Mendel Center announces an online series for a stay-at-home world

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Right now, most Michiganders are in their homes, following a “stay home” order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last month to slow the spread of COVID-19.

For the moment, most live in a stay-at-home-world. However, that does not mean live performances need to be on hold. To keep the arts alive during COVID-19 social distancing measures, The Mendel Center is introducing a new, online series: “Remotely Interested: Live to Your Living Room.”

Seven online events are scheduled to be delivered via Facebook Live exclusively through The Mendel Center’s Facebook page during April. The lineup features local and regional artists who will perform from the comfort of their homes or studios while the audience sits back and enjoys online. The first, with Siusan O’ Rourke and Zig Zeitler, was performed Wednesday.

“With in-person gatherings prohibited everywhere, artists who make their living through live performances are feeling tremendous economic impact. This is a way we can all band together and give these talented artists space to share their craft and continue their livelihood while we all enjoy a much-needed break during these stressful times,” said Grace Kelmer, director of The Mendel Center Mainstage.

The series lineup includes:

• Dan Maxon — 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2

Dan Maxon is a local singer/songwriter and guitarist. He was raised under all manner of musical influences, finding a particular fondness for rock, folk, and jazz. He channels these genres through his own intimate, acoustic style.

• Omri Geva, the creator of “Aureum: An Aerial and Acrobatic Adventure Tale,” 7 p.m. Saturday, April 4

COVID-19 may have caused The Mendel Center to postpone “Aureum,” originally scheduled for Saturday, April 4, on the Mainstage, however the creator of this high-flying aerial and acrobatic adventure tale will be online to say hello and conduct an exclusive question and answer session about the show.

• Sunny Wilkinson with Dr. Ron Newman, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7

Sunny Wilkinson is a jazz recording artist, session singer, performer and teacher. She sang on the theme and numerous episodes of “Saved by the Bell,” and was a Solid Gold singer, backing Marilyn McCoo and Dionne Warwick. Wilkinson has sung with The Count Basie Band, Rob McConnell and the Boss Brass, Mark Murphy, Milt Hinton, Kenny Wheeler, Clark Terry, Bill Watrous, Ron Cater, Curtis Fuller, Edgar Winter and Gene Bertoncini, among others. Joining Wilkinson on piano will be Dr. Ron Newman. He is a member of the Michigan State University faculty since 1980, where he served as director of jazz studies from 1980 until 1995, and where he is currently professor of music theory.

• Masa Sekioka, 7 p.m. Sunday, April 12

This alumnus of Lake Michigan College and a former Mendel Center box office staff member is back. Masa Sekioka, originally from Japan, is a pianist and current student at University of Southern Maine. His unique approach to music is mainly influenced by jazz, but the way he illustrates sound goes beyond one genre, according to the Mendel Center.

• Jaime Marvin, 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14

Marvin has a diverse repertoire, and her musical influences are from a vast array of different genres, but somehow, she is able to pull a unique element out of each of those to make her own flavor, organizers said. Along with being an accomplished vocalist, guitarist and drummer, Marvin has been writing for a few years and has just released her first album. She performs in concert playing guitar and percussion simultaneously, and usually taking a round or two on the piano.

• Mike Talbot, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 18

Talbot is considered a master vocalist, guitarist and pianist, as well as a prolific and innovative songwriter. His performance history, spanning three decades and totaling over 30,000 hours, includes a wide range of gigs, from local haunts to headlining concerts. He is also considered a master painter and works with his wife, Cat, to create canvas art. Currently, they are in the early stages of two new projects, the first being the expansion of their successful children’s entertainment brand, “The Front Porch Puppeteers,” and the second, a grass roots radio show that shines the spotlight on the local music and arts scene.

The “Remotely Interested” series is free to view at Facebook.com/mendelcenter.

Those who would like to learn more or support this series can do so at themendelcenter.com/remotely-interested. The Mendel Center is offering each streaming artist a guaranteed fee for their performance. Contributions help cover those payments, and other associated costs of the series.

All in-person events through Sunday, May 10, at The Mendel Center have been postponed. As events and performances are rescheduled, information will be made available at TheMendelCenter.com.

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