Letters 11-30-2015

“Snapshots” of Islam Offensive  In his latest effort (Northern Express Nov. 23 - Nov. 29, 2015,) David Kachadurian provides a jumble of FYI disclosures pertaining to Islam and Muslim societies, and posing as if providing a public service announcement, he advises the readers to ponder their import and to “make of them what you will.”

Not Another War To these people who believe we need to be at war in the Middle East all the time: try thinking about getting the countries that are in the area to take care of these bad guys instead of us. We are almost in constant war and have been as long as most can remember...

The Unvaccinated Are Punished Pulling healthy children from school due to a so called “outbreak” of a mild childhood illness isn’t for the safety of the community, as we’re being led to believe. It’s to prove a point that the health department will follow through on their threats to exclude the unvaccinated from all school related events, whenever they see fit...

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Local CDs

Kristi Kates - May 24th, 2010
Local CDs
By Kristi Kates
Dean Wiers-Windemuller - Dean Wiers-Windemuller
Complete with rubber-stamped, recycled-paper CD envelope, Dean Wiers-Windemuller’s set includes contributions from James Forrest Hughes on bass, Brian Morrill on drums, and Michael Crittenden on percussion, although the songs are all written by the Grand Rapids singer-songwriter himself.
The whole thing, especially the packaging and notes, is a little too grassroots-earnest at times (“my new CD includes a song I sang at my own wedding!”) - and one might wonder how the folky Wiers-Windemuller ended up as an opening act for American Idol pop-snippet David Archuleta (?) - but the songs are decently structured, and do showcase Wiers-Windemuller’s claims of being influenced by the likes of fellow folksters Ray LaMontagne and Martin Sexton.
Opener “Though I Wish You Were Here” has a catchy, skipping refrain, while the declarative “Girl Our Love Will Last” features more of Wiers-Windemuller’s nicely mellow guitar work and slightly overzealous mid-range vocals, and “Evidence (for Rush)” serves as a direct “message” to radio crank Rush Limbaugh.

Blue Dirt Band - Blue Dirt
Hailing from Traverse City, musicians Tractor Mike (guitar/mandolin/vocals), Jay Slash (bass/vocals), and Stonewall P.J. (percussion and “pots and pans”) make up the Blue Dirt trio, whose full-length CD was recorded by Pat Neimesto and features artwork by Robert Schewe.
Their follow-up to a series of Northern Michigan shows at Black Star Farms, Short’s Brewing Company, and Union Street Station, the album starts off slow with John Hartford’s “Good Ole Days,” which awkwardly drags through the first four and a half minutes. Fortunately, the album revives with track two, a spirited take on The Waybacks’ “Sierra Madre” that sounds like a countrified version of Squirrel Nut Zippers without the big band instruments. Their version of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Fade On Me” is a nifty one, too, with old-timey harmonies and hurried saloon strumming as if a bar stool’s a-gonna fly through that window at any moment. And three Blue Dirt originals round out the disc, among them a somewhat haphazard, half-hearted instrumental that appears, by title alone, to be their signature piece (“Blue Dirt”).

Michael Lee - My Own Man
Singer-songwriter Michael Lee Seiler (who goes by the last name Lee on this release) blends “songs of Boyne” with a hint of Delta blues on his album, a solo escapade away from his work with Synergy and the Claude Fraug Band.
Recorded at Bellaire, Michigan’s Runyan Media, Lee collaborates with Dave Runyan himself on bass and electric guitar, as well as Ben Silva on drums. Spawned in part from his worship service music, and in part from his experiences at songwriters’ retreats, Lee’s tunes and lyrics are quite genuine and heartfelt, if a little overly sentimental. “My Own Man” is pensive and highlighted with a tinkling piano riff, while “Mississippi Blues” is an outsider’s view of the blues scene; and a pair of Boyne-focused songs (“Sweet Boyne” and “In the Boyne”) pay homage to Boyne City and fishing Up North, respectively.
Most of the tracks are anchored by guitar and Lee’s passive vocals - which quite often waver around the note before landing on it - but he manages to infuse most of the songs with personality. He’s kind of like a slightly less-compelling version of Bob Dylan in how he overcomes his vocal limitations with his sincerity; a minstrel for Michigan, if you will.

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