Review: The Ulysses Project

Kirsten Carey, free jazz guitarist and composer studying at the Michigan School of Music, has been in the throes of writing, recording, and releasing The Ulysses Project for two years, while most of us pea-brained undergrads hardly have the attention span to finish a semester long course. Samuel Beckett 101? No, really, no, no thank you. Saturday night, behind the charming façade of the Victorian Kerrytown Concert House, Kirsten’s album release for this scandalizing musical suite began to unravel the modernist masterpiece, Ulysses, casting it in a new, yet equally visceral light. She gave James Joyce’s characters the opportunity to croon about their sad, awkward, and mostly hilarious grappling with life in the underbelly of Dublin, and us an exercise in commiseration, empathy, and laughing at the expense of others.

It was a concert meets theater piece meets story-time hybrid whose effect was intense, vulnerable, and intimate to an extent that, if we were less human, could have been uncomfortable. So many moments of the performance evoked the embarrassing aunt in every family who is never afraid to blubber about her dirty laundry over the Christmas ham– the very reason you love her more than everyone else. In the stream and scream of consciousness tone of James Joyce, Kirsten and her costumed band [featuring Ben Willis (bass), Jonathan Taylor (drums), Derek Worthington (trumpet), Pat Booth (saxophone)] and minimalist theatrical troop of two, [Corey Smith (narration), and Glenn Healy] took you on a manic journey of eerie beauty and melody (oh yeah, shout out to Dedalus), toe-tappin and shoulder twitching jams (wooo baby, Musksweat, an earworm waiting to wiggle its way into your canal), and unbridled fits of god knows what (alright, Beware of Gerryowen, this one’s for you, you attention craving chorus of the insane asylum.)

Let me digress for a minute. Eric Schweizer’s guest appearance solo on baritone sax in Gerryowen startled me, and my ears are conditioned by the likes of John Zorn and Gogol Bordello. This tune should have come with a warning for people over the age of sixty and under the age of four who are not fully in control of their… facilities. The first note of his solo was deafening with all the timbral qualities of the loudest foghorn you have ever heard. It was like tectonic plates shifting, or the creaking of the Titanic as its sinking, or, with all respect to Joyce at his own tribute party, Melville’s Moby Dick pissed as hell as he is harpooned for the last time. Though Gerryowen was unique in the likelihood of it catalyzing PTSD, intense moments like these were omnipresent.

From Corey’s kooky and desperate, tentatively romantic and frantically erotic, (in all the wrong ways,) reading of a love letter to “Mr. Flower” which sent the audience into rolling fits of giggles, to Kirsten’s mesmerizing singing in “O” that closed the suite, it was an enchanting balls to the wall performance throughout. Kirsten’s voice is beautiful, and has all the inflections of a homespun lullaby and raw straining emotion that pulls at the heart strings in the unairbrushed ways that a bel canto style cannot. I think my takeaway from this memorable show (I will admit to tearing up at the end of “O”, excuse my lack of professionalism) can best be summed up by a rogue audience member who, after the applause, offered from the back of the room “you know, you really know how to make people feel things.” Kirsten, I hope you read this someday and let these words hug you, because well, I want to thank you for bringing The Ulysses Project into the world, and my iTunes library.

If you are a Joyce nut that happens to also be a free jazz connoisseur, or like great music (and people almost always fall into one of the two categories) I must recommend you checking out her website and investing an album ($10) for yourself.

REVIEW: Rachel Mazer

Rachel Mazer

A few weeks ago, U of M School of Music Jazz singer/saxophone player extraordinaire Rachel Mazer performed her very own songs at the Canterbury House on 721 East Huron Street.With the accompaniment of a medley of musicians from the School of Music as well as several alums, Rachel amazed the intimate audience with her incredibly luscious voice. As classic as Billie Holiday and as fresh as Beyoncé, Rachel delivered five original songs and one inspired by the greats. In fact, after her performance I asked her what her vision had been for her show and she said something along the lines of  “to make jazz approachable, easy, and hip to our generation.” The possibility of adding  Jazz overtones to some Beyoncé covers is one of the projects she has up her sleeve- one day, after hopefully recording her own work first. I have heard Rachel play saxophone before, but until her show I had never had the pleasure of hearing her belt it out on stage.  It was a treat for all who were present, and I will definitely be waiting for her Beyoncé remixes to come out on vinyl.

PREVIEW: Last Word of Mouth StorySLAM of the Year!: Liberation



Thursday, April 4th 2013


Doors at 8:00 pm, stories at 8:30

Word of Mouth is back for our final event of 2013. Never been to our slams before? Audience members tell five-minute stories from their lives related to a theme. The friendly competition includes appetizers and live music.

In collaboration with Hillel, this month focuses on stories of Liberation. In light of the recent Passover holiday, which recognizes a historic Liberation, we’ve chosen the theme. But it does not have to pertain to history, Judaism, or religion at all. Perhaps the theme is pertinent because graduation is on the horizon, or summer vacation.

If you have stories of release, renewal, letting go, or breaking free, come share them at our slam!

You should notice that we’ve moved! If you’re used to seeing us at Work Gallery on State Street, don’t fret. We are trying a new space. The UM Hillel is located just off campus. Click here for directions.

Can’t wait to see you there!

In the meantime, check us out online:




To get emails about more upcoming events and workshops or to join our planning crew, shoot us an email.

PREVIEW: UMMA’s Student Late Night

UMMA’s Student Late Night

On Thursday April 4th from 8-11 pm, the UMMA will host the annual Student Late Night. Since September, the UMMA Student Programming Advisory Council (SPAC) has been planning for this multi-media evening. The venue will be jam packed with activities, performances, and prizes.  WCBN Radio will be DJ-ing all night; live music  includes Music School senior Peter Felsman and friends who will accompany a performance by Cadance Dance Company.  The Ann Arbor Art Center will host an art-making activity. The SPAC has arranged a scavenger hunt throughout the museum, featuring pieces from the permanent collection. But there will also be ample opportunity to explore the visiting exhibits by El Anatsui, Florencia Pita F/P Mod, and Francis Alÿs. There will also be  a photo booth for you and your friends as well as free snacks and refreshments. The evening is partially  sponsored by Arts at Michigan and a number of local businesses and restaurants whose goods are up for prizes. Come get your UMMA gear, including buttons featuring images from the permanent collection, and so much more.

Bring your friends! In the meantime, check out the SPAC’s blog The Annex. See you there!



If you haven’t already heard of UM SOUP, I’m sorry to tell you that you are one step behind. The good news, however, is that now you know! And now that you are IN the know, you can attend of the most inspiring, student organized events in town.

Inspired by DETROIT SOUP, Junior PiTE student Izzy Morrison decided to arrange Ann Arbor’s very own UM SOUP. The way it works is this: all semester long, locals and students have been submitting proposals for community oriented projects that need funding. Those who attend the dinner enjoy a great evening and vote on the project proposal with the greatest potential.

Here is a blurb about the event that Izzy wrote for

“For $5, A2 residents and UM students can have a fun evening learning about local projects, eating a local meal, jamming to live music, and voting on their favorite community project! The event will take place March 23rd at 7pm at LIVE Ann Arbor. At the end of the night, the winner will receive collected funds. These grants support start-up community projects that might have no other means to get off the ground. All SOUP applicants have the opportunity to make connections and talk to potential supporters over dinner. There are no rules for proposals, except that they benefit the greater community.”

For a list of project proposals, click here. Some propose to address educational, health, and environmental prospects, while others focus on transportation, discrimination, or crisis aversion. Live With food donated from Zingerman’s, Crazy Wisdom, The People’s Food Co-op, and Izzy’s mom,  the dinner will surely be delectable. Live entertainment will include Music School student Gabirel Wilk’s Latin inspired band, Gabriel and the Keystones, and spoken word artist Carlina Duan. This is not a community event to be missed!

February 23rd, LIVE  Ann Arbor on 102 First St., 7pm, $5 tickets at the door. All are welcome.

Check out the Facebook event for more info. See you there!

PREVIEW: Word of Mouth StorySLAM: Before & After



Wednesday March 13th, 2013

The Gallery Project

Doors at 7:00 pm

Word of Mouth is back for our second event of 2013. Never been to our slams before? Audience members tell five-minute stories from their lives related to a theme. The friendly competition includes appetizers and live music courtesy of The Vail House Band.

In collaboration with The Ginsberg Center, this month’s theme focuses on stories of Before and After. Having recently returned from their spring break service trips, students will be full of stories of how their expectations, impressions, or understanding of the places and people they’ve encountered have changed from Before to After.

But the slam is not just for students who went on ASB trips! If you have stories of service, transformation, change, or times passing, come share your tales of Before and After with us!

You should notice that we’ve moved! If you’re used to seeing us at Work Gallery on State Street, don’t fret. We are trying a new space. The Gallery Project on 4th Street is a gorgeous, not-for-profit art house that features contemporary art from local creators. Click here for more info on the gallery and here for directions.

Can’t wait to see you there! In the meantime, check us out online:




To get emails about more upcoming events and workshops or to join our planning crew, shoot us an email.