The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.
Two years ago, the Ark, one of Ann Arbor’s most important vessels for channeling local music, launched its largest public fundraiser in history: The Campaign for the Ark. Friday night, at the start of the 27th annual Ann Arbor Folk Festival, representatives for the Ark announced that in just two short years they had achieved their goal.
The original Ark was located on Hill Street in a three-story Victorian mansion, stocked with oversized rooms belonging to the First Presbyterian Church. After the church decided to raze the building, however, Kathleen Dannemiller and other church members urged that the house become a coffee house and a medium for community outreach.
After a few short years, the Ark came under the management of David and Linda Siglin, who further developed the venue into its modern day incarnation on Main Street. This year’s campaign brought in $1.3 million to the organization as a means of expanding the downtown venue to more performances throughout the year possible.
Acting as the single largest fundraiser for the Ark, the Folk Festival drew upon a diverse cross-section of the burgeoning folk community. From the fresh faces of local folk-pop ensemble Tangerine Trousers to one of the most respected artists in the history of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley, the two-day festival transcended generational boundaries both on the stage and in the audience.
Friday’s performance encompassed the power and range the festival has within the Ann Arbor community. Beginning with an incendiary set of music from the raging Celtic-rock group the Clumsy Lovers, followed by the biting all-female trio Bluehouse and a stirring performance by folk-punk, do-it-yourself pioneer Ani DiFranco.
Boston-based Martin Sexton, one of the most talked-about arrivals in the folk scene, also roused audiences at Friday’s performance. Despite the over-saturation of the Boston folk community, Sexton has managed to claw his way to notoriety with impeccable vocal range and stage presence, both of which were on display at Friday’s show.
However, the show’s peak came early with a stirring acoustic set from 22-year-old troubadour Jackie Greene. Running through a brief, five song set that drew mainly from his latest album Gone Wanderin’, the Sacramento, Calif. native has been surprising audiences across the country while opening for blues luminaries Junior Brown and B.B. King over the past two years.
A last minute addition to this year’s festival, after a powerful set opening for Brown at the Ark in November, Greene is a mature, focused artist whose depth and understanding of music excels onstage. His taut, bluesy performance drew comparisons to an early Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie. Receiving the largest ovation of the evening, Greene is marked by an innate ability for folk music and an overarching artistic accomplishment.
The festival continued through Saturday with performances from Seattle-based trio Uncle Bonsai, Peter Mulvey, Ruthie Foster, Jo Serrapere, Delta 88 and School of Music student Jeremy Kittel. The weekend came together with performances from two of folk music’s finest – Ralph Stanley and the legendary Emmylou Harris. Both evenings were emceed by jazz-vocalist-cum-folk-singer Vance Gilbert.