Monday Mix: Marcus Elliott, Nolan Wayne, Oblongata, DJ Cheesecake, Sapphyree, Steph Who?, Agent 99, PoetTreeTown, WCBN's Local Music Show and Electric Kingdom

MUSIC MONDAY MIX

Cover art for the albums and singles featured in the Monday Mix.

The Monday Mix is an occasional roundup of mixes, compilations, podcasts, and more by Washtenaw County-associated artists, DJs, radio stations, and record labels.

For this edition, we have a jazz concert from Marcus Elliot, DJ mixes from MEMCO and Immaculate Conception members, original poems read by local authors as part of the PoetTreeTown project, and live performances from WCBN's Local Music Show and Electric Kingdom program.

 

Encore Theatre hosts "Love Boat" vets in engaging, thoughtful "I’m Not Rappaport"

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Ted Lange and Fred Grandy in I'm Not Rappaport.

Former Love Boat stars Ted Lange and Fred Grandy in Encore Theatre's presentation of I'm Not Rappaport. Photo by Michele Anliker Photography.

You remember The Love Boat? Sure you do.

On Saturday nights from the mid-'70s to the mid-'80s, the captain and his crew would help passengers find love, laughs, and life lessons.

Encore Theatre is taking a brief break from presenting musicals to showcase Herb Gardner’s I’m Not Rappaport, a funny, engaging, and thoughtful look at aging in the big city. It’s a perfect opportunity for a Love Boat reunion, bringing together Fred Grandy as the cruise ship purser Gopher; Ted Lange as Isaac Washington, the ship’s genial bartender; and Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain’s daughter.

Two old men share a park bench in New York’s Central Park. Midge Carter (Lange) claims the bench for himself, a place where he can read a newspaper and hide from his obligations as a building superintendent. Nat Moyer (Grandy), a lifelong political lefty, loves to talk and wants to share his endless stories with the wary Midge. They’re an odd couple, who learn just how much they need each other.

Director Vincent Cardinal draws excellent performances from his veteran stars. They bring years of experience and a real love for the play they’re presenting. Cardinal balances physical comedy with the snappy and telling conversations that are the real heart of the play.

Friday Five—Double Dose Edition: Grant Johnson, Unblo-Fact, Hemmingway Lane, Mike C521, Angnath, Anteomedroma, Price, BREN10, Doogatron, dreadmaul, Balance

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.

We're doubling up this edition of the Friday Five because there's too much great music coming out.

This week features experimental percussion by Grant Johnson, black metal by Anteomedroma, improvisations by Balance, power-pop by Hemmingway Lane, rap by Mike C521 and BREN10, and electronica by Unblo-Fact, dreadmaul, Doogatron, and price.

Wintry Enchantment: Michael Skib Chronicles a Spiritual Quest for Truth on “This Bewitching Season” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Michael Skib wears a black tank top and holds an electric guitar.

Michael Skib features the hypnotic sounds of progressive rock, heavy metal, and shoegaze on This Bewitching Season. Photo by Alex Hancock.

For Michael Skib, winter brings a sense of enchantment.

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer feels most creative during the darkest and quietest time of the year.

“It’s the best time for reflection, introspection, and creation because I’m not going to be out and about,” said Skib, who’s also half of the electronic-experimental duo Mirror Monster.

“I do find myself wanting to try and capture the melancholy that I feel because snow and darkness are beautiful. Those are the reasons why I’m drawn toward this type of music.”

That beautiful melancholy is woven throughout Skib’s latest album, This Bewitching Season, which features the hypnotic sounds of progressive rock, heavy metal, and shoegaze.

“I’m a seasonal person in the sense that there are different types of music that I listen to in different types of seasons,” he said. “I’m very sensitive to the way my environment impacts [my writing].”

Alongside those seasonal influences, Skib chronicles a spiritual quest for truth, peace, redemption, and salvation across the album’s nine tracks. His candid lyrics, ethereal vocals, and fearless instrumentation entice listeners to vicariously accompany him on his journey.

Nick Shoulders & The Okay Crawdad Takes Country Music Back to Its Roots

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Nick Shoulders wears a white tank top and sits on a couch holding a violin.

Shoulders is a staple in the current “pseudo-new wave” of Americana/country music that’s been a dominant genre for years now. Photo by Nick Futch.

Nick Shoulders doesn't think the stereotypical images of country music are sexy. 

“We’re living in the same world as red scares, endless wars, pandemics, and bank failures that the origins of country music identified with,” said Shoulders, who's from Fayetteville, Arkansas. “The endless wars and the scary stuff that was forming early country music is far more of the reality I inhabit. That’s what I try to channel through in my craft. I’m not doing this because it's Civil War recreation stuff or because it’s mired in an experience that’s really far away. It’s still with us.”

After going viral during the pandemic with a performance of his track, “Snakes and Waterfalls,” Shoulders has become a beloved token of the best the country/Americana genre has to offer. Having now amassed over 3 million views, the video features Shoulders in his true nature: in the middle of the forest, singing (and yodeling) on a tree stump alongside his dog. 

In 2019, Shoulders released his first full-length album Okay, Crawdad after his 2018 EP, Lonely Like Me. And last year, Shoulder released his fourth record, All Bad, a live-recorded, 14-track showcase of Shoulders at his best. The record was released via Gar Hole Records, the label Shoulders founded and co-owns, and is the first album released with his former band, The Okay Crawdad, since their pandemic hiatus. 

Shoulders is a staple in the current “pseudo-new wave” of Americana/country music that’s been a dominant genre for years now. But with the help of platforms like TikTok, certain songs are lassoing in fans whose only prior exposure to country music might be to the sterile, strangely sexualized tunes that dominate the top charts. But with this success, Shoulders grapples with the cultural challenges the genre faces. 

Friday Five: JTC, Evan Haywood, Tanager, Emma McDermott, Olivia Van Goor and Paul Keller

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 acid/techno by JTC, psychedelic funk by Evan Haywood, indie rock by Tanager, pop-folk by Emma McDermott, and jazz by Olivia Van Goor and Paul Keller.

U-M’s take on Anton Chekhov's "Cherry Orchard" balances an awkward blend of comedy and tragedy

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Overheard shot of the stage with the cast of The Cherry Orchard

Photo by Erin Kirkland/Michigan Photography.

Is it a tragedy or a comedy?

Anton Chekhov, master short story writer and playwright, believed he had written The Cherry Orchard as a comedy, taking a jab at a rapidly fading way of life in rural Russia. When director Constantin Stanislavski directed the play for the Moscow Art Theatre in 1904, he directed a tragedy about a social order soon to be eclipsed by a very different social order.

The University of Michigan’s Department of Theatre and Drama balances the two points of view with mixed results.

In his program notes director Daniel Cantor acknowledges the shifting tone that leaves room for very different points of view.

Cantor writes, “What’s fascinating to me about The Cherry Orchard is that it contains intense contradictions: contradictions in style, theme, and action, and highly contradictory characters. It fully occupies a tragicomic perspective that is always moving, shifting, turning on a dime—whipping from the profound to the farcical, the spiritual to the absurd. And sometimes both at once.”

Mary Gaitskill Reflects on Her Latest Works and Extensive Career During U-M's Zell Visiting Writers Series Event

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

A portrait of Mary Gaitskill wearing a gray sweater.

Mary Gaitskill. Photo courtesy of The Helen Zell Writers' Program.

According to writer and University of Michigan alumna Mary Gaitskill, almost nothing is unbelievable and people are weird. Her work often reflects this notion with morally ambiguous characters, a gritty detailing of misconduct, and a complete rejection of clean-cut, black-and-white narratives. 

Quin, the protagonist of her acclaimed 2019 novella, This Is Pleasure, is one of her weirdest characters. In Quin's mind, his flirtatious workplace actions weren’t all that bad. When women began coming forward about feeling violated, he became caught off guard. 

“There was a cultural landscape for a while at least where he existed—I’m not saying it would be acceptable to everybody,” Gaitskill explained about Quin. “I’m sure he did offend some people, but because of his position, I think he didn’t realize he was offending people.”

Gaitskill shared her latest works and extensive literary experience during a March 21 reading and Q&A at the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s Helmut Stern Auditorium. Hosted by the Zell Visiting Writers Series, an annual showcase sponsored by The Helen Zell Writers’ Program, it brings fiction writers and poets to U-M’s campus to host public readings and lectures.

Initially published in The New YorkerThis Is Pleasure dominated literary circles due to its unlikely telling of a story of the “#MeToo” movement, a social campaign aimed at exposing people, especially those in positions of authority, involved in sexual misconduct. 

It offers a complex narrative about two characters, Quin and Margot, who find themselves entwined with the tendrils of a public sexual misconduct scandal. Quin—a husband, father, and New York book editor—loses his career once young women start coming forward about his wrongdoings. Margot is Quin’s former co-worker, and after rejecting his sexual advances early in their working relationship, the two became close friends in the industry. When Quin’s name hits the front pages of tabloids, the two navigate the complex intersections of power, guilt, and manipulation. 

Susan Goethel Campbell’s “Garden Repairs” traverses the intersection of natural and man-made worlds

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Garden Repair No. 2, 2024 Stains from black walnut, iron oxide and dye on Japanese paper with hand embroidery 55” x 88”

Susan Goethel Campbell, Garden Repair No. 2, 2024. Stains from black walnut, iron oxide and dye on Japanese paper with hand-embroidery. 55” x 88”. Photo by Tim Thayer.

Not long before visiting Ferndale-based artist Susan Goethel Campbell’s Garden Repairs installation at the U-M’s Institute of the Humanities, I’d shared a photograph on social media of a cluster of snow-dusted daffodils in my backyard, shriveled and hunched over. I’d been struck by how often nature mirrors human gesture; how these flowers visibly conveyed what many of us were feeling that morning, as we pulled winter coats and gloves back out of our closets, just days after walking around in shorts. I’d wondered if the natural world shaped the way our physical bodies communicate emotion, or if this is all, in fact, subtle, visible evidence of our inter-relationship with each other.

As it happens, this train of thought was a perfect foundation for experiencing Campbell’s work, which marries the natural and man-made worlds in surprising ways.

John Sinclair, Renowned Detroit Counterculture Poet, Writer, and Activist, Dies at 82

MUSIC HISTORY

John Sinclair wears a paisley shirt while making a peace sign with his fingers and holds a marijuana legalization sign.

John Sinclair in 1968. Photo by Leni Sinclair.

Poet, writer, and activist John Sinclair has died at age 82.

According to the Metro Times, he died of heart failure this morning at Detroit Receiving Hospital and had been struggling with health problems in recent months.

Born in Flint in 1941, Sinclair was a highly regarded leader in Detroit’s counterculture scene of the 1960s and 1970s. Famous for his radical politics, Sinclair also managed the MC5 and co-founded the White Panther Party and the Ann Arbor Sun.

In 1969, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after offering two joints to an undercover female narcotics officer.

Various public and private protests soon culminated in response to Sinclair’s sentencing, including John Lennon writing a song called “John Sinclair” and the launch of an annual marijuana legalization rally in Ann Arbor that would later become known as Hash Bash.