Music

Old Folk: The Ark's Ann Arbor Folk Festival turns 40

Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Leo Kottke's forehead graced the poster for the 18th edition of the Ann Arbor Folk Festival.

History is a mystery, even when you have direct access to media coverage of an event.

The first Ann Arbor Folk Festival was held June 13, 1976, headlined by John Prine and Leon Redbone. The show was hosted by the Power Center and, as always, it was to benefit The Ark, which was just 11 years old at that point and still in its original location, a house at 1421 Hill St.

Doug Fulton’s June 14, 1976, Ann Arbor News review of that first fest really only covers the early part of the evening -- newspaper print deadlines, you know -- and Prine and Redbone are mentioned with no commentary.

But Fulton did write a sentence that would reappear -- in slightly altered forms -- through much of The Ark’s existence: “The occasion was a benefit for the Ark, one of the few remaining 'coffee-houses' in the country still specializing in folk music of all kinds, and lately in financial trouble.”

In fact, The Ark could have just changed its name to Financial Trouble since the venue was constantly in jeopardy through the mid-'80s until this 1986 article declared otherwise: "The Ark No Longer Needs The Festival To Stay Afloat".

Since that first festival, and two moves later, The Ark is one of the most respected and well-oiled folk- and roots-music concert venues in the country, though the nonprofit still counts on the Ann Arbor Folk Festival for part of its operating revenue. This year’s edition, held January 27 and 28 at Hill Auditorium, has one of the festival’s biggest lineups yet, featuring headliners Kacey Musgraves and Jenny Lewis on Friday and the Indigo Girls, Margo Price, and Kiefer Sutherland (yes, him) on Saturday. (If you're somehow still undecided about going, The Ark has also compiled playlists for night one and night two of the fest.

But if the festival started in 1976, why is this weekend’s celebration its 40th, instead of the 42nd?

 

Preview: Student Partnerships in Technology and Performing Arts Showcase

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December 12, 2016

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File NameSizeType
pulp-michael_gurevich-720.mp4197 MB720p Video
pulp-michael_gurevich-480.mp469 MB480p Video
pulp-michael_gurevich-240.mp430 MB240p Video
pulp-michael_gurevich-audio.mp34 MBAudio

Professor Michael Gurevich is a facilitator.

As the assistant professor and chair of the Department of Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, it’s Gurevich’s job to help his students make connections between seemingly disparate things, be it computer music and improvisation or tap dancing and video games.

On December 13 at 7:30 pm, the public can watch some of these collaborations at the Student Partnerships in Technology and Performing Arts Showcase, the first event from an experimental pilot course Gurevich developed to bring together artists from the tech side (electronic musicians, coders, etc.) and the traditional arts (dancers, instrumentalists, etc.) Held in the state-of-the-art Chip Davis Technology Studio in the Earl V. Moore Building, the multimedia and performance showcase promises to be a head-twisting exploration of artistic intersections.

In the video below, Pulp editor Christopher Porter interviewed Gurevich and asked him about the showcase -- which is free -- and how it all plays into the University of Michigan’s Third Century Initiative: "As U-M prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2017, the Third Century Initiative has been established to inspire innovative programs that enhance the student learning experience and develop creative approaches to the world’s greatest challenges."

 

Martin Bandyke Under Covers: Martin interviews Peter Guralnick, author of Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll

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December 10, 2015

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martin_bandyke_under_covers_20151211-peter_guralnick.mp311 MBAudio

Peter Guralnick

Peter Guralnick.

Peter Guralnick, author of the critically acclaimed Elvis Presley biography Last Train to Memphis, brings us the life of Sam Phillips, the visionary genius who singlehandedly steered the revolutionary path of Sun Records.

The music that Sam Phillips shaped in his tiny Memphis studio with artists as diverse as Elvis Presley, Ike Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash, introduced a sound that had never been heard before. He brought forth a singular mix of black and white voices passionately proclaiming the vitality of the American vernacular tradition while at the same time declaring, once and for all, a new, integrated musical day. With extensive interviews and firsthand personal observations extending over a 25-year period with Phillips, along with wide-ranging interviews with nearly all the legendary Sun Records artists, Guralnick gives us an ardent, unrestrained portrait of an American original as compelling in his own right as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, or Thomas Edison.

The interview with Peter Guralnick was originally recorded on December 10, 2015.

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