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Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith.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 · Common Cent$
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Common Cent$

Robert Downes - July 5th, 2010
Masters of the Game: Common Cent$ rules the cover band universe
By Robert Downes
Young musicians interested in a masters’ class in how to succeed would
do well to study Common Cent$, a band of rock veterans who have local
audiences eating out of the palms of their hands.
At a recent show in Traverse City, the band packed the dance floor
with an avalanche of classic rock hits delivered with razor precision
over an impeccable sound system. Guitarists Steve Krygier and Charlie
Kalbfleisch joined bassist Kevin DeVincent in plunging into the crowd
with their wireless mics and instruments, performing a get-down show
in the heart of the dance scene while drummer Steve Larson anchored
the action on a riser well above the stage.
Even if you’re not a classic rock fan, you can’t help but admire the
band’s skill at delivering, blood-pumping, dead-on covers by Queen,
Journey, Loverboy, REO, Styx, Mellancamp and other hits that generate
a propulsive, get-up-and-boogie reaction from the audience. Toss in
the four-part harmonies and it’s clear that Common Cent$ has an
uncommon gift for drama and professionalism.
There is, in short, a lot of common sense to the performance route
taken by Common Cent$.

“I want people to walk away from our shows feeling like they were at a
multi-thousand-person event,” says Steve Krygier, 51, who handles lead
vocals along with keyboards and guitar.
Originally from Bay City and a special-ed teacher for the past 28
years, Krygier is the frontman for the group. He started out playing
drums, but his shout-it-out rock dramatics made him a natural to lead
the show. He ditched the drums, learned to play a keyboard, and moved
out front.
All of the bandmates have decades of experience under their belts and
three of them share an unusual Colorado connection. Krygier and
guitarist Charlie Kalbfleisch, 49, were in a band together in Boulder,
while drummer Steve Larson, 49, performed with a group in Colorado
Springs. “We all met when we moved back to Michigan,” Krygier says,
adding that family and raising kids were their motives for moving back
to their home state.
They’ve had their struggles, including the present hardship of getting
skeptical club owners to take a chance on an aging classic rock band.
“When we moved here from Colorado Springs, the local musicians shunned
you,” Larson says. “They didn’t want to help you get started.”
“If anything, they would lead you astray,” Kalbfleisch adds.
Larson’s day job is working with the State of Michigan’s Department of
Human Services, while Kalbfleisch is an electronics engineer who has
also served as a professional drum tech, touring with Grand Funk
Railroad’s drummer, Don Brewer. Through four years of trial and error,
Common Cent$ came together with a varying lineup of players,
eventually adding Kevin DeVincent, 54, on bass -- an Oleson’s employee
who is a veteran of many local bands.
They’ve spent years dialing in their sound and honing their show. “We
put together our first group, but it wasn’t working,” Larson notes.
“That’s when we put together a philosophy of ‘why are we doing this
song?’” Kalbflieisch says. “When we started the band, we had a lot of
discussion about what to play. At the time, Traverse City had a lot
of blues bands, so it was hard to break in.
“Today when we decide to play a song, we ask ourselves, ‘Was it a hit,
or was it a B-side that you like because you’re a musician, but makes
the audience want to hit the reset button?’” Kalbfleisch continues.
“So a song has to have had radio play for us to consider it. It also
has to be a song that we’re equipped to play and that the audience
will recognize as sounding just like the original.”
Do they have their own stash of original material that they pull out
“We’ve bantered the idea around, but the reality is that playing
original music doesn’t bring you anything in the market up here,”
Kalbfleisch says. “We did that for years in Colorado -- playing a
set of our own music -- but it never works out.”
“We work really hard to keep people at our shows and keeping club
owners happy,” Krygier adds. “And we work hard at having people want
to come back for more.”

If the band spends hours agonizing over what will please their
audience, they are even more focused on their singing.
“All of us have to sing,” Krygier says. “We don’t do it just because
we want to sing, we do it because it rings with the audience.”
Krygier’s own vocals include astounding deliveries of virtuosos such
as Queen’s Freddy Mercury. A former high school choirboy, his vocals
are so good that audience members have wondered at times if he’s
singing to tapes or through a vocal synthesizer, but other than a few
electronic effects available to any musician, the voice and passion
for singing is all Krygier’s. He recalls the days of playing at the
Big Eazy in TC when the band would convene in the restaurant’s kitchen
to go over the Crosby, Stills & Nash harmonies of “Carry On,” sounding
out the vocal parts on a guitar, to be delivered moments later fresh
Wireless mics and earbud monitors keep the vocals on track. “We’re
keenly aware at all times of what other members of the band are doing
in the monitors,” Krygier notes. “We’re a very vocal band, pulling
off harmonies that no one else can do.”
Speaking of wireless mics and monitors (which can run $300-$500 per
unit), although the band doesn’t confirm the amount, it’s easy to
imagine that Common Cent$’ sound system runs into the $20,000 range --
a jaw-dropping array of speakers and electronic gear that goes far
beyond what any other band this side of Bump would be capable of
“We have a lot of control,” Kalbfleisch says. ‘We sound the same in
any room we play. We got away from the big junk and play with small
amps, but it’s all through the p.a. so the audience hears exactly what
we hear through the monitors.”
That control extended to requiring that Larson perform on electronic
drums to avoid any ambient cymbal or drum wash. “Oddly enough, I
already had an electronic drum set when I joined the band,” Larson
notes of his $6,000 kit.
Put it all together and Common Cent$ spells p-r-o-f-e--s-s-ionalism,
with four guys who’ve been rocking out since their early-to-mid teens
and know exactly what they want to do on stage. That commitment has
paid off: they have nearly 800 fans on Facebook and their email chain,
many of whom follow the band to gigs such as Torch Lake’s Dockside,
Wilderness Crossing in Grawn, and the West Bay Holiday Inn deck in TC.
“This is serious for us -- our faces are are onstage and it’s very
important for us to put on a good show,” Krygier says.
Believe it.

Common Cent$ performs this Friday, July 9 at the West Bay Holiday Inn
deck from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Check out the band’s webside at

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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