Ann Arbor singer-pianist Hannah Baiardi makes jazz her own on "Straight From the Soul"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Hannah Baiardi

Hannah Baiardi has been writing and performing music since age 3, so it’s no surprise that her first full-length album, Straight From the Soul, is a polished and thoughtful work.

Although a listener might categorize the music as contemporary jazz, Baiardi clearly draws on other influences as diverse as R&B and new age, and it all comes through on the album. The University of Michigan grad (BFA ’18, jazz studies) offers smooth, heartfelt vocals and evocative piano playing, which combine for a distinctive and memorable sound. She’s backed by an excellent supporting cast, including Karen Tomalis on drums on most tracks and Marion Hayden or Ryan King on bass.

Baiardi writes much of her own material. The album features five original compositions, ranging from the wistful yet hopeful “Who Can Relate” and “Distant Land” to the joyful “Let Go” and “Feel It.” The album concludes with “Transit,” an outstanding instrumental showcase.

The album also features two pop favorites from old movies—an introspective take on “Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair and “The Summer Knows” from Summer of ’42, which makes for ideal listening in the summer of ’21.

Baiardi recently agreed to answer a few questions via email.

U-M Lecturer Philip D’Anieri's Book Maps the Appalachian Trail Through the Stories of Its Developers

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Philip D’Anieri and his book The Appalachian Trail: A Biography.

Author photo by Alicia Farmer

The 2,000+-mile Appalachian Trail spans the eastern United States from Georgia to Maine, traversing 14 states in total. The trail looms large in the consciousness of many people, from sightseers to thru-hikers. But how did such a major trail get created?

U-M lecturer Philip D’Anieri shows how the Appalachian Trail could not exist without the significant effort and devotion of instrumental individuals over time in his new book, The Appalachian Trail: A Biography. He provides not only facts about the contributors’ lives but also insights into who they were and what motivated them to contribute to the AT. D’Anieri also examines how the AT forms and fits into our views of nature.

Each chapter outlines how a different person (or people) helped shape the trail’s establishment. The trail’s development occurred alongside the growth of the United States, causing conflict when the trail was at odds with roads, politics, or interests of private landowners. The story begins with Arnold Guyot’s mapping of the Appalachian Mountains, as published in an article in 1861. In subsequent years, various individuals explore and build miles of trail, from the librarian Horace Kephart to Benton McKaye’s coining of the name “Appalachian Trail” in the early 1900s.

The first thru-hikers, Earl Shaffer and Emma Gatewood in 1949 and 1955, respectively, influenced the use of the AT. Another chapter depicts Senator Gaylord Nelson, who introduced legislation to federally protect the trail in the 1960s and also founded Earth Day in 1970. The book goes on to describe the challenges and successes of the National Park Service, which sought to obtain land along the AT’s corridor. Bill Bryson’s bestseller, A Walk in the Woods published in 1998, drew many to the trail, as D’Anieri writes in the penultimate chapter.

At the start and end of the book, D’Anieri reflects on the Appalachian Trail’s meaning in the public consciousness and his own engagement with the trail. In the introduction, he writes:

The places we choose, and the way we then develop and manage them, tell us a lot about what we are asking from nature, what exactly we think we are traveling toward and escaping from, where we want to strike the balance between maddening civilization on the one hand, and heartless nature on the other.

This question sets the stage for studying various individuals’ involvement in the AT’s construction.

D’Anieri finishes the book by discussing his adventures in driving the length of the trail and hiking short sections. His points that the Appalachian Trail is for everyone, and that there is much value to walking rather than driving, offer a current take on the trail. There is a great opportunity to interact with nature via the AT, to step away from our existing lives for a different outlook.

I interviewed D’Anieri to learn more about his book and the process of writing it.

Friday Five: Antwaun Stanley, Beanstalk, Lionbelly, Anteomedroma, Ness Lake

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 07-23-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features dancey R&B from Antwaun Stanley, synth-pop by Beanstalk, alt folk-pop via Lionbelly, black metal from Anteomedroma, and lo-fi indie-folk courtesy Ness Lake.

 

U-M Medical School's "Looking for a Silver Lining: Art in the Time of Covid" exhibit offers smartphone photography from the staff

VISUAL ART

 Kelvin Chou, M.D. Professor of Neurology Department of Neurology, ​ Family Walk

Family Walk by Kelvin Chou, M.D., Professor of Neurology, Department of Neurology

​It's easy to dismiss the Instagram-ification of the art of photography, but any democratization of creative endeavors should be celebrated. Smartphones allow everyone to chance upon one perfect shot and capture that moment, often with stunning results.

The University of Michigan Medical School's new online exhibit, Looking for a Silver Lining: Art in the Time of Covid, offers a collection of smartphone photography from those who work there, from doctors and project managers to nurses and administrative coordinators. 

Art Coordinator Grace Serra writes:

"Daisy Chain" features nine artists discussing what it means to emerge from the pandemic

VISUAL ART

The word "re-entry" has been popping up a lot as of late—and not just because two billionaires flew themselves into space.

It's because after the past 17 months of being in lockdown, many of us are re-entering society for the first time this summer. Going back to offices, reconnecting with friends and family, walking into places without a mask that we would have never considered entering even with one as the pandemic raged.

Amanda Krugliak, an arts curator and assistant director of arts programming for the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, had "re-entry" in mind when she came up with the idea of Daisy Chain, a video 'zine that features her taking to artists Ruth Buentello, Abigail DeVille, Hubert Massey, Shanna Merola, Scott Northrup, David Opdyke, Shani Peters, Sheida Soleimani, and Jeffrey Augustine Songco. Krugliak described the video this way:

AADL Black Lives Matter: Mural Dedication

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

AADL Black Lives Matter murals

Photo by Christopher Porter

On Friday, July 23, at 7 pm, join the Ann Arbor District Library for the dedication of the Black Lives Matter Mural newly installed on Library Lane.

This mural showcases the work of eight Black artists who show what the phrase Black Lives Matter means to them. This project was commissioned by the Ann Arbor District Library in the summer of 2020 as part of its Call for Artists.

Two new outdoor sculpture exhibits offer public art in Washtenaw County

VISUAL ART PREVIEW

Chelsea and Matthaei sculptures

Left: Sean Hages, Nephatia, wood, 4.5’ x 4’ x 5.5”, 2015; part of the 2021 Chelsea Sculpture Walk.
Right: Sculpture tower by Jen Gerrity, Sherry Hall, Ben Mattison, Daria Paik, and Jin Young Yeum at Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Photo by Jeri Hollister.

Even with everything starting to open up again—including the University of Michigan Museum of Art—you may understandably still feel a little weird about spending time indoors with other people. But two new outdoor sculpture exhibitions offer the delights of visual art alongside maximum air circulation.

University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance announces 2021-2022 productions

THEATER & DANCE PREVIEW

From a production of Nora: A Doll's House

From a previous UMSMTD production of Insurrection: Holding History. Photo by Peter Smith Photography.

Drama is back at the University of Michigan.

No, I'm not talking about any political, criminal, or social issues.

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (UMSMTD) announced 10 performances and one studio production as part of its 2021-22 production season, which runs from September 30 to April 17.

“Our goal this year is to return to creating the same high-quality productions you’ve come to know and love while providing more flexibility to better accommodate our audiences’ health and safety needs,” said Jeffrey Kuras, executive director of the school’s University Productions, in a press release.

Some of the other annual performances—Grand Night for Singing, Halloween Concert, Band-O-Rama, and Collage Concert—will be announced at a later date. Tickets for all the events will eventually be available at tickets.smtd.umich.edu

"The SMTD Flex Series will allow audiences to select the four shows they would like to attend at a discounted price," according to the UMSMTD press release. "The Flex Series joins the existing Power Series, which allows audiences to purchase all four shows at the Power Center for the Performing Arts for a discounted price." (The Power Center turns 50 this year.)

Here's a rundown of UMSMTD's 2020-2021 season events:

Friday Five: Andrew W.K., Slug Love, Mirror Monster, Shooting Stars, Oren Levin

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 06-16-2021

Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features headbanging from Andrew W.K., shoegaze via Slug Love, synth-pop from Mirror Monster, hip-hop by Shooting Stars, and radio-pop from Oren Levin.

 

Review: Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s “A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call”

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call

By sheer coincidence, I experienced the Ann Arbor Summer Festival’s theatrical presentation of A Thousand Ways (Part One): A Phone Call at a time when I’d also revisited Mandy Len Catron’s viral essay, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This,” which references 36 questions purported to accelerate intimacy between two strangers.

What’s the connection, you ask?

A Thousand Ways (created by Brooklyn-based troupe 600 Highwaymen) is a phone conversation between you and a stranger, moderated by a pre-recorded, Siri-like voice that poses questions, offers pieces of an imagined narrative, and issues orders. By the end of the hour-long call—filled with seemingly innocuous queries that nonetheless revealed a great deal about ourselves—I felt strangely connected to, and emotionally invested in, the other participant.

To the point that I felt a little heartbroken when I realized that neither of us had enough information to find each other later in real life.

And I felt this sadness despite the fact that we never exchanged names or laid eyes on each other (the latter was part of psychologist Arthur Aron’s experiment, which gave rise to the infamous 36 questions).

The impact struck me as especially curious in this moment, when we’re all slowly emerging from our respective pandemic hidey-holes. We’ve been able to talk by phone with each other this whole time; it was, indeed, one of the safest means of socializing. So why did a pre-recorded moderator make it a far more meaningful, memorable phone conversation than most I had with friends and family during quarantine?