EMU professor Christine Hume faces “Everything I Never Wanted to Know” in her new book

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Christine Hume and her book Everything I Never Wanted to Know

“Do I even know one woman who hasn’t been subjected to male violence? Do you? Why doesn’t that admission stop us in our tracks?” asks EMU professor Christine Hume in her new essay collection, Everything I Never Wanted to Know

Hume in turn does just that—she stops in her tracks to examine the violence and the imperfect structures meant to address it. She takes a critical lens to the ways that women’s bodies have been controlled through expressing productive outrage and through creating a mapping of this issue in our community. Her persistent questioning illuminates the injustices by compelling the reader to consider a response. 

Take the National Sex Offender Registry: “Not a single man who has harassed or assaulted me or anyone I know is on that official list. How many men is that? How many men not on the registry does it take to make that registry itself an offense? How many men are we talking?” Hume accentuates the failings of a system that is supposed to contribute to safety. She goes on to scrutinize the laws that prevent offenders from living near a school or passing out Halloween candy, the design of the water tower in Ypsilanti, and a sexual assault case at Eastern Michigan University. 

The essay “Icy Girls, Frigid Bitches, Frozen Dolls” looks at the implications of the once-popular Frozen Charlotte dolls in conjunction with a health issue that the author endures. Dolls in general are of interest, as Hume wonders, “What draws me to the doll is the vague but persistent sense of having lost my true and best self. A feeling of having once been more free, disciplined, attentive, athletic, daring, intelligent, and attractive.” The doll becomes a reflection of oneself: 

Just like "Heaven": Kingfisher's confident and inventive widescreen debut LP balances intimate vocals and expansive instrumentation

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Kingfisher gathered in the Duderstadt studio on U-M's North Campus.

Kingfisher gathered in the Duderstadt studio on U-M's North Campus. Photo courtesy of the band.

For the past few years, Kingfisher has balanced college life with band life. But after the University of Michigan’s spring graduation, some members will head off to other Midwestern areas while others will stick around to complete their degrees.

The band might be closing a chapter but Kingfisher’s story will continue to unfold.

“The plan is to keep going,” said Sam DuBose (vocals, lyrics, guitar). “Things will definitely change. I mean, right now we’re all like three blocks from each other. But we had the conversation a while ago about what we were going to do, and all of us want to continue. We all love this group so much.”

Unlike most college bands though, Kingfisher isn’t fond of covers.

“We’ve actually never played a cover song at a show,” said Tyler Thenstedt (bass, vocals). “It’s been original music since the get-go. I would say that’s what people sort of know us for. A lot of Ann Arbor bands are incredible, but what sets us apart is that it has always been original music.”

Bold Ambition: Adam Labeaux Explores the Power of Courage and Vulnerability on “Brace Face” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Adam Labeaux sings about the human condition on "Brave Face."

Adam Labeaux sings about the human condition on Brave Face. Photo by Natalia Holtzman.

Adam Labeaux searches for the true meaning of courage in himself and others on Brave Face.

The folk-rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explores the power of tenacity, vulnerability, and authenticity on his latest album.

“It does have a lot to do with these central themes, and these are things I tend to touch on a lot, including the human condition,” said Labeaux, who resides in Ann Arbor.

“I tend to write dark folk, and I gravitate toward this subject matter and a focal point that maybe people don’t want to look at all the time. But I always have hope, and I always feel there's positivity to come out.”

That positivity and courage shine across Brave Face’s dozen tracks, which feature earnest lyrics, passionate vocals, and ‘70s-inspired folk-rock instrumentation flavored with jazz and soul. Imagine if Labeaux formed a new supergroup with members of the E Street Band, Steely Dan, and Toto.

“I’m the first to admit that sometimes I write songs to give myself words of encouragement that I’m not getting from someone else,” said Labeaux about his fourth album. 

“If nothing else, I find that when I’m at my lowest and when I’m most manic that usually it means I haven’t been writing enough. I haven’t been expressing it, and I really need to get into that space and have that cathartic moment.”

Gutman Gallery’s “Every Body” Exhibition Offers an Engaging Exploration of Diversity

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

April Shipp's fiber artwork "The water returned Him" is one of the pieces featured in Gutman Gallery's "Every Body" exhibit.

April Shipp’s fiber artwork The water returned Him speaks to the global refugee crisis and is a tribute to the late Alan Kurdi, whose lifeless body washed ashore on a beach in Turkey. Photo courtesy of Gutman Gallery’s Facebook page.

The Every Body exhibition currently on display at Ann Arbor's Gutman Gallery showcases both the variety of the human form and the artwork that honors it.

Running through July 1, the all-media show features 34 works by 27 artists in the Guild of Artists and Artisans’ storefront space. Built on a theme of “figurative artwork and body diversity,” the exhibit succeeds in offering an engaging mix of media, artistic styles, and subject matter.

A number of the works in the exhibition feature artist statements, often with compelling stories that provide depth. For example, April Shipp’s mixed-media piece The water returned Him is one of the more visually striking pieces in the exhibit, yet knowing the background of the global refugee crises and the story of one particular child who inspired it. Likewise, Jensen Ellington’s My Piece of Eden creatively combines fabric, tree limbs, and thread to connect the Biblical story of Adam’s rib to his own experience as a transgender man. Other pieces stand on their own, such as E. Ingrid Tietz’s elegant Porcelain Muses V which lets her subjects speak to each viewer individually. 

Any visitor to the exhibit is likely to come away with a renewed appreciation of the diversity of the human form as well as of the artists and artworks that celebrate it. Noted local artist Nora Venturelli juried the exhibition, and she agreed to answer a few questions about it:

Friday Five: Golden Feelings, Duane Pitre, X-Altera, Benjamin Miller, Lloyd Cole

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 chakra-aligning ambient from Golden Feelings, just intonation explorations by Duane Pitre, industrial-tinged techno by X-Altera, sparse experimental jazz by Benjamin Miller, and a synth-pop song about Iggy Pop by Lloyd Cole.

 

Sounds of the City: Ann Arbor Celebrates Inaugural Make Music Day on Summer Solstice

MUSIC GALLERY

Rollie Tussing performs outside AADL's Westgate Branch for Make Music Day.

Rollie Tussing performs outside AADL's Westgate Branch for Make Music Day. Photo by Maddie Fancett.

The international Make Music Day offered sumptuous sounds for the summer solstice.

The inaugural Ann Arbor edition on June 21 included nearly 30 acts at 13 venues across town and celebrated a variety of genres, including jazz, Indian classical, folk, blues, power-pop, R&B, flowerpot music, electronic, and more.

The Ann Arbor District Library coordinated the free daylong music event, which featured amateur and professional musicians performing at theaters, parks, art galleries, coffee shops, and other community spaces.

AADL and the local community captured videos and photos from the Make Music Day performances:

Capturing the Cosmos: Jason Guenzel photographs the beauty of space from Earth

VISUAL ART PULP LIFE PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Jason Guenzel's photo of IC342.

Arch Rock on Mackinac Island with the Milky Way in the background. Photo by Jason Guenzel.

Jason Guenzel has a passion for exploring the cosmos with his camera. 

The Michigan-based astrophotographer will appear at the Ann Arbor District Library's Downtown location at 7 pm on June 29 to discuss his love of astrophotography. Guenzel will talk about his journey to the stars, the equipment he uses, and how you can get started in this discipline, which mixes science and art. He'll also present many of his fascinating photos of the cosmos, explaining the specialized techniques he used to capture these breathtaking images.

I spoke with Guenzel ahead of his AADL appearance.

Follow the Reindeer: Hanna Pylväinen's novel tracks missionaries and herders living on the Scandinavian tundra in 1851

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

Hanna Pylväinen and her book The End of Drum-Time

How do you know when an action is a mistake or a choice?

This distinction is the question and crux of many turning points in The End of Drum-Time by U-M alum Hanna Pylväinen

As character Risten Tomma reflects on her decision to marry Mikkol:

But was that all it was, then? You said a thing and then it all changed, you lived with another man now, someone else came into your lávvu and slept with you across the fire from your parents. There would be a new dog, and even their dogs would have to learn to get along.

Some changes are anticlimactic, while other changes are catastrophic. 

The sweeping, well-paced novel is set in 1851 in the Scandinavian tundra with missionaries and reindeer herders both vying for their ways of life. Another one of the main characters, Willa, the daughter of the pastor Lars Levi Laestadius, faces numerous life-altering decisions over the course of the book. Early on "she was a kettle left at a gentle boil, and with her heat she did nothing more than make coffee or tea.” Yet, when she starts encountering Ivvár Rasti on her walks, a stronger wave begins to roil in her for him, despite the fact that he calls her “a good little báhpa nieida, good little church-girl.”

Willa steps deeper and deeper into an irreversible series of events in which:

Between the Lines: The City Lines use a mix of Americana, power-pop, and punk to explore emotional 'Memories' on second album

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

The City Lines' Skott Schoonover, Bob Zammit, Pat Deneau, Megan Marcoux, and Jason Rhoades perform at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor.

The City Lines' Skott Schoonover, Bob Zammit, Pat Deneau, Megan Marcoux, and Jason Rhoades perform at The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. Photo by Sam Harms Photography.

The City Lines’ vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter Pat Deneau links personal stories as a father, husband, firefighter, and tribal member into a perceptive collection of songs on his band’s latest album, Analog Memories.

“Particularly, I like the idea that every song—kind of like city lines—butts up to each other … and continues some sort of throughline,” said Deneau, who is a firefighter with the Ann Arbor Fire Department and a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

“I like how the first tune ‘Different This Year’ opens up with this thought like, ‘OK, a fresh start,’ and I reference [our first album] Waiting on a Win in the second line. It’s this idea of ‘I’m tired of waiting on wins; I just gotta go out and get one.’

“That feeling is carried through to the end of the record on the final song [‘Finding a Way’] where I’m singing to my daughter. The notion there is I have to be better for her and how do you get there? You just have to find a way.”

While wrestling with existential ideas on Analog Memories’ seven tracks, Deneau finds his way forward through spirited choruses, propulsive power-pop-punk instrumentation, and a touch of classic Americana twang.

“There’s a line from ‘Far Enough’ that says ‘Looking back far enough / So I can move forward,’” said Bob Zammit, The City Lines’ drummer. “If you’re going to grab a lyric and be like, ‘Here’s the creative brief for what we’re doing here after the fact,’ I think it’s that.”

The City Lines will bring their Analog Memories tracks to life on June 21 outside the Downtown Library for Make Music Day, a free musical celebration with concerts by musicians across the city on the summer solstice.

Bandmates Skott Schoonover (bass), Jason Rhoades (lead guitar), and Megan Marcoux (acoustic guitar, backing vocals), will join Deneau and Zammit for the performance.

We recently spoke to Deneau and Zammit about their backgrounds, the band’s formation, the creative process for Analog Memories, select tracks from the album, their Make Music Day performance, and upcoming plans.

My Make Music: A personal guide to Ann Arbor's first Make Music Day

MUSIC PREVIEW

Kenji Lee and Olivia Cirisan

Kenji Lee and Olivia Cirisan are two of the 29 acts scheduled for the first Make Music Ann Arbor Day, June 21. Photos courtesy of the artists.

The summer solstice is a day of maximum tilt.

Not just because the Earth's northern hemisphere comes closest to the sun on June 21 but also because cities around the globe will be turning things up to 11 for Make Music Day, which encourages a celebration of sounds in plazas, parks, and porches by artists of all genres—all presented for free.

Make Music started in 1982 as Fête de la Musique in France and has expanded internationally to more than 1,000 cities in 120 countries. The first Ann Arbor edition debuts June 21 with 29 musical acts at 13 venues across town, including the Ann Arbor District Library, which is also the local coordinator of Make Music Day.

The Make Music website allows you to filter artists by genres and the shows by venues, so I went through and made my own personal festival guide, one that takes me from a forward-looking jazz trio to a forward-looking world-jazz quartet with some Indian classical, Latin-classical, techno, electronic pop, power pop, flower pots, and indie rock in between.