“Golden anniversary” sounds tacky and “semicentennial” reads incomplete, so what does a musician call her slow-rolling, year-long celebration of 50 years on stage?
For Claudia Schmidt, you just go ahead and portmanteau it—hence Claudfest, and let the bells ring.
Schmidt’s career as a singer-songwriter spans time as well as genre, and she’ll perform selections from her accumulated repertoire on Saturday, October 7, at The Ark when she appears with Rachel Davis.
While she remained active through the COVID-19 shutdowns with a regular series of YouTube concerts, the stage is where Schmidt’s art truly breathes, her rapport with the audience an essential element. Her long-awaited return to A2 brings Claudfest to a city that bore witness to various stages of her musical evolution.
A native of New Baltimore, Michigan, Schmidt pulled the modern equivalent of running away with the circus as soon as she was able, joining a theater group after high school and traveling with them for a year. Another round of seasons given to the University of Michigan didn’t work out, so she relocated to Chicago, where an already vibrant folk music scene welcomed her and inspired a career that led to dozens of records and countless miles.
Ann Arbor would have been a regular stop for anyone playing the Midwestern folk circuit of the 1970s, and Schmidt had no shortage of gigs at the venue she’ll visit this weekend. “I’ve played at all of The Arks,” she said. “I played at the original one on Hill Street, then when it moved to South Main. I’ve followed them all around.”
Second Run: David Roof’s Funky Rivertown Fest Returns October 10-14 at Riverside Arts Center in Ypsi
After playing outdoor music festivals in the summer for years, David Roof wanted to capture that same spirit indoors during the fall and spring.
The producer, recording engineer, and live performer launched Funky Rivertown Fest, a biannual music festival that debuted in March and returns October 10-14 for a second run at Ypsilanti’s Riverside Arts Center.
“I love some of the music festivals in the summertime, including Holler Fest and Earthworks Harvest Gathering, and Blissfest and Wheatland are the old standbys and senior veterans of the festival scene,” said Roof, who owns and operates the Grand Blanc-based Rooftop Recording.
“But that’s all during the summertime, and in Michigan, we only have four or five nice months of weather, so that was the inspiration for me to want to do a live music series that could happen after the nice weather is gone and before the nice weather has arrived.”
At Funky Rivertown Fest, Roof features a lineup of Americana and rock-inspired acts that come from Washtenaw County and Metro Detroit. They specialize in folk-rock, blues-rock, power-pop, roots-rock, and country over five days of live performances:
• Wednesday, October 11: Eric Moore with Rochelle Clark and Jason Dennie
• Thursday, October 12: The Outfit and Songwriters in the Round with Scott Martin, Milan Seth, and Linden Thoburn
• Friday, October 13: Bobby Pennock’s Big Fluffy Band and The Dirk Kroll Band
• Saturday, October 14 (evening show): The Lucky Nows and Anna Lee’s Co.
Imagine that you have an urge to disappear and be unreachable.
Then, imagine that someone whom you care about has that urge, but you don’t know where they went or why.
Now, add many more layers of complexity to the woman who disappears given that she has a family, including a child, and a career.
These circumstances would raise many questions, and the premise of Molly Lynch’s new novel does just that.
The Forbidden Territory of a Terrifying Woman tracks Ada, a mother and wife who goes missing suddenly. Her husband, Danny, and son, Gilles, are left behind, bereft and confused. Yet, Ada is following her thoughts and feelings. With an omniscient third-person narrator, the reader gets insights into all the characters.
Early on in the book, the bond that Ada, Danny, and Gilles have with each other becomes clear, as “All three of them were one connected thing.” Yet, there are challenges:
Out of This World: deegeecee finds relief on and off Earth on “Sundogs & Weekends on the Moon” album
deegeecee didn’t expect to find creative inspiration from a set of scientific encyclopedias.
The Ypsilanti hip-hop artist and writer read different volumes on his breaks while working as a substitute teacher at a middle school.
“From one of them, I learned the term ‘anthelion,’ which is similar to a sun dog,” said deegeecee, aka Daryhl Covington. “I looked it up later, and it had a cool picture that was associated with it … and I saw a sun dog.”
That fascination led deegeecee down a Reddit and Google rabbit hole where he learned more about the atmospheric phenomenon.
“It’s all the crazy stuff that happens in the world naturally … it felt cosmically humbling,” deegeecee said. “I was also reading a lot about spirituality and the guru movements of the ‘80s and ‘90s … it was like, ‘What if I could take that mystic feeling and put that in everyday words and stories that made sense?’”
Those words and stories resulted in deegeecee’s contemplative new album, Sundogs & Weekends on the Moon, which features 15 tracks about loss, self-doubt, growth, and change.
“It’s about dealing with loss, whether that’s the loss of a person or the loss of the past,” he said. “It’s [also] about my thoughts on life and the artistic process and coming to terms with the type of artist that I want to be and where that’s going to position me.”
On Sundogs & Weekends on the Moon, deegeecee positions himself in a mystical world filled with poetic lyrics, hypnotic beats, post-rock and film score samples, cosmic imagery, and manga references.
We recently spoke to deegeecee about his background, the creative process for his debut album, his appreciation for manga and Japanese culture, select album tracks and collaborators, and upcoming plans.
The debut novel by Ann Arbor author and therapist Jan Leland follows characters processing emotions in the early days of the pandemic
We all collectively endured the pandemic, but we each had an individual experience of it.
The circumstances in which Leland’s characters’ find themselves all differ, but they converge at the same time—when COVID-19 emerges—and in the same place: the Clearview Inn on Orchard Lake in Keego Harbor, Michigan. Through these characters, Leland portrays the stress and anguish—as well as the triumphs and coping mechanisms—of the early days of the pandemic.
One of these characters, Ashley Cooper who is known as Ash, works at The Book Shelf in town. The coronavirus affects her early on when her boss and close friend, Marla Phillips, sickens and passes away. As Leland is attentive to character development, we learn about Ash in detail:
Pretty and petite with shiny shoulder length curly brown hair and brown eyes, high cheekbones and dimples, Ashley was smart and curious. Although Marla felt Ashley needed life experience, she perceived an inner strength to Ashley. It did not take much for Marla to convince Ashley to take the position of Store Manager at The Book Shelf.
The job offered, in Ashley’s eyes at least, the opportunity to work and live in a small town where people were friendly and easy-going and where Ashley felt important and sophisticated in providing literary knowledge and expertise.
This opportunity for Ash allows her to not only engage with books but also meet many others with whom she becomes close.
Amy Sacksteder explores life through collage art in a new exhibit at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Talismanic: The Collected Collages of Amy Sacksteder, on display through October 7, features four different series that she completed over eight years: Generations (2015), Grounded/Ungrounded (2019), Time Ghosts (2019-2020), and Echo Keepers (2021).
While the collages tend toward abstraction, the images are inspired by scenes and items in Sacksteder’s life, whether it's the natural beauty surrounding her house or the various common objects that reside within it. The cumulative effect of the Talismanic collection gives viewers the impression they are seeing snapshots from a personal photo album.
History From the Margins: UMS is bringing Druid Theatre's productions of Sean O’Casey’s "Dublin Trilogy" to the Power Center
“The whole world’s in a terrible state of chassis!”
Juno and the Paycock
In 1916 a large part of the world was in chaos and crisis. World War I was tearing Europe apart, and in Ireland, the leaders of anti-British forces saw an opportunity to rise against a pre-occupied British government and attempt to finally drive the British government from Ireland.
The deadly events of what is remembered as the Easter Rising were the beginning of a violent eight-year period that would in time free Ireland from British rule but at a high cost. Following the Rising, a war of independence began, ending with a treaty to give Ireland Free State status while still bonded to Britain. That treaty led to a civil war pitting defenders of the treaty against those who believed the treaty was a betrayal.
Playwright Sean O’Casey grew up in the tenements of Dublin. He was a self-taught reader, a laborer, a railway worker, and eventually, a writer with a keen ear for the language of his native city. In the 1920s, he created three plays that covered the period from the Easter Rising to the Civil War. Each play centers on the lives of tenement dwellers in the Irish capital who become caught up in the frenzy and frustration of the long-running domestic war. O’Casey’s plays are both comic and tragic as well as deeply humane.
The University Musical Society (UMS) is presenting the Druid Theatre’s production of O’Casey’s Dublin Trilogy, under the direction of Druid founder and artistic director Garry Hynes, October 18-21. The Galway-based theater company is bringing the play to New York City and Ann Arbor only.
Hynes was artistic director for Druid Theatre from 1975 to 1991 and again from 1995 to the present. From 1991 to 1994, she was the artistic director of the famed Abbey Theatre, where many of O’Casey’s plays premiered.
In a telephone interview, Hynes said O’Casey’s trilogy is about the working people of Dublin living in the tenements.
Sobering Thought: Erin Zindle & The Ragbirds Remember a Late Friend’s Determination to Overcome Alcoholism on “Liquor Store” Single
The bluesy new single from the Ann Arbor folk-rock band addresses the daily struggle Nelson Whitehorse faced while trying to fight addiction and follow a path to recovery.
“He was from St. Louis actually and moved to Ann Arbor to be in a band with me, and we lived together for a year,” said Zindle about Whitehorse, who passed away several years ago. “We lived on the west side of Ann Arbor and he had been an alcoholic since childhood.”
Throughout “Liquor Store,” Erin Zindle and bandmates TJ Zindle (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Loren Kranz (drums, vocals), and Shannon Wade (bass, vocals) chronicle Whitehorse’s ongoing challenge of having to walk past a liquor store each day to visit the local Alano Club.
Ominous keys and drums follow Zindle as she sings, “You said ‘Grace is new every morning’ / As you stared into your black coffee cup / Today you’re gonna make it past the liquor store / To get to the Alano Club.”
“I saw that battle play out over and over every day, and sometimes he made it, and sometimes he didn’t,” she said. “The daily work is just getting there every day.”
The track also helps Whitehorse’s family and friends to take comfort in his memory as a “hilarious, loyal, giant-hearted friend” as Zindle noted in a Ragbirds’ Facebook post.
“The message I hope people will take away is that today you’re going to make it,” Zindle said. “It literally is just that one day at a time. I’m so grateful that the song came to me, and it came with that wisdom to know not to add any message to it.”
We recently spoke to Zindle about the band’s new single, its strategy for releasing new songs and an upcoming album, the inspiration behind several tracks, the creative process for writing and recording them, a Halloween show at The Ark, and additional plans for new material.
Dress for Success: Costume designer Suzanne Young clothes actors for local, national, and international theater productions
It was 1981 when Suzanne Young, 21, moved to Boston from her native England.
“It was a bit of a culture shock,” she recalls. “Police came to the costume rental shop for Santa costumes. I wasn’t used to seeing people with guns on their hips or to hearing people tell me how much they loved my accent.”
She’s gotten used to this side of the pond, settling with her husband, Larry, in Dixboro, a village just outside Ann Arbor, and became a go-to costume designer for area theaters including the University of Michigan, Purple Rose, Wild Swan, Performance Network, and more.
The Youngs found their way here circuitously, with time spent in Europe and different states. But wherever they went, Suzanne created opportunities to work—from opening a school to teach English to French children to developing a wedding gown company.
The Ann Arbor District Library's Fifth Avenue Press, which started in 2017, 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—in whatever ways they choose and keep all the proceeds.
The Fifth Avenue Press event is part of the A2 Community Bookfest, which runs from 10 am to 5 pm at AADL Downtown, also on September 10, with a full schedule of renowned authors including J. Ryan Stradal, Sonali Dev, and Stephen Mack Jones.
Four new Fifth Avenue creators answered a questionnaire to help readers understand a bit more about the press process and their journey as authors. Also below is a list and descriptions of all the other Fifth Avenue books available on Sunday; click the titles to visit the books' web pages for more info on each. Many of the authors will be there to do readings and signings, too.