Things to do around Ann Arbor (March 1-7, 2016)

The Chieftains 2 by Kevin Kelly.JPG

The Chieftains plays at Hill Auditorium, courtesy of UMS, on Saturday, March 5. (Photo by Kevin Kelly)

Washtenaw Community Concert Band presents “Presidential Portraits.” Chris Heidenreich directs this 80-piece ensemble in marches, hymns, and tone poems to honor past presidents. The program is highlighted by Jay Dawson’s musical Civil War reenactment, Gettysburg: The Third Day. Also, a solo by the winner of the band’s 2nd Annual Concerto Competition for young local musicians, Jonathan Lynn. Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in WCC’s Morris Lawrence Bldg., in Towsley Auditorium, located at 4800 E. Huron River Dr. in Ann Arbor. Free admission.

“Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris,” presented by Penny Seats Theatre Company. Laura Sagolla directs this local company in Eric Blau and Mort Shuman’s cabaret-style 1968 show showcasing the songs of Belgian composer Jacques Brel, whose pointed political commentary and heartfelt chansons made him one of the most venerated singer-songwriters of his time. Four singers share the stage, performing solo and ensemble numbers ranging from “Marathon,” a ferocious commentary on the events of the 20th century, to the famous anthem, “If We Only Have Love.” EncoreMIchigan.com critic Marin Heinritz wrote, “Director Laura Sagolla gets Brel and his sensibility and guides a terrific cast.” Thursday’s show at 7:30 p.m. is sold out, so an added 9:15 p.m. performance (dinner seating starts at 7:30 p.m.) will be your last chance to catch the 70 minute show. Conor O’Neill’s Celtic Room, 318 S. Main in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $10 ($20 includes dinner entree) in advance at pennyseats.org/box-office and (if available) at the door.

Cheryl Dawdy Art Exhibit opening reception at MIX Ypsilanti. A U-M graduate in printmaking and figure drawing, Dawdy – who’s sung with local favorite music group The Chenille Sisters for more than 30 years – now uses collage as her prominent form of image making. The pieces start from her ever growing collection of papers, letters, and postcards – the ephemera of life that are then skillfully arranged and layered into finished works. “It’s been pointed out to me that collage, like harmony, is a kind of balance between very different influences,” Dawdy has said. “Sometimes, when feeling in harmony myself, I agree!” The artist reception for this exhibit, which runs through March, is scheduled for Friday from 6 pm-9pm at MIX Ypsilanti, 130 W Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti. Admission is free.

The Encore Musical Theatre Company presents “Seussical Jr.” Young local actors perform Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty’s musical compendium of Dr. Seuss stories – and yes, this is where I’ll be taking my 4 and 7 year old daughters this weekend. Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m. at Encore, located at 3126 Broad St. in Dexter. Tickets ($20 for adults, $15 for kids) available in advance at theencoretheatre.org or 734-268-6200.

Michael Johnson plays the Green Wood Coffee House Series. A veteran folk-based pop singer and virtuoso guitarist who started out (with John Denver) as a member of a late-60s incarnation of the Chad Mitchell Trio, Johnson has scored in a number of different genres, including adult contemporary in the late 70s and contemporary country in the mid-80s. Desserts & coffee available. Friday at 8 p.m. at FUMC Green Wood Church, 1001 Green Rd. at Glazier Way in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $15 (kids 10 & under, 2 for the price of 1), available in advance at greenwoodcoffeehouse.org and 734-665-8558.

First Fridays Ypsilanti Gala & Fundraiser, “Spring Awakening.” This second annual Gala will celebrate First Fridays Ypsilanti, “reviewing the awesomeness of last year, while presenting what to look forward to in our 2016 season!” Enjoy the sounds of DJ’s Matthew Altruda & Nicole Myint, live bands, and see live painting by Dora Diaspora and Drift Wood, Bri Howard, SHADIA, and Face & Body Art by Angel Star Style! Keynote speaker is Yen Azzaro. Door prizes, plus a silent auction of local art, Ypsi-centric gift baskets, and unique experiences. This is a semi-formal event for adults only. Light refreshments will be provided by Bona Sera, and sweets will be provided by local vendors. Friday from 7-10 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at Bona Sera Restaurant, 200 W. Michigan Ave. in Ypsilanti. Tickets cost $25. Visit firstfridaysypsilanti.com for more information.

We Banjo 3 at The Ark. It’s always worth checking out what The Ark has available each week, but this all-star quartet from Galway – which offers a virtuosic, revelatory blend of traditional Irish music with American old-time music and bluegrass – is what’s catching my ear just now. Friday at 8 p.m. at The Ark, 316 S. Main in Ann Arbor. Tickets cost $20, available in advance at mutotix.com, theark.org, or 734-763-TKTS.

UMS presents The Chieftains. My pick of the week! For more than 50 years, the world’s best-known traditional Irish ensemble has been dusting off almost-forgotten reels, hornpipes, jigs, ballads, and slow airs and performing them with infectious zest and fun. With a broad appeal beyond the usual folk music following, the quartet plays strictly traditional songs and brings a Celtic sensibility to many other idioms, from Galician Spanish music to American country and pop. Members include uilleann piper Paddy Moloney, flutist Matt Molloy, fiddler Sean Keane, and Kevin Conneff on bodhran. Saturday at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium. Tickets cost $10-$60, available in advance at tickets.ums.org and 734-764-2538.

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