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


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.


Kenji Lee's Fortune Teller Trio
12 pm - 12:45 pm
AADL - Downtown, 343 South 5th Avenue
- Kenji Lee is a tremendous saxophonist who decided to stay in the area (for now) after graduating from U-M. His Fortune Teller Trio released its first album, the inside-out skewing Ky​ū​dō, at the end of last year, and it's so good that even Bandcamp raved about it despite there being approximately 5 million new jazz albums a day on the platform.


Rajeev Kalamdani
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Ann Arbor Art Center, 117 West Liberty Street
- Rajeev Kalamdani is a data science/analytics manager for Ford by day and a saxophonist ... also by day, at least for this day. He'll perform Indian classical-based works on the sax accompanied by an electronic tabla and tanpura in several locations throughout the day.


Catherine & Tzu Duo
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Michigan Theater, 603 East Liberty Street
Catherine Gispert is a soprano who recently graduated from the University of Michigan. She'll be joined by Tzu-Kuang Tan, rehearsal pianist for this past season of U-M operas. Together, they'll perform a mix of classical pieces and works that draw on Gispert's Latin heritage.


2:00 PM - 2:45 PM
AADL - Downtown, 343 South 5th Avenue
- Detroit-fried techno from this Ypsi trio.


Olivia Cirisan
3:00 PM - 3:45 PM
AADL - Downtown, 343 South 5th Avenue
- Olivia Cirisan is getting her percussion master's from U-M, and she plays a lot of jazz and classical pieces. But her recent EP, Guilt Trip Joy Ride, is a trip-hoppy jazztronica record anchored by Cirisan's dreamy vocals.

Rajeev Kalamdani
4:00 PM - 4:15 PM
AADL - Downtown, 343 South 5th Avenue
- You could take a snack break here if you already saw Kalamdani play; if not, it's a quick 15-minute set this time between Olivia Cirisan's performance and ... 

The City Lines
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
AADL - Downtown, 343 South 5th Avenue
- ... that of The City Lines, the most meat-and-potatoes pick here for me. I recently saw this band open for The Michigan Rattlers at The Blind Pig and it was a fab mix of twangy power-pop with a dollop of pop-punk and a lot of great storytelling songs. Read our interview with The City Lines, which is led by an Ann Arbor fireman.



Alexis C. Lamb and Friends of Flowerpot Music
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Matthaei Botanical Gardens, 1800 N Dixboro Road 
- The Make Music Day concerts aren't generally interactive—you go to see someone perform—but U-M educator Alexis C. Lamb wants you to bang on things and make noise during her show. This BYOF (Bring Your Own Flowerpot) event means you should arrive with your favorite planting vessel, but Lamb will provide the mallets and any other materials. Note: This show is in Matthaei's Gaffield Children's Garden, so you know all ages are welcome to skip work or summer school and bang on the flowerpot drums all day.


Zach Lannes
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Vault of Midnight. 219 South Main Street
- I don't know anything about guitarist Zach Lannes other than he's a U-M librarian and released an album with his New Orleans-based LLC band earlier this year, an instrumental record that explores the angular side of indie rock. But if you're at all interested in two-handed tapping guitar techniques, Lannes will be happy to oblige at this solo show.


Peter Madcat Ruth's C.A.R.Ma. Quartet
8:15 PM - 8:30 PM
A2SF at Top of the Park, 915 East Washington Street
- The latest project led by longtime Ann Arbor harmonica hero Peter Madcat Ruth mixes jazz, blues, and Indian classical music for a fusion that should go over well with the dance-happy A2SF Top of the Park crowd. Read our interview with Ruth about C.A.R.Ma.


Two other acts on my radar that currently conflict with my other choices:

Ancel Neeley
5:00 PM - 5:45 PM
Ann Arbor Art Center, 117 West Liberty Street
- Ancel Neeley is currently getting his masters in percussion at U-M, but like his classmate and fellow Make Music Day performer Olivia Cirisan, he mixes drums and electronics to create an unusual hybrid. 


Alvin Hill
2:00 PM - 2:45 PM
Various locations
- Ann Arbor modular synth guy Alvin Hill with play four concerts during Make Music Day at four different locations. The man is gonna be plugging and unplugging a whole lotta wires today.

Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.