Fabulous Fiction Firsts #470 - All That Jazz

Spectacular debuts, heartbreaking stories and two unforgettable young heroines to cheer for.

Last Night at the Blue Angel * * * by Rebecca Rotert. 10 yr. old Sophia takes up her usual spot behind the curtain as she watches her mother Naomi Hill performs for the last time at Chicago's Blue Angel Jazz Club. After a decade at the past-its-prime night spot, Naomi is finally about to catch her big break after her photo appears on the cover of Look Magazine. But success has come at enormous personal cost. Beautiful and magnetic, irresistible and dangerous for those around her, Naomi is fiercely ambitious yet extremely self-destructive, and no one knows this better than Sophia, whose fear dictates that she keeps a watchful eye and a running list of practical objects that must be reinvented in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. The one constant in Sophia's life is Jim, the photographer who is hopelessly in love with the mercurial Naomi, and is about to make her famous.

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s vibrant Chicago jazz scene, and told from the alternating perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, "Last Night at the Blue Angel is an unforgettable tale about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have."

"(A) highly ambitious and stylish literary debut." Singer and songwriter Rotert's musical background informs Naomi's passion for performance, but it is her heartbreaking portrait of Sophia that will stay with us.

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas * by Marie-Helene Bertino - an enchanting debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters.

Aspiring jazz singer Madeleine Altimari is a jerk (Don't judge me until you've read the book) - smart-mouthed, lice-headed, quick-fisted and a loner by choice. On Christmas Eve Eve, this 9 year old has just been expelled from school and cruel circumstances have denied her one chance to perform at school Mass. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken, drug-addled father, Madeleine doesn't realize that she is about to have the most extraordinary day and night of her life. On the same day, Sarina Greene, Madeleine's 5th grade teacher is having anxiety picking up the pieces after her divorce, and nervously looking forward to a dinner party with her high school chums (and an old crush).

Across town at The Cat's Pajamas, unless he could raise $30,000 in a flash, owner Lorca is about to lose his jazz club, and breaks his promise to let his musically talented, teenage (i.e. underage) son play in the house band. "As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life's endless possibilities over the course of one magical night."

Pushcart Prize and Iowa Short Fiction Award winner "Bertino's characters are spot-on, and her special brand of humor brings each one to life in this fresh and charming tale."

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Amazon Teen Bestseller: If I Stay

Currently #2 on Amazon's List of Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Books is the Kindle Edition of If I Stay by Gayle Forman. From our AADL catalog: "While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death."

Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"Modern Creation," The Whigs: Hailing from Atlanta, the Whigs are one of the solidest rock bands working today. They didn't quite break the big time with their great 2010 release, "In the Dark," but they've gone right on cranking out fun and unfussy records. The Whigs used to have more punk-inspired fire in their blood, but the band has eased up its average tempo a little to create more laid-back hooks that make for perfect summer driving jams. This record's lead single, "Hit Me," is a standout example of that formula. And if you like this one, check out the band's excellent 2012 release, "Enjoy the Company," also recently added to AADL's catalog!

"Teeth Dreams," The Hold Steady: With their sixth LP, the Hold Steady continue to prove themselves America's most literary (and, perhaps, all-around best) bar band. The big guitars and catchy riffs are great, but if you're not paying attention they can also be deceptively simple. Frontman Craig Finn is a true poet, spinning incisive, wistful and funny tales of barflies, townies and scenesters. Dig the amusing portrait of a girl you just can't take seriously in "Big Cig," or the anthemic "Spinners," which exhorts the weary-hearted to "get back out there" and find love. The songs are great rockers at surface level, but they're shot through with a distinguishing sense of humanity and positivity.

"Tomorrow's Hits," The Men: The Men got their start about five years ago with some pretty wild punk records, but they've since refined their sound to incorporate poppier hooks and some elements of classic Americana. That's still not to say the group is particularly polished; drummer Rich Samis botches a fill within the record's first 30 seconds, and the production is far from slick. But the band makes up for technical precision with sheer energy, recalling Crazy Horse's thundering majesty on "Dark Waltz," the Band's Southern shuffle on "Sleepless" and the shaggy charm of the Replacements in pretty much every track. Behold the piano- and horn-led momentum of "Another Night," and just try to resist.

Find more great new CDs here.

AADL partners with UMS to present UMS Rewind

AADL is pleased to have partnered with the University Musical Society to help build UMS Rewind, a searchable database of performances, programs, and photographs from 135 years of UMS history.

Open to all researchers, this unique research tool is available for searching by composer or composition, conductor or performer, and provides access to repertoire, programs, and other material detailing the unique legacy of UMS and the history of touring in the performance arts in America.

Kids Concert with Little Miss Ann

Thursday June 26, 2014: 11:00 am to 12:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for ages 2-6

AADL is excited to host a family concert with Little Miss Ann, a mother, teacher and one of Chicago's "Most Influential Kids Musicians" as voted by the readers of Time Out Chicago. She also was voted "One of the Best Things to Happen to Chicago Kids." We think families here will like her a lot, too!

Little Miss Ann's upbeat, interactive folk-rock music and positive messages for kids make this a performance you don't want to miss. Fiddler/keyboardist Carolyn Ou will join Little Miss Ann as well.

Check out some of her music and find out more about her here!

The Dirty Sock Funtime Band wants YOU!

Sunday June 15, 2014: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for K - grade 3.

Write a brand new song with the internationally acclaimed Dirty Sock Funtime Band! The Dirty Socks have been rockin the kids music world since they first appeared on Nickelodeon's "Jack's Big Music Show" and haven't stopped. Using their award winning creative method, they will write lyrics, compose a song and even invent a dance with a crazy special guest. They will even play the song during their 7 PM show at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. To learn more about their creative songwriting, visit their NYC nonprofit, Kids Creative, www.kidscreative.org. For more info on the band and to hear The Dirty Socks Come Clean, their latest critically acclaimed album, check out www.dirtysockfuntimeband.com.

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor: March 27, presented by AADL at LIVE 102 S First St.

Thursday March 27, 2014: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm -- LIVE (102 S 1st Street)

This event is intended for Adults

For the last year, crowds have gathered each month in the early evening - in bars and venues around Ann Arbor. Around 7pm, it begins: three boisterous speakers geek out up front. What is this? Some secret club?

Nope! It's Nerd Nite Ann Arbor! And it's open to anyone and everyone who loves to learn or share what they love.

For the uninitiated, Nerd Nite (NN) has been described as “...like the Discovery Channel™…with beer!” Sounds fun, right? It is! NN is held monthly in 70+ cities, giving several folks the opportunity to give 18-21minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines. Imagine learning about everything from the science of the Simpsons to the genealogy of Godzilla. Fun stuff!

The next Nerd Nite will be Thursday, March 27 at LIVE (102 S 1st St.). Doors open at 6:30, and speakers start at 7pm.

What topics are on tap?
Did you know about Michigan's own "Forgotten Woodstock," held less than an hour away back in 1970? Have you ever wished you could tell what the heck a tree was just by looking at it? Want to learn a little more about the most effective world revolutionary of all time? Nerd Nite Ann Arbor teams up with Ann Arbor District Library this month to bring curious folks all of this with absolutely NO COVER!

Mark Deming – The Goose Lake Rock Festival
Ben Connor Barrie – Barking Up the Wrong Tree: A Crash Course in Tree Identification
Michael Leonard – Thomas Paine: How the First World Revolutionary Fell from Fame and Became the Forgotten Founding Father (of both America and France!)

Want to see past topics and a little more info? Check NNA2's site.

This month's event is NO COVER (usually $5), thanks to AADL's sponsorship!

Mark your calendars and spread the word! Any and all nerds (and non-nerds!) who love learning and having a great time are welcome to join us for the AADL + NNA2 Mashup!

Local Music: Rebel Kind

Thursday June 26, 2014: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for grades 6 - adult.

AADL is pleased to welcome Rebel Kind, a local pop/rock 'n' roll band with a sound veering from bubblegum to a bit of swagger, from sunshiny-jangle to shadow.

Their most recent album, Today, was recently released. For a preview of their sound, check out their Bandcamp page.

Kerfuffles

Thursday February 20, 2014: 7:00 pm to 7:45 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

This event is intended for preschool - grade 3

Back by popular demand! This local band features music-based storytelling from traditional favorites to funny originals. Sing along, dance and enjoy the music!

The Kerfuffles are an Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti-based group of musicians who believe that kids' music should be fun for both kids and parents!

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