Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

Bill Church plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Parallel 45 Theatre Company's version of 'A Christmas Carol in Prose.'
Parallel 45 Theatre Company

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the mid-19th century. 

Since then, the Christmas tale has become engrained in our everyday culture. There’s been film adaptations, operas, and countless stage versions of the story.

National Writers Series: An evening with Margaret Atwood

Dec 1, 2016

Margaret Atwood is the author of many bestselling novels such as "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Cat's Eye." Her latest books include "Hag-Seed," which is a retelling of Shakespeare's play "The Tempest," and "Angel Catbird," a graphic novel featuring a cat-bird superhero. Margaret Atwood starts off telling Doug Stanton more about how she came to write "Angel Catbird."

 

From a band kid growing up in Florida to a fearsome offensive tackle who played 18 seasons in the NFL, including 11 years with the Detroit Lions, Lomas Brown certainly has a story to tell.

He was named to the Pro Bowl for seven straight seasons. And he got a Super Bowl ring with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown first came to Michigan when he was drafted by the Lions in 1985. Despite the snow and cold winters, he’s still here in the Detroit area.

His new memoir, co-authored with Mike Isenberg, is titled, If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions: Stories from the Detroit Lions Sideline, Locker Room and Press Box.

 

It’s holiday music for people who maybe aren’t really feeling the holiday spirit.

May Erlewine is getting ready to drop her new EP The Little Things with a tour of winter dance parties all around the state.

The EP’s full of holiday music that works for everyone, but is especially good for anyone who’s having a hard time grooving with the “tidings of comfort and joy” of traditional holiday tunes.

The Tony-award winning musical Fun Home opens tonight at Detroit's Fisher Theatre for a two-week run. Fun Home was adapted from Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, telling the story of her relationship with her gay dad and coming to terms with her own identity as a lesbian.

The musical got a very warm welcome when it finally got to Broadway. It was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and the show won five of them.

A few of those Tonys went to Michigan native Lisa Kron. She grew up in Lansing and is a playwright, actor and co-founder of the theater group Five Lesbian Brothers.

We all fail sometimes. No exceptions. 

It's often hard to admit, but failure is an essential part of the human experience. 

That's what Failure:Lab is all about.

There's an app for just about everything. Proof of that is Honour Water.

It's a new app that teaches you Anishinaabe songs about water. Anishinaabe is the name used by native tribes including the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi and Alquonquin peoples.

 

They’re known as the Mother Earth Water Walkers: Two Anishinaabe grandmothers and a group of Anishinaabe women and men, walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes, hoping to raise awareness of the environmental and manmade threats against the lakes.

They began walking in 2003, and over the next six years walked all of the 11,525 miles around the Great Lakes.

Now the story of the Water Walkers is told in a children’s book by Michigan author Carol Trembath, with illustrations by David W. Craig.

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

The Grand Haven lighthouse and waves get a good dose of what Todd and Brad Reed call, "magic light."
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

A version of this piece originally aired in November 2015

Nature photographers are a special breed.

To get the perfect shot, they’re willing to go out in all sorts of weather conditions— even gale-force rain storms.

Todd and Brad Reed are familiar with braving harsh weather conditions. The father-son team owns a photo gallery in Ludington, and have a reputation for capturing nature’s beauty in all it's different phases. Recently, their work was featured in the fall issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. 

The Reeds say a lot of their success comes from having a game-plan in place, before they ever step foot outside. Brad calls it previsualization.

“Laying in bed the night before a storm when we can’t sleep, we’re thinking about where on the beach is going to be a good spot,” Brad says. “We’re building pictures in our head. That makes us much more efficient when we get out and we’re doing the actual shooting.”


 

Take fiddle and banjo tunes of the United States and mix them with the music and dance tunes of Sweden, and there you have Premo & Gustavsson.

Our Songs from Studio East series explores music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world. Premo & Gustavsson fit that bill perfectly.

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Kyle Novy is producing a 52-song album project, called 'Mount Valor.' And he's releasing every song for free.
Kyle Novy

Kyle Novy has been a singer-songwriter for a long time. But it had been about 10 years since he released any music. He was still writing songs, but the timing to record them wasn't right.

“I almost think of it like the whole pregnancy process," he explains. "I mean there’s a good nine months of development before this child is ready to be birthed, and like out in the world.”

Two years ago, Kyle says he had an idea pop into his head. Instead of releasing just one new album with 10 - 12 songs, what if he produced one big album— with 52 songs— and released it over the course of a year?

Kevin Trimble’s life changed forever on September 18, 2011. A private in the army, his unit was sweeping a village in Afghanistan for IEDs when, as he puts it, they found one the hard way. Specialist Ryan James Cook, the soldier who stepped on the IED, died immediately. Kevin was standing eleven feet away and lost both legs and his left arm.

Minutes later, on the other side of the ocean, his sister, Deborah Trimble, answered her phone. A military police officer with the Air Force, she was her brother’s emergency contact, and she tried to understand what the sergeant at the other end of the line was telling her. Her brother was still on his way to the hospital, and the extent of his injuries was not yet clear.

As part of Michigan Radio’s Songs from Studio East series we are exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the world.

The West Michigan band “Cabildo" blends rock, folk, cumbia and ska. 

Julio Cano is from the Patagonia region of Chile. He's the lead singer of the eight member collective and he a guitarist. Cano draws inspiration from Latin American roots music like the ubiquitous cumbia style dance rhythm.

Frank Slaughter has been hosting 'Repose' for nearly three decades. The show features new age, or zone music.
Daniel Wanschura

 

Frank Slaughter has been producing Repose for almost 30 years. It's a show that airs on Classical IPR and features new age music. 

Frank says during that time, the genre has evolved to the point where some people now call it zone music.

“I think they felt that new age was turning a lot of people off," he says. "Like a space cadet show or something.”

Regardless of what you call this kind of music, you have been able to hear it on Repose every Saturday night. But now, you can hear it every weeknight as well.

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