December 9, 2005
By Colleen Cox
Daily Arts Writer
Ten years ago, a low-budget radio
show awkwardly made its way on air,
e R~uTSt tt
teners with its
matter. It was
a show about
als and inter-
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Tickets $20 - $37.50
At the Michigan Theater
babies, families and
sleuths, the mob and the economy - at
once everything and nothing.
Despite its quirkiness, "This
American Life" and its host, Ira
Glass, have become well-known.
The show has attained such popular-
ity that it was recently plugged on
"The O.C." on the radio show's 10
This Saturday, Glass will give his
slice of "This American Life" with
an Ann Arbor audience, and he'll
share tips on how to make a living
doing creative work.
"There are things that are just unbe-
lievably important when doing creative
work that no one ever talks to you
about," Glass said. During his show,
Glass will not only share his stories, but
will also shed light on what it means to
live as an artist, a writer and storyteller,
and how to survive it.
There's more to Glass's onstage
show than just valuable life lessons.
By Andrew Bielak
Daily Arts Writer
Courtesy of WBEZ Chicago
"Where's my snare?"
He recreates the feel of "This Amer-
ican Life" with audio equipment
and live performance, alternating
between his own stories and record-
ings. The result is a slower-paced,
intimate journey into the incredible
stories he shares.
"There's a certain kind of thing
that you can do on the radio," Glass
said. "You can actually have someone
tell a narrative story in a very tradi-
tional way that isn't done on the news
or sports radio or talk radio and do
it in a way that's engaging. There's a
plotline, and you want to know what's
going to happen - but there would
also be this feeling to it, a moment of
Glass looks to bring that moment
to locals on Saturday, which could
prove to be a challenge, as typically
half his live audiences are new to
Glass, "This American Life" and
even radio in general.
"One of the reasons I do these
talks is so fans of the show can drag
in their friends so a good third of the
show doesn't know that to expect.
So for these people, it's an evening
where they can see a whole new way
to make a story."
For people searching for an excit-
ing unwind after an exhausting week
of studying for finals, Glass promises
a show that will leave attendees with a
refreshing take on life - and maybe a
spark of inspiration.
esque outfit Calexico, are
given free license to apply Calexico and
their style to Sam Beam's
(also known as Iron & Iron & Wine
Wine) shy acoustics? The Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
partnership, which will At the Majestic Theater
perform music at Detroit's
Majestic Theater this Saturday, consist of a set
of unreleased Iron & Wine tracks that Calexico
and a handful of other artists molded into some-
thing very different from the music that he usu-
ally constructs. Thankfully, Beam's melancholy
voice and thoughtful lyricism remain.
Calexico has been very successful on its
own; Burns and Convertino have also worked
as part of Friends of Dean Martinez. The duo
constantly looks for new musical ventures and
experiences. Burns feels side projects and col-
laborations are just as important and rewarding
as their solo albums.
"I think all the music projects that we've been
able to formulate are great, and if we're doing
our own stuff or helping out others, it's all part
of the whole, and that to me is equally reward-
ing," Burns said. "I love helping out other peo-
You pussy, just watch the TV. Bambi's mother will be fine.
Courtesy of Overcoat
ple. You learn so much more about yourself, and
it's a great gift, in return, to give an accompany-
ing role - 'cause you realize just how impor-
tant it is to have a strong foundation of rhythm
sections or overdubs." 1
On In the Reins, Beam sought to present his
music with a new dimension and wanted a for-
eign sound to back up his lyrics. Beam's incred-
ible sense of comfort in his own style, combined
with exciting new ideas, made the recording ses-
sions smooth and entertaining. Beam was hands-
off with Calexico, which allowed them to bring
in many musicians who support the duo with
blaring trumpets and slide guitar. On the title
track, "He Lays in the Reins," Calexico brought
in the latest addition to their diverse ensemble,
Salvador Diaz, to complement Beam's singing
with a verse in Spanish.
"We tried stuff that was different for both of
us," Burns said. "I think everyone in the band
(wanted) to help out, and we understood from
Sam that he didn't want to make his normal
sound. We saw that he was comfortable with it,
and it opened the floodgates."
The musicians Calexico brings in for record-
ings adds not only to the dimension and depth
on In the Reins, but also to their own record-
ings. In live performances, they reconstructe
this instrumentation as they bring along accor-
dions, trumpets and personal soundmen.
Saturday's concert Detroit will comprise of
three different sets. Iron & Wine and Calexico
will each play a solo set; then, they'll conclude
together with a collection of covers and tracks
from In the Reins. The music changes through-
out the show due to the diversity of sets, yet it
retains a degree of consistency.
"There is always a group mentality, and ours
is ... kind of eclectic, and I think that is where
we thrive," Burns said. "That aesthetic eclecti-
cism is very important to us. We bring this simi-
lar way of looking at music and the aesthetic
behind it, and while stylistically it may change
radically, it still is a continuing thread."
VH1 winner returns for benefit show
The holidays are coming, and Martin
Sexton is getting a little nostalgic. Look-
ing back at the _._____..____
classic Christmas Martin
albums of some S t
of his idols, the Sexton
39-year-old singer- Saturday at 7:30
songwriter couldn't p.m. and 10 p.m.
help but feel some At the Ark
of his own holiday
reflections bubble up. "Being a singer-
songwriter, I thought, 'hey, why can't
I sing these songs?' But if I did it, I
thought I'd do it in a way which I haven't
really heard, which is just simple with a
voice and a guitar." With his tradition-
ally laid-back approach, Sexton viewed
his latest LP, Camp Holiday, as "some
kind of companion to your chestnuts,
turkey and eggnog."
While the simple orchestration and
subtle vocals Sexton used on Camp Holi-
day might make for fitting renditions of
"I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Silent
Night," the singer's popularity can prob-
* ably be attributed to a different aspect
of music. Sexton's dynamic live perfor-
Courtesy of Kitchen Table
Martin Sexton will perform at the Ark Saturday night.
mances, which often includes an array of
musical styles and vocal acrobatics, are
consistently touted as a supreme display of
his various talents. This ability to please
doesn't come as a huge surprise when one
considers Sexton's history as a performer.
Sexton explained that, coming from
an especially large family, his vocal abili-
ties gave him the attention he craved as a
kid. His career, which got its start on the
streets and subways of downtown Boston,
has rested upon a passion for his craft and
a dedication to its business, or what Sexton
referred to as "the wheels of commerce."
Starting his own label in 2003 has
work well for the singer, who has seen the
benefits of maintaining greater control
over the direction of his career. Business
sensibilities aside, Sexton is a performer
first, career-man second. His passion for
peculiar voices and imitations has clearly
stayed with him,;and he seems at ease
peppering a casual conversation with the
occasional dose of backwards-talking
and Santa impersonations.
Sexton has difficulty pinpointing the
influences from which his improvisa-
tory vocal style emerged. "I think I'm
a bit of sponge in that I don't listen to
a lot, but when it hits me, it sinks in
deep," he said. His abilities have been
evident in his studio albums and live
performances, which seamlessly fade
between shades of acoustic soul, mid-
tempo jazz and bright power rock.
Making a stop at The Ark this Satur-
day night, Sexton hopes to continue cap-
tivating audiences in the same manner
as he has throughout his career. With his
colorful voice and innate flair for musical
showmanship, it'd be hard to argue that
he'll stop anytime soon.
Between attending college and becoming a self-
described "orchestral Tori Amos," a girl can only do so
much to change the world while cramming for finals.
Pianist and vocalist Katherine Schell _
will headline a benefit for Special Katherine
Days, a summer and winter camp pro- Schell
gram in Brighton for kids with cancer
or leukemia, at the Michigan Theater Sunday at 7 pm.
on Sunday night. The camp has helped Atthe
thousands of kids and their families Michigan Theater
- including Schell's, whose younger
brother had leukemia - get away from hospital gloom.
"When my little brother had leukemia, he went to
(Special Days)," Schell said. She took part in a "partners
camp" that also includes patients' siblings. "That's how
(my family) got involved. We've been donating money
and benefiting the camps ever since."
Sunday's performance will formally introduce Ann'
Arbor to the classically trained Schell. Now a third-year.
music and philosophy major at Loyola University Chi-
cago, Schell took piano lessons from the age of six until
her early teens, developing a taste for the Beethoven-style
dramaticism that undercuts her present work.
"My parents are not (in tune) with music at all - I
never really started listening to the radio until high
school," Schell said. "We had a jukebox in our basement,
so it was oldies and classical."
Fortunately, she's developed her own taste in music
since her formative years. Besides a great deal of Tori
Amos, Schell said, "Wilco is great ... I'm into a lot of
indie rock, actually really folk music lately, like Sufjan
Stevens and Cat Power right now."
Touring during school breaks and backed by a
rhythm-and-strings outfit, Schell describes her sound
as "chamber rock," combining her childhood classical
training with blues, jazz and modern rock. Her debut
LP, Emptier Streets on Recessive Gene Records, opens
with ascending, minor-key arpeggios that indicate years
Courtesy of Recessive Gene
Schell will perform at the Michigan Theater on Sunday.
of Czerny Etudes study. Vocals occasionally sound like
a dulcet Fiona Apple in the lower register. Most of the
time, Schell's vocals are almost indistinguishable from
Occasionally, especially at competitions, organizers are
quick to slot her under the "adult-contemporary" banner.
While that specific category could pigeonhole a
younger artist, Schell's genre-bending sound earned her
a VH1 Save the Music Foundation's 2005 Songwriter
of the Year award for "Rest Assured." Incidentally, the
contest was judged by another award-winning pianist
and vocalist, Norah Jones.
"Rest Assured" has grabbed more critical attention,
but Schell values another song on Emptier Streets more.
"The first song that I wrote ("Come to Me") ... it's
probably the most important to me. That was the song
I wrote for my little brother when my family was going
through a lot of hard times with all that stuff, the leuke-
mia," Schell said.
Schell has performed "Come To Me" live on KISS
103.5 FM in Chicago and should be working it into her
Special Days set as well.
After the benefit show, Schell heads back to school for
a round of finals before holiday break. Then, she'll be
packing up again for her Colorado Mountain Tour.
Gilbert and Sullivan Society
enchants A2 with classic musical
week with art at the Union
By Andrew Klein
Daily Arts Writer
F N. EAT
During the last dress rehearsal on Wednesday night,
University alum and Ann Arbor resident Jason Bit-
man said, "this is the first time
we've had the whole. cast on
stage." Bitman is the director The Sorcerer
of the University's Gilbert and
Sullivan Society's production Tonight at 8 p.m.
of "The Sorcerer," which runs Sunday at 2 p.m.
through Sunday at the Lydia and 8 p.m.
Mendelssohn Theatre. Although General $10-20
n t +nrnn in o +t first QtnneP Students .79
little girls and the town's priest, Dr. Daly, falls in love
with Alexis's fiancee, Aline Sangazure. The spell will
only break when Wells or Pointdextre surrenders his
soul to the kingdom of hell.
Perhaps the production's most sparkling feature is
the set design designed by CLASS year Laura Strave.
Its simplicity belies its creativity and near-perfect con-
struction. During the opera's finale, when the gates of
Hell open, Strowe masterfully transforms the elegant,
English-style pavilion in mid-scene with seemingly
"The Sorcerer" marks Stowe's 14th UMGASS
production, and according to her, the experience has
always been positive. "It's always fun for everyone
involved. (The shows are) always full of energy and
ideao" In her first nrnduction aesst designer Stowe
By Anthony Baber
Daily Arts Writer
We're all excited the semester is
almost over. We get to go home for
over two weeks;
there'll be no THE REMIX
papers, no aca- Tomorrow at 8 p.m.
demic stress Tickets $3
and when you At the Michigan
come back you Union Ballroom
have a whole
gan Union Ballroom they will host
a late-night showcase collaboration
of the arts involving singing, free-
styling, poetry, dancing and more.
F.O.K.U.S. member and LSA senior
Claire McTaggart is in charge of the
show along with the help of other
core F.O.K.U.S. members. "We have
booked some of the hottest MCs,
DJs, poets, singers and dance groups
in Ann Arbor to collaborate together
for one night (to celebrate) hip hop,
spoken word, various styles of dance
and music as a means for people to
connect," McTaggart said.
" <:: .