The Threads All Arts Festival has finally been rescheduled. The second edition was originally set for August 2017 at the Ann Arbor Distilling Company, but when the city put a temporary kibosh on live events at the artisanal spirits space due to parking issues, Threads was called off. It took the U-M student-run festival a while to reorganize, but it has now found a home in Ypsilanti’s Historic Freighthouse and will present its rangy mix of live music, dance, film, poetry, and art on March 10-11.
The idea for Threads began in 2015 when Nicole Patrick (U-M 2016, percussion and jazz and contemporary improvisation) and her friends "wanted to find a way to share, with many people, all the amazing art they saw coming out of their friends and neighbors," they told Pulp contributor Anna Prushinskaya for piece meant to preview the 2017 edition.
But along with the break came a new mission statement that shows Threads has expanded its focus:
Local Americana band Corndaddy celebrated its 20th anniversary at The Ark on Thursday in a birthday party that perfectly showcased some of the reasons for its longevity.
The well-paced show highlighted the different sides of the band’s musical personality, starting with a rock-oriented set, followed by a more country-flavored interlude; a purely acoustic, no-drums set; and a fitting finale wrapping everything together. Old songs met new songs, dedications were made, and tributes were paid. And the band sounded great throughout.
A well-done opening set from another longtime local favorite, Paul’s Big Radio, perfectly set the stage for the headliners -- partly because talented bass player Jerry Hancock anchors the sound of both bands.
The list below is a collection of books, music, movies, and more that made an impression on our eyes and ears in 2017.
"This is for all you strutters out there," announced Jay Frydenlund midway through [https://www.chirpband.com|Chirp]’s headlining set at the Blind Pig on Saturday. On cue, the Ypsi-based quartet of fusion rockers launched into a swaggering, deep-pocket jam ("Dickerville") that sent an obvious ripple through the crowd as folks remembered what they came for and got their boogie on.
As someone with a bachelor's of music in percussion performance from Columbia College Chicago and, soon, a master's degree in improvisation from the University of Michigan, drummer [https://www.adiaphoramusic.com|Adam Shead] sounds like an academic. But while growing up in South Bend, Indiana, it was hardcore punk that first informed Shead's attitude and artistic aesthetic. That combination of academic rigor and raw energy is what makes [https://adamsheadmusic.bandcamp.com|Shead's drumming] such a potent force, which he'll get demonstrate live on Friday, Dec. 8, at U-M's Duderstadt Video Studio when he presents his master's recital, [https://www.facebook.com/events/134772203891220|Adiaphora Music]. The seven-part suite features 11 musicians along with Shead exploring his influences, which run from Chicago visionaries [http://www.aacmchicago.org|AACM], [http://www.kenvandermark.com|Ken Vandermark], and [https://timdaisyrelayrecords.bandcamp.com|Tim Daisy] to South Africa's [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dudu_Pukwana|Dudu Pukwana], and contemporary classical giants [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton_Feldman|Morton Feldman] and [http://johnlutheradams.net|John Luther Adams] to H.R., lead singer of the groundbreaking punk band [https://badbrains.com|Bad Brains]. We talked to Shead about his philosophy, sound, and the meaning of Adiaphora Music.
Growing up, Erin Zindle -- leader of the Ann Arbor global-roots band [http://www.theragbirds.com|The Ragbirds] -- loved her extended family’s Christmas Eve gatherings. Her “very large and very musical family” would traditionally gather to perform Christmas songs together. “It was my favorite thing all year round. Honestly, it was better than the presents,” she says. “I was known for making everyone sing all seven verses of everything. I didn’t want it to end.” That’s the spirit she and her fellow musicians will re-create at the annual Ebird and Friends Holiday Show at The Ark Dec. 7-9. “It was just a real natural extension of that childhood experience,” Zindle says. And indeed, the holiday concert has become a tradition all its own, now marking its 10th year.
Do you remember the days before the smoking ban when you'd leave a concert smelling of stale cigarettes and cheap beer, and the stench would permeate your rusted-out car on the late-night ride home, lingering in your nose the next morning?
[https://www.facebook.com/wildsavages|Wild Savages] are the soundtrack for that drive.
The Ann Arbor trio plays bluesy proto-metal that would not have been out of place on [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WRIF|WRIF] in 1980. Think of Wild Savages as part of the 1970s Black Sabbath, Foghat, and Nazareth lineage that has produced contemporary bands like [http://redfang.net|Red Fang], [https://saviours.bandcamp.com|Saviours], and [http://theswordofficial.com|The Sword].
"Queen Bee" is the first single off the band's second album, Stagefright, which is being feted with a free [https://www.facebook.com/events/625915257798365|record-release concert] at The Blind Pig on Saturday, Dec. 16. Wild Savages goof around in the video by mugging for the camera like 1980s hair-metal bands, shotgunning beers, and playing bass on the toilet.
In other words, it's totally great.
Peter Formanek is a 22-year-old saxophonist who is about to graduate from the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre & Dance with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.
But he's been studying music with a Ph.D.-level teacher his whole life.
His father, [http://amibotheringyou.com|Michael Formanek], toured with giants like Tony Williams and Joe Henderson when he was still a teen in the early 1970s, and he went on to play with Freddie Hubbard, Gerry Mulligan, Stan Getz, Tim Berne, and Fred Hersch, among many others. He also records as a leader for ECM Records, one of the greatest jazz and classical labels ever.
As the younger Formanek mentioned at Love Songs, his senior recital on Monday, Nov. 27, at Kerrytown Concert House, there were always great musicians coming over to his family's home in Baltimore, Md. As he said while introducing his father, who joined him for the evening's final song, "I'm going to call up my dad, who is not only the person responsible for getting me into music but also giving me so many musical opportunities and access to all these really, really amazing musicians that I've been able to be around my entire life."
Formanek live-streamed his recital, which is archived on YouTube. (There will also be a high-quality edited version with audio from the board.) Below you'll find the list of musicians who joined him and the set list, which includes songs by Charles Mingus and Wayne Shorter, along with four Formanek originals -- three by Peter and the set closer by his dad.
If we Ann Arbor District Library staffers were excited synthesizers, we'd be whooping with pitch-bent, major-key oscillations from the joy Mini MoogFest 2017 brought us. Our third annual iteration of this event greatly expanded upon our two previous offerings, and we had a fully packed house at the Downtown Library on Saturday, Nov. 18.
Librarians on the scene estimated that over 350 people -- including around 75 kids -- made their way through Mini MoogFest, where they built synths using littleBits, played around with AADL's Music Tools, and enjoyed live performances from area electronica artists.
Below is a roundup of photos, videos, and social media posts covering Mini MoogFest 2017.
Thanksgiving is all about traditions. And over the last couple of decades, one tradition that has taken root in Ann Arbor is [https://www.mattwatroba.net|Matt Watroba]’s Day-After-Thanksgiving Concert at The Ark.
The well-known Michigan performer, songwriter, and radio host isn’t exactly sure how long he’s been doing the concert on the day after the holiday, but he estimates it’s been about 25 years. It’s become his most popular annual gig, and he knows some families incorporate it into their regular holiday plans.
“It has taken on a real community feel,” he says. “People are actually making it a tradition.”