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Archive for May, 2012

Imagine Making Your Own Buttons!

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

From Helen of the Mid-Mitten Crafters…

Join Instructor Lynn Hershberger for a 3 hour session on creating designer buttons and beads from polymer clay. You will be taught the basic techniques of preparing, forming and baking the clay to construct buttons and beads.

Class will be held from 9am-noon on Saturday, May 19th at the Bath Community Center at 5959 Park Lake Rd, Bath. The class registration fee is $15.00 plus the cost of materials. The cost of materials begins at $5.00 and will be paid to the instructor at class.

The class size is limited so pre-registration is encouraged. The registration form is available at the Bath Twp. Offices or at bathtownship.us (Departments – Parks & Recreation – Recreational Programs – Current Programs) – Polymer Clay Buttons & Beads.

or Call:

Becky Goodwin, Director
Bath Twp. Parks & Recreation
517.641.6728 x131

This is a great opportunity to learn how to make custom designed buttons and beads for your fiber projects at a very reduced rate as the class is being sponsored by Mid-Mitten Crafters and Bath Twp. Parks and Recreation.

I often offer this class for 4 hours at $40-45 per class, plus materials. Because of this sponsorship, you can get a great deal and a fun Saturday experience.

Would you like to join us?


Brian Hefferan, Ragtime Uker – Interviewed by Lil’ Rev

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Our friend Lil’ Rev from Wisconsin was just this weekend the headliner at Mighty Uke Day. He tours a lot, and when he’s in Michigan he often stays with us.

You could not ask for better company. He’s comfortable to be with, someone to talk with for hours. We also eat very similarly and enjoy cooking for each other when the time is available.

On top of that, Rev is a fine performer. He’s an award-winning instrumentalist (harmonica), Folksinger of the year 2004 in Wisconsin, plays many instruments extremely well, is interested in musical and cultural history and is a fabulous storyteller.

Rev’s Blog

Rev writes a blog called Fountain of Uke. Very recently he wrote a post about my Brian; in particular, his interest in ragtime music. Last year, Rev interviewed Brian on video regarding ragtime music and how he approaches the arranging and playing of the songs he chooses.

Up Close and Personal: Interview

After that wonderful Mighty Uke Day this past Saturday, I think it’s a good time to point to that article and video. You can find them here:

Fountain of Uke: In Search of a Ragtime Uker (Brian Hefferan)

If you are interested in ragtime or ukulele music and haven’t heard this side of Brian’s musical personality, Visit the Heftone YouTube Channel. Have a listen… or a dozen.

Brian’s Music Box Rag CD

A few years back, Brian put out a CD of himself playing rags and marches on many types of banjo, from the tiny banjo ukulele to my Heftone bass “banjo.” He calls this project the “Heftone Banjo Orchestra.”

The CD cover for the project can be seen at right. He had me take photos of him in his tux holding different instruments, before and after a haircut, with and without glasses. He then used photo imaging software to make it look like an ensemble. (We get requests for this Orchestra to play at events from time to time.)

You can click the CD cover image to see the photo a bit more closely. If you would like to listen to the recordings, read the liner notes or download the tunes for yourself, Click Here for the Music Box Rag CD information page.

Mighty Ukulele Fun

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Saturday we spent much time in Old Town Lansing, for the Mighty Uke Day event. Ukulele players and fans took over Old Town for the day and it was wonderful. Here is one participant literally playing and singing as he walked down the street:

Aside to Knitters: Can you see that the middle person (Tonya) is carrying her ukulele in a purple felted uke case? It was made from the ukulele case pattern on Knitty.com. She received it as a gift.

You also can’t see her rainbow socks and rainbow shoes. We had a nice time chatting about the many joys of color. (Even her ukulele is purple with sparkly glitter on it. Really. I made a friend.)

Many Ukulele Joys

There were a few open mic events, some afternoon featured performers, several workshops, two showings of the movie “The Mighty Uke,” a collectible ukulele exhibit, an art gallery with a ukulele builder “in residence” and an evening concert.

I took maybe a few hundred photos. In the end, I don’t have time to edit and upload many.

A Photo Tour of the Evening Concert

I love backstage photos. Here are Brian Hefferan, Lil’ Rev and Steve Szilagyi rehearsing before the audience came in.

The audience spilled over into areas not expected to need seats. We ran out of chairs. People sat on benches and tall stools and at least 2 sat on the floor (in front of the first row, so they were good viewing seats anyway). Check out this crowd! This is the back of the room:

The front of the seating area (Ben Hassenger, the mastermind/ organizer/ promoter of the event, is on stage):

Lil’ Rev, our friend and master performer from Wisconsin, was the headliner of the evening concert. Here he is holding the audience in the palm of his hand:

He’s riveting. Not just an award-winning musician, but a powerful entertainer. It was a very fine show he put on.

Our friend Gerald Ross plays ukulele and also lap steel guitar. (He just released a new CD, Swing Ukulele.) Gerald played before Rev went on. Here he is:

We (The Fabulous Heftones, Brian and I) played before Gerald. Here we are:

Brian’s brother Mike took dozens of photos of us, for which we are grateful. Musicians move so much, and there is so much equipment on stage, that getting a non-blurry/ unobstructed photo is nearly impossible. You can tell what we look like here.

A Video of Our First Song

Ben Hassenger, the maestro of the event, took a video of us singing our first song, “Yes, Sir, That’s My Baby!” It’s on YouTube. I’m linking the photo below. Click on that image. or the previous text link, to go to the YouTube page for it.

(NOTE: If you find it stops and starts as you try to listen, just let it finish in hiccups and then hit play again. It’s likely to play smoothly the second time, as long as you don’t leave that web page in between the plays.)

Come Hear Us Next Saturday?

Picture yourself at one of our shows? Are you near Lansing, Michigan? We’re playing at Altu’s in East Lansing this Saturday. The show starts at 6:30 and ends around 8:20 or so. It’s our home venue, we are looking forward to it. (Disclaimer: Altu, the owner, is my dearest friend… but we met at the restaurant. I kept going there because the food was so good.)

The food is magnificent… no junk. It’s all made by hand, nothing comes from a big foodservice gallon can at this restaurant. For example, each onion is  cut one by one, inspected before use (no pre-chopped food in plastic bags). They peel fresh garlic… no canned or powdered garlic here.

If you don’t want a full meal, they also have all-fruit (plus honey) smoothies. Frozen berries, banana, mango… no fillers, no corn syrup or ice.

Want dessert? Their ice cream comes from the highly-regarded MSU Dairy store. Even their iced tea is spiced in house, a real treat. Whether you like meat or veggie meals, mild or spicy, there is something for everyone here. Read about Ethiopian food here, if you are curious.

We’d be delighted to see you this weekend if you feel like a little night out on the town. If you like autographed CDs, we will bring some with us. However, there is no cover charge, and no expectation other than hopefully a smile on your face!

Thanks to Regina Fry for taking this final photo, at Altu’s, during a previous performance there. Love you, Regina!

Danced the Night Away

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Friday I danced as Eudora, with Maryam (both of us from the Habibi Dancers). We danced at a locally-owned Lebanese restaurant, New Aladdin’s. Excellent food, excellent people.

Dance is not just the movement. It involves music, presentation, costuming, performance, interaction with the audience and more.

Dancing on a stage is very different from dancing next to diners at tables. I love the proximity to my audience which happens in the restaurant. I love the ability to interact with diners. I love the community environment.

…and I love how family friendly it is. Here Maryam dances with a young relative.

The little one was charming. At one point she twirled so hard that she fell. She didn’t mind at all.

The food was a work of art, too. What a glorious way to celebrate many artforms at once. What a good way to celebrate my city Lansing, and our community!

Mighty Uke Day in Lansing, this Saturday!

Friday, May 4th, 2012

This Saturday is going to be a good deal of fun, my friends! The Mighty Uke movie has returned to Lansing. To celebrate, Lansing’s ukulele community is going all out!

Here is my post from last year’s Mighty Uke Day Events.

This year has even more going on. There are events all over Old Town Lansing. There is a ukulele exhibit at Elderly Instruments, an art gallery show, an open mic at Sir Pizza, two showings of the movie, and an evening concert. There will also be some ukulele workshops. It’s a very full day. Click below to check out the

Mighty Uke Day Web Page

Many of the events are free of charge.
Workshops, movie and evening concert have admission fees.

To read an article about the day, from the Lansing City Pulse, Click Here.

There are five acts in the evening concert, including us.

The Headline Act is none other than Lil’Rev from Wisconsin!

Rev is an award-winning musician. He was Folksinger of the Year in Wisconsin, and won some Hohner Harmonica honors.

The first time I saw Rev perform, he was alone in the middle of a full-size stage, sitting in a chair stage center, surrounded by different instruments. He’s such a fine storyteller, music historian, multi-instrumentalist, and overall performer, that he held several hundred people in the palm of his hand. He’s a treasure.

It’s always a delight to see him in a smaller venue, where he tends to interact with the audience during the show. I highly recommend an evening with this fine artist.

Opening concert acts include:

The Fab­u­lous Heftones (Me and Brian) – Early 1900s Retro Love Songs and Fingerpicked Ukulele
Mag­dalen Fos­sum A Gifted, Youthful Entertainer
Ger­ald Ross – Jazzy Instrumentals
The Ukulele Kings – Fun the Ukulele Way

Please consider joining the festivities. It is going to be a wonderful time!

Events: Entertainment in LoveLansing

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Oh, my… It’s truly spring now in Lansing, Michigan . I’m sitting on my porch typing this. I’m watching bicycles and basketballs go by as I drink in the green and the sunshine. With the warmth, options of things to do in my corner of the world just increased.

Dancing at Wanderer’s Teahouse

If you are new to my blog, I am immersed in many artforms. Last Saturday I accompanied two dancers from the Habibi Dancers troupe (I’m a member) at the Wanderers Teahouse in East Lansing.

We are a nonprofit organization, and part of our purpose is education. Wanderers asked us to come out and do a lecture/ demonstration. I spoke a bit of the history of the dance, and also took my camera. Zurha and Najida performed. Here they are mid-dance.

My Performance this Coming Friday

This Friday (May 4) I’ll be dancing  as Eudora, with dancer Maryam. Maryam is a classically-trained dancer, just beautiful from the tips of her fingers.

The location will be New Aladdin’s Restaurant in Lansing’s Frandor shopping center. (It’s between Sparty’s and Apple Jade, not far from the video store.) This is a locally-owned restaurant, full of good people and good food. They offer many Lebanese/ Mideastern dishes as well as adventurous smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices.

Show Times/ Details

There will be shows starting at 6:30 and 7:30pm, lasting about a half an hour each. There is no cover, but tips are most welcome.

It’s a family-friendly spot, where children often get up and dance with us. A great night out.

Here I am dancing there on a previous Friday. The child was fascinated by my shiny costume. She was so much fun to dance for!

Oh, Yes! The Costumes!

For those interested in costuming as an artform, this costume is completely handmade. The troupe to which I belong, Habibi Dancers of Lansing, made it as a group project for my Christmas present this past December.

It was totally a surprise to me. That skirt is a full circle of flowy fabric, and the bra and belt were cust0m-made by troupe members to fit me exactly. The necklace and earrings were also part of the gift, as were many other pieces I did not wear that night. It was INCREDIBLE, and an out-of-the blue surprise.

Late next week I’ll be dancing at a school cultural-awareness event with the troupe. On that day, we will be wearing more “folkloric” clothing (rather than what we call “cabaret” which you see above).

I’ll have one of the other dancers take a few photos of that costume and show it to you. More incredibleness, I assure you. Also made by hand, for me, as a gift from other dancers. I’m humbled.

Lansing folks, I’d love to see you come out to the show. Join me?