@ Your Library
Recent library events, news and more.
Accolades from the music press are always nice, but when Corky Siegel calls someone his favorite harmonica player, people tend to pay attention. Once a student of Big Walter Horton, Peter Madcat Ruth has been blowin’ harp around these parts for more than four decades and has performed with some of the best.
In 1990, Madcat joined guitarist and singer Shari Kane, “the most dangerous fingerstyle blues guitarist north of the Yazoo,” to form Madcat & Kane. Since then, the Ann Arbor-based couple has toured extensively, playing at some of the most prestigious blues venues in the country. Then add two of Michigan’s most versatile musicians to the mix, Mark Schrock and Mike Shimmin, and you have Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, an acoustic quartet of considerable power and finesse.
To be able to witness talent like this in our own fair city is a treat in and of itself, but to see them at the library—free of charge nonetheless—made last Friday an Art Hop to remember. The fast-paced set opened with a Charley Patton standard from the 1930s, “Moon Goin’ Down,” and rolled on through more than ninety minutes of Delta blues standards, trains songs and “Mississippi party music” by the likes of Furry Lewis, Walter Davis, Blind Boy Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and others. “We like to dig deep, deep down,” Ruth noted, “and find some of those old acoustic blues things that kinda’ got lost and no one’s doing them anymore… keep ‘em goin’.”
You can find lots of what they played at KPL on the quartet’s latest CD, Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street Live at the Creole Gallery, and you can download a podcast of the Art Hop show in the KPL Concert Archives.
“This is a gorgeous library,” Shari adds. “I love Ann Arbor, but it was such a treat to come here… it’s such a jewel of a city that you have here.” Thanks, Shari, we think so, too—please come back and see us any time!
Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street
Kalamazoo Public Library was very pleased to host illustrator Kim Shaw in an Anti Bullying Art Workshop. Kim presented her newest book, The Juice Box Bully, and then led a lively discussion on bullies and friendship. It was clear from the response of the school aged and adult audience that the topic is more timely than ever.
Kim then led an interactive drawing workshop wherein everyone had the opportunity to learn and practice some great drawing skills. Kids especially enjoyed this part - essentially a a small intro to drawing class for nearly fifty! Lots of nice drawings emerged from the Van Deusen room.
Kim created the art for The Juice Box Bully based on Kalamazoo's Woodward School for Technology and Research. Listen to Kim discuss how that real-life school influenced her illustrations.
Anti Bully Art Workshop
An Dro likes to call itself Celtic-based, globally infused world-beat music—a fairly accurate description, it seems. And its members, none of whom are strangers to Kalamazoo audiences, come from an equally diverse mixture of backgrounds and musical experiences. Michele Venegas, once a member of Fonn Mór, is an accomplished fiddler who can certainly stand with the best. Fred Wilson, once a member of the Irish music group Amadaun, brings influences from his years of teaching at home and abroad to his articulate guitar and mandolin work. Jim Spalink, also a member of Amadaun who later went on to form Puck Faire, adds texture to the An Dro sound with a blend of Celtic harp, hurdy-gurdy, bouzouki, lute and recorder. Percussionist extraordinaire Carolyn Koebel, also a member of Fonn Mór, is well known and loved around these parts for her work with Blue Dahlia, Dunuya Drum and Dance, and a host of others.
For those of us who relish the instrumental side of Celtic-world fusion, this show was indeed a real treat. The four members seamlessly wove traditional Irish reels, an dro dance tunes (an dro is a traditional form of folk dance from Brittany), floating European and Middle Eastern influenced melodies and inspired originals into a dozen pieces to fill a gorgeous 90 minute set. The crowd of more than a hundred rewarded the group with a well-deserved standing ovation at the end. If you missed the show (shame on you) or you would like to relive part or all, you’ll find audio, video, and photo souvenirs on our Concert Archives page.
Over the summer, you’ll find An Dro performing at the Buttermilk Jamboree near Yankee Springs on June 12, and elsewhere throughout West Michigan. Check the band’s calendar for details.
Coming up at KPL, don’t miss a special Art Hop Concert on June 3 with special guests Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, and on June 15, be sure to catch the amazing Brian Michael Fischer and the BMF band. And Summer @ kpl is just getting started…
If you’ve visited the Kids & Parents section of the KPL website lately, you might have noticed the small live webcast located in the lower right-hand corner of the page. A quick click of the play icon and you’ll see a direct live video feed from the Raptor Resource Project (RRP) that lets you keep tabs 24/7 on a family of nesting bald eagles high above a fish hatchery in extreme northeast Iowa.
The Raptor Resource Project (a 501(c)(3) non-profit) directly manages more than thirty falcon, owl and eagle nesting sites across the US, while advocating preservation and research through lectures, education programs and its own website.
Perched some eighty feet above the ground on private property near the fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa, the nest itself is massive; nearly six feet across, four feet deep, and weighing roughly half-a-ton. This same nest was featured in American Eagle, a 2008 PBS documentary by Emmy-winning cinematographer Neil Rettig, the first-ever HD feature about bald eagles.
Last October, a team of experts installed two treetop cameras overlooking the nest. The main camera is mounted about five feet above the nest and streams live 24/7, while the other has pan-tilt-zoom capability and is operated remotely whenever there is significant activity. Infrared night vision (invisible to the eagles) allows for nighttime viewing. The live stream has been surprisingly captivating to watch—I occasionally keep it open in a small window on my desktop. (The accompanying live audio stream even makes a great natural soundscape!)
In late February, their work began to pay off as a nesting female laid her first egg, while the male dutifully kept the nest supplied with food. The second egg came along three days later on February 26, and a third on March 2.
The pair took turns tending to the eggs while the other left the nest, only to return a short time later with something fresh to eat—usually a fish or small animal. At times, the birds battled seemingly insurmountable odds; heavy show, bitter winds and torrential rain.
The first egg hatched on April 2, the second and third followed just days later. Three tiny bundles of helpless fuzz that within a few short weeks, have since grown to become clumbsy yet capable young eaglets, now able to stand, stretch, and move freely around the nest. When the adults are absent, the youngsters often sit near the edge of the nest and peer over, perhaps wondering when and from where lunchtime will arrive. By the end of June (after roughly 11-12 weeks), the young birds will learn to fly and leave the nest on their own. The cycle then begins again.
So next time you’re on the Kids & Parents page, drop in on our new friends. And you won’t be alone. Since it began, the Decorah Eagles website has received a whopping 98.3+ million views, with several tens of thousands of viewers watching at any given time!
A warm spring breeze, a little much-needed sunshine, and some outstanding roots music all combined to make for an unforgettable Saturday afternoon at the Oshtemo Branch Library. Earth Day was Friday, April 22, but somehow KPL managed to stretch the celebration into a two day affair with a truly unique set of performances by a close-knit group of musicians from the Earthwork Music Collective.
While the younger members of the audience danced in the sunshine and adorned the parking lot with artistic sidewalk chalk creations, a crowd of more than 300 filled the tent and library garden area to enjoy an afternoon’s worth of music from some of the finest singers, songwriters and musicians Michigan has to offer. Yes, these folks are really that good.
Seth Bernard acted as MC for the afternoon and welcomed to the stage an amazing lineup of friends and family for a variety of captivating original tunes and timely “Earth-friendly” covers. Seth joined his longtime performing companion May Erlewine, the extended “Davis Family” (Rachael Davis with Joshua Davis and Dominic John Davis of Steppin’ In It and honorary Davis-for-a-day, Michael Shimmin “Davis”), Sam Corbin & Jen Sygit, Brandon and Bethany Foote (known collectively as Gifts or Creatures), Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp (known collectively as Red Tail Ring), and Josh Keller of Who Hit John? fame for some truly inspirational music in honor of the big blue ball. And there were several surprises along the way—from a glimpse of an upcoming Josh Davis solo project to an inspired sing-along of a timeless Woody Guthrie classic. KPL’s Kevin King kept the youngsters occupied with a reading of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss during intermission. You’ll find audio, video, photos and more from this event and others in KPL’s Concert Archives.
This was 46th show in KPL’s ongoing series of free live concerts, and (thankfully) there’s no end in sight. Upcoming shows include a May 18th appearance by An Dro, A special June 3rd Art Hop with Madcat, Kane & Maxwell Street, high octane blues from the BMF Band on June 15, and to celebrate our 50th show, a special July return performance by Steppin’ In It, the very group that started the live music series back in June 2008! And that’s just a start. Watch for more details coming soon!
The Western Dance Project, the touring ensemble from Western Michigan University's Department of Dance, came to the Central Library to perform in the Rotunda over Spring Break. The program began with a dance choreographed to a movement from composer John Adams's trancelike Shaker Loops. The program also included a piece called "Little Blue Worm", a crowd favorite, about kids playing on the playground. After many other entertaining and beautiful dances, the program closed with an amazing hip hop peice by WMU Department of Dance alum Chopper Platt featuring eight different tracks of music in sequence.
Western Dance Project director and dance professor David Curwen told us about how dance works and even taught us some moves in between the dances. We're glad Western Dance Project made a stop at the library and we look forward to having the Western Dance Project back again!
Western Dance Project
What has hearing so acute that it can hear a mouse moving under the snow from a football field length away?
Turns out it’s a barred owl. The owl is just one of the feathered “super heroes from the sky” that recently visited Washington Square Branch Library, as part of a program presented by the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Children and adults alike were fascinated to see raptors up close, and to learn about the birds from knowledgeable Nature Center staff.
Check out library programs for all ages online at our KPL website, or pick up a printed schedule at any of our library locations. We have something for everyone!
Attention SCRABBLE® players! Here’s your chance to show off your SCRABBLE® prowess or play just for fun with other enthusiasts. Kalamazoo Literacy Council is hosting the 1st Annual SCRABBLE® Fest on Saturday, April 16, 12:00 - 4:00 p.m. at Portage Northern High School. All levels of players are welcome but you must be at least 16 years of age. Register for either “Competitive” or “Just for Fun” games and play all afternoon for a fee of $25.
Join us for word-making fun and great prizes! All event proceeds will support adult literacy education in Kalamazoo County. Contact Andrea Enyedi, Ready to Read Program Coordinator for more information.
The Friends held a very successful two day sale at the Oshtemo Branch Library earlier this month. Starting Friday morning, before Oshtemo opened, eager book buyers lined up for the chance to peruse the tables loaded with all sorts of great finds. Books were being sold for $.50 or 3 for $1.00. According to Carol Manstrom, Bookstore Coordinator, many books were indeed sold. Carol calculates 5,700 books were purchased during the 2 day sale!
Many thanks go to Carol and her crew of volunteers who moved, arranged and rearranged, and sold the many volumes of books. They are so good at what they do best – supporting the Kalamazoo Public Library.
Please remember that the Friends have a continuous book sale at their store located on the lower level of the Central Library.
Friends of Kalamazoo Public Library
With Spring Break just around the corner, you can look forward to lots of great events to enjoy at your library!
These events and more at Kalamazoo Public Library are listed on the KPL calendar!
In a recent Chinese New Year program in the Van Deusen Auditorium, families who visited Kalamazoo Public Library enjoyed a story and performance by the Lion Dance Troupe from the Chinese Association of Greater Kalamazoo. We learned about the Chinese zodiac and everyone had the opportunity to meet the dancers, see the costumes up close, and even play the percussion instruments. That was fun!
Events at Your Library