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..

Home · Articles · News · Music · Jelly Roll Blues Band
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Jelly Roll Blues Band

Rick Coates - January 14th, 2008
Editors Note: In 2008 The Express will be taking a look at several bands and musicians who are a part of the Northern Michigan music scene. We begin our series with a look at one of the region’s most popular party bands–the Jelly Roll Blues Band from the Harbor Springs area. In the coming months we will catch up with musicians from our region who are part of the national scene, to see what they are up to. These people include Kenny Olson of Kid Rock fame, Matt Novesky (St. Francis alum and bassist for Blue October), Chelsea Oaks who is making a name for herself in Nashville, Chuck Jacobs (music director and bass player for country legend Kenny Rogers), Leo Dombecki (was in Ike Turner’s band and is currently touring and recording with Anoushka Skankar, daughter of Ravi, and Norah Jones sister) and bass player Mel Schacher of Grand Funk. If you know of a band or musician who is noteworthy, please let us know.

By Rick Coates

For the past 26 years, if you have been out and about on the local music scene, there is a good chance you have come across the Jelly Roll Blues Band. Since their inception as just a group of guys getting together for jam sessions at the Park Garden in Petoskey, through today, Jelly Roll Blues Band remains one of Northern Michigan’s favorite party bands, regardless of the season.
Along with Song of the Lakes, they are the senior members of the Northern music scene. Somehow these guys have avoided the pitfalls that many a band fall into that eventually lead to their demise.
“I think that it’s us and the Rolling Stones that have the longest tenure,” laughs Bill Reisenbeck, the band’s drummer. “I think our secret is fun. We simply have always been about having fun and we will only keep doing this if it remains fun. The band started for fun and we have just kept that as our focus.”
The fun began as a weekly jam session, and when patrons of the Park Garden asked for the band’s name, keyboardist Craig Stadtmiller blurted out, “We are the Jelly Morton Memorial Blues Band.” The name stuck and was eventually shortened.
The line up has stayed the same for the past 17 years. Reisenbeck calls himself the “junior member” while Stadtmiller, bass player Bob Crosser and guitarist Johnny Storm are all original members.
“The original drummer Graham Fineout got on his catamaran 17 years ago and sailed to Florida into retirement. He is part of what is known as The Jelly Roll Blues Retirement Band that goes by the name of Deb & The Dynamics,” chuckles Reisenbeck. “He is joined in that band by another alum of Jelly Roll– our former sax player Newt Cole.”
Now, Newt Cole was famous for two bands in the region. During the 1970’s he had Newt & The Salamanders, and after leaving Jelly Roll, he formed The Fabulous Horn Dogs. During the ’90’s Jelly Roll, The Horndogs and Luther Gravy and The Soul Biscuits had the corner on the summer party band circuit.
“When Jelly Roll Blues Band first started, they quickly built a following, and it is funny to look back at it now, but there was a time when the band was considered too big for some venues in the region,” said Reisenbeck. “We attracted a party crowd and we created a party environment. They didn’t invite us back to Blissfest because our fans were shouting for us during the shows of the bands performing before us. We use to play the “Here Comes The Sun” party in Leland but they told us we brought too many people out to the show.”
Reisenbeck says that another thing that keeps them energized is seeing a younger audience at their shows.
“We wondered as those who grew up with us stopped going out as much, if there would be a demand for us. But what has happened is now we are performing for their kids,” said Reisenbeck. “Plus we are doing a lot of private gigs. Some of our longtime fans have flown us to Florida and Colorado for private concerts.”

As for the biggest change since the band started?
“Drinking and driving. We have always been a party band and people are hesitant to go out and have a couple of drinks now. So that has changed the dynamic of the local scene, not just here but everywhere,” said Reisenbeck. “So we do a lot of resort work; for example, this winter we are at Boyne on the weekends, and this works out great for people staying at the resort, as they don’t have to drive.”

So the band’s favorite gigs of all time?
“It would be real hard to pick just a few, but I think our Sunday night gigs at Legs Inn in Cross Village, from Memorial Day to Labor Day each summer, rank right up there,” said Reisenbeck. “We have a great balance between private functions like weddings and summer club dates and winter ski resorts. It is all good.”

What about ambitions of the big time?
“I think that is one of the reasons why we have been able to keep it together for so many years,” said Reisenbeck. “We never had that sort of ambition. We all had other things in our lives and I am not sure any of us wanted to be on the road all the time. Quite frankly, it is nice not having to deal with agents and managers and record companies telling us what to do. We all feel very blessed to do what we are doing here in Northern Michigan. We may not be stars but I think we are having a lot more fun than some stars.”
He continues.
“Look, this is a funny business, it isn’t always about talent. At times it is a lot about luck,” said Reisenbeck. “So at the end of the day we feel very blessed to be in demand. We have a full schedule, we rarely travel and we get to enjoy all the things we love about Northern Michigan.”
After 26 years the band has built expectations, but Reisenbeck says it can be a double edge sword.
“If we play the same songs and sets, then people say, ‘Hey we can set our watches by your sets.’ Then if we don’t play certain songs, we get people saying, ‘Hey how come you didn’t play this song?’ But there are expectations to every show, like my drum solo where I go through the audience and bang on anything in site,” said Reisenbeck. “We have around 400 songs in our arsenal, so we keep things fresh and different from show to show.”

What about original tunes and CDs?
“We have originals but no one likes them, especially the ones I wrote,” laughs Reisenbeck. “People come to hear us play danceable cover tunes. We are pretty much a live experience band; we have had tapes and CDs out in the past and some live recordings, but I think we are best enjoyed live, so we are not much for the recording studio,”

So what is in store for Jelly Roll Blues Band in the future?
“More of the same. So far no one has mentioned leaving to join up with Deb & The Dynamics in Florida,” chuckles Reisenbeck. “We have a pretty full schedule for 2008 and look for us to keep partying and having fun for years to come.”

To get reacquainted with Jelly Roll Blues Band, or if you have never had the privilege, then get out and do so this winter. The band plays the Slopeside at Boyne Highlands every Friday through St. Patrick’s Day. They will perform at the Snowflake Lounge at Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, January 19 & 20, and at the Northern Lights Recreation Center in Harbor Springs on January 26. For additional details visit their “low-budget web site” (according to Reisenbeck, the band chooses to invest in good clothes instead of a good web site), jellyrollbluesband.com or call Bill Reisenbeck if you are interested in booking the band (231) 526-5527.
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