Stella! At the Pump House

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pump House Concerts presens Stella!, a 4-piece, all-women, American roots band on Sunday, November 11th. Our doors will open at 6:30 and the great music will start at 7 pm.

When my wife Gerry and I first started our quest for good Americana music in the Lansing area, Jen Sygit was one of the great local artists we found. Then we heard about her venture with three other women known as "Stella!".  We're happy as heck to finally get this wonderful quartet in front of you this Sunday.  We've seen them many times before--they are a Michigan country/roots music treasure. Such great songwriting, musicianship, and fun!

Two guitars, a fiddle and upright bass give Stella! a rootsy vibe. Stella! has been referred to as a singer-songwriter super group with three-part vocal harmonies and four songwriter voices. Among the women, they have to their names #1 records on the roots music chart, been nominated for Detroit Music Awards, and appeared on ‘A Praire Home Companion. Karen Koski of the Detroit Metro Times says “Four Stars! A post-feminist speakeasy!"

Theatre Review: "The Giver" (through October 28)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Editor's note: "The Giver" is playing through next weekend, Friday at 7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday at 3 pm. Click here for more information.

Our family went to go see "The Giver" done by Mid-Michigan Family Theatre on Saturday. In my opinion, the play was amazing. The closeness to the story made it very interesting to me because I read the book by Lois Lowry. I feel that the actors did a good job with remembering all the lines that they have, especially the main character, Jonas, played by Jonathan Townley. (He had a lot of lines!) All of the children and adults acted their parts really well. I love how they have a bunch of kids and a few adults. They used a clever method for showing what Jonas was able to see. We don't want to give it away.

East Lansing Youth Explore "The Giver"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Have you ever longed for everything to be under control and safe? Have you wished for no war or fear or pain? Welcome to the futuristic community that Lois Lowry created in her book, The Giver. There are also no choices, and no feelings. The Giver is the only person who holds the memories of real pain and real joy. When a young boy named Jonas turns 12, he is chosen for special training from The Giver—to receive and keep the memories of the community. Jonas learns the truth about life—and the hypocrisy of his utopian world. The Giver explores what it means to grow up, to grow wise, and to take control of your own destiny.

East Lansing Public Schools seventh graders read The Giver at McDonald Middle School each year, but for the next two weekends, everyone has the opportunity to see it onstage with the Mid Michigan Family Theatre. The show is directed by Bill Gordon and the cast includes some of our own East Lansing youth. The Giver will be performed at The Miller Performing Arts Center, 6025 Curry Lane, South Lansing (2 blocks west of the Miller/Cedar St intersection). The play will run from October 19-28, Fridays at 7 pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are $7 and are available at the door (not recommended for preschoolers.) For more information, go to www.freewebs.com/midmichfamilytheatre/

Grammy Winner Don Henry at Pump House This Sunday

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This Sunday, October 21st, Pump House Concerts presents Grammy-Winning Singer/Songwriter Don Henry. The concert starts at 7pm. Suggested donation is $15, with all collected going to the musician.

Grammy Award-winner Don Henry's songs have been recorded by legends like Ray Charles, Patti Page, and Conway Twitty. And by country crooners like Gene Watson, John Conlee and B.J. Thomas. And by young hit makers of today like Blake Shelton, Lonestar and Jimmy Wayne. And the list goes on.

And he’s shared the stage with perfomers as diverse as Joey Ramone and Keith Urban.

Local Family's Plight Inspires Pediatric Hospice Fundraiser

Friday, October 12, 2012

Image: Charlie and his sister, Esther. Photograph by Lindsay Wilkinson.

The plight of an East Lansing preschooler entering hospice in a region without specialized care for children facing death has inspired artists around the globe to donate their talents to help create an extraordinary East Lansing fundraising event in support of pediatric end-of-life care in mid-Michigan. The artwork – original drawings, watercolors, acrylics, oils, photographs, prints, pottery, painted ceramics, art jewelry and more – will be auctioned at the second annual Art for Charlie on November 1, 2012, 6-9 pm, at the East Lansing Marriott. Local artists also will be showing works available for sale with a portion of the sale going to the Art for Charlie Foundation. Mayberry Homes serves as the event’s primary sponsor.

The event is named in honor of four-year-old Charlie Waller who was diagnosed in April 2011 with an inoperable brain stem tumor called “diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma” or DIPG. Charlie has survived longer than expected, thanks to great care at Sparrow Hospital where radiation has stalled the tumor’s growth. Sparrow earlier this year named Charlie the 2012 Cancer Survivor of the Year.

“He has no symptoms of progression now,” said Charlie’s dad, John Waller, an associate professor of the history of medicine at Michigan State University. “He has fatigue and problems with motor functions but he’s active, entertaining, bright and humorous, and lives a normal 4-year-old life in many ways.”

Youth Creating Quality Theater

Thursday, October 4, 2012

All-of-us Express Children's Theatre begins its twenty-fourth season with the production of Little Women. Shows are at Hannah Community Center on November 2-3 & 9-10. More information: http://allofusexpress.org

All-of-us Express Children's Theatre (AECT) was founded in 1989 by Evelyn Weymouth at the request of a number of area parents and young people who wanted to form a group to do serious theater by and for young people. Since then the Theatre has been located in various places around Greater Lansing, and is currently operating in cooperation with the City of East Lansing's Department of Parks, Recreation and Arts. AECT remains an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a member-elected Board of Trustees.

AECT is one of very few organizations around the country producing mainstage shows with young people not only on stage but performing all crew duties. Adults serve as instructors and crew heads, but there is a guild system in which young people practice and prove their skills, eventually reaching the point where they can lead a crew or direct a production. Many of the current adults involved with AECT are alumni of the program, including artistic director Miranda Hartmann.

Although one does not have to perform on stage to participate in All-of-us Express productions, to be on stage one must also work on crews; no one is only on stage, or on stage for every production. Long-term participants in AECT have the opportunity to learn about all facets of the theater arts: directing, costuming, makeup, props, set construction, sound and lighting. There are also less-intensive experience crews such as ushering for those just beginning. The summer production is ages 6-18; other productions are ages 9-18.

Claude Bourbon French Finger Picking and Crane Wives indie Folk at The Pump House

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pump House Concerts and Music Under the Pines are proud to present a special double show (not just a double bill, but two shows in one) on Sunday October 7th. Claude Bourbon, a finger picking Medieval blues guitar player and singer from France will perform at 5 pm, followed by a pot luck dinner, and then Crane Wives, the hottest indie folk band in Michigan will perform at 7pm.

Medieval & Spanish Blues - Finger-picking Guitar & Song - Claude Bourbon:

Born in France, Claude Bourbon grew up in Switzerland, where he was classically trained for many years. This finger-picking guitarist has performed and studied all over the world and has crafted an unbelievable fusion of classical and jazz, with ethereal Eastern influences, Spanish and Latin elements with strains of Western folk.

The unique Monsieur Bourbon is a formidable performer. He may have his roots in the blues, but he is inspired by music and song from all around the world, taking these sounds and weaving them into a performance of blues, rock, jazz, songs and melodies that defy a label, all delivered with a gravely voice.

Claude’s inimitable style incorporates all five digits on each hand dancing independently but in unison, plucking, picking and strumming at such speed and precision that his fingers often seem to melt into a blur. Thousands of people in the UK, Europe and USA have enjoyed listening to this virtuoso and for the majority of his audience it is an experience that compels them to return again and again to hear and watch him play, as his fingers lightly dance over the strings of his guitar and create a unique sound that is ’Claude’.

The BBC has said, "This accomplished artist offers tender, compelling performance through highly developed precision. His sound instantly creates ambience – from haunting Spanish moods to lyrical, romantic jazz, Claude Bourbon provides both a rich evening of music for lovers, and a real treat for music lovers."

The Crane Wives:

The Crane Wives are an indie-folk outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan, that defies musical stereotypes. Using three-part vocal harmonies, eclectic instrumentation and a knack for dynamics, they create organic music that is both accessible and innovative. Each live show features contagious energy as well as original music that ranges from whisper quiet ballads to danceable grooves.

Theatre Review: MSU's "Three Sisters" (playing through Sept. 29)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"...more clouds of grey, than any Russian play could guarantee."

The Three Sisters may not alone have inspired that line from George and Ira Gershwin's "Not for Me"—The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull, and Uncle Vanya come to mind—but the melancholic Russian soul is never far from the surface. These are not three happy sisters, and none of their friends and relations are happy either, not even Chebutykin, the aging, philosophical and paternal, regimental doctor, played with great panache by Tyler Gotch in the MSU Theater Department production that continues through Saturday, September 29, at the Arena Theater.

MSU Theatre Offers 'Three Sisters' to Start Season

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MSU Department of Theater, following a highly acclaimed 2011-2012 season, will kick off the new academic year with Anton Chekov's classic, Three Sisters, in repertory with Jane Martin's Anton in Show Business, both directed by Rob Roznowski. Anton in Show Business, winner of the 2001 American Theater Critics Steinberg New Play Award, is a comedy about three actresses taking on the title Chekov roles. Variety described it as, "A smart, acerbic, crowd pleaser.... Simultaneously a love letter and a poison pen letter to the American Theater."

Singer/Songwriter Todd Snider at Lansing's The Loft Saturday

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Todd Snider is a favorite musician of mine, and has been quite successful recently. His latest album, "Agnostic Hymns and Stoner Fables", charted at #6 on the U.S. Folk chart, and #15 on the U.S. Indie chart.  He will be playing TWO shows at The Ark in Ann Arbor, but luckily he will also stop in Lansing on Saturday night (September 15). He'll be playing at The Loft, and the doors will open at 6 pm.

Todd's music isnʼt exactly protest songs and theyʼre not meant to incite class warfare (though he knows they might anyway). Theyʼre populated mostly by losers in the midst of losing, with a couple of spotlight appearances from the humbly anointed 1 percent. He's kind of a working man's hero a la early Springsteen.  While his songwriting is strong, this is more rock than folk, and his lyrics often show a very sharp wit.

Ten Pound Fiddle Concert and Dance Season Starts

Monday, September 10, 2012

Editor's Note: Girlyman will be playing at the Ten Pound Fiddle on Friday, September 28 at 8 pm. According to the Ten Pound Fiddle's website, "Girlyman, a very talented trio, has wowed audiences all over the USA, most recently at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival and other major Midwest venues. The Fiddle is pleased Girlyman will stop in East Lansing to share social commentary and personal narration via imaginative harmonies and varied instrumentation." Below, Eliot Singer introduces this year's series:

The Ten Pound Fiddle concert and dance season begins 8 pm, Friday, September 14, with a concert by Nervous But Excited at The Fiddle's regular venue, Unitarian Universalist Church, 855 Grove St., East Lansing. Among the fall concert highlights are a celebration of Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday, master humorists Lou and Peter Berryman, Sparky and Rhonda Rucker, Joel Mabus, and the annual Holiday Sing, hosted by Sally Potter. For a full schedule, see the series website.

The Ten Pound Fiddle, which began as an MSU student organization in 1975, with Bob Blackman, longtime folk music host on WKAR, as one of its founding members, is one of East Lansing's oldest grassroots institutions. (Read Bob's history here.) The Fiddle is always looking for volunteers.

Season Opens for MSU School of Music

Monday, September 10, 2012

The MSU School of Music season begins Sunday, September 16. A list of upcoming events can be found at their website. A PDF or interactive brochure for the entire year can be obtained through this link: http://music.msu.edu/event-listing/season-brochure/

The popular MSU Opera Theater (listed among MSU School of Music Events) will be doing a Kurt Weill compilation on October 19-21 at the MSU Community Music School Auditorium, due to renovation of Fairchild, its usual venue.

English Songstress Sarah McQuaid at Pump House

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Photo credit: Colm Henry

The Pump House Concerts presents Sarah McQuaid, England's Songstress, in concert Sunday, September 16, with music starting at 7pm at the Pump House in East Lansing's welcoming Bailey Neighborhood.

Sarah McQuaid is a gifted and captivating performer whose music is sublime and compelling, characterized by velvety vocals, magisterial songwriting and a distinctive open-tuned guitar style. She was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, holds dual U.S. and Irish citizenship, and currently lives in rural England. Sing Out! calls McQuaid “a gifted and captivating performer whose warm, haunting alto is delicately cradled by her sparkling guitar” and the BBC Radio 2 says “a great songwriter & singer, & a wonderful guitarist."

East Lansing’s Little Known Musical Gem – Pump House Concerts

Monday, August 27, 2012

Many people enjoy live music, but are not into the bar scene or paying $75 to sit in an arena with thousands of other people. What’s a music fan to do?

In East Lansing, they go to the heart of the Bailey neighborhood and attend a Pump House Concert. The Pump House, located at 368 Orchard Street, was built by the WPA in the 30s as East Lansing’s water pumping facility. The well remains, but the water tower and valves are gone and now the building is a one room, neighborhood run community center. About once a month it turns into a listening room. When the music starts, the talking stops, and the worst seat is about 5 rows from the musicians. It is the most intimate (max ~60 seats) music venue in Mid-Michigan and a very special way to experience live music.

Arts Chorale Preparing for Season Concerts

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Arts Chorale of Greater Lansing is celebrating its 33rd year as a choral ensemble, performing primarily in the greater Lansing area. Dr. Dale Bartlett, Professor Emeritus of the Michigan State University School of Music, has been conductor of the Chorale since 1983.