Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

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.”

LOOKING BACK
“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.

LONG ROAD
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.
BEAVER ISLAND
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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