Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2 April 11 Traverse City, MI
After a four-hour flight to Detroit and a four-hour drive north through mist and fog, dodging deer along the way, we've arrived in Traverse City.
TC is a small town (only 15,000 residents) but is the largest city in Northern Michigan, and something of a tourist destination. Situated on Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse is the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of the US, and also produces wine grapes. Vacationing midwesterners come here for the freshwater beaches, vineyards, hiking and skiing.
Surprisingly, they're here now. Our hotel is full up with families, which seems odd, because it's so cold outside, with ice and snow piled up along the roadside. Why vacation now? Is it spring break? So many kids.
I hope a few of the older folks come to hear us tonight. It's always a white knuckle ride, arriving in a new place, wondering if anyone knows or cares that you're in town. You send announcements to traditional and social media, maybe do a couple of radio interviews, then it's out of your hands, entirely up to the Fates.
This morning at breakfast I perused the local paper, searching vainly for a photo listing or any mention at all. Nope! No arts coverage. Just sports, real estate, gossip and TV listings.
Will they come?
Hope so! Regardless, I'm looking forward to the experience.
Traverse City holds much nostalgia for me.
30 years ago, when I was a teenager at Interlochen, we would come here on semi-chaperoned weekend bus trips to stroll around the shops, go to the movies and hang out away from campus.
I held hands with my high school crush here.
I also played my first ever paid gig in this town, a private party at the Maritime Hall.
Our little jazz quintet only knew six tunes from memory.
We're putting together a jazz residency in Michigan next spring, with concerts in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, and workshops at colleges and high schools throughout the state. These will be my first Michigan appearances since attending Interlochen Arts Academy 30 years ago, and I'm very excited about getting back to the Great Lake State.
As part of my preparation, I've been brushing up on the cultural history of the region. A great resource is the book Before Motown: A History of Jazz in Detroit 1920-1960 by Lars Bjorn with Jim Gallert — a very well-researched and enlightening volume, drawn largely from the oral histories of seminal musicians who lived and worked there. Highly recommended.
Hard to believe my high school senior recital was 29 years ago this week. So long ago that I still had a third eye ("i"). John Redmer on bass, a very talented young man, now gone but not forgotten. And I wonder what Eric, Tibor and Norm are up to these days? Maybe we should do a reunion tour. I remember our faculty advisor said we were too young—hadn't experienced enough of life's ups and downs—to play "A Remark You Made" with the requisite feeling.
Are we old enough now, Mr. Lindenau?
Here are two photos of yours truly performing with the Interlochen Arts Academy jazz ensemble, taken nearly 30 years apart.
The top image is from our final "stud orch" concert at Interlochen's Corson Auditorium in Fall 1984. The bottom is from the academy's 50th anniversary tour to San Francisco's Kanbar Hall in Spring 2012.
Hard to believe that's the same person! (Even the horn has grown fat...)