Letters 07-27-2015

Next For Brownfields In regard to your recent piece on brownfield redevelopment in TC, the Randolph Street project appears to be proceeding without receiving its requested $600k in brownfield funding from the county. In response to this, the mayor is quoted as saying that the developer bought the property prior to performing an environmental assessment and had little choice but to now build it...

Defending Our Freedom This is in response to Sally MacFarlane Neal’s recent letter, “War Machines for Family Entertainment.” Wake Up! Make no mistake about it, we are at war! Even though the idiot we have for a president won’t accept the fact because he believes we can negotiate with Iran, etc., ISIS and their like make it very clear they intend to destroy the free world as we know it. If you take notice of the way are constantly destroying their own people, is that living...

What Is Far Left? Columnist Steve Tuttle, who so many lambaste as a liberal, considers Sen. Sanders a far out liberal “nearly invisible from the middle.” Has the middle really shifted that far right? Sanders has opposed endless war and the Patriot Act. Does Mr. Tuttle believe most of our citizens praise our wars and the positive results we have achieved from them? Is supporting endless war or giving up our civil liberties middle of the road...

Parking Corrected Stephen Tuttle commented on parking in the July 13 Northern Express. As Director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, I feel compelled to address a couple key issues. But first, I acknowledge that  there is some consternation about parking downtown. As more people come downtown served by less parking, the pressure on what parking we have increases. Downtown serves a county with a population of 90,000 and plays host to over three million visitors annually...

Home · Articles · News · News · Free if not FAMOUS GUITAR
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None - August 19th, 2011  

Micki Free might be the best guitarist no one has ever heard of -- well the general public that is. Mention his name to people in the business, such as Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones fame and they will all sing his praises. In fact, all three legends are currently working on projects with Micki Free.

Ask KISS frontman Gene Simmons his thoughts on Micki Free and a smile will come over him.

“I discovered Micki over 30 years ago when he was a 17-year-old guitarist playing in a regional rock band from Illinois,” said Simmons. “His band opened for us and I watched him (Simmons was big on discovering new musicians in those days, Eddie Van Halen was one of his discoveries) and I told him after the show that he was going to be a star and if he ever came to L.A. to give me a call.”

Micki Free will bring his blistering blues guitar and high energy rock and roll show with him this Friday, August 19, to Leelanau Sands Showroom.

Free decided to become a rock guitarist when at a young age he got to see the person many consider to be the greatest of all time.

“I was just eight or so and my father was in the military stationed in Germany and he was given tickets to see Jimi Hendrix; and he gave them to my oldest sister who took me to the show,” said Free. “We were in the third row and Hendrix came out in pink bell bottoms and said ‘this song is for the lady in the front row with the pink panties.’ He busted out into ‘Foxy Lady,’ and at that moment I thought to myself, hell yeah, I gotta be a guitar player.”


His family eventually moved home near Chicago. In high school, Free honed his blues and rock guitar chops, eventually forming his own band Smokehouse, playing shows with Ted Nugent, Rush, REO Speedwagon,and local favorites Cheap Trick. Free developed a reputation of being a rock and roll guitar prodigy.

“Meeting Gene Simmons was my big break,” said Free. “I took him up on his offer and after high school headed out to L.A. and to my surprise Gene remembered me. We started writing songs together -- it was wild.”

Simmons introduced Free to his then girlfriend Diana Ross.

“Diana liked what she saw and agreed to manage me. I started playing gigs around L.A. and was developing a following. Diana and Gene arranged for me to play guitar on Janet Jackson’s first album. Everything seemed to be coming together for me,” said Free. “Then one day Gene gets a call from the band Shalamar and they want me to join their band as their guitarist. My initial thought was to turn them down, they were R&B and I was rock and blues.”

But Gene Simmons gave Free something else to think about.

“I had never heard of them but they were playing big venues and were climbing the R&B charts. Gene thought it would be a good move for me,” said Free. “He put it to me this way: joining Shalamar would be like getting into a limo every night versus getting into a cab. He was right, it was the right decision at the time.”

For the next eight years Free toured the world with Shalamar selling out 20,000 seat venues, staying in first class hotels and eating at the best restaurants. He even won a Grammy. When the group called it quits in 1991, Free decided to pursue more of his blues and rock aspirations.

In 2002 he released “Black Moon... Black Sun” the first of his two solo rock albums. His second album released later that year, “Gypsy Cowboy,” was nominated for seven Native American Awards (Nammys), which named him “Best Male Artist of the Year” in 2002.


Part Cherokee, Free decided to take a break from his career in 2003 and explore his heritage. He moved to Arizona and began learning about his culture. He mastered the Native American flute and returned to music in 2004.

“Well, the Seminole tribe of Florida had purchased the Hard Rock Cafe and they called me about being a performer for their opening night ceremonies. I just assumed they wanted me to play the flute,” said Free. “I was shocked when they said ‘forget the flute. We want some of that Micki Free rock and roll,’ I guess I haven’t looked back since.”

While Free’s hard-driving blues rock didn’t hit home right away in the states, it did over in Europe where he had been in constant demand including being asked to play on the main stage of one the largest music festivals in England.

“I was asked to perform four years in a row at the Hard Rock Calling Festival with close to 100,000 people. I shared the main stage with Aerosmyth my first year and since then with Paul McCartney, The Police, Eric Claption, Bruce Springsteen among others,” said Free. “It was an awesome experience but what was really cool I brought over some Native American dancers and brought them on stage and the crowd went nuts. I think for most of them it was the first time they had seen a Native American in full headdress dancing on the stage.”

Last year he had another musical highlight happen while at the Hard Rock Calling.

“Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones asked if he could join me on stage,” said Free. “We hit it off and a lot of the media said we were the hit of the festival. Bill also said he wanted to perform on my next project so he will be on my new DVD and CD project coming out this fall.”

Free has a full tour already booked for this fall in Europe and he hopes that will be the case for him next year in the U.S.

“They are starving for my style of music in Europe. I am getting a feeling that is starting to be the case here as well.”

Free has surrounded himself with not only talented musicians but the legendary manager Henry “The Horse” Smith, who was with The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmyth. Free’s bandmates include former Cheap Trick bassist Jon Brant, and drummer Cindy Blackman formerly of the Lenny Kravitz band and wife of guitar great Eric Clapton.

While most people may not be familiar with Micki Free, he guarantees one thing if you attend his show at the Leelanau Sands on Friday, August 19, at 9 p.m., he promises when you leave you will remember him forever.

For details and to purchase tickets go to www.casinos2win.com and to check out Micki Free visit www.mickifree.com.

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