Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Music · Robin Lee Berry
. . . .

Robin Lee Berry

Kristi Kates - November 1st, 2010
The Ubiquitous Robin Lee Berry
Berry got her start in the music industry singing in clubs in East
Lansing in the late 1970s; she also worked at the Lansing Sound
Recording Studio, doing vocal work and voiceovers for advertisements.
One year, she was offered a New Year’s Eve gig in Charlevoix, and, as
she puts it, “fell in love with the area.”
“In 1981, I decided to return Up North to play a summer gig at the
same restaurant,” she explains. “When summer ended, I realized quickly
that I lived in a resort town, and right off the bat the bottom
dropped out.”
“I’d heard there were some very talented players in Traverse City,”
she continues, “so I visited Union Street Station and heard Equinox, a
jazz quartet that was lead by Chris Bickley who had some real heavies
sitting in - John Lindeneau, Steve Christenson, Steve Stargardt and
Bruce Dunlop. I am not sure just how I approached them, but I had had
some experience in Lansing working with a jazz duo, and offered myself
as a singer for their band. That was an exciting band to work with and
a great experience. It really made me reach and do my homework playing
very challenging charts, but whew, what a kick.”
As time went on, Bickley lined up Berry to be the vocalist in his 45th
Parallel Big Band; she would work with them for three years.
“Those were some fun gigs,” she recollects. “I was asked to be a chart
copier - hand-writing out all the parts for 17 pieces and transposing
their parts into their specific keys - and I learned a lot. Now,
Chris’ band is called Bay Area Big Band, and it’s hotter than a
pistol. I get to perform with them this New Year’s Eve.”

Berry has actually performed at most of the restaurants and resorts in
Northern Michigan, as well as many of the festivals, both big and
small. But closest to her heart at the moment are her efforts
promoting Boyne City’s Sobo Arts District, and her work with perhaps
the most legendary Up North festival, Blissfest.
“My husband and I, along with Glen and Cindy McCune, opened Freshwater
Studio in Boyne City,” Berry says. “The best part for us is that it
doubles as a venue for concerts in the fall and winter. Our first show
was Thornetta Davis, and was a sellout - we have more shows this
winter including Dave Boutette, Stephen Fearing, Brian Vander Ark (The
Verve Pipe), and a Valentine’s show that will feature Rachael Davis,
Cathy Larou, and myself singing in the round.”
Freshwater Studio obviously spells fun for Berry - and Blissfest is
yet another story.
“Becoming a board member for the Blissfest was also life changing,”
she explains, “and brought me some strong friendships and a great
appreciation for the wisdom behind building a great festival and all
the great other events that Blissfest sponsors.”
Just as much a fan of local music as she is a part of the scene, Berry
cites the aforementioned Rachael Davis, Breathe Owl Breathe, Seth and
May (“Earthwork Music has a wonderful collection of great musicians,”
Berry enthuses), The Younce Duo, Petoskey band Orange Magic, Ruby
Williams, and Dave Runyan as several of the local talents that in turn
inspire her work.
Berry herself is currently performing at Phil’s on Front in Traverse
City, and at the new Cafe Sante in Boyne City, with more gigs on the
“I do hope to be stretching out in the performance realm,” she says,
“it feels like the time is right for me to climb in the car and do
some road time, which is always rewarding.”

And for those fortunate enough to catch one of those shows, you might
be treated to some new original Robin Lee Berry songs. Berry, who has
already released four albums, is currently working on another
recording with Patrick Niemesto and Joddy Croswhite.
“Joddy is an extraordinary lap steel player and has great ears, an
incredible depth of ideas and resources, and is an enjoyable person to
work with,” she says. “The tunes are coming together fast for this
next recording - hopes are that it will be completed this winter.
“There will be at least one selection featuring Seth Bernard, and
Peter Madcat Ruth, a nationally-treasured harmonica player.”
Berry considers herself fortunate to have found and worked with the
Northern Michigan musicians that she has, and finds that, in spite of
what can sometimes be considered a remote locale, it’s her own self
that limits her more than the surrounding elements.
“I find fear, lack of understanding, and laziness limiting.” she
explains, “If I had anything to do again, I would encourage myself to
have more courage and confidence, and not be so shy - to reach out
more for help when things get tough. I tended to isolate, but that can
happen anywhere.”
Berry’s move from Lansing may have begun as an unexpectedly major
challenge, but Berry has transcended the difficulties and has
solidified her unique place in Northern Michigan’s music scene. With
fans looking forward to a new CD, a husband and family to ground her,
and the respect of her musician peers, that move has proved to be the
right choice, and her many friends in her Boyne City community would
likely agree.
“Originally the move North, though a bit naive, was driven by beauty,
the water, the hills and woods as well as the kind people I found
here,” Berry says. “But then it hit me that the area was truly
seasonal resort territory, and that I would need to be extremely
“Like any challenge as I look back, I am amazed that we more than
survived, and that I was able to accomplish so much - to buy a house,
create CDs, and have two healthy children. It had its bumps -
sometimes earthshaking ones - but I guess it is a case of doing what
you can from where you are with what you have, and that can be true
anywhere you go. Life happens. It really is how you respond that
matters, and getting up after being knocked down speaks heavily about
what kind of character we are.”

For more information on Robin Lee Berry and her music, visit
www.robinleeberry.com; information on the Freshwater Studio events may
be found at www.freshwaterstudio.org.

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