The Kalamazoo Public Library is celebrating the Earth with a variety of programs for all ages in the coming weeks. This afternoon at Oshtemo, tweens and teens can make crafts from recycled items. On Saturday, also at Oshtemo, join us for a family-friendly outdoor concert with the Earthwork Music Collective. The Kalamazoo chapter of the American Chemical Society will be at the event to talk about the impact chemistry has on the planet, and the Organic Gypsy will sell delicious food from her truck. You can learn to make your own green, nontoxic cleaning products at Eastwood on April 23, and learn how to make compost for your garden on April 30 at Powell. KPL's librarians will be at the People's Food Co-op on April 27 to read stories for Grow It Yourself Day.
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?
Earth Day Concert 2013
How fortunate we are to have musicians of this caliber in our midst. Elden Kelly and Carolyn Koebel staged a remarkable show at Central Library on September 19th, the 69th show in the library’s ongoing live concert series. Kelly is often labeled as a virtuoso guitarist and Caroline a percussionist extraordinaire, but there is simply no better way to describe them, and there is truthfully no easy way to put into words what they do. Their music crosses borders and bridges genres, both are absolute masters of their craft. Kelly sings and plays an array of exquisite instruments, including six and 12-string guitars, a Turkish cumbus, and an 11-string fretless guitar. And Carolyn’s self-described “broad palette” of percussive instruments, ranging from tiny bells and tuning forks to the “giant drum,” takes the art of percussion to a whole new level. Thanks to the generosity of both artists, you can relive their show in its entirety here, or purchase their recordings here and here. Please support these artists; how fortunate we are to have them both.
Elden Kelly & Carolyn Koebel
Believe it or not, this week we just passed another milestone - number 60 in KPL’s series of free concerts! Seriously, where does the time go? The Mickeys, a Kalamazoo-based foursome fronted by twin sisters Amy Sherman and Julie Peebles put on a wonderful performance Wednesday evening in front of a large KPL crowd. The sisters’ vocal harmonies are tight and focused, with superb instrumentation added by multi-instrumentalist Bascom Peebles and bassist Tom Rogers.
The Mickeys team took the audience (including Mom and Dad Mickey!) through a sixteen-song set, which included plenty of original material from their first two CDs (Finding Our Way and Walk Along), plus a sample from a soon to be released third. Great stuff! They included a cover of Tom Petty’s “Wildflower,” but their super-strong original material was definitely the highlight. Learn more about the Mickeys on their website and hear some samples of their recordings on Facebook and MySpace. Of course you’ll also find their complete KPL performance linked on our Concert Archives page.
Going back a month, KPL capped off another amazing year of concerts with a December 14th appearance by award-winning singer/songwriter Shelagh Brown. Shelagh is quickly making a name for herself as an up-and-coming country star. She not only earned a Readers’ Choice Award from the Kalamazoo Gazette in 2011, but won a nationwide contest to sing a duet with country star Josh Gracin on his latest release. Shelagh’s set at KPL featured highlights of her own work, plus a timely version of “Let it Snow.” Catch highlights of her KPL performance in our Concert Archives, and watch for more great things from Shelagh in the very near future.
Coming up next… be SURE to catch our February concert, featuring Jerome Holloway, he’s an AMAZING vocalist and musician. If you like his contemporaries like say Ben Harper or Jack Johnson, you’re going to love this concert. Jerome’s voice is smooth as silk and his songwriting is superb. Visit his website and listen to a few samples (very generously, you can download more than a half-dozen complete songs!), you won’t be disappointed!
Hope to see you there!
Concerts @ KPL
As the December holiday season rolls around, it seems like it might be a good time to look back at KPL’s concert performances and try to catch up with what’s been happening over the past several weeks.
The highlight of Summer Reading was of course KPL’s amazing end-of-summer concert featuring The Verve Pipe. What a show! The band gave a terrific all-ages performance in Bronson Park on August 28th, and played a bunch of tunes from The Family Album, with a couple of classics thrown in for good measure. I’m honestly not sure who had more fun, the band or the crowd! If you missed it, the band was kind enough to let us post the entire show on our Concert Archives page!
Back in the Van Deusen Room, Joe Wang and the Test Pilots pulled off a great show in September with a full set of originals and a couple of cool covers. (When was the last time you heard a live band play a Vapors tune?!) Typically an electric band, the library setting allowed “Joe” (Peter George, Tom Cross, Mark Kalinowski, Tony Nuismer) to stretch out with a rare acoustic set that let their excellent songwriting abilities shine through. As the JWTP Twitter feed says, “The KPL gig has been immortalized on YouTube.. there’s no denying it.” You can see and hear the entire show via our Concert Archives page! …And if you get a chance to see them play live, do it—you won’t be disappointed.
Midnight Cattle Callers
One of my favorite shows of the series was an October performance by Gifts or Creatures. You might remember that Brandon and Bethany Foote were a highlight of KPL’s Earth Week Celebration at the Oshtemo Branch Library last April. For our 55th live show, the husband-wife duo returned to the Van Deusen Room with some help from good friends Joshua Keller, Ty Forquer, and Ian Gorman. They worked their way through more than a dozen homespun originals, before label-mates Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp (Red Tail Ring) added vocal harmonies to the set-ending version of “I Shall Be Released.” If you like truly inspired Michigan-rooted songwriting, Brandon and Bethany are two of the best! See and hear the full performance on our Concert Archives page.
November brought even more amazing talent to KPL. West Michigan-based Midnight Cattle Callers (another personal favorite!) provided an evening of old-time, country, bluegrass, jazz and swing on November 16th. The following weekend, KPL participated in the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, with inspired music and conversation by flutists Michael Chikuzen Gould (Japanese shakuhachi) and Juan Manuel Cruz (Native American flute). Art Hop on December 2nd featured a wonderful set by classical guitarist Jeff Dwarshuis.
Michael Chikuzen Gould
So what’s next? Well... KPL’s December concert, #59 in the series and our 20th this year (but who’s counting?!) will be Kalamazoo’s own up-and-coming country singer Shelagh Brown. Shelagh received an honorable mention in the 2011 Gazette Readers’ Choice Awards, and won a nationwide contest to sing a duet with country superstar Josh Gracin. She has an amazing voice! Don’t miss Shelagh’s special KPL concert in the Van Deusen Room on Wednesday, December 14th!
And speaking of the holiday season, here’s an idea... the works produced by these or any of our other fine local artists would make great gifts for anyone on your list! Think global, buy local!
Ho Ho Ho! Happy listening!
Juan Manuel Cruz, part of the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music
Graham Parsons & the Go-Rounds (Andy Catlin, Grant Littler, Tod Kloosterman, Adam Danis) brought their own special breed of magic to the Van Deusen Room Wednesday night, for the 52nd installment of KPL’s concert series. Together since November 2009, the homegrown five-piece combines Parsons’ powerful voice and introspective lyrics with a layered yet balanced instrumental mix… some serious roots rock with the looseness of a jam band with just enough ambient texture and sonic psychedelia to keep things interesting. Here’s proof…
Need more? Next Wednesday, August 24th, Graham Parsons hosts a singer/songwriter showcase with Michael Beauchamp at The Strutt during the Boogie Records Revival. Graham and the Go-Rounds are back at The Strutt on September 22nd. Check The Strutt website for details.
Go Rounds “To Go”
And speaking of The Strutt… if seeing the band play live isn’t enough, you’ll find recordings by Graham Parsons (with and without the Go-Rounds) and lots of other great local artists on the venue’s own record label—not surprising since Go-Round Andy Catlin manages the Strutt Records studio in the basement of the café. You’ll find Graham’s peaceful “Migration” on The Strutt’s “350” compilation, plus a full length release on Strutt Records entitled “Farmhand.” Graham and the Go Rounds’ have released a “Triple A-Side” single and a self-titled live album.
Concerts @ KPL
As for KPL’s concert series, the fun continues in August when The Verve Pipe puts on a special family friendly concert in Bronson Park in support of their aptly titled new Family Album. Then back to Central Library for Joe Wang and the Test Pilots in September, Gifts or Creatures in October, and Midnight Cattle Callers in November. Stay tuned.
Graham Parsons & the Go-Rounds
Kalamazoo Public Library was pleased to present Joe Reilly in a very special picnic concert at the Oshtemo Township Park. Joe makes environmental education fun with original songs and raps that kids and adults can't help moving to. What a great show!
Joe performed lots of songs from his new CD Let's Go Outside! including one, "Dreams of Flying", inspired by the Caldecott Honor book Hawk You're My Brother by Byrd Baylor.
Catch Joe Reilly the next time he's in town. You'll be glad you did!
Let's Go Outside!
Bryan Michael Fischer and his crew (Bryan Michael Fischer, vocals; Bill LaValley, bass; Bryan V. Blowers, guitar; Eric Busch, drums; Tom Eldred, Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes) brought a full load of blues, rock and soul to the Van Deusen Room on June 15th for the 49th installment of the library’s ongoing series of free live concerts. Though far from your typical blues venue, the library provided an intimate setting. The band favored the crowd of 75 or so with a spirited ninety minute set, which included several classic covers and a few originals.
Opening the show from the back of the room, Fischer belted out an a cappella adaptation of Mance Lipscomb’s “Captain, Captain,” which then led nicely into a Fischerized version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Goin’ Down Slow.” Other standouts included covers of Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues” (made famous by the Allman Brothers), Taj Mahal’s “Leaving Trunk,” and Ray Charles’ “Drown in My Own Tears.” As a friend of mine in the audience said just before the show, “this place should be SRO... these guys are amazing!” I couldn’t agree more.
Last February, The BMF Band participated in the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and is currently working on a new recording, while looking at a full summer of touring throughout all corners of West Michigan. Check the band’s website for full details, and be sure to catch them if you can – you won’t be disappointed.
On July 20, KPL’s 50th free concert will feature the return of Steppin’ In It—the very same band that began the series for us back in 2008. And the fun certainly does not stop there… August includes performances by Joe Reilly, Graham Parsons & The Go Rounds, and a special summer-topping concert by The Verve Pipe! Check the KPL Concerts page for full details. Happy summer!
The BMF Band
Accolades from the music press are always nice, but when Corky Siegel calls someone his favorite harmonica player, people tend to pay attention. Once a student of Big Walter Horton, Peter Madcat Ruth has been blowin’ harp around these parts for more than four decades and has performed with some of the best.
In 1990, Madcat joined guitarist and singer Shari Kane, “the most dangerous fingerstyle blues guitarist north of the Yazoo,” to form Madcat & Kane. Since then, the Ann Arbor-based couple has toured extensively, playing at some of the most prestigious blues venues in the country. Then add two of Michigan’s most versatile musicians to the mix, Mark Schrock and Mike Shimmin, and you have Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, an acoustic quartet of considerable power and finesse.
To be able to witness talent like this in our own fair city is a treat in and of itself, but to see them at the library—free of charge nonetheless—made last Friday an Art Hop to remember. The fast-paced set opened with a Charley Patton standard from the 1930s, “Moon Goin’ Down,” and rolled on through more than ninety minutes of Delta blues standards, trains songs and “Mississippi party music” by the likes of Furry Lewis, Walter Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and others. “We like to dig deep, deep down,” Ruth noted, “and find some of those old acoustic blues things that kinda’ got lost and no one’s doing them anymore… keep ‘em goin’.”
You can find lots of what they played at KPL on the quartet’s latest CD, Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street Live at the Creole Gallery, and you can download a podcast of the Art Hop show in the KPL Concert Archives.
“This is a gorgeous library,” Shari adds. “I love Ann Arbor, but it was such a treat to come here… it’s such a jewel of a city that you have here.” Thanks, Shari, we think so, too—please come back and see us any time!
Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street
An Dro likes to call itself Celtic-based, globally infused world-beat music—a fairly accurate description, it seems. And its members, none of whom are strangers to Kalamazoo audiences, come from an equally diverse mixture of backgrounds and musical experiences. Michele Venegas, once a member of Fonn Mór, is an accomplished fiddler who can certainly stand with the best. Fred Wilson, once a member of the Irish music group Amadaun, brings influences from his years of teaching at home and abroad to his articulate guitar and mandolin work. Jim Spalink, also a member of Amadaun who later went on to form Puck Faire, adds texture to the An Dro sound with a blend of Celtic harp, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, lute and recorder. Percussionist extraordinaire Carolyn Koebel, also a member of Fonn Mór, is well known and loved around these parts for her work with Blue Dahlia, Dunuya Drum and Dance, and a host of others.
For those of us who relish the instrumental side of Celtic-world fusion, this show was indeed a real treat. The four members seamlessly wove traditional Irish reels, an dro dance tunes (an dro is a traditional form of folk dance from Brittany), floating European and Middle Eastern influenced melodies and inspired originals into a dozen pieces to fill a gorgeous 90 minute set. The crowd of more than a hundred rewarded the group with a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. If you missed the show (shame on you) or you would like to relive part or all, you’ll find audio, video, and photo souvenirs on our Concert Archives page.
Over the summer, you’ll find An Dro performing at the Buttermilk Jamboree near Yankee Springs on June 12, and elsewhere throughout West Michigan. Check the band’s calendar for details.
Coming up at KPL, don’t miss a special Art Hop Concert on June 3 with special guests Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, and on June 15, be sure to catch the amazing Brian Michael Fischer and the BMF band. And Summer @ kpl is just getting started…
A warm spring breeze, a little much-needed sunshine, and some outstanding roots music all combined to make for an unforgettable Saturday afternoon at the Oshtemo Branch Library. Earth Day was Friday, April 22, but somehow KPL managed to stretch the celebration into a two day affair with a truly unique set of performances by a close-knit group of musicians from the Earthwork Music Collective.
While the younger members of the audience danced in the sunshine and adorned the parking lot with artistic sidewalk chalk creations, a crowd of more than 300 filled the tent and library garden area to enjoy an afternoon’s worth of music from some of the finest singers, songwriters and musicians Michigan has to offer. Yes, these folks are really that good.
Seth Bernard acted as MC for the afternoon and welcomed to the stage an amazing lineup of friends and family for a variety of captivating original tunes and timely “Earth-friendly” covers. Seth joined his longtime performing companion May Erlewine, the extended “Davis Family” (Rachael Davis with Joshua Davis and Dominic John Davis of Steppin’ In It and honorary Davis-for-a-day, Michael Shimmin “Davis”), Sam Corbin & Jen Sygit, Brandon and Bethany Foote (known collectively as Gifts or Creatures), Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp (known collectively as Red Tail Ring), and Josh Keller of Who Hit John? fame for some truly inspirational music in honor of the big blue ball. And there were several surprises along the way—from a glimpse of an upcoming Josh Davis solo project to an inspired sing-along of a timeless Woody Guthrie classic. KPL’s Kevin King kept the youngsters occupied with a reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss during intermission. You’ll find audio, video, photos and more from this event and others in KPL’s Concert Archives.
This was 46th show in KPL’s ongoing series of free live concerts, and (thankfully) there’s no end in sight. Upcoming shows include a May 18th appearance by An Dro, A special June 3rd Art Hop with Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, high octane blues from the BMF Band on June 15, and to celebrate our 50th show, a special July return performance by Steppin’ In It, the very group that started the live music series back in June 2008! And that’s just a start. Watch for more details coming soon!