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Letters 04-21-2014

An Exercise of Power

Many brave men and women have worn and do wear the military uniform of the United States of America. They put their lives at risk and have lost their lives to protect our freedom, our loved ones and our right to vote...


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Monday, July 18, 2011

4Play: Biosphere, Brendan Perry, Blondie, Broken Bells

Music Kristi Kates Biosphere - N-Plants - Touch
At once retro in its choices of synth sounds and beats, and modern in -
well, its choices of synth sounds and beats, Biosphere’s latest sticks to
his familiar sound while striking out into new, backwards-looking
territory. It is most definitely an album of contrasts. Opener “Hendai 1,”
a bit threatening-sounding, offers an intro that feels much like the
beginnings of a thriller or mystery movie, while its successor, “Shika 1,”
warms things up out of the fear factor zones with a more approachable
composition. Brimming with intensity, these tracks push one step beyond
ambient music and into something a little more pensive.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Lip Service

Music Erin Crowell When a rock star lip-syncs on stage it’s considered cheating. Lip-syncing
on YouTube? Perfectly acceptable… even celebrated as lip dub music videos
are popping up all over the Internet – most recently (and famously) a
music video to Don McLean’s “American Pie” performed by the City of Grand
Rapids.
Thousands of residents participated in the downtown lip dub after a
January Newsweek article declared Grand Rapids as one of America’s Dying
Cities. The music video—which runs approximately nine minutes—was declared
a new world record, with over 3.4 million views (as of print) on YouTube
and Roger Ebert claiming it as “the greatest music video ever made.”
Traverse City hopes to make its own musical mark with a lip dub scheduled
to shoot on Sunday, July 17.
“We’re not saying we’re a dying city,” said Max Fischer, director of the
planned lip dub, “we’re just saying TC is an amazing place.”
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Red Elvises

Music Kristi Kates Igor Yuzov and a couple of his soon-to-be bandmates were living in Venice
Beach, California when the seeds for Igor and Red Elvises were sown.
“We wanted to play rock n’ roll, and we took it on the streets,” Yuzov
says, “but the crowds got so big, the city of Santa Monica took us to
court and kicked us off the streets.”
Discouraging? Nah. Igor and Red Elvises, Yuzov says, have been touring
ever since.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Boyne River Remedy

Music Kristi Kates Much like a good recipe, a good local band is composed of complementary ingredients - in this case, the music and sounds that have influenced each member. This analogy definitely applies to Boyne River Remedy, who founded their group in 2008.
“Josh, Kevin and I got together with several other musicians to write and record a song,” Boyne River Remedy’s Mark Blaauw-Hara says. “We had a great time, and were very happy with how it turned out, so we decided to see how it would go to form a band.”
With a “very informal” process in terms of just who was in said band (“at one point, we had nine members,” Blaauw-Hara chuckles), Boyne River Remedy morphed around who the bandmates knew and who they enjoyed playing music with.
“Our first gig was at Short’s Brewery,” Blaauw-Hara remembers, “and we were thrilled to have a place to play where they’d give us pizza. As we polished our set list and our lineup became more stable, we started playing other places and events in the area - we’ve done everything from house parties to benefits to festivals.”
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Music Kristi Kates Mary Chapin Carpenter was in San Jose, California at the time of this
interview. And yes, she’s on tour. But that doesn’t mean Ms. Carpenter
isn’t up for a little fun in between all of those rehearsals, gigs, and,
well, interviews like these.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Lee & Lucinda

Music Kristi Kates Country Weekly called Amos Lee and Lucinda Williams’ “Clear Blue Eyes” duet single ‘a heartbreaking piece of classic country.’
Williams has also joined Lee onstage at his solo shows.
And Lee’s latest album, Mission Bell, released in January of this year, features Williams on that same song, as well as other guest appearances from Calexico and Iron and Wine’s Sam Beam.
Williams’ new set, Blessed, hit stores this past March, and blends her Americana mix of rock, blues and country into another landmark album for the performer; recently married, she’s entering another chapter in her life both musically and personally, as well.
Both of these musicians, now on the road for a July tour, will be appearing - together - at Interlochen this month for a show that’s sure to be a standout.
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

Alpenfest

Music Rick Coates Something troubling you? Consider the Burning of the Boogg at Alpenfest as your opportunity to rid yourself of your troubles.
The 47th Annual Alpenfest in Gaylord kicks off Tuesday July 12 and the Burning of the Boogg has become an opening day tradition for the popular festival.
“The Boogg is from Swiss tradition where a giant snowman made of cotton is burned to celebrate the transition of winter into spring,” said Meghan Aimoe, president of Alpenfest. “Since it is already the middle of summer we have created a different concept here at Alpenfest. People jot down their troubles and slips of paper they are placed inside of the Boogg and we light it and your troubles go up in smoke.”
The process begins at 7 pm with the creation of lampions followed by the Lampion Parade. Another Swiss tradition adapted by the Alpenfest, lampions are created by cutting designs into the sides and top of a box. The designs are then covered with colored tissue paper or plastic wrap. A flashlight is inserted providing light as well as a handle to carry the lantern. Everyone carries their lampion in a procession that takes the Boogg to its burning site.  About 9:30 is when the Boogg is finally lit. 
 
Monday, July 11, 2011

4Play: Duncan Sheik, Various Artists, Kate Bush, Various Artists

Music Kristi Kates Duncan Sheik - Covers ’80s - Red General
Part karaoke extravaganza, part (one would think) stroll down an
experimental version of an ’80s memory lane for singer Sheik, this
collection veers between true-to-the-original covers and (more
intriguingly) Sheik’s own interpretations of these eighties classics.
Fortunately for the listener, Sheik chose some of the smarter ’80s tunes,
as opposed to the throwaways (of which there were many); standouts include
his takes on The Thompson Twins’ floaty “Hold Me Now,” Howard Jones’
previously synth-dark “What Is Love?”, and Tears for Fears’ Hughes-worthy
classic “Shout” heard through Sheik’s unique arrangement lens.
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

4Play: Gomez, Marianne Faithfull, Bon Iver, Jill Scott

Music Kristi Kates Gomez - Whatever’s on Your Mind - ATO/Red
With members that live in the UK and the U.S., Gomez convened in - where else? (huh?) - a recording studio in Virginia to work on their seventh studio set, which they produced with producer Sam Farrar (Maroon 5, Phantom Planet.) Written in large part by internet correspondence, the songs here carry through with Gomez’ trademark sound, whether it’s the acoustically-based resignation anthem “Options”; the piano-festooned title song; the uber-catchy “Place and the People”; or what is perhaps the most alt-rock track on the set, “Equalize.” It’s nothing unusual, but that’s not bad - it’s simply another set of solid new Gomez tunes.
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Tom Rush

Music Rick Coates Now in its 31st season Blissfest should be on every “music festival-goers” bucket list. Among Northern Michigan music festivals this is the “grandaddy” of them all. If someone says a festival can’t be all things to all people they should come and check out Blissfest, located just north of Harbor Springs near Cross Village that takes place this weekend Friday July 8 - Sunday July 10.
Along with ‘60s folk legend Buffy Sainte-Marie, headlining this year’s festival is Tom Rush, who Rolling Stone magazine credits as the artist responsible for ushering in the singer/songwriter generation. Rush helped Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and many others gain recognition by covering their songs.
Rush’s impact on the music industry has been felt for the past 50 years, inspiring musicians from Bob Dylan to Garth Brooks to Bono.
“Tom Rush was not only one of my early heroes, but also one of my main influences.” said Garth Brooks in an interview with Country Music Television.” He is definitely one of my top five musical influences of all time.”
U2’s Bono echoed that sentiment after incorporating Rush’s “No Regrets” into their setlist and performing it on Saturday Night Live.
“I am a big fan of Tom Rush and admire his songwriting talents. He is one of the songwriting greats,” Bono told the BBC in 2009. “I often incorporate his song ‘No Regrets,’ into our setlist.”
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Rock memories

Music Rick Coates The story behind how progressive rockers Kansas formed seems like it could be a scene out of the Forrest Gump movie.
When Kansas kicks off the national acts portion of the National Cherry Festival Bay Side Music Stage on Wednesday, July 6, not only will they be bringing their hit songs “Carry On Wayward Son,” “Point Of Know Return,” “Dust In The Wind,” “Hold On,” and “The Wall” -- they will also bring links to some obscure moments in rock music history.
The origins of the band date back to the late ’60s though the band uses their 1974 label deal with legendary Don Kirshner as their official formation year.
Formed in Topeka, Kansas and morphing out of the band White Clover, Kansas would rise to the top of the rock scene in the late ‘70s and early ’80s. When their self-titled album debut was released in 1974 the group wrote on the back of the album jacket: “From the beginning, we considered ourselves and our music different and we hope we will always remain so.”
That being “different” according to founding member and drummer Phil Ehart stemmed from the group’s early influences and experiences. Just out of high school, the members of White Clover in a one-year period were jamming with Jim Morrison and The Doors, hanging out with Jerry Garcia, being told that Santana was opening for them, and having Janis Joplin come up to them and tell them “you guys are pretty good.” But it was the circumstances of these chance encounters that put the group in some of rock and roll music’s most obscure moments.
 
Monday, July 4, 2011

Good music at The Good Work Collective

Music Kristi Kates The Good Work Collective’s mission statement says it all about the new arts and music organization housed in a funky old building in Traverse City’s Old Town:
“From art showings, to live music, to culinary events, to meeting spaces for local non-profits and community groups, The Good Work Collective is a welcoming environment where individuals and inspiration meet. We’re not a think tank. We’re a do tank.”
Born in 2008 with a goal of being a “steward of the arts” in Northern Michigan as well as in Bozeman, Montana, Porterhouse Productions supports musicians and artists with a finesse not often seen in the more casual “Up North” environment.
Founded by Sam Porter and Abby Walton Porter as a dual-state entertainment production company, Porterhouse recently expanded its reach with The Good Work Collective, a ‘gathering space’ for everything from concerts, art displays and grass root projects to brainstorming sessions and artistic collaborations.
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Kenny Olson?s Friendly Jam

Music Rick Coates Since hitting the big time with Kid Rock over 12 years ago, Kenny Olson has always made a point to return home to Traverse City once a year to jam. This year is no exception.
Olson, who left Kid Rock’s Twisted Brown Trucker band five years ago to pursue solo projects, will be back on Sunday, July 3 for one show at Union Street Station.
Olson is currently working on several projects since relocating to Nashville a couple of years ago. He has become a major part of the Nashville music scene by hosting an almost weekly Kenny Olson and Friends jam sessions, where A-list music stars join him on stage when they are in town recording or touring. Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, Buddy Guy, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Three Doors Down, Chaka Chan and some of Jimi Hendrix’s former band mates among others have all joined him.
“It has been pretty cool and a lot of fun,” said Olson. “I have been getting encouragement to turn this into a record and a tour and now that is happening.”
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Dominic Fortuna

Music Rick Coates Dominic Fortuna is back in Northern Michigan, at least for the moment. Fresh off his third stint with Grease, that kept Fortuna on Broadway and on the road for much of the past three and half years, he is happy to be back in Northern Michigan and working on a new summer season.
Fortuna and his wife Ashley Moeggenberg Fortuna are producing three shows this summer at the Williamsburg Dinner Theater beginning this Friday, July 1 and continuing through August.
“I launched the Williamsburg Dinner Theater eight years ago and we have had a great run and we want to keep it going,” said Fortuna, who is a 33-year veteran of the region’s entertainment scene. “My wife and I talked and decided we are going to put everything we can into making this work as we want to stay here in Northern Michigan and be performers and raise our children.”

IN DEMAND
The challenge Fortuna is facing is that the rest of the country is calling for his talent. Vegas wants him, so does LA and Nashville and New York is also calling and they want him back.
“I started performing in Northern Michigan in 1978 at Brownwood, I was in the Young Americans and built a following performing at my father’s restaurant,” said Fortuna. “I have been fortunate to be able to perform throughout the region and I love it here; I am hoping to stay but I have to make it work financially.”
 
Monday, June 27, 2011

Rock Fusion The Max Allen Band

Music Kristi Kates Most of today’s up and coming bands - with good reason - don’t like to be pigeonholed, nor do they like to be limited. Indianapolis band Max Allen Band, who will be performing in Traverse City the first week of July, are no exception.
“This band has been influenced by way too many genres and artists to list,” Max Allen explains. “We like to call what we do ‘rock fusion’ - there’s some rock, rap, Latin, funk, blues, bluegrass, baroque, R&B, electronica - if it sounds good and it moves us, we’ll play it.”
See for yourself when the band plays the Loading Dock in TC this Friday, July 1.
 
 
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