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Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith.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 · Jim Crockett and Fred Ball
. . . .

Jim Crockett and Fred Ball

Robert Downes - August 2nd, 2010
The River Runs Deep for Old Friends Jim Crockett and Fred Ball
By Robert Downes
Thirty-seven years ago, Jim Crockett set a pen to paper in a
reflective mood and wrote “The Manistee River,” possibly the
best-known folk song ever to come out of Northern Michigan.
Through the years the song, which is a waltzing melody of family
troubles washed away by a peaceful river, has been performed so often
at folk festivals, concerts, and on college radio station WNMC, that
the mantle of ‘elder statesman’ of Northern Michigan’s folk community
has settled on Crockett’s shoulders. Especially when taking into
account his other deep-folk compositions such as “The Last Believer,”
a defiant anthem for social justice and the values of the ‘60s, or
“Barrel of Whiskey,” about the American immigrant experience.
You can hear those soul-stirring songs this Thursday, Aug. 5 in a rare
public appearance when Crockett and long-time friend Fred Ball perform
at the Delbert Michel Studio at 516 E. Front Street in Traverse City.
With his shoulder-length, salt & pepper hair and mountain man beard,
Crockett, 68, projects an intense, almost fierce presence on stage.
So it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that he teaches Spanish,
English composition and rhetoric at Northwestern Michigan College and
is as mellow as a shot of Jack Daniels in conversation.

A LIFE OF MUSIC
It’s no surprise, however, that music has been a big part of
Crockett’s life since childhood. He grew up in Kalamazoo, where the
school district had the novel idea of providing each student in the
fifth grade with a ukelele and weekly lessons.
“I’ve always done music,” Crockett says. “I had an a cappela singing
group in the fourth grade and was writing songs for it even back
then.”
He says his first guitar was an $18.50 Stella that he pestered his
mother to buy him at the age of 13. “It had a neck like a friggin’
two-by-four and I had an awful time playing it, but by the night I got
it I was playing three chords and singing.”
If Crockett looks more like a farmer than a college language
instructor, you can credit his roots:
“I used to be a dairy farmer and farmed for quite awhile in St.
John’s,” he says of the community outside Lansing. “But I started out
as a teacher first and I’ve always been ‘all of the above’ in the
things I’ve done. I moved here in 1970, and just like everybody who
lives here, I do a little bit of everything.”
“Here” is Kingsley, where Crockett owns a farm. Although he no longer
farms, he still cuts 60 cords of wood each summer to stay in shape.
Kingsley has served as the setting for several of his songs, including
one that involved a barroom confrontation, and of course, “The
Manistee River,” which runs near his home a few miles south.
How did he happen to write that particular song, merging the river
with family heartache in June, 1973 at the age of 31?
“I think I was just feeling sorry for myself at a time when I was a
new dad and was at a high point in my life -- just like rare nerve
ganglia,” he says. “And I realized that no matter how dysfunctional
the adults in your life are, you can still have happiness; it’s as
simple as having a beautiful new baby girl. When you’re feeling
crappy, you could just go down and sit there by the river for 15
minutes and feel better.”

SONGWRITING THERAPY
Crockett estimates that he’s written 100 songs or so through the
years. Some have the same gritty, underdog,
don’t-take-shit-from-no-one quality as those by Bob Dylan or John
Prine.
“I was influenced heavily by Bob Dylan and Prine when I was younger,
but I think everybody was, and I had other influences as well, such as
Motown or the songs we played when I was in four- and five-piece bands
back in the day. If we liked a song, we’d play it, no matter who
wrote it.
“But I try to keep an edge with my own songs,” he adds. “It’s about
protest as much as anything -- about the crap going wrong in the world
and about stuff in my own life. I think that’s the case with most
songwriters -- a sort of therapy for people who don’t want to pay a
therapist, or like self-medication without the drugs.”
In any event, comparisons to Dylan or Prine are a bit out of sync,
since Crockett began playing folk music well before the heyday of
either of those luminaries, and even before the Great Folk Scare of
the early ‘60s: he purchased his Martin acoustic guitar in 1957, “when
folk was just getting big.” Today, it’s a valuable collector’s item.
Fred Ball, a singer-songwriter from Charlevoix who will join him in
concert this Thursday, is an old friend who goes back 35 years.
“I met Fred in 1975 back when he turned the Glen Arbor Rolling Mills
grist mill into a recording studio,” Crockett says. “He had this
state-of-the-art recording studio with a 32-track recording equipment
and asked me to come up and break the place in for him. No one knew
at the time that he was also a singer-songwriter.”

Jim Crockett and Fred Ball perform this Thursday, Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. at
the Delbert Michel Studio, 516 E. Front St., Traverse City. $15
advance, $20 at the door. Info: 231-941-8667.

The Manistee River
-- by Jim Crockett

The Manistee River
it runs near my home
I sit on her banks
when I’m feeling alone.
She plays with my spirit
she eases my bones.
She’s the finest old lady
that I’ve ever known

My daddy was a blind man
although he could see.
He raised up my brothers,
my sisters and me.
He married my mother,
it didn’t last long.
She went to Chicago
and never came home.

If you see my mother
tell her for me.
I got me a woman,
tiny baby.
I’ve got cows in the stable
a nice piece of land.
I go to my river
whenever I can.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 
 

 

 
 
 
Close
Close
Close