The Ark’s 36th Annual Storytelling Festival – Family Show
The Ark’s 36th Annual Storytelling Festival – Family Show
Sunday’s matinee show will feature storytellers Bill Harley, Sheila Arnold, and Steve Daut in a program for families.
Sunday’s matinee show will feature storytellers Bill Harley, Sheila Arnold, and Steve Daut in a program for families.
An Enter the Haggis live show is a musical feast—dynamic and emotionally uplifting. Alternating between upbeat rock numbers with sing-along choruses and slower, more introspective alt pop songs, the band plays progressive and lyrically driven music that's strongly rooted in Celtic tradition—from the storytelling to the bagpipes. Enter the Haggis returns to The Ark with a new album, “The Archer’s Parade.”
Four-time Grammy-winner and master slack key guitarist George Kahumoku Jr., known as “Hawai‘i’s Renaissance Man,” is a vocalist, storyteller, songwriter, and author, teacher, sculptor, farmer, and chef, and honored with a Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award. Slack key guitarist, lap steel guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and producer Sonny Lim developed his guitar and vocal styles performing with his famous Lim Family of the Big Island. He was also one of the early members of the renowned Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau for whom he played lap steel guitar beginning at age 15. He performed on the first Grammy-winning CD in Hawaiian music, and has won multiple Na Hoku Awards on his solo CDs. ‘Ukulele virtuoso Herb Ohta Jr.’s natural talent, knowledge, technique, and speed are unsurpassed. Herb’s versatility and ability to adapt to the changing times will captivate you, the listener, and transport you.
With producer Mitchell Froom, Ron Sexsmith released his self-titled label debut album in 1995. The melancholic tone and sparse acoustic arrangements of the album were met an enthusiastic endorsement from Elvis Costello, and the album was declared a critical success. In his Sept 7, 1995 review for Rolling Stone, Bud Scoppa wrote: “He just may be the most fluent balladeer to come along since Tim Hardin or Harry Nilsson.” Ron’s songwriting style evolved into a unique and timeless blend of classic pop, contemporary folk, and roots-rock idioms. He has built a steadfast reputation with critics and with some of his own songwriting heroes (Elton John, Ray Davies, John Prine, Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen and Paul McCartney) for his characteristically honest, sensitive, and enduring approach to the songwriting craft.
Since his neo-psychedelic Green On Red days, Chuck Prophet has been turning out country, folk, blues, and Brill Building classicism. His latest album, "The Land That Time Forgot," is something different, a weather vane picking up signals from outer space—or maybe from the Heartland. Come and hear the latest from one of our favorite songwriters to have come out of the world of alternative rock.
at The Majestic Theatre Dubbed "masters of soulful folk" by Paste, The Wood Brothers formed after brothers Chris and Oliver Wood pursued separate musical careers for 15 years. Chris already had legions of devoted fans for his incomparable work as one-third of Medeski Martin & Wood, while Oliver toured with Tinsley Ellis before releasing a half-dozen albums with his band King Johnson. With drummer Jano Rix added as a permanent third member, it's become quite clear that The Wood Brothers is indeed the main act.
A multiethnic Latin pop songstress, Gina Chavez is a ten-time Austin Music Award winner. Her bilingual record "Up.Rooted" topped both the Amazon and Latin iTunes charts following a feature on NPR's All Things Considered and has gained wide critical acclaim. Her Tiny Desk concert made NPR's top 15 of 2015. Fresh off a 12-country tour as a cultural ambassador with the U.S. State Department, Gina offers passionate bilingual songs that take audiences on a journey through the Americas, blending the sounds and rhythms of the region with tension and grace. Her Spanish-language anthem "Siete-D" (Grand Prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest) recounts her experience volunteering in a gang-dominated suburb of San Salvador, where she co-founded the Niñas Arriba College Fund for young Latinas. Her songs share her story of life in Texas as a married, queer Catholic She’s back from Folk Festival with her first all-Spanish album, the Latin Grammy–nominated "La que manda."
The Steel Wheels have captured audiences across the country with their heady brew of original soulful mountain music. Based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, this dynamic band marries old-time musical traditions with their own innovative sound.
Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman (AKA "DaBu") started Choir! Choir! Choir! as a weekly drop-in, no-commitment singing event in 2011. Now happening twice weekly, and open to anyone who likes to sing new arrangements of pop songs, C!C!C! boasts a dedicated and passionate membership of inspired singers from in and around Toronto, Canada. They have performed live with Patti Smith at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Tegan and Sara on the Juno Awards, at TEDx Toronto, and at the Toronto International Film Festival Closing Gala at Roy Thompson Hall. Choir! Choir! Choir! sings popular songs, choral style—you never know quite which ones. Like what you hear? Show up, and they’ll teach you an original arrangement of a song you love. Tonight: an epic George Harrison singalong to celebrate George’s 80th birthday.
Presented by ann arbor's 107one A lot of people know Matt Nathanson for his 2007 hit "Come On Get Higher," but his career has only kept growing since then. He comes to Michigan with a new album, “Boston Accent,” whose stripped-down arrangements recall his beginnings as an acoustic troubadour. That’s all to the good for this show—it's not so common to hear him in a club The Ark's size. Matt has a unique sense of humor on stage that can get lost in larger venues, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him back for the first time since the pandemic began. “I wanted to make a real singer/songwriter record this time. an ‘inspired by cat stevens, joni mitchell, paul simon, tom petty kinda record … which is something i’ve been running away from since ‘Ernst,’ Matt says.
Opener: Stephen Kellogg
The Los Angeles Times calls Leo Kottke "an American legend in the guitar world, and a king of his own private musical world." If you haven't heard Leo Kottke for a while, though, you may have missed how one of the fastest 6- and 12-string guitar players around has also become one of the most innovative and least musically classifiable. His music encompasses influences from all over the world, and players from outside the folk world closely follow what he does. Leo Kottke is a legend of the guitar who's still full of surprises after all these years. His shows are displays of captivating mastery of a sort that's rare in any genre of music. Don't miss him, and get tickets early for this one—Leo's Ark shows have been consistent sellouts.
During a performance in summer 2020, Mark Erelli looked down at his guitar neck and couldn’t believe what he saw. Or rather, what he couldn’t see: his fingers on the frets. Soon after, a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a degenerative eye disease, would bring some answers, but it also yielded new questions. Does diminished eyesight correlate with lesser insight? Does your songwriting change when your perception of the world around you changes? These questions, and Mark’s hunt for creative agency, are at the heart of his new album, “Lay Your Darkness Down.” In need of connection and catharsis, he turned as he often did to songwriting. “The only way I could console myself was to know that I was still going to be able to have some creative agency,” Mark says. “I could then bring whatever I was feeling or wanting to express into reality.” He began to craft songs with an intricate, labored approach like never before. “It's much more like an oil painting, where you're layering different tones and colors one at a time.”
Vanessa Collier is a captivating and multitalented blues vocalist, saxophonist, and songwriter, hailing from the world-renowned Berklee College of Music, where she earned dual degrees in Performance and Music Production & Engineering. Vanessa demonstrates her skills as a master musician and songwriter, blending her blues background with elements of funk, rock, and soul. Vanessa’s mighty vocals, gritty saxophone solos, and incredible high-energy stage presence create a powerful show not to be missed!
One of the Midwest’s most prolific and passionate songwriters, May Erlewine continues to share her gift for writing songs of substance that feel both new and soulfully familiar. Her lyrics offer a window into her heartbreak, her empowerment, and her emboldened spirit. These lyrics, which are really stories crafted through May’s unique experiences, are rooted in wisdom, joy, sorrow, simplicity, and love. Musically, she carries the songwriter’s torch through many genres and sonic landscapes. May considers her career in the music industry as a service-oriented one and uses her platform for positive change. She stresses the importance of environmental advocacy, social justice, creative empowerment, and community building as necessary work in our world.
Jared Deck has been praised for his "powerful, beautiful voice" by Alejandro Escovedo. "The battle has always been internal, overcoming my own failures and working to improve," he says. Raised on the dusty plains of an Oklahoma family farm, Jared worked in the fields as well as the town grocery, owned by his parents. "In a community of 1,200 people, big dreams seem impossible. We're taught to manage expectations, put our nose down, and get to work." Later he worked in an oilfield and a factory. During the Great Recession he got by with a job as a pianist in a Black church, where over the next six years, he received an unparalleled musical education. His songs tell stories in an honest voice of Midland America. "The American Dream" won first place in the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival Songwriting Competition. And on top of all this, he was recently elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Returning from Folk Festival, Jared has a recent release, "Bully Pulpit.”
Pitchfork called Vanessa Carlton's "A Thousand Miles" "the pop song that launched a generation of piano lessons." But Vanessa has released five albums since that song came out in 2002, each one revealing more of herself as a songwriter. “Always building up, falling apart. Love is an art," sings Vanessa Carlton on the title track of her new "Love Is an Art." Like the recording itself, the song is a meditation on the eternal seesaw that is human connection: the push, the pull, the balance, the bottoming out. It's that constantly evolving nature of love Vanessa explores, from romantic, to parental, to the friends that hold us up and the leaders that repeatedly let us down.
Altan, named for Loch Altan in Ireland's County Donegal, has arguably had a wider impact on audiences over the last 30 years than any other traditional Irish band. Their dynamic and warm live performances mix the most touching old Irish songs with hard-hitting reels and jigs, and the band members' interest in and sheer enjoyment of each other musically is apparent even to audience members new to the Irish tradition.
Darlingside has long been praised for their harmonies and intelligent songwriting, described by NPR as “exquisitely-arranged, literary-minded, baroque folk-pop,” and their dynamic presence (crowded tightly together onstage) have made them a live-performance favorite. But this album showcases their broader storytelling abilities: nature is a looking glass, the songs suggest, with tracks like Ocean Bed, Green + Evergreen, Mountain + Sea, and Crystal Caving making metaphors of their titles. An experience of nature is an experience of self; an experience of self is one of natural change cut and complemented by stasis.
Opener: Molly Parden
Atlanta-born songwriter Shawn Mullins hit it big in the late 1990s with his “Soul’s Core” album, and the all-over-the-radio singles “Lullaby” and “Beautiful Wreck.” He has never slowed down, recording for Vanguard and other labels, and performing many wonderful shows at The Ark. Shawn’s special guests will be the duo of Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, whose new album, “Live at Levon’s,” was recorded at Levon Helm Studios.
Special Guest: Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
Sierra Hull’s positively stellar career started early. Grand Ole Opry debut at age 10, Carnegie Hall at 12; at 13 signed with Rounder Records at 17, received the Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. As a 20-year-old, Hull played the White House. In recent years she grew out of the child prodigy tag with the very mature, Grammy nominated, Weighted Mind, and has won the IBMA’s mandolin player of the year award three years in a row.
Opener: Taylor Rae
What if the Buddha were a woman, living in our times? In this captivating new musical, which the San Francisco Chronicle called “an absolute delight,” Mama Sid is a modern-day “awakened one” with a worldwide following. But a determined young woman seeks to unearth Mama Sid’s mysterious past, exposing long-held secrets that could change everything. Epic and intimate, comic and profound, The Fourth Messenger investigates what it means to be both enlightened and human.
Hailed by TheaterMania as "a work of wit, grace and enlightenment" and The Huffington Post as “hugely ambitious and refreshingly original,” The Fourth Messenger features a richly lyrical score by internationally renowned five-time Independent Music Award-winning recording artist Vienna Teng and book and lyrics by nationally acclaimed playwright Tanya Shaffer. Featuring original San Francisco Bay Area cast member Anna Ishida as Mama Sid.
Karan Casey has long been one of the most innovative, provocative, and imitated voices in Irish folk music. Since embarking on her solo career after a stint as lead vocalist of the legendary band Solas, she has released six solo albums, a duo album, and a children's album and has appeared on more than 50 albums in total. She has toured constantly throughout North America, Europe and Japan, performing solo, with her own band and with many other artists, often from outside the realm of Irish music. Her adventurous spirit results from the varied influences--classical music, jazz, and American pop--that Casey has made her own since growing up amid Irish traditional music in Ballyduff Lower, County Waterford. Karan Casey, says the Associated Press, has "a voice so beautiful, it's almost impossible to avoid falling under her spell." This tour features Niamh Dunne on fiddle and vocals and Seán Óg Graham on guitar.
Thistle & Shamrock’s Fiona Ritchie stopped, mid-interview, and remarked to John, “It’s really clear how influential women were in your musical development!” Jean Ritchie, Hazel Dickens, Ola Belle Reed, Lily Mae Ledford, Janette Carter, traditional musicians all, were also powerful songwriters. They were each friends and heroes to John. Here he’ll celebrate their music, their lives, and the many ways they “made him.”
John will also welcome some of his musical friends, including Emma’s Revolution and Crys Matthews.
From a source deep, abundant, and pure the river flows. It’s there on the map, marking place and time. Yet the river changes as it remains a constant, carving away at the edges, making new pathways, gaining strength as it progresses forward. The Travelin’ McCourys are that river. The McCoury brothers—Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo)—were born into the bluegrass tradition. Talk about a source abundant and pure: their father, Del, is among the most influential and successful musicians in the history of the genre. Years on the road with Del in the Del McCoury Band honed their knife-edge chops, and encouraged the duo to imagine how traditional bluegrass could cut innovative pathways into 21st century music. “If you put your mind, your skills, and your ability to it, I think you can make just about anything work on bluegrass instruments,” says Ronnie. “That’s a really fun part of this—figuring the new stuff out and surprising the audience.” With fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar, they assembled a group that could take what they had in their DNA, take what traditions they learned and heard, and push the music forward
Student run label, Empty Mug Records, in collaboration with The Ark, presents Empty Mug Unplugged, an acoustic showcase featuring four local student acts. Come add some spice to your Tuesday night and support student musicians playing a compilation of various genres.
Whether you're looking for your big break, want to perfect your live performance skills, or just want to perform live for the sheer fun of it, Open Stage nights offer supportive audiences and a terrific space.
Raised in Tupelo, Mississippi, among the same spirits (and some of the actual people) who nurtured the young Elvis Presley decades before, Paul Thorn has rambled down back roads, battled four-time world champion boxer Roberto Duran on national television, signed with and been dropped by a major label, performed on stages with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Sting, and John Prine among many others, and made some of the most emotionally restless yet relatable music of our time. With 30 years of writing, touring, and entertaining under his belt, he shows no sign of slowing down, still breaking genre barriers and topping charts, putting a new twist on his already entertaining live show. Paul is an Ark favorite who never fails to connect with Michigan audiences, and he comes to Michigan with a new album, “Never Too Late to Call,” recorded at Sam Phillips Studi in Memphis. The album, Paul says, “features music from a man who is with the “right one and is happy to be there.”
It's hard to believe, because each show is fresh and new, but the RFD Boys have been delighting Michigan audiences since 1969 with their fabulous musicianship and sly, exquisitely timed between-song humor.
To call Peter Mulvey an acoustic singer-songwriter and guitarist just doesn't cover it. He's equally—and tremendously on all counts—gifted as a singer, writer, and guitarist. Peter grew up in Milwaukee, made his debut on the streets of Dublin, and moved to Boston, performing in subways and finally clubs. He has released 18 albums, and each one brings something new.
Lately Peter has been joined in shows by the Milwaukee-based sister duo SistaStrings, who combine their classical background with R&B and a touch of gospel influence that culminates for a vibey, lush sound. The Peter Mulvey–SistaStrings pairing has toured recently with Ani DiFranco. With thick, string harmonies between violin and cello and soulful voices, SistaStrings takes you on a journey. SistaStrings has performed at Carnegie Hall and with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Madison Symphony Orchestra, with Malik Yusef, and they have opened for Black Violin, Bone Thugs 'N Harmony, Lupe Fiasco, BJ The Chicago Kid, and The Roots; and they have toured with Brandi Carlile and Allison Russell.
Free! Join the University of Michigan School of Social Work's Jewish Communal Leadership Program for our 2023 Communal Conversation: an evening of Joyful Jewish Jams with Batya Levine and Ann Arbor native Aly Halpert at The Ark! We look forward to bringing together musical artists who weave Jewish tradition into their music, in celebration of Jewish ritual, culture and peoplehood. This concert will be on March 27th starting at 7 PM with doors at 6:30 PM. There will be a Q&A session at the end.
This 60 minute workshop is great for beginners to advanced pros. All are welcome to attend. ‘Ukulele students must know how to tune their ukulele and play at least two chords. Participants will need to bring a ‘ukulele (BYOU).
Kanekoa is one of Hawaii’s premier live music experiences, consistently selling out shows wherever they perform. Playing what is described as “ukulele-powered Hawaiian jam-rock,” their sound is based on the untapped potential of the electrified Hawaiian ukulele. Guided by the culture and land of Hawai‘i, Kanekoa is right at home playing any type of genre from traditional Hawaiian to 80s Pop to Jamband Blues, uniquely offering their signature electric ukulele sound to everything they play. Wherever this band plays, people are mesmerized. They have caught the ear of some of the biggest names in music including Mick Fleetwood, Los Lobos, and Bill Kreutzman from the Grateful Dead who called Kanekoa “The Hawaiian Grateful Dead.” With every show they play, Kanekoa continues to gain new loyal fans.
This program is made possible with support from the Ford Motor Company Fund. It is presented live, and also livestreamed on The Ark’s Facebook page.
This is a FREE show. Nonperishables accepted for Food Gatherers.
When you listen to the music of The Kruger Brothers, you can't help but be amazed by the sheer depth of their artistry. Originally from Europe, now living in North Carolina, they were first introduced to American audiences in 1997, quickly gaining the attention of fans and the music industry alike. Drawing on a rich cultural palette, theirs is a music that celebrates the best of what music can be: exciting, engaging, intelligent, and delightful. Brother Jens Kruger is a recent recipient of the Steve Martin Bluegrass Prize.
“The hardest thing to do,” says internationally beloved soul-blues rocker Tommy Castro, “is be yourself, take some chances and bring your fans along with you.” Throughout his long, constantly evolving career, guitarist, singer and songwriter Tommy Castro has always remained true to himself while exploring, growing and creating new music, and he has taken his thousands of devoted fans right along with him. Since his solo debut in 1994, he’s made 16 albums—the last seven for Alligator—each its own unique chapter in the book of Tommy Castro. Ranging from horn-fueled R&B to piping hot blues to fiery, stripped-down rock ‘n’ roll, each release is solidly built upon Tommy’s unshakable musical foundation—a dynamic mix of 1960s-influenced guitar-fueled blues, testifying Memphis-soaked blue-eyed soul and Latin-tinged East San Jose funk, all driven by Castro’s grab-you-by-the-collar vocals and passionate guitar work. Castro has won the Blues Music Awards for Album of the Year, Band of the Year, and the coveted B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year Award (the very highest award a blues performer can receive). Blues Revue declared, “Tommy Castro can do no wrong.” Tommy Castro & The Painkillers come to town with a new release, “A Bluesman Came to Town.”
Sonny Landreth is one of the great live guitarists of our time! This time around, Sonny is accompanied by the reigning queen of the steel guitar, Cindy Cashdollar. The Suitcase Junket opens; they have a new album, “The End Is New.”
Special Guest: The Suitcase Junket
Beth Nielsen Chapman is an eclectic, critically acclaimed American singer-songwriter, a Songwriter's Hall of Fame member with seven number-one hits, and songs sung by Elton John, Bonnie Raitt, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, Olivia Newton-John, and Neil Diamond.
Opener: Mia Morris