Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Lend Me a Tenor" production in Midland a hoot

review by Janet I. Martineau
For something light and fun, you might want to check out the Curtain Call Community Players production of “Lend Me a Tenor,” playing the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library in Midland Thursday through Saturday (June 16-18).
OK, granted its complicated sequence of events revolves around that dreaded thing called opera. But as a farce of course it gets complicated, delightfully so....and it is less about opera and more about the human silliness of star worship.
In a nutshell, without ruining too much the plotline, the ailing Cleveland Grand Opera has hired an opera superstar for its production of “Othello.” Unfortunately the Italian fellow arrives at his hotel suite a bit under the weather physically and under fire emotionally from his wife who suspects there is a woman in his closet.
Then things get even worse for him, and the opera company’s goofy gofer ends up having to step into the far into it he convinces one and all he is the Italian superstar!
What makes this production even more fun is that director Jessica McFarland cast a real-life husband and wife -- non-Italians -- as the bickering superstar and his suspicious wife.
Andy and Sarah Harrington are a total hoot (at least in the dress rehearsal we attended). They have their Italian accents down pat, their battle modes in high gear, and they are convincing from start to finish.
Also delivering a fine performance is Josh Reames as the goofy  gopher -- a nervous and insecure lad who, the more he falls into the role of the Italian superstar, becomes more and more confident and macho. Nice transformation.
Rounding out the high-energy cast are Jim Stewart as the arrogant manager of the opera company, Kate Sarafolean as his airhead daughter and the can’t-commit girlfriend of the gopher, Jerry Kocan as an annoying hotel bellhop, and Katie Cook and Cathie Stewart as other opera company folks who, well, try to ....never mind, too much information will spoil the fun.
Suffice it to say, in the case of Cook’s character, she has a long exchange with the real Italian superstar in which she is referring to one thing and he thinks it is another. Thought we’d die laughing.
If there are any complaints about the show, is comes with the flimsy set which wobbles noticeably when doors start to slam and with the lighting of the set’s two hotel suite rooms when the action transfers from one to the other. Both call attention to themselves and divert attention from the actors.
Oh, and when Andy Harrington and Reames lip-synch in a couple places to real opera singing they need more attention to detail, both in mannerisms and lip-synching.
The dress rehearsal also had a couple of prop malfunctions which we assume will get corrected.
Bravo, though, that the cast is not miked -- as most of the productions are these days. Nice to hear the normal human voice again, and these actors speak their lines clearly and with enough volume.
“Lend Me a Tenor” plays at 7 p.m. each of the three nights. General admission tickets are $10 at the door for adults and $8 for students, with the doors opening at 6:30 each night. Dow Library is located on W. St. Andrews at Eastman.
For more information about the company, log on to

Monday, June 13, 2011

Million-dollar C-SPAN Digital Bus to visit Saginaw, Midland

by Janet I. Martineau

 A fancy 45-foot bus with a $1 million price tag pulls into Saginaw on Wednesday, June 22, in the hopes of luring political wonks to come pay it a visit.
The C-SPAN Digital Bus, equipped with interactive television monitors, computer kiosks and social media applications, is open free to the public from noon to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Saginaw Club, 219 N. Washington, in connection with the weekly meeting there of the Rotary Club of Saginaw.
“The average stay  for a  visitor to the bus can range from a minute or two -- just enough time to see what it’s about -- to 20 minutes for people who have questions or use our kiosks to explore C-SPAN’s resources,” says Jenny Marland, a marketing representative  for the Washington, D.C.-based  C-SPAN.
Since it made its debut last summer, she said, the blue-hued bus with familiar  federal buildings painted on its exterior has visited cities in 32 states from coast to coast. June’s visit is its first to Michigan. 
The stop is co-sponsored by C-SPAN and Charter Cable, Marland said, and Wednesday’s schedule  also includes a  9 a.m to 11 a.m. stop on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University and a 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. visit to the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library, 1710 West St. Andrews in Midland. 
C-SPAN was created by America’s cable companies in 1979 as a public service and now includes three television networks, a radio station and a website devoted to public affairs -- unedited live coverage of the U.S. House and Senate, White House  and  Pentagon press conferences, political campaigns, the U.S. Supreme Court, historical programming, discussions of non-fiction books, and interviews with people connected to public policy.
It is funded by subscriber fees charged to cable and satellite companies, and operates independent of cable or Congressional oversight. 
Interior view of C-SPAN Digital Bus
As for the bus, the two HDTV monitors onboard air programming in progress on C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN 3. 

Four Touchsmart computer kiosks offer access to the C-SPAN Video Library, C-SPAN Classroom, Book TV and websites where visitors can test their knowledge on a public affairs quiz, share their opinion on a poll or record a perspective.

And in the social media section, visitors can download C-SPAN podcasts or a phone application, access C-SPAN Radio and, with its three Mac laptops, browse C-SPAN's YouTube page, check its Twitter feed for programming updates, and become a friend on Facebook. 

The bus was custom-built in Ohioo, using renewable and reusable materials whenever and wherever possible and sustainable design materials. Marland said it cost  $1 million for the shell, the conversion process and the equipment onboard.
While this particular bus is new and updated for the digital age, C-SPAN has for 18 years toured the nation with informational buses which produce programs and promote education about civic engagement.

June 15 busy in Saginaw with "D.E.A.R. at the Zoo," Art & Garden Festival at Andersen

by Janet I. Martineau
Two big events take place on the same day in Saginaw -- on Wednesday, June 15.
The free Arts & Garden Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Andersen Enrichment Center, 120 Ezra Rust.
And right down the road within walking distance is the 10th annual “D.E.A.R. at the Zoo -- Drop Everything and READ,” also running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, 1730 S. Washington. Admission is $7 for adults and children.
Art & Garden Festival in 2010
The Art & Garden Festival features five lecture demonstrations, art and garden vendors, a silent auction, lunch and its famed strawberry shortcake.
The lectures are: 
-- 10:15 a.m. Weather Gardening by Mark Torregrossa, Channel 25.
-- 11 a,m. Landscaping by Jerry Somalski of Bay Landscaping.
-- 11:45 a.m. History & Description of the Art of Bonsai by Al Fassezke.
-- 12:30 p.m. Home Gardening by Abele Greenhouse and Garden Center.
-- 1:15 p.m. Hosta’s Shady Friends by master gardener Grey Gitzen. 
Among the nearly 15 vendors are native Michigan perennials and ferns, Tomboy gardening tools, organic canned fruits and vegetables, garden art made from recycled pottery, Saginaw Bean Bunny T-shirts, handmade greeting cards, homemade cold process soap, floral paintings, wind chimes, baked apple goods, and cement birdbaths, stepping stones and bird feeders.
“D.E.A.R.” is sponsored by the READ Association of Saginaw County.
All children attending can select a new book to take home as well as participate in more than 14 literacy-themed activities. In honor of the 10th anniversary celebration, the first 1,000 children also will receive a reusable book tote bag. 
This year’s featured visiting author is Gary Bower, who penned “I'm a Michigan Kid! An Artistic Tour of the Great Lakes State.” It explores the state through his poetry and the paintbrush of Jan Bower. The book is for sale at the event and Bower will sign copies between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.  
“D.E.A.R” also features animal presentations and book readings throughout the zoo  and storytelling in the Zoo Amphitheater.

The Zoo Amphitheatre schedule includes:  
-- 10:30 a.m., attorney  Carol M. Thomas reading “Felecity Floo Visits the Zoo” by  E.S. Redmond.
-- 11:15 a.m.,  Dr. Richard Syrek of the Saginaw Intermediate School District reading “Penguins” by Liz Pichon.
-- Noon, visiting author Gary Bower reading his “I’m A Michigan Kid.” 
-- 1:15 p.m., Dr. Desmon Daniel of Motivating Factor reading “Perfect Square” by Michael Hall.
-- 2:15 p.m.,  Diane Fong of the Michigan CardioVascular Institute Foundation reading “Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train” by Anne Rockwell.
Among the organizations and businesses featuring animal-themed activities with prizes throughout the zoo grounds are Barnes and Noble Booksellers, CAN Council Saginaw County, the Castle Museum of Saginaw County, the Children's Book Company,  Michigan CardioVascular Institute,  Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Mid Michigan Waste Authority, Public Libraries of Saginaw, ROR at Covenant HealthCare, READ Association of Saginaw County,  Saginaw County Birth to 5 Program, Saginaw Community Foundation Youth FORCE, St. Mary’s of Michigan and White Pine Reading Buddies.  
READ of Saginaw currently has more than  500 volunteers and provides services to more 1,100 children at 45 locations throughout the county.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Humorist Gina Barreca leaves 'em in stitches at Horizons Town Talk

by Janet I. Martineau
Gina Barreca at Horizons
If laughter is truly the best medicine for what ails us, then there are about 1,000 extremely healthy women in Saginaw.
They attended the season’s final Horizons Town Talk program Tuesday noon at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township where the speaker was “humor maven” Gina Barreca.
For the better part of an hour Barreca kept the women in attendance, and a few men there as well, in stitches; the kind of deep belly laughter that results in the ribs aching and the facial muscles too. 
Or, as she put it, the kind that results in mascara running, needing to hold on to underneath bust and, well, having to pee. (“Men are nervous when we laugh because they think we leak.”)
And guess what...she got a standing ovation at the end, from an audience not usually given to standing ovations.
What makes her presentation even more amazing is that Barreca, age 54 and weighing in at 148 pounds, is a professor of English literature and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut. To be blunt, university professors with doctorates and/or feminists are not usually known for their humor; in fact, some angry men-bashing women have given the word feminist a bad name.

Enter Barreca, who delivers a strong feminist message -- and it is solidly there -- with an abundance of gentle humor.
It started with the announcement of her age and weight (stated above) at the outset “because those are the two pieces of information women want to know about you up front.” And it continued through spoofing her Brooklyn Italian heritage and the women in it, what men find humorous vs. what makes women laugh, overcoming body issues when buying clothes and bathing suits, dolls and Dartmouth’s motto.
The fact that her numerous books with their ribald titles have been translated into eight languages, and that she has appeared in places like Perth, Australia, at the other end of the world, is proof, she says, that what makes women laugh is universal “because our lives are funny.”
“Everything I will tell you today is true,” she said. “If you pay attention in life, you don’t need to make things up. And when you tell the truth, life is a riot. Think about it. You always hear laughter coming out of the ladies room; rarely out of the men’s room.”
And that laughter, she said, comes from retelling something real that has happened.
“It is imperative we, as women, tell the true stories of our lives because if you find it funny somebody else will find it funny. Make sure our laughing voices are heard. Don’t respond by saying ‘nothing,’ as way too many women do when someone asks them what is so funny when they are overheard laughing.”
So what had ‘em laughing on this day? It’s hard to sum up her witticisms because, as she correctly noted, women don’t tell two- or three-sentence jokes like men do. No.....they tell long, involved stories that take numerous detours before arriving at the punchline.
So with apologies to Barreca for boiling her stories down, here are some of her observations.
-- “I was raised Catholic where we were told sex was something dirty and disgusting you saved for someone you love.....28 years of therapy has helped me deal with this.”
-- “I played with Barbie dolls when I was growing up, and she was always getting married. My brother had a GI Joe and he did not have a wedding outfit or a private life. His job was to kill other toys. And Barbie was not a nice girl because she got married all the time.”
-- The songs we grew up with. “The women sang things like ‘I Will Follow Him’ and men ‘The Wanderer.’”
-- She was, she says, the first in her family to go to college, and got accepted to Dartmouth in New Hampshire, one of the last Ivy League schools to admit women.
Her Aunt Josephine, upon hearing the news in Brooklyn and that the college was in New Hampshire, said, “Oh Gina, you’re pregnant, right. It happened to your cousin  Elaine.”
Once she got there, she noted with amusement that the former all-boys school had the following motto: “It May Be Small, But There Are Those Who Love It.” She related her humor in that slogan to some of the male students who, well, didn’t get it.
-- Men often accuse women of “honey, can’t you take a joke” because, Barreca says, the two sexes have different rituals. “We hate the three Stooges,” she said, mimicking some of their body English that “we don’t do and we don’t think is funny.”
And, she added, “we don’t think the apex of humor is the fart scene from ‘Blazing Saddles.’ I know men who play it over and over (on their DVDs). It’s a wonder we get along as well as we do.”
-- As for body images, women try to fit their body in clothes that don’t fit “while men feel bad only if they can’t fit into a foreign car. You don’t hear them say, ‘I want to fit in a 42 short by Christmas.’’’
So branch out, she told the women....find the humor in living life and foster it, let the bad girl come through in your humor “because she needs to get out” and let your soul reach out with humor “because it is as close as a hug.”

2012 Stratford Festival features poet Robert Service and "The Simpsons" amid Shakespeare

by Janet I. Martineau
Sometimes it gets a little, well, boring at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario, eh?
How many times can you see The Bard’s “Macbeth” before you start reciting the lines.
And those musicals they have taken to doing ... “Camelot,” “Evita,” “My Fair Lady ... been there, done that, and a lot.
So the recently announced 2012 season has reason to celebrate with the premiere of a musical about a poet, a real-life Canadian poet. How is that for taking a chance?
Robert Service, who immortalized the Yukon in such beloved (and accessible) poems as “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam MeGee,” is the subject of “Wanderlust,” commissioned by Stratford.
Written and directed by Morris Panych with music by Marek Norman, “Wanderlust” celebrates the allure of the frontier and the power of imagination with the wit of Service’s poetry. It will play at the Tom Patterson Theatre.
Robert Service
Born in England in 1874, Service moved to Canada at age 21. His career as a bank clerk, of all things, took him to Victoria, Whitehorse and Dawson City in the Canadian west during the gold rush -- where his penchant for writing poetry took flight with real-life events he either witnessed or was told.
Service also wrote thriller novels, starred in a Hollywood movie, served in the American Red Cross during World War I,  and eventually moved to France, where he died in 1958.
“Wanderlust” is one of the season’s four Canadian works,  including three premieres developed at Stratford.
Also on the schedule, and get this, is “MacHomer.” It is billed as a multi-media production in which Shakespeare’s Macbeth meets the animated TV show “The Simpsons.” Created by Canadian Rick Miller, he also stars in it and adopts more than 50 Simpsons characters voices while retaining most of the play’s tragic text about a man’s blind ambition.
Who says Stratford doesn’t have a sense of humor! “MacHomer”  plays the Studio Theatre, Stratford’s smallest of its four theater venues.
Oh to be sure there is the more typical Shakespeare and familiar musicals on the 2012 bill:
-- “Henry V,” a penetrating study of an English king who unites his fractured people with a campaign against the French, plays the Festival Theatre and is directed by artistic director Des McAnuff.
-- “Much Ado About Nothing” is at the Festival Theatre, directed by Christopher Newton, a former artistic director of the Shaw Festival at Niagara-on-the-Lake and a member of the Stratford acting company in the 1960s. Beatrice and Benedick feud and fuss fiercely against each other, but fall in love despite their protestations.
-- “Cymbeline,” the trials of a woman separated from her husband through the villainy of a would-be seducer, is at the Tom Patterson Theatre. Anthony Cimolino, general manager at Stratford,  directs.
-- “42nd Street,” about a chorus girl who becomes a Broadway star, is at the Festival Theater. It is directed by Gary Griffin,” whose “West Side Story,” “Evita” and “Camelot” were hits at Stratford.
-- Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta “The Pirates of Penzance,” at the Avon Theatre, is a zany story about young love and orphan pirates. Ethan McSweeny directs.
-- “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” inspired by the comic strip Peanuts and starring  all of Charles M. Schultz’s beloved characters, plays the Avon Theatre. Donna Feore, with strong choreographic skills, directs.
Rounding out the 60th season at Stratford are:
-- Christopher Plummer in the one-man show “A Word or Two,” which focuses on the actor’s love of literature and how it shaped his life. Included are words penned by Stephen Leacock, Bernard Shaw and, of course, William Shakespeare. 
Plummer, a Canadian who is an international star of stage and screen, is a long-time Stratford regular in some of its most critically acclaimed productions. McAnuff directs, at the Avon.
-- Thorton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker,” the basis of the musical “Hello Dolly” and its meddling marriage broker, plays the Festival Theatre. Chris Abraham directs.
-- Sophocles’ classic Greek tragedy “Ekektra” features a translation by  Canadian poet Anne Carson and is stagedy Athenian director Thomas Moschopoulos. The timeless tale about vengeful matricide ad the price paid for it plays at the Tom Patterson.
The other two Canadian premieres are “The Hirsch Project,” a portrait f former festival directed John Hirsch who escaped from the Holocaust and rose to international acclaim as a director, and “The Best Brothers,” about two brothers who re-examine their lives and their relationships after the death of their mother.
Both play at the Studio Theatre. 
Written by Alon Nashman and Paul Thompson, the Hirsch play will star Nashman as Hirsch with Thompson directing.

Former Saginawian gives his view on Gov. Snyder's moves to court business

by Janet I. Martineau
Newly serving Gov. Rick Snyder has been taking a lot of heat lately for his new moves to cut taxes for businesses operating in the the expense of pensions for retirees and support for school students.
Michael A. Finney
Maybe he and his administrators just need to do more efficient explaining of the method behind their madness.
Michael A. Finney, the president and CEO of Snyder’s Michigan Economic Development Corporation, did just that recently when he stopped by in Saginaw to talk to members of the Rotary Club of Saginaw.
Finney is no stranger in these parts. From age 17, he spent 18 years in Saginaw -- as a student at SVSU, as a senior vice president and general manager at Thomson Saginaw, and as an assistant city manager.

"What Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to do is reinvent the state of Michigan,"  Finney told Rotary members  -- noting we were at No. 49 of the 50 states when it came to unemployment and joblessness.

"We lost 800,000 jobs in the last decade, and the governor is trying to create a fair and efficient environment in the state. We have one chance to get it right, and yes there is a shared sacrifice in this when it comes taxing the pensions of seniors and decreasing subsidies for schools."

The legislature has passed the most balanced budget in the last decade or more, he said, and an improved bond rating is likely to follow. That translates to more affordable bonds when entities like schools seek them to build new facilities, he said.

The reduced business tax which passed the legislature and Snyder signed  will result in 95,000 of the 141,000 businesses in the state no longer paying a business tax, Finney said -- helping make us the second most competitive state in the Great Lakes rather than the last. Indiana is No. 1. More business operating in the state results in more jobs and more taxes collected from workers, which benefits state operations.

Regarding incentives, Finney said companies think in shorter cycles of 1-4 years and Michigan was giving tax incentives of 5-10 years, resulting in $8 billion in tax credits. "We will now do things in 1-4 years and no longer be giving away tens of millions of dollars. And if a business is not creating the jobs, then they should not get a tax credit."

Finney also said that in interviews with companies, the lure of incentives comes AFTER they address the issues of being able to find the talent they need, the tax burden and the quality of living.

He called the new plans underway "economic gardening" and says his team is building a tool kit to help it grow.

-- The state surveyed businesses on what they need, rather than the state assuming what they need.  They said money is No. 1 but banks have tightened up. So the state created an $80 million pool for collateral support which will in turn leverage private support.

-- The state will offer export assistance. Very few U.S. companies export, less than 5 percent. "We have a staff of export experts to assist. That and the state government and all of us have to buy more from Michigan."

-- The state will help businesses find the talent they want.

We need to, he says, get back to the days of entrepreneurs like H.H. Dow, Henry Ford, W.K. Kellogg, C.S. Mott "who made Michigan and the U.S. the economic engine it is."

The founders of Google, Barracuda Networks, Groupon were Michigan-linked men who found start-up support elsewhere when Michigan did not foster or incubate it. "We need to develop others like them and are putting $25 million a year into this."

Also underway is a proactive Mich Again campaign which brings 250 college kids to  Michigan city for a day visit, showing the good, the ugly, the job opportunities. Detroit was first. Midland is next. 

Mich Again also is working through alumni networks to bring Michiganders back. In the next 12 months visits are planned to cities all over the United States.

-- The state is forming an emphasis on urban cores -- Detroit, Benton Harbor, Battle Creek, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Flint -- and staff to advise this urban initiative.

-- Pure Michigan "is the best brand going so we will continue to focus on that. It really plays well and people get emotional about those ads. We want to expand it from tourism to include business as well."

To people worried about the rise of China, "It is a fact the world is getting very small. They are investing in us and we want to encourage that."

The Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs also is under Finney's leadership "and while it will never be as high as it once was, last year its budget was $1.2 million and next year it is $2.5 million." 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Schedule of events for free Jazz on Jefferson

by Janet I. Martineau
One of Saginaw’s premier summertime events takes place Wednesday, June 8.
Jazz on Jefferson might be labeled the ultimate in block parties as musicians, food vendors and artists celebrate along the street of one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, one which stood at the edge of a once-thriving downtown and which was THE address to have.
Jefferson is now home to several churches, Hoyt Library, the Castle Museum of Saginaw County and restored homes -- all of which play a role in the annual Jazz on Jefferson event which includes carriage rides and an antique car show as well as a guided walking tour.
Jazz on Jefferson runs from 4:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. All events are free, except for a nominal fee for the carriage rides.
Schedule for Jazz on Jefferson
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
4:45  Saginaw High Drumline to start event
5:00 – 8:00 Event / Venues Open / Free Carriage Rides
8:00 – 9:00 Concert by The Robert Lee Revue at First Congregational Church 
Castle Museum – 500 Federal
Music by Scott Tuttle, Jack Luna, Ester Watrous 
    Antique and Classic Car Show
    Food vendors (rear of building)
Strawberry Shortcake, Pasong’s, El Rancho Grande, Texas Dave’s BBQ
   Architectural Walking Tour  7:15
Hoyt Public Library – 505 Janes
Sasse Saxophone Quartet on S. Jefferson porch
Public Libraries of Saginaw Hospitality Tent in parking lot
Kingdom Life Ministries – 310 South Jefferson
Sausage, chips, pop, Stroh’s Ice Cream
Music in sanctuary by Saginaw Choral Society  6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Tours of complex
Shalom Urban Ministry Center – 326 South Jefferson
Art, music, children’s games, food
Team One Credit Union – 520 Hayden
              Arts and Craft Show, music, free popcorn, mural along Hayden Street, Do it yourself chalk art in parking lot
411 Hayden
Open house
First Congregational Church – 403 South Jefferson
Spring Into Art Show, tours of the church 
Open House with refreshments at The Dow House
Concert by Robert Lee Revue at 8:00 p.m. (seating starts at 7:45) 
519 Millard
Open House - renovation/restoration 
                Music by Jean Marie Learman
                Hausbeck Pickles 
Art exhibit and sales
500 Block of South Jefferson 
Neighborhood Renewal Services Hospitality Tent at 523 South Jefferson
Magic Bean Café tent with Gelato and music and much
                PRIDE in Saginaw booth
                Garden walk at 503 S. Jefferson
New Amadore Apartments – 518 Thompson
Apartment Tours, entertainment
632 Thompson - Open House
Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption – 615 Hoyt
Hot Dogs, brats, refreshments, music by Saginaw Brass Quintet in parking lot
Rectory open house, ongoing building tours

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All the acts are locked in for June 24-26 Michigan Jazz Trail Festival in Saginaw, Midland, Bay City

by Janet I. Martineau
All the stars are aligning as the three-day Michigan Jazz Trail Festival nears its Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26, run.
National headliners are headed to the festival’s concerts in Bay City and Midland. And local talent which tours internationally is booked for the final gig in Saginaw.
“We have all our acts locked in place, and I think we are going to cross bridges and boundaries with this event,” says festival founder Molly McFadden, a Midland resident. “We believe people in Midland will travel to Saginaw, people in Saginaw will travel to Bay City, and so on.”

She also notes that while it’s titled as a  JAZZ festival, a mixed bag of music is planned.
Soul singer/songwriter Bettye LaVette, who was born in Muskegon and raised in Detroit, headlines the “Blues on the Bay” concert in Bay City. Jazz guitarist/singer John Pizzarelli is on tap for the “Jazz at the Tridge” event in Midland.
And Saginaw’s Temple Theatre hosts pianist/arranger Kevin Cole, a native of Bay City, and two Saginaw-based groups: the seven-member New Reformation Band and the Brush Street quartet with singer Julie Mulady.
Morgan McMillon
What has McFadden, a jazz singer herself, the most excited, however, is that each of the three concerts also will feature potential rising stars. 
Three high school jazz bands, the award-winning ACT-SO Jazz Ensemble, the newly formed groups Voices of Jazz and Saginaw Teens on Stage, and jazz saxophonist Morgan McMillon, a recent graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, are among the budding young players participating.
“They are the future for this music, its history and Michigan’s heritage,” says McFadden. “Including them in this festival provides them with incentive, and allows them to perform alongside professionals.”
She also is excited about the cost -- buying an advance  $30 pass gets a person in to all three events. And for those who just want to sample one, the cost is only $15 at the gate for each of the shows ($10 for students). 
“At the Savannah Jazz Festival, it costs $50 a ticket just to see John Pizzarelli.”
The line-up is as follows:
Bettye LaVette
-- Friday, June 24, “Blues on the Bay,”  at the Friendship Shell in downtown Bay City, features LaVette  as well as  Old Wolves Blues Band, Scott Baker and the Universal Expressions, Soul Express,The Burdons, Bay City Central High School Jazz Band and  Garber High School Jazz Band.
LaVette, 64, scored her first hit at age 16 with the Top 10 rhythm and blues single “He’s a Lovin’ Man.” Since then she’s gone eclectic, also singing blues, rock, funk, gospel and country. 
Her music career took a six-year hiatus when she was on Broadway in the musical “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” In 2007, LaVette won a Grammy nomination for her album “The Scene of the Crime,” featuring her interpretations of music by such country and rock stars as Willie Nelson, Elton John and Don Henley.
In 2008 she performed during the Kennedy Center Honors in a tribute to honorees Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who. In 2009 she performed during an Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.
Her most recent album is “Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook,” featuring the music of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and Pink Floyd. And LaVette has been on NPR’s “World Cafe” and “All Things Considered” as as well as all the late night talk shows.
Gates open at 3:30 p.m. and the rain-or-shine concert begins at 5 p.m. Concertgoers must provide their own seating on lawn chairs or blankets. Small coolers and picnic baskets are admitted but the park does not allow alcoholic beverages. Limited concessions will be available. Parking is free on streets around the park.
-- Saturday, June 25, “Jazz at the Tridge,” on the lawn in back of the H Hotel in downtown Midland, features Pizzarelli as well as Molly McFadden and the Bistro Boys,  the 16-member Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band, Mike Brush and Julie Mulady, Jeff Hall with Mary Gilbert, Bryan Rombalski and Three Worlds, Saginawian Morgan McMillon,  the 11-member gospel group The Bamecians, Cynthia Levi with Val Lemmon, ACT-SO Jazz Ensemble, H.H. Dow High School Jazz Band and Voices of Jazz.
Pizzarelli, 50, is a native of New Jersey and the son of jazzman Bucky Pizzarelli. He is active as a jazz guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and band leader.
He lists 23 solo albums on his resume as well as 40 more in collaborations ranging from James Taylor to Rosemary Clooney,
John Pizzarelli
In 2008 Pizzarelli was nominated for a Grammy for “With a Song in My Heart,” a tribute to the music of Richard Rodgers. Other popular albums have featured his interpretations of jazz standards and bossa nova and the music of Frank Sinatra and Nat “King’ Cole.
Pizzarelli has performed with the Boston Pops, hosts a syndicated weekly radio show, and has appeared on all the late night talk shows.
Gates opens at 3 p.m. and the rain-or-shine concert  begins at 4 p.m. Concertgoers will receive wristbands so they can come and go from the concert  site to downtown stores and bistros.
Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. Picnic baskets and wine are allowed. Wine and beer tents and food vendors will be onsite. Dancing space is planned.  And parking is free on most streets and lots around the area.
-- Sunday, June 26, “Heart & Soul at the Temple Theatre,” 203 N. Washington in downtown Saginaw, with Cole, New Reformation Band,  Brush Street with Julie Mulady and Saginaw Teens on Stage (featuring seven performers doing solos and group songs).
Cole is a native of Bay City, but now lives in Chicago and performs solo and with orchestras around the world. He has amassed international credits with his work as a pianist, arranger, composer and singer of music by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. He frequently returns home to perform in the mid-Michigan area.
New Reformation, founded by brothers David and Nick Oppermann,  is in its 41st year of playing jazz and Dixieland music and has recorded 16 albums. Two New Reformation  concerts were videotaped, one of them at the Temple, and aired nationally over PBS. And the group has performed at virtually every major jazz festival in the U.S. as well as with symphony orchestras and on cruise ships.

Brush Street features Mike Brush on keyboards with three other musicians playing acoustic bass, guitar and drums. Mulady is a husky-voiced blues singer. The group has performed with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and at the Detroit Institute of Arts as well as at a variety of venues throughout mid-Michigan.
Doors open at 3 p.m. and the concert begins at 4 p.m. All seats are general admission. No food or drinks may be brought into the Temple. Parking is free on the city streets, in a lot at the back of the Temple, and with a shuttle service provided from the Saginaw  Tower Parking Lot at 515 N. Washington.
Molly McFadden and the Bistro Boys
The $30 passes are on sale at:
-- The Temple Theatre in Saginaw. At the box office, by calling (877) 754-SHOW or online at Box office hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
-- State Theater, 913 Washington  Ave. in Bay City. At the box office, by calling (989) 892-2660, or online at Box office hours are 9:30 a.m. to  4 p.m. Monday through Friday, extended to 6 p.m. Wednesday.
-- The Midland Center for the Arts, 1801 W. St. Andrews. At the box office, by calling (800) 523-7649 or online at Box office hours are noon to 6 p.m.  Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Among the sponsors of the Michigan Jazz Trail Festival and its “Find Your Groove” slogan are Wildfire Credit Union, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, Garber Management Group, MidMichigan Health, Ieuter Insurance Group, ClearRiver Advertising and Marketing, F.P. Horak, Tri-Star Trust Bank and Saginaw Valley State University.
For more information on the performers and maps for the locations, log on to