Voices Carry: Annie Capps Shares Stories of Vulnerability and Courage on “How Can I Say This?” Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Chelsea singer-songwriter Annie Capps

Annie Capps' latest album How Can I Say This? serves as a love letter to her younger self. Photo by Rod Capps.

Annie Capps doesn’t hesitate to reveal her authentic self—both past and present—on her latest album, How Can I Say This?

The Chelsea folk singer-songwriter embraces both vulnerability and courage across the album’s dozen reflective tracks, which revisit pivotal life lessons about forgiveness, family, and growth.

“I think we’re always vulnerable, and I don’t want to take anything away from people who aren’t willing to go where I went,” said Capps about her first solo release. (She usually writes, records, and performs with husband and longtime musical partner Rod Capps.)

“Just the act of standing up in front of people and singing a song, whether it’s your own or not, is a very vulnerable situation. That’s brave, and I commend anybody who does it or tries it.”

Collectively, those thoughts merge into an overarching love letter Capps writes to her younger self throughout How Can I Say This? Forthright lyrics and demonstrative Americana-folk-jazz instrumentation provide an emotive setting as she excavates deeply buried experiences.

The Ark’s Ann Arbor Folk Festival Makes Welcome Return to U-M’s Hill Auditorium

MUSIC REVIEW

Ani DiFranco performs at the 46th annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

Ani DiFranco performs the closing set at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. Photo by Lori Stratton.

After three years away, it felt heartwarming to attend the 46th annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival on January 28.

As a regular past attendee, there was something special about going in-person again to celebrate The Ark’s largest concert and fundraiser of the year.

For once, the entire show occurred before a live audience without any COVID-19 cancellations (aka 2022) or virtual alternatives (aka 2021). (January 27’s sold-out Friday Night Folk: BanjoFest also featured in-person performances with Valerie June, Thao, Yasmin Williams, and Michigan’s Rachael Davis at The Ark’s Ford Listening Room.)

A renewed sense of gratitude filled the air as a lineup of emerging and established folk acts—including Ani DiFranco, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Patty Griffin—took the stage at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium for five hours of folk-inspired and folk-adjacent music.

Alongside co-emcees SistaStrings, singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey uttered the words everyone had waited to hear since 2020: “Omigod, we’re finally back!”

New AADL Video Showcases Photographer Josh Lipnik’s “Up North: An Architecture Road Trip” Presentation

VISUAL ART INTERVIEW

Photographer Josh Lipnik features images of Northern Michigan architecture.

Photographer Josh Lipnik captures Fishtown, a historic fishing village in Leland, Michigan. Photo by Josh Lipnik.

Architecture aficionados who don’t want to leave their houses can now take a virtual road trip to Northern Michigan with photographer Josh Lipnik.

An Ann Arbor District Library video from Lipnik’s January 17 slide show presentation, “Up North: An Architecture Road Trip,” is now available for viewing.

In “Up North,” Lipnik travels through small Northern Michigan towns to find the marvelous facades, neon signs, elaborate Victorians, and architectural trends that time has left behind.

He offers his evocative pictures to tell the story of immigrants, industry, and the role of local resources and geology while reflecting on his time on the road.

Lipnik runs Midwest Modern, a platform for photography, research, and writing about architecture and design. He is also a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and The Ohio State University’s College of Engineering.

Report Ranks Ann Arbor as One of the Nation’s 10 Most Arts-Vibrant Medium-Sized Cities

PULP LIFE

Ann Arbor has been named as one of the 10 most arts-vibrant medium-sized cities in the nation.

Ann Arbor continually ranks as one of the nation's top cities. This time it's named a Top-10 arts-vibrant medium-sized city. Photo taken from WEMU-FM 89.1's website.

We’ve topped yet another list!

Ann Arbor always seems to lead the pack when it comes to being a Top 10 city—best college town, place to raise a family, city for retirement, most educated city—you name it.

And whether it’s livability, real estate, visitor bureau, college sports, or academic rankings, we love being told that where we live is the best

We can add another gold star to the city’s list of accolades: a new report has named Ann Arbor as one of the 10 most arts-vibrant medium-sized cities in the nation.

Formula 734’s “Volume II” Album Documents Post-Pandemic Perseverance for Washtenaw County Men of Color

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Formula 734's AnimeKing performs at a Re:Claim event in September.

Formula 734's AnimeKing performs at a Re:Claim event in Ann Arbor. Photo taken from Washtenaw My Brother's Keeper's Facebook page.

Formula 734’s Volume II chronicles the ongoing perseverance of Washtenaw County men of color in a post-pandemic world.

The hip-hop collective’s second community-based album features insightful tales of self-determination by lyricists confronting daily struggles and aspiring for future change.

“Coming out of COVID, we’ve had to appraise our value of everything. In listening to the young guys, they’re using music to appraise their thoughts about relationships, school, and mortality,” said Rod Wallace, who co-executive produced the album with Jamall “Buff1” Bufford.

“We always say that kids are a lot more resilient than adults are … but in the same token, when they look back and when we look back at this time, it was a time the entire world transitioned in a way. This music is them making sense of that transition.”

To ease that transition, Wallace and Bufford reassembled an intergenerational team of men to write and record 10 cathartic tracks for Formula 734’s Volume II.

They created the album in partnership with Washtenaw My Brother’s Keeper, the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, Project Plugin, and Creativity Fluidity Productions.

In Real Time: Chickenwire Canöe’s rock-opera concept album “Joey Wendt” tells the tale of a budding conspiracy theorist during the pandemic

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Chickenwire Canöe’s Mike Gentry, Brian Delaney, Tim Delaney, and Tony Mitchell explore the mind of Joey Wendt on their latest rock-opera concept album.

Chickenwire Canöe’s Mike Gentry, Brian Delaney, Tim Delaney, and Tony Mitchell explore the pandemic plight of Joey Wendt on their latest rock-opera concept album. Photo by Misty Lyn Bergeron.

Brian Delaney admires how Gordon Lightfoot documented the 1975 sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior.

The Chickenwire Canöe guitarist applauds the Canadian folk singer-songwriter with respectfully recounting the tragedy and remembering the 29 lives lost in his 1976 hit, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”

“For somebody like Gordon Lightfoot to be able to write that story to song in a way that didn’t capitalize on somebody else’s calamity, that’s always stuck with me. That’s art in the moment … you’re looking at a situation and documenting it,” said Delaney, who’s from Dexter.

“When I thought about that calamity and then thought about the pandemic, I knew it would be a real crime not to have somebody document it in a somewhat well-rounded way.”

By summer 2020, he landed on a pandemic-themed album and contacted childhood friend Mike Gentry, now Chickenwire Canöe’s vocalist-guitarist.

“I just sat down and wrote a proposal to Mike, and I briefly outlined with bullet points what it could be as a concept,” Delaney said.

“The concept was a record of vignettes of what we were going through related to the pandemic. Some of the best art will take you back to a moment in time where you’re like, ‘This could have only happened then.’”

Immersion Therapy: Hannah Baiardi Unpacks Emotions on “Ascend Your Vibe: Music for Contemplation” Piano Instrumental Album

MUSIC INTERVIEW

Hannah Baiardi embraces her spiritual side on Ascend Your Vibe: Music for Contemplation.

Hannah Baiardi embraces her spiritual side on Ascend Your Vibe: Music for Contemplation. Photo by Funn Foto.

Hannah Baiardi immerses herself in a cathartic sonic experience on her new album, Ascend Your Vibe: Music for Contemplation.

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and pianist delved into jazzy sophisti-pop on her last two records, Magic (2022) and Straight From the Soul (2021), but Ascend Your Vibe explores the restorative side of mellow instrumental music.

“I brought all my emotions to the piano bench and got to unpack them in real-time at the keys,” said Baiardi about her fourth album. “The longer strings of phrases are riding a feeling while the pauses are the reflection and the process. The feelings drive the ebb and flow and unfolding of each piece.”

Throughout Ascend Your Vibe: Music for Contemplation, Baiardi unfolds feelings of hope, gratitude, and wonder across eight spiritual tracks, including the magical opener, “Pensive,” and the otherworldly “Somewhere East of Here.” Glistening keys slowly strike and pause alongside tranquil samples featuring soothing birds and a ticking clock.

“As a listener, you can choose where to direct your attention. The clock can ground or distract you,” writes Baiardi on her Bandcamp page. “The anticipation before a chord can make you focus on the next chord or can help you be in the in-between spaces.”

To get inside her headspace, we recently talked with Baiardi about her musical beginnings, favorite artists, and latest album.

Things to Do: Pulp Event Roundup for November

Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver reunite for a Nervous But Excited show at The Ark.

Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver reunite for a Nervous But Excited show at The Ark. Photo via The Ark's Facebook event.

To fill up your November calendar, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of arts-related events, exhibits, and more throughout Washtenaw County. Check out some local cool happenings in music, visual art, theater and dance, and written word and film.

MUSIC

Bill Edwards
November 11
Canterbury House, Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bill Edwards performs tracks from his new Americana album, Thirteen Stories. Throughout his latest release, Edwards pens sentimental stories from different perspectives, including a hall-of-fame baseball player, a seasoned songwriter, and a nostalgic boater. Read our preview and interview here.

Nervous But Excited
November 11
The Ark, Ann Arbor

Ten years after their sold-out finale at The Ark, the local folk duo of Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver reunite for one of their final Nervous But Excited performances. Their repertoire ranges from smart, introspective narratives to the tactfully political while interspersing songs of love and loss.

Olivia Van Goor
November 11
Blue Llama Jazz Club, Ann Arbor

The Milford jazz vocalist is influenced by swing and bebop jazz from the mid-20th century. Van Goor unearths and reshapes gems from the Great American Songbook and other jazz standards in a way that’s beyond replicating what has already been done before. Read our past interview with Van Goor here.

Folk Tales: Bill Edwards Channels Different Characters on “Thirteen Stories” Album

MUSIC PREVIEW INTERVIEW

Bill Edwards writes from different perspectives on his new album, "Thirteen Stories."

Bill Edwards writes from different perspectives on his new album, Thirteen Stories. Photo by Chasing Light Photos.

Bill Edwards prefers to keep his songwriting in perspective—though not necessarily his own.

The Ann Arbor singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist pens sentimental narratives from different viewpoints on his new Americana album, Thirteen Stories.

“Sometimes [people] listen to or see a singer, and they assume the song you’re singing is from your own perspective. It doesn’t always have to be; that’s very limiting I find,” Edwards said.

“You can use your imagination and sing from somebody else’s perspective. It’s all colored by my personal experience, and some of it’s very personal, but not all of it.”

Throughout Thirteen Stories, Edwards channels the mindset of a hall of fame baseball player, a seasoned songwriter, a nostalgic boater, a distraught wife, and other compelling characters.

“I want [listeners] to get outside themselves a little bit and experience emotion from somebody else’s point of view,” he said. “Can you identify with this even though it’s not necessarily my point of view or their point of view? Do the songs communicate well enough what somebody else might be going through?”

Everything’s All Right: Jonathan Crayne Finds the Way Forward on “Oknow” EP

PULP MUSIC INTERVIEW

Jonathan Crayne includes flavors of ‘90s alt rock on his <i>Oknow</i> EP.

Jonathan Crayne includes flavors of ‘90s alt rock on his Oknow EP. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Crayne.

Jonathan Crayne’s debut EP is like a self-pep talk the Adrian alt-rocker wrote to tell himself every little thing’s going to be all right.

The six-song Oknow chronicles Crayne’s emotional resilience and personal growth after experiencing previous challenges in life and love.

“I wanted it to be character pieces that depict going through different stages—whether it’s being a kid or trying to persevere—while ending things on a high note,” said Crayne, who’s also a guitar, bass, and percussion instructor at Ann Arbor’s School of Rock. “I write a lot of sad stuff, but I don’t want to leave anyone like that.”

He delivers on that promise across Oknow’s six insightful tracks, starting with the hopeful opener, “The Good Kids.” Alongside contemplative electric guitar, Crayne sings, “I think I finally found the meaning / Now it’s time to tell yourself / This will not end!”

To further explore his optimistic mindset, we recently chatted with Crayne about his musical journey and latest EP.