Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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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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