Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

Northern Michigan is a place with incredible natural beauty and varied landscapes. It is also home to Interlochen Center for the Arts and several other longstanding cultural institutions. Little wonder the region has been so attractive to artists and musicians of all types. Here we bring you those stories. 

Aaron Selbig

Local artists are making tough times a little brighter for patients and health care workers at Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort. A collection of 23 hand-decorated masks was delivered to the hospital Monday. The masks are part of a contest called “Make a Mask, Make a Difference,” held by the Oliver Art Center. 

National Writers Series: David Blight and Miles Harvey

Jul 23, 2020

You might say David Blight is absorbed with the life of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. David, who's an author, teacher and historian, has written three books about him. His latest is called “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.” It won the Pulitzer Prize for History, and is now being adapted into a movie for Netflix, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama. David appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. He spoke with author and director of Arts and Culture for the city of Detroit, Rochelle Riley.

Elaine Weiss is a journalist and writer whose latest book is “The Woman’s Hour.” It’s about the struggle to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow women the right to vote. Elaine appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. She spoke with Traverse City Record-Eagle columnist and teacher, Susan Odgers. In the second half of our program, we’ll hear a discussion with William Kent Krueger talking with Doug Stanton. William is the author of the Cork O’Connor series of mystery novels. His latest book is a stand-alone novel called “This Tender Land.” 

Young fans watch a Traverse City Pit Spitters game during the 2019 season.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

After starting last week, the Traverse City Pit Spitters season has been put on hold. The same goes for the newly created Great Lakes Resorters and Northern Michigan Dune Bears.

Several players recently tested positive for COVID-19 which prompted the pause.

 

 


The Traverse City Pit Spitters announced the creation of two brand new teams on Monday. All three teams will play at Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City, which allows the teams to play ball while not traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whitney Waara

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, baseball is coming back to northern Michigan this summer. On Monday the Traverse City Pit Spitters announced the creation of two brand new teams – the Great Lakes Resorters and the Northern Michigan Dune Bears.

To eliminate travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, all three will play against each other at Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City this summer.

 

Terry McMillan is a bestselling author known for her novels that feature female African American characters. Two of them, “Waiting to Exhale” and “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” were made into major motion pictures. Her latest book is “It’s Not All Downhill from Here.” Terry appeared at a virtual National Writers Series event. She spoke with Detroit’s director of arts and culture, Rochelle Riley. In the second half of our program today, we’ll hear a discussion with Scott Turow.

Max Johnston / Interlochen Public Radio

Some businesses in northern Michigan reopened Friday, with restrictions, under an executive order from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

While many welcomed the news, some businesses are playing it safe.

National Writers Series: An evening with Peter Heller

Apr 19, 2020

Peter Heller is a writer of literary nonfiction and novels, including his bestseller “The Dog Stars.”  His latest novel, “The River,” is a thriller that draws from some of Peter’s own experiences canoeing wild rivers. Peter Heller talks this hour with fellow author Peter Robertson. 

Artists across northern Michigan are scrambling to find ways to make up for lost income due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

With many events and large gatherings canceled through spring and into the summer, artists have lost out on gigs and other opportunities they were depending on to make ends meet. 


   

Essay: Uneventfulness

Mar 27, 2020

Several years ago, I heard a woman give a talk about a trip to Greenland where she lived with theInuit people, traveled by dog sled, ate raw seal meat. It wasn’t the kind of vacation most of us would choose—but for her, it was life-changing.

Maria Farney (bottom left) teaches a Chinese student (top left) a song written by Traverse City singer songwriter Miriam Pico (right).
Miriam Pico

Traverse City singer songwriter Miriam Pico thought she was just writing a song to sing to her own kids. But now, kids in China are learning that song to help get through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

National Writers Series: An evening with Steve Luxenberg

Feb 27, 2020
Alan Newton

Steve Luxenberg is a journalist, editor, and author. He last visited Traverse City in 2014 when he spoke on the stage of the City Opera House about his book “Annie’s Ghosts.” Steve’s latest book is “Separate: The Story of Plessy Versus Ferguson, and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation.” It tells the story of the landmark 1896 Supreme Court case that shaped the nation’s “separate but equal” race policies for over half a century. Steve talks this hour with Interlochen Public Radio Morning Edition host Dan Wanschura. Dan asked Steve how long it took to write his latest book.

Alan Newton

Nicholas Kristof and Cheryl WuDunn are both Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. They’re also a married couple who have written several books together, including “Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears.” Their latest book is “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope.” It focuses on the decline of the American working class, from the perspective of Nicholas’s childhood hometown, Yamhill, Oregon. Nicholas and Cheryl talk this hour with Nate Payne, editor for the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Nate asked Cheryl how she and Nicholas balance their writing and married life.

National Writers Series: An evening with Garth Stein

Nov 19, 2019

Author and filmmaker Garth Stein is best known for his novel, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” In 2019, that book was made into a movie starring Kevin Costner as the voice of the dog, Enzo. Garth’s latest book is “A Sudden Light.” In 2020, he’ll release his first graphic novel series, called “The Cloven.” Garth visited Traverse City in 2015 and talked with journalist and artist Sarah Bearup-Neal on the stage of the City Opera House. Sarah asked Garth to talk a little about his work making and producing films.

National Writers Series: An evening with Benjamin Busch

Nov 18, 2019

Benjamin Busch is best known for his acting career. He played the character of officer Tony Colicchio in the HBO series “The Wire.” But Ben is active in many creative pursuits, including writing, filmmaking, photography, and stonemasonry. He’s written many poems and essays for various collections and periodicals. Ben is also a veteran officer of the U.S. Marine Corps and served two tours in Iraq. His memoir “Dust to Dust” came out in 2012. That year, Ben talked with Doug Stanton on the stage of the City Opera House in Traverse City. Doug asked him what made him want to write a memoir.

National Writers Series: An evening with Paula McLain

Nov 14, 2019

Paula McLain is best known as the author of “The Paris Wife,” which is a work of historical fiction telling the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage. Her latest book, “Love and Ruin,” is about Hemingway’s third marriage, to war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. Paula visited Traverse City in 2015 and talked with fellow author Benjamin Busch on the stage of the City Opera House. At that time, Paula’s book “Circling the Sun,” about aviator Beryl Markham, had recently come out. Before becoming a novelist, Paula published two collections of poetry.

National Writers Series: An evening with Blaine Harden

Nov 13, 2019

Blaine Harden is an author and journalist, writing for the Washington Post, The New York Times, Frontline on PBS, and others. He’s written five books, three of them about the Korean peninsula. Blaine’s book “Escape from Camp 14” tells the story of Shin Don-hyuk, the only known person born in a North Korean labor camp who has escaped. His most recent book is “King of Spies,” about a rogue American spy in Korea. Blaine visited Traverse City in 2013 and talked with former U.S. State Department official Jack Segal on the stage of the City Opera House.

National Writers Series: An evening with Peter Matthiessen

Nov 13, 2019

Author Peter Matthiessen died in 2014. During his lifetime, he wrote over thirty books. He’s well-known for his nonfiction like “The Snow Leopard,” which traces his journey to the Tibetan plateau in the Himalayas. He also wrote fiction, with novels like “At Play in the Fields of the Lord,” the Watson trilogy, and “Far Tortuga.” Peter’s final book was the 2014 novel “In Paradise.” His official biography, called “True Nature,” is currently being written and is scheduled to be published by Knoph/Pantheon in 2022.

Bryce Hoffman is an author, speaker, and consultant. He wrote about the Ford Motor Company and the auto industry bailout in his book, “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save the Ford Motor Company.” A.J. Baime is a journalist who wrote "Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War." Bryce and A.J. visited Traverse City in 2014 and talked with auto industry writer Jean Jennings on the stage of the City Opera House. Jean asked A.J. to start off the evening talking about his book.

John L. Russell

Nelson DeMille has written twenty-one novels, including “Plum Island,” “The Charm School,” and “The Cuban Affair.” His book “The General’s Daughter” was made into a movie starring John Travolta. Nelson’s latest book, “The Deserter,” is a collaboration with his son Alex, who is a screenwriter and film editor. Nelson and Alex talk this hour with WTCM NewsTalk 580 radio host Ron Jolly. Ron asked Nelson to talk about a time in his life before he became a writer, serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.

Traverse City West High School is opening a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" on November 15. Director and choreographer Minda Nyquist and cast member Jack Rusinowski (Tevye) shared music and stories from the classic musical. For tickets to see "Fiddler" please click here.

Hear the full interview and music below.

Pieces included:

Traverse City Central High School is opening a production of "West Side Story" on Friday, November 8. Director Erin Peck and cast member Teddy Huff (A-Rab, Tony understudy) shared music from the iconic musical and talked about its relevance to teenagers today. For tickets, click here.

Hear the full interview with music below!

Music heard on today's program:  

National Writers Series: An evening with Roy Blount Jr.

Oct 30, 2019

Humorist, journalist and author Roy Blount Jr. has written over two dozen books, as well as many articles for various periodicals. He’s also a frequent panelist on National Public Radio’s “Wait Wait... Don’t Tell Me” program. Roy’s most recent book is “Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations.” Roy visited Traverse City in 2011 and talked with Doug Stanton on the stage of the City Opera House. At that time, Roy’s book “Alphabetter Juice” had recently been released.

National Writers Series: An evening with Susan Orlean

Oct 29, 2019
Tom Haxby

Susan Orlean is the author of ten books and numerous magazine articles. She’s best known for her book “The Orchid Thief,” which was the inspiration for the movie “Adaptation,” starring Meryl Streep as Susan. Her latest book, about the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library, and libraries in general, is called “The Library Book.” Susan talks this hour with Anne Strainchamps, host and co-creator of the public radio program To the Best of Our Knowledge. Anne asked Susan to start off by reading from “The Library Book.”

National Writers Series: An evening with Randall Sullivan

Oct 29, 2019
Tom Haxby

"The Curse of Oak Island" is a TV show on the History Channel, currently in its seventh season. It’s also now a book by journalist Randall Sullivan. Randall first wrote about the island for Rolling Stone in 2004. In the book, he goes deeper into the long history of treasure hunting on the island, and delves into the many theories about what’s buried there. One of the creators and stars of the TV show is engineer and entrepreneur Marty Lagina. Randall and Marty talk this hour with Patrick Livingston, News Director for TV stations WPBN and WGTU in Traverse City.

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