The Ark

The Michigan Shakespeare Festival

This week, Art and Soul is about the performing arts in our area.  89.1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry is joined by local journalist and arts blogger Jenn McKee to talk about many of the events taking place right now in our area.  They are joined by a special guest, Janice Blixt, the producing artistic director of the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, who speaks about their current and upcoming performances.


One of April’s musical highlights is Mr. B’s Boogie and Blues Piano Celebration.  20 years ago, beloved blues and boogie-woogie pianist Mr. B teamed up with his mentor, pianist Bob Seeley and two more pianists for an evening of different piano combinations at a house concert.  The event sparked a dream that Mr. B made come true one year later.  Starting in 1998, the celebration expanded to The Ark for a big concert.  Over the years, the boogie-woogie, jazz and blues piano bash has grown beyond Ann Arbor to include venues in Detroit and Monroe.  The 20th Anniversary festivities start Friday, April 21st at The Detroit Institute of Arts, continue Saturday at The Ark and conclude on the 23rd at The Monroe County Public Library. 

89.1 WEMU

This week on Art & Soul, local journalist and blogger Jenn McKee joins me along with Guy Sanville from the Purple Rose Theater in Chelsea and playwright Brian Letscher about the performing arts in our  area.


Joybox Express
Marilyn Gouin / 89.1 WEMU

Earlier this week, drummer Pete Siers and boogie-woogie piano hero Mr. B joined Linda in the WEMU studios to talk about Pete's new record, Flea Circus ahead of their CD release concert Saturday at The Ark, their special friendship and life in general. 

Shari Kane and Dave Steele
courtesy of the artist

Warm and delicious as hot buttered cinnamon toast, as easy and relaxed as a rewarding after-dinner talk and as soothing as Sunday morning.  That’s my immediate reaction to Feels Like Home, the new album by Shari Kane and Dave Steele.  It’s a perfect complement to the couple’s first recording, Four Hands Blues.  They continue their loving exploration of classic American music including Piedmont and Delta blues along with mountain gospel, Appalachian ballads and ragtime swing guitar.  What differentiates Feels Like Home from Four Hands Blues is the home setting.  Shari and Dave actually built a home studio and took their good sweet time working through each song as we eavesdrop on their intimate conversation involving call and response from acoustic guitar to mandolin to voice.  

Jim McGuire / courtesy of the artist

Throughout 2015, The Ark will present many special concerts to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  The first of these is this Sunday at the Power Center, featuring the husband and wife banjo duo of Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.  


This year’s Ann Arbor Folk Festival lineup includes headliners Brandi Carlile and Jason Isbell on Friday night, with emcee Steve Poltz (tickets still available for this show); and Amos Lee and Ani DiFranco on Saturday night, with emcee Cheryl Wheeler.

Marilyn Gouin / 89.1 WEMU

Mr. B (Mark Braun) visits the 89.1 WEMU studios to perform with special guests, Lila Ammons & Axel Zwingenberger ahead of their Blues and Boogie Celebration at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend.

Brad McNett / WEMU

Before his performance at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Seth Walker stopped by the  WEMU studios to perform a few acoustic blues songs from his new album, Time Can Change.

Seth also discusses  his unique musical background which spans classical music to raucous rock-n-roll.

Listen to the full interview here:


Two shows of great interest to WEMU listeners are coming up soon at The Ark: blues and roots singer-songwriter Seth Walker on Thursday, August 8th and Ann Arbor’s beloved roots-rock quartet Corndaddy on Friday, August 16th.

Supporting regional musicians with airplay remains a highest priority at WEMU.  As you peruse the "Sweet 16" for October 15th through the 21st, take note of the many recordings on the list with regional connections including the topper, "Thankful 'N Thoughtful" by Detroiter, soul siren Bettye LaVette.

In anticipation of her appearance at The Ark on October 11th, WEMU hosts featured the outstanding new CD "33 1/3" by the new "Queen of the Blues", Shemekia Copeland.   Ms. Copeland actually comes from blues royalty  --  her father is the legendary blues guitarist and composer, Johnny Clyde Copeland.