At Ease in the Presence of Amos Lee

It's a magical thing when Amos Lee comes to town. A lock for a sellout any night of the week, Amos consistently and generously shares the music that flows through him so effortlessly. There are few musicians with a gift as rich as his, and the stars aligned once again last night when he brought his soulful charm back to Ann Arbor.

For this show, Amos performed with a full, eight-piece band. It was his second appearance at The Ark in the past year (he played in 2010 with a three-man band), and it's clear he's taken a liking to the intimate venue as well as its devoted fans. He did, however, note a desire to accommodate more fans on his next trip to Ann Arbor (The Ark seats approximately 400-500 people) and a hope of playing the much larger Michigan Theater, which, he joked, had opted for a Charlie Chaplin film festival last night instead of him.

Check out all my pictures from the night here along with last night's setlist (as I remember it) below.

*Video* Brand new Kelly Clarkson song: "Why Don't You Try"

Last night, Kelly Clarkson took part in Celebrity Fight Night, a star-studded annual event that honors Muhammad Ali and raises money for a range of charities, primarily the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute.

As part of her three song set, she performed a brand new song (likely to be included on her fifth album, due in September) called "Why Don't You Try." The track was written by Eric Hutchinson, a singer-songwriter who served as Kelly's opening act on her All I Ever Wanted Tour. Check it out, it has a wonderful, soulful vibe that's sure to keep fans anticipating the new music this fall.

Thank you Ashley Donovan for taking and sharing this video (now of the full song)!

Here is another clip from a different angle as well (thanks to Arizona Foothills magazine):

And, below are a couple of bonus videos showing a "group effort" on the final song in Kelly's set, "My Life Would Suck Without You."

A tip of the yarmulke to TribeFest

This week I traveled to Las Vegas to attend TribeFest, "an entertaining, interactive and educational celebration that [drew] over 1,500 Jewish young adults (ages 22-45) from across North America. TribeFest [reflected] the vibrant setting of its host city, Las Vegas, offering meaningful, fun and top-quality content. Through presentations by dynamic leaders in politics, entertainment, music, art, food, religion and other aspects of Jewish life, TribeFest [offered] attendees many ways to connect to their own Judaism and how they see themselves as part of the community."

I attended the three-day conference for work and was truly inspired by the other attendees as well as the speakers. Highlights for me included Mayim Bialik (actress who is best known for her roles on "Blossom" and "The Big Bang Theory"), Ben Mezrich (author of several books, including The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, which was adapted into the screenplay for "The Social Network), Alina Gerlovin Spaulding (a humanitarian who emigrated to the United States in 1979 from the former Soviet Union. She shared a touching story of her family's heartache and perseverance), Vanessa Hidary (actress/poet), and NFL team owners Jonathan Kraft (New England Patriots) and Mark Wilf (Minnesota Vikings).

Here are a few photos I took as well as a couple short clips of Mayim Bialik and Vanessa Hidary:

Me with Mayim Bialik
Ben Mezrich
Mark Wilf and Jonathan Kraft