From Solitude to the Stage: Post Eden’s debut album is a trip to achieve "Solace in Entropy"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Post Eden pose inside a bar wearing '80s new wave sunglasses.

If you ask the men of Ann Arbor’s Post Eden what their tagline “musical fusion” means, they really couldn’t tell you. More of a tongue-in-cheek umbrella term than an attempt to grasp a genre, the group really only started taking themselves seriously in the past two years.

Just not too seriously. 

“At the end of the day, we’re doing this for fun,” lead guitarist Nick Noteman said. “Yes, we take a lot of the music we write seriously and some of our songs have deep undertones, but music is supposed to be fun—the ‘musical fusion’ is us noting that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Former high school cross-country runners Noteman, Pat Murray (lead vocalist and guitarist), Abe Worth (bassist), and Alex Bowling (drummer) started Post Eden after a year and a half of playing together. 

“There’s a lot of time when you’re stuck in the middle of the woods to sit and talk about stuff,” Murray said. “You’re running for miles, and you become really good friends with people.”

Post Eden’s debut album, Solace in Entropy, came out in January. The record was named after the chaos of life, especially during the COVID-19 era, and the comfort that playing together brought the musicians. Solace in Entropy begins with a series of footsteps that guide listeners to 11 tracks that signify months of hard work and fine-tuning. Post Eden’s sound is a mix of Rage Against the Machine, Pink Floyd, and King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard, tied together with ’70s psychedelic and ’90s grunge influences. 

Shannon McLeod’s Short Story Collection “Nature Trail Stories” Provides Natural Spaces for People to Reflect and Integrate Their Past and Present Selves

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Author Shannon McLeod and the cover of "Nature Trail Stories"

Via sharp observations and attempts at connection, the characters in Shannon McLeod’s Nature Trail Stories offer insights on their surroundings and the people around them. As one woman reflects, “Any place can be scenic, depending upon the scenes in your head.” This mindset could be expanded to all the short stories in the collection, as they reveal the world through the characters’ varied outlooks, from an art gallery employee awaiting the next person to walk in to a woman coping with heartbreak.

In the same story from which the above quote originated, titled “Human Song,” the narrator and their boyfriend receive advice to go see the snails and sing to them to lure them out of their shells. At the beach: 

I sing George Michael, then Spice Girls, then the Beatles.
“If they’re not coming out for Ringo, there’s nothing that’ll do it,” says Caleb. I’ve begun to feel this way about him, too. That nothing I can possibly do will bring him back to me.

Maybe the snails are more accessible than fellow humans. Nature becomes an antidote to the failings of relationships and to the desire for a bond. 

The loneliness and longing that envelop these characters even as they engage with other people—friends, strangers, coworkers, family members, and significant others—thread throughout the collection and are almost inextricable from the dialogue and settings. The story, “After Leaving,” dives into the grim, though in this case necessary, moments following a breakup in which memories flash through the narrator’s mind wherever she goes. While seeking something for dinner, she observes that: 

Downtown, the trees lining the streets are turning orange. There’s a sweet scent of decay in the air. I’ve always liked autumn best. He used to say it’s because I’m a melancholy woman. The same reason I find sad songs the most beautiful.

Nurturing Nature: Out Loud Chorus's latest concert is a family-friendly collection of songs about the Earth and elements

MUSIC PREVIEW

Out Loud board member Tim Hamann (left); graphic for the Let's Talk About Nature concert (bottom right); and director Saleel Menon (top right).

Out Loud board member Tim Hamann (left); graphic for the Let's Talk About Nature concert (bottom right); and director Saleel Menon (top right). Images courtesy of Out Loud Chorus.

"Inclusion" is a key word for the Out Loud Chorus.

“We’re definitely geared toward being a non-audition chorus where anyone, regardless of ability, can sing,” says Out Loud board member Tim Hamann. “I’ve watched people who joined the choir really struggle, and then two years later sing a solo. That flowering is really wonderful, and we are a safe space where it is OK for them to be who they are.”

But Hamann uses another word to describe the two concerts the Out Loud Chorus will perform on May 19 and 20 at the University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theatre.

“The first word that comes to mind is that it will be ‘fun,’” Hamann says. 

The family-friendly program is titled "Let’s Talk About Nature" and will mix music and storytelling. Saleel Menon directs the show, and the choir will be joined by instrumentalists Casey Baker (piano), CJ Jacobsen (bass), and Tamara Perkuhn (drums).

“It’s going to be like a children’s educational show about nature,” Hamann says, “so ‘the teacher' will walk the audience through the performance, and we have different segments: ‘The Circle Of Life,’ ‘The Water Cycle,’ and ‘The Spheres.’” 

Some of the songs include The Muppet Movie classic "Rainbow Connection," the Ashford-and-Simpson-penned "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"—a hit for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell as well as Diana Ross—and The Weather Girls' smash "It's Raining Men," among other many other nature-themed tunes.

But this isn't a standard chorus concert; there are costumes, stagings, and visual presentations that accompany the singing.

The STEM of the Problem: "Digging Up Dessa" follows a young female archeologist grappling with sexism in the science world

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Dessa kneeing on the floor and speaking to someone outside the image frame.

Lauren Pride stars a budding archeologist who tries to expose sexism in the STEM world in Digging Up Dessa. Photo courtesy of EMU Department of Theatre.

Getting Dirty: Digging Up Dessa at EMU unearths the truths of both past and present

Digging Up Dessa gives women all the credit. 

Presented by the EMU Department of Theatre, the play seeks to restore credit to the female scientists whose discoveries were claimed by their male colleagues.

Dessa (Lauren Pride) is a young girl obsessed with fossils, archeology, and science. Her world has just been turned upside down due to the passing of her father. The entire family was involved in a freak car accident and he did not make it, leaving Dessa and her mom, Esther (Cassie Paige).

Ever since the accident, Dessa has seen visions of Mary Anning (Mollie Cardella), a scientist from the 1800s who made uncredited breakthroughs in archeology. Anning was a real person, and even though she discovered numerous creatures, including the first Ichthyosaur, she was not eligible to join the Geographical Society in London because she was a woman. No one else can hear or see Anning, and she helps Dessa deal with life as an aspiring female scientist.

Sounds Around Town: Third Place [MusicFest] spreads experimental music in venues across Ann Arbor

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

2023 Third Place [MusicFest] logo

Third Place [MusicFest] is named after a behavioral science term, but you don't need a Ph.D. in sociology to understand where the organizers are coming from.

"Each show on the festival is hosted in what is called a ‘third place,’ which is a sociological term. A ‘first place’ is your home, a ‘second place’ is your work, and a ‘third place’ is a neutral, community-centered environment," says saxophonist and improviser Kaleigh Wilder, one of Third Place’s directors. “The festival is open and welcome to anyone. It's a really unique slice of our creative community here; no other festival programs this eclectic mix of local artists.”

The festival’s programming features a range of jazz, contemporary classical, free improvisation, ambient, indie folk, and singer-songwriters, all presented in nontraditional spaces. This year's Third Place [MusicFest] will bring live performances to nine Ann Arbor locations from Wednesday, May 17 to Saturday, May 20. 

The 2023 festival features performances at TeaHaus, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Cahoots Cafe, Bløm MeadworksLiberty Plaza, Argus Farm Stop, and Canterbury House. Kerrytown Concert House is the only full-time music venue in the festival because, Wilder says, “They have a really great room and a really beautiful piano.”

The lineup includes:

Friday Five: ness lake, Youth Arts Alliance, Mista Midwest, R1TUAL, Jonathan Edwards

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Art for the albums and singles featured in this week's Friday Five.

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

This week features indie pop by ness lake, hip-hop from Mista Midwest and the Youth Arts Alliance, horror soundtracks by R1TUAL, and lushly arranged songs by Jonathan Edwards.

Connie Converse left Ann Arbor in 1974 and wanted to disappear, but her music was too unique to be forgotten

MUSIC

Connie Converse sitting at a table playing her guitar. Black and white photo.

Connie Converse plays guitar and sings in a photo from the 1950s.

When Elizabeth "Connie" Converse was making music in New York City during the 1950s, her peers probably thought of her as a folk artist because she played acoustic guitar and sang songs.

But a new book makes the case for her being the bridge between folk music and what would come to be known as the singer-songwriter genre in the 1960s since she wrote her own songs using personal, poetic lyrics.

To Anyone Who Ever Asks: The Life, Music, and Mystery of Connie Converse by Howard Fishman also documents the musician's difficult life, which may have ended with her disappearance in 1974 at age 50.

Converse moved to Ann Arbor in 1961 to be closer to her brother, Philip E. Converse, a political science professor at the University of Michigan. She worked a variety of jobs and eventually became managing editor of the U-M Institute for Social Research's Journal of Conflict Resolution. When Yale took over the publication in 1972, the intensely private Converse's life started to drift and her depression increased.

Other than a 1954 appearance on the Walter Cronkite hosted The Morning Show on CBS, Converse's music career never took off, and it's thought she stopped playing music and writing songs after she moved to Ann Arbor.

Converse made reel-to-reel recordings in the 1950s, but her music wasn't released to the public until the 2009 compilation How Sad, How Lovely and the Sad Lady EP in 2020. Both releases garnered positive press for both the uniqueness of her sound and songs as well as the mystery behind the woman who made them.

With renewed interest in Converse's music and life, we've compiled numerous articles written about her over the years, including recent pieces covering the To Anyone Who Ever Asks book. Also below is the experimental film We Lived Alone: The Connie Converse Documentary, two brief video reports on her life, and embeds of her two records.

“Crying in H Mart”: Michelle Zauner’s Memoir Helps Me Process the Loss of My Mother

WRITTEN WORD PULP LIFE REVIEW

Lori Stratton and Carolyn Barnard at Lori's high school graduation in June 1994.

Lori Stratton with her mother Carolyn Barnard at her high school graduation in June 1994.

Each year, I look forward to the summer solstice. There’s something magical about the longest day of the year and the maximum amount of daylight that it brings.

But by June 20, 2020, at the age of 44, my outlook on the summer solstice changed unexpectedly. I awoke early that morning to sunlight streaming through my windows and felt excited about the day ahead.

My husband Brian and I were getting ready to visit my in-laws and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary with the rest of the family. We were just about the leave the house when we heard an expected knock on our door at 8 am.

I opened the door and saw my father on the front porch looking ragged and exhausted. There was an unrecognizable sadness on his face when he said, “L, Your mother passed away last night.”

Those words punched me right in the gut, and it took me a moment to process what he had just said. My father explained that my mother had a heart attack the night before; she had collapsed instantly and then died.

He tried to revive her before the paramedics came, but it was too late. I was surprised that a heart attack had taken my mother’s life at 75 instead of Alzheimer’s. She had been battling that disease for nearly a decade, and I had prepared myself for that outcome gradually.

Friday Five: Idle Ray, Post Nasal Drip, HUES, Oblivion Heirs, northbad

MUSIC FRIDAY FIVE

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Friday Five.

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

This week features indie rock by Idle Ray and Post Nasal Drip, hip-hop by HUES, electro-punk by Oblivion Heirs, and electronica by northbad.

Since this is the "I'm on vacation" edition, the write-ups are short, and I'm gonna let the music do the squawking. 

Chasing Lights: Ann Arbor's Melissa Kaelin knows the secrets to seeing the aurora borealis right here in Michigan

PULP LIFE PREVIEW INTERVIEW

On the left is the book cover of Below the 45th Parallel featuring a shot of the aurora borealis; on the right is author Melissa Kaelin

You don't need to go to Tromsø, Norway to see the aurora borealis—even though the town, more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, is considered one of the best spots to view the natural phenomenon.

You don't even need to drive your car to the upper parts of Canada to see the northern lights, which occur when energized sun particles smash into the Earth's outer atmosphere and are redirected by the magnetic field toward the planet's poles. (Southern lights exist, too.)

Melissa Kaelin—founder of the Facebook group Michigan Aurora Chasers, co-founder of the International Aurora Summit, and author of Below the 45th Parallel: The Beginner's Guide to Chasing the Aurora in the Great Lakes Region—will tell you how to witness this beautiful sight here in Michigan when she appears at the Ann Arbor District Library's Westgate Branch on Thursday, May 11, 6:30-7:30 pm, for a chat.