Letters

Letters 07-28-14

Worry About Legals

I can’t figure out what perplexes me more, the misinformation everywhere in the media or those who believe it to be true. Take the Hobby Lobby case; as a company that is primarily owned by a religious family, they felt their First Amendment rights were infringed upon by the “Affordable” Care Act...

Stop Labeling and Enjoy

I have been struggling to find a simple way of understanding for myself the concepts of conservative, liberal, and moderation as it relates to our social interactions with each other...

Proposal One & The Public Good

Are you kidding me? Another corporate giveaway with loopholes for large corporations who rule us? Hasn’t our corrupt and worthless governor done enough to raise taxes, provide corporate welfare, unjustly tax pensions, and shut down elected officials with his emergency manager racket...

The Truth About Road Workers

Apparently Mr. Kachadurian did not catch on to the fact that the MDOT Employee Memorial in Clare is a tribute to highway workers who lost their lives building our transportation systems. It was paid for by current and former MDOT employees who likely knew some of these people personally...

Idiotic and Misguided

As a seasonal resident, I always look forward to reading your paper, if only because of the idiotic letters to the editor and off the wall columns...


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Ross Boissoneau

 
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

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Music Ross Boissoneau Richard Butler – Richard Butler (Koch)
The first solo album from the one-time lead singer of the Psychedelic Furs and its offshoot, Love Spit Love, doesn’t rock nearly as much as those bands. Instead, it’s a moody soundtrack for post-punk adults. Problem is, Butler’s not much of a crooner. While his rough-edged voice served him well on “Pretty In Pink” or “The Ghost In You,” it was always more at home with “Heartbreak Beat” or “Love My Way,” where he matched decibels with the guitars and keyboards. Here Butler only hints at that power, as on the second half of “California” or “Broken Aeroplanes.” But when he sings “One in a million” on “Satellites,” you’re left to conclude that while Butler may be that, he’s not at his best here. Onetime Fur Jon Carin provides all the instrumental backing, heavy on the keyboards.
 
Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ian Anderson Unplugged

Music Ross Boissoneau A rock band joining forces with an orchestra isn’t so far-fetched. Groups like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the Moody Blues and Yes have paired their brand of symphonic rock with orchestras over the years.
But Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has gone them one better. He’s ditched Tull for the moment in favor of a “more flexible” rock band that works within a symphony orchestra, performing a set of Tull and Anderson solo favorites, along with a smattering of classical tunes. Anderson hasn’t quit Tull by any means, but relishes the chance to do something different.
“It’s part of the luxury I can afford,” said Anderson of this tour, which finds
him and his hand-picked group perform-ing alongside the Traverse Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen on Wednesday July 19. “I can dabble at this, dabble
at that.”
 
Thursday, April 13, 2006

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Music Ross Boissoneau Robert Berry – Prime Cuts (Magna Carta)
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Berry is a prime mover on Magna Carta’s series of tribute albums, and here you can hear his versions of Yes’s “Roundabout,” “Karn Evil 9” by ELP, Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage,” even Ambrosia’s “Life Beyond LA.” Problem is, despite his brilliant mimicry of these and other famous prog artists, you don’t really hear enough of Berry. He plays everything, from drums to bass to guitar and keyboards, he sings, and produces. He even made a fun Christmas album where he used his one-man band approach to update holiday fare in the styles of King Crimson, Kansas, and others. He’s got the tools, as his previous solo discs and stints in the Three alongside Emerson and Palmer and in post-David Pack Ambrosia demonstrate, but “Prime Cuts” is just an excuse to hear him sound like his inspirations. Great fun though . . .
 
Thursday, March 2, 2006

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Music Ross Boissoneau Livingston Taylor – There You Are Again – Whistling Dog

James’s little brother has never been as prolific or as acclaimed as JT. That’s too bad, and those who haven’t been paying attention have missed some fine work, which continues on “There You Are Again.” The poignant “Best of Friends” kicks off the disc, a duet with his former sister-in-law, Carly Simon. The family connections continue with “There I’ll Be” with James and James’s (and Carly’s) daughter Kate, and throughout the album it sounds as if Livingston has invited over a bunch of friends to play. The music and mood are thoroughly relaxed, easily crafted, but that belies the quality of the songs. The same criticism of James has also been applied to Livingston, only more so: that the music is so relaxed and well-crafted that it is all just too casual. That’s just plain wrong. The arrangements here are enchanting, and the performances are as well. Find this disc and put it in your favorites pile.

 
Thursday, January 12, 2006

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Music Ross Boissoneau Genesis – The Platinum Collection (Rhino Records)
This three-disc retrospective takes listeners on a journey through the band’s catalog as it progressed from progressive darlings, with Peter Gabriel in the lead role, to a pop hit-making machine with one-time drummer Phil Collins out front. And the hits are all here, from “Mama” to “Illegal Alien” to “Tonight Tonight Tonight.” As well, there are selected Gabriel-era tunes such as “Cinema Show,” “Supper’s Ready,” even “The Knife” from 1971. As hits collections go, it’s got most everything, though extremely conspicuous by their absence are “Eleventh Earl of Mar,” the lead track from “Wind and Wuthering,” and especially “Watcher of the Skies.” That tune, with its ponderous mellotron and Collins’s Morse code rhythms on cymbals, was in many ways the definitive track from the band’s early years, and as such it certainly should have been included here.
 
Thursday, December 15, 2005

An Earful of Music

Music Ross Boissoneau Every year brings us new sounds of the season. Some are sublime, some less so. But one of this year’s new entries promises to make this your favorite holiday collection ever by making it your very own. “U-Sing-It Christmas” is an enhanced CD that allows you to install a version of Cakewalk Media Mixer and then add your own personal touches to the music, including your own vocals, assuming you have a mic that will plug into your computer.
Hopefully you do, because that’s the only way this collection gets off the ground. The arrangements are simple and dated, sounding like those holiday records you’d get with a can of Maxwell House coffee or the like. The mixing part will take some learning but is really the only point of this album.
The smaller set may get into “Nick Holiday.” That’s not Saint Nick, but rather Nickelodeon, so we’re treated to “The Very First Christmas” by SpongeBob SquarePants, “Feliz Navidad” by Dora the Explorer and other “hits” from Jimmy Neutron, The Fairly Oddparents, and LazyTown. And three, count ’em, three from the Rugrats. Count your blessings indeed.
 
Thursday, December 15, 2005

Happy Birthday, Bruce

Music Ross Boissoneau So there we were in Mike Weiler’s early morning government class, learning about the checks and balances in our three-tiered government system and other sundry topics. One day a week we discussed current events, using Time magazine for the topics.
This day, after looking at whatever issues were most directly connected with government, Mr. Weiler closed by saying, “Have any of you heard of this guy on the cover?” Bill Barry and I rather tentatively raised our hands, sure that somewhere or another we’d heard of this Bruce Springsteen guy.
Now, 30 years later, Springsteen and the album that catapulted him to fame, “Born To Run,” are both certifiable icons. In celebration Columbia has released a remastered version of the disc, along with two companion DVDs. One is a live concert at the Hammersmith Odeon in London from 1975, the other is “Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born To Run,” which also includes footage from a 1973 concert.
Anyone who listened to rock music in the ‘70s and ‘80s heard “Born To Run,” “Thunder Road,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” and “Jungleland.” The new version has a pristine sound that still delivers a wallop few albums have ever matched.
Of particular interest are “She’s the One” and the nearly forgotten “Meeting Across the River,” featuring a plaintive Randy Brecker trumpet obligato. If you haven’t listened to the recording in a while, it’s a refreshing blast of pure rock spirit, delivered with gusto and finesse. Plus Bruce sings his heart out.
 
Thursday, October 27, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Shimmer • Shimmer • (Cake Records)
And you thought they didn’t make them like this anymore. Shimmer melds pop and soul influences from the 70s through the 90s. Comparisons to Train are apt, as frontman Skip Peri’s vocal timbre sounds quite similar to Pat Monahan. Where Monahan has matured into one of rock’s more reliable and engaging vocalists, Peri is not yet, well, mature. And that’s one of his strengths. Still a bit bratty in their attitude and musical approach, but possessed of a great sense of smarts, the trio (which includes Sean Siner on drums and Evan Brubaker on bass) has produced an album of 10 catchy, singable pop-rock songs that all clock in between three-and-a-half and four-and-a-half minutes. This would have sounded quite at home in the New Age 80s alongside the Police and the Knack.
 
Thursday, September 29, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Soulive – Break Out - Concord

Missing that spicy soul music? Into the jam band scene? Like your licks hot and heavy one minute, sweet and sassy the next? Soulive is your answer. One minute the band is channeling Sly Stone, the next Jimi Hendrix, then modern flamenco, and with contributions from Ivan Neville and Chaka Khan among others, there’s some superlative singing as well. But that’s just icing on the cake that is Soulive, a guitar/organ/drums trio that draws its inspiration almost equally from the rock, soul, jam, and jazz camps. They don’t just lock into a groove, they grab it and don’t let go, no matter how ferociously they rock around it. But Soulive offers precision as well, as on the title track, where the two-man horn section complements Eric Krasno’s guitars.
 
Thursday, August 25, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Carole King - The Living Room Tour - Rodkingale/Concord/Hear
It’s too late? Apparently not. How else to explain the continuing appeal of the woman who personified the singer/songwriter with “I Feel The Earth Move,” “Tapestry,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and so many other songs in the 60s and 70s? On this live 2-CD set, King revisits a number of her hits, supported by her piano, occasional guitar and bass, and on “Where You Lead I Will Follow” by daughter Louise Goffin. Sometimes her voice gets a bit ragged, as on “Jazzman,” and sometimes you miss a full band, as on “Smackwater Jack.” But then, the premise of the album is as the title suggests, an intimate acoustic performance for friends. And in that it’s inordinately successful.
 
Thursday, July 14, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Devoted Spirits ˆ A Tribute To Earth, Wind and Fire
(Justin Time Records)
If you‚re going to have a tribute to Earth, Wind and
Fire, who better to do it than those directly
associated with the band, along with some special
guests? Original keyboardist Larry Dunn and
multi-instrumentalists  Morris Pleasure and Sheldon
Reynolds, both longtime members, update „September,‰
„Can‚t Hide Love‰ and a host of other familiar fare.
Other EWF staples include Ronnie Laws, who played on
EWF‚s third album, „Last Days and Time,‰ and
contributes sax on „Can‚t Hide Love,‰ and guitarist
Johnny Graham, who recreates his rockin‚ soul solo on
„That‚s the Way of the World.‰ The mildly hip-hopped
versions don‚t necessarily bring a new dimension to
the proceedings; rather, they make you long for the
original. Interesting and engaging, but it needs a bit
of a kick.
 
Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mark O‘Connor Likes to Fiddle Around

Music Ross Boissoneau Time was when traditional music – that amalgam of country, bluegrass, swing and folk – got short shrift from the musical cognoscenti.
Then Mark O’Connor came along, and things have never been quite the same.
Not that the nonpareil fiddler would ever claim complete credit for this musical turnaround, but the evidence is compelling: There are his albums with Edgar Meyer and Yo Yo Ma. There’s his status within the musical community, where he performs with symphony orchestras. His Hot Swing trio revives the spirit of the legendary jazz music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grapelli. And now his latest release, the “Double Violin Concerto” with Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, takes things a step further, with his compositions and his playing taking center stage alongside one of the country’s top young violinists.
“Nothing has changed that much except I’ve been able to build my repertoire,” said O’Connor rather modestly, who says his ability to concentrate on composing and collaborating with other players is a great treat.
 
Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Thought Takes Root... Tim Young blends enviornmental concerns with gourmet market

Dining Ross Boissoneau Few people exhibit more commitment to the environment than Timothy Young.

He’s been on the board of the Michigan Land Use Institute, Friends of the Crystal River and the Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC). He has spent time overseas in human relief efforts. He built his home himself, partially from logs that fell on his property, partially from recycled and reused materials.
This being a food story, there’s also the matter of his home-grown business. Food For Thought incorporates hand-picked wild foods, organic foods, and intriguing combinations of both in secret recipes for preserves, muffin and pancake mixes, honey, syrup, and even leeks.
The business has grown dramatically since he began it in 1995, but some of the original products are still among the most popular. “The blueberry merlot is our best seller, and the tart cherry cabernet is also popular,” said the unassuming company CEO and chef, who also points to the wild pickled leeks as a personal favorite.
 
Thursday, April 28, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Turtle Island String Quartet with Ying Quartet – 4 + Four – Telarc
Traverse City favorites TISQ have long been esteemed as the world’s top – all right, pretty much only – jazz-based string quartet. Here the group teams up with the Ying Quartet, a nearly-as-famous set of classical string players. The results are engaging at times, but generally rooted more in the classical tradition than the jazzy territory TISQ is known for. Turtle Island leader David Balakrishnan’s “Mara’s Garden of False Delights” is precise and amelodic enough that it could be by that other vanguard of string quartet originality, Kronos. “Variations on an Unoriginal Theme” is a jaunty treat that veers back and forth from Appalachian-style fiddling to European classicism. Uneven though it is, “4+Four” will grow on the listener, but it’s at odds with the best of Turtle Island.
 
Thursday, March 24, 2005

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Music Ross Boissoneau Nils Landgren Funk Unit – Funky ABBA (Justin Time Records)

And they said it couldn’t be done. Actually, ABBA’s popularity peaked right about at the height of the disco craze. But funked-up versions of “Thank You For The Music” and “Dancing Queen” just don’t seem right somehow. That is, until you listen to trombonist Landgren and his cohorts, including horns, a rapper, even ABBA’s own Benny Andersson on the concluding “When All Is Said and Done.” The trip-hopped versions of familiar ABBA tunes show a side of the sugary-sweet pop group that lends itself to a driving beat and bass-heavy treatments. Highlights include a soulful “Voulez-Vous” and a rocking “Summer Night City,” but every cut reinvents the Swedish superstars, often slowing down the beat and separating out the unison vocals.
 
 
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