Every article about [http://www.musicanuda.com|Musica Nuda] talks about how vocalist Petra Magoni and double bassist Ferruccio Spinetti formed their unique duo in 2003. It was all because a guitarist Magoni was supposed to play a concert with cancelled at the last minute, so she asked Spinetti to fill in -- and they’ve been making music ever since.
This guitar player is never named, but he haunts every article like a ghost.
“His name is [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALo0uodv4y8|Paolo Fazzi]. He’s still a guitarist. He has another job,” Magoni laughed. “No, we never played together -- never, ever. But he’s very funny because each time he reads the story in an interview he says, in a way, he’s happy because me and Ferruccio would have never played together otherwise.”
Fazzi’s loss was Spinetti’s eternal gain: Magoni has an amazing voice that fits in any setting, from jazz to French pop to disco -- all of which are in [https://www.musica-extraordinaria.com/musicanuda|Musica Nuda]’s vast repertoire. The duo has released [http://www.musicanuda.com/discography|11 wide-ranging albums], including 2017’s [http://www.musicanuda.com/discography/leggera|Leggera], but on stage is where Musica Nuda shows its chops and charm. (See the Tuscany, Italy-based group at [http://www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com/index.php/events/event/musica_nuda|Kerrytown Concert House] on April 29.)
[http://kittydonohoe.com|Kitty Donohoe]'s sixth album, [http://kittydonohoe.com/music-2/irishmans-daughter|The Irishman's Daughter], was a long time in the making for a variety of reasons: financial, personal, artistic. But the finished result is a testament to her perseverance and talent.
The CD's 12 songs swing from the instrumentals "Leaving the Land / Ships Are Sailing," "Chicago Jig / Chicago Reel," and "Star of the County Down" to the mostly instrumental "Sneaking Up the Hill" and the primarily a capella original "Working for Mrs. O'Leary. "Fish on Fridays" is her humorous ode to growing up in a non-Catholic Irish-American household, and there are also full-bodied interpretations of Irish classics "The Lark in the Morning" (featuring her daughter Callie on harmonies), "Bold Jack Donohoe," and "Bonny Blue-Eyed Nancy" (with her son Jesse singing lead).
Donohoe closes the album with four originals, including "Abe Lincoln's Army," "Sneaking Up the Hill," and "Ireland Song," but it's the closing title track that really marks "The Irishman's Daughter" as a highly personal project.
"This song kind of sums up for me what it was like to be raised by a maverick man, an original thinker, and a truly proud Irish American," Donohoe writes in the liner notes about her dad.
Despite this third generation Irish-American's connection to her ancestral homeland, Donohoe's influences aren't strictly from the Emerald Isle. There are elements of French-Canadian music, with its button accordions and rhythmic rushes, as well as American folk and country woven into her songs and arrangements. Her voice is bell clear, too, with an occasional twang.
[http://www.conoroneills.com/annarbor|Conor O'Neill's Irish Pub & Restaurant] in Ann Arbor will host the [https://www.facebook.com/events/1339698549410133|official release party] for The Irishman's Daughter on Sunday, April 30, at 5:30 pm. We talked to Donohoe about the album, her guided trips to Ireland, and The Yellow Room Gang songwriting collective.
It's hard not to get caught up in Rich Fahle's enthusiasm for the [http://midwestliterarywalk.org|Midwest Literary Walk], which strolls through downtown Chelsea on Saturday, April 29, offering readings and author meet-and-greets.
"The lineup for the Midwest Literary Walk this year is one of our very best, and this year represents an amazing array of authors who work or live in Michigan," said Fahle, a member of the festival's organizing committee and the executive producer of PBS's [http://www.pbs.org/book-view-now/home|Book View Now].
The free event also includes Washington, D.C.-area poet, author, and former Newbery Medal winner [http://kwamealexander.com|Kwame Alexander], but the majority of the Midwest Literary Walk's roster lives in The Mitten and has a connection to the University of Michigan.
"That lineup includes [http://peterhodavies.com/author|Peter Ho Davies] and [http://derekpalacio.com|Derek Palacio], both of whom teach at the University of Michigan and have books that appeared on many best-of 2016 lists, including The New York Times," Fahle said. "[http://heatherannthompson.com|Heather Ann Thompson] is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, a National Book Award finalist, and Pulitzer Prize winner. And [http://www.aireadee.com|Airea D. Matthews] lives in Detroit but she is the former assistant director of the [http://pulp.aadl.org/node/351973|Helen Zell Writers’ Program] at the University of Michigan where she also earned her M.F.A."
The five author events are all within walking distance of one another, and there's time between events to duck in and out of Chelsea's downtown stores. The event wraps up at 5 pm, which is the perfect time to grab dinner at one of the town's restaurants, or you can continue the literary chat session at the [https://www.facebook.com/ChelseaAlehouse|Chelsea Alehouse], which is hosting the afterparty.
We interviewed Fahle about the Midwest Literary Walk's history, its spirit, and other things to look out for in downtown Chelsea.
➥ [http://www.aadl.org/files/media/pulp_tcl_20170228-mogi_grumbles1-audio…|MP3 for "Library Jam 1"]
➥ [http://www.aadl.org/files/media/pulp_tcl_20170228-mogi_grumbles1-720.mp4|720p video], [http://www.aadl.org/files/media/pulp_tcl_20170228-mogi_grumbles1-480.mp4|480p video] or [http://www.aadl.org/files/media/pulp_tcl_20170228-mogi_grumbles1-240.mp4|240p video]
[http://pulp.aadl.org/taxonomy/term/107572|Tools Crew Live] is an ongoing video series where we invite artists to perform with gear borrowed from the Ann Arbor District Library's Music Tools collection: [http://www.aadl.org/musictools|aadl.org/musictools].
Mogi Grumbles, the nom de plume of Alex Taam, sounds like a villain in a Superman comic. But the name's origin story isn't quite so heroic.
"It was a nickname given to me around the time I first started publishing my music," Taam said. "From how I understand it, it was a rap lyric originally from my friend Ian. He came up with the name in the song, but then it got dubbed to me because I was such an 'curmudgeon.' ... The name stuck, my label liked it, so there it is."
Those 2009 releases on Moodgadget -- Revolutions Per Minute and the split Worst Friends vs. Mogi Grumbles -- launched Taam's music career, which has expanded into videogame soundtrack work, rescores of classic movies, and studio recording and mastering for other artists.
The two Mogi Grumbles songs Taam composed for the third installment of the Ann Arbor District Library's [http://pulp.aadl.org/taxonomy/term/107572|Tools Crew Live] series are called "Library Jam 1" and "Library Jam 2," but they could have easily been called "Retro-Futuristic Sci-Fi Soundtracks 1 & 2." Taam squeezed all the warmth out of the various keyboards he employed, making for a cozy couple of tunes that could easily accompany a voyage into deep space or a daring escape from a postapocalyptic landscape.
These videos were recorded on February 28, 2017, and a few weeks later, Taam answered questions about how he approached this session and the gear he used.
Despite the journal's name, [http://greatlakesreview.org|Great Lakes Review] editor John Counts is "wary of getting too deep into whether our region has its own distinct regional voice akin to American Southern literature," he said. "That question is probably best dealt with in academic dissertations. But I will say we believe great writing is something that rises above its setting."
On [http://www.literatibookstore.com/event/great-lakes-review-issue-celebra…|April 28 at Literati Bookstore], Great Lakes Review will host an event that celebrates the release of a printed collection of 2016 stories and poems that rose above their settings.
Michigan short story writer [https://www.pw.org/content/phillip_sterling_2|Philip Sterling]), Ohio poet [http://www.toledo.com/creative-natives/archived/justin-longacre|Justin Longacre]), and Illinois poet [http://www.jessicalwalsh.com|Jessica Walsh] will join Counts for an evening of readings and discussions.
We talked to Counts about how independent journals champion “riskier” writing, that elusive Midwest voice, and the role of Great Lakes-area writers during a political climate that could threaten the region's ecosystem.
If saxophonist [https://www.facebook.com/avram.fefer|Avram Fefer] can play a compelling duet with a towering wall of sheet metal, chances are good he sounds great improvising with just about anyone. Which sets the bar pretty high for [http://www.kerrytownconcerthouse.com/index.php/events/event/fefer_bisio…|tonight's Kerrytown Concert House performance] with longtime collaborator bassist [http://michaelbisio.com|Michael Bisio].
Fefer was recently in London for the latest session in his Resonant Sculpture Project -- which he described by email as "a series of immersive, site-specific performances exploring the relationship between improvisation, space, acoustics, permanence, and sculpture" -- during which the reedman plays at, around, and sometimes within the large-scale, minimalist creations of sculptor Richard Serra.
It's easy to imagine tonight's show going more like a conversation between old friends who happen to be experts in their fields; a two-person TED Talk on intersecting disciplines as told on reeds and strings.
Or as Bisio put it by email, "Both Avram and I tell a good musical story."
The two players, composers, and bandleaders have been telling that story together in some form since the 1990s, either in Bisio's Quartet or as a duo. Fefer's lyrical approach to sax and bass clarinet effortlessly folds in several styles to create an organic, singular sound that pairs perfectly with Bisio's limber double-bass lines and expressive bowing.
We talked with Fefer by email -- with Bisio chiming in, too -- about developing his rich, varied style; composing and tracking the duo's lone solo record in roughly 25 years of playing together; and how he got started jamming with inanimate objects.
At first listen, Terence Davies' voice seemingly betrays his 71 years. Even with his charming British accent, the Englishman sounds gravelly, like he can't get as much air into his lungs as he might like. But then it takes about 30 seconds of hearing his words to understand age might not explain this condition as well as a literally breathless enthusiasm for whatever topic he's discussing.
I spoke with Davies about his latest film, [http://www.michtheater.org/show/a-quiet-passion|A Quiet Passion], a biopic about [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/author/Dickinson%252C%2BEmily%252C%2…|Emily Dickinson] that details her complicated family relationships, her unconventional religious beliefs, and her own self-esteem issues in order to celebrate a unique life and illuminate her poetry. The film [http://www.michtheater.org/show/a-quiet-passion|opens at the Michigan Theater] on Friday, April 21.
Youth will be served.
In popular music, movies, and theater, young adults are usually the center of attention. Older actors will land roles as wise elders, cantankerous villains, or doddering comic relief. But the roles are sometimes few and far between.
That’s one reason why Thom Johnson wanted to stage Paul Osborn’s gentle, Midwest 1939 comedy Mornings at Seven for the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre.
“I did this play 10 years ago with another group and in the intervening years, looking at shows I wanted to be in, I noticed a real lack of parts for older people,” Johnson said, “and this show except for the two ‘youngsters’ who are in their 40s, it’s all about older people. I think that’s what really sparked me into wanting to do it, an opportunity for older actors to get out there on stage and do their thing.”
When I talked to him on the phone recently, Michigan native Doug Miro was driving around Bogotá, Colombia, looking for a good coffee shop. He was shooting a few episodes for season three of the Netflix show Narcos, which he and collaborator Carlo Bernard created along with their partner and showrunner Eric Newman. Miro and Bernard, along with a team of writers, pen the scripts, and the two take turns filming episodes in Colombia and California.
Miro and Bernard have worked together for years now, writing screenplays for Steven Spielberg, Harvey Weinstein, and Jerry Bruckheimer, scripting films such as Prince of Persia (which starred Jake Gyllenhaal), The Wall (starring Matt Damon), Tintin, The Uninvited, and the television series Narcos, which Miro describes as more of a “20-hour movie."
[http://stamps.umich.edu/stamps/detail/doug_miro|Miro will give a free talk] at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) on Wednesday, April 19, at 7 pm. The event is co-presented by the MOCAD and the University of Michigan's Penny Stamps Distinguished Speaker Series.
Bestselling author [http://www.elizabethkostova.com|Elizabeth Kostova] (The Historian) may now be touring to promote her newest novel, The Shadow Land, but when she arrives in Ann Arbor to appear at [http://www.nicolasbooks.com/event/elizabeth-kostova-conversation-wnatal…|Nicola’s Books on Monday evening], she may feel like she’s back home.
Why? Because after Kostova earned a spot in the University of Michigan’s renowned MFA program in creative writing, and graduated, she stayed in Ann Arbor until her family moved to Asheville in 2009.
“I’d intended to just stay (in Ann Arbor) for two years, then go back east and resume teaching there,” said Kostova. “But I loved it so much there that I ended staying. My family was there almost eight years. It was a great place to be for a while.”