Civic Theatre musical will take audiences on a "First Date"


First Date at Ann Arbor Civic Theatre

Musical chairs: Drew Benson and Sarah Mazurek star in the pop- and rock-centric First Date.


Even terrifying at times.

That first date can make you sweat.  

That’s the premise of the chamber musical First Date, book by Austin Winsberg and music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.

Aaron C. Wade will direct the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre production of First Date, March 8-11, at the Arthur Miller Theatre on the north campus of the University of Michigan.

Asking to Be Written: Robin Coste Lewis at UMMA


Robin Coste Lewis

When the first poem in a book is titled “Plantation,” you should probably just go ahead, pour yourself a drink, sit somewhere quiet, and prepare to be transported.

I suppose you should expect to be transported, too, by a book called Voyage of the Sable Venus, especially since it won the National Book Award for Poetry.

On Thursday, Feb. 21, Robin Coste Lewis read her work as a part of the Zell Writers Series. I don’t know how it is possible that an auditorium feels cozy, but that was the vibe in UMMA’s Helmut Stern Auditorium that evening: warm, relaxed, somewhat dark. 

Internal Organ: Ann Arbor Concert Band hails the "King of Instruments" at Hill


The Organ and its Console at Hill Auditorium

Hill Auditorium's organ will "Sprach Zarathustra" on March 4.

This Sunday, March Fo(u)rth to Hill Auditorium at 2 pm for a very special performance by the Ann Arbor Concert Band, led by conductor, composer, and organist Jim Nissen. We caught up with Nissen to ask a few questions about this weekend's concert -- "The King of Instruments" -- and why band, organ, and Kubrick fans shouldn't miss it.

M, Go Blues-y: Former Michigan quarterback David Cone releases his debut album


David Cone

David Cone traded in his shoulder pads for an acoustic guitar.

Pursuing a career in film and music is an unusual route for a former quarterback to take, but that’s exactly what former Michigan QB David Cone has done.

“Fortunately, I grew up in a household that valued a renaissance way of life,” said Cone, who played for the Wolverines from 2006-2009. “When I discovered a talent for football, I pursued it. I love songs, so I write them. I enjoy films, so I make them. I want to exhaust life in such a way that when I looked back, I’ve left no stone unturned.”

Now back in his home state of Georgia, Cone splits his time between Atlanta and Nashville and just released his debut album, Welcome Home.

March 2018 Author and Book Events


March 2018 book collage

What does having an amazing university, a plethora of fantastic local independent bookstores, and a pretty slam-bang public library system (if we do say so ourselves) bring to a town?

Authors. Lots and lots of authors.

In fact, so many authors pass through the area that sometimes it can be hard to keep track of who is speaking and when and where. To help guide you, Pulp curated a highlights list of March 2018 author events.

Ann Arbor Art Center's "Art Now: Drawing" leaps off the page


Lilian Crum's Untitled 1607

Lilian Crum's Untitled 1607 won second place in Ann Arbor Art Center's Art Now: Drawing exhibition.

What is drawing now?

This is one question the Art Now: Drawing exhibition at the Ann Arbor Art Center asks its viewers.

As it turns out, drawing is more than just ink or graphite on paper.

Risk-taking jazz vocalist Estar Cohen can add "award-winning" before her name now


Estar Cohen

Estar Cohen returns to the site of her Live at Willis Sound album with a concert on March 2.

Serendipity isn't something that just happens; you have to work on putting yourself in a position to make it happen.

Jazz vocalist Estar Cohen puts in the work.

"On December 26, 2016, I recorded my piece 'Moments' with a string quartet live for The River Street Anthology Project at Cultivate in Ypsilanti," said the Toledo-raised, Ypsilanti-based singer. "Ben Lorenz of Willis Sound happened to be in the audience that night. He told me about a church he was in the midst of converting into a studio and invited me to hold a concert there."

That concert was recorded and released last year as Live at Willis Sound, the second album by The Estar Cohen Project.

Sean Curtis Patrick's "Exo" is museum-quality art masquerading as a music video


Images from Sean Curtis Patrick's film Exo

Images from the Sean Curtis Patrick's film Exo, a music video for Bana Haffar.

Sean Curtis Patrick's film Exo is a sumptuous work of art. It also happens to be a music video for Bana Haffar's song of the same name from her recent Matiere 12-inch single, but it could slot easily into a multimedia exhibition at a museum.

"Exo," the song, is filled with clicks, blips, buzzing, and bells that eventually build into a spiraling passage of ambient arpeggios. Haffar recorded the song live, with no overdubs, using a custom-built Eurorack synthesizer featuring modules by Make Noise, whose in-house record label put out the 12-inch. The song is abstract and lovely, just like Patrick's video.

Patrick performed at the Mini MoogFest in November 2017, and I spoke with him back then about his musical plans for that day; the interview below talks about his background as a multifaceted artist -- he also works in ceramics and is a graphic designer -- and the inspiration, research, and details behind the gooey and gorgeous images in Exo. (I embedded the video in this post, but you should watch it full screen and use good headphones for the full effect.)

Before & After Scents: Smell & Tell explored the fragrant world of Brian Eno


Brian Eno

In addition to being an ambient-music pioneer, superstar producer, and cutting-edge visual artist, Brian Eno also likes to exercise his sniffer.

The temple bell stops --
but the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.
--Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

“This one smells like stinky feet!” is not something you want to hear at a perfume-smelling event.

But considering the spikenard essential oil in question was used to anoint the feet of Jesus, perhaps it deserved another whiff.

As the 40 people gathered in the fourth-floor conference room at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library took another hit of spikenard, something akin to turning water into wine started happening. As the molecules of oil on the sampler strips began to evaporate, people began describing the oil as having elements of licorice, red hots, mint, wintergreen, cough medicine, camphor, turpentine, violets, and fruit.

Welcome to Smell & Tell.

PTD’s "Disgraced" explores tensions in multicultural USA


The cast of PTD Productions' Disgraced

Present, tense: Neel Vaidya, Ryan McGriff, Lisa Coveney, and Angelicia Morton star in PTD Productions' take on the Pulitzer-winning Disgraced.

Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced begins slowly but builds into a fierce confrontation and a hard breakdown in social and political correctness. This 2012 drama is hot-wired with themes that still rattle American society at all social levels.

Ypsilanti’s PTD Productions dares to jump in with a generally compelling production of an emotionally and intellectually difficult play. Director Joe York gets fine performances from his cast, even though some are a bit miscast for the roles they play. This is a topical play that is also personal and deserves an audience.