Road Stories Blog

Yamma Ensemble in Wabash/Hartford City, Indiana

A large group of people poses in the countryside.

By Eric Young Smith

I arrived with Yamma Ensemble in Wabash, Indiana to find our hosts, Andrea Zwiebel and Tod Minnich, welcoming us to a wonderful reception. These two work with Honeywell Center, an incredible facility capable of hosting levels of celebrity and production one would think to find only in a metropolis. But, this is a quaint, beautiful, Midwest town, and it shows in the warmth of their smiles and the enthusiasm expressed by all attendees of the reception.

Yamma Ensemble in Elyria, Ohio

Band performing on stage

By Eric Young Smith

Upon meeting the Ensemble in Cleveland, I was first taken by the engaging nature of their collective personality. Despite the notable unique character of each member, they as individuals seemed to complement each other in a quiet, confident way. They interacted with a level assumption and ease that only close friends know.

Remembering our week in Detroit Lakes

Ensemble sits outside at a picnic table with television crew nearby

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We arrived in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota at the most beautiful time of the year—fall colors at their best. The weather was perfect, warm, sunny, and in the 80’s the whole week. Is this really northern Minnesota? People in Wausau told us it would be much, much colder in Minnesota than in Wisconsin. Wust el Balad are not used to the cold weather, so they really loved this unusually warm fall.

A great week in Wisconsin

Performance in a high school auditorium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

On Sunday, September 18th we arrived in Wausau, Wisconsin. Shortly after we checked into the hotel, Barbara Klofstad, Education Director at Wausau Performing Arts Foundation, met us at the hotel lobby and escorted us to a reception at Rib Mountain Historic Chalet.

Wust el Balad in Detroit Lakes

Classroom with kids and ensemble in a workshop

By Amy Stoller Stearns

We are loving having Wust el Balad here! What great, great guys! I know this update will be full of exclamation points because it’s all so good!!

Wust el Balad's First Week in the Midwest

Wust el Balad on stage

By Shigeyo Henriquez

September 13th. Ken and I waited for Wust el Balad’s arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. They were scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m. We waited and waited… It was almost 9 p.m. Where were they?

Letters from Alexandria

Kids in a music workshop

By Arts Midwest

Last week, we received an envelope in the mail from Alexandria, Minnesota packed full of letters from students who participated in the Arts Midwest World Fest residencies there over the past few years.

Thank you so much to all of the students who wrote to us! All of the letters were very thoughtful and kind. Here are some of our favorite quotes…

“After watching these four groups, …I realized that all of the music was so different, but yet so beautiful in its own way.

Final week in Valley City, ND

Three people dressed nicely post together at the dinner table

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The week began with a reception held at the house of the president of Valley City State University. We were treated to a home cooked early Easter dinner, served on fine porcelain dishes with real silverware.

The last concert was at the Health Activity Center of Valley City High school. After the concert, Wes Anderson from the Bridges Arts Council received this email from one of the audience members.

“Thank you and the Bridges Arts Council for the exquisite music last evening. They were amazing.

Nozaki, Pianist

Sepia toned portrait of a man playing piano

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The fourth and the last musician I'd like to write about this tour is Nozaki, an incredibly talented pianist. Sometimes he is a comedian, a good storyteller and so often made us laugh. I most admire him for his talent to compose music. He writes music for whatever inspires him.

The first week in Knoxville, we rehearsed the day before the concert. While they practiced the technicians checked the stage lights. The lights went on and off, inspiring him to write a song about lightning bugs from his childhood memories, lights go on and lights go off.

Powwow in Grand Forks

Many people in colorful Native American costumes fill a gymnasium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

When I found about the powwow in Grand Forks, North Dakota I mentioned it to the taiko drummers. They were excited and wanted to see it. Saturday, April 9th was our day off and we didn’t need to get to Valley City until Sunday evening. I asked Ken if we could detour to see the powwow.

Ken was very supportive so we drove to Grand Forks. As I imagined, especially the taiko drummers were so thrilled to see so many Native American in their traditional costumes dancing around the arena with the sound of drumming.

The powwow was very fascinating.