Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dylan Doyle: The Evolution of an Artist

BY MARK REYNOLDS  |   MREYNOLDS@TCNEWSPAPERS.COM


            Once Dylan Doyle got hold of a guitar there was no turning back; his becoming a musician was all but assured. At 17, this young artist from Clintondale continues to hone his skills and develop a style that has deep roots in the blues but is one that is all his own. He started playing the guitar just 4 years ago and made his public debut a year later.   


            Doyle will soon complete his high school education through homeschooling, which has allowed him time to practice and go on the road to perform in concert. He is beginning to work with two seasoned musicians, bassist Vince Lagieri and drummer Papa John Mole; both members in the New York Blues Hall of Fame. Doyle said the first time the three played together was at a club in June; “it was on the fly and we clicked.” Playing as a trio has long been Doyle’s favorite format. 

            Doyle paraphrased Albert Einstein, saying that when he started out in music “I thought I knew it all and now as I learn more I know even less, especially getting into music that is allot deeper like jazz or ragtime or things like that where it takes allot of focus and understanding the roots of music theory.” He said he has dabbled in the technical aspects of reading music but added that it is always important for a musician to be able to improvise without having paper in front of them. “I think a true musician is someone who knows what they’re doing without being told how to do it,” adhering to the belief that the ear comes first and written notes on a page comes second. Doyle said in the future, however, he plans to devote more time to the theoretical side of his craft.

“Right now I’m a bit too na├»ve and bouncy to put too much focus into reading but [with] theory its been a slow and steady progress but I’m digging into it now and its very rewarding,” he said.   

            Doyle has made regular appearances at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, 70 miles southwest of Memphis and will be performing there again in October.

            “Its real cool and you get to meet all of Levon Helm’s childhood friends; its like walking around in his old stomping grounds,” Doyle said of the late drummer for The Band, who grew up in nearby Turkey Scratch.

            Doyle also tours in the Midwest and will be returning for a second time to the Grateful Garcia Gathering in Mauston, Wisconsin on July 31. He said he is also looking forward to playing with the band Corner Boy in Ireland in a series of concerts scheduled for next March.

            Doyle said some tours are quick short hops, 4 to 5 shows in 6 days but he recalled one that was “cram packed” with traveling and performing 10 shows in 19 days. He said “it was day after day” and the miles logged were “not enough and too many.” He said they throw all of the equipment in a van and drive from show to show, gypsy style – “all three of us and all the snacks.” Doyle said he used to bring a “ridiculous” number of guitars on tour, a past practice he is reticent to acknowledge, but has scaled that back to a more manageable two electrics and a steel-string acoustic.

            “Right now my main guitar is a Fender 1956 Stratocaster reissue and recently a 1951 Telecaster reissue and a Taylor acoustic,” he said.

            “If I want a really gritty show I’ll play the Tele more but if I want a smoother, jazzier show I’ll probably be more on the Strat,” he said. “I tend to play the Strat a little bit more because I’m more familiar with it.” Doyle said he has slowly been incorporating a few acoustic selections “and now I think we’re going to be doing it in just about every show.”

            Doyle’s amp is a configuration of four, 10 inch speakers that has been modified to give it a coveted “tweed sound”

            “Its down and dirty and much grittier but yet shines like a bell and has enough bottom,” he said. “I only use tubes, I can’t stand solid state. It works for some people but not for me.”

            Doyle said he finds that people in the Midwest come out to the clubs “to really hear music” and pay close attention to what his band is performing. He recalled one couple who saw all three of their shows over the course of a weekend “after stumbling upon us. There are some hard-core fans out there.” He said as they move deeper into the South, people are measuring how well a northern boy can live up to the legacy of their blues music “but when you can pull it off, its rewarding.” 


            Doyle to date has recorded three albums of material, with a fourth expected next spring. He said his repertoire has broadened to include not only his staple of original and traditional blues but also R&B roots and folk styles “stuff like The Band to Bob Dylan and Hendrix. I have been trying to incorporate jazz concepts over folk progressions and lyrics. Wes Montgomery is my main guy and Django Reinhardt and Terez Montcalm. I like her voice a lot and I’ve been taking some artistic liberties on her.”

            Doyle said he has received emails from people overseas from as far away as Australia and Germany who have heard his music there on radio.


            Doyle said he is in the music game “for the long haul. I think it was [poet/novelist] Charles Bukowski who said ‘Find what you love and let it kill you, so I’m in it till it kills me.”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Creating a Royal Mess Along 9W

BY MARK REYNOLDS  |   mreynolds @tcnewspapers.com

The Town Boards of Marlborough and Lloyd recently voted to ignore sound advice from the Ulster County Planning Board [UCPB] on how they could sensibly plan future development along Route 9W, which passes through both municipalities.
 
After the present members of these boards are no longer in office, the impacts from their imprudent planning will be felt by residents for decades to come.

Both boards barreled right ahead and approved forms of zoning that will all but ensure subpar and crass forms of development, while irresponsibly promising the public that they will be able to control what is built, where it is built and how it will look at the end of the day.

County Planning warned Lloyd that “the doggedness which the town continues to pursue the commercial zoning of the [Route 9W] corridor is not backed by any needs analysis or facts that are available to the UCPB.” In the eyes of the county, Marlborough fared no better; stating that they are rezoning their corridor “to an entirely commercial or industrial district,” which increases the likelihood for “strip commercial development and its negative impacts on community character, traffic safety and the environment.”

We rarely see the County come out so strongly against what a town is proposing but they are rightfully warning Lloyd and Marlborough about the pitfalls they will face. Both towns have now set the stage that will allow a train wreck to happen – not all at once, but bit by bit, drop by drop; but it will take place.     

Little comfort should be taken from the boards promises that after these zoning changes they will be especially careful stewards of the land because by the time they realize their folly it will be too late; the damage will be irreversible and irrevocable. If it is not fixed now everyone in Lloyd and Marlborough will be living with mediocre and bottom line development; not tomorrow but most likely sooner rather than later. 


We urge both towns to scrap their recent zoning changes and show the public that they will reconsider the county’s objections and incorporate their suggestions. If the boards choose to dig their heels in and stand by such indefensible zoning, we would remind the public that another form of change is possible at the ballot box. The actions of these Town Boards should not be tolerated; it is simply that important.  

Coast Guard Icebreaker Clears Hudson River

BY MARK REYNOLDS  |   MREYNOLDS@TCNEWSPAPERS.COM


            As everyone knows this has been an extremely cold and snowy winter all across the region, with people anxiously awaiting the warmth of spring. The brutally cold temperatures in February have dipped to as low as -20 degrees with the wind chill in certain areas, resulting in the Hudson River completely freezing over.

            The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker the Sturgeon Bay has been clearing a shipping lane on the river from New York City to Albany to ensure that barges can deliver jet fuel, gasoline and home heating oil as well as road salt, cement and scrap metals to customers and businesses. 


            In a phone interview, Commander Lt. Kenneth R. Sauerbrunn USCG said the Coast Guard designates ice season from December 15 through April 1. He said the Sturgeon Bay has broken through ice up to 8 inches thick, with some snow capped ice areas reaching 18 inches, but the ship is capable of handling ice 30 inches thick, a scenario Sauerbrunn said he has not had the opportunity to witness. 

            The Sturgeon Bay is 140 feet in length with a beam height of 37.5, is powered by two diesel engines and displaces 662 tons. To break up the ice the ship uses a low pressure air hull lubrication system, called the bubbler method, which forces air and water between the hull and the ice to break up the ice.

Sauerbrunn described how the system works.

“Throughout the hull there are little ports that air shoots out of and it actually looks like the ship is sitting in a bubble bath; there’s just bubbles coming out from underneath the water all around the ship. That helps us in very thick ice by forcing water up between the hull and the thick ice on the side of the hull and it creates that little bit of lubrication [and] actually makes us much more efficient,” he said.

Sauerbrunn said his ship is the most advanced domestic type in today’s Coast Guard fleet. In addition, sister ship ‘Thunder Bay’ and the 65 foot Coast Guard cutter ‘Wire’ are presently operating on the Hudson River. He said the Sturgeon Bay operates on the river for up to 3 weeks before returning to their home port of Bayonne, NJ where routine maintenance and preventative engineering work is performed “just to make sure that we’re always fully operational.”     
 
            Sauerbrunn has a year round crew of 17 on board.

“We each stand 4 hour watches…and a new watch comes on every 4 hours,” he said, adding that it is too dangerous to operate the ship cutting through ice at night.

Sauerbrunn said the Sturgeon Bay has a special ‘football’ shaped hull design.

“That allows us to ride up onto the ice…and the weight of the ship crushes the ice,” he said, adding that the design produces a “very big wake and the wake helps break up ice on either side of us; not only are we crushing directly beneath the hull but if we are moving fast enough it crushes ice on either side.” He said his ship can reach a maximum speed of 12 knots, or approximately 15 mph. The ship initially cuts a path that is nearly 40 feet wide when the ice is very think but after several passes, they are able to expand that to “a nice wide track” of nearly 150 feet. In the narrow parts of the river they keep their widths to 100 feet but in other sections, from Poughkeepsie south, they have the room to create paths that are up to 250 feet across because of the river’s width and depth.

Sauerbrunn said sections of the river are not wide enough for two ships to pass each other, especially north of Kingston.

“There are certain designated spots throughout the river that the Coast Guard carves out extra wide and we call those passing zones,” he said. “[When] we have southbound and northbound traffic meeting they try and time it so they meet in these wide passing zones.” 

Sauerbrunn said there are five areas between Kingston and Albany where they form these passing lanes. He said there is a particularly narrow area of the river by West Point known as ‘World’s End.’

“That’s actually one of several designated choke points; areas in the river where there is a tight bend or ice has been known to accumulate very easily,” he said, adding that Crum Elbow above Poughkeepsie is another “major choke point and others as you go north.”

Sauerbrunn said there is an advantage to limiting the width of a track.

“You only want to break as much [ice] as necessary because the more of that really thick stuff in the swirl that breaks off, the more that can flow into the track and clog up [for] vessels making their way,” he said. “The risk is the more ice you break, the more ice you make, so we only try to break as much as we need.” 

Sauerbrunn called this winter the “worst one since 2004; the most ice as far as thickness and as far as percent coverage.” He said this has resulted in a record number of requests for ice breaking assistance on the river. 

 Sauerbrunn recalled that recently his ship was able to free up 8 barges near Germantown that were “stacked up and all stuck and no one could get around each other. To know that we got all 8 vessels moving south and unstuck [is] very satisfying, knowing that we’re out there making a difference.”

Sauerbrunn, a graduate of the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Ct., said he and his job are a “perfect fit.” 

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I joined, but shortly thereafter I realized that it’s an incredible organization…I can’t imagine doing anything else,” he said.             
  


Vineyard Commons Developer Indicted

BY MARK REYNOLDS  |   MREYNOLDS@TCNEWSPAPERS.COM

            Developer Michael Barnett, 43, of Hopewell Junction has been indicted for his involvement in the Vineyard Commons senior housing project in Highland.

            From the start, the luxury rental project became mired in controversy and debt to the point where the federal Housing and Urban Development agency, who insured the loan, eventually auctioned off the mortgage in August 2012 to the True North Management Group, resulting in a $27 million loss. They in turn sued to foreclose on Vineyard Commons Holdings LLC (in wife Denise Barnett’s name) on Nov.16, 2012, resulting in the Barnett’s filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy two weeks later on Nov. 30, 2012, claiming they owed creditors more than $24 million. 


            United States Attorney Preet Bharara signed a 31 count indictment against Michael Barnett, charging him with Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, False Statements on Loan and Credit Application, Engaging in Monetary Transactions in Property Derived from Specified Unlawful Activity and for False Statements. Barnett also helped plan and develop two additional projects in the area, named in the indictment as ‘Future Projects.” 

            A timeline of the Conspiracy charges is documented in the indictment. In 2009 Barnett hired a General Contractor (unnamed) for the project, who in turn sub-contracted a framing company (also unnamed) responsible for framing and rough carpentry. A private lender [‘Mortgagor’] in Washington D.C. provided the financing, a $46 million loan, which was insured by the Federal Housing Administration [FHA] of the department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD]. The indictment states that Barnett “used his position as the developer of Vineyard Commons and the Future Projects to enrich himself by, among other means, persuading contractors and subcontractors to provide him with kickbacks and to invest money in Vineyard Commons and the Future Projects.” The indictment states that Barnett provided the Mortgagor with false and inflated invoices so the company would provide him with HUD-insured funds.

            From 2008 to 2010 the General Contractor and sub-contractors did invest in Vineyard Commons, in part, because Barnett led them to believe they would be hired for work at Vineyard Commons and possibly for future projects, according to the indictment. 

            The indictment reveals that in 2009 Barnett solicited sub-contractors at Vineyard Commons to provide their labor and materials to construct a pool house at his home residence. Some agreed to do so and would either absorb the cost or falsely build the costs into those related to Vineyard Commons or on future projects. Again this was based on the premise that working at Barnett’s home would mean they would work on his other projects. 

            On Jan 19, 2009 the Framer furnished the General Contractor with a Final Bid for labor and materials for the Vineyard Commons project but by April 2009 the two agreed to provide this at a greater amount than the Final Bid, which was called the Contract Price. The indictment states that Barnett, the Framer and the General Contractor “intended that the difference between the Final Bid and the Contract Price (called Contract Excess) would be returned to Barnett as a kickback.” The following month the General Contractor agreed to provide Barnett with a $1 million letter of credit and in return Barnett “informally pledged” the Contract Excess to the Contractor as collateral. In June 2009 Barnett also obtained a letter of credit from the Framer in the amount of $650,000 in order to secure the HUD/FHA insured financing from the Mortgagor; promising the contract excess to the Framer as collateral.

            On July 2, 2009 Barnett and others supplied HUD with the contractor’s and or Mortgagor cost breakdown. This included the Framer’s estimate, which exceeded his actual price for labor and materials by approximately the Contract Excess.


            The indictment states that from July 2009 to January 2012 the General Contractor submitted his requisitions on HUD forms to the Mortgagor, which eventually were sent to HUD. The General Contractor certified that the information on the forms was true and accurate, which resulted in the Mortgagor disbursing HUD-insured funds each month on the basis of the requisitions. For this, Barnett was charged with making False Statements in the months of January, February and March of 2010. 

            The indictment highlighted the money trail surrounding Barnett and Vineyard Commons. On January 15, 2010 the Framer sent Barnett a check for $200,000 from the Contract Excess via Michigan to New York to a company Barnett controlled. This allowed Barnett to make a partial payment on his obligation to the General Contractor. This allegedly was done on Jan. 29, 2010 and resulted in the mail fraud charge.    

            The indictment also charges Barnett with Wire Fraud, stating that he obtained “money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises” through wire transmissions and faxes. 

            The indictment notes that Barnett “willfully and knowingly” made false statements on loan and credit applications in order to influence the action of the Federal Housing Administration. There are 13 instances listed in the indictment, from September 2009 through March 2010, when Barnett allegedly listed false and inflated dollar amounts in invoices so the Mortgagor “would disburse funds to which Barnett, the General Contractor and the Vineyard Commons were not entitled.”

            According to the indictment, Barnett will have to forfeit “all property, real and personal that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of the offense charged in Count One [Conspiracy] of this indictment.” This includes 10 Wintergreen Place in Hopewell Junction. If any property cannot be located because Barnett failed to mention it, or it has been substantially dimished in value, been sold or transferred to a third party, has been comingled with other property which cannot be subdivided off without difficulty or has been placed beyond the jurisdiction of the court, then his property at 6 Heather Court in Fishkill will be forfeited.

            Barnett could not be reached for comment for this article.