My Concentrate story on 5 ‘hidden gem’ restaurants in Washtenaw County


Ron’s Roadside Bar-B-Q, out on Pontiac Trail, is out of the way, but worth the trip! (Photo by Jenn McKee)

The Ann Arbor area has a vibrant restaurant culture and, perhaps not surprisingly, a zealous foodie community to match. Yet we often hear the same old standbys touted in local conversations and in media lists of the area’s best eats.

With that in mind, I set out to explore some local eateries that you’ve probably driven or walked past without noticing. These places might be low on atmosphere – nearly every one features a chalkboard menu, a handful of tables, and a small dining area – but they’re big on flavorful, distinctive food. READ THE REST HERE


REVIEW (Pulp): Darlingside at The Ark’s Fall Fundraiser

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Darlingside performing at The Ark’s Fall Fundraiser on September 17, 2017. (Photo by Andy Rogers)

In order to play at The Ark’s nearly sold-out fall fundraiser on Sunday night, Darlingside had to skedaddle out of Kansas City after a show on Saturday night. The Boston-based quartet packed into a minivan with its sound engineer and drove through much of the night.

This hadn’t been the original plan, but the sudden appearance of a 200-mile-wide storm system meant that Darlingside’s flights, scheduled several months earlier, weren’t going to happen. “So we arrived in Ann Arbor this morning, badly in need of a shower,” confessed cellist/guitarist Harris Paseltiner.

The innovative folk foursome surely wanted to honor their commitment, but there may have been a little something extra pushing them to go the extra mile(s). For earlier in the band’s career, when Darlingside shows consistently drew just a small handful of people, the quartet arrived at The Ark for the first time and found about a hundred people willing to listen to its music and give the group a chance.

That local affection for the band has only grown over time. “Things are going well for us elsewhere,” said mandolinist/violinist Auyon Mukharji, “but not as well as in Ann Arbor.” READ THE REST HERE

REVIEW: Theatre Nova’s ‘The Revolutionists’ conquer all


K Edmonds and Melissa Beckwith in Theatre Nova’s production of Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists.” (Photo by Jee-Hak Pinsoneault Photography)

“I’m here for a re-write,” Marie Antoinette tells feminist playwright Olympe de Gouges in Lauren Gunderson’s “The Revolutionists,” now playing at Theatre Nova.

But the prevailing edit achieved by the play itself is that France’s longstanding motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” gets tweaked so that the final word becomes “sororité.”

For sisterhood is precisely what develops when four very different, strong, smart, opinionated women (whose paths would have probably never crossed in real life) spend time talking things out in de Gouges’ study during the bloodiest years of the French Revolution. Continue reading

My Michigan Alumni Association newsletter story about the first women in the Michigan Marching Band

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 7.44.47 AM.pngIn the fall of 1972, the ranks of the Michigan Marching Band (MMB) significantly changed just after the passage that summer of Title IX. Twelve women got their first opportunity to don an MMB uniform and join their male counterparts on the field, with instruments, flags, and batons firmly in hand. But what should have been a shining moment for these new female members was undercut by having to perform “The Stripper” during their first halftime show in the Big House. What’s more, the formation for the song was a woman’s hemline, rising higher and higher.

“It just felt like such poor taste,” remembers Lynn Hansen, ’75, MA’77, who played tenor sax and was the section leader in the MMB that year. “I remember most of us women not feeling very swell about that. But there was this thinking, ‘Don’t make waves. We’ve got to make this work. We can’t be whiners.’”

U-M had officially struck down the MMB’s male-only policy a year earlier in 1971. However, nearly all Big Ten marching bands held firm to their no-female tradition until Title IX, passed 45 years ago this summer, banned sexual discrimination in federally funded education. READ THE REST HERE

My Pulp preview of Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s ‘Seussical, the Musical’

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Rob Roy and Eric VanWasshnova in Ann Arbor Civic Theatre’s “Seussical, the Musical.” (Photo by Lisa Gavan/Gavan Photo)

The fanciful world of Dr. Seuss will come to life on the Mendelssohn Theater stage this weekend when Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents Seussical, the Musical

“We were looking for a family fare kind of show,” said director Denyse Clayton. “Most every show for families is a ‘feel good’ show, but in the particular political climate we’re living in now, I think that to buy a ticket and go someplace magical to escape it all for a while feels particularly good.”

Seussical, with music, lyrics, and a book by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, made its Broadway debut in 2000. Combining characters and situations from a number of different Seuss tales, the show’s framing story involves a sweet-natured elephant named Horton (of Hears a Who fame), who struggles to protect not just an invisible, fractious population of Whos living on a speck of dust, but also a nearly-ready-to-hatch egg that’s carelessly thrust upon him by Mayzie. Meanwhile, Gertrude McFuzz pines for Horton, and a Who named Jojo, the mayor’s son, has unbridled, imaginative “thinks” that cause disruptions in his school and in his family. READ THE REST HERE

My latest Visit Ann Arbor! blog post, highlighting community and cultural events (September)

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 9.55.48 PM.pngSeptember marks the start of fall, when school resumes, huge crowds pack Michigan Stadium on Saturdays, temperatures start to get cooler, and cultural events kick into high gear in Washtenaw County. While this is partly because students are back in town, it’s also because most arts organizations launch a brand new season of offerings in the fall. So whether theater and classical music are your thing, or air shows and motorcycles, you can find them all here this month. READ THE REST HERE