Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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4Play

Ross Boissoneau - May 3rd, 2007
Various Artists – A Tribute to Joni Mitchell - Nonesuch
With Joni Mitchell in semi-retirement, this star-studded tribute reminds us of what an interesting songwriter Mitchell was (and presumably still is). When artists as diverse as Bjork, Prince, Brad Meldau, Annie Lennox and James Taylor can find something in common with the music, you know you’re onto something. Sarah McLaghlan’s take on “Blue” is mesmerizing, and no less is Lennox’s reworking of “Ladies of the Canyon.” Those two tracks are followed jarringly by Emmylou Harris’s twangy “The Magdalene Laundries.” If it all sounds a bit bizarre, you’re beginning to get the idea. So what works, and what doesn’t? Elvis Costello’s “Edith and the Kingpin” features bass clarinet leading the horns alongside vibes in an altogether brilliant arrangement, while Lennox is her always original self. But best of all is k.d. lang’s version of what may be Mitchell’s most familiar tune - “Help Me.” Arresting, engaging, and occasionally uneven, this tribute is every bit as arresting as Mitchell herself.


the bird and the bee – the bird and the bee - Metroblue
The bird and the bee – all lowercase please – is the duo of instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and singer Inara George, daughter of the late Little Feat vocalist Lowell George. George’s almost-little girl voice is never overwhelmed by the instrumental backing, and much of it works very well. Occasionally it brings to mind other duo efforts, such as Yaz or Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin. But George is no bluesy belter, a la Yaz’s Alison Moyet. No, she’s all soft and breathy - more like a Suzanne Vega, to whom she bears an uncanny resemblance at times. This contrasts with the deliberately artificial-sounding synths and programmed percussion, giving the project an off-kilter vibe; the robotic backing vying with the very human sound of George’s voice. Points off for the unnecessary profanity that mars the overall success of the album. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.


Ryan Shaw – This Is Ryan Shaw - Red Ink
Remember soul music? Ryan Shaw certainly does, and if there is any justice in this world, this disc will help bring it back to the fore. The disc harkens back to artists as diverse as James Brown, Otis Redding and Was (Not Was), with a little Jackie Wilson thrown in for good measure. But while young – Shaw is just 26 – he sings like he’s been around a while. The backing instrumentation varies from track to track. “Working On A Building Of Love” is a great singalong, with guitars and drums pushing things along. On “I’ll Be Satisfied”, it’s a greasy organ and bari sax assisting Shaw. The concluding “Over & Done” features a backing vocal group and handclaps that concludes it nicely. Riding atop it all for all he’s worth is Shaw, one minute moaning, the next crooning, then putting it all together as he testifies. Shaw pulls out all the tricks and all the stops, and it works.


Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby – Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby - Sony Legacy
Those looking for some kind of balance between Skaggs’s rootsy sound and Hornsby’s jazzy pop are in for a shock. This is full-throttle bluegrass, including a hilarious take on Rick James’s “Superfreak.” Funky it’s not. But “Superfreak,” which closes the album, and Hornsby’s opening, “The Dreaded Spoon,” an ode to dessert, are alone worth the price of admission. In between, Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder are matched stride for stride by Hornsby, who channels the countrymost leanings of his jam-band days with the Grateful Dead. Once you get past the initial shock – if you do – the highlights are many. “Across the Rocky Mountain,” “Come On Out,” even Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” all feature the sound of friends furiously getting down with mandolins, fiddles, and piano, vying with vocals for airspace.
 
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