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Entertainment roundup

CD debut today; 2012 UP Book Tour plans on way

February 11, 2012
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Jeff Jennings will debut his new CD today.

The Negaunee native, who nows lives and teaches in Green Bay, Wis., had brand new work called "Love Songs by Request" with the sale proceeds benefitting the Alzheimer's Association.

Jennings will be singing later today at Younkers store at the Westwood Mall in Marquette, the starting time dependent on his arrival in Marquette after his audition this afternoon for the NBC television show "America's Got Talent," which is being held at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris.

Article Photos

Steven Wiig, left, and Ron Riekki autograph items at the Vista Theater in Negaunee during the first U.P. Book Tour in September 2010. The third edition of the tour starts June 20 and will feature more than 40 authors making stops in some 20 Upper Peninsula communities through July 7. (Journal file photo)

"I am hoping to be at Younkers by 5 p.m. or so," Jennings said in a phone interview earlier this week.

Then tonight, Jennings will take part in the Ishpeming Rotary's "Evening of International Romance and Intrigue" at Upfront and Co. in Marquette. He'll perform some songs from the CD, which is the fourth disc he has done to benefit the Alzheimer's Association.

From noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Jennings will be at The Landmark Inn in Marquette to sign copies of the new CD.

"There are 16 love songs stretching from the 1920s to present and all genres of music from country to pop to rock to big band," Jennings said. "Each song is by special request from family members and friends."

Two duets are featured with Heather Lee Wade, who is well known in the Green Bay area for her musical endeavours and who as a fourth grader was Jennings' student 20 years ago.

Those who cannot make this weekend's events can order a copy of "Love Songs by Request" for $12 through Jennings' mother, Beverly, who is the caregiver for Jennings' father, Bill, who has Alzheimer's. Mrs. Jennings can be reached at 475-6893.

The CD can also be purchased at the local office of the Alzheimer's Association, 710 Chippewa Square, Marquette.

2012 U.P. Book Tour

With a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, the 2012 edition of the U.P. Book Tour looks to be bigger than ever and its founder couldn't be more thrilled.

"I've teamed up with Peter White Public Library and Pam Christensen's been doing a fantastic job of assisting to make this even a more impressive event than the last two years," said Ron Riekki, who organized the first tours. "We're looking at 40-plus authors appearing in 20 cities in the Upper Peninsula. I'm excited that this year we're going to have Bonnie Jo Campbell, Sue Harrison, Laura Kasischke, Eileen Pollack, Janice Repka, Catie Rosemurgy, and a bunch of other incredibly talented writers."

The Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is part of making this year's tour possible along with the Northern Michigan University English Department, Peter White Public Library and Snowbound Books.

The tour launches June 20 this year and continues through July 7.

"We're blessed to have Michigan Humanities Council funding, so I would definitely like to thank them," said Riekki, a Negaunee native who wrote the novel "U.P." and now lives in California. "The goal this year is to bring the best U.P., Michigan and Midwest authors to towns with the highest unemployment rates or lowest per capita incomes in the area, with additional events in Marquette and supporting U.P. theaters.

"This year we have an even stronger emphasis on Michigan and U.P. authors," he said. "As an example of the quality of the upcoming tour, on June 22 at Menominee County Library in Stephenson we have Ellen Airgood, Ander Monson, and previous Poet Laureate of the United States Donald Hall all appearing together."

Riekki's own work continues to receive recognition.

"My short story 'Heroes' was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and my play 'Carol' was chosen for the Best Ten-Minute Plays 2012," he said. "Also, it appears that from now until 2015-2016, I'll be having five to six books coming out on Northern Michigan University Press, Wayne State University Press, and Michigan State University Press.

"In time for the book tour, NMU Press will be publishing the first-ever collection of U.P. plays, which I edited," Riekki said. "The anthology will feature new plays set in the U.P. written by Steve Hamilton, Ellen Airgood, Linda Nemec Foster, Jonathan Johnson, Russell Thorburn, Cameron Witbeck, and several other talented Michigan writers."

Riekki said NMU Press is also looking to publish his adaptation for the stage of Carroll Watson Rankin's "Dandelion Cottage," thanks to the Marquette County Historical Society. He said Lake Superior Theatre is scheduled to perform the adaptation this summer.

Riekki added: "I have several other projects under way, including studio/network meetings in L.A. in March for a TV show in which I am a co-creator with multiple Emmy Award-nominee Ryan Hopak, who appeared on the U.P. Book Tour 2011."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is



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