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 · Brent James
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Brent James

Rick Coates - August 15th, 2011
Brent James & the Contraband: Made in Michigan band aims high with debut album

By Rick Coates

It was just two years ago this weekend that musicians from all over Northern Michigan were gathering at Union Street Station to jam. The reason was a benefit for fellow musician Jason Kott.
In late July of 2009, Kott, who was 34 at the time and a popular bass player and musician on the Northern Michigan scene, was headed home to Traverse City from Petoskey the day after a gig when another car turned head on into him. The accident was serious, breaking his ankle, eight ribs and two vertebrae.
Lucky just to survive, Kott, a full time professional musician, was forced to cancel a full slate of paying gigs for the rest of the year. In addition to his solo work Kott was a member of Brent James and The Contraband and they were scheduled to go into the studio.
“We had been working so hard to get our big break and then I break myself up and there was no way I was going to let this opportunity pass by,” said Kott. “I toughed it out and was far from being healed and went to Nashville to record the record.”’

The fruits of that labor have paid off as their debut album “Moments of Silence” was released to stores and itunes two weeks ago and their first single, the title track of the CD, hit radio stations this week.
Now Kott will retrace his travels from two years ago as Brent James and The Contraband will perform Thursday and Friday night at Union Street Station in Traverse City. On Saturday they will headline the Festival by the Bay in Petoskey.
“I am not sure they will let me drive the van,” said Kott. “We are excited about coming home as we have been out touring with Alice Cooper and we did all the west coast dates with Ted Nugent earlier this summer.”
Kott grew up in Traverse City where he was active in music at TC Senior High School. After graduating in 1993 he headed off to Albion where he majored in classical voice. He returned to Traverse City where he has spent the past 14 years performing solo and as part of several bands from Dawn Campbell to Ron Getz and even a stint with The Bihlman Bros., among others.
“I am still doing the occasional solo gig around here but I have now put all my eggs in this basket,” said Kott. “And for good reason, Brent is an exceptional singer and guitar player plus we have Mike P on guitars and Matt Hayes who is also from Traverse City on drums and both of those guys are awesome.”

Brent James and The Contraband are made in Michigan and proud of it.
“Well I am basically living out of the back of my van right now,” said James. “We are all from Michigan and right now I live in Cincinnati because my wife has a real good job there and it is close to Nashville, but we consider ourselves a Michigan band and we plan to represent this state well out there in rock and roll land.”
There has been early praise from critics for “Moments of Silence” and the band contributes that to the team they have in place.
“It is all about having a good team working with you. The best bands in the world have fallen apart because of poor management or other aspects of their team not being top notch. We have prided ourselves in putting together a quality team,” said James. “What this also does is enable us as the artist to focus on our jobs of creating and performing the music and not worrying about management, PR or business issues.” Kott agrees.
“It also helps that as a band we all get along with each other,” said Kott. “I think by having professionals in place at every aspect of our operation that has eliminated most of the stress for us, and makes it easier to get along and focus our creativity on the music.”
One of those key team members is Skidd Mills, their producer. Mills is a fixture on the Nashville scene and has won several Grammy’s most recently for producing and co-writing the Saving Abel smash hit “Addicted.”
“There is no question having Skidd in our camp is major. So many people have listened to our stuff that might not have otherwise,” said James. “People assume if Skidd is involved that it is going to be good, bottom line is Skidd gives our band legitimacy in the eyes of the music industry. We had so many label offers and we turned them down because they didn’t feel right but when we sat down with Skidd we knew being with his label was home for us.”
Looks like some more good ol’ boys from Northern Michigan (okay James and Mike P are from the Saginaw area but they are adopted Northern Michiganders) are going to make the big time.

Catch Brent James and The Contraband August 18 & 19 at Union Street Station in Traverse City and Saturday August 20 at the Festival by the Bay in Petoskey. Listen to samples of their new album on iTunes; info: www.brentjamesmusic.com
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