Remembering roots

. May 25, 2012.
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The man I’m looking forward to most is Billy Bragg, the British “alternative rock musician.” He’s been sticking it to the establishment for over 30 years, but he hates being labeled as a political songwriter; he sees himself writing about topical issues. He has admired Woody Guthrie for years, and you may like his Mermaid Avenue trio of albums with Wilco covering some unreleased Woody Guthrie songs in the late 1990s, early 2000s and the third  — and final — volume just released two months ago at this year’s Record Store Day.  In his current one-man show, he’s celebrating the 100th anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, doing a two-part evening — first an acoustic set of Guthrie covers, and then a second set, full-on Bragg style. It should be an evening at the Ark to remember! Sunday, June 11, at 7:30pm. Tickets are $35. Buying in advance is highly recommended.

If traditional American folk is more to your liking, Anne Hills has a gorgeous soprano voice and this lush song-writer is making one of her all-too-rare stops at the Ark on Wednesday, June 13, at 8pm.  While I adore her frequent collaborations with other musicians, her solo tours are wonderful, as they give her a chance to showcase the fruits of over thirty years of performing and songwriting. She’s touring in support of her newest album, Rhubarb Trees. She is a perfectly lovely performer, with a voice that haunts your memory. Several of her songs are on my 5-star list. Tickets are $15.Photo by Anne Hoel

Perhaps, however, you hanker for some traditional klezmer music? In that case, Lansing’s Heartland Klezmorim, which is Michigan’s premiere (and only!) traditional klezmer band, playing violin, trumpet, banjo, string bass and drums, will be at the Ark Sunday June 10 at 8pm to satisfy your longings. The band celebrates the release of their first album, Gut Morgn, which features popular and traditional klezmer tunes. Tickets are $15.

And, finally, local bluegrass legends The RFD Boys (and Friends) will appear in a very special show at the Ark on Sunday, June 30, at 8pm. In honor and memory of their fiddle player and emcee, Dick Dieterle, who lost his battle with cancer in February, the Boys are celebrating the release of an album of Mr. Dieterle’s own bluegrass compositions, which was completed only weeks before his death. It’s going to be hard to imagine the RFD Boys without Mr. Dieterle, but they plan on keeping the legacy alive. Tickets are $25 Gold Circle, $20 reserved, and $15 general admission.

Just a note that, while the schedule is not yet set for June, the Crazy Wisdom upstairs Tea Room has live music weekends every Friday and Saturday night from 8:30 to 10:30pm. Come in, have a cup of tea, and listen to fine live music. Recent musicians have included singer-songwriters, alt-country groups, jazz musicians, and Indian tabla maestros. The vibe is quite laid-back and the price is certainly right — it’s a no cover charge event.