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Thursday September 23, 2021
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Michigan's leading showcase for American and international performers of all forms of traditional and roots music and contemporary songwriting. Shows almost every night at 8 p.m. Mon.- Sat., & 7:30 p.m. Sun., unless otherwise noted. Tickets are sold in advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office and, and at the door. Note: Proof of vaccination and masks required.

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September 3: Loudon Wainwright III

Veteran singer-songwriter is known for his mordant, occasionally bitterly self-mocking, often poignant, and usually very funny original songs about himself, other people, and contemporary culture. His recent CDs include Strange Weirdos: Music from and Inspired by the Film "Knocked Up," a collection that provoked New Yorker reviewer Ben Greenman to observe that "[Wainwright] has not only retained his sharpness of wit but has also learned to cut with greater skill," and Haven't Got the Blues (Yet), his 2014 collection of wryly hilarious songs about the way lives fall to pieces. $25.

September 7: Mick Flannery & Susan O'Neill

Acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter duo whose recent debut collaboration, In the Game, is a collection of songs about a couple's coming together and falling apart that explores raw, vulnerable spaces in the highs and lows of the game of love. $20.

September 8: Open Stage

All acoustic performers invited. Fifteen acts are selected randomly from those who sign up (doors open 7:30 p.m.) to perform 8 minutes (or 2 songs) each. The most talented and popular Open Stage performers are offered their own evenings at the Ark. $3 (members, seniors, & students, $2).

September 9: Elliott Brood

Veteran Toronto alt-country trio whose music draws heavily on traditional folk and bluegrass flavors to fashion an idiom the band variously dubs "death country" and "frontier rock." $20 (students with ID, free).

September 12: Asleep at the Wheel

Founded in the early 70s by singer-guitarist Ray Benson, this celebrated Austin-based western swing revivalist band has become a pivotal country music institution. Their 2018 album, New Routes, is a mix of originals and covers with guest vocals by Seth and Scott Avett of the Avett Brothers. $40.

September 13: Leo Kottke

A perennial winner of the Best Folk Guitarist award in Guitar Player magazine's annual readers' poll, Kottke is known for the elegantly understated grittiness of his approach to a richly varied acoustic repertoire. Critic David McGee calls him a "staunch traditionalist" whose music embodies "a profound commitment to the simple virtues of harmony, melody, and if you will, plain talk found in country, folk, and blues songs." Kottke is also a compelling singer with a deep, resonant voice and an expert entertainer whose concerts are by turns humorous and spellbinding. $40.

September 15: Michael McDermott

Chicago-based singer-songwriter whom novelist Stephen King calls "one of the best songwriters in the world and possibly the greatest undiscovered rock 'n' roll talent of the last 20 years." His 2016 album, Willow Springs, a collection of songs inspired by the darker moments in his past, has prompted comparisons to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, and his 2020 release, What in the World, turns its attention to the perilous state of American political and cultural life. $20.

September 16: Seth Glier

Singer-songwriter from western Massachusetts with a powerful falsetto and captivating melodic sense whose 2015 CD, If I Could Change One Thing, provoked comparisons to vintage Billy Joel. "Seth Glier abstains from pretense and offers instead an album filled with unbridled pop perfection," says IPopMattersreviewer Lee Zimmerman. "Percolating rhythms and cheery sentiments dominate the proceedings, ensuring radio readiness every step of the way." $20.

September 17: Carbon Leaf

Acoustic Celtic-rock quintet from Richmond (VA). A Performing Songwriter critic calls the band's 2007 CD, Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat, "four easy steps to rock 'n' roll bliss." $30.

September 18: Eddie from Ohio

This highly regarded acoustic quartet from Arlington, Virginia, is known for its resonant vocal harmonies, ace musicianship, and upbeat, well-crafted original songs. "The manic strumminess recalls Ani DiFranco or Dave Matthews," says Performing Songwriter, "but there's also a deep undercurrent of high, lonesome mountain harmony that should appeal to fans of Alison Krauss and Union Station." $30.

September 19: Riders in the Sky

This innovative, often comical Nashville-based quartet of ace musicians has revitalized the genre of the cowboy song. Inspired by the 1930s group the Sons of the Pioneers, they specialize in elaborate harmonizations of cowboy folk songs, western ballads, and sentimental Hollywood versions of the real thing-one of their CDs is a collection of Gene Autry tunes. $25.

September 21: Joe Troop

The frontman of the Buenos Aires-based string band Che Apalache, this singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist calls his music "latingrass," a blend of music of the Appalachian foothills in his native North Carolina with traditional soundscapes from across Latin America.

September 22: Open Stage

All acoustic performers invited. Fifteen acts are selected randomly from those who sign up (doors open 7:30 p.m.) to perform 8 minutes (or 2 songs) each. The most talented and popular Open Stage performers are offered their own evenings at the Ark. $3 (members, seniors, & students, $2).

September 24: Will Sheff and Damien Jurado

Double bill. The frontman of the acclaimed Austin-based indie country-rock band Okkervil River, Sheff is a New Hampshire-bred singer-songwriter known for his brainy, emotionally charged, almost novelistic lyrics, and Jurado is an indie rock singer-songwriter from Seattle whose new CD, The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania, is a collection of 10 story songs about people determined not to be broken by their dire circumstances. $25.

September 25: Susan Werner

A talented singer-songwriter known for a jazz-inspired, classically trained vocal style she describes as "pop illiterate," Werner writes incisive, vividly imagined songs in a variety of moods. $25-$50.

September 26: May Erlewine & the Motivations

Country-folk octet led by Erlewine, a big-voiced singer-songwriter from Big Rapids who writes thoughtful, richly emotional country- flavored songs. The Ark's annual fall fundraiser. $50-$500 (livestream available for $25).

September 28: Adrian + Meredith

Postpunk Americana duo whose music incorporates elements of folk, polka, and swing. Free; nonperishables for Food Gatherers accepted.

September 29: Choir! Choir! Choir!

Traditional choral arrangements of pop songs by this international touring vocal ensemble from Toronto that started in 2011 as a weekly drop-in singing event.

September 30: Iris Dement

This beloved idiosyncratic country-folk singer-songwriter writes simple, affectingly homespun lyrics about lust, forgiveness, heaven, home, and other fundamentals, and she sings in a warbling, pure soprano that soars and dives with a captivatingly unforced emotional authority. $35.

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