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 · Man in black/ Shawn Baker
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Man in black/ Shawn Baker

Kristi Kates - June 7th, 2010
Man in Black :Shawn Barker Gets Rhythm as Johnny Cash
By Kristi Kates
“I’ve always been a Johnny Cash fan, as were my dad and grandpa,” musician Shawn Barker says of his “Man in Black” tribute show. “Johnny Cash grew up in the same area of Arkansas as my dad’s family. Growing up, I remember visiting my dad’s side of the family and hearing Johnny being played a lot on the radio and record player; I love Johnny’s voice, and the way his songs tell a story. I also love the way he always let the music speak for itself.”
Barker, who was born and raised in St. Louis and still lives there today when he’s not traveling, began his interest with music in school, with his first performance experience as a line drummer with the school band in 8th grade. In high school, he sang with local cover bands and learned the guitar; later, his Elvis-like good looks drew him into performing at Elvis tribute shows.
“I really loved his music, and thought he was so cool, so it fit for me,” Barker says.
That ‘good fit’ led to Barker traveling around the U.S. for a few years, performing at Elvis tribute shows, and even winning the Elvis tribute contest at the Gibson Showcase in Nashville. Then, things took an even more interesting turn.

“About six years ago, a casting director for the musical “The Million Dollar Quartet” (a stage play built around an impromptu jam session between Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins) heard about me and asked if I wanted to audition for the part of Elvis,” Barker explains, “he also suggested that I audition for the Johnny Cash part. I worked on the Cash character, and went to Hollywood to audition.... and I was cast as Johnny Cash.”
Barker would spend the next four months traveling back and forth to Hollywood, doing script readings and working on the Cash part for his role in the musical. During that same time period, the ambitious singer kept doing his Elvis shows.
One fateful January night in a chilly northern Wisconsin venue, Barker and his touring mates all got terrible colds, with no one being able to sing. Barker offered to perform as Johnny Cash instead of Elvis (“because I thought I could sing the lower notes,” he explains.) The crowd went crazy at Barker’s Cash tribute, and the opportunities changed yet again for the singer.
“My now-manager recorded my segment of the show (as Cash) and put a demo together to upload to his website,” Barker explains, “incredibly, we immediately had 10 bookings to do the Cash tribute, including the Trump Casino in Atlantic City. We sat down and wrote the script, and never looked back.”
Although this meant that Barker had to withdraw from his Broadway part in “The Million Dollar Quartet” - which has gone on to successful runs in Chicago and New York - the Cash part seems to suit him, and he’s flourished in it.
“I don’t really consider myself a Johnny Cash tribute artist, although that’s what I’ve been called,” Barker says, “I look at myself now as more of a singer and actor playing a role.”

Barker’s performance as Johnny Cash today takes the audience back to “seeing” what Johnny Cash’s shows were like back in the early ‘60s, and offer glimpses into other facets of the Man in Black’s career, as well.
“The show really is a frozen moment in time,” Barker explains, “however, we also cover all aspects of Johnny’s career, from the early Sun Records days through his later work with Rick Rubin. I stay in the Cash character for most of the show, telling stories about the music and about his life.”
Barker performs with a full four-piece band and a backup singer, Jilla Webb, who sings harmony and covers the vocals parts of June Carter for several duets, although Barker stresses that she wasn’t “cast” as June Carter.
“Everyone dresses in black,” he continues, “and I wear the signature black suits that Johnny wore.”
For Barker, though, this isn’t merely a way to make a quick buck because of his visual resemblance and vocal abilities. Barker emphasizes that he is a Johnny Cash fan, and has a huge amount of respect for what Cash did for music.
“The show is definitely done in honor of Johnny Cash’s music and career,” he says, “If there wasn’t as big a demand, I wouldn’t be touring each year doing the show; but I would definitely still have some of Johnny’s music in any performance that I was doing.”

One of the best things that’s happened to him during this experience, Barker says, was performance-based, as well; he was able to actually work with one of the members of Johnny Cash’s band.
“A couple of years ago, I was asked by Jonathan Holiff, the son of Johnny’s manager Saul Holiff, to perform with W.S. ‘Fluke’ Holland (Johnny Cash’s drummer from 1960 through the ‘90s) at a special 40th anniversary concert at Folsom Prison,” Barker explains, “unfortunately, the show was cancelled at the last minute, but we were still able to arrange to have W.S. join our show in Las Vegas; he was a great guy, and we are still friends today.”
And one of the most challenging?
“I think everything about it is difficult,” Barker ponders, “I have worked very hard on my voice, and mannerisms. I work on it every day. It’s always a work in progress. Johnny was one of a kind, and I don’t think I will ever be close to what he really was. His voice, stage presence and the way he delivered a song was so unique. We work very hard to be as close to the original as we can, and I believe we are very good at it, but no one will be able to duplicate what he did. I love everything about this show, though - the band, the music, the people, being on stage, all of it.”
“Being on the road for six years is hard work, but rewarding,” he smiles, “and at the end of the night, there is nothing I would rather be doing.”

The Man in Black Show: A Tribute to Johnny Cash starring Shawn Barker, will take place at Traverse City’s Ground Zero on Friday, June 11. It will be Barker’s first Traverse City appearance. Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.; advance tix are $10 plus handling charges. Find out more and purchase tickets at www.groundzeroonline.com

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