Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saginaw composer Catherine McMichael pens ode to sunken tall ship HMS Bounty

The late HMS Bounty in the Saginaw River headed for Bay City, in 2010

story/photo of ship in Bay City by janet i. martineau

A majestic tall ship constructed for a movie, and which twice visited Bay City for a Tall Ship Celebration, may have sunk off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

But the HMS Bounty lives again in music -- during a  five-minute piece commissioned by the Bay Concert Band and composed by Catherine McMichael of Saginaw Township.

“I did research on both ships,” says McMichael, referring to the 1787 Royal Navy one on which the novel ”Mutiny on the Bounty” was based and the larger replica of it built in 1960 for the Marlon Brando movie of the same name. “And I read as much as I could.

“I decided I wanted to evoke an image of an historic ship on the high seas, sails at full mast, riding over the swell of the waves. I did not want to evoke her story, or write a dirge, although the piece does honor the tragedy of the ship as well as its majesty.”

McMichael’s “Legacy of the Bounty” will premiere at 7pm Thursday, July 11, during  a free Bay Concert Band performance at the Friendship Shell in Bay City’s Wenonah’s Park -- with this year’s contingent of visiting tall ships moored within sight on both sides of the Saginaw River. 

“It’s a great setting for its premiere, in the right place and with the water,” says McMichael.

McMichael says she penned the piece in a week and that it contains a long trumpet  line with woodwinds rising in answer and a middle section that evokes some of the turbulent history surrounding both the real-life original  and the sinking of the one built for the movie. 

While she says she never saw the Bounty when it visited Bay City in 2003 and 2010, she has sailed on a tall ship out of Providence, R.I.,  during a night trip and loved hearing the slapping of the sails and the cracking of the ropes.
Peter Makar Jr. IV , the conductor of the Bay Concert Band, says the  board of the band decided that some sort of piece concerning the Bounty would be appropriate due to the events of last year and the fact that it had been to Bay City in the past.

McMichael jokes that all he asked of her piece it that it pay homage to a “noble British Nimrodian” and that Makar  too wanted it  to focus on the ship’s life more than its sinking.

Says Makar, “There were several people considered for the composing task but after some discussion the board decided on Catherine and offered her the commission.”   

“Catherine had written a multi-movement work many years ago that was premiered by us in honor of the passing of local trumpet player and band member Andy Andersen. (That work was commissioned by his wife, Mary.)  That and the fact that Catherine was very experienced and living in the area made her selection seem like the logical choice.”

Composer Catherine McMichael
Makar says he has only heard the “Legacy of the Bounty” once -- a computer-generated version. 

“So  it is hard for me to get a perspective on what it will really sound like.  Computer programs tend not to provide the color and sonority of any large ensemble.

“What  I did take away was that the work is very appropriate to both the ensemble playing it (a definite challenge for any composer) and the idea that prompted its creation.  It is a fine work and I will be very proud to lead the Bay Concert Band in its premiere.”

Makar played brass trombone in the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra  for 32 years and also served as the manager of the Saginaw-based New Reformation Band for several years 

McMichael’s piece is second on the all-nautical July 11 program. Also on the bill are “Parade of the Tall Ships,” Sousa’s “Glory of the Yankee Navy March” and “Hands Across the Sea March,” “Montego Bay,” “Fantasy on American Sailing,”  “Vaughan Williams’ “Sea Songs” and  “Army of the  Nile March.”

The Bounty replica also was used in the movies “Treasure Island” with Charlton Heston and two of the “Pirates of the Carribben” installments with Johnny Depp. At its sinking its worth was valued at $4.6 million.

Two lives were lost in the 2012 sinking, which had 16 aboard. The captain’s body never was found. But the body of Claudene Christian, a crew member who claimed she was a descendant of Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian, was found by the Coast Guard.

“A text message from her received during the hurricane said to not mourn for her; that she was where she wanted to be,” McMichael says of her research information.

“She wanted to work on the Bounty. She fully felt it was her destiny and that  her family had come full circle.”

As for McMichael’s legacy, she has composed and published  more than 120 works in a career dating back  to the early 1990s -- upwards of 60 of them commissions.

Serving as inspirations for her orchestra, chamber ensemble,  solo instrument and choral pieces are dogs, the Gates of Paradise in Florence Italy, Cape Breton folk music, flowers, tall grasses, the legend of Sleeping Bear, mountain summits, and the Saints and Sinners sculpture by Marshall M. Fredericks.

She also plays piano with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra and River Raisin Ragtime Revue, and directs the handbell choir at First United Methodist Church in Saginaw Township.

The Bay City Tall Ship Celebration runs July 11-14 with 10 ships participating. This year’s visit honors the 200-year anniversary of the end of the War of 1812, a 32-month military conflict between the United States and the British Empire and which established this nation’s naval dominance.

For more information on the Tall Ship Celebration:

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Epic Tales" await Saginaw Choral Society patrons -- with the help of two dogs

by janet i. martineau

To say the Saginaw Choral Society’s 2013-2014 season has gone to the dogs is actually a compliment.

Because, more precisely, they are artistic director Glen Thomas Rideout’s dogs -- one a lab/Great Dane mix and the other a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, both needing lots of exercise.

When asked how he comes up with his innovative choral programming -- next season’s theme is  “Epic Tales” --- Rideout begins by talking to his choir and tossing ideas around.

“And then I walk my dogs for several days -- 5 to 7 miles a day.” 

During those walks, he continues, he ruminates about music performed in concerts past...listens to material performed by other choirs...pops in a little Beyonce or Britney 
Spears ... “and then I start talking to myself, sometimes my arms flailing like I am conducting.”

Must be an odd sight along his path in Ann Arbor, these huge dogs and this animated tall, skinny man.

And Rideout does admit that programming does not always happen in a timely manner. “I worry the people trying to get out a season brochure with a deadline because I am not always done with the process yet.” Such was the case for one of the four concerts on next season’s schedule -- Rideout’s third in Saginaw as he continues work on his doctorate at the University of Michigan.

“A Season of Epic Tales” as a theme should come as no surprise to patrons familiar with Rideout. He loves, in his concerts, to tell stories -- both musically in the choice of material and verbally as he weaves the evening together.

“I have always seen music as a story, a narrative. My voice teachers instilled in me to sing a song right -- to make people laugh, cry, go to places on the world they have not been, to feel joy.”

So thanks to those dog walks, the season will bring stories galore with “Fantasies of the Opera,” “Christmas Tales,” “Once Upon a Time” fairytales, and  from the world of American musicals “Sondheim Stories.”

Tami S. Snyder-Knutson
With “Fantasies of the Opera” (8pm Oct. 19) expect visits, via arias, duets, small and large ensembles, from larger-than-life characters created by  Mozart, Wagner,  Bizet and Puccini with a little of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” tossed in -- “and the creation of a larger narrative around them.”

Rideout promises a  rollercoaster ride with this one -- and the addition of a 30-member orchestra rather than the smaller ensembles usually seen at Saginaw Choral Society concerts.

And the guest stars? Two fairly recent Saginaw Valley State University grads -- lyric mezzo-soprano Tami S. Snyder-Knutson and soprano Rachelle Austin.

Snyder-Knutson, from Bay City, has performed in the Opera Grand Rapids production of “Samson et Delilah” and the Michigan Opera Theater of Detroit  productions of “Fidelio” and “Aida.”

While at SVSU she was a choral scholar at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Saginaw, under the direction of Kevin Simons, and won numerous vocal honors. In 2012 she was hired as an adjunct instructor of voice at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor

Austin, from  Richmond, is working on her master’s in vocal performance at the Chicago College for Performing Arts of Roosevelt University. She has participated in the Harold Haugh Light Opera Competition and won vocal awards while at SVSU.. 
Rachelle Austin

She has performed with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in Mozart’s “Regina Coeli” and has been a featured soloist at the Baroque on Beaver Island music festival for four consecutive years. 

Austin’s  opera credits include Belinda in “Dido and Aeneas” at SVSU and participation in the summer opera program Canta in Italia in Lucca, Italy. 

The Sondheim (8pm May 17) was chosen for two reasons -- one being the vocal difficulty of Stephen Sondheim’s scores in such musicals as “Company,” “Follies,” “A Little Night Music,” “Sunday in the Park With George,” “Into the Woods” and  “Sweeney Todd.”

“He is complex to sing, and I think the singers need the challenge.”

And the other, Rideout admits, is personal. Rideout recalls how he was raised on gospel music, rhythm and blues, and 1970s funk, given his African-American heritage.

It was in a high school choir he first heard a Sondheim song and was hooked. “I  thought, wow, this is like rap. Classy, clever words and rhythmic music that makes you want to start to dance.

“To me, Sondheim is so clever, so witty. No one else comes close.” 

So he decided to do an all-Sondheim program since his storylines are pretty wild stuff.

“Once Upon Time” (8pm March 1) is the program-in-progress that is rather vague in the season brochure. ”And also what I want to do with it is hard to explain in English. I want to include fantasy, the idea of other worlds, fairytales, mythical creatures, ancient literature texts, unicorn.”

Expect, maybe, Alice in Wonderland, Jack and the Beanstalk, Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” There is, he alleges, no shortage of material for such a concert theme “but it’s the toughest to figure out. I am still working on it.” 

More walks needed with the canines perhaps.

And “Christmas Tales” (3pm Dec. 14) will involve the world of the Nutcracker’s living toys,  the Reluctant Dragon’s wintry adventures and the magic of “The Night Before Christmas.”

Rideout wants to also do a little more with the visuals next season -- using lighting differently as well as moving his singers beyond the Temple Theatre stage.

 “With the Christmas concert  I want to have different choirs in different places. I want them carrying lights.”

Season tickets are on sale, priced from $150 to $33 in a variety of packages and seat locations. Call 753-1812 for more information or a brochure.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SVSU's "Luv" struggles with its dated and absurdist script

Mykaela Hopps, Isaac Wood and Dakotah  Myers  "Luv"

review and photos by janet i. martineau

When you learn a play’s original cast on Broadway was Alan Arkin, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson.....that it was directed by Mike Nichols ... and that it is considered an absurdist comedy and was penned in the turbulent 1960s......

Well, you kinda wonder how Saginaw Valley State University will handle it with young actors in training and with the script’s passage of time in its themes.

Such is the case of Murray Schisgal’s “Luv,” running  7:30pm Wednesday through Friday (June 19-21) in the Black Box Theater as the second of four summer productions.

Oh, and did we mention the movie version starred Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk and Elaine May?.

Well, it struggles and shows its age. And yes, I know it received a Tony nomination for best play and best author back there in 1964, but gawd it is a flawed script.  And when we say absurdist, we ain’t kidding.

Directed by Steven C. Erickson, the three-member cast features  Isaac Wood as Milt, Dakotah Myers 
as Harry and Mykaela Hopps as Elllen -- three of SVSU’s most talented actors currently.

Milt and Harry are old college buddies who meet up by chance in a with a bridge. Harry is there in hopes of jumping off said bridge to commit  suicide. Life has not gone well for him.

Milt, on the other hand, claims he became  a rousing success in life, although his behavior around a trash can might suggest otherwise.

After some “my childhood was worse that yours” banter, Milt talks Harry out of suicide and into the aspect of falling in love ... with Milt’s Milt can marry his mistress.

Over the course of two hours, we watch as these three fall in and out of love and give new meaning to the idea that we are never satisfied with the person we are with and, well, don’t want to spoil too much here.

The playwright tends to overwork the oneupsmanship banter thing. Other than the “my childhood was worse than yours” battle, later Harry and Ellen engage in one about proving their love for the other through a series of assaults on one another. And then there is a recurring knife deal...and a falling of the bridge deal but surviving.

He also has the cast members break out in song from from time to time -- spoofing musicals, we suspect.

And it all gets a little tiring, this formula (although the singing was fun). However, absurdist fans may love it (since there was no audience at the dress rehearsal Tuesday night, no way to judge if people will really laugh and have fun). And for sure that script is dated and does not hold its content well..

Which brings us to SVSU’s cast and its director.

Perhaps the success of this play lies in the rich comedic sense of timing and nuances of  character of the people who played it on Broadway and the movie. They were/are all giants in the art of underplaying but milking a role for all it is worth; of making a flawed play look better; of deadpan techniques.

And while the SVSU cast is, as we noted, top line for what is at SVSU currently...well, the comedic timing and deep nuances just are not present. 

Myers comes close when his Harry falls victim to his many ailments...can’t move, can’t see,  can’t hear, can’t talk (but again, the playwright overextends it). 

The performances are not bad; they just are not convincing AND absurd in one fell swoop..

More, too, could have been done with the set and the costuming to maybe give some oomph to the show. Dunno because we have not seen it before although we have heard about it for years.

So there we are...lukewarm about this show. Lukewarm. Maybe we’ll rent the movie version just to explore if there is more to this play than the script, as least for our tastes.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

County Fair, Schuch Hotel ghosts and Sonny Stitt on 2013 Saginaw Humanities Series.

by janet i. martineau

“Saginaw’s Soul & Spirit” is the theme of the 2013 Saginaw Valley Humanities Series -- entering its 33rd season of lectures presented at 7:30pm Tuesday evenings at the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, 1903 N. Niagara in Saginaw.

This year the free fall series visits the Saginaw County fair, the world of jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt, and the mysteries of the Schuch Hotel in Old Saginaw City.

The schedule is as follows:

-- Sept. 10, “The Saginaw County Fair: Celebrating 100 Fairs 1914 to 2013,” presented by Roselynn Ederer.

A group of Bridgeport farmers planned and executed the first four-day fair which took place in October 1914, and by the 1950s it was such a popular fixture on the city landscape it ran for eight days and was considered the largest county fair in America east of the Rockies.

A decline, however, began in the 1970s as attendance dwindled, until in the 1990s it was downsized to five days and moved to a rural location in Chesaning,

Roderick J. Bieber
Ederer has penned a anniversary fair book, her 13th book dealing with local history. In 2012 her “Indiantown” tome won a State of Michigan Historical Society award. She is retired from a career with the Social Security Administration.

-- Sept. 17, “The Schuch Hotel: Its History, Mysteries, Antiques and Ghosts,” presented by owner Michael Perry.

This familiar eatery/bar on Hamilton opened in 1873 and through the years has carried the name Benson House, Crowley House and, in 1912, Schuch Hotel -- filled with owner John P. Schuch’s collection of historic artifacts, theater programs, Saginaw memorabilia and beer steins. Also popular in his era  was peanut night -- when patrons just deposited the shells on the floor.

Perry became the proprietor in 2004, and capitalizes on the mysteries and ghosts in the hotel part of the establishment. He has lived within blocks of the Schuch all his life and has worked there since 1959.

-- Sept. 24, “Rotary Club of Saginaw Announces Its Centennial Year,” presented by club president Roderick J. Bieber.

Sonny Stitt
This Rotary Club of Saginaw became the 93rd member of Rotary International on Feb. 1, 1914 -- an organization which now has 34,400 clubs in more than 200 counties.

President Bieber will trace some of the club’s community projects  over the years (the purchase and founding of Camp Rotary being one of them) as well as talk about the achievements of some of its members.

Bieber plays violin with the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra, co-conducts the Saginaw Bay Youth Orchestra, is music/choir director at First United Methodist Church, and hosts the Delta College public radio show “Backstage Explorer.”

-- Oct. 1, “The Life and Times of Sonny Sittt Through Words and Music,” presented by Bo White and Jeff Hall.

Edward “Sonny” Stitt (1924-1982) grew up in Saginaw and became one of the best-documented saxophonists of the bebop/hard bop idiom -- recording more than 100 albums and performing with such jazz greats as Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Billy Eckstein. He was inducted into the Saginaw Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Michigan Music Hall of Fame in 2013.

White, the owner of White’s Bar, will talk about Stitt’s life and music. And saxophonist Hall, who performed with Stitt after a by-chance meeting in 1972 in a Detroit lounge, will perform some of his music.

Hall is an artist-in-residence at Saginaw Valley State University and director of its jazz ensemble. He has toured with several world renowned musicians and at jazz festivals worldwide.

Adriel Ruben, left, and Todd Farley
Stitt’s daughter is expected to attend the program

-- Oct. 8, “Saginaw’s Mimes, Masks and Miracles,” presented by the Rev. Todd Farley and Adriel Ruben.

Farley is the senior pastor at First Congregational Church in Saginaw. He studied mime with  Marcel Marceau  and, for a number of years, toured internationally with a group he founded which combined mime and ministry.

Ruben hails from Brazil, and has performed as a dancer  in mime and comedia del’arte in a Brazilian circus and in American and Russian dance theaters.

Together Farley and Ruben will perform inspirational stories from afar and from here at home through mime, dance, circus and storytelling

Also performing with them are students from the Saginaw Arts & Sciences Academy, Heritage High School, Saginaw Valley State University and Delta College.

A musical prelude starts at 7pm during each of the programs, and cookies and beverages follow.

The series is funded through a grant from the Maxwell K. Pribil Memorial Fund administered by Citizens Bank Wealth Management and from contributions to the Saginaw Valley Historic Preservation Society.

It's time to drop everything and head over to the Saginaw zoo

by janet i. martineau

It’s that time of year to again drop everything and head over to the zoo to read.

Home grown book featured this year
Yes, read -- at the 12th annual “D.E.A.R. at the Zoo --  Drop Everything and Read” rain or shine event, sponsored by the READ Association of Saginaw County.  

The popular day-long literacy event, which promotes and encourages summer and family reading, takes place from 10am to 3pm Wednesday, June 19, at the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square, 1730 S. Washington in Saginaw. 

All children attending will receive a new book to take home as well as participate in literacy activities at booths occupied by Barnes and Noble Booksellers, The Black Box Photo Booth, Boy Scout Troop 342, CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region, the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, the Children's Book Company, Great Lakes Bay Publishing,  Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Mid Michigan Waste Authority, Public Libraries of Saginaw, ROR at Covenant HealthCare,  Saginaw Community Foundation's FORCE Youth Advisory Committee,  Saginaw County Birth to 5 Program,  St. Mary’s of Michigan, Target, Thomas Orthodontics PC and Wildfire Credit Union.  

This year’s featured authors are Saginaw Township residents Maryann Czolgosz and Nancy Owens, co-authors of the newly published “Z to A in the Great Lakes Bay book.”

The colorful oversized paperback book takes readers of all ages on an alphabet reading adventure through the Saginaw, Midland, Bay City and Mount Pleasant communities.

Normally priced at $12, during “D.E.A.R.” it will sell at $20 for two books, with the authors on hand to sign from 10am to 2pm.

New this year,  children and their families will have an opportunity to get their photo taken and make a photo bookmark,  The day also will include  animal presentations, book readings and storytelling in the zoo amphitheater, and appearances by costumed characters and puppets.  

The amphitheatre schedule is as follows:  

-- 10:30am, “I'm in Love with a Big  Blue Frog,” words by Leslie Braustein. Read by  Dr. Robert Tuttle, associate professor mechanical engineering at Saginaw Valley State University 

-- 11:15am, “Open Very Carefully: A Book with a Bite” by Nick Bromley. Read by Angela Barris, CEO of the Mid Michigan Children's Museum

-- Noon, “Z to A in the Great Lakes Bay,”  featuring Saginaw  co-authors Maryann Czolgosz and Nancy Owens

-- 1:15pm, “It's A Tiger!”  by David LaRochelle. Read by  Sabrina Beeman Jackson, program director of Saginaw Intermediate School District Head Start

-- 2:15pm, “That Is Not A Good Idea!”  by Mo Willems. Read by  Rhonda Farrell-Butler, Kristine Swanson and  Jennie Tuttle, children's staff  at the Public Libraries of Saginaw. 

Admission is  $7 for adults and children (infants through 11 months are free). Carousel and train rides are $2 per person per ride. 

The READ Association of Saginaw County is a grassroots volunteer initiative with a simple mission:  to help students improve their reading skills and discover the joy of reading.  

Sponsoring “D.E.A.R.” are the  Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation and  the Saginaw Celebrates Summer program, sponsored in part by Hemlock Semiconductor and coordinated by the Saginaw Arts and Enrichment Commission.  

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ovarian cancer survivor leaves 'em laughing at Saginaw's Horizons Town Talk

story and photo by janet i. martineau

She got sick then she got better....

At, of all places,  the parking lot of L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine, thanks to a “huge old boot lying there, the pine trees filled with lights in July, the moon aglow, the evening smell of the Earth expelling from the day.

“And with two lemon yellow Adirondack chairs on order,”  to be shipped to her Martha’s Vineyard abode for free.

“How could I stay mad.”

Those are the words Jenny Allen used to close her Horizons Town Talk presentation on Tuesday at the Horizons Conference Center,  in a 50-minute comedic monologue about her battle with ovarian cancer.

Yes, comedic.

Jenny Allen

Allen does stand-up comedy in Manhattan, where she lives with her famous husband, Pulitzer-winning Village Voice editorial cartoonist  Jules Feiffer, an illustrator and writer with 35 books, plays and screenplays to his credit. 

And despite the fact she recalled blazing anger at the doctors who goofed up big time in making the diagnosis and at her husband for his aloofness she resented (“he does not do tender well”), at her crying jags and rages that tested her friends and family for more than two years, today the battle that began in 2005 is viewed with humor.

She is, after all,  past the 5-year benchmark that puts people in the cancer survivor category and she loves to work an audience. 

When told she had two forms of cancer, she recalled, “I had to think twice about renewing my gym membership.”

Allen’s Saginaw program, a shorter version of a play touring theaters, hospitals and cancer conferences, has a two-fold focus. On one hand it gives support to other cancer patients that what they are experiencing is “normal” and on the other it informs future cancer patients on what to expect.

Tossed in there too is some info on how the rest of us should treat cancer patients.

“Nobody knows what to say so they end up telling you how great you look, meaning I guess you don’t look like a cadaver.”

Some said to her  “it is unfair,” to which she said so is what happens to people hit by a tsunami or tornado.

Others commented that  “well, there is always someone worse than you,” to which she questions why do we always have to compare things.

Then there was the “you never get more than you can handle” comment, which she does not agree with at all especially in light of people who commit suicide.

And, of course,  “everything happens for a reason,” to which she responded “some things just happen for no reason.”

Two of the most remarkable comments she got: “You look great. I was dreading seeing you” and “hello Jenny, I thought you were supposed to be dead.”

So what does she advise? Well, she recalls friends who delivered her dinners unannounced or who gave her colorful scarves (to cover up her bald head head from chemo treatments).

It was nearly a year after  she started having abdominal pain that she found out she had ovarian cancer -- discovered only when she had an operation for endometrial cancer. One doctor said the pain was a pulled muscle.

Her four weeks in the chemotherapy suite “was not depressing” because the patients being treated there were pampered “and despite others being bald, I kept wisps of hair. I looked like a dandelion gone to seed.”

Then came chemo through a port, which left her in pain. “There was no pleasing me...the mood swings were like fourth gear menopause. DON’T TOUCH ME!

“It seemed like my husband got new habits -- how he swallowed water annoyed me.”

Before, in their 30-year marriage, she liked that his vagueness toward her gave her freedom to pursue her career in writing essays and interviews for The New Yorker, The New York Times, Vogue, Esquire, Good Housekeeping and The Huffington Post.

“But right then I needed an advocate, someone to comfort me.” She realizes, now, the gift he gave her is the one he knows how to give -- he suggested she write a book about fables for adults (“The Long Chalkboard”),  for which he did the illustrations. 

Her funniest part of the monologue was recounting her week-long stay at a San Diego raw food retreat “just to get away.” -- one where for the first four days she took a cab into town “to detox from detox,” to get a decent dinner.

There was one drink  they were supposed to consume that “smelled like baby spit up.” One dinner tasted like wet papier mache. The  advocated daily self-administered enemas -- not once for her, thank you.

Two years into her battle she was constantly in tears, “unable to celebrate because I just could not believe I wouldn’t  get sick again, checking  myself every five minutes for symptoms.  I was terrified and it was destroying me. All I did was research, research, research, research.”

And then at the 2 1/2 year mark, she says, things began to change starting with that stop at  L.L. Bean while on a trip to see one of their daughters at a camp.

What has always frustrated her about her husband, she says, is his lack of remembering special things in their life together. Just that night he did not recall the family once stopped at an opera house on Stonington, Maine,  and she started to cry because he had totally forgotten what she fondly remembered.

And then they went into that L. L. Bean parking lot and both saw that “huge old boot just lying there, and he said, ‘You used to have boots like that one.’ She took in the beauty of the place and the ridiculousness of that boot lying there and Jules remembering one like it....”

The play soon followed and was, and remains, a success.

The lead paragraph in this story is a take on the name of that play, “I Got Sick Then I  Got Better,” and is the line she utters in a Centers for Disease Control ad she filmed three years ago and which still plays prime time on many cable stations.

“I even saw myself and that quote on a bus that passed by me once.”

In 2010 she received the “It’s Always Something” award from Gilda’s Club, named in honor of comedienne Gilda Radner who also battled ovarian cancer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A list of mid-Michigan's free outdoor concerts, movies for summer of 2013

compiled by janet i. martineau

Saginaw, Midland and Bay City once again offer a long list of free outdoor concerts and movies this summer. All readers need to do is pack up a lawn chair or blanket and head on out to....

PRIDE’S Friday Night Live
5:30-9pm in Morley Plaza, next to the Temple Theater at 203 N. Washington in Saginaw. Those 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Food and drink vendors.
-- July 12, Classic Rock with The Beets, Byron in Motion.
-- July 19, Country with Tennessee Line
-- July 26 Latin with Conjunta Champz, Grupo Rodeo.
-- Aug. 2, Oldies with New Odyssey
-- Aug. 9, A Music Odyssey with Saginaw Elite Big Band, New Odyssey.
-- Aug. 16, Motown with Soul Street, Horizon

Country music singer Gary Allan

KCQ Country Music Fest
9-5pm Saturday, June 15, on Ojibway Island in Saginaw. (Section 98 seating $29.98, preferred gold seating $9.80, parking on island $15 -- rest of island free seating and parking off island free)
-- 11am, Steel Wheels Band
-- Noon, Maggie Rose
-- 1:30pm, Easton Corbin
-- 3:30pm, Gary Allan
-- Ongoing: arts and craft, food tent, beer tent, children’s play area.

Jazz in the Garden
7pm Wednesdays in the Andersen Enrichment Center Rose Garden, 120 Ezra Rust in Saginaw.
-- July 10, Brush Street With Julie Mulady
-- July 17, New Reformation Band
-- July 24, Cool Lemon Jazz Band
-- July 31, Saucecats

Old Saginaw City Lawn Chair Film Festival
Dusk on Sundays, corner of Ames and N. Hamilton.
-- July 7, Life of Pi
-- July 14, Searching for Sugarman
-- July 21, Moonrise Kingdom
-- July 28, Frankenweenie
-- Aug. 4, The Intouchables
-- Aug. 11, The Avengers

Tunes by the Tridge 
7-9 Thursdays by the Tridge in downtown Midland.
-- June 6, Cool Lemon Jazz, jazz
-- June 13, Muzyka!, pop and folk
-- June 20, Steel Wheels, modern country
-- June 27, The James Robert Band, Christian rock
-- July 4, The String Doctors, string/folk (5:30-7:30pm)
and The Sinclairs, rock (8-10pm)
-- July 11, Baytones, 16-piece big band
-- July 18, Second Time Around, 18-piece big band
-- July 25, The Resonators. percussion
-- Aug. 1, Empty Pockets, rock
-- Aug. 8, Battle of the Bands

Party on McCarty
Mostly 5:30-9pm Thursdays on the grounds of the Saginaw Township Soccer Complex, 3576 McCarty. Food vendors. Beer and wine tent. Concerts free but $5 for parking on site.
-- June 27, Classic Rock Night with Riptide, Under Advisement, Mike Pinera
-- June 28 (a Friday), Margarita Night with Sharrie Williams, Air Margaritaville
-- July 11, 80s Night with We’re Not Jimmy, Square Pegs
-- July 25, Hot Mix Night with Dani Vitany Ten Hands Tall Band, Cancel Monday
-- Aug. 8, Country Night with 25 Cent Beer Band, Mandy Layne & The Lost Highway
-- Aug. 22, Classic Hits Night with The Sinclairs, Toppermost

Frankenmuth Concerts in the Park
7pm Sundays at the Palmer Schau Platz in Memorial Park. Hot dogs, popcorn, nachos, strawberry shortcake, soft drinks for sale.
-- June 23, Elvis Tribute with Max Pellicano
-- June 30, Air Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet tribute band
-- July 7, Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive Tribute Band
-- July 14, Frankie Valli Tribute with Paul Fracassi
-- July 21, Neil Diamond Tribute with Will Chalmers
-- July 28, Shania Twain Tribute with Donna Huber
-- Aug. 4, The Diamonds
-- Aug. 11, Serieux Band, hits of 60s and 70s.

Wednesdays in the Park
6-6:45pm opening act, 7-8:30pm headliner, Wenonah Park in downtown Bay City.
-- June 19, High School Jazz Bands and Act-So, Michigan Jazz Trail Big Band
-- June 26, Perry Woodard School of Dance, The Story of Rock –N- Roll (hits from the 1950’s)
-- July 17, The Savior’s Army, The Beat Club (music from the Beatles)
-- July 24, The Brian Carson Wolf Pack,  Simply Queen (music from Queen)
-- July 31, Dani Vitany & Ten Hands Tall, Shania Twain Tribute
-- Aug. 7, Operation 13, Greatest Hits Live Music from Styx and Journey
-- Aug, 14, Shining Star Dance Academy, Phil Dirt & The Dozers
6th Annual FreeMusic Fest
Noon to dusk Saturday, June 8, at the Tittabawassee Township Park in Freeland. 
A celebration of music and art, it features nine original blues, rock, country and jam bands; a disc golf tournament; interactive art activities, including a group mural and a communal rug, and a Michigan beer tasting tent.

Noon, Sins in Stereo
1pm, the Scott Hozzle Band
2pm, Timothy Hyde Project
3pm, Life Size Ghost
4pm, Bryan Rombalski and Three Worlds
5pm, Big Brother Smokes
6pm The Holy Gun
7pm, Thick As Thieves
8pm, The Macpodz

Saginaw Eddy Concert Band
7pm Sundays on Ojibway Island  in Saginaw unless otherwise noted. In case of rain, the concerts  move to the Saginaw Arts and Sciences  Auditorium, Genesee at N. Niagara.
-- June 16, Father’s Favorites, vocalists Peggy Knutson and Keith Kidder. At the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy. 
-- June 23, Marches and All That Jazz, vocalist Tony Serra
-- June 30, We Are America, vocalists Lora and Dave Keenan (also at 7pm Friday, June 28, at Shau Platz in Frankenmuth)
-- July 14, Great American Composers Part I, vocalists Peggy Knutson and Keith Kidder
-- July 21, Great American Composers Part II, vocalists Lora and Dave Keenan 
-- July 28, Musical Travelogue, vocalists Lora and Dave Keenan
-- Aug. 4, Exciting Entertainment, vocalists Rayechal Nieman and Tony Serra. In the SASA auditorium
-- Aug. 15 (a Thursday), “The Best of the Saginaw Eddy Concert Band. At the FirstMeritt Bank Pavilion across from TheDow Event Center, 303 Johnson.

Tittabawassee Twp. Concerts in the Park
7pm Wednesdays in Tittabawassee Township Park, 9200 Old Midland Road in Freeland.
-- June 12, The Beets, variety band
-- June 19, Butch Heath Country Classic (5-11pm)
-- July 10, The Hit Men, Chicago-style blues
-- July 17, the Sinclairs, rock/pop/oldies
-- July 24, Empty Pockets and Friends, variety
-- July 31, Steel Wheels, country
-- Aug. 7, Paisley Fogg, 60s rock
-- Aug. 14, Honesty and the Liars, rock/pop/blues
-- Aug. 21, Laurie Middlebrook, country

Laurie Middlebrook
Thomas Township Picnic in the Park
6:30-9pm Tuesdays in Roethke Park, 400 Leddy Road. Concessions.
-- June 18, Day 8 Band
-- June 25, Toppermost (Beatles tribute)
-- July 9, Brush Street
-- July 16, The Beets
-- July 23, Butch Heath
-- July 30, The Rock Show
-- Aug. 6, Laurie Middlebrook Band
-- Aug. 13, CEYX
-- Aug. 20, The Bullseye Band

Music From the Marsh
7-8pm Saturdays at Bay City Recreation Area, 3582 State Park Drive in Bay City. In case of rain, moves indoors at the adjacent Saginaw Bay Visitors Center.
-- June 15,  Jean Marie & The Ladds
-- June 22, Hoolie, "Great Lakes Maritime Blues"
-- June 29, Michael Deren, "The Past in Person--Lumberjack Shanty Boy"
-- July 6, Barb Barton
-- July 13, Lee Murdock, "Freshwater Highway"
-- July 20, John Latini, "Blues From the Delta to Detroit"
-- July 27, Chris Vallillo
-- Aug.3,  Dave Boutette, "Slipping Down the Spine of the Great Lake State"
--  Aug. 10, Siusan O'Rourke & Zig Zeitler, "Shamrocks of the Great Lakes"
--  Aug.17,  Muzyka, "Travelin' Through Michigan"
--  Aug. 24,  Elden Kelly, "Michigan Songbook: A Tradition of Beauty"
--  Aug. 31,  Dodworth Duo, "America's Past in Story & Song"

Classic Legacy Band
7:30pm at Andersen Enrichment Center, 120 Ezra Rust in Saginaw.
-- June 20
-- July 18
-- Aug. 15

Saginaw Wonderfest
Noon-8pm Aug. 24, FirstMerit Event Park across from TheDow Event Center, 303 Johnson in Saginaw. Food and entertainment TBA

Fridays at the Falls

6-7pm at Third Street Waterfall Park, Third and Water Streets in Bay City.

-- July 5, Scott Baker & The Universal Expressions, rock, blues, jazz
-- July 12, Dick Case & Friends, smooth jazz
-- July 19, Big Dreams, acoustic duo
-- July 26, The Toys, old-time rock
-- Aug. 2, Magic with Tommy Anderson
-- Aug. 9, Andy Reed, singer/songwriter
-- Aug. 16, Jeff Yantz & the No Name String Band, folk
-- Aug. 23, Josh Ramses Band

Dow Gardens in Midland
Technically these events are not free. The gardens at 1809 West St. Andrews sells a yearly pass for $10, which makes them close to free, or $5 per visit without purchase of the pass

noon to 1:30pm lunch time concerts in the birch grove
-- June 5, Brett Mitchell. pop/rock
-- June 12, Gabe and Tracey, variety
-- June 19 Muzyka!, Peter Paul and Mary Tribute
-- June 26, Tim Krause, guitarist
-- July 3, Stephen Colarelli, folk/rock
-- July 10, Antrim Dells, alternative rock
-- July 17, Bruce Winslow, acoustic classics
-- July 24, Blue Water Ramblers, Americana
-- July 31, Empty Pockets, soft rock
-- Aug. 7, Josh Ramses Band, classic rock

4-6pm the Sundays of July 7 and Aug. 4, music by members of the Folk Music Society of Michigan.