Nessa’s new album explores an “Otherworld” as well as our own

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Nessa's Kelly McDermott

The third album from Ann Arbor's Nessa showcases an ensemble remaining true to its roots while stretching out thematically.

Led by flutist/vocalist Kelly McDermott, the band continues to develop its own particular strain of Celtic-inspired world music. And on the new album, Otherworld, that sound serves to explore two specific themes: of women finding truth and a prayer for the planet.

Joining McDermott in the core band are Rob Crozier on bass and other instruments; Dan Palmer, guitars; Mike List, percussion; Rick Beamon, drums; and Brian Brill, keyboards. Brill and McDermott produced the record.

The album opens with a composition about another world and devotes its second half to an “Elemental Suite” celebrating our own world. The title track is a haunting, flute-led instrumental that sets the stage for what’s to come. Thoughtful and enchanting, it effectively suggests the idea of another dimension. Written by Crozier, “RGB Reel” -- inspired by Ruther Bader Ginsburg -- showcases his expert bass playing. Dan Palmer’s “Buiochas” is a beautiful take on Irish jazz. 

The music on Otherworld is largely original compositions, but the band also weaves in reinventions of traditional songs, further extending the notion of both staying rooted and reaching out. “Sovay” is mellow and jazzy, while “Wraggle Taggle Gypsies” has an almost reggae feel. And “Stitch in Time” even manages to successfully work in rap elements.

The four parts of the closing suite each evoke their particular element. “Air for St. Brigid” features gorgeous wordless vocals; “Singing Waters” uses water sounds and a flute that suggests a flowing river. “Fire Dance” takes listeners from embers to a roaring blaze.

McDermott answered a few questions about the new album via email.

Video Premiere: Evan Haywood's politically pointed "Do Right by My Kin"

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Evan Haywood's Perfumed Gardens is a gutbucket folk-rock album soaked in reverb and passion. In addition to 11 Haywood originals, he covers songs by Cody ChesnuTT, Gypsy Trips, Dave Bixby, and Roy Acuff, all while evoking Bob Dylan circa his Rolling Thunder Revue stage where he played with loose abandon.

The album came out in August 2018, but the Ann Arbor-based Haywood didn't release a video for songs on the album -- until now.  

"Do Right by My Kin," which premieres here on Pulp, is a screed against the rise of far-right conservatism, racism, and hatred that has increased in the United States since the 2016 election. The song's targets are obvious and so is Haywood's rage when he sings, "Do me a favor and do right by my kin / Better love your neighbor / Or we gonna make you pay for your sin."

I talked with Haywood over email about why he decided to release the video now, how it was created, and the song's influences, as well as the status of two other projects he's working on: the long-delayed new album by the hip-hop collective Tree City and a film he shot about Jamaica's music and politics.

Erin Craig's fantasy-horror YA novel "House of Salt and Sorrows" tells the mysterious story of 12 sisters facing a deathly curse

WRITTEN WORD INTERVIEW

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

Author photo by Cyndi Whipkey.

House of Salt and Sorrows, a fantasy-horror young adult novel, opens with a funeral and a grim question: which of 12 sisters will be the next to fall prey to a supposed curse and die?

This first novel by Erin Craig, a graduate of the University of Michigan, stars a strong female protagonist, Annaleigh Thaumas, who is the sixth of her siblings. As she ponders the latest death -- that of her sister Eulalie, who fell from a cliff -- Annaleigh imagines, "her falling through the air, the look of confusion on her face turning to horror as she realized that there was no escaping this, no way to go back and make it right.”

Annaleigh, however, begins to suspect that foul play is at fault for her sisters’ deaths, instead of a curse. She becomes determined to figure out who is behind the madness before more tragedies overtake her family. Eulalie’s sudden demise prompts Annaleigh to consider that, “Though it was all conjecture, I felt I was on the right path. My sister’s death had not been an accident. It had not been part of some dark curse. She was murdered. And I was going to prove it.”

Following Annaleigh on her search for answers becomes as tempestuous as the seas on which the Thaumas family lives. Along the way, Annaleigh falls in love, dances at balls both magnificent and grotesque, and sees ghosts and gods.

Throughout House of Salt and Sorrows, it becomes increasingly clear that people and places are not what they seem at first glance -- or even at second glance. Whether it all can be righted again is an ongoing question as tragedies continue to befall the Duke of the Salann Islands and his many daughters.

Craig’s novel was published last year. She currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee, and is planning a return to her Michigan roots. I interviewed her by email about her connection to Ann Arbor, opera background, writing process, reading, and upcoming plans.

Ann Arbor Film Festival moves online, includes works by Ann Arbor- and Michigan-based filmmakers

FILM & VIDEO

On March 13 when the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) canceled all in-person events for its 58th edition due to the coronavirus, the organization stated that it's "committed to finding an alternative means to present the 58th AAFF online, which honors the filmmakers’ rights and integrity and fulfills the mission of the festival."

With remarkable speed, the AAFF has done just that: starting at 4 pm on Tuesday, March 24, the festival will be streamed at vimeo.com/annarborfilmfestival. The films won't be archived; the fest is being run the same way it would be in the flesh, with each film or program being screened on a certain day and time (albeit at different times from the calendar published when AAFF was to be its usual in-person event). The difference is there's no ticket fee for the viewing the virtual version of the festival; all films will be streamed for free, as will the various moderated Q&As with the filmmakers following certain screenings.

Click here to see the full streaming schedule for the 58th Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Welcome to Commie High, the documentary about Ann Arbor's Community High School, is the one film previously scheduled for the festival that will cost money to watch. The film movie will be available to rent for $9.99 from 10 am, March 30 to 10 am, April 1; each rental will be active for 48 hours. The rental fee will be split two ways: 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the AAFF to help offset costs and the rest will be put toward the distribution of the documentary. Click here to pre-order the rental. (Check back to read our interview with Commie High filmmaker Donald Harrison.)

While Welcome to Commie High is the highest-profile film in the fest with local connections, numerous short entries by Ann Arbor- and Michigan-based moviemakers are part of the festival. Below is a list of those films, their screening days and times, and AAFF's descriptions for each work:

Extended Stay: Lotus Hotel offers tranquil indie rock accommodations

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Lotus Hotel

Tim Everett of Lotus Hotel. Photo by Erin Wakeland.

Ann Arbor indie rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tim Everett opened the doors to his Lotus Hotel project more than a year ago and began booking a local following with four hypnotic, stirring singles filled with poetic lyrics, soulful vocals, and a sound that strives to transport people away from their everyday lives.

“I love the idea of playing with time and the idea of inviting listeners into a space where it’s completely removed from reality," Everett said. "It’s like a different dimension where you can leave yourself at the door and leave whatever worries you have elsewhere and just kind of be in that nice space with good sounds for a while."

One Time on Bandcamp: A partial list of Washtenaw County bands and musicians on the site

MUSIC

Bandcamp logo with Michigan map

Bandcamp is already independent artists' favorite way to sell their music, but acts like this deepen the love:

To raise even more awareness around the pandemic’s impact on musicians everywhere, we’re waiving our revenue share on sales today (Friday, March 20th, from midnight to midnight Pacific Time), and rallying the Bandcamp community to put much needed money directly into artists’ pockets.

With that in mind, here are all the Washtenaw-area acts and labels on Bandcamp we could gather before the internet went glitchy. (Bandcamp is being slammed today, so the embeds below might take a while to load; we'll try to update the post as the WWW settles down. You can also search for Washtenaw-area artists if they tagged a town in their profiles. Here are links to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti artists.)

Art in the Time of Coronavirus: Washtenaw galleries and museums offer virtual visits

VISUAL ART

Miriam Brysk's Twilight and Vanished Culture

Miriam Brysk's Twilight (left) and Vanished Culture.

If you'e looking to indulge your quarantined senses with virtual art, Google has collaborated with more than 500 galleries and museums to digitize their collections through the megacorp's Arts & Culture’s collection. The only Washtenaw space to partner with Google is the University of Michigan Museum of Art, leaving smaller galleries and museums to figure out if they have the bandwidth -- human resources and digitally -- to post virtual exhibits of their permanent collections or canceled exhibits.

Here's what we found so far:

Quaranstreams: Blue LLama, Erin Zindle's The Bird House, MEMCO, and others post calendar of livestream concerts

MUSIC

COVID-19 music

With everything being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are turning to video livestreams to perform concerts. We'll be looking for these sorts of events by Washtenaw County artists and then posting the videos on Pulp, along with any ways you can help these musicians financially. If you are performing a remote or virtual concert, let us know by emailing pulp@aadl.org.


Since last weekend we've been posting livestreams during the quarantine by Washtenaw musicians. These concerts have happened somewhat spontaneously, but now that the whole world knows it's on lockdown for the foreseeable future, musicians and venues are actually booking livestreams well in advance.

Erin Zindle has been broadcasting concerts out of her Bird House, including two concerts by her band, The Ragbirds, one by her brother's group, TJ Zindle and The Power Lines, and another by Peter “Madcat” Ruth. Upcoming shows include:

Quaranstreams: Wax King Sessions - March 16, 2020

MUSIC

With everything being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are turning to video livestreams to perform concerts. We'll be looking for these sorts of events by Washtenaw County artists and then posting the videos on Pulp, along with any ways you can help these musicians financially. If you are performing a remote or virtual concert, let us know by emailing pulp@aadl.org.


Wax King Sessions - March 16, 2020

Watch Wax Kings Sessions from waxkingsx on www.twitch.tv


Creative Washtenaw Aid 2020 – COVID-19 Support
The Arts Alliance has established the Creative Washtenaw Aid 2020 fund to collect donations and extend assistance to artists and creative organizations adversely impacted by COVID-19. Visit a3arts.org to donate money or to apply for assistance.

Quaranstreams: TJ Zindle & The Power Lines at The Bird House - Monday, March 16, 2020

MUSIC

With everything being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians are turning to video livestreams to perform concerts. We'll be looking for these sorts of events by Washtenaw County artists and then posting the videos on Pulp, along with any ways you can help these musicians financially. If you are performing a remote or virtual concert, let us know by emailing pulp@aadl.org.


TJ Zindle & The Power Lines at The Bird House - Monday, March 16, 2020


Creative Washtenaw Aid 2020 – COVID-19 Support
The Arts Alliance has established the Creative Washtenaw Aid 2020 fund to collect donations and extend assistance to artists and creative organizations adversely impacted by COVID-19. Visit a3arts.org to donate money or to apply for assistance.