Mar and Big Al Playlist-- Eclectic, Hectic, Frenetic

Sometimes, with a little serendipity, my husband gets a night off once a week. If the stars are in alignment, he might get TWO nights off. As he did last weekend. So when he does, we like to enjoy music. I call our selections the +Mar-and-Big-Al-playlist. It is pan-genre, pan-world. It is hectic, electric and frenetic. Here's a sampling from last Saturday.   Mar and Big Al Playlist. Eclectic, Hectic, Frenetic

Educational Thanksgiving Movies with Awesome Soundtracks

Thanksgiving, as a holiday has some urban legends clinging to it. Historical inaccuracies, romanticized euphemisms, wishful thinking and revisionist history distort our knowledge of pilgrims (more accurately puritans), native Americans and 17th century life in New England.

I'm not going to attempt to lay any inaccuracies to rest. I'll be the first to admit I don't know for sure. I wasn't there. No one living was. What I present are movies based on research to be the most accurate depiction of life in the early 1600s. Most are literature based and have killer soundtracks. Best Educational Movies for Thanksgiving Lessons

Facebook Causes Awards Grant Money to School Arts, Music Programs

 I'm going to be honest about two things. I both love and dread getting a Causes notification from Facebook. I have an activist's heart and love supporting worthwhile issues. But I don't that some Causes requests feel more like someone's agenda. Some literally spam me with requests. Post on your Facebook wall, but don't flood my email with your pet causes.  Facebook Causes, An Agenda We Can All Agree On

Trip Down Music Memory Lane for My Husband's 50th Birthday

My husband and I have been together since 1982. 31 years. Older than a lot of you. Here's our story, set to music from our day. We met October 18 at Muskegon Community College. He was a wild long-haired renegade in black leather who rode a kick-ass '67 Triumph Tiger.
I was the proverbial serious student. My guy friends said I was hot-looked like Pat Benatar. Click here for my musical tribute.
Happy 50th, My Baby (Set to Music)

Are You a Closet Musician, Come Out and Try Busking!

I wrote recently about how panhandling should not be allowed and that there are alternative. Here's one alternative, or many really--busking. I won't give to beggars. I will gladly give to buskers or street performers.
Instead of standing around holding out at cup, do something to earn a donation. It's my advice to anyone who needs extra money--high school, college students, unemployed. Don't sell your talents short. Times are tight. You have to be creative. Is there some skill you have? Drawing, painting, music, juggling, mime, exhibition dancing, acting, oratory? Look for a place that will allow you to perform. Leave a cup for donations. I almost always toss a buck or two in and I see that others have too.   How to Make Money Street Busking - News - Bubblews

Our Eclectic, Pan-Genre Music Playlist

My husband works third shift, often weekends, too. Our treat on Saturday, if he has it off, is to go to dinner, stroll the beach, grab some local Shiraz from Lemon Creek and a craft brew assortment of IPA for him, then hit Youtube for music to enjoy. We've been on a retro kick, looking up songs of our youth. But we mix it up with new talent too. Neither of us was what you'd call a groupie (except me in junior high with Bay City Rollers--I took fan to new, weird levels in my own little world). I never went to concerts or even had a stereo, not much money to spare. But we found we both shared an incredible diversity of music tastes. Here are highlights from last Saturday's +Mar-and-Big-Al-Playlist. Be warned--it's a global, multi-period romp!  Our Eclectic, Pan-Genre Music Playlist Last Saturday

Artists Breaking Music Barriers, Creating New Sounds

 I'm really excited about what's happening in music, particularly the alternative/ indie/ roots scene. I'm pleased to hear so many younger, avant garde musicians. It's always our youth to whom we must look for change. And they're providing. Like the way good craft IPA is pushing Bud Light aside, a refreshing new wind blowing across the music industry.  Artists Breaking Music Barriers, Creating New Sounds

3 Happening Detroit Neighborhoods, Music Cultures

Detroit gets its fair share of negative press. But all is not lost in Motown, not by a long shot. The Brookings Institute's Global MetroMonitor study cited Detroit as one of six U.S. metro growth centers. The report looked at 300 metropolitan areas around the world to see how they were faring since the recent global recession. Here are three such Detroit pocket neighborhoods. At the core of Detroit's revival is music and art. Each area has it's signature sound, food and culture. These areas put the "neighbor" in "hood." 3 Happening Detroit Neighborhoods for 2013

Tilt a Whirl - Drew Nelson Band Sings Michigan Roots Music

Our family (or parts of it) celebrated the Fourth of July in Manistee, Michigan this year. It was not our traditional 4th blowout---me cooking up a monster picnic, beaching it and fireworks at dusk. But two of the kids are out of the house now and we're reinventing some family activities accordingly (aka, now we can travel more because there are fewer people to house and feed). My husband had the weekend off for once, and we decided to jump ship and light off up north. Our youngest daughter went along and younger son and girlfriend met us.

We enjoyed music from Tilt-a-Whirl/Drew Nelson at an outdoor concert along the Manistee River. At first, we were a little diffident about the music as it sounded like country. But we perked up when Drew started in on some anti-establishment themes. On the 4th of July, this was a rather refreshing. We're pacifist socialists, anti-gun, anti-war but NOT anti-soldier. We love our military men and women--just not the U.S military-industrial complex. The band's version of anti-establishment wasn't a hate-rant as much as a prayer for change. And it was a love song to Michigan and the working person (so dear to this IWW girl's heart).
Tilt a Whirl - Drew Nelson Band Preaches Michigan Roots Gospel

Teen-Themed Summer Activities, Venues in Detroit

 There's a lot of fun for families with children in Detroit this summer. But what if you have teens? Most adolescents would rather have a root canal than do "kiddie" activities. Happily, there's lots of teen-themed fun in the Motor City, too.

I highly recommend the Orion Music Fest. Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dropkick Murpheys, Rise Above, FLAG, Deftones and 20 some other metal bands will be there and for only $150 a ticket (no fees). I suggest it, not because I as a mom like that kind of music. I prefer the root canal.  (well, okay, Turn the Page" and "Fields of Athenry" I like) But teen boys and some girls looovee that music. It's an adolescent thing. Take them, don't drop them off. I think you have to anyway. It will be a good bonding experience (even if you do need motrin for a week afterword). It shows your kid you're willing to step out of your comfort zone to connect.

I drove my now 23-year-old (then 15) son and friends to to an Atreyu/Norma Jean concert. One look at the venue and I bought a ticket and hid out so I could keep an eye on them. The building was filthy and the bar wasn't very scrupulous about who was served. Band members beer bonged into the audience (or whatever that's called). It's not that I think my kid can't survive that exposure. It's probably educational. I just wanted him to know a parent was available. He's since outgrown grunge, screamo and the electric guitar. He plays mandolin, accordion and Ulean pipe.

One word of caution--don't imbibe. I took my daughter to an Owl City concert and had one glass of  wine. I wasn't even tipsy but I think it hurt her feelings that mom couldn't go to a concert with her without buying booze. It made her feel unsafe. My lectures on being frugal looked like hypocrisy after she saw me plunk down $7 for bad wine. (though you do need something to digest Adam Young's sugary music). But save it for adults-only venues. Again, not prudish--just common sense.

Most activities are cheap. Some are even free. Don't live near Detroit? Look for similar activities in your area. Check libraries, museums, athletic clubs, community foundations, art venues and music programs. Look for open mic nights at local restaurants and coffee shops. Teen-Themed Summer Activities, Venues in Detroit

What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: May 17-19, 2013

Forecasts promise warm weather with some thunderstorms this weekend, May 17-19, for Detroit. But don't let thunder and lightning stop you from having fun. Here's a rundown of music, theatre, parades, festivals, outdoor events, flower shows, community and cultural events in the Motor City.What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: May 17-19, 2013

What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: May 10-12, 2013

Mother's Day weekend in Detroit promises partly sunny, cooler weather. Here's a lineup of Motor City entertainment for your May 10-12 weekend activities.  What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: May 10-12, 2013

What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: April 26-28, 2013

Detroit may have been rainy this week, but this April 26-28 weekend, forecasts as of publication say temperatures should be in the 60s with little to no chance of precipitation. Get out of the house this weekend and take in one of these fun activities around metro Detroit.  The D's signature Funk Fest, murder theatre, slow art, silent movies, vintage hoopball, Alice in Wonderland, Earth Day and more! And why not try a world-food pub crawl, starting with Jacoby's German Biergarten? Try the rahm schitzel--you'll think you've died and gone to Valhalla! Read more

What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: April 19-21, 2013

As Michigan's thermometer inches up, we're seeing signs of spring everywhere, and Earth Day is nearly upon us. Looking for fun activities in and around metro Detroit this April 19-21, 2013, weekend? Read on for events for every taste and age: music, dancing, art, science, nature, theatre, dining and more.   What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: April 19-21, 2013

Metro Detroit's Most Traditional, Authentic Irish Pubs

For many, St. Patrick's Day means drinking green beer, eating corned beef, and sporting emerald-colored shamrocks and leprechauns. If you're looking for that pedestrian St. Paddy's experience in and around Detroit, pubs and parties abound. For the authentic Irish, however, look to these places. With a maiden name of Kinney, I know of what I speak. Oh, and don't miss the St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m. It happens in Corktown, Detroit's oldest neighborhood. The parade route goes up Michigan from Sixth to 14th in Southwest.Metro Detroit's Most Traditional, Authentic Irish Pubs

Free Poety Lessons: Spring Nature Poems as Song Lyrics

April is National Poetry Month. Poetry is the perfect venue to express the joy of spring. And spring it the ideal subject for poems. Why not take some of those poems and put them to music? Song lyrics are just poetry with some instruments and singing added. And music is sung poetry. In my years as a Montessori teacher, we explored all forms of poetry with all ages of children. No child is too young to write poetry. Little ones can dictate their writing and illustrate with their wonderful pictures. And no one is too old to write poetry, either! I've had the privilege to teach in senior centers and nursing homes. Creative writing was a new activity for many seniors who had usually been too busy to explore the creative arts. We had great fun exploring poetry! Get outside no matter what the weather. Bring your pen and paper or text-accessible device. You can even just speak your words into a recorder. Maybe you'll catch some birds singing in the background. You might want to add that to your poetry. Test out your verse with some notes. Let your lyrics guide you to melody that suits. Just try it! Free Poety Lessons: Spring Nature Poems

Students Suspended for Harlem Shake Video

At least 30 students at Milford High School in a metro Detroit suburb made the news for being suspended recently, reports the Detroit Free Press. Student suspensions are rarely newsworthy, as they're pretty standard procedure in most schools. So why the uproar over this incident? The reason is somewhat sordid -- male students uploaded racy videos of themselves air-grinding to the uber-popular "Harlem Shake." What's ironic, however, is the timing. A day earlier, Reuters Health reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spoke out against suspensions as a form of school discipline.

A side note: I don't like the Harlem Shake--such a simplistic, repetive dance. Now the Conga, there was an blood pressure raiser! And some of us were pretty darn good at Conga-ing if I do say so myself. But seriously, is anyone seeing anything racier than Elvis, Prince, Michael, Adam Ant, heck the Charleston? Booty-shaking and dirty dancing are nothing new. Even those brain-freezingly tedious line dances get a little too close for comfort. BTW I had to use the word racy because one of my Yahoo! boys, "Nolan" made a point that I hadn't used that word in the piece. Like that's a good thing?! Racy is too good to waste. So here ya go, buddy! I might even throw in lascivious (if I can spell it)! Such nice scintillating descriptors... Detroit-Area Students Suspended for 'Harlem Shake' Video

Music, Activities to Celebrate Purim

Jewish Purim is celebrated Feb. 24-25 in 2013 (14 Adar in the Hebrew calendar).  Hebrews commemorate the courage of Queen Esther and Mordechai during the Persian exile. Here are activities, music, megillah readings from the tanakh and the Bible Book of Esther. Music plays a big part in many religious celebrations and Purim is no exception. Here's a cute Purim song from the Maccabeats. Enjoy klezmer (Perlman style!) and Jewish games with these links. Jews and gentiles alike can explore Purim and embrace the holiday more deeply. Don't forget your graggers! There are free printable crafts to make some from paper. Mazel Tov! Activities to Celebrate Queen Esther and Purim

Edgy, Sensual Love Songs for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is devoted to romance; what better way to initiate a romantic mood than with music? Here's a playlist of edgy, sensual music to warm the soul and ignite passion. These love songs and arias come from an array of genres. You can listen to them on Youtube. * "Memory"--From Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Cats," this song expresses youth and love gone by. Dame Elaine Page or Britain's Got Talent Susan Boyle sing it best.  Romantic Songs for Valentine's Day

Edgy, Romantic Love Songs for Valentine's Day

Like no other stimulus, music touches our deepest soul responses. Music is sensual and provocative. Music spurs strong emotions and reactions. I'm a realist in practice but a romantic at heart. I'm often moved to tears by a particular piece of music. Love songs soothe my spirit. Need some romantic songs for Valentine's Day? Here's my romance music playlist. I taken songs from different genres and countries. I've also included my favorite versions of the songs. Some of these are kinda edgy and may surprise you. I've added a couple since writing this: "Memory" (from "Cats"), "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" (from Evita), "What is a Youth?" (Nino Rota), "Sigh no More" (from "Much Ado about Nothing") "Selah" (Lauryn Hill), "La Vie en Rose" (the "Sabrina" or Louis Armstrong version is good), "Plasir d' Amour" (Nana Mouskouri sings it beautifully, but I first fell in love it on "The Affair of the Necklace" when Marie Antoinette sings it) and "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. Any of the jazz divas sing it well, but I guess if I had to pick it would be Ella Fitzgerald. Romantic Love Songs for Valentine's Day

What to Do in Detroit This Weekend: Jan. 11-13, 2013

Looking for some hot entertainment to warm you this chilly January weekend? From theater to metal bands, there's something for everyone in Detroit. Don't let the short, dark days keep you cooped up. Here's a list of must-see, must-do activities in the Motor City for this weekend, January 11-13.  Detroit Events for Jan. 11-13, 2013