By Robert Downes
If youre taking the buy local movement to heart, consider
supporting local artists, authors and musicians this holiday season.
Often, their work is a labor of love that pays more in terms of
personal satisfaction than in dollars. Heres a brief look at whos
The Gift of Christmas by Barbara Faith Jordan
Singer-songwriter Barbara Faith Jordan is well known on the local
acoustic music scene as a member of the Northern Michigan Songwriters
in the Round. She writes socially-conscious songs and also has a
background in pop music from her years of performing downstate.
As her name implies, Jordans music also has a faith component, and
that shines through on The Gift of Christmas, which is a selection of
classic carols and hymns, including The Holly and the Ivy, What
Child is This, Silent Night and other favorites.
Last year we put together a simple piano-vocal CD of soothing
Christmas songs to remind us of who and what we are celebrating this
season, she says of her project. We made the album available to some
friends and family and a few folks who came to some music performances
last year. This fall we have revisited this album and added some more
instrumentation (strings, cello, bells, etc), and now are officially
releasing it this Christmas season. We wanted to keep the
arrangements simple so the messages in the songs wouldnt get lost.
Jordans fans will find that she outdoes herself on this disc, with
the beautiful bell tones of her vocals complemented by the Windham
Hill-style piano work of Dave Proulx. The CD was produced by Andy
Mitchell of Audio Bay studios and is available via
http://barbarafaithjordan.com and at Horizon Books.
Web of Greed by Buzz Harcus
Mancelona author Leslie F. Buzz Harcus unleashes hell in a mystery
involving multiple murders in his third novel from Sandhill
The novel follows Detective Sam August as he delves into a
complicated web of double-dealing, sex, computer chips and murder,
Harcus writes. Suspects include a wealthy millionaire industrialist,
his young wife, her lover, a substitute wife, a wheeler-dealer sailor
with no visible means of income, an Asian crime gang, a hot-shot FBI
agent, a crooked lawyer, and helping Sam is his retired partner. Bill
A veteran of the Marine Corp, Harcus has written two prior novels:
China Marine: Tsingtao Treasure, and Tainted Treasure, which deal
with the adventures of a Marine corporal from Saginaw who is drawn
into intrigues in mainland China.
Harcus will be signing copies of his books at the TC Horizon Books on
Friday, December 17 from 3 to 5 p.m.
Come Dance and Sing Mulligan Stew
A seven-member Celtic band, Mulligan Stew has been performing in the
Cadillac area for the past 20 years, and has finally released their
Steve Loring, who performs on mandolin, banjo and violin, says the
band plays the usual Irish jigs and reels, but also likes to delve
deeper into the genre:
We have grown quite fond of the music of renowned 17th-century Irish
composer Turfoch OCarolyn and have added many of his tunes to our
repertoire, Loring says. OCarolyn is seen as the patriarch of Irish
music and composed set pieces - beautiful melodies, often for
individual sponsors -- and can best be described as listening music
as opposed to dance music.
Several members of Mulligan Stew also perform with the Cadillac
Symphony Orchestra. In addition to Steve Loring, the band includes
Jane Sawin on violin, Paul Sawin on cello, Kama Ross on flute and
pennywhistle, Tom Schwarz on guitar and vocals, Barry Lempe on guitar,
vocals and bodhran, and Jack Boyd on upright bass and vocals.
The result is a toe-tappin taste of the old country with enough
instruments in the mix to qualify as a Celtic orchestra. The band
performs regularly at Shay Station coffeehouse in Cadillac in addition
to local festivals. Check out www.mulliganstewband.com for more on
the band and their CD.
Ladies of the Light: Michigan Women in the U.S. Lighthouse Service
by Patricia Majher
Did you know that more than 50 women served as lighthouse keepers or
assistants on the Great Lakes between 1849 and 1954? Patricia Majher,
editor of Michigan Historymagazine tells their story in this 120-page
book from the University of Michigan Press.
Here youll return to the days when Michigan led the country in the
number of lighthouses, the lonely environs of which were staffed with
heroes and heroines who often risked their lives (and died) trying to
save wayfarers shipwrecked on the lakes.
For instance, the story of Elizabeth Van Riper Williams, the grande
dame of lighthouse keepers, born on Mackinac Island in 1842.
Elizabeths adventures included living on St. Helena Island and Beaver
Island, during the frontier days, where she met the Morman King
James Jesse Strang. Driven from Strangs religious kingdom as
unbelievers, she and her husband lived in Charlevoix and Traverse City
at a time when the towns were remote fishing and lumber outposts.
Eventually, she became a school teacher to the Indians and settled
back on Beaver Island after Strang was assassinated. One terrible
evening in 1872, her husband set out to rescue a sinking ship in the
harbor and drowned in the attempt, yet Elizabeth lived on to the age
of 96, wrapping up the era of lighthouse tenders on the Great Lakes.
Its rousing stuff, with many other tales of plucky women.
Illustrated with photos from the period, Ladies of the Light is
available at www.press.umich.edu.
The Interlochen Concert Peter Erskine, Alan Pasqua & Darek Oles
Imagine attending Interlochen Arts Academy decades ago and then
returning more than 37 years later to perform at Corson Auditorium
with your old high school chums. Thats just what Peter Erskine
(drums), Alan Pasqua (piano) and Darek Oles (bass) did on April 8,
2009, creating this live jazz album that includes nine instrumental
tunes. Songs range from those written by the players (Barcelona,
Autumn Rose) to Wichita Lineman by Jimmy Webb.
A lot of friends were at this reunion concert, and their presence
inspired what I feel is one of our best performances ever, says Peter
Erskine, class of 71. The album has been nominated for a Grammy for
Best Engineered Album, Non Classical for sound engineer Jack Conners.
It was produced at Perfect World Studios in TC, available from
fuzzymusic.com or via iTunes.
Betrayal by Harley Sachs
Harley Sachs has been a contributor to the Technology column in
Northern Express for more than a decade, writing with a wry sense of
humor and insight into technological advances that are still a bit
around the bend. But his writings go far beyond his newspaper work:
he has written more than a dozen mysteries, thrillers and guides, with
subjects ranging from Judaica and boating to speculative fiction and
life in Scandinavia. Hes even dabbled in creating a board game
called Police State.
A retired instructor and Professor Emeritus from Michigan
Technological University in Houghton, Sachs divides his time between
his U.P. summer home and his winter digs in Portland, Oregon. He notes
that his latest novel, Betrayal, parallels his own Cold War career as
a spy for the United States, during which he served under cover in
The book details the exploits of a young diplomat, Irwin Glass, who
is posted to Moscow during the Cold War, hoping to establish a career
with the U.S. Foreign Service. Unfortunately, Glass is snared in a
honey pot seduction by a Russian femme fatale and returns to the
U.S. with his career in tatters, accused of being a double agent.
Irwin lands a college teaching gig in the U.P., only to be haunted by
the KGB and his past 20 years later.
Sachs does a lively job of capturing the mood of both Moscow and the
Upper Peninsula, offering vivid characters and a suspenseful pace.
Readers will have fun wondering where Glasss fictional story leaves
off and the authors begins. An early advocate of both
print-on-demand books and ebooks, Sachs novels can be found at
The Thorn Amidst the Rose Paul Tegel & The Gardeners
Elk Rapids singer-songwriter Paul Tegel offers his third CD, backed by
The Gardeners, including top local players Mike Marois on guitar,
Roger Tarczon on percussion, Jack Conners on bass, Scott Zylstra on
pedal steel guitar and Al Jankowski on keyboards.
The mood is light, with chiming, reverb-drenched guitars on dreamy
songs. The overall sound of the CD is crisply beautiful, although the
guitar effects and digital delay tend to seem rather overdone by cut
number 12. Tegels atmospheric vocals have enough of a haunted sense
to render a feeling of Michael Franks-meets-David Gilmour, and thats
a good thing.
It would be interesting to see what Tegel could pull off in a live
performance, if he ever chooses to debut his work to an audience.
Recorded at Frontier Studios in Copemish and produced by Scott
Zylstra, the CD is available at Horizon Books in TC.