PREVIEW: Word of Mouth StorySLAM


Ever been caught in a headlock by your arch nemesis? Come tell us about it! Join Word of Mouth Stories for our next Story SLAM event

Thursday October 4, 2012//Work Gallery, 306 State Street// Doors at 6:30, stories at 7 pm

Never been to our slams before? Audience members tell five-minute stories from their lives relative to a theme. Judges from the audience rate the stories; the winner takes home the title for the evening, as well as an invitation to the finale event in April. The friendly competition includes appetizers and live music.This month’s theme is COMPETITION. Whether it is a tale of victory or flunking, come share your story at our SLAM.

To get emails about more upcoming events and workshops or to join our planning crew, shoot us an email and check out our FACEBOOK page. For more about our group check out our BLOG and our SOUNDCLOUD where you can hear recordings of past events. And be sure to take a quick listen to this month’s band Our Brother The Native.

Should be a great night, hope to see you there!

REVIEW: Detropia


Detropia was screened last week at the Michigan Theater as a part of the semester series Motor City Movies: Discovering Detroit. There was a lot of buzz the film around town so naturally it peaked my curiosity. I went with three girls from my English class who all left feeling riled up by the portrayal of the city. The story covered several different characters who are struggling to live vibrantly through Detroit’s struggling state of affairs. A video blogger, a politician, a bar owner, a pair of hipsters, a union organizer are all cast as themselves in the tale of this ‘crumbling’ city.

From a cinematographic stand point, the documentary was beautifully shot, carefully organized, and visually intriguing. It revealed a colorful exposé of an urban landscape brushing up against decay and the simultaneous resurgence of nature in the form of fields and wild weeds. Furthermore, it high lighted aspects of the city that are integral and historic, like the Detroit Opera House and the Automobile Show. Yet while the picture was well crafted,  it lacked a lot of content that would otherwise make it more…accurate. For example, there were no Hispanic people featured and there is a long history of native Spanish speakers living in Detroit. Also, many of the African-American characters seemed to be parodies of themselves, caricatures even. This was part of the controversy that many viewers felt upon watching the film.

I agree that the directors missed the mark on many story lines that exist in and define Detroit. Perhaps they even perpetuated Detroits demarcated name by portraying it as a failed city. At the same time, I don’t feel personally critical  because I thought the documentary was a tightly knit and well worth my time simply because it was  a true piece of visual art.

Just before watching, I listened in on the first half of the ‘Detropia Panel’ in Angell Hall, hosted by Semester in Detroit. I left feeling the general consensus was that native Detroiters felt offended by the portrayal of the city whereas outsiders felt curious about the strife, or positively moved by the story line. Questions were raised about who this film was intended for and if the location of its screening altered its message in any way. One of the strongest criticisms was that the film ignored community organizations, non-profits, and other group efforts to revitalize the city that are alive, inspired, and current. This defiant voice was carried by students who participated in active internships as part of Semester in Detroit last year.

One of these grassroots orgs, for example, is a group of six U of M alums who graduated last spring and moved downtown to form a small company called Wedge Detroit. On Saturday September 22, they group broke a world record by hosting a four mile long hopscotch course as part of the Detroit Design Festival. The event saw huge success and celebrated the urban vitality that organizations are trying to re-inject into the city.

Ellen Rutt, TJ, Ajooni Sethi, James, Dylan Box, Laura Willming, Marissa, and Flaco at Hopscotch Detroit.

Get inspired and check out info about Hopscotch Detroit. They are proof that  Detropia did, indeed, gloss over the part about young people organizing their energy for the good of the city. For more about the film, check out the Detropia website and Facebook page or to see an interview with directors Rachel Grading and Heidi Ewing, click here.

PREVIEW: Art Outta Town Art Prize


Art Outta Town is a program through Arts at Michigan that organizes trips for students to attend art happenings outside the city limits of Ann Arbor. This weekend, the destination is Grand Rapids for one of the country’s largest art competitions: ArtPrize. This ‘radically open competition and social experiment’ features 1517 artist installations throughout the city. Unlike the Ann Arbor Art Fair, this festival utilizes pre-established spaces, like store fronts and window displays, such that the entire town transforms into an gallery. The goal of the giant display is to create both ‘harmony and tension among disciplines and between mediums.’ The grand prize for the winning artists is a large some of cash money. Finalists are determined both by a jury and by popular vote, which you can do via texting, so be sure to remember your favorites!

If you do find yourself at ArtPrize this weekend, there are a few important names and places to remember. The Prison Creative Arts Project is featuring three artists who are no longer incarcerated and are competitive members of the festival. On Saturday, September 29th there will be a meet n’ greet with the artists at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (2 West Fulton). At 2:30 pm, all are welcome to join the PCAP Art Walk to the Department of Corrections where their work is displayed. This is an incredibly celebratory moment for both PCAP and the artists who have submitted work. Their names, images of their pieces, and codes for the popular vote are as follows, so be sure to send a text!

Brian Wagner, ‘Grist Mill at Sedona Arizona’ 52712:

Clifford Wade, ‘Ostracized’ 52624:

Fernando DeLezica, ‘Forethought’ 52487:

Image not featured

Unfortunately it is too late to sign up for this week’s Art Outta Town. Luckily, however, ArtPrize runs until October 7th so you have a chance to see  it on your own. Follow the link here if you are interested in other Art Outta Town escapades, including next week’s Dlectricity. Click here to sign up! See you at ArtPrize!

REVIEW: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

With his hair piled atop his head, an unkempt beard, and 12 other band members, Alex Ebert bounded on stage; his hands drew unknown figures in the air as the drum beat for “40 Day Dream” reverberated off the walls of Royal Oak Music Theatre. The whole band then launched into the heart of the song with such inexorable thirst for music, the entire audience was dancing whether they were aware of it or not. The band, even recorded, makes clear what audience they aim to speak to. But on stage, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros made clear that Tuesday night was for the dreamers and the lovers.

After their first four songs knocked down the majority of their hits (“40 Day Dream,” “Man on Fire,” “Jangling,” and “That’s What’s Up”), ESM0s quickly mellowed. The feeling of a festival or circus didn’t necessarily leave the venue; rather it was suppressed for a few songs until “I Don’t Wanna Pray.” The Magnetic Zeros consisted of a sprawling 13 members, led by Ebert and Castrinos, and featured a wide array of instruments from accordion to trumpet to upright bass. Playing unmistakably buoyant music full of hopeful messages (as well as transcendentalist images), it seemed hard for the band members not to have a blast on stage – Ebert admitted, “I want to…but I have to be a rock star. I can’t smile.”

What seemed most impressive on Ebert’s part was his interaction with the audience. Whether he was dancing or bouncing or singing, he made an effort to connect with those in the front of the crowd by holding hands, hugging, and during “Home,” offering the microphone to those who had something to say. Whatever physical or social barrier there was between audience and band quickly melted away so that we were less spectators than a bunch of people enjoying love-filled songs.

Perhaps the band received such positive energy because the opener, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, failed to deliver anything more creative than lyrics such as, “Satan, Satan, Satan/Satan, Satan, Satan.” Their driving bass line and high-pitched synths proved less than impressive after several songs obeyed the same form. Plus, for an audience expecting fun folk-rock, we struggled to warm up to a heavy electronic-based indie band.

Thankfully, the hippie gypsy-crew of the Magnetic Zeros saved the night by reminding us of the pure joy of music. Ask anyone – the old man sitting next to me who claimed he loved Edward Sharpe and Pitbull, the countless men sporting wild beards, or the couple who ballroom-danced the whole night – if they could stop themselves from singing, dancing, or smiling throughout the two-hour show. I’ll bet their response will be something in the vein of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ lyrics: “Only one desire/that’s left in me/I want the whole damn world/to come dance with me.”

PREVIEW: Theo Katzman opens for Vienna Teng at The Ark


Saturday September 29, 2012

Doors at 7:30, music at 8:00 pm

U of M School of Music alum and popular Ann Arbor singer-song writer Theo Katzman returns from his new home in New York City to open a show for Vienna Teng this Saturday at The Ark. The last time he performed in Ann Arbor was in August for the Sonic Lunch summer series which featured monthly musical performances in Liberty Square. On saturday he will be performing with Ann Arbor locals and School of Music student Joe Dart on bass and Julian Allen on drums.

About this weekend’s show, Theo Katzman said, “I love Ann Arbor and I love The Ark. It’s one of the only places where you can count on people to really listen. Ann Arbor has become a second home to me — I feel like its where I’m from.” And about starting off the show, “I’m honored to be opening for Vienna Teng. She’s an inspiring person.”

I say with confidence that Theo Katzman is one of my favorite musicians I’ve heard in the past….years. The last time I memorized an entire album was probably ‘NOW 4’ which I purchased circa 2000 and listened to devotedly. I’ve been playing Theo’s latest cd in my car on repeat all summer long and have all the songs memorized. Embarrassing? I’m not sure.

Here are some videos of songs from his album  Romance Without FinanceBrooklyn and and acoustic version of Every Few Days.Video work is done by the very creative  School of Art and Design alum Christine Hucal. I like dancing to the music she mixes in her videos in my free time. Some of my favorites include Crazy Secret Things and $itting at the Gan$ter Table. Check ’em out!

Julian Allen, Theo Katzman, and Joe Dart at Top of The Park 2011

PREVIEW: Ingrid Michaelson concert

World-renown singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson will be in Ann Arbor performing at the Power Center this weekend. Recently having released her latest album “Human Again,” she has several hit singles as well as multiple albums, including “Be Ok” and “Girls and Boys.” Her songs have also appeared in many movies and TV shows. Enormously popular for her indie-pop style and original lyrics, she has reaped the rewards as a successful poet and singer.

Her concert will take place September 30th at 7:30pm, doors open at 7pm. I have a few friends who go to see her last spring when she came to Pontiac, and they said she was absolutely stunning. Tickets still available online so get yours soon!!