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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Café Accordion, Pasi Cats to play for Lavatannsit Dance, BBQ Aug. 31 in Covington

HOUGHTON -- The Café Accordion Orchestra -- a dance band for people who still love to waltz, rumba, tango, Cha Cha, swing and more -- will make their first U.P. appearance on Sunday, Aug. 31, during the Lavatannsit Dance and BBQ to be held from noon to 7 p.m. at the Covington outdoor dance Pavilion. They will perform for dancing along with the local band, Pasi Cats.

Poster for Café Accordion provided by the Pasi Cats. Click on poster for larger version.

The Café Accordion Orchestra is "an old school combo," according to the Pasi Cats' accordionist Pasi Lautala.

"Led by the quietly dazzling Dan Newton on accordion, this quintet knows the value of understatement, warmth, subtlety and easy genuine swing," Lautala says. "Café Accordion cats make happy stopovers in Paris, Puerto Rico, Columbia, Tin Pan Alley and the land of Louis Jordan. While they inject their music with good humor and expressive abandon, their high level of musicianship and passion for performance makes them an entertaining concert act as well as a great dance band. They'll make your toes tap, your eyes twinkle and your heart long for a shipboard romance..."

Here is the schedule for the Lavatannsit event, sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Ethnic Music Aliance:

12 noon - 1 p.m. Start the fun with a tango lesson by Ralph Tuttila
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Local band Pasi Cats
3 p.m. -5 p.m. Café Accordion
5 p.m. - 6 p.m. Potluck BBQ
6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Café Accordion again!

The Covington Pavilion is located on M28 between Watton and Covington. Admission is $10 with an additional charge for the BBQ. For info contact Randy Seppala at 906-355-2459.

Editor's Note: Read more about the Pasi Cats on their Web site.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Festival Joie de Vivre to honor French Canadian heritage in Chassell Aug. 29-31

CHASSELL -- The Festival Joie de Vivre, celebrating French Canadian heritage, is underway in Chassell. If you missed tonight's events, sponsored by Keweenaw National Historical Park, be sure to catch the exhibits, documentaries and great music this weekend, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31, in Chassell.

Beginning Friday, Aug. 29, exhibits showcasing the French-Canadian cultural presence in the Keweenaw will be on display in the Chassell Heritage Center. French Canadians were the first European-descent ethnic group to settle in the Chassell area. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

Five documentaries on various aspects French-Canadian and Franco-American culture will be shown at the Chassell Heritage Center during the festival.

Réveil: Waking Up French, by Ben Levine, is an 81-minute documentary that will be shown at 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, and at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30. Réveil explores the struggle for cultural survival in the very heart of American monoculture and reveals the importance of history and heritage understanding. It demonstrates how languages can be re-acquired for personal and community renewal.

Franco-Americans: We Remember, an hour-long film by Barbara Coles and Kevin Tierney (New Hampshire Public Television), will be shown at noon on Friday and at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Hosted by Tom Bergeron, this documentary explores the culture of the French Canadians who settled in New England.

Medicine Fiddle, by filmmaker Michael Luokinen of Northern Michigan University, will be shown at 1:30 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday. This award-winning, 81-minute film explores the fiddle traditions of Native and Métis families in the northern U.S. and Canada, featuring fiddle players from Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Ontario and Manitoba. It examines the influence of European music and dance on Native Americans beginning in the 17th and 18th centuries.

J'ai Été au Bal: I Went to the Dance, by Les Blank, Chris Strachwitz and Maureen Gosling will be shown at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and at 3 p.m. on Saturday. This 84-minute documentary on the Cajun and Zydeco music of Louisiana was inspired by Ann Savoy's book, Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People.

On Friday afternoon, August 29, take a Guided Tour on a Trolley Bus and visit the places in Chassell and the surrounding countryside where the French Canadians settled. One hour tours will run from the Chassell Heritage Center, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the point of departure.

Friday night De Temps Antan, musicians from Québec, will be honored at a reception at 8 p.m. at the VFW, followed by an hour of music by this lively group, current or former members of the popular Québecois group La Bottine Souriante -- André Brunet on fiddle, Éric Beaudry on guitar and Pierre-Luc Dupuis on harmonica.

Workshops on French Canadian music, genealogy and dance will be held on Saturday. The music group De Temps Antan will teach selections from the repertoire of Québecois music on their respective instruments. Music will be taught by ear, so participants are encouraged to bring battery-operated recorders. In the Fiddle workshop, learn selections from the repertoire of Québecois fiddle tunes. Techniques include bowing ornamentation to bring flexibility and fluidity in tunes. The Guitar workshop includes techniques on accompanying French-Canadian dance music; Guitar and Fiddle workshops include instruction in foot percussion.

On Saturday afternoon, Chassell's Centennial Park will be the scene of "Adventure Day" with French Canadian sports, food and games -- from lumberjack demonstrations to rowing, sled dog training and "Traditions Alive" children's games.

Saturday night De Temps Antan will play Québecois music at the Festival Joie de Vivre Soirée, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Centennial Park Pavilion. The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for students. This event of music, dancing and food will be the Festival's primary fundraising activity for the Chassell Heritage Center's Handicapped Access Project.

On Sunday Morning the public is welcome to gather at the Grotto at 8:45 am in downtown Chassell and join a procession to 9 a.m. Mass at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, originally a French parish. Music will include traditional hymns and chant in Latin and French and well-known favorites in English.

For more details visit the Einerlei Web site and the online brochure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Local family to present "Crossing the Andes" slide show on biking in Ecuador

HOUGHTON – A Stanton Township family will present their "Crossing the Andes" slide show and talk at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Portage Lake District Library in Houghton.

Wendy Sharp will discuss her family’s recent 18-day bike tour trip through Ecuador. The family of five traveled on one single bicycle and two tandems over rugged mountain terrain as high as 14,000 feet above sea level. They also climbed to the summit of a volcano, rafted a wild jungle river and visited rural indigenous markets. The entire Sharp family will be on hand to describe their adventures and impressions of Ecuadoran culture.

The public is invited to the free presentation.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Updated: Author Greg Mortenson to speak about building schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan Aug. 27

HOUGHTON -- Greg Mortenson, hero and co-author with David Oliver Relin of the New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time, will give three presentations at Michigan Tech University on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Mortenson, an American mountain climber, turned his failure to climb the second highest peak in the world, K2, in the Karkoram mountains of Pakistan, into a humanitarian success. Lost in the mountains, he stumbled into a remote village where impoverished people nursed him back to health. Their only request in return was that he build them a school. Through incredible obstacles, harrowing adventures and cultural challenges, he has been building schools -- especially for girls -- ever since.

Greg Mortenson (standing, far right) is pictured here with a village leader and students in a girls' school he built. Click on photo for larger version. (Image courtesy Greg Mortenson, Central Asia Institute)

Students from both MTU and Finlandia University have been reading and discussing this award-winning book as part of MTU's summer Reading as Inquiry program for first-year students.

Ted Alder, an MTU student orientation leader, will be assisting in one of the small-group student discussions on the book to be held Wednesday morning before Mortenson's presentation.

"I definitely love the concepts that (Mortenson) brings up," Alder said. "I think what he's doing is great. Now, since the whole presidential race is based on this idea of change, he sets good examples for making change (such as) educating girls in countries where it's forbidden or not encouraged."

Building a school near the top of the world. Click on photo for larger version. (Image courtesy Greg Mortenson, Central Asia Institute)

Mortenson will first speak to Finlandia students in a public session open to all from 11 a.m. to Noon in Dow 641 on the MTU campus. Buses will bring Finlandia students to Michigan Tech for the talk.

From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mortenson will hold a Question/Answer session for MTU faculty, graduate students and staff in Dow 641.

Finally, he will give a public presentation to MTU students and interested persons from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Rozsa Center. It will be followed by a Book Signing from 8 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. in the Rozsa Lobby.

Update: All three of Mortenson's presentations are free and open to the public. His evening talk will also be broadcast on TV monitors in the Horner Lobby of the Rozsa Center, should there be an overflow crowd and standing room only.

Visit Greg Mortenson's Web site to read about his work.

Editor's Notes: Students at MTU last week -- in a few hours -- raised nearly $3000 for Mortenson's schools to meet a matching challenge that doubled their contribution. Read the article on the MTU Web site.

Image of book cover is also courtesy Greg Mortenson, Central Asia Institute.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Stupak comments on Obama's choice of Biden as running mate

MENOMINEE -- U.S. Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) released the following statement regarding Senator Barack Obama's announcement that Senator Joe Biden will be the Democratic vice presidential candidate:

"Senator Obama has made a great choice in selecting Senator Biden as his running mate. Joe Biden's long and distinguished career in the U.S. Senate and vast expertise on foreign policy and many other issues will be a valuable asset to an Obama administration.

"I have worked closely with Senator Biden on a number of law enforcement and labor issues over the years. Through this work and his spirited campaign during the presidential primaries, it is clear Joe Biden shares Barack Obama's commitment to the change our country needs.

"I look forward to hearing from Senator Biden next week at the Democratic Convention and to formally nominating him as a candidate for Vice President of the United States."

Stupak to serve as Michigan super-delegate at Convention

Stupak will travel to Denver on Tuesday, Aug. 26, to attend the Democratic National Convention. By virtue of being a member of Congress, Stupak serves as a Michigan super-delegate to the convention. He will be in Denver Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the night Barack Obama will formally accept the Democratic nomination for President of the United States before a crowd of more than 70,000 and a national television audience.

Now campaigning for re-election to a ninth term representing Michigan’s 1st Congressional District in U.S. House of Representatives, Stupak said he is as committed as ever to standing up for northern Michigan and working for the change necessary to move the country forward.

"My campaign staff and volunteers have been working hard for months to organize an aggressive grassroots campaign," Stupak said. "I will work hard for each and every vote here in the 1st Congressional District. I consider it an honor to serve Northern Michigan in Washington and will continue to work hard for you with leadership you can trust!"

Stupak will travel back to Michigan on Friday, Aug. 29, to participate in Labor Day parades over the weekend and attend the Dickinson County Fair.

For more information on Congressman Stupak, visit his Web site or his new Campaign site.