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Posted on Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 8 a.m.

Ann Arbor Summer Festival announces 2012 mainstage lineup: Feist, Al Green, Esperanza Spalding and more

By Staff


Feist is part of the 2012 Ann Arbor Summer Festival lineup.

The Ann Arbor Summer Festival, now celebrating its 29th season, today announced the headlining indoor lineup for its 2012 season, running from June 15 to July 8: indie-pop sensation Feist with special guest The Low Anthem, Tuesday, June 5 at the Power Center; gospel and soul legend Al Green, Saturday, June 16 at Hill; bassist and jazz dynamo Esperanza Spalding, Thursday, June 21 at the Power Center; public radio favorite Ira Glass, Saturday, June 23 at the Power Center; modern dance illusionists Pilobolus, Sunday, June 24 at the Power Center; eccentric songbird Nellie McKay with special guest Sneakin’ Out, Wednesday, June 27 at the Power Center; the master storytellers of The Moth Mainstage, Thursday, June 28 at the Michigan Theater; theatrical-pop crooner Rufus Wainwright, Saturday, June 30 at the Power Center; political satirists The Capitol Steps, Wednesday, July 4 at the Power Center; the bemused B-movie bashers of Cinematic Titanic, Thursday, July 5 at the Michigan Theater; and acclaimed contemporary circus troupe Circa, Friday-Saturday, July 6-7, at the Power Center.

The festival had earlier announced a warmup concert with blues-rock icon Bonnie Raitt with special guest Marc Cohn, Friday, May 25 at Hill Auditorium.

Tickets for main-stage shows go on sale to the public on Monday, April 9 at 9 a.m. through the Festival Ticket Office at 734-764-2538, or online through the festival website at, or in person at the Michigan League Ticket Office at 911 N. University Ave.

The festival’s mainstage performances take place in the Power Center for the Performing Arts, Hill Auditorium, and the Michigan Theater.

For the fan who wants to experience all of this year’s Mainstage attractions in true VIP style, the Ann Arbor Summer Festival has teamed up with, the leading online destination for charity auctions, to host an auction offering exclusive access to all twelve performances, including VIP tickets, backstage meet and greets, private dining with one of the featured artists, signed merchandise, and more. Interested bidders can visit or link there from through April 12 to place bids. Proceeds from the auction will go to support the festival’s admission-free concert and movie series at Top of the Park.

The Top of the Park lineup will be revealed at a free community open house hosted by Arbor
Brewing Company
, at 114 E. Washington St., on Monday, May 7 from 5-8 p.m. The free public event also marks the return of Arbor Brewing Company’s Festival Saison, a seasonal craft beer developed in partnership with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. (The summer ale will be sold exclusively at Arbor Brewing Company throughout the summer months, with a portion of sales proceeds going to support Top of the Park’s admission-free programs.) The outdoor activities at Top of the Park continue at Ingalls Mall, located directly in front of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies on Washington Street near the Burton Memorial Tower.

Details on the main-stage acts, provided by the festival:


photo by Matt Mindlin

With special guest Marc Cohn
The Slipstream Tour
Friday, May 25, Pre-Season Concert
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
$65.50, $60.50, $55.50, $45.50, $35.50

More than just a best-selling artist, respected guitarist, expressive singer, and accomplished songwriter, Bonnie Raitt has become an institution in American music. With a unique style that blends blues, R&B, rock, and pop, this nine-time Grammy Award winner returns to Ann Arbor in support of her newest album, "Slipstream." Marc Cohn opens the show. At the artist’s request, 50 cents of each ticket sold for this concert will be donated to the ARIA Foundation.

With special guest The Low Anthem
Tuesday, June 5, Pre-Season Concert
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$50, $45, $40, $30

For nearly a decade, Leslie Feist did not stop moving. Her 2004 Juno Award-winning album "Let It Die" led right into 2007’s "The Reminder," which earned her four Grammy nominations, six Juno wins, the Shortlist Music Prize, and the opportunity to teach Muppets to count on "Sesame Street." She then made her "Saturday Night Live" debut and toured the world. Feist appears in support of her newest album, "Metals." The Low Anthem opens the show.

Saturday, June 16
Hill Auditorium, 8 p.m.
$75, $65, $55, $45, $35

The Reverend Al Green is known the world over for his extraordinary voice, unmistakable sound, and legendary hits. Having sold more than 40 million records, won 11 Grammy Awards, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the minister of L-O-V-E is still captivating audiences with his unique blend of Memphis soul, gospel, blues, and early rock and roll.

Radio Music Society Tour
Thursday, June 21
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$50, $45, $40, $30

Bassist, vocalist, and composer Esperanza Spalding has quickly emerged as one of the brightest lights in the musical world. With a unique and style-spanning presence, Spalding became the first jazz musician to receive the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2011. Spalding tours in support of her newest album, "Radio Music Society."

"Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass"
Co-presented by Michigan Radio
Saturday, June 23
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$55, $50, $45, $35

The creator of public radio’s This American Life talks about his program and how the show is put together. As part of this, Glass mixes stories from the show, live onstage, combining his narration with pre-taped quotes and music, recreating the sound of the show as the audience watches.

Sunday, June 24
Power Center, 7 p.m.
$50, $45, $40, $30, $10 Kids

An American institution for nearly 40 years, Pilobolus returns to Ann Arbor with its dancers who leap, fly, intertwine, and break all of the rules. With styles ranging from playful to intense to gravity-defying, the company has been universally celebrated for its startling mix of humor, intelligence, physical invention, and raw athleticism.

With special guest Sneakin’ Out
Wednesday, June 27
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$25 General Admission

Nellie McKay’s music is as tuneful and clever as the best of the Great American Songbook—part cabaret, part sparkly pop. From time-honored torch songs to Doris Day standards, the ivory-tinkling crooner offers an irresistible cocktail of vintage jazz classics, charming originals, and plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor. Sneakin’ Out opens the show.

Under the Influence: Stories that Shape and Shake Us
Co-presented by Michigan Radio
Thursday, June 28
Michigan Theater, 8 p.m.
$35 General Admission

The Moth, New York's hottest literary phenomenon, is an acclaimed nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of storytelling. After its sold-out performance at last year’s festival, The Moth Mainstage returns to Ann Arbor with an all-star line-up of favorite tellers and local gems, each with a ten-minute story told live without notes.

Saturday, June 30
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$50, $45, $40, $30

Affectionately referred to by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet” and praised by The New York Times for his “genuine originality,” Rufus Wainwright’s lush, theatrical pop offerings hark back to the traditions of Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, and even opera. Wainwright appears in support of his newest album, Out of the Game.

Wednesday, July 4
Power Center, 5 p.m. & 8 p.m.
$50, $45, $40, $30

Answering the call for more civil discourse, these former Congressional staffers' brilliant song parodies and hilarious sketches lampoon up-to-the-minute issues, events, and personalities, poking fun at both sides of the aisle. Perfectly timed for an election year, America's foremost political satirists return to Ann Arbor for their annual Fourth of July

Original Cast & Creators of Mystery Science Theater 3000
Thursday, July 5
Michigan Theater, 6 p.m. & 9 p.m.
$25 General Admission

Laugh along with the non-stop riffing on some of the absolute cheesiest movies ever made as the original cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 flanks the jumbo screen at the Michigan Theater for a live stage show. Enjoy the cast’s hilarious riffing on two different films in an early and late show.

Australian Cirque Nouveau
Friday, July 6 & Saturday, July 7
Power Center, 8 p.m.
$45, $40, $35, $25, $10 Kids

Circa is movement at its most adventurous and dangerous. In a jaw-dropping fusion of acrobatics, aerial stunts, extreme tumbling, and contemporary dance, the company’s signature style combines physical beauty, formidable talent, and a barrage of sound, light, and projection. The result is a new form of contemporary circus performance that is impossible to forget. Recommended for ages 10+ performances.



Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Cinematic Titanic! I saw them last time they were here and will see them again this time. Incredibly fun if you liked MST3K.

mike gatti

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

At least four things I'd love to see. Now the decision. Shop your show to save your dough.

John Azzolini

Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

An excellent line up. Go to check out The Low Anthem if for no other reason.


Wed, Mar 28, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

This is a great line-up. I always go to Top of the Park, but don't usually go to any of the indoor mainstage events. That's about to change this year ... will probably buy tickets for Feist & Bonnie Raitt. Also tempting are Esperanza Spalding and Pilobolus, but I don't have unlimited funds.

Long Time No See

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

Different people like different stuff. To me, this doesn't seem significantly better or worse than last year. I really like Esperanza Spalding, and I will probably go to that show.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

We go each year to Top of the Park to go, but it really doesn't appeal to us. Not paying these prices for the performances, that's for sure.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

FANTASTIC line-up! Hats off to the Summer Festival peeps!

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

"Affectionately referred to by Elton John as "the greatest songwriter on the planet" .." This from the guy who sang at Rush Limbaugh's wedding. No thanks.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 3:03 p.m.

Hmm...not a single event/performer I would be interested in seeing this year -- sorry, this is like the "B-ticket" of performers.....

Mike Hulsebus

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Feist here in town! This is like my wife's dream come true. I'd love to see Ira Glass, but I wouldn't $35 love to see Ira Glass.


Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

Not a very good lineup this year...except for maybe Al Green. Bring back D-E-V-O!!

John of Saline

Tue, Mar 27, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

"Are we not men?"