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 · Downes' Dynamite Gig
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Downes' Dynamite Gig

Kristi Kates - May 19th, 2014  

A 23 year veteran in the publishing business, Bob Downes is now focusing his time on a microphone and the stage.

Downes, the former editor and co-publisher of Northern Express, sings and plays guitar in his own band, Acoustic Dynamite.

Together with Jim Moore, Charlie Lakritz, and Mark Cantrell, the energetic foursome plays a combo of quirky, revamped cover songs and offbeat originals.


Still the wordsmith – lyrics are easy for him to memorize – Downes says every member of Acoustic Dynamite is pivotal to the group’s musical chemistry.

“Jim can play the skin off a grape, and has a style unlike any guitarist I’ve ever known,” he said. “He’s got the speed and precision of a bluegrass flat-picker adapted to any kind of music.”

Lakritz (bass/harmonica) and Cantrell (congas) round out the group’s sound.

“Charlie has been ‘learning on the job’ with the bass, and has made great strides; we’re proud of him,” Downes said. “We don’t get to have Mark on stage as much as we’d like, but he’s a fireball.”


The band’s energy results in plenty of dancing. They approach their gigs with an appealing combo of professionalism and a devil-may-care attitude.

“We’ve had the freedom to experiment with new music every week,” Downes said. “We’ve taken lots of chances and have thrown lots of curve balls, like doing tribute shows to The Beatles with only a single rehearsal.”

Classic rock is a mainstay of Acoustic Dynamite’s setlists, and they often play themed “sets” of songs by genre (reggae, Americana, blues) or by artist (Bob Dylan, Motown, the Rolling Stones).

One week you might hear songs by MC5 and The Who; the next, Acoustic Dynamite will take on Hank Williams and Frank Sinatra.


Changing up their shows each week keeps the band challenged, and keeps the audiences coming back for more surprises, including Acoustic Dynamite’s own originals, which Downes said are their “biggest hits.”

“Jim’s song, ‘Noche del Mar,’ is a Spanishlanguage number that always gets people up dancing and is by far our most popular song,” he said.

A close second is “The Streets of Traverse City” … for obvious reasons.

Downes – ever the writer – has penned almost 100 songs so far.

“Given how well they go over, we should probably play more of our own stuff,” he said.

But going completely original isn’t always as easy as it appears, said Downes.

“Being a songwriter has been something of an identity crisis for me, because we could easily do all originals and try for the festival circuit,” he said. “But Jim and I both like playing happy hour and patio gigs the most, so we stick with a mix of covers and a few of our own songs.”


Unless you bootleg their shows, don’t expect to be able to snag an Acoustic Dynamite CD anytime soon.

Downes and company prefer to remain old school, dropping the occasional video on YouTube, but mainly relying on live performances to build their fan base.

“Since virtually no one purchases CDs anymore, I tend to think recording is a waste of time,” Downes said. “It’s all about playing live for me.”

Fortunately, finding Acoustic Dynamite live is easy. They’ve been regulars at the Friday happy hour show at InsideOut Gallery, where they’ve been a big hit.

“What we try to do is have a weekly party for our many loyal friends,” Downes said.

Acoustic Dynamite’s last live show at InsideOut is coming up soon … and will feature some undead friends: zombies.


The bar scene in a local zombie film will be shot at InsideOut the night Acoustic Dynamite wraps up eight months of shows, Downes said.

“It should be a very big deal,” he said.

And if the zombies don’t get ‘em, you’ll be able to see the band throughout the summer and beyond, performing at The Filling Station in TC in July and August, as well as returning to InsideOut to perform on the venue’s new patio.

Downes says that he and his bandmates aren’t aiming for any level of fame. Rather, it’s just about enjoying the process.

“I wouldn’t dream of trying to do it for a living,” Downes said. “I’m serious about it, but I don’t take it too seriously – it’s an escape.”

“For me, music is all about having fun.”

Acoustic Dynamite will be closing out the happy hour season at InsideOut Gallery on Fri., May 23 from 5-7pm. Videos of the band can be viewed at Downes’ YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/user/bobdownes52.

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