Ark fundraiser this weekend

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There are still some tickets available to the annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival which is the the Ark's main fundraising event. Saturday's show is sold out but Friday's line-up looks great too, especially for those who like bluegrass music. Headliners include The Old Crow Medicine Show and The Carolina Chocolate Drops, both old-time string bands. Tickets are available at Herb David Guitar Studio and at Ticketmaster.

Andrew Bird Releases Album, Plays Michigan Theater in April

Rare as it is to hear a record investigate topics like the status of the plecostomus and the plight of the "harmless sociopath," what makes Andrew Bird's latest release, Noble Beast, worth digging into is the artist's gift for arranging this cornucopia of ideas into irresistible pop tunes. Stylistically, Bird plucks from flamenco and jazz as he did on The Mysterious Production of Eggs and The Swimming Hour, but whereas previous records were concerned with evoking the emotions of a situation, Noble Beast is more of an experiment with the duplicity of language. Ergo, the whistling wunderkind and former Squirrel Nut Zippers violinist treats his audience to snippets such as, "In the salsify mains of what was thought but unsaid / All the calcified arhythmitists were doing the math," and "The seemingly innocuous plecostomus / Though posthumous / They talk to us." Catch Andrew Bird playing live at the Michigan Theater on April 8 at 8pm.

Instrument Petting Zoo

InstrumentPettingZooInstrumentPettingZoo

It's never too early to start playing an instrument!

String players from Shar Music will demonstrate each instrument in the string family, including violin, viola, cello and bass. Young players (ages 2-5) will have the opportunity to try out the instruments and join in an instrument-making craft project.

Please join us for Instrument Petting Zoo fun on Monday, January 26th, from 10:30-11:30am, at the Downtown Multi-Purpose Room.

Animal Collective -- Merriweather Post Pavilion

On Ok Computer, Radiohead made rock audiences want to climb into alien spacecrafts and learn the meaning of life from those they met on board. Now just over ten years later, Animal Collective reverses that impulse by bringing what might be the closest thing to alien psychedelia down to us mortals. The most anticipated record so far this year, Merriweather Post Pavilion is being released in the U.S. today to massive critical applause. By combining the heavily textured synth lines and bleating bass undertones -- long a signpost of Animal Collective's work -- with sequenced pop hooks that would make Phil Spector cry, the avant-garde Brooklyn band has captured a sound that will be inexorably imitated in the coming years. Check out Strawberry Jam, the band's 2007 release, or Person Pitch, by Panda Bear, a primary songwriter and vocalist for Animal Collective.

32nd Annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival hits town!

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The Folk Festival is a benefit for The Ark and brings the usual festival mix of up and coming artists as well as popular artists in the fields of folk, ethnic and roots music.

Friday night has Jeff Tweedy headlining as well as Old Crow Medicine Show doing their thing. Saturday night will rock the house with Kris Kristofferson and Pete Seeger. Go get your toes tapping and support The Ark! See here for more details, the line-up, and ticket info.

Hill Auditorium | Friday, January 30 & Saturday, January 31 | 6:30pm |

Motown turns 50!

Motown 50Motown 50

On January 12, 2009, Motown Records turned 50. It was 50 years ago to the day that Barry Gordy launched the world renowned record label home to such legendary acts as, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and the Jackson 5, to name just a few! The label still exists and is celebrating the 50 year mark with the Motown 50 Podcast series where you can hear for free a number of their well-known artists. A wonderful documentary about a bit of Motown history is the DVD, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, the story of the Funk Brothers, the group of musicians that played on every single hit Motown record from the label's beginnings to 1972. If you are interested in seeing where Motown's roots began, visit the Motown Historical Museum in Detroit. Enjoy Motown by listening to a CD, reading a bit of its history, watching some of the artists, and visiting where it all began!

Happy Birthday Mary J. Blige!

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Celebrate the birthday of R&B legend Mary J. Blige by checking out some of her music from the AADL collection. Try her latest release Growing Pains, currently nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary R&B Album". Reflections is Blige's 2006 compilation where you can find many of her greatest hits. The Breakthrough features one of Blige's most popular singles "Be Without You". The success of The Breakthrough won Blige nine Billboard Music Awards, two American Music Awards, two BET Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, and a Soul Train Award. She also received eight Grammy Award nominations at the 2007 Grammy Awards, the most of any artist that year. Blige won three: "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance", "Best R&B Song" (both for "Be Without You"), and "Best R&B Album" for The Breakthrough. Along with many other personal releases, Mary J. Blige has collaborated with numerous other artists including Ray Charles, Missy Elliott, and Aretha Franklin. Outside of her music career, Mary J. Blige is the founder of the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. (FFAWN).

If you "ain't misbehavin," here's your chance.

If you're a Fats Waller fan or maybe haven't even heard of him, find a jumpin' good time at the Kerrytown Concert House this Saturday, January 10 at 8 p.m. A Detroit Fats Waller tribute band will play favorites such as "Ain`t Misbehavin'," "Your Feet's Too Big," and more. Members include stride pianist Alvin Waddles, bassist Marion Hayden, and saxophonist-clarinetist Charlie Gabriel. Wine and beer are served. KCH, 415 N. Fourth Ave. $15, $20, & $30. Reservations recommended. 769-2999.

Armenian Music - Live!

Listening to joyous live music at AADL free of charge is one of the best ways to start the new year. The Armenian Music of Grikor Mirzaian Suni (1876-1939) will be performed by his great granddaughters (violins and oud) and their mother (piano), with two singers at the Downtown Library on Friday, Jan. 2 at 7-8:30 pm. Armena Marderosian devotes much time and energy preserving and recording her father-in-law’s music, and this is a rare local performance. There’s a rich history and folk culture linked to the Music of Armenia and Grikor Suni traveled widely collecting samples of the folk idiom to inspire his melodies. Join us for this unique cultural experience.

There's No Place Like Alone

At some point this winter, I will fight off an impulse to move to a remote cabin in the northern Wisconsin wilderness with my battered copy of Thoreau's Walden and try to write and record a set of brilliantly simple folk-pop songs that captures the beauty of isolation. Inevitably, I'll come down off the ledge and throw on Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago instead and live vicariously through the stories, characters, and timbre of these nine songs. Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) lived out my flight of imagination during the winter after his band broke up, turning out tunes that are immediately familiar in a Nick Drake vein of hushed thought, but deceptively rich in reclusive imagery and emotional detachment, making this record not merely a fanciful escape, but a meditation on the nature of solitude.

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