Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Music · Up from down under...Harper
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Up from down under...Harper

Rick Coates - October 12th, 2006
Australian singer/songwriter Peter Harper, known simply as Harper, has been floating between gigs in the U.S. and his homeland for 10 years. Last October, Harper moved to Michigan full time, buying a home in Grass Lake between Ann Arbor and Jackson. So, why did he give up his romantic motherland for the midwestern life?
“I only spent four months a year here and it was apparent that out of sight, out of mind,” said Harper. “Michigan was the first state I came to 10 years ago and the people here are friendly and it reminded me of Australia. So, when I decided to move to the States to have a year-’round presence, Michigan made sense to me. It is also centrally located when you are touring the U.S. in a van.”
Harper has been touring both coasts of the U.S. and several places in between. The Blind Pig recording artist has been in high demand on the summer blues festival circuit, promoting his debut for the label “Down To The Rhythm.” The CD has sold out several times (Harper performed this past summer at the Sleeping Bear Dunegrass Festival and the closing party of the Traverse City Film Festival and had no CD’s available).

Yet despite his success on the blues circuit and his popularity on one of the top blues labels, Harper doesn’t define himself as a blues man.
“I wish they would just call these blues festivals, music festivals,” said Harper. “I am not a blues musician, though my music is definitely influenced by the blues. I perform some blues but there are plenty of authentic blues players out there that I don’t need to do that. Certainly the blues is a big influence but so are soul, R&B and the native sounds of Australia.
He will bring all of those influences with him to the Traverse City Opera House stage Thursday October 12. The concert series is hosted by Grassroots Productions, the producers of the popular Empire based Sleeping Bear Dunegrass Festival. Joining Harper will be Petoskey folk-jazz players, Something In The Homemade Jam.
Harper has enjoyed popularity in both Australia and the United States and has even built a fan base in Europe. In 2003 he won “Male Vocalist of the Year” at the Australian Blues Awards and his album “Way Down Deep Inside” won “Best Album.” Despite his success in his homeland there were challenges.
“It was often an eight-hour drive between gigs or more and there are fewer opportunities for performances so I had to use pick-up musicians for gigs,” said Harper. “I had great guys for the studio but there wasn’t enough work to take them on the road. So I had about four different bands in Australia to handle gigs and then another touring band in the U.S, so it was tough to get a consistent sound out on the road. In the U.S., gigs are a lot closer together and there are more venues.”
As for using pick-up musicians, that has all changed for Harper. He has assembled a talented group of guys with Tyler Mac on guitar/percussion, James Pace on Keyboards/ Djembe and Scott Key on Drums.
“These guys bring tight sound to the stage and definitely the best band I have ever had,” said Harper. “I look forward to taking them into the studio with me. It will be the first time that I’ve recorded with the guys I tour with.”
Harper will head into the studio in January and his new album will be out next spring. He is currently working in a couple of new songs during his concerts to give fans a little taste of what to expect.
Originally coming to the United States on a cultural grant from the Australian government (Australia tourism officials wanted to promote Down Under as place that had more to offer than Fosters beer), Harper quickly caught on at blues clubs. Blues festival promoters brought him back the next year and before he knew it he was headlining several festivals.
Post 9/11 has made it a challenge for many non-residents to get work visas or green cards so Harper worried about applying for citizenship and getting a green card. He received some help from an unlikely source: rock legends Journey.
“I was playing this club in Iowa when I was told the guys from Journey were in checking out my band,” said Harper. “So, during a set break I sat down and had a beer with Journey. They told me they loved my music and wanted me to tour with them. I just figured they were being polite. Then a couple months later their manager called and asked if I would open for them I agreed and they even brought me up on stage to jam with them during the tale end of their 30th anniversary tour. They also wrote letters of support for my green card application.”
Harper said a tour with Journey is possible someday but right now the pop rockers are touring the world with Def Leopard and Harper is booked well into 2007.
When Harper first hit the U.S. stages his hot blues harmonica combined with his silky and soulful vocals and craft lyrics attracted the attention of many. He has now become a master of the didgeridoo, a wind instrument native to the Aborigines of Australia. A Harper concert is high energy and well-suited for clubs and dancing but he welcomes the theater setting of the Opera House.
“I am starting to do more of these concert type venues where people are there for the music. Clubs are great but sometimes the music is an afterthought,” said Harper. “So these concert hall settings are nice and we have heard great things about the Opera House in Traverse City.”
So, as Harper’s performance career continues to spiral upward with 150 plus shows a year and his CD continue to sell well, he looks to the future.
“At heart I am a songwriter. I am starting to hear from others interested in my songwriting,” said Harper. “I am entertaining some offers right now. I also have been approached by a successful film producer for movie soundtrack work.”
While he isn’t at liberty to discuss details of potential songwriting deals, blues singer Shemekia Copeland recently mentioned in an interview that Harper is among her favorite songwriters and she plans to record some of his work soon.
Harper usually tours for three weeks and takes one week off. So, is that week for songwriting?
“Songwriting is different for all of us,” said Harper. “For me the best songs come to me while I am doing some sort of domestic task around my home like painting. Sometimes sitting down to write a song is tough but when your are doing something mundane your mind begins to wander.”

To hear the results of Harper’s often-wandering mind catch him Thursday October 12 at the Traverse City Opera House. Petoskey based Something in the Homemade Jam will take the stage at 7:30. Doors open at 6 pm. For info visit http://www.grassrootsproductions.net or call 231-882-8502.

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