Dan John Miller: Music Performer / Book Performer

19701968_1438738852838633_1184805342324459317_nSinger/songwriter Dan John Miller is bringing his preternatural capability for engaging an audience through serenade and storytelling to the Ferndale Area District Library on Tues., July 11 at 6:30pm. This will be part two (of three performances) for the library’s annual Summer Concert Series. This is a free, all-ages music program presented by the Friends of the Ferndale Library.

INFO: Dan John Miller’s Summer Concert Series Performance at Ferndale Library 


At the start of our interview, Dan John Miller remarks, fondly, of the evolution of the public library’s role as a 21st century community center. There is art and photography on the walls, there’s engaging activities for a Children’s Summer Reading Program, and a book-club is about to meet down the hallway; not to mention the two dozen patrons perched at public access computers getting work done. It’s much more than just a building with books.

Dan John Miller, if you haven’t heard, is an esteemed icon of the Detroit music scene, with famous tenures in groups like Two Star Tabernacle (with Jack White), Goober & The Peas, and Blanche. He composed the Grammy-nominated score for the documentary “Johnny Cash’s America.”

He has several acting credits; in fact, you would have seen him in the Oscar-nominated Johnny Cash biopic, Walk The Line. But his latest venture is as an audiobook narrator.

Miller is an Audie award-winning performer for voice-acting and audiobook narration, including 10 Earphones awards, 3 Publishers Weekly “Listen Up!” awards and being named “Best Voice” by Audiofile magazine 5 years in a row.

He has narrated over 200 books. So while you can read about Miller’s more musical sides this weekend in the Oakland Press, we decided to talk all about BOOKS with this blog post.

Dan John Miller on books (and reading books!)

19575961_10154597929941643_37446567_nSo, what is it like to perform a book…
The simplest answer is, when it’s a good book, it can be really fun! And, if it’s not a good book? It’s not that fun…! (laughs)

But, you get cast for a reading part by a publisher, so you never know what to expect. There’s a lot of power given to the audiobook narrator, especially if it’s fiction! You’re coming up with all the character voices and just basically getting to make them up on your own.


So, if you’ve gotta make one guy really nasally and another more raspy, or some people like it more over the top, in moderation, or sometimes more subtle, as though you were just telling a friend a story, in person. I record some book readings at my studio, at home, this kid of cabin-y, cottage-y, garage-y building in our backyard.


Characters are your forte… So it’s no surprise you enjoy fiction. What about non-fiction?
Sometimes I’ll take on a non-fiction book that I would never pick up to read on my own and find the subject or the writing really fascinating. It’s interesting to perform non-fiction. And that’s another fun aspect, to be surprised in that way by something you weren’t expecting.


How did books, literature, authors, influence you overall… In terms of your music, your acting, your outlook on life… Any authors stand-out?
I’d say Roald Dahl… I think that that darkness with that humor has always played a part. But I think also, just the fairytale thing in general, for me… I was just talking to a neighbor about that, like Hansel & Gretel, and reading that and being terrified about it when I really thought about it as a kid. It seems like some of the fairy tales have changed to a safer resolution, these days, compared to the real classic ones.

I was at an Audiobook awards ceremony in New York and I got to meet (famed Harry Potter books narrator) Jim Dale. My daughter’s completely obsessed with Harry Potter; last night we turned the living room into Hogwarts–she’s on The Half-Blood Prince right now. But, anyway, I met Neil Gaiman at this ceremony and we started talking: he said that ‘Kids aren’t stupid…they believe in the boogeyman. They know the boogeyman exists.’ But, that it’s good to have that bit of fear, cuz that’s the full life. Thinking about a boogeyman can be a dark horrible thing, but we talk to our kids about that, and not to terrify them. Frances is 8…, and we talk about (the Harry Potter books) and ask if it’s scary, or if she’s okay. She’s doing okay! She likes it!


What’s your most formative moment or influence, from reading…?
The first book, I can’t remember which grade we were in, but it was Of Mice And Men; that was just a mind blowing experience for me. The darkness of it, how simple the story was, but had all this concentrated emotion. One thing that’s always surprised me was how many of my friends who are creative, who are artists, actually don’t read that much fiction…. It’s just something so savory about the experience of being in the middle of a great fiction book and not wanting it to end! I think, also, maybe with the music I’ve always loved to listen to, there is always a storytelling part of that. That probably plays into the narrating of books.


What did literature show you, when it came to the way you would approach your own crafts, be it songwriting or performing…
Keeping things simpler (like with Of Mice And Men) … Cuz you can always tell when you’re adding too much stuff. The best ideas are really simpler. You can overwork a painting or re-write a scene in a book too many times. You can’t overwork (a certain piece of art) if it’s just not meant to be…


….from there, are conversation drifted toward all-things-MUSIC. You can read that in the Oakland Press, soon!

See you on Tuesday evening for our Summer Concert Series


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Friends of the Ferndale Library @Pig & Whiskey

I joined the Friends because I’m a reader, a reading fanatic. There are all kinds of loftier reasons too– because the library strengthens our community by providing an opportunity for education, for access to technology, for outreach to children and seniors, and for programming that brings neighbors together and dissolves our differences. But mostly it’s about all the books I want to read! — Katherine Siebenaler


We’d like YOU to consider joining the Friends of the Ferndale Library!

Everybody who uses the library is a friend, but some of us have come together to go one step further. We are making Ferndale an even better place to live by building a local community organization to support our library’s mission to serve those who live and work in Ferndale by providing the best possible information and entertainment, arts and culture. We invite you to join us.
What do the Friends of the Library Do?

Fundraising opportunity for the Library!
We need volunteers for our tent at Pig & Whiskey!


All of the tips earned by the helpful volunteer bartenders in our special courtyard beer tent will benefit the Ferndale Area District Library. 

If you’d like to volunteer for the Friends of the Ferndale Library to help us raise funds for programming and materials on the weekend of Pig & Whiskey, get in touch and find more info HERE.

Becoming a Friend is one of those decisions you’ll never regret. You get to be a part of a community of people who value knowledge and culture, you support an institution that adds real-dollar value to your home and neighborhood, and you’ll be proud of all the extra books and movies and music and programming that your membership helps pay for. Plus the member appreciation party is a pretty great bonus. –Katherine Siebelaner

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Best Books for Teens for Summer Reading 2017

teenbooksWe wanted to compile a list for parents (because we’re not naive to presume that this blog is quite hip enough to be frequented by teens, yet…) to consider for their cache of potential titles to read through July and August.




For teens participating this year:
Accumulated time spent reading brings them the chance to win prizes from our Summer Reading sponsors (Taco Bell, Chipotle) or other treats like ice cream, a free book, or a fidget widget!

For information on Summer Reading Programs, Events, Activities (and Prizes), stop in at the Kids Corner at Ferndale Library, or follow our Youth Programming online via Facebook. 

Here’s a list of personal recommendations of outstanding titles for teens, curated by our Circulation Services Intern, Janelle Manuel!


Everything Everything 
by Yoon
The instant #1 New York Times bestseller–soon to be a major motion picture! In theaters May 19, it stars Amandla Stenberg as Maddy and Nick Robinson as Olly.

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything , Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

Everything, Everything will make you laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. It’s an innovative, inspiring, and heartbreakingly romantic debut novel that unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more.


Hoop City Detroit – by Sam Moussavi
Isaiah is a hot-shot freshman, talented and hard-working enough to be on the varsity basketball team at one of the top private high schools in Detroit. The problem is, his family is breaking apart and he is losing street-cred with his new suburban address. Will Isaiah be able to rise above the taunts from teammates and opponents-real or imagined? Will he be able to overcome the deconstruction of his family?

Detroit is a book from Hoop City, an EPIC Press six set series.


Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian  – 
by Sherman Alexie
Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.


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American Girls – by Allison Umminger
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined. As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls–and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America–in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in teen fiction.

American Girls is:
An ALA Booklist Top 10 First Novel
A Kirkus Best Book of the Year
A Barnes & Noble Best YA Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best of 2016
A Bustle Best YA Book of the Year
YALSA ‘s Best Fiction for Young Adults


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fter Tupac & D Foster – by Jacqueline Woodson
D Foster showed up a few months before Tupac got shot that first time and left us the summer before he died. The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend’s lives, the world opens up for them. D comes from a world vastly different from their safe Queens neighborhood, and through her, the girls see another side of life that includes loss, foster families and an amount of freedom that makes the girls envious. Although all of them are crazy about Tupac Shakur’s rap music, D is the one who truly understands the place where he’s coming from, and through knowing D, Tupac’s lyrics become more personal for all of them.

The girls are thirteen when D’s mom swoops in to reclaim D–and as magically as she appeared, she now disappears from their lives. Tupac is gone, too, after another shooting; this time fatal. As the narrator looks back, she sees lives suspended in time, and realizes that even all-too-brief connections can touch deeply.


index (3)Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina – by Misty Copeland

Determination meets dance in this middle grade adaptation of the New York Times bestselling memoir by the first African-American principal dancer in American Ballet Theatre history, Misty Copeland.  As the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has been breaking down all kinds of barriers in the world of dance. But when she first started dancing–at the late age of thirteen–no one would have guessed the shy, underprivileged girl would one day make history in her field.

Her road to excellence was not easy–a chaotic home life, with several siblings and a single mother, was a stark contrast to the control and comfort she found on stage. And when her home life and incredible dance promise begin to clash, Misty had to learn to stand up for herself and navigate a complex relationship with her mother, while pursuing her ballet dreams.


1231097_656827291029797_1374133706_nYou can find all of these books, plus several MORE titles for young-adults through our online catalog. 




Join us Saturday, June 24, at Garbutt Park for the kick-off of Summer Reading, 2017. Reading Events run June 24 – Aug 5, and you can sign up anytime during library hours at the librarian’s desk in the Kids Corner.

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Wanna Learn More About Ferndale’s History?

Picture1Have you recently moved to Ferndale and want to learn more about your new home? Or, have you lived here your whole life and wondered what the city looked like 50, 60, or 100 years ago? You can always visit our local history section to find great books about Ferndale’s Yesteryear.

Another great resource to answer any of your curiosities concerning our city’s development would be the Ferndale Historical Museum, located at 1651 Livernois St.

The Ferndale Historical Museum is run and maintained by the Ferndale Historical Society volunteer Board of Directors.

This non-profit organization has been offering Ferndalians research and genealogical services for decades; “the repository of all things Ferndale!”

The Museum is all volunteer based and operated. Over the years, they’ve collected history on the Ferndale area and city from up to a couple million years ago…, up to its days as an Indian trail and hunting grounds, to a Stage Coach stop, to Village, to City through the decades to the present.

Below, for #ThrowbackThursday, we’re featuring a few illuminating images stored in some of our own history books here in the library.



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Summer Reading: 50 Best Teen Books


Booklist’s 50 Best YA Books of All Time.

Studies have shown that Teens aren’t reading as much as they used to. The problem seems to be that they’re spending too much time online…

Digital connection is one thing, but a more substantive bond that only a book can help build, (like thinking more deeply, or even abstractly, about the world and society, or the rewards of contemplating the experiences of a protagonist who is from a different culture, or, best of all, the potential for self-empowerment sparked from the nuanced inspiration) all of those profound experiences can only be found in an affectingly arranged narrative, be it drama or comedy, or even dystopic adventure! Books win.

Teens are actually “reading” more than ever; but that’s because they’re just taking in so much information over social media, or just online, reading lots of text, but not actually experiencing the enrichment of great fiction.

Well. Summer Reading is kicking off Saturday. We know it might be an uphill battle to, not only just encourage your teens to do more recreational reading, but also find some good titles that will strike their fancy…  SO…, we thought we’d share the recently published list of the 50 Best YA (Young-Adult/Teen) Novels of All Time, as arranged by Booklist Magazine. 




CLICK HERE for more info on our Summer Reading Kick-Off

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Dan John Miller performs at Ferndale Library -July 11

Ferndale is witnessing a redefinition of the word “library”as the Ferndale Area District Library continues to produce more fun and engaging programming, activities and performances, such as July 11th’s Summer Concert Series featuring renowned singer/songwriter Dan John Miller.


Miller is one of Michigan’s musical treasures celebrated nationally for his folk/Americana compositions and tenures in eclectic groups such as Blanche and Goober & The Peas. This veteran of the Detroit rock scene was an early collaborator of Jack White’s (in Two Star Tabernacle), and is also an actor (as seen in 2005’s Oscar winning biopic Walk The Line). Miller’s live appearances have become more rare over the years, so the July 11 concert, presented by the Friends of the Ferndale Library, is an exciting opportunity for local music fans to catch an exclusive set from one of the scene’s true originals.

dan john miller

July’s installment of FADL’s 2017 Summer Concert Series starts at 6:30pm on July 11th. Dan John Miller’s performance is a free/all ages event.


More about Dan John Miller: Detroit-based singer/songwriter, Dan John Miller of the renowned Americana/rock outfits Blanche and Goober & The Peas will be playing July’s event. Whether giving a nuanced performance as Johnny Cash’s good friend and guitarist Luther Perkins in the Oscar-winning biopic Walk the Line, exploding on stage singing and/or playing guitar while fronting acclaimed bands Blanche and Goober & the Peas, using his voice-acting skills for multiple national advertising campaigns, or bringing hundreds of characters to life as an Audie Award-winning audiobook narrator, Dan John Miller carves and shapes singular, exceptional performances and characters.

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Summer Concert Series is a Hit, with Raion Taiko’s Drumming!

Ferndale is witnessing a redefinition of the word “library”as the Ferndale Area District Library continues to produce more fun and engaging programming, activities and performances, such as July 11th’s Summer Concert Series featuring renowned singer/songwriter Dan John Miller.

Last week, almost 100 people packed the Ferndale Library’s Community Room, vestibule and entrance hall to experience the invigorating rhythmic arrangements and percussive harmonies of Troy-based Japanese Drumming ensemble Raion Taiko!

This June portion of the library’s Summer Concert Series (pictured below) was significantly more engaging than your average concert, with crowd participation, informative insights into Japan’s musical heritage, and, of course, some intense drumming. The crowd went wild.

Libraries can be performance spaces, but also a meeting room, a gallery, or even, sometimes, a pop-up petting zoo! The Ferndale Library will welcome goats this summer, for a Children’s Reading program.


The mission of the Ferndale Library is to enhance the city’s character, and its capacity to attract and nurture talent and creativity, mobilize ideas, stimulate innovation and encourage diversity. What better way to accomplish that, then a concert for the community?

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