Performance & Dance

Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along premiers

Rob Bliss & Jeff Barrett, creators of the fantastic Grand Rapids lip dub video premiered their Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along at halftime of the Lions game on Sunday. It was filmed in 50 Michigan cities in 7 days. It’s a pretty cool travelogue of the Great Lakes State in under 4 minutes.

Check out the finished video below and also don’t miss the behind the scenes blog from

  • Ernie the Play
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    “Ernie” play about Ernie Harwell opens for second season

“Ernie” play about Ernie Harwell opens for second season

ernie harwell by mlephotos
ernie harwell by mlephotos

Mitch Albom has an interesting column on his play “Ernie” and Harwell’s broadcasting style that re-opens for its second season at the City Theatre in Detroit. Mitch wrote the play at legendary Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell’s request, and last year the play was able to donate $30,000 to Harwell’s favorite charities. Mitch’s column begins:

There’s a scene in the play “Ernie” in which the actor playing Ernie Harwell re-enacts the way he broadcast minor-league baseball games in the 1940s, when there was no money to send him on the road.

“We stayed in the studio and waited for the play-by-play ticker to come through,” he says, taking a strip of ticker tape and reading it. “Johnson, B-1-0. That meant Johnson took ball one, outside. Of course that’s pretty dry, so we’d have to embellish it.”

He then demonstrates his embellishment: “There’s a high loping curveball, way outside, Johnson looks at it, doesn’t move his bat, and it’s ball one!”

When asked what he did if the ticker-tape machine broke, Ernie replies that sometimes he’d make up a distraction, like a dog running on the field. And he’d have that dog racing back and forth, eluding escape, until the machine was fixed.

Of course, when the ballplayers came home, their wives would ask, “What happened to that poor dog?” And they’d say, “What dog?”

Read on for more and visit Ernie at Olympia Entertainment for more on the play and to order tickets. Harwell passed away two years ago tomorrow. You can read more about him on Michigan in Pictures and here’s a great interview that Albom did with Harwell at the Fox Theatre in 2009 that will probably make you tear up.

Grand Rapids Laughfest benefits Gilda’s Club

Ahead of Schedule by TerryJohnston
Ahead of Schedule by TerryJohnston

Laughfest, the annual festival of comedy, performance, film, and a variety of seriously funny stuff in Grand Rapids, takes place March 8-18. It features some of the top names in comedy including Martin Short, Kevin Nealon, Whoopi Goldberg, Bo Burnham, Sinbad, Mike Epps, Rodney Carrington, Jim Gaffigan and Kathleen Madigan along with a whole lot of lesser known but equally funny people.

You can get all the details about performers and events at the link above. Probably the coolest thing about Laughfest is that all proceeds ($300,000+ in 2011!) benefit the cancer, grief and support programs offered through Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids.

Comedienne Gilda Radner created some of TV’s most memorable characters as an original cast of the groundbreaking Saturday Night Live. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986 and became part of a cancer support community that helped to deal with her disease. After she died in 1989, Joanna Bull and husband Gene Wilder started to plan Gilda’s Club, a free cancer support community that helps people of all ages gather to learn more about cancer, share their experiences and hopefully laugh a little.

The first Gilda’s Club opened in New York City in 1995 and shortly thereafter, some folks started gathering support to bring a Gilda’s Club to Grand Rapids. Their efforts culminated in the 2001 opening of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. Click above to learn more about Gilda’s Club and we’ll let Gilda herself take you home as one of her signature characters, Baba-wawa. Also check out this interview with Gene Wilder on InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse where he talks some about life with Gilda.

The $15 million impact of ArtPrize … and ArtPrize 2012

nebula: a growing installation by yodraws
nebula: a growing installation by yodraws

ArtPrize is the radically open competition in Grand Rapids that any artist in the world who can find space can vote in, anyone in Grand Rapids who wants to create a venue, and open to a vote from anyone who attends.

ArtPrize 2012 will take place Sept. 19 – Oct. 7, 2012. This year the organizers are making a few tweaks. Most noteworthy is a new commitment to juried awards, led by a $100,000 Juried Grand Prize. There will also be $20,000 awards in each of the Two-Dimensional, Three-Dimensional, Time and Performance, Urban Space and Venue categories.

A recent study by Experience Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids region’s convention and visitors bureau found that ArtPrize participants had a huge economic impact in 2011:

The study, conducted by the Anderson Economic Group, reveals that the 2011 ArtPrize event added $15.4 million to the Grand Rapids/Kent County economy, attracted more than 320,000 visitors and created more than 200 new jobs during its 19 days.

From Scott Watkins, with AEG:

“The study provides a comprehensive assessment of event attendance, visitor spending, local spending by the ArtPrize organization, and the economic impacts that accrue beyond the initial expenditures of visitors and the host organization. It also accounts for economic substitution. The analysis illustrates the new economic activity attributable to ArtPrize and does not double count spending in the area that would have otherwise occurred if the event was not held.”

Click to read the full report and watch ArtPrize 2011 – The Music Video.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day the Michigan Way

Here’s a whole ton of Valentine’s Day ideas. YOU probably have some other ideas – share them in the comments or right here or on our Facebook!

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. - Confucius by Church of One
Wheresoever you go,
go with all your heart. – Confucius
by Church of One

Next Tuesday, February 14th is Valentine’s Day – a day for lovers, sweethearts, paramours … and chocoholics. Like it, love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is an annual tradition that will see over one billion valentines will be given out worldwide, 85% of those by women. However you choose to celebrate the holiday, consider making it a little more special with something from Michigan.

There’s plenty of delicious Valentine’s Day recipes from Pure Michigan at The Food Network also offers up some culinary advice for Valentine’s Day complete with a full Valentine’s menu. Lansing’s WLNS CBS channel 6 website has a complete Valentine Day section on their website where you can learn all kinds of useful information including (who knew?) that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. The folks at the Grand Rapids Press and have some tips for Valentine’s Day cooking with kids.

We have to remind you that February is National Cherry Month and cherries make a great and healthy way to bring the distinctive Valentine red into your celebrations. An affordable and tasty non-alcoholic beverage are cherry sparklers made with Michigan cherry juice and sparkling water.

On the adult beverage front, a whopping 95% of wine drinkers agree that wine makes a perfect gift, and you can’t go wrong with a  Michigan wine or  Michigan beer! The folks at MyNorth offer a listing of Northern Michigan sparkling wines to set the tone for your celebration. While bubbles are big, beers can also be appreciated. Dianna at Promote Michigan has let us in on her Love Affair with Michigan Beer, which features all kinds of special and regular brews from Michigan’s brewmasters. You can stay awake Ann Arbor Brewing’s Espresso Love featuring coffee, cozy up to the Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale from Atwater Brewing or go a little lighter with Dragonmead’s Redwing Raspberry Wheat. This is a great feature so definitely check it out!

Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress
Ginny, You Are My Shining Star by docksidepress

If you’re left scratching your head over what to buy him or her, check out the ‘Valentine’s Day Gift Giving Guide‘ from  Don’t forget the furry friends in your life either! You can be a homeless pets Valentine when WXYZ-TV 7 in Detroit hosts their Annual Valentine’s Day Telethon to support the Michigan Humane Society. Tune in or donate online with the Michigan Humane Society!

If that’s not enough and you really want to get your Valentine on, check out Absolute Michigan keyword Valentine for food & gift ideas.

For a little eye candy, you should check out the Valentine slideshow from the Absolute Michigan flickr pool!

We also have a large number of Michigan web sites to check out (though if we’re missing one, be sure to add a link to it).

Flowers & Florists - say it with flowers

Chocolate - there’s also candy companies

Candles - lighting the way for romance for thousands of years

Jewelry -silver & gold, platinum and bronze, pick your favorite.

Wow, you actually made it to the end of this post – don’t forget to buy yourself a little something for Valentines Day!

February Michigan Event Calendar

Iron Works #2 - Cranbrook by MikeRyu
Iron Works #2 – Cranbrook by MikeRyu

Our Michigan February Event Calendar shows that the more the weather tries to keep us holed up, the more ways we find to get out and have fun!! Of course, there’s still many, many more and we invite you to fill us in on other February events in the comments.

February Fast FactsWikipedia

  • Having only 28 days in common years, it is the only month of the year that can pass without a single full moon. 2012 is a Leap Year!
  • It has 29 days in leap years, when the year number is divisible by four (except for years that are divisible by 100 and not by 400 in the Gregorian calendar)
  • It is the only month of the calendar that once every six years and twice every 11 years, will have only four full 7-day weeks.
  • Its birth flower is the Viola (plant) and the Primrose.
  • Its birthstone is the amethyst.

January Michigan Event Calendar

Frankfort, Michigan Lighthouse and Beach by forestlady
Frankfort, Michigan Lighthouse and Beach by forestlady

Here’s a few highlights of the many events being held around Michigan for the month of January (be sure to click Read More to see them!). A lot of them are out in the snow for snowmobiles, skates, skis and sled dogs, but there’s also a chance to heat up with the Ann Arbor Folk Fest, Ferndale Blues and the Detroit Auto Show. The weatherman says there’s a 100% chance we didn’t get them all so please add links and information for those we missed along with reviews of ones we list in the comments below!

Fast FactsWikipedia

  • January is named after Janus (Ianuarius), the god of the doorway; the name has its beginnings in Roman mythology, coming from the Latin word for door (ianua) – January is the door to the year.
  • January’s birthstone is the garnet which represents constancy.
  • Its birth flower is the Dianthus caryophyllus or Galanthus.


“New Year’s Day is everyman’s birthday.” – Charles Lamb

“January brings the snow, makes our feet and fingers glow.” – Sara Coleridge

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

Michigan New Years Eve Happenings

Michigan New YearWe have assembled a list of some of the best New Year’s Eve events from across the state including a number from Detroit & Grand Rapids / Kalamazoo’s massive New Year’s Fest’s featuring fireworks, music and more! Did we get them all? Not likely!! Be sure to add the ones we missed to the comments and be safe while ringing in the New Year!

Detroit Design Festival ~ September 21-28, 2011

ddfDetroit Design Festival on FacebookThe inaugural Detroit Design Festival (DDF) starts tomorrow (Wednesday, Sep 21) with a kickoff party from 6-9 PM at New Center Park. DDF is a “crowd-sourced design festival” developed to showcase the talents and abilities Detroit’s creative community.

Over the eight days and nights of DDF—September 21 through September 28—a variety of Design Happenings will take place across at venues across the city of Detroit. The types of happenings will include studio tours, panels and roundtable discussions, fashion shows, and art battles to name a few.

Detroit Creative Corridor Center established the Detroit Design Festival to connect creative practitioners with one another, expose them to new markets and consumers, and of course put on display the creative talent that will help Detroit become a global center of creative innovation.

Art battles??!! Maybe someone can tell us what those are!

The site lists 85 Happenings, all “unfolded” in their blog. Competitions, presentations, panels, roundtables & lectures (Leon Krier next Tuesday sounds great), performances, benefits (25 chefs!), fashion shows, film screenings, cocktail receptions/dinners/parties, tours of all kinds, of art exhibits like Bordertown (cities and borders), Mind the Gap (public design ideas competition for Detroit’s in-between spaces), Woodward Windows (empty storefront windows as galleries) – so many events of so many types at so many venues that it feels like Detroit may be generating some of the same energy that Grand Rapids will be for ArtPrize. Anyone think that the rest of Michigan should jump on board next year and celebrate the positive in all our communities?

Anyway, here’s the video from and we hope you get a chance to check out (and report on) some of the fun of DDF:

DDF - Fathead from Charlie Kelly on Vimeo.

ArtPrize 2011 in Grand Rapids

The Eyes Have It by pairadocs
The Eyes Have It by pairadocs

Our favorite Michigan art event, ArtPrize, kicks off its third year in Grand Rapids this Wednesday. ArtPrize runs September 21 – October 9, 2011. It’s billed as a radically open art competition that is open to any artist in the world who can find space and it is one of the most dynamic expressions of art in the world.

In their excellent ArtPrize 2011 Guide, mLive reports:

The first ArtPrize drew an estimated 200,000 people to downtown Grand Rapids, more than 37,000 of whom cast more than 334,000 votes in the exhibition with work by 1,262 artists. ArtPrize 2010 drew as many as 400,000 people who voted 465,000 times for 1,713 works of art.

…Some 1,582 works of art go on display in 163 venues downtown plus Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park a few miles away.

ArtPrize 2011 poster by Square One Design

ArtPrize 2011 poster by Square One Design

Click through for some cool stories on 2011 such as news that Facebook creative director Ji Lee is entering for 2011 and a feature on 2011 ArtPrize venues.

The heart of ArtPrize is the public vote, and you can pre-register right now at FYI, if voting is the heart, than the lungs of ArtPrize are participation and presence, and to activate your account, you have to go to Grand Rapids (which explains the phenomenal support that GR businesses and organizations provide the event).

ArtPrize on FacebookSome great places to go for ArtPrize media include the ArtPrize Tumblr, the ArtPrize Facebook, ArtPrize Twitter and #ArtPrize on Twitter,  and the  ArtPrize YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube, a few cool videos we found include a check-in at yesterday’s ArtPrize artist reception at the B.O.B., an analysis of the public’s vote (and taste in art), a tour of ArtPrize neighborhoods, a look at the new ArtPrize HUB, and the cost of ArtPrize to artists. Below is the featured video from ArtPrize’s channel, a look at 2010 from Brian Kelly. Hopefully Brian will be kicking out more great videos this year! we hope all you photographers will post your ArtPrize photos in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr!