Top of the Park

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Have you been to Top of the Park this year? If not, this week is a perfect opportunity to come on down and support the Ann Arbor Summer Festival!

This week's entertainment includes performances from The Dream Engine (Wednesday -Saturday this week only), enchanting aerialist performers that suspend themselves from a larger-than-life helium balloon, wonderful musical performances, and an ecclectic collaboration of movies at dusk for all to enjoy...and it's all for free!!!

You can view the entertainment schedule at the Festival Website.

Top of the Park is located at Ingalls Mall, directly in front of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies on Washington Street near the Burton Memorial Tower.

The Festival runs till July 6th, so come prepared to dance, sing along and have a good time!

Music for a good cause

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Tomorrow, June 5, there will be a benefit concert for the Shelter Association of Ann Arbor. Even if you don't go to Grillin' this Sunday, you can still donate to the cause (Food Gatherers provides much of the food prepared by the Delonis Center), and hear some great music. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Genesis of Ann Arbor, 2309 Packard Rd. Lee Daniels & Jazz Constellation are the featured group which plays a mix of classical, contemporary and jazz and whose instruments range from bass to flute to glockenspiel. Vocals are provided by local chanteuse, Kathy Moore.

The Play Ground

The Play GroundThe Play Ground

It's been 25 years since Mr. B, Steve Nardella, and George Bedard played together as members of the Steve Nardella Band. Since then, each has gone on to make his own mark. They get back together Saturday night for a show that no fan of American jazz should miss. The past six annual concerts have been standing room only so get there early. 8 p.m., Firefly Club, 207 S. Ashley. Saturday, May 31, 2008, Tickets $20 at the door only. 665-9090.

So It’s Come To This

Growing up, I had the mentality that in order for The Beatles to be so popular, they can’t have much substance to them. Bear in mind, I concluded this when I was 14, at which point it was ’99, and I think we all can remember the kind of musical tripe popular then. But in my orchestra class junior year, I ended up playing a Beatles Medley—and yes, it was as kitschy as it sounds—including “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “When I’m 64,” and “Yesterday,” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band (Reprise.)” So, after listening to the original versions of those songs and I thought, “Well, this is pretty good, it’s not that poppy garbage that they do.” Actually, I really started liking those songs to the point I got frustrated because this medley, despite being for a full orchestra, decided to omit the wonderful string arrangements from “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.” By the end of the high school, I conceded The Beatles had a few good songs, mostly their later stuff.

When I got to college, I started listening to their older stuff, and that’s really good too. Even the terrible songs are good (“Mr. Moonlight,” anyone?) Pretty soon, I found myself a Beatlenut like so many others before, listening to The Beatles Anthologies 1, 2, and 3. Watching the Anthology. Reading about the history of every song, learning the names of people like Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, engaging in debates about which is better Abbey Road or Let It Bleed (Abbey Road, by the way.)

Not Quite a Mop, Not Quite a Puppet, But Oh, Man…

Catchy songs, cute characters, funny voices, good versus evil, a wonderful moral of friendship and never giving up on dreams: The Muppet Movie works perfectly as a kids’ movie. But when I watched again as an adult, the moral remained just as relevant, the humour just as funny, and the songs remained just as catchy (I like “Movin’ Right Along,” a Fozzie and Kermit duet, as well as “Can You Picture That?” a psychedelic freak-out c/o Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.) The Muppet Movie, though, despite coming out the year The Muppet Show ended, is not a continuation of the sketch comedy show within a show. The movie is indeed the story of Jim Henson’s rise to glory.

Music at Crazy Wisdom

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If you're one of the unfortunate or maybe lucky ones who get to stay in town this holiday weekend, take the opportunity to hear some beautiful music at Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room. They have a great music series every Friday and Saturday night, free admission, although you may want to purchase some delicious tea or other goodies while you listen. This Friday, May 23, Laurel Premo will be performing. Laurel hails from the Upper Peninsula and is currently a student at the University of Michigan. She has produced several cds with her group, White Water. She plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, flute, banjo and plays and sings music inspired by contemporary folk, traditional and ethnic traditions including Celtic and Bluegrass. Come enjoy a relaxing evening at Crazy Wisdom, 114 S. Main St. Music starts at 8:30.

The Chenille Sisters visit The Ark

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The lovely Chenille Sisters bring their musical act back to The Ark in Ann Arbor on Saturday, May 31 at 8pm. This local trio keeps audiences toe tapping with contemporary folk and jazz sets featuring their lush and ever-popular vocal harmonies. The AADL has several of their CD releases in our local artists collection. They will be joined by The Royal Garden Trio.

Check out The Chenille Sisters’ website for more info on the ladies and visit The Ark’s website for ticket information.

Weapons of Musical Diversity

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The last in the series Weapons of Musical Diversity at the Neutral Zone is this Friday, May 16 at 7:00 pm. You’ve got to hear the hot Cuban combo Tambao Bravo as they explore the authentic rhythms of Mambos, Cha chas, Rumbas and Boleros. After Tumbao Bravo’s set there’s a Reggaeton DJ Dance Party. OMG. It’s all ages and free, too! The Neutral Zone Rocks and Rumbas! Check out Afro Cuban Roots and have your own house party after the show.

First there was Woodstock and then....

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Folk guitarist Richie Havens burst onto the scene at the famous Woodstock Folk Festival of 1969. Since then, he has been wowing audiences with his high energy guitar playing, powerful voice and stirring lyrics. Havens comes to The Ark this Sunday, May 11. You can buy tickets online at Ticketmaster or in person at the Ark ticket office, the Michigan Union or at the Herb David Guitar Studio.

Can I Just Say The Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Awesome?

When people talk about 90s bands, the conversation always begins and ends with Nirvana, but frankly, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are my idea of the prototypical 90s band. Granted they started in the 80s, though they didn’t really fit in with the sounds at the time (try and compare the Chilis’ idea of Heavy Metal with… I don’t know, Skid Row’s idea of heavy metal.) But once the 90s “alternative scene” rolled around, they sounded right at home: a funky guitar, a lead singer that doesn’t really have a great voice, but he sang about those dark early 90s LA themes, not to mention heavy drums and absolutely mind-blowing bass (Flea can go from Entwistle-esque “lead bass” to soulful or melodic bass in the vein of Stax or Motown.) And now that they’ve entered a new decade, they haven’t tried to mainstream their sound, and still stand out from their peers.

Stadium Arcadium a few years ago, for all its flaws, still contained that great Chili Peppers sound, a mix of melody, funk, metal, and immaturity that was present on Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik and all their other records. When promoting Stadium, they popped up on SNL and did a mind-blowing rendition of "Give It Away,” which, I think, is lyrically about the virtues of charity, but I could be wrong. Oh, and I’m really warming up to By The Way.

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