The "Great Lakes Review" celebrates its best-of 2016 issue at Literati

John

Editor John Counts stakes out the territory for the Great Lakes Review.

Despite the journal's name, Great Lakes Review editor John Counts is "wary of getting too deep into whether our region has its own distinct regional voice akin to American Southern literature," he said. "That question is probably best dealt with in academic dissertations. But I will say we believe great writing is something that rises above its setting."

On April 28 at Literati Bookstore, Great Lakes Review will host an event that celebrates the release of a printed collection of 2016 stories and poems that rose above their settings.

Michigan short story writer Philip Sterling), Ohio poet Justin Longacre), and Illinois poet Jessica Walsh will join Counts for an evening of readings and discussions.

We talked to Counts about how independent journals champion “riskier” writing, that elusive Midwest voice, and the role of Great Lakes-area writers during a political climate that could threaten the region's ecosystem.

READ MORE  

Exploring the vibrational universe of Avram Fefer and Michael Bisio


James

Saxophonist Avram Fefer and bassist Michael Bisio will bring 25 years of chemistry to tonight's Kerrytown Concert House show. Fefer photo via Burnt Sugar; Bisio photo by Marek Lazarski/cooljazzphotos.com.

If saxophonist Avram Fefer can play a compelling duet with a towering wall of sheet metal, chances are good he sounds great improvising with just about anyone. Which sets the bar pretty high for tonight's Kerrytown Concert House performance with longtime collaborator bassist Michael Bisio.

Fefer was recently in London for the latest session in his Resonant Sculpture Project -- which he described by email as "a series of immersive, site-specific performances exploring the relationship between improvisation, space, acoustics, permanence, and sculpture" -- during which the reedman plays at, around, and sometimes within the large-scale, minimalist creations of sculptor Richard Serra.

It's easy to imagine tonight's show going more like a conversation between old friends who happen to be experts in their fields; a two-person TED Talk on intersecting disciplines as told on reeds and strings.

Or as Bisio put it by email, "Both Avram and I tell a good musical story."

The two players, composers, and bandleaders have been telling that story together in some form since the 1990s, either in Bisio's Quartet or as a duo. Fefer's lyrical approach to sax and bass clarinet effortlessly folds in several styles to create an organic, singular sound that pairs perfectly with Bisio's limber double-bass lines and expressive bowing.

We talked with Fefer by email -- with Bisio chiming in, too -- about developing his rich, varied style; composing and tracking the duo's lone solo record in roughly 25 years of playing together; and how he got started jamming with inanimate objects.

READ MORE  

Terence Davies' film "A Quiet Passion" covers the life of poet Emily Dickinson


At first listen, Terence Davies' voice seemingly betrays his 71 years. Even with his charming British accent, the Englishman sounds gravelly, like he can't get as much air into his lungs as he might like. But then it takes about 30 seconds of hearing his words to understand age might not explain this condition as well as a literally breathless enthusiasm for whatever topic he's discussing.

I spoke with Davies about his latest film, A Quiet Passion, a biopic about Emily Dickinson that details her complicated family relationships, her unconventional religious beliefs, and her own self-esteem issues in order to celebrate a unique life and illuminate her poetry. The film opens at the Michigan Theater on Friday, April 21.

READ MORE  

Older actors take center stage in Civic Theatre’s "Mornings at Seven"

Civic Theatre’s Mornings at Seven

Barbara Mackey King and Melissa Stewart read from scripts during rehearsals for Civic Theatre’s Mornings at Seven.

Youth will be served.

In popular music, movies, and theater, young adults are usually the center of attention. Older actors will land roles as wise elders, cantankerous villains, or doddering comic relief. But the roles are sometimes few and far between.

That’s one reason why Thom Johnson wanted to stage Paul Osborn’s gentle, Midwest 1939 comedy Mornings at Seven for the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.

“I did this play 10 years ago with another group and in the intervening years, looking at shows I wanted to be in, I noticed a real lack of parts for older people,” Johnson said, “and this show except for the two ‘youngsters’ who are in their 40s, it’s all about older people. I think that’s what really sparked me into wanting to do it, an opportunity for older actors to get out there on stage and do their thing.”

READ MORE  

Michigan native and "Narcos" co-creator Doug Miro talks about the art of screenwriting

Doug Miro, Narcos

Michigan native Doug Miro is more than happy to come home to talk about his hit Netflix series, Narcos.

When I talked to him on the phone recently, Michigan native Doug Miro was driving around Bogotá, Colombia, looking for a good coffee shop. He was shooting a few episodes for season three of the Netflix show Narcos, which he and collaborator Carlo Bernard created along with their partner and showrunner Eric Newman. Miro and Bernard, along with a team of writers, pen the scripts, and the two take turns filming episodes in Colombia and California.

Miro and Bernard have worked together for years now, writing screenplays for Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein, and Jerry Bruckheimer, scripting films such as Prince of Persia (which starred Jake Gyllenhaal), The Wall (starring Matt Damon), Tintin, The Uninvited, and the television series Narcos, which Miro describes as more of a “20-hour movie."

Miro will give a free talk at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 pm. The event is co-presented by the MOCAD and the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series.

READ MORE  

U-M grad and NYT best-selling author Elizabeth Kostova gets dark in "The Shadow Land"


Elizabeth Kostova, The Shadow Land

Elizabeth Kostova's The Shadow Land investigates grief, complicity, and communism.

Bestselling author Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian) may now be touring to promote her newest novel, The Shadow Land, but when she arrives in Ann Arbor to appear at Nicola’s Books on Monday evening, she may feel like she’s back home.

Why? Because after Kostova earned a spot in the University of Michigan’s renowned MFA program in creative writing, and graduated, she stayed in Ann Arbor until her family moved to Asheville in 2009.

“I’d intended to just stay (in Ann Arbor) for two years, then go back east and resume teaching there,” said Kostova. “But I loved it so much there that I ended staying. My family was there almost eight years. It was a great place to be for a while.”

READ MORE  

Contemporary Music at Literati, Starring the Typewriter (and Composer Garrett Schumann)


Literati Bookstore

Typewriter.

The Literati Bookstore typewriter is home to patrons’ left-behind thoughts, many of which are touching, profound, or funny.

On Thursday, April 13 at 7 pm, Ypsilanti-based composer Garrett Schumann’s new work based on these typewriter musings will be premiered Literati as part of an evening of contemporary music presented by ÆPEX Contemporary Performance.

We talked to Schumann about how he came up with the idea for the piece, his favorite books related to music and composing, and what else you can look forward to from ÆPEX Contemporary Performance in the coming months.

READ MORE  

Need a light? Wizard Union Collective carries a heavy torch


Wizard

Holy cloaks! Samier, Larry, and Aaron are the Wizard Union. Photos by Miles Larson.

It's fair, if lazy, to call Wizard Union a stoner-metal band. The Ann Arbor-based three-piece specializes in huge, slow sounds with roots running back to Black Sabbath, and its song titles and lyrics namedrop ancient bongs and wizard pipes. But there's a simple, no-gimmick efficiency and economy of scale to what they do that's also punk as punk.

On their latest record, Phantom Fury, released late last year, the band refined its chugging, earworm sludge, while also introducing classic rock shuffles and early grunge grooves (and an outro to one tune that could be a sequel to "KISS: Love Theme From KISS."). In the middle of it all, guitarist and vocalist Samir Asfahani's throaty bark sounds shredded and desperate not to get drowned out by the drones.

On Saturday, April 8, Wizard Union will play Crossroads Pub in Ypsilanti along with Toledo-based old school death metal band Mutilatred and hardcore punk acts No/Breaks and Hellghillies. Chances are good every human in attendance could compulsively lurch in rhythm when the band launches into old favorites, like "Into the Wizard's Sleeve."

We talked to Asfahani by email about the band's new efforts as a collective, demoing songs in his car during his lunchbreak at work, reviewing extreme music for his entertaining and informative personal blog, and distancing himself and the band from the sexism and misogyny that "plague" the metal scene.

READ MORE  

Tusk Talk: Catching up with the Bristle Mammoth at U-M Museum of Natural History



Downloads:
720p video, 480p video, 240p video, or MP3

There was a lot of media coverage on the Bristle Mammoth when its remains were found on Lima Township farm in October 2015 and when the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History opened its exhibit in November 2016. But we were curious if there were any developments since the hoopla died down -- plus, we had a few questions of our own -- so we talked to Dr. Daniel Fisher, who led the excavation and heads the research team. Check out our interview in the video above.

More videos about the mammoth excavation:

READ MORE  

Attic-folk act -pf plays LP-release show at Canterbury House


-pf

Peter Felsman -- aka -pf -- might not have a searchable band name, but there's much discover in his music.

The self-described attic folk band –pf (pronounced “dash” “p” “f”) only formed in 2015 – more than 20 years after the Internet became a regular part of our lives. But the group made a serious digital-age error with its name.

“We only recently learned that Googling anything beginning with the character ‘–‘ tells the search engine ‘don’t search for what comes next’ and reliably returns no results,” said Peter Felsman, whose initials give the band its search-engine-unfriendly name.

But the band’s laidback attitude about its name snafu is reflected in the easygoing music on its new album, Candidacy. Even though “attic folk” isn’t an actual genre, the group’s light, playful sound really does reflect that description -- which is literal as well as figurative.

“Everything that’s been recorded as –pf has been recorded in that attic on Ann Street,” Felsman said, a Limited License Master Social Worker by day who's working on his PhD at U-M. “And, now three albums and two singles in, the sound of that room has become a part of the –pf sound. We try to capture the spirit of that room in our performances, bringing a sense of intimacy that is almost an inherent part of sharing songs in an attic.”

The six-piece -pf will celebrate the release of Candidacy with an April 9 concert at Canterbury House. We chatted to the Felsman about making a record in one night and Herman Hesse.

READ MORE