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..

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Seamus Shinners: The Man Behind the Music

Music Rick Coates Just mention his name in certain music circles and one will quickly find
that Seamus Shinners is a legend. He may not be a household name in
Northern Michigan, but there is a good chance over the past 20 years if
you are an aficionado of music you have attended at least one of the more
than 500 concerts he has presented around the region.
The founder of Connemara Concerts, Shinners has brought an eclectic
collection of performers, from Greg Brown to Second City to Lynn Miles to
Chris Smither to name just a few. His quiet but passionate demeanor has
helped shape the culture of the music scene in the region. While
concertgoers from the area have benefitted so have the performers Shinners
has brought in. 
Monday, June 20, 2011

Nocturnal Jazz A night of sight and sound at the Dennos

Music Erin Crowell Having grown up in California and experiencing the all-senses performance
of The Blue Oyster Cult and laser light show of Pink Floyd, Stosh — a
Traverse City artist who moved to the area in 1993 — knew firsthand that
an audience at a jazz concert could experience more than
just sound.
Monday, June 20, 2011

4Play: Moby, Blondie, Above & Beyond, BT

Music Kristi Kates Moby - Destroyed - Mute
Moby’s latest set is a thematic one, focusing on the busy musician’s many hours spent in spare hotel rooms, impersonal airport lounges, and in transit. All of the songs were written on the road - many fueled by Moby’s insomnia - and many are also accompanied by photographs that Moby took, which can be acquired via a separate photography book of the same name. Opening the album is the evocative instrumental piece “The Broken Places” (several other “just” instrumentals are also included here, the best being “Sevastopol”); also included are danceable tracks “After” and “Blue Moon,” and the more introspective “When You Are Old.”
Monday, June 20, 2011

Meredith Fierke?s Triple Threat

Music Kristi Kates By Kristi Kates

Singer-songwriter Meredith Fierke grew up in the small town of Northfield, Minnesota, and has been writing and singing songs for “as long as I can remember.” 
“I learned to love music by listening to it obsessively as a kid,” she explains, “I loved the radio; I would tape my favorite songs by holding my radio speakers up next to the tape recorder. What would come back was a crackling ‘far away’ version of the songs that I would sing along with over and over again. But it wasn’t until I decided to write and record my first album (The Procession, 2008) that I really started learning the art of recording and collaborating with other musicians.”
Today, Fierke is a busily ambitious musician, collaborating with a father-son team who make up her trio. She’ll be performing in Petoskey at the Crooked Tree Arts Center this Thursday.
Monday, June 20, 2011

Stripped-down Cracker brings acoustic rock to Legs Inn

Music Rick Coates In the early ‘80s when major record companies were trying to get every band to sound the same, the indie-rock scene emerged to counter the money-oriented music industry. As commercial radio embraced the homogenized rock sounds, college radio and MTV were busy ushering in the independent labels, with such bands as R.E.M. and U2, among others, leading the way. 
Another band that was part of the second generation of the indie-rock scene was Cracker founded by vocalist and songwriter David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman. Formed in 1991, Cracker signed with Virgin Records and released their self-titled debut CD in 1992 with alternative rock hits “Happy Birthday to Me” and “Teen Angst.”  Cracker would become best known for their platinum-selling album, “Kerosene Hat”  in 1993, which featured the hit songs “Low”, “Euro-Trash Girl”, and “Get Off This.”
Lowery and Hickman will head to Northern Michigan on Friday June 24 at Legs Inn (Cross Village, north of Harbor Springs) with a special version of Cracker.
“Johnny and I do a stripped down version of Cracker. I can’t afford to bring the full band to a small venue in Northern Michigan so this works. we call it Cracker Duo,” said David Lowery. “It gives us a chance to play out of the way places and we still rock out, we are not sitting on stools we are standing up and jamming. Our fans love this, they view the Cracker Duo as a separate entity from Cracker. This format gives us an opportunity to play a different set of songs, of course w
Monday, June 20, 2011

Val du Lakes

Music Rick Coates It has been 15 years since Val Du Lakes hosted their last summer concert
series. The popular concert and camping venue located just south of
Pentwater (two hours from Traverse City) is back after a long hiatus. The
16-week concert series kicked off in May with the return of Pop Evil, from
neighboring Ludington that has hit the big time, and concerts will
continue through the end of August.
Monday, June 13, 2011

4Play: Gomez, Dave Alvin, Bon Iver, Matt Nathanson

Music Kristi Kates Gomez - Whatever’s On Your Mind - ATO/Red
Although they’re probably best known as a British band, Gomez’ bandmates are actually scattered across a couple of countries, with its members now living in the UK, L.A., and NY. Fortunately for them, they had a common production ground in producer Sam Farrar, who helped them bring together this, their latest album. Recorded primarily in a remote studio locale in Virginia, this is both a smoother and more experimental set than previous efforts, with new in-band approaches taken to horns and guitars (“Options”), synth/strings (“Our Goodbye”), and electronica (“Song in my Heart.”) It’s fresh, eclectic, and interesting.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Elvis Costello

Music Rick Coates When Elvis Costello takes the stage at Interlochen’s Kresge Auditorium on
Tuesday June 21 to kick off the music portion of their Summer Arts
Celebration, his eclectic approach will be a fitting tribute to
Interlochen’s summer concert series.
The 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee has extended his popular
“Revolver Tour” to include Interlochen and other dates this summer and for
the first time in 25 years he is bringing along his “Spectacular Spinning
Songbook.” This carnival-like atmosphere will feature a gigantic game-show
wheel with 40 song titles on it ranging from hits to rarities to covers.
Concertgoers will be invited up on stage to spin the wheel to help create
the setlist for the evening and then after spinning the wheel they have
the option to hear their song while hanging out in the “Hostage to Fortune
Go-Go Cage,” or taking a seat at the “Society Lounge,” where light
refreshments are served.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Soul Patch

Music Kristi Kates Soul Patch brings maximum grooves to Northern Express Minifest
By Kristi Kates
“Soul Patch has been a long and interesting journey,” begins Soul Patch singer Christopher “Wink” Winkelmann. The band, a Traverse City hometown favorite, began as a two-piece acoustic act made up of Winkelmann and Michael “Mando” Peck (on guitar and mandolin), and evolved into a two-piece with a whole lot of guest musicians sitting in.
“We are still in TC and probably always will be. This is our home and we love ‘Da Mitten!’” Winkelmann says.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Motley‘s Crue pays Tribute to Bad Boys of rock

Music Rick Coates The “Original Bad Boy’s of Rock-n-Roll,” Mtley Cre are currently out headlining a major summer concert tour. Following right behind them is Motley’s Crue -- the newest entry in the Mtley Cre tribute scene.
“Our booking agency, A Plus Entertainment, located in Northern Michigan, had been getting a lot of requests for a Mtley Cre tribute band the past couple of years,” said Sarah Adkins. “We started looking for musicians in Northern Michigan and found the right mix of guys to look and sound the part of all the members of Mtley Cre.”
Calling themselves Motley’s Crue, they will perform Saturday June 18 at Ground Zero inside The Streeters Center in Traverse City. They will be joined by In The Name Of: the Ultimate Black Sabbath Tribute Band.
“What we have booked are shows near and around the actual Mtley Cre tour and we will be giving away tickets at Ground Zero for their Grand Rapids show,” said Adkins.

The real Mtley Cre formed in 1981 by bassist Nikki Six and drummer Tommy Lee and recruited lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil to join them. The Cre helped to usher in the hair metal scene of the ’80s with such hits as “Shout At The Devil,” “Looks That Kill,” and “Girls, Girls,Girls.”
Now faux Mtley Cre is just coming off their second show but the demand for them is already there. Taking a page out the KISS playbook band members are remaining anonymous and even wearing costumes on stage.
“We go into character an hour or so before the show,” said Jim (plays the Vince Neil part). “We are still working everything out. our Tommy Lee guy got too into his character and was a little too intoxicated at our last show.”
The popularity of tribute bands continues and the economy is a big factor.
“We are charging $8 in advance to see two great tribute bands,” said Jim. “Mtley Cre tickets are going for $65 to $100 apiece for this tour and if you were to add Black Sabbath to the mix it would easily be $150 a ticket. People are tight with their dollars right now so this is very affordable entertainment.”
Early reviews have been positive with attendees at their last show commenting on how closely they resemble the real Mtley Cre. Lead singer Jim has been a part of several successful tribute bands and says he finds it easy to emulate the actual singers.
“I liken it to my martial arts training. In martial arts you go to great lengths to study your opponent,” said Jim. “I master their mannerism and then get their vocal sounds down it is actually easier than it looks.”
Jim’s success as tribute band singer has led to the actual acts to call upon him. He was runner up in the search for Journey’s new lead singer a few years ago. Now, Black Sabbath is reforming and he is the front runner to take lead singer role originally held by Ozzy Osbourne and also Ronnie James Dio who recently passed away.
Monday, June 13, 2011

Michigan Music Fests Are Rockin? Along

Music Kristi Kates 2010 said bye-bye to Rothbury - but fortunately for Michigan music fans, a replacement fest has sprung up in its place, even in the same locale (see “Electric Forest Festival” below) for 2011. Other events celebrated their longevity in 2010 (happy 30th birthday, Blissfest) and are still going strong this year. Stack ‘em all together, and you’ve got another great selection of 2011 Michigan music fests to choose from, whether you choose to stay Up North or venture downstate in search of an even wider variety of tunes and venues.
Monday, June 6, 2011


Music Kristi Kates The five members of the band that would become the MacPodz - Brennan
Andes, Nick Ayers, Jesse Clayton, Ross Huff, and Griffin Bastian - spent
much of the latter half of 2005 backing up various singer-songwriters and
other performers around Ann Arbor, including poet/social activist John
“We all really enjoyed each other’s musical stylings and late-night
antics,” explains percussionist Ayers, “and we just started palling around
more often.”
Monday, June 6, 2011

4Play: The Go-Go‘s, The Kinks, Stevie Nicks, Pat Benetar

Music Kristi Kates The Go-Go’s- Beauty and the Beat: 30th Anniversary Edition - Capitol
It’s the 30th anniversary of this landmark Go-Go’s album - so what better
way to celebrate than with a remastered disc plus a bonus concert disc
from one of the band’s early ’80s live shows? Belinda Carlisle and her
bandmates really set the bar for their own brand of candy-pop, perfectly
frosted with surf-worthy guitar riffs, solid beats, and Carlisle’s
distinctive trill on studio tracks like the bright “We Got the Beat” and
“This Town”; the live disc adds another catchy, sugary layer with
now-classic Go-Go’s songs like “Vacation,” “Cool Jerk,” and “Let’s Have a
Party” arriving time-capsule-style from one of their peppy ’80s-era Boston
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Minifest concert series

Music The Northern Express MiniFest will present some of the best of local music over the course of four Thursday evenings in June in a free concert series to be held at Lay Park in Traverse City’s Old Town.
“We’re inviting everyone to come down and to hear some great music in the park and celebrate the 20th anniversary of Northern Express Weekly,” said George Foster, co-publisher of the free newsweekly. Co-sponsoring the series is the Traverse City Parks & Recreation Commission.
The acoustic-oriented concerts will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Thursdays June 9-30 in Lay Park on Union Street (the tiny park just south of the Union Street dam).     The lineup includes Sour Mash (June 9), Soul Patch (June 16), Miriam Pico and David Chown (June 23) and the Fresh Fossils (June 30).  Warming up the shows will be the Acoustic Dynamite duo and special guests.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Into The Mystic

Music Kristi Kates Formed six years ago in the Muskegon area, the reggae powerhouse known as
Mystic Dub - comprised of Raya True (vocals/keyboards), William Jeannot
(guitar), Kosta Karis (bass), and Juan Carlos (vocals/drums) began their
musical journey by playing regional venues.