When the economy goes to hell and America heads into a recession or, worse, a depression (and I hope everyone in Michigan who votes Republican remembers from now until the day they die just what political party it was that killed that Big 3 deal -- in other words, in GOP ideology, unions = BAD; outsourcing jobs overseas = GOOD), one of the first things to go is culture. After all, as important as it is to a lot of us, music, film and literature aren't exactly up there with food, water and shelter.
Anyway, as the economy continues to go to hell, one thing that's undoubtedly going to suffer is our theaters and concert halls. There are two benefit projects currently under way to aid two of Ann Arbor's very best venues.
First, 107one (aka WQKL-FM)-- A2's leading "adult" radio station -- recently released a CD compilation, entitled Live From Studio A2, Volume 1, to benefit the city's beautiful Michigan Theater. The new disc contains 16 live tracks that were recorded when various national performers were in the station studio performing live, including choice nuggets from such artists as KT Tunstall, Steve Earle & wife Allison Moorer, Amos Lee, Ingrid Michaelson, the Proclaimers, the BoDeans, Martin Sexton and Brandi Carlisle, among others. Proceeds from the disc go to benefkit the Michigan Theater Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to operate, preserve and maintain the theater and its programs. The organization was established in 1979 to save the theater from planned demolition at that time and now works every day to raise the considerable funds needed to maintain the historic building.
And what a shame it would have been if they'd demolished the theater back in '79, as I not only saw some extraordinary shows there during the '80s but also saw two of the very best shows I've seen in Michigan since returning here during the summer of '07 -- namely Patti Smith (that same summer) and the recent tremedous performance by Brian Wilson and his band. The latter sold-out three nights in a row at the HUGE Hollywood Bowl in L.A. last September. The Michigan Theater is a small fraction of that size (and it wasn't sold-out; blame it on the economy again, I suppose) -- but local patrons of the pop arts should appreciate how good we've got it when it comes to local venues such as this one. The sight lines and sound are also extradordinary in the place. So pick up at copy of this disc! It's a Borders exclusive, available at Borders stores in Ann Arbor, Brighton, Canton, Farmington Hills and Novi, as well as other select major markets. And a sincere thanks to the station's Martin Bandyke for dropping a few copies of the disc off at the Metro Times offices.
It's probably not too early to mention a benefit coming up next month for another venerated Ann Arbor theatrical institution -- namely, the folk haven called the Ark. The annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival -- which takes place at Hill Auditorium, this year on January 30th and 31st -- benefits the city's non-profit home for folk, roots and ethnic music. And we're imagining the place is going to need the funds more than ever as we head into 2009. The lineup for this year's two-day fest has been announced and it's a doozy -- including headliners Kris Kristofferson, Pete Seeger (the latter without whom...) and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco doing his solo thang. Others on the bill include locals as well as nationally-renowned artists, and both nights will be hosted by Grammy-winning keeper-of-the-Bakersfield, California country/folk-rock flame, Jim Lauderdale.
Ticket prices vary and can be ordered by phone at 734-763-TKTS or in person at the UofM Union Ticket Office, Herb David Guitar Studio or any TicketMaster outlet. General public tickets are $30 and $45 for a single night; $50 and $80 for series tickets. For more info, click here.
I also saw another of the best shows I've seen since being back in Michigan at the Ark when Nick Lowe and Ron Sexsmith shared a bill there last year. So pick up a ticket for this one. Not only is it a great cause...but it probably isn't a bad idea to see a living legend like Pete Seeger while you still can. After all, dude ain't gettin' any younger...
Live From Studio A2, Volume One track listing:
1. KT Tunstall - Black Horse & the Cherry Tree
2. Newton Faulkner - Dream Catch Me
3. BoDeans - Good Things
4. Sara Bareilles - Love Song
5. John Butler Trio - Zebra
6. Ingrid Michaelson - The Way I Am
7. Steve Earle/Allison Moorer - City of Immigrants
8. Matt Costa - Miss Magnolia
9. Patty Griffin - Heavenly Day
10. Brian Vander Ark - You'll Be the Death of Me
11. Bruce Cockburn - If I Had a Rocket Launcher
12. Amos Lee - Sweet Pea
13. Brandi Carlile - Turpentine
14. The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
15. Martin Sexton - How Far I've Come
16. Matt Nathanson - Come On Get Higher
Steve Earle & Allison Moorer: Helping out the Michigan Theater...