Thanksgiving Tradition: Matt Watroba at The Ark

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Matt Watroba

Matt Watroba's annual post-Turkey Day shows at The Ark have become an Ann Arbor institution.

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.”

Mini MoogFest 2017: Sound Science

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Mini MoogFest 2017

Mini MoogFest will give you a hands-on chance to dabble in bleeps and bloops, play with music gear, and see artists perform on vintage and home-built synthesizers.

[https://www.moogmusic.com/legacy|Robert Moog] had no musical talent. But his talents changed music.

At the age of 15, Moog built his first Theremin, the ghostly, no-touch instrument created by Leon Theremin in the 1920s that used the amplitude and voltage of radio waves to manipulate two oscillators controlling pitch and volume. Moog continued to use his engineering skills to fine-tune these instruments, and by age 19 he was selling Theremin kits to help fund his college studies.

Mini MoogFest 2017: North Coast Modular Collective

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The [http://www.northcoastmodularcollective.com|North Coast Modular Collective] is like a modular synthesizer: made up of many parts to create a sonic whole. The group is a loose collection of Washtenaw County-area musicians and creators who teamed up earlier this year and pooled their talents to share gear, create new instruments, and trade ideas.

The trio of Joe Bauer, Dan Blades, and Bill Van Loo will represent the collective at Mini MoogFest, and we asked them their about plans for the event, the gear they'll be using, and their favorite synth-leaning recordings. (Also, [https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/secret-world-modular-synthesizers|here's a primer on Eurorack synths], which the collective mentions several times.)

Mini MoogFest 2017: Sean Curtis Patrick

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Sean Curtis Patrick gear, Mini Moog Fest 2017

Sean Curtis Patrick will work with the two setups shown here: one is a more playable unit and the other is more for texture.

[http://theattemptedtheftofmillions.com|Sean Curtis Patrick] is a visual artist who also makes music, so it's not unreasonable to expect when he and fellow visual artisan [http://www.kbabl.com|Kendall Babl] team up with Chuck Sipperley -- expert DJ and super-synther in [https://hydropark.bandcamp.com|Hydropark] and [
https://uticasound.bandcamp.com|Utica] -- the trio will paint electronic aural sculptures in your mind, MAAAAAAAAAN.

We asked Patrick what the group's plans are for the festival, the gear he'll be using, and received recommendations for his favorite synth-leaning recordings.

Mini MoogFest 2017: Alex Taam

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Alex Taam, Mogi Grumbles

Alex Taam performing as Mogi Grumbles in AADL's Secret Lab on Febraury 28, 2017. See the two performances [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/358606|here].

[http://pulp.aadl.org/node/358606|Alex Taam] is a recording-studio engineer, composer, and all around gearhead. His mastery of synths is one of the reasons why we asked him to write and record two songs using instruments from AADL's Music Tools collection, which [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/358606|he did in February]. Taam's knowledge about all things electronica is also the reason why we asked him to help us host [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/369408|Mini MoogFest]. He'll be on hand to demonstrate some instruments, including a modular synth, and guide you through many of the other instruments we'll have on display for hands-on play.

We talked to Taam about his [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/369408|Mini MoogFest] plans, the gear he's bringing, and asked him to name his favorite synth-related recordings.

Mini MoogFest 2017: Mike Dykehouse

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#modularsynth #eurorack #computer #rock #riot #manic #electromagneticpulse #mantra #speakingintongues #haunted #medical #equipment

A post shared by Michael Dykehouse (@michaeldykehouse) on

In addition to being a remarkable painter, Mike Dykehouse is an immensely creative musician. But after his [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If2jmSktVl0&list=PLRpJCElODjoFLb-tIcJjb… Obsolescence] (2001) album on the influential British electronica [http://planet.mu|Planet Mu] and another on [http://ghostly.com|Ghostly International] with the shoegaze-y [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XmCGFBDDRM&list=PLVOsx7yFGGviWngj7qBNg…] (2004), Dykehouse mostly went underground.

Or rather, to Instagram.

Dykehouse's daily video clips of new synth jams -- ranging from straight-up techno and boogie-bass electro to hip-hop boom-bap and exploratory noise -- are often highlights of his followers' days. (Am I projecting?)

In a rare live appearance, Dykehouse will demonstrate the latest version of his ever-changing modular synth setup at [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/369408|Mini MoogFest], giving listeners a front-row seat to his daily sonic rituals.

We talked to Dykehouse about his [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/369408|Mini MoogFest] plans, the gear he's bringing, and asked him to name his favorite synth-related recordings. But to evoke the immortal Joe Perry Project, Dykehouse mostly [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVkzvkGeLIo|lets the music do the talking].

U-M’s "Blood at the Root" challenges audiences to deal with race

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Blood at the Root

Left to right: Kathleen Taylor (Toria), Eddie Williams Jr.(Justin), Erin Croom (Raylynn), Elyakeem Avraham (De'Andre), and Kevin Corbett (Colin) in U-M's production of Blood at the Root by Dominique Morisseau. Photo by Peter Smith Photography.

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
--Abel Meeropol

In 2014 Stori Ayers was a graduate student in acting at Penn State University. She had the rare opportunity to be the first actress to play a key role in Dominique Morisseau’s Blood at the Root, which had been commissioned by the university. She and other cast members worked with the author to develop the play

After performances at Penn State, she continued to perform the role of Raylynn in a touring production across the United States and internationally.

Ayers, who now teaches at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, will direct a U-M production of the provocative play, Nov. 16-20 at the Arthur Miller Theatre.

trustArt Gallery's "Studio Works" exhibit encourages community engagement

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Studio Works at trustArt Gallery

Pyramid power: Eight artists are combining their talents for the Studio Works exhibition at trustArt Gallery in Ann Arbor.

The [http://www.trustartstudios.com/|trustArt Gallery]'s Studio Works exhibition (Nov. 11-19) will display multi-media works by artists and designers who work in rented studios at the venue. The exhibit features works by Larry Cressman, Liz Davis, Elizabeth Barick Fall, Rose E. Gomez, Barbara Hohmann, Allen Samuels, Laura Shope, and Lissie Williams, and it also offers an intimate look into the studio space and how it relates to the artists’ practices and everyday environments.

In addition to the more common gallery exhibition, the added opportunity to see the artists’ studios and working spaces aims to create community engagement with the arts, according to [https://www.facebook.com/trustArt-studios-709238372470689|trustArt Gallery]'s statement: “We are connected through our location and environment as we pass through the shared open space of our gallery: it provides an opportunity to intersect; to cross paths; a place for our studio works to be shared and reflected upon; a chance to interact with each other and the community.”

The opening-up of studios to the community will allow for many people to interact with art and art making in an expanded capacity. It allows unique insight into aspects of the creative process and creates a chance for discussion and dialogue between the artist and the community.

Featured artists/designers:

Amorphous, Anomalous: The Knights, Avi Avital & Kinan Azmeh at Rackham

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The Knights, Avi Avital & Kinan Azmeh at Rackham Auditorium

The Knights, Kinan Azmeh, and Avi Avital will break down all the walls between musical genres at Rackham Auditorium on Nov. 12.

When we hear the word “orchestra,” we usually think of a group of musicians who play classical music. But the trailblazing Brooklyn-based orchestra [http://www.theknightsnyc.com|The Knights] -- coming to Rackham Auditorium on Sunday, Nov. 12 [https://ums.org/performance/the-knights|courtesy of UMS] -- are known for turning the word on its head by challenging orchestral norms and often using untraditional environments (from parks to bars) and repertoire (from avant-gardist Karlheinz Stockhausen to singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens) to connect to a wide range of audiences.

Such a genre-bending, rule-breaking orchestra needs soloists who are just as adventurous, and for this tour, The Knights have teamed up with two superstars of instrumental music, [https://www.aviavital.com|Avi Avital] and [http://kinanazmeh.com|Kinan Azmeh].

Both Avital, an Israeli mandolin virtuoso, and Azmeh, a celebrated Syrian clarinetist and composer, produce just as diverse and tremendously compelling a repertoire as The Knights, and the combination of these three forces is a treat not to be missed. Their program on Sunday will jump from their unique arrangements of pieces by Purcell, Bach, and Schubert to some of Azmeh’s own compositions, including one he wrote specifically for The Knights, Avital, and himself. They will also feature a piece by Knights co-leader and Silkroad Ensemble member Colin Jacobsen as well as traditional Middle Eastern, Balkan, and klezmer pieces.

I spoke with Avital and Azmeh about their solo work, collaboration with the Knights, and more.

Staying Alive: Melanie at Green Wood Coffee House

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Melanie wowed audiences at Woodstock back in the summer of ’69 with her hit "Beautiful People." On that rainy night, spectators lit the night with candles, inspiring her song "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," which sold more than a million copies in 1970. Billboard, Cashbox, Melody Maker, Record World, and Bravo responded by naming Melanie female vocalist of the year.

Her single "Brand New Key," an almost-innocent sexy delight, topped the charts in '71. She appeared on Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, and Dick Cavett. She played the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Cher and Dolly Parton are among those who covered her songs.

To those who enjoyed folk music, and even some who didn't, Melanie was a household name.

Now, at 70, she tours and tries to stay afloat, which includes a sold-out show at Green Wood Coffee House in Ann Arbor on Friday, Nov. 10.

Still, she says, “I’ve been carefully airbrushed out of history."