The Green Room

Your weekly dose of arts and culture, airing every Friday morning on IPR News Radio & Classical IPR.  

Aaron Peterson stands atop Sugarloaf Mountain, in Marquette. He's launching the Fresh Coast FIlm Festival, in hopes of making more adventure seekers aware of the U.P. and some of the conservation issues facing the Midwest.
Dan Wanschura

Aaron Peterson grew up and attended school in Wisconsin. After college, he moved to southern Minnesota, where he lived for about nine months. That's when he and his fiancé decided to move north to Michigan. They chose Marquette, literally because of how it looked on a map. 

 

Both of them are really big kayakers and they wanted a place where they could settle down, raise a family and still play outside.

Composer Eugene Birman (left) and librettist Scot Diel on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. The two artists created a contemporary opera that had its U.S. premiere in Marquette, Michigan.
Jacques-Alain Finkeltroc

Last summer, we met Eugene Birman and Scott Diel on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. They were working on their newest opera called State of the Union.

On almost everything Birman and Diel have attempted to do, they've tried to ask themselves, "Why does it have to be this way? Can it be different?"

Eugene Birman says in most cases, other people have responded, "Well yeah, I guess it can be.”


Emilio Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow artists in residence during The MITTEN Lab residency.
Dan Wanschura

What’s one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists today?

A lot of them will tell you, it’s about getting their new work noticed. Think about, a playwright for example. Their work has to be compelling enough for a theater company just to notice it.

But even then, it’s not enough to just be compelling. The work has to be so good that the theater decides to take a chance and invest in the production of the show. If the playwright doesn't have much of a track record, it’s a huge gamble for the theater company.


Kinetic Affect members Kirk Latimer (left) and Gabriel Giron bring their spoken word poetry to audiences all over the country.
Kinetic Affect

Kirk Latimer was a high school English teacher when he heard a student get up and perform spoken word poetry for the first time. He was so moved by the experience that he encouraged all his students to tell their stories through spoken word poetry.

But then in the middle of class, one of his students called him out. He challenged Kirk to share his own story the way he wanted them to share theirs. And  he did. 

 

Bill Church and Laura Mittelstaedt in a recent rehearsal of 'The Guys.' The play tells the story of an NYC fire captain struggling to write eulogies for the men he lost in the attacks of 9/11.
Dan Wanschura

Bill Church has used a scene from the play The Guys in his acting technique class at Interlochen Arts Academy for years.

The Guys is the story of a fire captain who lost hundreds of men in the attacks on the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

 


Two LARPers, or Live Action Role Players, during a recent get-together in Traverse City.
Lisa Fierstein

Fantasy books, games and movies can take you to another reality. Think about Dungeons and Dragons, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if you could enter those alternate, fantasy worlds in real life?

Some people try through LARPing— or Live Action Role Playing— and it blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

There’s a LARP group in the Traverse City area. They fight evil, save the king and come out victorious, all within 48 hours. 


Rare Bird Brewpub co-owners Nate Crane and Tina Schuett. Tina says when they were planning the brewpub, there were only about five other breweries in the Traverse City area. Now, there are more than 10.
Rudy Malmquist

It’s 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening at Rare Bird Brewpub. There are about 80 people inside drinking beer and eating dinner, and only one open table left.
 

"Everybody might think like, 'Oh you’re busy, you have a successful business, that means you’re rich,'” says restaurant co-owner Tina Schuett. "No. It means I’m several hundred thousands of dollars in debt for a long time out."
 

Tina Schuett and Nate Crane opened Rare Bird Brewpub two years ago in downtown Traverse City.


Peter Payette

Jerry Coyne was bored with classic rock on the radio. As a teenager in the 1970s, he saw bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones when they were in their prime and he listened to WABX, a rock station in Detroit that introduced a lot of the music that came to define his generation.

Jerry says it changed the entire culture in the U.S.

“Rock ’n’ roll was revolutionary,” he says. “It stopped the Vietnam War.”

"Tangled Water"
Linda Beeman

It took Linda Beeman three years to find someone to teach her how to make a Japanese woodblock print. 

She finally found someone teaching a workshop at the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. 

“When I pulled my print on the last day, I burst into tears,” recalls Linda. “Because it felt like this is what I was made to do.” She was at Interlochen, teaching her own Japanese printmaking workshop. 

 


Sufjan Stevens wrote a whole music album about his home state, Michigan. It's included in The Awesome Mitten's updated list of top Michigan songs.
Sufjan Stevens

If someone were to ask you to name your top songs about Michigan, what would come to mind? Would you have trouble coming up with more than one or two? 

Jake Cagle writes for the website, The Awesome Mitten. When he was asked to come up with his top five songs that mentioned Michigan either in the title or lyrics, or were about the state– he had some difficulty at first.

"I could only think of maybe a handful," Jake explains. "I knew it would take me days and days to come with an actual list, and then to whittle it down to songs that wouldn't get me laughed off the internet."

Jake Cagle eventually came up with his list of the top five Michigan songs, but since four years have passed since that article was published, but he recently collaborated with IPR to update it.

Billy Strings gets ready for an interview in a Nashville recording studio.
Pam Holland

When Billy Strings decided to move from Northern Michigan last January, he wasn’t exactly sure where he wanted to go. He just knew he wanted to get away.

“I’m 23 years old and my feathers are fluffed, you know,” he explains. “Kind of just wanted to go see what was on the horizon.”


The 2016 Traverse City Film Festival will celebrate the State Theatre's Centennial among other things.
Daniel Wanschura

The 12th Annual Traverse City Film Festival gets underway next Tuesday.

This year, the 32 officially selected films are all directed by women. Meg Weichman is the Creative Director for the film festival. She says it was founder Michael Moore who had the idea making all the official selections, films that were directed by women. 

"We did try to look for more films by female filmmakers this year, and we were shooting for maybe just having fifty percent," explains Weichman. She says what they found was staggering. "Michael loved so many great movies by women, he wanted to make all of our official selections in competition just directed by women."


Jennifer Blakeslee and Eric Patterson are sharing their knowledge with younger chefs in Traverse City.
Tracy Grant (KarunaPhoto)

Eric Patterson wakes up around 7 a.m. He pulls his hair back into a bun, puts on a beige suit and heads out the door. He is the owner of Cooks’ House in Traverse City, a well-known farm-to-table restaurant. 

Previously, he worked as a chef at three Michelin-starred restaurants. He was head chef at Andre’s, a famous restaurant in Las Vegas, where he relished the thrill of finding the ingredients, preparing dishes and working for hours behind the stove. The stress of the job kept him going for years.  


A replica of the USS Bunker Hill was created by Tom Moran for Onaway's Fourth of July parade in 2013. The replica now sits near Moran Iron Works just outside the city.
Dan Wanschura

Fewer than 900 people live in the city of Onaway, Michigan. But every year, thousands of people flock to the city's annual Fourth of July parade.

And many of the residents say Tom Moran is the reason why. 

Aaron Selbig

IPR reporters Morgan Springer and Daniel Wanschura were recognized Saturday at the annual Public Radio News Directors, Inc. (PRNDI) awards banquet in St. Louis.

Springer won first place in the category "Soft Feature" for her story Behind bars, transformation through poetry, which tells the story of prisoners who find solace and community in a poetry writing workshop.

From left: Richard (Kyle Carter) Vickie (Macie Goodspeed) Janet (Madi Shank)
Joann Muma

Friday is the opening night of The Manistee Civic Players’ stage rendition of 1970s hit television show Free to Be… You and Me. Kate Botello sat down to talk with the director of the production, Connar Klock. He lives in Kalamazoo, but he’s originally from the Manistee area and was asked to come back to direct this show about gender neutrality and social constructs. Behind the bouncy and upbeat music, Free to Be… You and Me addresses serious themes that are still relevant today. 

 


Peggy McNew gets up close and personal with her watercolor painting. She has cone dystrophy, and uses her lower peripheral vision to see.
Dan Wanschura

Peggy McNew is a painter from Empire, Michigan. There’s nothing unusual about that— there are a lot of painters in Leelanau County. But Peggy is different. She’s legally blind. 

And a question that she’s wrestled with is whether or not that matters in relation to her art.

A bowl carved from a tree that was downed by last year's August 2nd storm in Glen Arbor is one of the pieces waiting to be displayed in a new art exhibit at the Glen Arbor Art Association. The exhibit focuses on artists' interpretations of the storm.
Dan Wanschura

Beth Bricker is a painter from Glen Arbor. When she bought a home last summer, her property had a lot of trees on it. Then the infamous August 2nd storm, happened.

After waiting out the storm in her bathroom, she emerged to find a tree had landed in her bedroom and studio area.

In fact, she had five trees fall on her house, and seven more on her garage. Her property which used to be covered in trees, was suddenly wide open. She says she is going to miss all that shade.

“I’m a middle-aged woman," says Bricker. "I get too hot way too fast, and I’ve got ... high windows here which really didn’t used to have any sunlight coming in.”

But on the other hand she says she can now look up and see stars at night. Those types of new views are the inspiration behind a new exhibit at the Glen Arbor Art Association. 

New Views: A Storm of Art is a juried exhibition of art. The art association wanted to give artists an opportunity to express themselves and help the community heal.

The Accidentals released a new EP on June 1, titled Parking Lot. It’s been three years since the group released their last album, Bittersweet. Since then, the band has toured the country, been showcased at South by Southwest, and signed a new management deal.

The group's appearance at SXSW earlier this year, was the second straight year the group traveled to Austin, Texas. Katie Larson says the event is beneficial for indie bands like theirs because it's a chance to network.

"We did get to meet a lot of people this year, and that was a really good focus," she says. "And we made a lot of good connections that'll help us out for this next year or two."

Dave Miles, a curator at the Charlevoix Historical Society, stands by a new fishing industry display. It's part of a new exhibit focusing on the history of business and industry in Charlevoix.
Dan Wanschura

When Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon in 1969, a little bit of Charlevoix was with him. 

Charlevoix made it to the moon in the form of a very tiny, lightweight chrome and nickel thread. The thread was manufactured by a Charlevoix company named Hoskins, and was used in the Apollo Space Program space suits.

That's the kind of historical link that might not be well known, but something that a new exhibit at the Charlevoix Historical Society seeks to make known.

John Larson is the owner of one of Traverse City's newest restaurants, Mama Lu's.
Dan Wanschura

When chef John Larson and his family moved from Chicago to Traverse City last spring, he soon realized that getting a table at a downtown restaurant was a bit difficult at times.

"There weren't enough restaurants," says Larson. "I noticed every single place was on a two-hour wait during the summer months."

That was good news for the entrepreneur from Chicago. 

Just over a year later, Mama Lu's is now open for business just in time for the busy summer months in Traverse City.

Poet Mike Delp addresses a men's gathering in Cedar, Michigan. He recently authored a new collection of poetry called, 'Lying in the River's Dark Bed.'
Dan Wanschura

On a recent Saturday evening in Cedar, Michigan, about 40 guys are gathered in the home of Jeff Smith, the editor of Traverse magazine. The night is centered around beer and poetry. The beverage of choice is from the recently opened Lake Ann Brewing Company. The poet is Mike Delp.

Mike Delp has a new book titled Lying in the River’s Dark Bed. It’s what he calls the confluence of the Deadman and the Mad Angler— characters he’s has been crafting for years.  

 

Mary Sue Wilkinson leads a sing-along session at Orchard Creek Supportive Care in Traverse City. Residents who suffer from dementia are still able to connect with the music from years before.
Dan Wanschura


Mary Sue Wilkinson remembers how sad she felt when she used to visit her father-in-law who was suffering from dementia. He was a former minister, but near the end of his life he couldn’t talk. 

Whether out of desperation or instinct, Mary Sue took her guitar and started to sing the old Gospel hymn, I’ll Fly Away. He made eye contact and began to sing along. 

"He sang every word in perfect harmony; perfect pitch," says Mary Sue. "He was so happy you could just see that he was experiencing the competence of that.” 

Jema Hewitt says if you see someone wearing a pair of goggles with a top hat, you've spotted a steampunk.
"It's kind of like a secret sign," says Hewitt. "If you spot someone, and they're wearing a pair goggles like you would an Alice band, you kind of go, 'Ahah, you're a steampunk!'"


Big Samir (left) and Aja Black (right) of The Reminders in studio with DJ Man-o-Wax.
Antar Hanif - iAMSHOOTER.COM

Aja Black says that misogyny and violence often show up in hip-hop music. But she believes the reason we have that subject matter in the music is because it’s reflective of our current culture.

“So, what we’re trying to do with our hip-hop music is just show that there’s a perspective that’s not being put into the mainstream media that’s positive and encouraging,” explains Black. “Inviting people to get along with one another and to love one another.”

Black and her husband Big Samir form the hip-hop group The Reminders. The group is in Traverse City performing as a part of Caravansarai. It’s a tour bringing Muslim-American performers to different parts of the country to share contemporary creative expressions.

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