"Last Night a Camera Saved My Life: The Photography of Doug Coombe" celebrates one of Washtenaw County's finest chroniclers of Michigan music

MUSIC VISUAL ART PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Iggy and The Stooges at the Michigan Theater, April 19, 2011. Photo by Doug Coombe.

Iggy and The Stooges at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, April 19, 2011. Photo by Doug Coombe.

If you've been to a concert in Washtenaw County in the past 30 years, there's a good chance Doug Coombe was at one of them.

From Ypsilanti basement shows to Hill Auditorium and everywhere around Southeastern Michigan, the long-time Ann Arbor record-store clerk turned first-call photographer has documented local and touring artists of all genres with an exacting eye and an unrelenting passion for music.

The genial Coombe's dynamic concert photos are like energy traps, capturing the exact moment a performer has exploded with passion, while his promotional and journalistic musician photos present bands in creative environments that convey their sounds and attitudes through the images.

Coombe loves what he does and the musicians love him right back. You can actually tell the artists like to be photographed by Coombe just by looking at his pictures.

For real: Everybody likes Doug.

CultureVerse is a new-ish gallery space in downtown Ann Arbor and its latest exhibit, Last Night a Camera Saved My Life: The Photography of Doug Coombe, is a love letter not only to the Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan music scenes but also to the man who captured these small, fleeting moments for all of eternity. 

Friday Five: Fred Moises, Mary Collins, No Author, Marc Hannaford, Vornhagen & Kaufman

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 06-03-2022

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

This week features worldly jazz by Vornhagen & Kaufman, ambient by Fred Moises, folk by Mary Collins, techno by No Author, and experimental jazz by Marc Hannaford.

 

Interdimensional Transmissions’ No Way Back party was 14 hours of transformational bliss

MUSIC REVIEW

Carlos Souffront at Interdimensional Transmissions' No Way Back Party, May 26, 2022. Photo by Rosewyn Gold.

Carlos Souffront at Interdimensional Transmissions' No Way Back Party, May 26, 2022. Photo by Rosewyn Gold.

Resident Advisor, one of the most important websites covering electronic music, previewed Interdimensional Transmissions' annual No Way Back event as "the kind of party that can change your life if you let it."

Reading that, you might scoff, roll your eyes, and chalk it up as hyperbole.

That is until you go and experience the transformative power of No Way Back yourself, as I did on Sunday, May 26, at Detroit's Tangent Gallery.

No more scoffing.

Fruitful Experiment: Chris Bathgate explores thematic writing on his new album, “The Significance of Peaches” 

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Chris Bathgate photo by Misty Lynn Bergeron

Ann Arbor singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate uses the pump organ as the sonic centerpiece on The Significance of Peaches. Photo by Misty Lyn Bergeron.

Chris Bathgate sees his first album in five years, The Significance of Peaches as "an experiment in thematic writing and recording with limitations … the significance of peaches is not necessarily the thread or some keystone idea. It is like a loose fishing net that I can cast into my life and see what I harvest."

Throughout The Significance of Peaches, released on Ann Arbor's Quite Scientific Records, Bathgate searches for a holistic sense of self while fostering a spiritual connection to the outside world using pithy lyrics and nature-rich imagery set atop a pump-organ-drenched landscape.

“The peach thing is from my total adoration for the stone fruit itself as the corporeal experience of physically eating a peach," said the Ann Arbor indie-folk singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. "But I’m also interested in the peach as a metaphor throughout history. The thing I became most obsessed with was its use as a way to describe the ephemeral nature of life, time and joy, moments, and carpe diem.

What Price Genius? Theatre Nova’s "Relativity" explores the complicated life of Albert Einstein

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Phil Powers and Anne Damman in Theatre Nova's production of <em>Relativity</em> by Mark St. Germain, directed by Carla Milarch. Photography by Sean Carter Photography.

Phil Powers and Anne Damman in Theatre Nova's production of Relativity by Mark St. Germain, directed by Carla Milarch. Photography by Sean Carter Photography.

Can a great man also be a good man? What do the words great and good mean?

This is the theme of Mark St. Germain’s play Relativity, which explores the character of physicist Albert Einstein, who has become the very definition of genius.

Germain takes a troubling decision by Einstein and its impact on his professional and personal life to explore the complex balances and compromises that people make to follow their passions, in Einstein’s case a passion that would change forever the way we look at the universe.

Carla Milarch directs the Theatre Nova production of Relativity, which strikes a complex balance of its own, weighing gentle comedy against serious inquiry into the compromises Einstein made to follow his genius. 

The Share Zone: Ann Arbor Art Center launches multimedia exhibit "Sharing Space," the first show in its new building

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Ann Arbor Art Center entrance to the Sharing Space exhibition

Entrance to the Ann Arbor Art Center's new building and Sharing Space exhibition. Photo courtesy of A2AC.

What is space?

Is it the physical area around you?

Is it your mental perceptions of isolation versus intimacy, distance versus closeness? Finding your place in a crowd versus being alone with your thoughts?

Is space the place where we should launch Elon Musk on a Major Tom-like mission to Mars?

The artists in Sharing Space, a new multimedia exhibit at the Ann Arbor Art Gallery (A2AC), ask variations of these questions—except the one about an Elonaut floating around a tin can, that's all on me.

Sharing Space is A2AC's inaugural full exhibit in its newly increased footprint, which came about because the venerable institution bought and expanded into the building next door, reconfiguring nearly everything throughout the three floors of both structures. (MLive did a nice story on the renovation.)

The name Sharing Space is also a nod to a driving idea behind A2AC's newly configured galleries and workspaces. While A2AC has always been about sharing space with the community—the exhibits are free; the paid art classes welcoming to newcomers—its commitment to expanding deeper into the general public is front and center now.

The pandemic has also made us reconsider how and when we share spaces with others. Even though covid variants are still raging everywhere, the world has made the conscious decision to open up again, which means whether or not we're emotionally or physically ready, we have to figure out how to share spaces once again.

"I wanted our first exhibition to be something that spoke to our own process of coming back into the public emerging with our new space," said Interim Gallery Director Ashley Miller.

Friday Five: TJ Zindle, Doogatron, TYRU$ARCHER, MEMCO comp, Paper Petals

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-27-2022

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

This week features '90s-esque alt-rock courtesy of TJ Zindle, freaky techno from Doogatron, leftfield hip-hop by TYRU$ARCHER, a MEMCO comp of electronic music, and dark ambient from Paper Petals.

Pulp Bits: A roundup of Washtenaw County arts and culture stories

PULP LIFE

Pulp Bits 05-25-2022

Pulp Bits is an occasional round-up of Washtenaw County-related arts and culture stories from various publications and podcasts.

Some highlights include profiles of Ann Arbor's Third Place [MusicFest] (May 25-28), Ypsilanti's ÆPEX Fest (June 1-4), Ypsi's IFFY film festival (June 2-4), a pandemic-inspired exhibit at U-M's Museum of Natural History, a new children's book courtesy of Chelsea's Barn Sanctuary founder, Ann Arbor chalk artist David Zinn discussing his work, and upcoming events at Ann Arbor's Top of the Park festival and next season's UMS schedule.

All that and much more below:

Friends and musicians remember Walrus founding member and longtime Ann Arbor bassist Kim French at a tribute concert

MUSIC

Kim French sitting with his bass in front of a poster of The Yardbirds

Kim French photo from his Facebook page.

Ann Arbor bassist Kim French passed away from heart failure on January 13, 2022, according to an obituary in Marquette's Mining Journal newspaper. French was a native of Marquette before moving to Ann Arbor in 1970.

In 1969, French was a co-founder of the psych-folk-jazz band Walrus, whose members started playing together in The Mike Koda Corp., a band featuring future Brownsville Station and solo star "Cub" Koda. Walrus later featured another Marquette musician named Randy Tessier, who moved with the band to Ann Arbor in 1972. While French's Marquette buddies had joined him in Washtenaw County, he didn't rejoin Walrus, which ended up making some studio recordings in 1973 and 1973 that would go unreleased until 2019. ["After 45 years, dreams do come true: Marquette native 70s band Walrus releases first album," The Mining Journal, January 27, 2020]

Friday Five: Killa Kam, Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet, Fred Thomas, Golden Feelings, Saajtak

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Friday Five 05-20-2022

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

This week features hip-hop by Killa Kam, Ukrainian folk by Dave Sharp Worlds Quartet, instrumentals by Fred Thomas, ambient by Golden Feelings, and off-kilter pop by Saajtak.