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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, 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.
 
Thursday, May 3, 2007

4Play

Music Ross Boissoneau Various Artists – A Tribute to Joni Mitchell - Nonesuch
With Joni Mitchell in semi-retirement, this star-studded tribute reminds us of what an interesting songwriter Mitchell was (and presumably still is). When artists as diverse as Bjork, Prince, Brad Meldau, Annie Lennox and James Taylor can find something in common with the music, you know you’re onto something. Sarah McLaghlan’s take on “Blue” is mesmerizing, and no less is Lennox’s reworking of “Ladies of the Canyon.” Those two tracks are followed jarringly by Emmylou Harris’s twangy “The Magdalene Laundries.” If it all sounds a bit bizarre, you’re beginning to get the idea. So what works, and what doesn’t? Elvis Costello’s “Edith and the Kingpin” features bass clarinet leading the horns alongside vibes in an altogether brilliant arrangement, while Lennox is her always original self. But best of all is k.d. lang’s version of what may be Mitchell’s most familiar tune - “Help Me.” Arresting, engaging, and occasionally uneven, this tribute is every bit as arresting as Mitchell herself.
 
Thursday, December 7, 2006

Christmas Music

Music Ross Boissoneau Christmastime is here,” sang the Peanuts gang 41 years ago in the classic TV special “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” And so it is again, with as many new recordings of holiday chestnuts as you could hope to fit under the tree.
Speaking of Peanuts, one of the offerings this year is a remastered version of the soundtrack to that seminal animated special. Vince Guaraldi’s creations remain staples of the holiday season, whether it’s Schroeder’s – I mean Guaraldi’s – “Linus and Lucy” or the immortal “Christmas Time Is Here,” heard here in not only instrumental and vocal versions, but an alternate vocal take, one of four bonus tracks on the disc.

 
Thursday, November 23, 2006

The New Cars

Music Ross Boissoneau What is 40% Cars, 40% Utopia and 20% the hardest hitting man in rock and
roll?
Take a look under the hood and you’ll see it’s The New Cars, featuring
original Cars Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes (guitar and keyboards,
respectively), with Todd Rundgren and Kasim Sulton channeling Ric Ocasek
and the late Ben Orr. Tubes drummer Prairie Prince, who’s also spent time
with Todd and Jefferson Starship/Airplane, keeps the motor humming.
The New Cars make their Michigan debut Tuesday, Nov. 28 at the Kewadin
Casino in St. Ignace. They were scheduled to play this summer at DTE
Energy Music Theater in Clarkston on a double bill with Blondie, but just
days before the show the tour bus was involved in an accident and Easton
broke his arm.
 
Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hands on Fire

Music Ross Boissoneau Guitar enthusiasts can certainly get their fill this week at Interlochen, as the Interlochen Arts Festival summer concert series concludes with a three-day Fingerstyle Guitar Festival. The shows will feature noted guitarists Alex DeGrassi, one of the founders of the Windham Hill sound; William Kanengiser, a member of the acclaimed Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and one of America’s most brilliant classical guitarists; noted jazz guitarist Bruce Dunlap, and a posthumous tribute to groundbreaking Windham Hill recording artist and Interlochen alum Michael Hedges.
It’s all going down under the watchful eyes and ears of John Wunsch, director of the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Guitar Institute. Wunsch himself will perform onstage with DeGrassi, a performance he is especially keen on.
 
Thursday, July 20, 2006

4Play

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

4Play

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

4Play

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

4Play

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.
 
 
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