My latest WEMU-FM 89.1 Art & Soul segment with Lisa Barry, and Nashbash’s Judy Banker

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 9.57.04 PM.pngThis week, “Art and Soul” is about the local performing arts scene.  89.1 WEMU’s Lisa Barry is joined by local writer and reviewer Jenn McKee and an organizer and performing from the upcoming Nashbash Music Festival in Ann Arbor, Judy Banker.

The 12th annual Nashbash Music Festival is coming up August 12th in Kerrytown in Ann Arbor.  There will be a lot of music and food and activities for the entire family.  The music is described as eclectic with a “tinge” of commercial Nashville sound with folk and alt-country music as well.  Banker says it focuses on the quality of songwriting.  The music festival is free, and there is an “afterbash party” that happens as well. LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE 8 MINUTE SEGMENT HERE


My Pulp preview of Theatre Nova’s Michigan Playwrights Festival

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.05.05 PM.png“Sometimes a play calls out for a staged reading,” said Carla Milarch, Theatre Nova’s founding artistic director.

This is precisely why the Ann Arbor-based company — which specializes in producing new work and is located in the Yellow Barn on Huron St. — is hosting its Michigan Playwrights Festival for a third year.

“We’ve configured it differently over the years,” said Milarch. “At first, we crammed all the plays into one big week. But we tend to find a lot of plays we really like and want to see read, so we decided to break it down into two installments. … We pick 10 plays and space the festival out so we have one week in the fall and one in the spring. This [July 25-29] will be the second installment of last year’s submissions.”

To gather scripts for consideration, Theatre Nova puts out a general call for plays by Michigan-based playwrights, but the company also reaches out to more established writers to see if they have a new or in-progress project that might benefit from a reading.

“We have a good blend of veteran playwrights and writers who may be new to playwriting,” said Milarch. READ THE REST HERE

My Concentrate story on how Ann Arbor locals use (and feel about) Nextdoor

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 9.00.01 PM.pngThe basic idea behind Nextdoor – a San Francisco-based, hyper-localized social network that made its U.S. debut in 2011 – inevitably seems like an ironic Digital Age joke. Once, people got so lost in their screens that they no longer got to know their neighbors, so they went online to meet and communicate with them …

Absurd as it may sound, it’s a pretty apt description of Nextdoor. And although the company releases little in the way of usage statistics, scores of neighborhoods in the Ann Arbor area have active Nextdoor communities, suggesting that the site is pretty popular here.

So has Nextdoor – with its daily rundown of ephemera like service provider recommendations, lost pet notices, and item giveaways (and requests) – altered locals’ sense of their neighborhoods and the people who live there? Has it cultivated harmony or discord between residents? READ THE REST HERE

My Destination Ann Arbor post about Saline Celtic Festival, happening July 13-14

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 4.43.01 PM.pngAs big as the Saline Celtic Festival has become – drawing as many as 4,500 people each year to this small Washtenaw County town (approximately 9,000 residents) – it started small.

Like, picnic small.

“(The Saline Celtic Festival) began when our sister city of Brecon, Wales … sent a delegation to visit Saline,” said Celtic Festival Executive Committee member Terri Murphy. “So it started as just a picnic in the park, with a tent, some fiddlers, and a couple of bagpipers.”

Now, however, as we head into the 23rd annual SCF (happening July 13-14, 2018), it’s hard to take in all that’s on offer. Celtic dance competitions and workshops; jousts on horseback; artist booths and demonstrations; Michigan craft beer and food vendors; live music (from Celtic rock and roll to fiddlers and pipers); culturally distinctive events like the haggis hurl, caber toss, sheep herding, and more; performances by Ann Arbor’s Ring of Steel Action Theatre and Stunt Troupe; and a kid’s area with craft opportunities, story time with Merida (from “Brave”), games, and activities.

Plus, there’s what every Celtic event seems to be begging for: water-dwelling mythical creatures. SCFs most famous (and original) one is called Millie the Mill Pond Monster – seemingly a distant relative of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster – but these days, Millie has some company with her in the Saline River. READ THE REST HERE