REVIEW: Sa re ga ma pella

Sa re ga ma pella by Maize Mirchi featured 8 songs, an intermission with Indian snacks, a dance performance by Michigan Taal and a really really excited audience.

The acapella singers did a good job harmonizing and it was nice to know some songs were independently set up by students. The introductions of the new members between songs was one of my favorite parts. The introductions were short, sweet and really funny. We got to know a lot about the companionship shared between the members of Maize Mirchi. The audience consisted of parents and friends of the performers and they were really engaged with the performances and cheering their loved ones on.

A point I would like to highlight is the cultural fusion of this group. They are an acapella group with a touch of Indian culture. I would say their group shows a kaleidoscope of Indian American culture. Less than half of the songs were in an Indian language and some of these were half English half Hindi. The western Indian mix was well carried by the performers. Their coordination really hit the sweet spot!

The soloists showed a very authentic image of Indian American culture and by the excitement of the audience it was obvious their supporters liked it. I think the song selection could have been improved to show more diversity but it was an entertaining show regardless.

The performance after the intermission by Michigan Taal was short and sweet. The size of the stage was very small but they did not let it hinder them. They had an exciting diversity of dances and their energy was infectious.

Being at the acapella concert was like being at an intimate event for family and friends where everyone knew each other and supported performers.

If you like Indian American culture and acapella then Sa Re Ga Ma pella can’t hit it more on the head than anything else!

REVIEW: 58 Greene Presents: Greenie Night Live


While several other a cappella groups performed last weekend, 58 Greene was the only one that mattered.

EnCore performing.

Now I guess I might be a little biased given I know and would die for Teddi Reynolds, one of the members of the group, but by the audience’s hoots and hollers throught the night I think it can be said they were also objectively good. Paired with two fabulous dancing groups (EnCore and FunKtion), the performance was smooth and stylish and properly varied. The song selections were a bit conservative, tending towards the classic, softer side, but that was nice. Flashy, chorerography-heavy performance is clearly not their style. In most of their songs they stand in a group, moving rhythmically, but not dancing. Instead they prefer to let their lyrical power enthrall the crowd. Not exactly reminscent of Pitch Perfect, but that is an unreasonable expectation for groups of all styles.

My only real critique of the performance is the lack of understanding some of the members have about their vocal range. While Scott McMillan’s performance of “Slow Dancing in the Dark” was wonderfully sweet and rich in tone, he had trouble reaching some of the high notes. I would have loved to hear him perform the song with pitch adjustments to better fit his range, or another song entirely. A few others had this problem in some spots, particularly with the higher pitches. While it is great to showcase one’s range, it is more important to focus on emphasizing the tones that come naturally. I could not begin to estimate the number of men I’ve heard singing in a falsetto voice when they definitely should not.

I was supremely impressed with the variety of voices within the group, from Danny Kim’s soft, soft high tones to Sarah Kleppe’s perfect mixing with Desirae Nelson’s voice in their “No Peace” duet. Teddi Reynolds and Rikvah Levine both gave me the shivers with their soulful selections. There were voices deep and high, singing like the soft wind and like the crashing sea. 58 Greene must have an awfully harsh audition process, given how talented their members are. Despite this assumption, for a flash of a second at the end I had a vision of joining the group myself. Then I remembered my non-speaking role in the eighth grade production of Mulan (I was the cricket) and promptly forgot this dream.

If you are more talented than I in the vocal arts, do try your hand at auditioning for the group. They are having winter auditions for Bass and Tenor parts on January 10th, 6-10pm in room 1405 of East Quad. Break a leg!

REVIEW: The Ark Open Stage (Open Mic)

The only way to go to an open mic is to go open-minded. What I immediately liked about the Ark was that it had a much more open atmosphere than more traditional open mic venues like coffee shops.

Bradley playing “Strange”

The emcee for the night drew 15 names out of a star-covered bucket and the first performer, Bradley, came to the stage. Dressed like any other run-of-the-mill Ann Arbor hipster, he explained that he hadn’t expected to play. Then he belted out two incredibly well-crafted songs on guitar, harmonica, and piano that sounded polished enough to be heard on the radio.

Not everyone who came to the stage was polished, but they didn’t have to be. A guitarist named Max belted out his original “Snow in July” that sounded great as a raw, unfinished sound.

One of the pairs of the night, Remington Taylor, performed using only the piano as an accompaniment to their voices, and they were magnetic. Their songs of heartbreak and romance was in the vein of Once and Begin Again, but without an acoustic guitar.

Which brings me to the caveat about this event: come expecting to hear a lot of acoustic guitar and heartbreaking ballads. One song was title “Heart Shattered Like My Bones”–about a boy of course. The girl who announced did so with a “haha it’s dramatic I know I didn’t really mean it–but seriously that’s how I felt” vibe.

Even though each performer only had eight minutes, seeing and hearing acoustic pieces again and again started to sound a bit repetitive.


open-stage-2Then a young strapping lad named Kellen Marceau took the stage and sang his original pieces “Your Boyfriend” and “What if We Broke Up and Zombies Came.” Think Zooey Deschanel writing a break up song except weirder–and funnier.

Overall, open stage is not a bad way to spend your night, especially when it’s raining outside and the cost of admission is only $2. If you’re going though, I recommend that you don’t play acoustic guitar.


REVIEW: Help! I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Turn Up!

Image Courtesy of

Last Saturday night in the MLB Auditorium 3, I knew I was in for a treat when I noticed the marathon of “Infomercials” playing on the wall. The Dicks and Janes, one of the 15 renowned U-M A Cappella groups, were promising a night of fun, diverse musical choices, and perhaps just a teensy bit of harmless daytime TV-bashing. While we waited for the singing extravaganza to begin, the audience was subjected to awful real life horrors that I wish did not exist (I urge you to explore these hilarious videos, perhaps in private, so no one can make fun of you over your shoulder):

What a creative way to lift students’ finals week spirits!

But wait, there’s more…

If you come to the Dicks and Janes concert within the next 30 minutes, we’ll throw in two free performances featuring Sha Bop Shoppe A Cappella and Groove.  The Sha Bop Shoppe is an after-school all-girls ensemble at Pioneer High School. They specialize in performing popular songs, such as Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal” which was hauntingly beautiful, as well as “Until the Morning” by Thievery Corporation, which they stopped mid-way through to “speed up a bit” and remix it with their own spunk and soul. If it isn’t impressive enough that they are already dipping their feet in a university venue, add in the fact that they are also sensational choreographers, which means that they create their own choreography movements to flow in sync with their singing. The Sha Bop Shoppe girls definitely will have a powerful vocal presence in a few years in whichever university they choose to attend, so hold on to your boots!

But…the creme de la creme, the reason we were all suffering through the commercials for, was to see…the Dicks and Janes! The minute that they ran on stage and began to sing, the room came alive. Throughout the show, the setlist alternated from hit songs of 2014 (Reflections, Clarity, Say Something, and Latch) to old classics (Happiness is a Warm Gun, Proud Mary, Don’t Mean a Thing). The variety showcased not only the collective group’s range in interest and amazing ability to creatively interpret the pieces (each of the songs are arranged by a Dick or Jane him/herself), but also displayed each individual soloist’s remarkable skills and talents.

I was especially impressed by the energy created in “Clarity.” Originally a high-speed electronic dance song, I was curious how the Dicks and Janes (DJ’s) could recreate that sound. But somehow they did! I’m not a singer myself, so I’m not sure how they accomplished the feat, but they did it stunningly. The crisp “kssss” of every accelerating percussive beat, the siren-like croon of the synthesizer, the pulsing bass…all imitated the feel of “Clarity,” with the voice of DJ member Hannah Sparrow at the center. Perhaps, the DJ’s were a little too good at the house music vibe, for sometimes they turned up the volume a little too much and I could barely hear Hannah. The DJ’s know how to make the MLB Auditorium into a good time, even if they can’t turn up!

Shine the spotlight on Austin Montgomery, another DJ member, and prepare to be amazed. He soloed twice, as he is the token falsetto of the group. He sung his soul out in “Latch,” with perhaps even more energy than Sam Smith himself. And he was able to take Helena Ratte’s playful arrangement of “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” and morph it into a 50’s barber shop sound.

Because I’ve never sung A Cappella, I look on with awe at how the DJ’s start with a silent stage and slowly build on each other with only their voices. They’re like an orchestra, I guess, something I’m more familiar with. But yet, because they are standing and have hands free (no bows or horns to hold), there is a special energy that is present. I literally got shivers when soloist Lyndsey Burke belted out Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and felt twinges in my heart just from the dramatic facial expressions shown in “Say Something.” I could feel every note, like the DJ’s were handing each one to me. Here you are, have another! their words seemed to say. The DJ’s gave me something that night that is special to a cappella singing. The sound of humanity, streaming through the voice to the ear. No phones, no instruments, no car horns to interrupt the experience; just good ole’ human to human connection. And maybe with a quick infomercial or two.

Call 1-800 999-2288 to get your DJ singer absolutely free! And while you wait, watch this hilarious infomercial video, Save a Suffering Freshman, that the Dicks and Janes made themselves!




PREVIEW: Fusion of Cultures

Fusion of Cultures


Fusion of Cultures

When: Saturday, December 6th

Where: Michigan Union Ballroom

Cost: FREE

Fusion of Cultures is an event where many multi-ethnic groups on campus come together and showcase different aspects of their culture.

What kinds of things will be there? Dancing, Singing, Theater, and of course FREE FOOD from around the world.

Brought to you this year by:
The African Students Association(ASA), The Arab Students Association (ASA), The Persian Students Association (PSA), The Pakistani Students Association (PSA), Michigan Pakistanis (MPak) and The Michigan Latino Assembly (MLA)!!!!!

The link to the Facebook event is HERE.

PREVIEW: University of Michigan Women’s Glee Club Fall Concert

Who: The University of Michigan Women’s Glee Club and Midnight Blue

What: Fall Concert: Celebrating Sisterhood, Song, and Strength

When: Saturday, November 8 at 8:00pm

Where: Hill Auditorium

Why: Why? Because the Women’s Glee Club is a fantastic group of talented women. Their fall concert is sure to be an impressive mix of styles and sounds: something for everyone who wants to support this group. I am excited to hear what they have in store on Saturday.

How: This event is on this week’s Passport to the Arts, so be sure to pick one up for a free ticket if you can. If not, student tickets are only $5 and available at the door.