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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Lamontagne and Lewis Take Road Less Traveled

Kristi Kates - July 14th, 2014  

Heading to Interlochen this month are a pair of singer-songwriters whose unusual paths to indie stardom at times paralleled each other.

Ray LaMontagne and Jenny Lewis are both pensive, insightful writers and unique vocalists. Their musical careers began in different corners of the country, but merged in ways only a traveling musician’s can.

GROWING UP

LaMontagne was born in New Hampshire and grew up in Utah, while Lewis was born and grew up under the bright lights of Las Vegas, NV.

LaMontagne, one of six kids, spent much of his childhood drawing role playing game characters instead of doing his schoolwork; Lewis grew up with a mother who was a professional singer, and a father who was in Johnny Puleo’s mid-50s “Harmonica Gang” band.

But before long, music was calling to both of them.

STARTING SOMEWHERE

After high school, LaMontagne moved to Maine. He abruptly quit his job in a shoe factory after hearing a Stephen Stills album and deciding to pursue music instead.

Meanwhile, Lewis was approaching music from a side street. She made her acting debut in a Jell-O commercial, and continued acting with bit parts in TV shows.

In 1998, she formed the band Rilo Kiley with several friends, and it served as the springboard for her solo musical career. A year later across the country LaMontagne began performing live shows.

DEBUT DISCS

2004 was another pivotal year for both artists.

During that 12 months, LaMontagne recorded and released his debut album, “Trouble,” with producer Ethan Johns and guest contributions from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek.)

In a twist of events, Jennifer Stills – Stephen Stills’ musician daughter – also contributed vocals.

Lewis’ first album with Rilo Kiley, “Take- Offs and Landings,” had been released in 2001. But by 2004, she was already ready to drop her own first solo effort, “Rabbit Fur Coat,” on which she collaborated with Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), M. Ward, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.

SOUNDTRACK SCENE

Both artists have also found musical success in other media, as their emotional vocals lend themselves well to TV, films, and their peers’ albums.

LaMontagne’s songs started surfacing in the mid-2000s on TV shows like “Rescue Me,” “Alias,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Bones,” as well as movies “The Boys Are Back” and “The Town.”

Around the same time, Lewis contributed vocals to a Postal Service album, plus several songs by the band Cursive. Later in the 2000s, she’d also sing on sets by Johnathan Rice and Elvis Costello.

TODAY’S TUNES

Now both LaMontagne and Lewis are going strong, having firmly cemented their place among the indie-rock elite.

Lewis, her current sound described as a “girlish mix of indie rock plus soul,” is releasing her latest solo set, “The Voyager,” on July 29 on Warner Bros. Records.

While LaMontagne’s newest, “Supernova,” just dropped this past April, complete with production from The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

MISSING LINK

LaMontagne and Lewis’ opening act for this trek, The Belle Brigade, slightly echoes LaMontagne and Lewis’s story.

Belle Brigade – siblings Barbara and Ethan Gruska – invokes the harmonies of The Everly Brothers, with vocals reminiscent of the girlboy dynamic heard in Fleetwood Mac.

They’ve also briefly tapped into the film scene, with their song “I Didn’t Mean It” being selected for the “Twilight: Breaking Dawn” film soundtrack.

And they have a new album, too: “Just Because,” which was just released on ATO Records.

Ray LaMontagne, Jenny Lewis, and The Belle Brigade will be in concert at Interlochen Center for the Arts on July 22 at 7:30pm. For tickets and more, visit tickets.interlochen.org.

 
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