Ann Arbor street photographer Jack Kenny (who photographs AA people one day a week and who has traveled to Cuba about 50 times and written a book about the country, he tells us) is photographing Abigail Stauffer, musician/singer/songwriter who has appeared at The Ark (and other venues). After a few poses, Abigail jumps onto her bike and pedals away.
Billboard magazine published a day-in-the-life column that followed Theo Katzman, a former member of the popular Ann Arbor band My Dear Disco, during his current tour with Darren Criss: “Katzman is joined by the majority of Vulfpeck, his instrumental group formed in 2011 after the members met in a 19th-century German literature class at the University of Michigan. After they filled out with more members of the Michigan music scene, the group began breakneck rehearsals to get ready for the tour, figuring out how to integrate Criss’ back catalog of music in with new tracks he’d be testing on the road.” Criss and Katzman will be playing at the June 13 Sonic Lunch concert in Ann Arbor. [...
This Wednesday Ann Arbor is in for a rare treat when Gordon Lightfoot – the fair-haired troubadour from north of the border whose repertoire includes such classics as “Early Mornin’ Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – makes his first local appearance in more than nine years, performing at the Michigan Theater.
For his part, the 72-year-old singer-songwriter is glad to be returning. “I’m looking forward to it,” he says via telephone from his home in Toronto. “I’ve always gotten good vibes from Ann Arbor.”
Lightfoot first brought his guitar to town almost exactly 45 years ago, to play a three-night stint at a funky Episcopalian coffee house located in a former print shop at 330 Maynard Street. Today the unprepossessing brick building is home to Madras Masala, purveyor of exotic Indian delicacies; but in the ’60s it was Canterbury House, purveyor of coffee, donuts, and a hip spirituality that meshed nicely with the countercultural ethos of the day.
Canterbury House is actually a generic name used by many Episcopal student ministries at colleges across the nation. Ann Arbor’s incarnation was established in the mid-1940s and by the ’60s had become an important feature of the city’s increasingly progressive landscape. It began offering folk and blues music in 1965 as an experiment in reaching youth through the arts. Though mostly local performers were featured, the new program proved phenomenally successful, and the next year it was moved to a bigger location to bring in nationally-known acts.
First to appear at the extensively remodeled Maynard Street venue was the California-born “one-man folk festival,” Michael Cooney – “brandishing guitar, kazoo, banjo, autoharp, microphone, guitar strap, and truck,” according to the ad – who played three sold-out nights in early September.
Next up was a singer-songwriter from Ontario named Gordon Lightfoot, whose first album – the appropriately (if a bit over-exuberantly) titled “Lightfoot!” – had recently been released by United Artists. Although the young Canadian himself wasn’t that well-known in the states, his songs were. Marty Robbins took Lightfoot’s “Ribbon of Darkness” to the top of the country charts in 1965, and Peter, Paul and Mary made a Top 40 hit out of “For Lovin’ Me” that same year.
“If I had not gotten my songs recorded by some other artists very early on,” says Lightfoot, “I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. It was my songwriting, actually, that got me started.”
Which according to Herb David, proprietor of the famous guitar studio that bears his name, made Lightfoot very similar to another famous troubadour of that era, Bob Dylan.
If you’re in downtown Ann Arbor around noon on Thursdays, there’s a good chance you’ll at least stroll by Liberty Plaza for Sonic Lunch, a free summer concert series featuring local musicians.
This week, Misty Lyn & The Big Beautiful – including Jim Roll on bass, Matt Jones on drums, Carol Gray on fiddle and tambourine, and Ryan Gimpert on guitar – filled the plaza with a soulful, folk-rock sound.
But part of the show for these lunchtime events is always the crowd itself. The Chronicle was there taking photos, and spotted many familiar faces – how many people do you know, too? We’ve supplied fake quotes in some of the captions to help with the challenge.
Cracked slab segue alert: Readers who attended the Sonic Lunch on Thursday will probably have arrived there by foot, more specifically by walking along a sidewalk. Sidewalks are one focus of a very short survey being conducted by the city of Ann Arbor. Take it here: Sidewalk survey.
The vibrant sounds of the 360-member University of Michigan Marching Band were bolstered Saturday at Michigan Stadium by the Alumni Marching Band, which drew 350 former marchers from around the country to the homecoming game against the University of Iowa. Enjoying the bands is more than just a musical sensation – it’s also a visual feast. Here are some of the moments, patterns and colors of the day from the camera of local freelance journalist Lynn Monson.
A strange and fortuitous connection exists between the local musician Dick Siegel, myself, and The Ann Arbor Chronicle. Last May, I wrote a tribute to Ken King of Frog Holler Farm, who passed away after battling a brain tumor. I knew that Dick had played music with Ken, and I thought he might have some insightful words for the tribute.
Just before finishing that article, I ran into Dick at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market, and one of his quotes completed the piece for me. The column ended:
Dick Siegel had this final thought about the death of his long time friend, Ken King.
“He just took one foot off the earth… just now.”
Dick told me that after reading the column in The Chronicle, and considering further what Ken meant to him, he wrote a song about Ken that he then performed at Ken’s memorial service. It is a slow, deeply moving ballad that pays tribute to an extraordinary man, captivating and also hopeful. Expanding on the imagery quoted in the memorial article, the song is called ”The Man Who Fell Into The Sky.”
Dick himself is no less extraordinary. This internationally recognized singer/songwriter and performer is playing at The Ark on Saturday, Jan. 9 as Dick Siegel and the Brandos. This is the latest partnering for Dick – playing with Brian Delaney and Dave Roof – and perhaps one of the ensembles most likely to showcase his immense talent. The three men have also been spending time in the studio, with a new album expected this summer – the tribute to Ken will be on that album.
I had the opportunity to talk with Dick recently at his home on Ann Arbor’s near northwest side. In a wide-ranging interview, we touched on everything from the process of writing his tribute, to Ken, to his childhood growing up in New Jersey, and how his upbringing instilled in him a strong sense of community.