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 · Disco Inferno 3/28/11
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Disco Inferno 3/28/11

Rick Coates - March 28th, 2011
Disco Inferno: ‘Best Band’ winners change name to Ella R!ot
By Rick Coates
For the past couple of years Ann Arbor based My Dear Disco has been making regular stops in Northern Michigan. The band recently headlined the Traverse City Winter Microbrew & Music Festival and just last week they performed to a packed house at the Loading Dock in Traverse City.
Voted “Best Band” in Northern Michigan, the players are getting ready to embark on a national tour. Guitarist and band co-leader Robert Lester sat down to give an update:

Northern Express: A month ago when you came to Traverse City you were My Dear Disco. This past stop you unveiled a new name, Ella R!ot. What is up with the name change?
Robert Lester: There is a band out of Australia named My Disco that has been starting to gain popularity and touring internationally. We actually met them in 2009 at the South By Southwest Music Conference and both bands laughed about it. But when our management heard about them this January they took a different perspective and felt it could cause problems for us down the road.
In many ways we were ready to discuss a name change. We had changed our line-up from seven to five musicians, we were getting ready to release a new album and a new video so it all just made sense. We felt it made sense to do it now rather then later.

NE: Okay, why now and why Ella R!ot?
Lester: When we went to change the name we wanted to make sure we would avoid any trademark issues. It is a strange thing renaming an established band; we had this name for three years and built a following as My Dear Disco. We came up with Ella R!ot after the great Ella Fitzgerald. All of us in the band are fans of hers and Ella in Greek means bright light or torch and that is an image that we like to apply to what we do. Riot we came up with because that evokes our performance energy on stage.
Obviously, there is no violence in what we do but if you were to describe our stage show with one word it is riotous. So we put the two words together and it rolled off the tongue nicely so we went with it.

NE: When will you release your first CD under the new band name?
Lester: We are now embarking on a new tour around the country with a new CD that is being released this week called “Love Child.”

NE: How long has the band been together?
Lester: Essentially, we evolved out of the band Toolbox that was an instrumental project that had Irish bagpipes as the lead instrument and that band started five years ago. My Dear Disco/Ella R!ot has been together for three years -- all of us attended the U of M School of Music.

NE: Do you credit your U of M attendance in aiding your approach to music and what you describe as a DanceThink sound?
Lester: The band became an outlet for us because during the day we were doing ‘academic’ music. Eventually we built up this band to seven players we were all friends. Five of us lived together for three years so we were like a musical family.
Then school ended and we decided we had a unique chemistry and we decided to take this band to see how far we can take this.

NE: For your style of music do you think being based in Michigan is best?
Lester: Michigan has its own music scene and it is known around the country. Music is one of the great exports from this state and it is a real calling card. When you are traveling around the country and people hear that you are from Michigan there is this sense you are going to bring it. The Michigan music scene is thriving, there is a lot of diversity.

NE: It is tough keeping a band together? What do you guys do to make it work?
Lester: Being in a band takes a lot of work, it is crazy just how much work it really is. I think maybe for some people who have never done it wonder how it could be so hard, but it is all of the little things that go into touring and recording and it is a very draining enterprise at times.
So you have to figure out how to do it so that experience fills your cup back up. Our secret to this point… requires a lot of explicit communication. I think we are lucky because everyone in the band values that and while it can be easy to slip into a non-communicative environment... Our rule is anything can be talked about as long as it is talked about respectfully.

NE: What are you trying to accomplish musically?
Lester: …We want highly danceable, multimedia displays of funky, songful, meaningful awesomeness. We have always tried to be something of a spectacle on stage but in a way that people want to get closer to.

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