Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Expect ?Celticana? from Basement Band Duo

Kristi Kates - July 25th, 2011
Expect ‘Celticana’from Basement Band Duo
By Kristi Kates
Billy Brandt is a busy man.
Not only does he play with regionally-popular band Grievous Angel, who
keep the dance floor moving at places like Petoskey’s City Park Grill, but
he’s also had to make room in his den for several Detroit Music Awards,
takes care of various releases through his own record label. Now, he is
also helming a duo, Billy Brandt, Sarana VerLin and the Basement Band,
which will perform several Northern Michigan shows this August.
His work with duet partner VerLin started from what might seem like an
unlikely source for this seasoned performer - the internet.

GYPSY MEETING
“I met Sarana VerLin on MySpace,” Brandt explains. “I saw a picture of her
dressed sort of like a gypsy and playing a violin. She looked interesting,
and I wondered how we had not met up in the music scene until then.”
Brandt contacted VerLin, met her in-person, and the pair quickly found
themselves in a jam session.
“I was surprised to find a great harmony singer as well as a unique lead
vocalist,” Brandt enthuses about VerLin. “A prolific songwriter and
sensitive accompanist on her violin.”
Soon after their first meeting, Brandt and VerLin tried writing a song
together - “and the results were instant and effective,” Brandt says.
Now dubbed Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin and the Basement Band, they’ve
written over two dozen songs together in the past couple of years, and
have defined a new “sound” for themselves.

MUSICAL COMBO
“Celticana” is what Brandt calls the music he crafts with VerLin, a
combination of influences that blend traditional, familiar Americana music
with folk music hailing from England.
Their self-defined combo has won them many regional awards and the DMAs
(Detroit Music Awards), and have seen them performing everywhere from bars
and nightclubs to educational venues such as the Charlevoix Public Library
(where they’ll be on August 22.)
“Both Sarana and I have won multiple Detroit Music Awards,” Brandt says,
“she won this year for Best Folk CD, and won that same award in 2008; and
we won Best Folk/Duo at the 2010 DMAs.”
 
FESTIVAL FOLK
Those familiar with the retro stylings of ’60s and ’70s folk music -
whether of the stateside or overseas variety - will likely identify with
Brandt and VerLin’s approaches to translating these sounds to their
audiences.
“We are able to explore a great variety of music in this group,” Brandt
says, “we both have deep roots in both American and British folk - we can
jump from Towne or Dylan to Sandy Denny (Fairport Convention)-sounding
music. We sing great two-part harmony, and with our full band great
three-part harmony.”
And they most definitely “jam,” Brandt enthuses: “about half of our songs
take off on a jam at the end,” he says, “every one is a good listener.”
Even though they call themselves “Celticana,” Brandt feels that part of
their appeal is that they are tapping in to an older style of music that
communicates well with their fans.
“Audiences are loving the roots revival because it creates a sense of
place, a sense of history,” he says, “it’s simple, beautiful music that is
easy to connect to on an emotional level.”

More info on Billy Brandt and Sarana VerLin may be found at
www.billyandsarana.com; they will be performing live on August 5 at the
City Park Grill in Petoskey, on August 6 at the Dunegrass Festival in
Empire, and on August 20 at the Perry Hotel’s Noggin Room in Petoskey.
Additional dates may be found via their website.
 
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