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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to perform in Manistee before sold-out audience


If music could be put into words of how artist Norman Rockwell painted the great American dream, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band would be called on to provide the soundtrack to that masterpiece.

Simplicity. Spirituality. Family and friends. Tractors and trucks. Old Glory and old folks. Meat and potatoes. Mix in some stringed instruments, hand clapping’ and whole lot of foot tappin’, that’s what the Dirt Band — just like Rockwell — is all about.

The Dirt Band, as it is called by those who have followed their storied career that began in the nightfall of the 1960s, will appear at the Little River Casino Resort Oct. 19. And though the show is sold out, no doubt those area residents who did get tickets are eagerly awaiting the country concert.

Country? Yep. And country rock, too, And bluegrass, and hillbilly, rockabilly, folk, rock, pop, R&B, gospel, soul, easy listening — you name it, the Dirt Band plays it. And plays it all, to note-pleasing perfection.

“Growing up, you spend thousands and thousands of hours alone, all by yourself, practicing and practicing,” said keyboardist Bob Carpenter, who has toured with the band for the better part of four decades. “There are no shortcuts. You have to put the time in. And then, when you finally make it, you practice some more.”

Always known as “The New Guy” because he joined the band a few years after it began, Carpenter will appear in Manistee along with original band members Jeff Hanna (acoustic guitar, electric guitar and vocals) and Jimmie Fadden (drums, harmonica and vocals), and real new guys Jim Photoglo (bass and acoustic guitar), Ross Holmes (fiddle and mandolin) and Jamie Hanna (electric and acoustic guitar), son of Jeff Hanna.

Carpenter joked he is only too happy to pass along his “New Guy” title to the younger Hanna.

“It’s time,” said Carpenter.

As many miles as they’ve traveled and countries they’ve performed in — they are globetrotters, to be sure — and as many large concert halls that hold many thousands of fans they’ve taken center stage in, Carpenter said he and the others who make up the Dirt Band look forward to playing the smaller venues like the Little River Casino Resort in Manistee.

“There are people all over the country who can’t make it (to the big venues,) so we come to them,” he said. “We’ve always enjoyed that. It’s a great environment to play for people who can almost reach out and touch you — they’re that close.”

Two of the band’s most famous and best-loved songs — both are on the set list to be performed in Manistee — carry Grammy Hall of Fame status: “Mr. Bojangles,” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

Released 30 years ago, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken II” went on to earn three Grammys and a CMA Award for Album of the Year. Featuring Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, John Denver, Bruce Hornsby, Emmylou Harris and a country wagon load of other singers and musicians, the album has since earned near-legendary status and was featured prominently in the Ken Burns 2019 series, “The History of Country Music.”

And while all those stars shared center stage for the making of that album, Carpenter said he and his fellow Dirt Band members were only too happy to sit along the perimeter of the stage and provide the defining instrumental soundtrack to the album.

Besides “Mr. Bojangles” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” other songs on the band’s 2019 tour set list include “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “Long Hard Road,” “Dance With Jean,” “Modern Day Romance,” “Buy For Me the Rain,” “Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble To Me,” “Some of Shelly’s Blues,” “The Lowlands,” “Take Me in Your Lifeboat,” “Honky Tonkin’,” “American Dream,” “Workin’ Man (Nowhere to Go),” “Ripplin’ Waters,” “Bless the Broken Road,” “Fishin’ in the Dark,” “Bayou Jubilee,” “Jambalaya (On the Bayou),” and “The Weight.”

Beginning in 1966 (in California, of all places) as a jug band during the opening salvos of the “make love, not war — hell no, we won’t go” counter-culture revolution, the Dirt Band became a favorite at whatever venue they played. The simplicity and honesty of their songs such as “Mr. Bojangles,” combined the payoff of thousands and thousands of hours of instrumental practice, as Carpenter said, seemed to please a broad spectrum of fans, young and old, alike.

“Music is a brotherhood, a sisterhood,” said Carpenter. “It’s just wonderful … to play music with others.”

Haunted Hayride to return to Cartier Park Oct. 19

Halloween is right around the corner, and Connexion Point is ready to get in the spirit with its Haunted Hayride event, set for Saturday, Oct. 19 at Cartier Park in Ludington.

This is the second year the local substance abuse treatment and recovery center has hosted the Haunted Hayride, and Abbie Vida, communications coordinator, said the event will be significantly more “intense” than it was the first time around.

“It’s definitely more scary this year,” Vida said. “Last year we were saying little ones could come before the sun goes down, but this year we’re saying it’s not appropriate for younger kids, and we’re not starting until after dark … so it’s not really family friendly this year.

“It’s definitely parents’ discretion, but we’re putting it out there to families in that it is not what it was last year, so think through what’s right for your child and your home. You’re definitely going to see some blood, some zombies, some pirates — it is definitely gory.”

She added, “You’re going to jump. There’s going to be things that pop out at you.”

Vida said having an event more geared toward teenagers and adults helps draw in the demographic Connexion Point has been striving to reach since the beginning.

“With being more scary, we’re drawing in more of the teenagers and young adults, and in terms of Connexion Point, that’s really who we’ve always wanted to reach, and getting them out to do healthy activities is a great thing,” she said.

The increased scare factor is not the only difference this year’s event has in store.

“For the most part it will be completely different from what we saw last year,” Vida said.

The hayride will have a theme and follow a narrative, though she said she wanted to keep the specifics of that story a secret in the interest of preserving the element of surprise.

“There is a storyline to it, and I can tell you that the flyer features Michael Myers (from “Halloween”), but that’s all,” she said. “It does flow very well. The scenes are professionally put together.”

The set pieces and spooky decorations will be almost entirely new this year, according to Vida, who added that community members and volunteers have been helpful in putting the whole thing together.

“There’s so much volunteerism that’s going into this event, and we have so many community members and sponsors who are coming together to put the work in for this,” Vida said. “It’s really exciting to see.”

Additionally, this year’s Haunted Hayride will be open to Cartier Park campers.

“Last year, Cartier Park was not open for the night we did our Haunted Hayride,” Vida said. “This year they will be open, so campers can come, and we’re encouraging them to decorate their campsites.

“It will give that automatic effect of, ‘here’s Halloween.’”

The hayride starts at 7 p.m., and tickets will be available at the gate. The cost to attend is $5 per person or $20 for families, and all proceeds will benefit Connexion Point’s efforts to support a community in recovery, according to Vida.

For more information, visit the Connexion Point Facebook page.

Ludington Bay Brewing Company to hold Coat Drive

Ludington Bay

Brewing Company

to hold Coat Drive

Ludington Bay Brewing Company will again this year hold a Coat Drive and collecting lightly used blankets and coats during weekends from Oct. 12 to Nov. 17.

Coats will be cleaned and donated to the Ludington Area Schools Resource Center. Anyone donating a coat/blanket will receive a $5 coupon for Ludington Bay Brewing and be entered to win 2 tickets to the brewing company next beer dinner.

Last year, the coat drive collected 83 coasts and a dozen blankets. This year Ludington Bay Brewing Company hopes to collect more items.

Six to interview for PM Township supervisor

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — The Pere Marquette Charter Township Board will be interviewing six candidates for Pere Marquette Charter Township supervisor position on Thursday, Oct. 17, which was discussed at their Oct. 8 meeting.

The six candidates include Jeremy Piper, Chris Tresnack, Tyrone Collins, Lawrence Gaylord, Kelly Smith and Gerald Bleau.

“The special meeting is open to the public,” Pere Marquette Charter Township Clerk Rachelle Enbody.

The board members will review six candidates at the special meeting, according to Enbody. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. that evening.

“A candidate can be appointed on Oct. 22, or before that date,” Enbody said.

The appointment will fill the remainder of the term until November 2020.

“If the candidate wants to continue with the position, he or she must run in 2020,” Enbody said.

Due to the supervisor vacancy, trustee Jim Nordlund was appointed to the personnel committee.

The board also approved signing the Michigan Coastal Management Grant agreement between the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and Pere Marquette Charter Township.

“The purpose of the agreement is to provide funding in exchange for work to be performed for the project — Pere Marquette Conservation Park Coastal Access Plan,” according to the agreement.

The projected cost of the project is $40,00 and Pere Marquette Charter Township wood match that with $20,000.

The project is for 316 acres of property, the majority of which lies south of the Pere Marquette River. It includes 312 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, about a mile of Pere Marquette Lake, and a half-mile of Pere Marquette River. The land was acquired through Dow Corp.

Jim Bernier, recreation consultant for the township, said the preliminary recreation ideas for the land included possibly adding improved parking, canoe racks for the Lake Michigan water trail and restrooms at the Buttersville Beach. The Buttersville Campground may add additional cabins and maybe a small marina on Pere Marquette Lake. Refurbishing the day-use park was another idea. A disc golf course could be added possibly too, as well as a sledding hill and biking and hiking trails.