Thursday, November 20, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Much to do about cannot walk in our metropolitan area this weekend without tripping over some kind of performance. There are high school musicals, (no, the REAL ones...the ones actually IN the local high schools), concert after concert, the fabulous "Silver Bells in the City" and our very own All Saints Coffeehouse.

I know East Lansing High School is doing Ragtime and I have heard they do a great job. Let me know if you go.

Folk-favorite, Joel Mabus, is in Stockbridge Saturday and I believe the show is free. Great way to see the master.

Silver Bells in the City is a fantastic array of sight and sound in downtown Lansing, Michigan's capital city. The State tree is illuminated, multiple choirs perform throughout the downtown area, a lighted parade of floats glides down Washington and Capitol avenues and local shops are open to provide nourishment in what is to be certain a chilly evening. It starts at 5pm Friday.

Now, if you've managed to go early and have had enough of the cold, come into the warmth of the All Saints undercroft at 800 Abbot Rd., East Lansing sometime between 7:30 and 9:30pm. There will be a variety of performances, snacks and drinks (please bring some) and a visit by a special guest.

Of course we are just beginning the dizzying selections of music to see/do/hear/enjoy. From now till Christmas there will be more things to see/experience than we can. Look for some reviews and suggestions in upcoming posts.

Till next time,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

American, Mexican, etc.

This Saturday November 1, 2008 provides a variety of musical options, from different parts of the world. The MSU Choral Union under the direction of David Rayl will be performing with the Lansing Symphony at the Wharton Center on Michigan State University's campus. This all-American program includes songs from Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein's, "Chichester Psalms". I've sung for 40 years, in America, and have never sung any Copland or Bernstein. H-m-m-m. I will this Saturday night at 8pm. See some of you there!
MasterWorks 3: American Journey 11/1/2008 8:00 PM
Wharton Center for Performing Arts
David Rayl, Guest Conductor
MSU Choral Union, Chorale & State Singers
Rod Nelman, Baritone - Abhijit Raj Das, Treble
SCHUMAN - New England Triptych
COPLAND - Old American Songs
BERNSTEIN - Chichester Psalms


Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a Mexican cultural tradition honoring loved ones who have died. The festival includes a variety of food, music and special altar created by the participants. You can enjoying this festival for FREE this Saturday, November 1 from 6pm to 9pm at All Saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Rd, East Lansing, Michigan. The festival will have free Mexican food provided by local retailer, Los Tres Amigos, a live mariachi band, a salsa dance group and an altar with items donated by those who come. You can bring a photo of a loved one or a favorite item of theirs and place it there.

The program will also include Calaveras, poems designed to mock death...sometimes reverently. It will be a wonderful community event. You can also bring a canned good to be doanted to Cristo Rey's Community Center.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Full Swing

So we are off to the races with the new academic year and all that it brings musically. Church choir began a couple weeks ago and it was nice to see everyone back at it and to welcome a couple newcomers. The instrumental accompaniment music at All Saints continues to shine with MSU doctoral candidate, Sandy Consiglio on oboe and conducting the choir. Tamara Hicks-Syron also joins Sandy and solos. Many of their pieces are arranged by composer-in-residence, Don Hoopingarner. We are fortunate to have these wonderful musicians with us. They add a layer of beauty already apparent in the liturgy. Sundays at 10am, 800 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, Michigan.

Another highlight for the fall is to participate in the Michigan State University Choral Union .

This group, under the direction of Dr. David Rayl, performs large choral works with the Lansing Symphony or MSU Symphony 3 to 4 times a year. This fall the group is performing Leonard Bernstein's, "Chichester Psalms" and several Aaron Copeland pieces.

Another favorite venue back for the season is the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse. Since 1975, the Ten Pound Fiddle Coffeehouse has been East Lansing's home to a concert series known for evenings of enriching, quality entertainment, with some 30 weekly concerts & monthly contra dances each season.

The Fiddle concert venues are intimate, featuring international performers from folk, Celtic, Blues, Cajun, and traditional roots music. The Fiddle is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization; admissions are very affordable; free parking is nearby; concert halls always have clear views of the stage; and performers always sign CDs and chat after concerts.

This year the booking duties have been shared by my friends Sally Potter and Arie Koelewyn; they feature many fine acoustic performers including
- 9/26/2008 - Claudia Schmidt

- 10/3/2008 CD Releases for Kitty Donohoe and Doug Berch
- 10/4/2008 Contra Dance
- 10/10/2008 Robin and Linda Williams
- 10/17/2008 Alberta Adams: Detroit's Queen of Blues
- 10/24/2008 Tret Fure
- 10/31/2008 Chuck Brodsky

- 11/1/2008 Contra Dance
- 11/7/2008 Emma's Revolution: Pat Humphries and Sandy O.
- 11/14/2008 Seth Bernard and Daisy May
- 11/21/2008 Pat Donohue
- 11/29/2008 Advanced Contra Dance

- 12/1/2008 Contra Dance
- 12/1/2008 English Dance
- 12/5/2008 Bryan Bowers
- 12/12/2008 Holiday Community Sing, hosted by Sally Potter
- 12/31/2008 New Years Contra Dance

- 1/3/2009 Contra Dance
- 1/16/2009 Joel Mabus
- 1/23/2009 Small Potatoes
- 1/30/2009 Jen Sygit and Friends / CD releases party
- 1/31/2009 Contra Dance

- 2/6/2009 Mid Winter Singing Festival with Christine Lavin
- 2/7/2009 Mid Winter Singing Festival with Christine Lavin
- 2/13/2009 Lou & Peter Berryman
- 2/20/2009 Tim Thompson with Siusan O'Rourke & Zig Zeitler
- 2/27/2009 Ann Arbor's Dick Siegal/ Lansing's Edward Groves Band opens

- 3/6/2009 Dennis Stroughmatt et l'Esprit Creole
- 3/7/2009 Contra Dance
- 3/13/2009 John McCutcheon
- 3/20/2009 Ruth & Max Bloomquist and Luke Winslow-King
- 3/27/2009 Nervous But Excited and Breathe Owl Breathe

- 4/3/2009 Sparky and Rhonda Rucker
- 4/4/2009 Contra Dance
- 4/17/2009 Nobody's Darlin'
- 4/24/2009 Singing night with Pat Madden

- 5/1/2009 Steppin' In It and Rachael Davis
- 5/2/2009 Contra Dance
- 5/8/2009 John Gorka/Susan Werner

As you can see...much to do, much to see. In addition to these fine local opportunities I'll be checking out the Indigo Girls at the State Theatre in Kalamazoo on Saturday, October 4 and Girlyman on Wed. the 8th at the Ark in Ann Arbor.

Have you been listening to Doug Neal on Progressive Torch and Twang? What a great radio show hosted by Doug and Corrine on Tuesday nights 8p-10p on WDBM 88.9 FM.


The All Saints Coffeehouse returns October 24, 7:30p-9:30p. We've had 3 months off and it's time to get back to it. Look for many of the regulars including a reading by Diedre Barker, Celtic music from Tammy Syron, Don Hoopingarner and yours truly and much more.

See you then.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Wasn't She Lovely

It was wonderful to see so many friendly faces at the JazzFest in Lansing, Michigan's Old Town last weekend. Many of us came to see Linda Abar and wasn't she lovely? Nicky and I sat with our (and Linda's) friend Mike Klinger and admired Linda's performance. She was in great voice and I loved her stage presence. Linda was accompanied by the Neil Gordon Trio and they were superb....this bassist was excellent. They were gracious players, never overshadowing the singer. Her "Booty Song" was well received and her hit, "We Are Peace" was a fitting finsh to an excellent show. Her CD was hoppin' at the end of the concert. I hope you got one.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

You Gotta Try This

Last week I received a very cool e-mail from my eldest describing a website where the author "chose" an album for every year of his (her) life. I thought, "What can this mean?" So I went to said website (and you can too!

and got caught up in what he chose, why he chose it, had I heard of it (and if not, yet another way to find new music by researching the origins of the choices) and found it was (albeit time-consuming) great fun. I am not quite ready to develop my list, but Lisa, who originally brought the idea to me, has. It's eclectic and I have to say, that, in itself, makes me proud. Enjoy. Check out the website, develop your own and e-mail them to me....I'll publish them. Thanks Lisa!
83 She's So Unusual -- Cyndi Lauper
84 Born to Run -- Bruce Springsteen
85 Tim -- The Replacements
86 Graceland -- Paul Simon
87 Appetite for Destruction -- Guns n Roses
88 Surfer Rosa -- Pixies
89 Disintegration -- The Cure
90 Violator -- Depeche Mode
91 Loveless -- My Bloody Valentine
92 Come On Come On -- Mary-Chapin Carpenter
93 Exile in Guyville -- Liz Phair
94 Grace -- Jeff Buckley
95 Wrecking Ball -- Emmylou Harris
96 Pinkerton -- Weezer
97 Portishead -- Portishead
98 Mezzanine -- Massive Attack
99 Summerteeth -- Wilco
00 And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out -- Yo La Tengo
01 The Blueprint -- Jay-Z
02 The Execution of All Things -- Rilo Kiley
03 Electric Version -- New Pornographers
04 Impossible Dream -- Patty Griffin
05 The Woods -- Sleater-Kinney
06 Boys and Girls in America -- The Hold Steady
07 Armchair Apocrypha -- Andrew Bird
08 Evil Urges -- My Morning Jacket

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Time off matters, wonderful

It is summer here in East Lansing, finally, and it is absolutely beautiful. The music is everywhere and I lament the inability to list it all. But it is safe to say there is something for everyone this summer, music-wise. There are concerts virtually every day/night of the week from Washington Square in downtown Lansing to gigs in several Lansing parks as well as the series on Ann St in downtown East Lansing on Friday nights and in the outdoor area of the Eastwood Towne Centre. All of it is free. That is amazing. So, enjoy, check out the Lansing State Journal on any given day, or slip over to and there is always a listing in the Entertainment section. See you there!

So, I have been away for a bit...well, far away actually, in France. My daughter, Emily, (see photo), is finishing up a year's program teaching conversational English in Avignon, Provence. Among the many things she has accomplished is finding a venue for her music. She sings regularly at the Red Sky in Avignon (the photo was taken when we saw her there in early June). What fun! She had quite a posse that night, 15 friends from all over the world had come to cheer her on. It was fun to watch her interact with the locals musicians. As much as she accompanied herself on guitar she was accompanied by some pretty excellent musicians through the night. Besides her own tunes, "For You" and her co-written, "Let Me Be the One" she managed to do a fine turn on Roberta Flack's, "Killing Me Softly", Natalie Imbruglia's, "Torn" and the 4 Non Blondes', "What's Up". A great night. Emily will be back in town in July before she takes off for New York City in August. Catch her locally!

My next door neighbor at work is in charge of the ushers at the Common Ground, the music festival coming to Lansing July 7-13. H always has funny stories about how folks act close up to the stage. His latest one includes helping a gentleman and lady sit close to the stage for an Etta James concert (it was very sunny and warm on that side of the field and no one was willing to sit in the sun) and he finds out later that gentleman proposed to that lady that night and my friend's ability to seat them close to the stage was icing on the cake. Cool. We'll see what he encounters this year.

This weekend Nicky and I will be at our next door neighbor's (at home) son's wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I bring it up because today I found out the organist is none other than Dr. Deborah Friauff, Director of Music at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor. Deborah was the choir director and organist at All Saints Episcopal in East Lansing for several years and I had the honor of singing with her at that time. She is an excellent organist and enthusiastic, uplifting choral conductor. It will be wonderful to see her again.

If you see a show, performer or production you enjoyed please comment below. It would be great to share the experience.

See you next time, or maybe at a show. Oh, and put in your calendar, "Girlyman" will be at the Ark in Ann Arbor on Oct 8, 2008.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

East Lansing Art Festival...Huge Success

The "iffy" weather held off and it was beautiful for most of the 2-day festival. I know I should look at the art...and I do....but I do not "engage" in the art as much as I do in the music. There were 2 stages with such wonderful acts...I wish you could be 2 places at once. This year Nic and I managed to see: "MOIRA SMILEY & VOCO" on Saturday and "DOWN THE LINE" and "SETH BERNARD & DAISY MAY" on Sunday. My, what a treat this music is! Moira Smiley was powerful, confident, joyful. Her 3 companions blended smoothlyfor a terrific performance. My favorites were the Eastern European-flavored tunes. Thank you ladies.

I have been waiting for over a year to see, "Down The Line" live. Being from Chicago I am always interested in what the hometown is producing (lest we forget some of the "other" talent, like, Wilco, David Roth and countless more) and these fellas are the real deal. Good instrumentalists and they really shine on the vocals. Clever, funny lyrics combined with some fun stage antics make for a pleasant hour. Thanks fellas ( I know they play the "Kraftbreu" in Kalamazoo) and we'll certainly look you up again.

Finally, with my daughter Lisa in from Chicago we were able to enjoy Daisy May and Seth Bernard again. The size of the audience dictates they perfoem on the Main Stage next year and I'm sure Wanda Degan (the EXCELLENT music host and booking manager for the festival) realizes this and will make the adjustments for next time. Daisy and Seth just get better and better every time. There intrumentation is more adept and their harmonies are sweet and pure. It was a beautiful concert...from 2 people who know how to share their craft. Thank you Daisy and Seth.

I was sad to miss the other wonderful acts for this year's festival.

Off to France...

Monday, May 19, 2008

This is how it went....

So, Friday night rolled around and as usual, when there is a Coffeehouse to put on, Bob Kilbridge is there to assist. I am very grateful for his help. We set up the undercroft (funny name, I's really just the lower level of our church...the location of the Coffeehouse) with chairs and tables and hurricane oil-filled lamps, set up the sound system, make copies of the sing alongs for that night, practice a little and off we go.

This past Friday was different because we "Skyped" with my daughter Emily who is in France!
She stayed up till 2am to be with us. I had a laptop connected to an overhead projector illuminating a screen and a webcam. Emily was up there slightly larger than life. She brought her guitar and played her latest original song. I think the audience thought she was a "video" at first. What a blast! Thanks for staying up so late Emily, you were great!

The night was a full one, to be sure. In addition to Emily checking in from France we had my eldest, Lisa, in from Chicago and she sang on a bunch of songs with me. Lisa has excellent taste in music....I am always learning of new bands from her. Some of her friends were in town and one of them, Amanda Wyant came up and sang a lovely rendition from the musical, "Fame". That was a fun surprise and everyone loved it.

Then we morphed a little and went with a short play, "Here We Are" by Dorothy Parker. Yours truly was joined by local thespian, Susan Murphy, for a fun 20 minutes of "newlywed bliss". Ok. Not. It was funny though...thanks Susan.
Onward to a first time performance by Thomas McKee and his friend Nick doing a selction from Nirvana's "Unplugged" album. Great harmony fellas. Come back in the fall.
Diedra Barker read a hilarious chapter form her book and had us all rolling. I wonder if her son David knows of the book's effect? Great stuff.
Bob Kilbridge came in with a Bob Marley favorite and I joined him on a Jayhawks tune (dedicated to Janet Chegwidden...cuz she's from Kansas).
It's difficult to remember every detail but not the poetry reading of Janet Navarro. She read 3 poems...some made you think, all were beautifully read.
The sing alongs were fun as usual..we di a few. Then Jean Lepard sang a lovely song from the movie, "Potter" (about Beatrix Potter), "When You Made Me Dance" and after a few more sing alongs finished with, "Memory" from Cats.
Well, if I missed anyone, my apologies. It was great to see so many people there and enjoy the music, the 10th anniversary of Matt and Dori Helm's wedding, Lisa from Chicago, Emily from France, and so much more.
The next coffeehouse will be an outdoor effort at the home of Gail Shafer-Crand and Dan Crane. This is a farm in northwest Lansing, Michigan and we'll have a potluck meal, a tour of their antique car collection, their horses, a hayride for the children and the campfire, of course. We'll sing and make s'mores for dessert. Look for it August 23. More to come.
Thanks to everyone involved in the All Saints Coffeehouse. This July we will have our 2 year anniversary...every month....usually the 3rd Friday.
As local music fan, director, singer, producer Sally Potter says, "Without you there is no sound".
Next time we'll look at the East Lansing Art Festival....which had such excellent music brought in by Wanda Degan.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

All Saints Coffeehouse Friday May 16 7:30pm

So, what's all this about a "coffeehouse"? Well, it started in July of 2006 where a group of us were wondering if we could create an opportunity for folks to participate in a musical offering in a casual setting on a regular basis. All Saints Episcopal Church has been the most gracious host and allowed us to have a once/month event whereby local musicians come and perform. It has grown and expanding since it's beginning.

A common night at the coffeehouse is a combination of music performed (guitar, fiddle, piano, voice, hammered dulcimer, double bass, trumpet, and more), music shared (we always have several "sing along" songs that everyone joins in on...we provide the lyrics) and now includes poetry readings, short stories, skits, and other performances. It is multi-generational. We have children doing solos on clarinets and duets from "Wicked".

The atmosphere is tablecloth-covered tables with lit hurricane lamps. People bring their own beverages and snacks/desserts and all is shared. It is a "drop-in" event...meaning folks come for some part or all of the night...there is no requirement to stay. A very casual, relaxing evening.

This Friday there will be a short play read, music from some of your favorite 70s artists (no, not disco....that's for another blog session) and another installment from Deidre Barker's upcoming book. We alos we be attempting an international performance via video! That's 7:30 to 9:30pm this Friday, May 16 at All saints Episcopal Church, 800 Abbot Rd., East Lansing, Michigan.

So, please come if you are able...if you want to perform, please give me a heads up at

The coffeehouse will take a break in June and Juky and resume on a Saturday (this time only) in August (the 23rd) at the farm of Gail Shafer-Crane and Dan Crane. This will be an expanded version of the coffeehouse to include a full potluck meal, hayrides for the children, the tour of the Cranes' antique car collection and a campfire where we'll do the songs. What a blast. More to come.

See you Friday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A Blog Created...

So, here we are with the first posting...and, of course I've managed to put up a Porcupine Tree logo. It's been 6 years and I still think they are great. But not to put too fine a label on this old blog, it won't be all "Progressive Metal-type" stuff. Nope. Too many things to work with and the tastes are too varied. So, what might you get out of blog like this? Live musical offerings in the Mid-Michigan area, reviews of CDs or digital releases, concert commentary, recommendations for instruments, organizations to check out, opportunities to participate, and things like that. Things that relate to music.

More to come, thanks for listening.