Letters

Letters 12-14-2014

Come Together There is a time-honored war strategy known as “divide and conquer,” and never has it been more effective than now. The enemy is using it against us through television, internet and other social media. I opened a Facebook account a couple of years back to gain more entries in local contests. Since then I had fallen under its spell; I rushed into judgment on several social issues based on information found on those pages

Quiet The Phones! This weekend we attended two beautiful Christmas musical events and the enjoyment of both were significantly diminished by self-absorbed boors holding their stupid iPhones high overhead to capture extremely crucial and highly needed photos. We too own iPhones, but during a public concert we possess the decency and manners to leave them turned off and/or at home. Today’s performance, the annual Messiah Sing at Traverse City’s Central Methodist Church, was a new low: we watched as Mr. Self-Absorbed not only took several photos but then afterwards immediately posted them to his Facebook page. We were dumbfounded.

A Torturous Defense In defense of the C.I.A.’s use of torture in a mostly fruitless search for vital information, some suggest that the dire situation facing us after 9-11, justified the use of torture even at the expense of the potential loss of much of our nation’s moral authority.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Fresh Snow: The latest in Christmas Music

Music Ross Boissoneau As always, there’s a surfeit of seasonal releases this year. Some deservedly become hits, some don’t. Some are by big names, some aren’t. And sometimes the best ones come out of left field, while the biggest names fail to ignite.
Among the releases this year: with just a couple exceptions, country star Faith Hill’s Joy to the World (Warner Bros. Records) is surprisingly untwangy, with big band accompaniment. Jazz icon Bob James enlists the aid of his daughter Hilary and her husband, Kevin DiSimone, for Christmas Eyes (Koch Records), putting a contemporary jazz spin (naturally) on a handful of Christmas classics and originals. Tween-pop group pureNRG have been the darlings of contemporary Christian music, but the Hannah Montana/High School Musical wannabes’ A pureNRG Christmas (Fervent Records) is simply annoying. Who wants to hear faux-electropunk versions of “The 12 Days of Christmas” and “Away in a Manger”?
 
Monday, November 10, 2008

Let your spirits fly

Art Ross Boissoneau It was Walt Disney who brought the concept of the circle of life to worldwide audiences with the hit animated movie “The Lion King,” and Elton John who wrote and performed the hit song.
But the movie, the Broadway musical based on it and their accompanying soundtracks were hardly the first to showcase the concept of the unending circle of life. Native Americans have long used the hoop dance as an illustration of the same concept. And Traverse City will have the opportunity to see a live illustration of it when Brian Hammill and his group, the Native Spirit Dancers, perform at Dennos Museum’s Milliken Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 17.
The hoops symbolize a sacred part of the Native American life, representing the circle of life with no beginning and no end.. The dancer begins with one hoop and keeps adding and weaving the hoops into formations that represent the journey through life, each additional hoop exemplifying another thread in the web of life.
 
Monday, August 18, 2008

Hangin‘ with The Horndogs

Music Ross Boissoneau “Hey, I know. Let’s get a band together next week for a party, and then in a few years make a CD.”
Well, that’s not exactly the way the Fabulous Horndogs story goes, but it’s close. In mid-December 13 years ago, a friend of saxophonist Newt Cole told Cole he’d booked him for a New Year’s Eve party. Only problem was, Newt had no band.
A few phone calls later, and Newt had gathered a bunch of musician friends at his house. They worked up some tunes, and next thing you know, there were the Fabulous Horndogs.
 
Monday, August 18, 2008

Interlochen Guitar Festival

Music Ross Boissoneau Expect the unexpected at this year’s three-day Guitar Festival at Interlochen Center for the
Arts. Artists as varied as Lionel Loueke from Benin in Africa, Pierre Bensusan from France, and Daryl Stuermer of the U.S. will be sharing the bill with regional and local favorites like Jabo Bihlman, Dan Kelchak, and festival organizer John Wunsch.
 
Monday, June 16, 2008

Chamber Music North

Music Ross Boissoneau What do you do when you retire? Maybe relax, kick back in the hammock, play a round or two of golf.
Or, if you’re classically trained cellist Debra Fayroian of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, move to the Grand Traverse area and start a new music series.
“The goal’s simple,” said Fayroian. “Great chamber music in the Grand Traverse area. I want to enhance what is already here.”
In her mind, “what is already here” includes an appreciative audience ready for great music and venues perfect for chamber music. Those venues include concert halls, churches, and other community buildings in towns across the region.
 
Monday, June 16, 2008

The Big Ticket grows bigger

Music Ross Boissoneau After bringing in various single musical artists for shows over the years, Glen Catt believed Gaylord was ready for something bigger. He had a vision of a large-scale Christian music festival that would cross musical boundaries and provide inspiration and entertainment for families. Moreover, he thought it would be a way to honor God and evangelize.
Seems he knew what he was doing, as the event, dubbed the Big Ticket Festival, brought in an average of almost 5,000 people for each day of the event. That was two years ago, and this year, organizers think they can double that number.
 
Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunset Straits Cruises

Features Ross Boissoneau Most people have been over the Mackinac Bridge. But how many have been under the bridge?
 
Monday, April 7, 2008

Play that funky music, jazz band

Music Ross Boissoneau Where can you go to get your fill of big band jazz? This Friday, April 11, you can head to Milliken Auditorium at the Dennos Museum to see not one, but two groups performing music by the likes of Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman and, um, Wild Cherry.
Yes, that’s right, the NMC Jazz Lab Band and the NMC Jazz Big Band will each perform a set of pieces recalling the heyday of the big bands. But Wild Cherry? Mike Hunter, who directs both groups as well as the NMC Vocal Jazz Ensemble, promises that the rendition of “Play That Funky Music” will be a treat for listeners of a jazz bent as well as those who remember its original incarnation in the disco-fied ‘70s. “It’s a really fun, funky big band treat, originally redone by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band,” said Hunter.
 
Monday, March 24, 2008

CCR Keeps on Choogling

Music Ross Boissoneau Originally a fun idea for a few private parties, Creedence Clearwater Revisited – the rhythm section of the original Creedence Clearwater Revival plus a couple of stand-ins for the missing Fogerty brothers – has become a regular working band since its inception in 1995. Heck, it’s even come complete with lawsuits of the type that helped scuttle the original band back in the ‘70s.
 
Monday, January 28, 2008

Roy Taghon

Other Opinions Ross Boissoneau We all know we’re going to die, we just don’t want to believe it. Nor do we want to believe that others are.
It doesn’t matter. It still happens every day, far too often. It’s just that some are so unexpected, and leave gaping holes far beyond their family.
That is what Empire is going through right now. If you ever stopped for gas at the station at the corner of M-72 and M-22, the one owned for years by his parents and by his grandparents before them, you probably saw Roy Taghon. He was the skinny guy at the counter, the one with the sparkling eyes dancing behind those big glasses. Forty-two years young, his hair heading south, his legs heading somewhere. Roy was never still for more than about a minute. Too much caffeine, you might think, but the strongest thing I ever saw him drink was milk.
 
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas

Music Ross Boissoneau Mannheim Steamroller, helmed by the ever-busy Chip Davis, talks with Express’ Ross Boissoneau about Mannheim’s latest holiday album, Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the Kennedy Space Center. Yes, all of that is related somehow - read on!
EXPRESS: Why did you first decide to do a Christmas album?
DAVIS: I have always been fascinated with the history and tradition of Christmas carols. When I recorded my first Christmas album in 1984, it was because I wanted to take the carols that I knew and combine modern day instruments with instruments from the Renaissance era. Ever since the first Christmas record, the fans have participated on what songs would be included on the next one.
 
Monday, December 3, 2007

Brian Setzer

Music Ross Boissoneau When Brian Setzer brings his Christmas show – and his swinging 17-piece orchestra – to the Odawa Casino in Petoskey for Saturday night’s show, the place will be both swingin’ and rockin’ - that’s a given. But what fans might not realize is just how much holiday music they’ll hear, and just how it will be... well, Setzerized.

SWINGIN’ SETZER
Since bursting onto the scene with his big band in 1994, Setzer has headed the swing revival, but while many of the bands that rode that wave have all but disappeared (think Squirrel Nut Zippers or Royal Crown Revue), Setzer has kept on keeping on.
While some of his music already has a certain cheesiness – it’s been compared to Doc Severinsen’s “Tonight Show” band with tattoos – that cheese factor increases dramatically as Setzer & crew take on the holiday sounds of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” Rogers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” and everyone’s favorite, “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” So what? The soulful saxes, punchy trumpets, and rollicking trombones make short work of any criticism.
 
Thursday, November 29, 2007

4Play

Music Ross Boissoneau John Fogerty – Revival – Fantasy
Since John Fogerty disbanded Creedence Clearwater Revival, he’s abdicated his role as spinner of Americana to the likes of John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen.
 
Thursday, September 6, 2007

A look back at Summer 2007

Features Ross Boissoneau Ice cream, beaches, parades - it’s easy to pick the best of summer in those categories. The trick is to find the hits of the season in the more - well, shall we say less-thought-of places.

Rodent of the summer
Remy, the rat who’s the almost-title character of Disney/Pixar’s summer hit, Ratatouille, is smart, funny, and conniving. Unlike his real-life counterparts, however, he has amusing sidekicks, including France’s most famous chef, brought back to life by his oversized imagination, and the staff at the late chef’s restaurant. Ratatouille gets the vote here as movie of the year. (www.ratatouille.com.)
 
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Attack of the guitar gods

Music Ross Boissoneau This year’s Guitar Masters Series at Interlochen includes axe-slingers that other guitarists stand in awe of, guitarists from the area who have made it big elsewhere, and at least one guitarist nearly everyone has heard, though they may not heard of him.
Got that? Well, that’s what you get when you include fingerstyle master Leo Kottke, and Traverse City’s own Jeff Bihlman from the Bihlman Brothers/Son Seals Band and Kenny Olson of The Flask. Then there’s Howard Alden, who’s played on albums by a who’s who of jazz musicians but is perhaps most notable for being the musician behind Sean Penn’s leading role in Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown.”
As was the case last year, the series is split into three nights, with days given over to classes for guitar students. The shows will be held each night at Corson Auditorium at 8 p.m.
The first night’s show on Thursday, Aug. 23, features Kottke, who has been enthralling audiences and dumfounding other guitarists since the late ‘60s. His breathtaking technique and unusual tunings on the guitar have earned him a cult following since his 1971 disc “6 and 12-String Guitar” on fellow guitarist John Fahey’s Tacoma label.
 
 
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