PREVIEW: Ann Arbor Folk Fest

This Friday, January 31st, The Ark is hosting its 43rd annual folk fest at Hill Auditorium. The concert lineup on Friday includes artists Elliott BROOD, Rainbow Girls, Cedric Burnside, The Lone Bellow, Ingrid Michaelson, and Calexico and Iron & Wine. On both Friday and Saturday, Hill will be filled with folk music from 6:30pm onward, showcasing up and coming talent as well as established artists in the folk scene. The concert is an annual fundraiser for the Ark, and is always a popular concert:)

For More Information Visit:

Tickets can be purchased online, at the Michigan Union Ticket Office, and The Ark

REVIEW: Kittel & Co.

I found myself back at the Ark Sunday night, listening to the five piece band that goes by the name of Kittel & Co. Combining elements of classical, jazz, celtic, and bluegrass music, the group played music spanning from Bach to Charlie Chaplin, adding new arrangements and spin to these pieces. They also played many new compositions which can be found on the band’s album “Whorls.”


The show featured Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Josh Pinkham on mandolin, Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, Quinn Bachand on guitar and Simon Chrisman on hammer-dulcimer. I had never seen this combination before, let alone seen a hammer-dulcimer in concert, and I was blown away by the skill and communication shared between all of the players. 


Kittel & Co. define themselves as a contemporary string band who progressively fuse together elements of folk, classical, Celtic, bluegrass, and jazz. Their first album “Whorls” was released in 2018, and the track “Chrysalis” composed by Kittel, was nominated for a Grammy that year. 


Starting off with a set of tunes called the Boxing Reels, the band brought an exciting energy to the stage. The first reel started with the mandolin with the fiddle joining in on the second time around to build up for the much faster second reel. The two tunes flowed effortlessly into each other, carefully building excitement and interest for the audience. 


Kittel looked comfortable on the stage of the Ark, having played there many times before. As a U of M grad, his roots tie back to Michigan, and the venue was packed with friends, family and familiar faces. A picture of Kittel hangs on the Ark wall in direct eyeline with the stage which he remarked was the best marketing he could have ever asked for:) He had many stories about their experiences at the Grammys (including a run-in with Cardi B), and really connected with the audience. 


As a fiddle player myself, I find Kittel’s tunes catchy and distinct. He is a technical player with lots of control, but sounds free on stage. I am amazed by how he is able to fuse genres and create his own new identity through his compositions. I am excited for what he will compose next and for what’s to come with Kittel & Co. 


Band Website:


Purchase Whorls:


Artist Spotify:

REVIEW: Westbound Situation Album Release

This past monday, the Ark stage was brought to life by a new, young chambergrass group called Westbound Situation. The quartet, comprised of Grant Flick on violin, viola, mandolin, and nyckelharpa (ooooh), Matt Davis on banjo, Zach Brown on cello and Jacob Warren on bass, released their first album titled “Pilot.” The eleven track album features ten new compositions and one cover, a jazz big band piece titled “Kogi.”

The band laid down the album for the first half of the show, starting with “Griffin,” one of Grant Flick’s compositions. I found myself grooving with the chops and I still have the opening melody stuck in my head (it also probably does not help that I have not been able to stop listening to this album since Monday). Their tunes were charming but full of layers that combined to create a full sound. There was not too much chatting between numbers, but Zach did elaborate on the story behind “Upstairs Coffee,” a tune inspired by poor insulation, buckets and friendship;) 

For the second half, the band played some new tunes they had recently worked up, and Grant brought out the nyckelharpa which he described as, “a viola… only not.” They also invited Kristen Engebretson, singer, to join them for a number on stage. Her voice was sultry and warm and balanced well with the band. After a standing ovation, the group came out for an encore. They chose “Nocturne,” one of the only slower tracks on the album. The contrast from the upbeat tunes beforehand made the concert that much more intimate and was a sweet send off.

Westbound charmed the audience with their natural charisma and stage presence. They are a group that truly enjoys themselves when they play. It was almost like they were in their own musical world, inviting us in for an hour or two to share the experience with them. The crowd, huddled into the middle of the seating area to get the best view of all four musicians, was very involved, cheering at tune changes and impressive improv (which there was a lot of!!!) It truly seemed like they were just friends making music for the fun of it, and as an audience member, I enjoyed watching them interact and perform. 


Westbound’s album is released and available for purchase on bandcamp as well as streamable on spotify.

Links are below:


Artist Website:

Artist Spotify:

Purchase Album:

PREVIEW: Westbound Situation Album Release @ the Ark

This Monday, November 4th, Westbound Situation will be releasing their debut album titled “Pilot” at the Ark. The group defines themselves as a “chambergrass” ensemble, blending jazz, classical, bluegrass and other folk music. The quartet, comprised of Grant Flick, fiddle, Matt Davis, banjo, Zach Brown, cello, and Jacob Warren, bass, mixes composition and improvisation seamlessly into their entirely memorized arrangements. Their music spans multiple genres and is fun to listen to especially since the group is mainly composed of current UofM students and alums. Whether it is new compositions or arrangements of existing tunes, Westbound has a special way of drawing the audience into the music, and I am excited to hear their new work. 



Nov 04, 8:00 PM

The Ark, 316 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA

Tickets are 15$.