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First Things

January 2024
Talks and exhibit to mark MLK Day

Among the area events commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day are an exhibition and two presentations.

The exhibition Living the Dream: The Man, the People and the Park will be on display in the Portage City Hall Lobby from Jan. 2–31. This free exhibition will look at Dr. King’s work, a new Portage city park dedicated to him, and ways to make the community more just and equitable. It can be viewed 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Monday– Thursday and between 8 a.m.–noon Fridays. For more information, visit


Award-winning author, educator, pro-ducer and daughter of Malcolm X, Ilyasah Shabazz will speak at 6 p.m. Jan. 15 in Miller Auditorium. Shabazz, whose presentation is titled Chaos or Community: Let’s Talk with Ilyasah Shabazz, has authored five historical novels, served as project advisor for the award-winning PBS documentary Prince Among Slaves, and is currently producing a television series based on her latest publication, The Awakening of Malcolm X. Her presentation is free, but tickets are required and can be acquired through the Miller Auditorium box office or online at tickets/

On Jan. 16, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts presents the artists behind last year’s Festival Playhouse staging of Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. This in-person and online presentation, titled Staging Dr. King: Reflections on The Mountaintop at Kalamazoo College, runs from noon–1 p.m. at the art museum

The play, directed by Quincy Thomas, assistant professor of theatre arts at Kalamazoo College, featured actor Jared Pittman as Dr. King and Milan Levy as the enigmatic Camae, a fictional character who prepares King for his final transition.

The event is free, but tickets for the in-person presentation are required and can be reserved at A livestream of the event will be available on YouTube at

Digable Planets to play at State Theatre

A night of jazz-informed hip-hop will celebrate three decades of the group Digable Planets’ music Jan. 25 at the Kalamazoo State Theatre.

Digable Planets burst onto the music scene in 1993 with their Grammy-winning single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).” The group is composed of Ishmael Butler (“Butterfly”), Craig Irving (“Doodlebug”), and Mary Ann Vieira (“Ladybug Mecca”). Their debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), was praised by Pitchfork as “a world within a world, complete with its own language and monuments.” Throughout the 2000s, the members of Digable Planets pursued their individual careers, but the group re-emerged in 2015 with a series of successful live shows and has been touring since.

Tickets are $30–$55 and available at the State Theatre box office or

The Birdseed Salesmen to perform

Prepare to transport yourself to the cafés and bistros of 1930s and 1940s Europe on Jan. 14 when Kalamazoo group The Birdseed Salesman play at the Parchment Community Library, 401 S. Riverview Drive.

The group, composed of Helen Yee, Nathan Tabor, Jay Gavan and Denis Shebukhov, plays swinging “hot club” jazz in the French “manouche” style made popular by Romani jazz guitarist Jean “Django” Reinhardt and French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli.

The show begins at 2 p.m. and is free.

Restaurant Week returns

With 18 venues participating, this year’s Downtown Kalamazoo Restaurant Week will offer a full plate of fine dining Jan. 25–Feb. 4.

Participating venues will offer special “prix fixe” meals (typically three courses with multiple options at a set price), and their bartenders will compete for producing the week’s best cocktail.

Information about the participating venues, menus and parking options is available at

Come from Away at Miller

How the people of a tiny town in Newfoundland welcomed 7,000 stranded passengers when the 9/11 attacks shut down global air travel in 2001 is the focus of this musical, to be staged Jan. 30 and 31 at Miller Auditorium.

This touring show is based on the original Broadway production, which won a Tony Award in 2017 for Best Direction of a Musical

Show time is 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $47–$87 and available at the Miller box office or

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Encore Magazine is Southwest Michigan’s Magazine, bringing readers intriguing images and stories of the good things, good works and great people of our corner of the mitten. Published 12 times a year, Encore in its fifth decade of serving Southwest Michigan, carrying on a historic tradition of being the premier lifestyle publication of the greater Kalamazoo area.

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