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 · Claudia Schmidt
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Claudia Schmidt

Robert Downes - May 11th, 2009
‘A Force of Nature’
Claudia Schmidt looks back on 30 years

By Robert Downes 5/11/09

Thirty years ago, Claudia Schmidt put her heart on her sleeve and released her first self-titled album that was brimming with optimism, innocence and the anything-is-possible spirit of youth.
Back in 1979, her first effort on Flying Fish Records was released on an LP record in tumultuous musical times. Acoustic music in the vein of Dan Fogelberg, Steve Goodman and The Eagles was huge; disco was still a major force; punk rock was blossoming; and rap was barely a rumor.
Today, LPs are antique curiosities and rap has largely replaced folk as the music of protest and social justice. But despite 30 years of mileage on her musical odometer, Claudia Schmidt is still barreling along in high gear, radiating the same optimism and energy that lit up stages three decades ago.
She is, as the liner notes of her DVD states: “An absolute force of nature.”

“Back in those days, you had to perform awhile to prove that you had some chops,” she recalls of her 1979 album. “I’d already been playing regularly onstage for about five years when I made that record.”
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of her first recording, Schmidt and Flying Fish Records have reissued the album as a CD, tied in with a concert this Thursday, May 14 at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City. “I’ll also be playing some newer stuff in addition to a few songs off the album,” she says. “The show will be about coming full-circle 30 years later.”
The show will include some pure acoustic folk offerings in Schmidt’s signature style on mountain dulcimer and her custom-made 12-string guitar. But beyond that, one thing that has changed dramatically since 1979 for Schmidt is the addition of a jazz-oriented backup band, including Don Julin on mandolin/guitar, Ron Getz on guitar, Jack Dryden on bass and Randy Marsh on drums.
“The nice thing about collaborating with other musicians is that it invites them to hear my music in their own way,” she notes. “They add a musical texture to my voice.”
Musicians aside, what comes to the surface of a Claudia Schmidt show is the intensity of her performance and her ability to connect with an audience. She has a gift for finding the sweet spot in every song, and nailing it to the listener’s heart.

That ability to connect comes with plenty of practice. Schmidt performs some 200 gigs per year all over the country, with a new avenue being the trend in house concerts. “I love house concerts because I love working without a sound system and intimacy and soul of folk music,” she says. “It’s like 21st century chamber music.”
The new house concert scene is a reflection of increased competition among musicians. “Some of the performers that were filling larger halls are coming into the clubs and crowding out the smaller acts,” she says. “There are more musicians vying for fewer available gigs.”
Born in Highland Park and raised in New Baltimore on Lake St. Clair, she began singing and performing as a toddler. “I was in my first choir when I was four years old,” she recalls. “I was the youngest member of the cherub’s choir in church and was in multiple choirs all through school.”
She got her first guitar at the age of 16 and was influenced by her older brother who was dabbling in folk at the time. “I started writing songs immediately and taught myself how to play. Being close to Detroit, one of my first gigs in high school was opening for Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes for a benefit for methadone addicts. I also opened for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.”
Schmidt soon shot to the top of the Detroit-Ann Arbor folk scene and developed a fan base in Minneapolis and Madison, Wisconsin. She also gained fame for performing on an obscure instrument called the pianolin -- a cross between a zither and a violin -- that was invented in Michigan. “It was a monster at sound checks,” she says. “It either sounded like a beautiful, glorious instrument or a herd of bees, but fortunately, it’s been preserved on recordings.”
Speaking of which, through the years, she’s had 14 albums to her credit and has performed on many others. She’s also shared stages with top folk artists, including Tom Paxton, John Gorka and Garnet Rogers, appearing at major folk festivals and on Prairie Home Companion.Her travels have taken her to England, Canada, continental Europe, and last fall, to South Africa.
Schmidt got sidetracked from her music career during an 11-year stint running a B&B and the Old Rectory Restaurant & Pub on Beaver Island.
“I think it hurt my career spending those years on Beaver Island and not touring as much,” she says, adding that she’s been rebuilding her fan base since leaving the island for Traverse City in the early ’00s.
Leaving Beaver Island also resulted in a new jazz direction, with performances with a new band, The Jump Boys, and other jazz players. But Schmidt still performs a straight folk show on her tours and notes that jazz is hardly a new development for her: her 1979 album included a cover of “Since I Fell For You,” the jazz standard by Buddy Johnson.
So, what are the highlights of a career that spans more than 35 years?
“It’s hard to name the highlights, but I remember the first time I sang at the Winnepeg Folk Festival in ’79 or ’80 was my first time ever on a big stage in front of 20,000 people. Although I wasn’t on the bill, they asked me to lead the finale on ‘Amazing Grace’... I was afraid to look down because I thought I was levitating! The thing about live performing is about this energy you receive from the audience and I had the energy of 20,000 people coming at me.”
When you see Schmidt perform, it’s not hard to imagine that the energy of 20,000 people is still bottled up within her -- ready to knock you off your feet.

Claudia Schmidt performs with Don Julin, Ron Getz, Jack Dryden and Randy Marsh this Thursday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the InsideOut Gallery in Traverse City. Tickets are $12 advance, $15 at the door.

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