Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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4Play: Willie Nelson, Richard Thompson, Dierks Bentley, KT Tunstall

Ross Boissoneau - December 20th, 2010
Willie Nelson - Country Music (Rounder Records)
When Willie Nelson was busted for pot, yet again last week, he said “I feel great! I feel six ounces lighter.” It is that kind of spirit that is featured on this recording. The Grammy-nominated “Country Music” has the relaxed feel of Willie getting together with his best buds and playing classic country tunes with mostly acoustic instruments. It has the sound of a group of pickers crowding around one mic and swapping solos on fiddles and mandolins. “Satisfied Mind,” “Pistol Packin’ Mama” and Hank Williams’ “House of Gold” are standouts, but the collection includes 15 tunes and they are all good and fun.



Richard Thompson - Dream Attic (Shout Factory)
It is not easy for the uninitiated to cozy up to Richard Thompson’s heavy English accented snarl, but his dazzling guitar playing makes it worth the effort. “Dream Attic” is a sparkling live recording of all-new material. It includes a wide variety of styles from Irish to rock-a-billy and has the flow, with peaks and valleys, that feel more like a concert than a bunch of songs. The best moments are still when Thompson lets loose on his Stratocaster. Forty years removed from his days with Fairport Convention, he sounds as good as ever.




Dierks Bentley - Up On the Ridge (Capitol Records)
It used to be when a country star would cross over he would go slick in an attempt to appeal to a pop music audience. Nowadays the thing to do is to go back to the roots and and make a bluegrass album. On “Up On the Ridge” Bentley recruits some of the best with the likes of Alison Krauss, Del McCoury and mandolinist extraordinaire Chris Thile and his band, the Punch Brothers. It is still something less than hardcore bluegrass. Bentley pushes it just far enough where it will still be played on modern country radio, but it is a fine album and has plenty of surprises including bluegrass versions of Bob Dylan’s “Senor (Tales of Yankee Power),” U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Bottle to the Bottom,” a duet with Kris Kristofferson.


KT Tunstall - Tiger Suit (Relentless)
Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall is best known for her hits “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” and “Suddenly I See,” a tune inspired by Patti Smith. Tunstall doesn’t quite have Smith’s intensity and sense of music as art (who does?), but on “Tiger Suit” Tunstall makes it clear she is a creative force to be reckoned with and is a lot more than a one or two hit wonder. Recorded in Germany at the same studio where U2’s Achtung Baby and David Bowie’s Heroes were recorded, Tunstall ventures into the world of electronica and dance rhythms without letting it all overwhelm her own distinctive energy and personality.
 
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