Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

Home · Articles · News · Music · The Musical Side of TCFF
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The Musical Side of TCFF

Believe it or not, someone once had to beg musicians to perform at the Traverse City Film Festival.

Kristi Kates - July 28th, 2014  

When Traverse City Film Festival Entertainment Manager Mike Sullivan first started booking musical acts nine years ago, he had to call his musician friends and plead with them to play.

Now, with 300 spots to fill, Sullivan is overwhelmed by submissions each year. His challenge now is to pair genres of music with the wide range movies at the fest.

SUPPORTING A VISION

Working with his wife Joan, plus Kathy Wilson, Rick Siders, and a roster of interns and volunteers, the crew works year-round prepping the entertainment.

As the festival draws near, the group puts in up to 40 hours a week, carefully choosing the acts to fit the mood and style of the movies.

“The music’s function is to create a sonic atmosphere that supports the emotional tone of the movie,” Sullivan said.

Carl Henry, a Detroit-based bluesman, will open a movie about Detroit, while The Grand Traverse Show Choir will be matched up with a documentary about Mitt Romney.

The innovative Asylum Quartet has been paired with the dark, absurd comedy of Larry Charles.

“This is a wonderful challenge for musicians,” Sullivan said. “It isn’t so much about showcasing as supporting the filmmaker’s vision.”

In addition to the pre-screen performances, a slate of free concerts takes place at the music stage by the bay. Sullivan tries to theme these events, but sometimes fate intervenes.

“There are usually two themes: the one we plan, and the one that emerges,” he said with a laugh.

DIVERSE SUBMISSIONS

One of his initial ideas for this 10th anniversary year of the fest was to bring in Klezmer music (a style of Jewish celebration music), but the band he wanted couldn’t make it.

Meanwhile, other patterns were emerging.

“As submissions came in this year, we discovered several a capella groups and Detroit performers,” Sullivan said.

The abundance translated into a night devoted to a capella groups and an overarching theme devoted to the Motor City, he said.

“I am calling [it] ‘The Detroit Invasion,’ as it seems to represent a new spirit of hope and enthusiasm,” Sullivan said.

Returning acts, especially local ones like The Accidentals, are a big part of the TCFF’s music lineup.

Argentinian pop singer Milagros is returning, as well as some new groups, he said “We have the minimalistic music of Canadian performer Frank Paul, the neobluegrass of Fauxgrass, and an exciting collaboration of local legends Al Jankowski and David Chown,” said Sullivan.

Others on Sullivan’s “must-see” list include Claudia Schmidt, Miriam Pico, Blake Elliott, Ireland’s Full Set, R&B singer Laura Rains, hip-hop band Cold English, Irish band Fynbar, and Song of the Lakes.

But as more musicians hear about the TCFF, the more Sullivan’s challenges increase.

“We have been getting more and more interest from acts all over the world that want to perform at the TCFF,” he said. “While we do strive to provide diversity, we also remain committed to showcasing the remarkable music scene that’s alive and well in Northern Michigan.”

MUSICAL CONTRIBUTIONS

Coordinating 300 performances is no easy feat.

There are musical acts scheduled for 230 of the 235 movies that are scheduled to screen at this year’s event.

In addition, there will be free live performances every hour from noon-10pm in Clinch Park, free concerts every night at the Open Space, and even more performances at the Founders, Opening, and Filmmakers parties. Whew.

And it’s all made both more difficult and more rewarding by Sullivan’s insistence on a more “real” approach to getting the musicians in and out in a timely fashion.

“We want to make personal contact with each musician, and make sure they know how much we appreciate their contribution to the festival experience,” he said. “This becomes quite intense during the festival, when we have up to 10 events going on at the same time.”

But since all of the festival musicians are volunteering their time, these personal thank yous are of utmost importance to Sullivan, who has also developed a musician sponsorship program that will allow film fest patrons to help financially support the festival musicians.

So as a festival patron, take a moment to return the favor and thank Sullivan’s team for all of their work.

Don’t be surprised if their leader seems a bit distracted, because even as he’s making sure this year’s performances run smoothly, he’s already making plans for next year’s fest.

“I am thinking about and listening for festival acts all year long,” Sullivan said.

For a complete schedule of music at the Traverse City Film Festival, running July 29- Aug. 3, visit the fest’s official site at traversecityfilmfest.org/music. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the 2014 TCFF Music Compilation Greatest Hits CD ($15) or Flashdrive Wristband ($20), both available at every venue during the event.

 
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