” which if anything ramped up the energy level even further.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #648



Balli Kaur Jaswal was named Best Young Australian Novelist by Sydney Morning Herald for her hardcover debut, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. The book is set in the Sikh community of Greater London.

A great disappointment to her Punjabi immigrant family, a "westernized" Nikki Grewa tends bar at the local pub after dropping out of law school. She is bewildered that her sister Mindi, a nurse, is willing to try arranged marriage. While at the community center to post Mindi's dating profile, she impulsively answers an ad for a creative writing teacher.

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Variety Show: STAMPS's alumni exhibition "Ambiguities/Innuendoes? Go Fish"


Disney Room

A still from Alisa Yang's award-winning short film Please Come Again.

The 2017 University of Michigan Alumni Exhibition Ambiguities/Innuendoes? Go Fish features an eclectic collection of alumni works that engage, in varying capacities, with the terms “ambiguity” and “innuendo.” The annual exhibition allows STAMPS alumni to show their work. This year, work represented over 70 years of alumni from 1955 to 2016. This year, the exhibition featured juror Brian Kennedy, the president, director, and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art.

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U-M SMTD's tidy exhibition of Beatles material celebrates the 50th anniversary of "Sgt. Pepper's"


The University of Michigan School of Music, Theater, and Dance's “Summit of Creativity: A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ of 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band'" drew experts from across the country in June to examine and analyze this timeless music with an academic panache typically reserved for the likes of Shakespeare, Gilgamesh, and radioisotopes.

By contrast, U-M musicologist Walter Everett’s 46-item exhibit 50th Anniversary of the Release of 'Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band' is tidy in comparison to the sprawling analysis bestowed on The Beatles and this record in particular. Both the band and Sgt. Pepper's are now part of the firmament in our shared cultural and intellectual history, and they are now well worthy of deep study and scrutiny. But The Beatles certainly didn’t conceive the album with all that in mind.

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Multimedia Meditations: Ann Arbor Women Artists 2017 Summer Juried Exhibit


Ann Arbor Women Artists 2017 Summer Juried Exhibit

Left to right: works by artists Kathy Hiner, Bonnie Wylo, Susan Clinthorne, Kathy Kelley, Barbara Goodsitt, and Patricia Davenport.

The 2017 Ann Arbor Women Artists Summer Juried Exhibit illustrates the diverse talent in the Ann Arbor area. Though the name implies this nonprofit organization features women artists only, by 2008 the group included 10 men. The volunteer-run organization is now open to all artists 18 and older. Today, this local art group has over 300 members. In this year’s annual AAWA Juried exhibition, 46 artists have their work on display. The works represented are executed in a variety of media, both 2D and 3D.

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However it’s made, Ellipsis Theatre's "Sausage" is good fun


The School for Sausage

Masked men and women: The School for Sausage is a commedia dell’arte filled with high-energy humor.

The raucous atmosphere of The School for Sausage is evident even before the play starts -- one of the characters plays ukulele in the middle of the stage, other characters prance about to warm up, and the director tells you that because this is commedia dell’arte and you will never see this exact play ever again.

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Backyard Dreaming: Penny Seats' "Peter and the Starcatcher"


Penny Seats, Peter and the Starcatcher

Rarely has an Ann Arbor stage been so uniquely suited to a play as West Park is to Peter and the Starcatcher, Rick Elice’s Tony-winning prequel to Peter Pan, based on the novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.

West Park, which serves as the summer home of The Penny Seats Theatre Company, is versatile and adaptable to a wide variety of theatrical experiences. When I saw Peter and the Starcatcher last weekend, a friend turned to me at intermission and said, “This set looks like it would if I were a kid playing pirates and make-believe out in my backyard.” And it does. Many of the imaginatively used props consist of mismatched, cobbled-together items like grocery shopping carts, kitchen timers, a plastic pineapple, coconut shells, and more.

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