Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

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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