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Friday, January 03, 2014

Orpheum Theater to host Steve Jones, Garden City Hot Club and John Peiffer this weekend

HANCOCK -- This weekend the Orpheum Theater will offer two great shows -- one Friday and one Saturday, both featuring Copper Country favorite guitarist Steve Jones.

Guitarist Steve Jones will perform both tonight, Friday, and tomorrow, Saturday, at the Orpheum Theater. (Photo courtesy Orpheum Theater. Reprinted with permission.)

TONIGHT, Friday, Jan. 3, Jones will be playing a special classical guitar show, along with flamenco, Brazilian and fingerstyle jazz compositions.

"If you haven't seen Steve play a solo classical show yet, you'll be amazed!" says Mike Shupe, Orpheum owner.*

On both Friday and Saturday nights, doors open at 7:30 p.m. and music starts around 8 p.m. Admission is $10, $7 for students and seniors, and $5 for children 12 and under.

TOMORROW, Saturday night, Jan. 4, is a rare opportunity to hear Peiffer's Corner, a jazz combo featuring John Peiffer and Steve Jones, as well as other members of the Garden City Hot Club. John Peiffer is the French horn player for the Kennedy Center Orchestra, but in his jazz combo he plays not only French horn, but also ukulele and harmonica -- and he is also the lead singer. This performance is celebrating the release of a debut CD called "This is Peiffer’s Corner."

Musician John Peiffer, center, pictured here with some fellow musicians (not identified), will perform at the Orpheum Theater tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 4. Peiffer, French horn player for the Kennedy Center Orchestra, will be playing with Steve Jones and The Garden City Hot Club to celebrate the release of a debut CD called "This is Peiffer’s Corner." (Photo courtesy Orpheum Theater and Emaleigh Jensen. Reprinted with permission.)

Singer, multi-instrumentalist and leader, John Peiffer says, "'Peiffer’s Corner' is a creative gathering place for musicians (like Steve Jones and members of The Garden City Hot Club, who will be joining me), the songs and arrangements I write, and for the lovers of jazz, blues and the classics who come to listen, share a laugh, and maybe dance in the aisles."

Whether dancing polkas, playing horn with the Pine Mountain Music Festival, or joining Steve Jones and the Garden City Hot Club at the Orpheum and elsewhere, John Peiffer has nurtured a love affair with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula since 2001.

John says, "Something magical always happens when I play music with Steve Jones and the guys."

Though Bob Hiltunen, Dan Fuhrman and Scott McIntosh are usually "the guys" he’s referring to, others are often included as well.

"Last summer we had a memorable night at the Orpheum when, with the addition of violinist Glen Basham of the Bergonzi String Quartet, myself on natural horn and harmonicas, and Adam Johnson on the drums, the Garden City Hot Club became a septet that I still hear folks raving about," John notes.

Coming from the Washington, D.C. area, where he is Assistant Principal Horn of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, John says, "I’m always amazed at how many incredibly talented musicians and artists make their home in the U.P."

And, since buying a house in Chassell in 2002 and meeting the love of his life at the Aura Jamboree in 2009, that’s exactly what Peiffer’s been doing, when at all possible.

"The cross-country skiing and Lake Superior kayaking in the summer aren’t too shabby either," he adds. "They’re the best!"

While drawing creative inspiration for "Peiffer’s Corner" from writers of the "Great American Songbook" like Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Irving Berlin and the Gershwins, John has one foot rooted in the jazz tradition and the other in that of the classical masters. So welcome the surprise of hearing him bring together Strauss and Thelonious Monk, Puccini and Lionel Hampton, or his own creations with Eric Satie or Duke Ellington -- playing jazz on the French horn, harmonica or recorder and accompanying his smooth baritone voice on the ukulele.

"I am so delighted to have Steve Jones and members of The Garden City Hot Club joining me for the music of 'Peiffer’s Corner' at the Orpheum Theater on January 4th," John says. "We’ll have Dan Fuhrman at the keyboard, Bob Hiltunen on guitar and percussion, and Tim Havens on the bass."

In with Studio Pizza, the Orpheum Theater is located across the street from Finlandia University at 426 Quincy Street in downtown Hancock.

* For more on Steve Jones, go to

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Calumet galleries to offer warmth, art exhibits, receptions for First Friday, Jan. 3

CALUMET -- First Friday in Calumet will kick off the New Year with art exhibit openings, open house events and art activities in the local galleries on Friday, Jan. 3.

Paige Wiard Gallery to present "Celebration of Copper Country Artists"

"Campfire" by Joyce Koskenmaki. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

The Paige Wiard Gallery will host a "Celebration of Copper Country Artists" with an opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on First Friday, Jan. 3. For the month of January the Gallery will be showcasing the many local artists the gallery represents. The Copper Country is fortunate to have a wide variety of talent including: woodworking, pottery, fiber, pastels, and oil.

Wood sculpture by Bill Wiard. (Photo courtesy Paige Wiard Gallery)

Please call the gallery at 906-337-5970 or email for answers to any questions.

Copper Country Associated Artists to offer "Art of Spinning"

Copper Country Associated Artists (CCAA) will present "The Art of Spinning," a spinning demonstration by Jennifer Szubielak and MaryBeth Olson -- fiber artists who live in the Calumet area -- from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on First Friday, Jan. 3. The two artists will be using a variety of spindles and a wonderful handmade wheel. They will be spinning sheep wool but will bring samples of yarn and knitted works using fibers from different animals including alpaca, camel and dog. A few "student spindles" will be available for those who might enjoy trying the art themselves.

Jennifer Szubielak has her handmade yarn for sale in local stores.

The CCAA gallery is located at 205 Fifth St. in Calumet. For more information, please call 906-337-1252 or email

Galerie Bohème to hold reception for exhibit of local artists' work

Galerie Bohème will offer their usual First Friday festivities starting at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 3. The gallery will be displaying feathers and "Barn Owl" by Stuart Baird, painting and posters from Jerome Ferretti, a further examination of Susanne Kilpela's unique sculptures, a new drawing on Herculon presented by Margo McCafferty, a few of Georgi Tsenov's telling cityscapes, an Ursula Vernon steam-punk assemblage, and a couple of new Superior fish from Galerie Bohème host Tom Rudd.

New colored pencil drawing on Herculon by Margo McCafferty. (Photo courtesy Galerie Bohème)

"We need not mention just how much snow we have had so far this season, but for the sake of those living in less fortunate locations: 150 inches as of December 30th (must be some sort of record)," Rudd says. "Stop by and join us with a cuppa, some fresh bread and cheese, and trade complaints on the weather."

Smythtype Design to hold First Friday Open House

Smythtype Design will hold a First Friday Open House from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 3 at 104 Fifth Street, Suite A, above Café Rosetta in downtown Calumet.

Owner Laura Smyth invites you to, "Pop in for something warm to drink and to enjoy the beautiful, whimsical art work of Jack Oyler -- always on my walls, but usually I'm the only one who gets to enjoy it!"

Calumet artist Jack Oyler's colorful work is displayed at Smythtype Design. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Information will also be on hand about upcoming creative writing workshops in this cozy space, in partnership with Keweenaw Writers Workshop.*

"As an added incentive to climb those 28 steps up to the 2nd floor," Smyth said, "you can pick up a complimentary 'Adventures in the U.P.' 2014 wall calendar."

* Click here to learn about the Keweenaw Writers Workshop.
Click here to learn more about Smythtype Design.

Calumet Art Center to host First Friday Open House 

Pottery by Ed Gray is on display at the Calumet Art Center. (Photo courtesy Calumet Art Center)

From the glow of the pit fire, sacred clay vessels emerged, with handles made from horn. This pottery is now on display in the Calumet Art Center gallery with an invitation for First Friday participants to enjoy. Find your inspiration while touring the glass bead project and clay studios and learn about the Center's upcoming classes and events.

The Calumet Art Center will host an Open House from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on First Friday, Jan. 3.

The Calumet Art Center is at 57055 Fifth St. in Calumet. Call 906-934-2228 or email for more information.

B3 to perform First Friday live music at Continental Fire Company Jan. 3

HOUGHTON -- The Continental Fire Company (CFC) will host live music by B3 for Happy Hour on First Friday, Jan. 3. B3 -- Erika Vye (guitar, djembe, vocals), Steve Brimm (guitar, banjo, vocals) and Marshall Weathersby (mandolin, guitar, vocals) -- will perform from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Happy Hour ends at 7 p.m.)

There is no cover charge for the B3 music.

CFC's address is: 408 E. Montezuma Ave. in Houghton.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative: Ecologists in Action to Bill Williams: “You are a liar”

By Barbara With*
Posted Dec. 31, 2013, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative
Reprinted in part with permission.

In an interview on WORT 89.9 (Madison, Wis.) on December 30, 2013, host Brian Standing and translator Martin Alvarado spoke with geologist Antonio Ramos, a member of the Spanish ecological federation Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action) who are helping to bring charges against Gogebic Taconite (GTac) President Bill Williams. Williams was general manager at Cobre Las Cruces copper mine near Seville when the company allegedly conducted unpermitted and illegal activities that caused irreparable damage to the aquifer serving Seville.

According to Ramos, once the water from the mine was exposed to oxygen, a chemical reaction took place that generated acid and liberated arsenic from the rock. This contaminated, acidic water should not have been pumped back into the aquifer. However, to save money and maximize profits, Cobre Las Cruces injected the contaminated water back into the aquifer, which was not permitted. All operations at the mine were halted, which is when the Regional Authority also discovered several illegal wells that had been drilled at the bottom of the mine. ...  Click here to read the rest of this article on the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative Web site.

*Author Barbara With is a citizen journalist from La Pointe, Wis.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tech Goes to Thailand: Buddha’s Relics, Sugar Threads and Gigantic River Prawns

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech director of public relations
Posted Nov. 25, 2013, on the Tech Goes to Thailand blog

HOUGHTON -- [Editor's Note: Jennifer (Jenn) Donovan, director of public relations at Michigan Technological University, spent the month of November as a Fulbright Specialist in communications at Kasetsart University in Bangkok, Thailand, where she was working with the Faculty of Engineering to improve their external communication of their work and to help them develop an international marketing plan for expanding international exchange opportunities for students and faculty.

Jenn, who often shares her Michigan Tech News stories with Keweenaw Now, has also shared her adventures in Thailand on a blog through Michigan Tech. Here is one of her posts, reprinted here with permission.]*

It’s called Ayutthaya, the Ancient City, a bustling town about an hour from Bangkok and home to an amazing variety of tourist treats: the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, a life-sized reproduction of a traditional Thai river house, piles of rubble that are all that remains of the original Ancient City, a floating market. Also steamed river prawns -- the most enormous shrimp I’ve ever seen -- and roti sai mai, a popular Thai confection made of fine threads of sugar wrapped in paper-thin crepes.
(Photo inset: Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech director of public relations. Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand 400 years ago, before a second war with Burma forced the Thais to move their capital to Bangkok. Now it’s a popular tourist destination for Thais and foreigners alike. Tour buses clog the narrow streets.

Ing and Kade, who work in the International Undergraduate Programs (IUP) office at Kasetsart University, pick me up at my hotel in a behemoth of an air-conditioned university van. They bring three IUP students with them: Paeng, Win and Smart.

Pictured here, from left, are Kade, Ing, Smart, Paeng and Win. (Photos of Thailand © and courtesy Jennifer Donovan. Reprinted with permission.)

The students, whose computer engineering program is taught in English, are much more fluent than Ing and Kade. Especially Win, who attended an international high school. He wants to study in the US. So do Paeng ("my friends call me Nichy") and Smart, who visited Detroit for a month on an exchange program when he was 12. Nichy is just in her first year at Kasetsart, but she has already attended an open house for students who may qualify for the prestigious Royal Thai Scholar program, a full ride at a US university, funded by the Thai government. Royal Thai Scholars are the best of the best Thai students. At that open house, she met with Michigan Tech Graduate School’s Kristi Isaacson, and she’s eager to hear more about opportunities at Michigan Tech. I give her my card and urge her to email me. "I can get you some information too, and reading my emails will help you practice your English," I tell her. "Thank you very much," she says with a little bow.

We start our tour of Ayutthaya at the National Museum. Leaving our shoes at the door, we receive instructions about photography inside. It is OK to take pictures in the main halls of the museum, we are told, but no flash photography, and the person shooting the picture cannot appear in the photo. That’s hard to do anyway, unless you’re into "selfies."

The museum is named for King Boramarjadhira, known as Chao Sam Phraya, who ruled in Ayutthaya in the 15th century. It is filled with antiquities recovered from Ayutthaya when the Ancient City’s ruins were excavated.

Relics include a massive cast bronze Buddha’s head dating from the 13th to 14th century, enormous carved wooden temple doors, a stone image of a seated Buddha from the 7th to 8th century and cabinets containing coins of every era, back to the stone-like money of the earliest Thai periods.

Garuda -- a mythical man-eagle -- graced the bow of a royal barge.

In two "treasure rooms," guarded and air-conditioned, are relics retrieved from basement chambers of Wat Rajaburana and Wat Mahathat. Wats are Buddhist temples in Thailand. One room is filled with sacred Buddhist treasures, including a splendid jeweled edifice said to contain the bones of the Buddha. In this room, Smart and Nichy kneel to pray to Buddha, and Win asks me if I am Christian. If you think explaining Unitarianism is hard in the US (and it is), try explaining it to a Thai. "I am not Christian," I say. "I am Unitarian. I believe in the sacred spirit of all religions." Win understands my English. I’m not sure he understands what I just said. "I am an atheist," he informs me. "We welcome atheists in the Unitarian church too," I tell him. "We welcome everyone, as long as they respect other people’s beliefs." He blinks.

I have no photos to show you of the treasure rooms. Photography is absolutely forbidden in them.

The other treasure room contains ancient royal artifacts such as crowns, eating utensils, swords and jewelry, most of them made of gold. Many of these objects were gifts from wealthy people to their king.

After we leave the museum and use a restroom where you flush the toilet by scooping a bucket of water out of a trough and dumping it in the commode, we visit a reproduction of a traditional Thai river home.

Built of wood on stilts over a river or other body of water, the house consists of an open courtyard with raised rooms on three sides. Shoes off again, we clamber over high thresholds to explore the rooms, lulled by the trickling water outside and underneath.

A traditional Thai river house.

On to lunch, at a riverfront restaurant where we can watch the barges and the floating market boats moving up and down the river. The students order. They’re clearly hungry.

After the crab fried rice and crispy sea bass come platter after platter: chicken with cashews and mushrooms; spicy/tangy seafood soup filled with squid, shrimp and less recognizable critters; another whole fish in creamy curry sauce; and steamed river prawns -- the largest shrimp I have ever seen. A dozen fill a platter that stretches from one side of our table to the other. Each shrimp is intact -- legs, head, eyes and all -- and each one is the size of a small lobster or a humongous crawfish. Peeling them is a project; eating them -- dipped in a sweet-sour chili sauce -- is ecstasy.

Giant steamed river prawns.

Suddenly shadows fall across our outdoor table.

I look up and find we are surrounded by police. But they are smiling, so we’re probably OK. The commander in charge of this unit of Tourist Police has decided we are tourists (how did he guess), and he wants to take a picture of his men with us. Needless to say, we oblige. They move on to their own table to eat their lunch, and as we leave, I ask if they will return the photo favor. They grin for my camera.

Tourist Police eating lunch in Ayutthaya.

After that enormous lunch, we couldn’t possibly eat another bite. At least that’s what I thought, until the students clamor for the van driver to pull over to a roti sai mai stand, where we all pile out to watch two women make the colorful, sugary confections out of long, spaghetti-like colored threads rolled in paper-thin crepes in matching shades of green, pink or yellow.

 A roti sai mai shopkeeper weighing out a bag of sugar threads.

As we munch, I ask what in the world we are eating. "Sugar," says Win. "Just sugar, pulled into thin threads and wrapped in roti." And the roti, what is it made of, I wonder. "Flour," Win replies. "Flower?" asks Nichy. "F-L-O-U-R, flour," Win tells her. "Flower grows in garden," Nichy says to me, looking confused. "English is funny that way," I tell her. "Flour is what you bake bread with. Flower grows in the garden. And they sound the same." Nichy stares at me. "They sound the same?" But words can sound the same in Thai too, I point out. The "mai" in roti sai mai means "thread." But "sai" also means "no." Nichy laughs. "No is sai. Thread is sai." They do sound just a bit different when she says them -- I guess.

The roti sai mai vendor cooking the paper-thin crepes that are wrapped around long threads of spun sugar in this Thai confection.

Everyone but me piles back into the van toting big bags of roti sai mai. "You want some?" Kade asks. "The one I ate was enough for me," I assure her.

On the way back to the university, the van suddenly stops dead. Everyone is looking out the windows and pointing. There in the center of the road is a rather large spotted lizard, a water monitor. "If you see this lizard, it will bring you good fortune," Win explains. But not if you run over it. So we wait patiently until the lizard slithers off the road and into a ditch.

A stop at an ancient temple was on the schedule too, but by mid-afternoon, it was seriously hot. "The temple is hotter," Win warns me. "It is hot for Thais. I think it is too hot for you." I readily agreed to skip the temple.

* Click here to find links to more of Jennifer Donovan's posts with links to stories and photos of her visit to Thailand.