State pride shines in new production
Michigan touches the world through music
April 06, 2011 - So what do you do after years of working in the stodgy, collared shirt and necktie world of high stakes corporate marketing?
|Orion Township resident Allan Nahajewski, on the keyboards with members of the Half-Whacked Band. Kari Holmes is singing with Tom Zakarian with the guitar. On the drums (out of sight) is Marc Hubbel. (click for larger version)|
Globe-trot? Start your own consulting business? Drive around in a Jeep? Enjoy your family? Play harmonica and keyboards in a band?
If you are Orion Township resident Allan Nahajewski, 56, the answer is all of the above and more. Six years ago, Nahajewski retired from the Chrysler Corp – where he worked for the likes of Lee Iaccoca and Bob Eaton. Today, when he is not enjoying time with his wife Donna or their grandchildren, he is playing keyboards and the harmonica and promoting his latest production, Michiga-Musi-Palooza.
Michiga-Musi-Palooza is a musical production inspired during a trip to New Zeeland Nahajewski and his wife took at the end of 2010. During a native celebration of the Maori peoples, Nahajewski and his wife were in awe. Native costumes, facial tattoos, traditions, language . . . but there was something, something was all too familiar.
"I heard the music they were playing and it finally hit me, it was My Guy. Then a little while later, I heard the native Maori playing Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You. It was stunning. On the opposite side of the world, the Maori were playing music from my state, Motown. I felt some pride. And, the more I thought of it, wherever I have been it is amazing how many songs you hear from our home state," he said.
And the wheels in his head turned. "The timing was right. We needed something to be prideful of in Michigan. You here all these little stories about music. I started getting ideas about the 'soundtrack of the world.'"
When they returned home he started researching music with Michigan connections and aside from the obvious Motown acts, Bob Segar, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, Eminem, he started to discover littler known facts . . . did you the first Rock N Roll hit song, Rock Around The Clock was by Highland Park native, Bill Haley (& His Comets) ? Did you think Chubby Checker is the only person connected to The Twist – if so you'd be wrong. That song was written by and first recorded by Hank Ballard, of Detroit (and a Rock N Roll Hall of Famer, too). Nahajewski's research also unearthed that Tommy James (& The Shondells) grew up in Niles, Michigan; that the performer Jewel studied at Interlochen.
Michiga-Musi-Palooza is not a play, nor is it a concert. Nahajewski describes the production as a "hybrid" of the two – a combination of narration and music, including one original song Nahajewski wrote for the production. It can be performed in a number of formats (depending on the venue), either a one-hour, 90-minute or two-hour show.
The official literature for the show says this, "Michiga-Musi-Palooza is designed to showcase the depth of our state's contributions to pop music . . . Ideal for civic music-in-the-park evenings, or school assemblies."
Along with Nahajewski, there are three other performers, Tom Zakarian (vocals, guitar), Marc Hubbel (drums); and Kari Holmes (vocals).
For more info about the production, please call 248-877-9746.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org