Brass Tacks nails Shakespeare's dense & difficult "Measure for Measure"

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Brass Tacks Ensemble, Measure for Measure

Brass Tacks Ensemble has workshopped Measure for Measure for 10 months. Photos by Aaron C. Wade.

Nearly every play that is performed for an audience is a culmination of many people’s collective time and effort. A play is often a culmination of countless hours of rehearsals; of actors having learned the basics of their blocking and memorizing their lines, only to then attempt the feat of embodying becoming other people; of a director grappling with ideas and how to bring their artistic vision to a stage.

But rarely is a play a culmination of almost 10 months of other workshops and productions. [https://www.facebook.com/events/1693293527400745|Measure for Measure], a [http://btensemble.org|Brass Tacks Ensemble] show that runs Nov. 10-19, is precisely that.

Fifth Avenue Press launches nine titles with a book release party

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Fifth Avenue Press logo

Fifth Avenue Press launches on Nov. 5 with a book-release party from 1-3 pm at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

"Publishing is a business," writes mega-selling author Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) in the "[http://nicholassparks.com/for-writers/the-business-introduction|Advice for Writers]" section of his website. "Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars."

Except with [http://www.aadl.org/fifthavenuepress|Fifth Avenue Press], the new publishing imprint of the Ann Arbor District Library.

Fifth Avenue helps local authors produce a print-ready book at no cost -- from copyediting to cover design -- and the writers retain all rights. In return, the library gets to distribute ebooks to its patrons without paying royalties, but authors can sell their books -- print, digital, or audio -- however they choose and keep all the proceeds.

Fifth Avenue launches on [http://www.aadl.org/node/364146|Sunday, Nov. 5, with a reception from 1-3 pm] on the 3rd floor of AADL's downtown branch, featuring author readings from the imprint's first nine titles:

Timothy Monger's first music video conjures serenity, septic-tank legend

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"It’s more personal than anything I’ve ever done," said singer-songwriter Timothy Monger about his latest album, [https://timothymonger.bandcamp.com/album/amber-lantern|Amber Lantern], in a February 2017 [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/354792|interview with Pulp].

It's also Monger's loveliest album, which includes two records with his former band, [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/author/Great%2BLakes%2BMyth%2BSociet…|Great Lakes Myth Society], and two solo LPs, 2011's [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1401055|The New Britton Sound] and 2004's [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1267247|Summer Cherry Ghosts].

Though [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1507811|Amber Lantern] came out 10 months ago, Monger recently teamed up with director Brian Lillie to produce a video for "Hayward," one of the LP's most beautiful songs. "A video is something I've thought about doing for many years, but somehow never made a priority until this year," Monger wrote on his [http://timothymonger.com/news/14265341|website].

We asked Monger about the making of "Hayward," the singing septic-tank man who loaned him a canoe, and what's behind the "[http://timothymonger.com/news/14264460|Surf & Turf]" show he's playing on Sunday, Nov. 5, with fellow Washtenaw County singer-songwriter Dave Boutette at Old Town Tavern.

Open Season: Ann Arbor Concert Band starts with "Afternoon at the Opera"

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Ann Arbor Concert Band, March 6, 2016 concert at Hill Auditorium

Photo courtesy AACB from its March 6, 2016 concert at Hill Auditorium, featuring the Pioneer, Huron, Skyline, and Brighton High Shcool choirs.

The [http://aaband.org|Ann Arbor Concert Band] holds a special place among the area’s musical groups. Following the classic concert-band tradition, it’s an ensemble consisting almost entirely of wind instruments.

So as the band prepares to open its new season at the Michigan Theater on Sunday, the theme for the concert may seem a bit surprising: a selection of opera works, which we’re accustomed to hearing performed by singers with an orchestra.

“I chose this theme because it's rarely done by concert bands, and it's a nice contrast to a typical program that has only marches and Broadway medleys,” says James Nissen. “My job as conductor is to expose the audience to the vast wind ensemble repertoire, and there are so many great opera overtures that translate well for wind instruments. Also, there are so many instances where a composer wrote an opera that was soon long forgotten, but its overture survived as a masterpiece. I don't want these overtures to be forgotten!”

Blaster in the Flatlands: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore at The Ark

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It might seem like [http://www.davealvin.net|Dave Alvin] and [http://www.jimmiegilmore.com|Jimmie Dale Gilmore] come from very different places musically.

Alvin is best known as a core member of the roots-rock band The Blasters, often considered part of the 1980s Los Angeles punk scene. Gilmore is a Texas troubadour who helped start the alt-country/Americana movement as a member of The Flatlanders. But the two came of age loving the same kinds of authentic folk and blues music -- and today, they’re both comfortable working in a laid-back singer-songwriter format.

In fact, they’ve been friends for more than 30 years. So when Alvin suggested the two start doing some shows together -- including on at [http://theark.org/shows-events/2017/oct/30/dave-alvin|The Ark on Oct. 30] -- it seemed like a natural pairing.

Down by Law: David Wells' "Resisting" world premieres at Theatre Nova

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Resisting at Theatre Nova

Brutal truths: David Wells' Resisting explores justice and systemic racism.

“Resist” is not only a rallying cry of our political times; it was the seed of Ann Arbor-based playwright David Wells (“Irrational,” “Brill”) latest world premiere play at [https://www.facebook.com/theatrenova|Theatre Nova].

[https://www.theatrenova.org/link-to-artfully|Resisting], which runs Oct. 27-Nov. 19, grew out of a news story Wells read about what’s called “broken windows policing.” Born in New York City in the ‘90s, “It’s essentially a zero-tolerance approach, that was combined with ‘stop and frisk,’” said Wells. “(Broken Windows) started with a scholarly paper that suggested that ... if one window in a building is broken, and it’s not fixed immediately, all of them will be broken. ... So the police were compelled to start ticketing or arresting people for every little infraction, no matter how small -- whether it’s jumping a turnstile, or jaywalking, or spitting in public. This led to a more antagonistic relationship between the police and the citizens they were supposed to serve. And these policies also only seemed to be applied in low-income neighborhoods.”

Hell's Bells: "The Haunted Belfry" casts creepy chimes across campus

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Haunted Belfry

The community can try their hands at clanging the carillon at The Haunted Belfry -- don't be scared of no ghost.

Spooky music is coming from somewhere on the University of Michigan’s campus. You move toward the creepy, clanging sound, the bells getting louder and louder with every passing step as the sky turns dark and everything suddenly seems eerie. Finally, you arrive at the carillon in the Burton Memorial Tower and you see people going inside. You pause at the entrance and wonder whether you should go in. The thunder crackles as you cross the precipice and step into the unknown.

Welcome to The Haunted Belfry.

“It’s a really good opportunity for people to actually connect with the carillon and understand that it’s (played by) a human and not, like, a robot,” laughed Hoai An Pham, one of the family-friendly event’s organizers. “The event is very casual and really a chance for people to get to learn about the carillon and also, get in the Halloween spirit.”

The Haunted Belfry has been helping students, and the community, get in the Halloween spirit since 2015 after Tiffany Ng, University of Michigan assistant professor of carillon, spearheaded it. This year, the annual event will take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3:30 pm. It’s being organized by three carillon students: Pham, Michelle Lam, and Rachael Park.

Scary Rituals: U-M's Halloween concert has haunted for 4 decades

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U-M Halloween Concert

Conductor Kenneth Kiesler will direct a bunch of li'l monsters -- and maybe a [http://www.annarbor.com/assets_c/2009/10/HalloweenThingsToDo-thumb-537x…|banana-clad cellist] -- at U-M's annual Halloween concert.

Sunday’s 40th annual Halloween concert at Hill Auditorium -- which combines the Campus Symphony Orchestra with the Campus Philharmonia Orchestra -- will mark conductor [http://www.kennethkiesler.com|Kenneth Kiesler]’s 23rd time on the podium while in costume. (What he’ll be dressed in this year is under wraps.)

But what you might not know is that he and the student musicians get one chance each year to raid the theater department’s costumes.

“They have a huge warehouse,” said Kiesler. “You could get just about anything you want.”

The comedy "Nice Girl" is Redbud Productions' latest family affair

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Redbud Productions' Nice Girl

Nice Girl breaks the mold for Redbud Productions: "We have a reputation in Ann Arbor of doing these darker, heavier dramas,” said director Loretta Grimes. “This one is funny."

[https://www.facebook.com/Redbud-Productions-227460685594|Redbud Productions] shows are truly a family affair. My interview with Loretta Grimes -- who is directing [https://www.facebook.com/events/115813302392688|Nice Girl] at Kerrytown Concert House, Oct. 26-28 -- along with her husband and Redbud collaborator, Tim Grimes, was one of the warmest interviews I've conducted. Like the archetype of a loving married couple, Loretta and Tim -- who is the Events Manager at AADL -- finished many of each other's sentences during out chat in their rehearsal space, which is the basement of their home. It has been converted into an acting space complete with spike tape (to signify where the boundaries of the stage are), the set for their new show, and framed posters from their 19 years of previous productions.

"River in Our City, the River in Our Veins" celebrates the Huron

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The River in Our City, the River in Our Veins

U-M's Christianne Myers said River in Our City... is "a combination of performance and museum" -- with music and puppets.

The 130 miles of the Huron River have inspired everyone from poets and writers to biological researchers and naturalists. Now, it’s serving as inspiration for [https://events.umich.edu/event/41638|The River in Our City, the River in Our Veins], a processional performance at 12 noon on Friday, Oct. 27, in celebration of the University of Michigan’s bicentennial.

“Part of it was wanting to find something that impacts everybody on campus,” said Christianne Myers, associate professor of theater (costume design) and head of design and production at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. She’s also one of the event’s organizers. “Whether it’s actually something people are studying or doing research on, or if its just students riding inner tubes. It can be a lot of things to a lot of different people."