The Voice of Manistee

Toni Trucks revisits upbringing with Historic Walking Tour project

Trucks recorded for the tour at studios in New Orleans and Los Angeles, describing the history of around 30 iconic Manistee destinations. (Courtesy Photo)

Trucks recorded for the tour at studios in New Orleans and Los Angeles, describing the history of around 30 iconic Manistee destinations. (Courtesy Photo)

For many small-town natives, it can be easy to lose sight of the assets a smaller community provides. These assets, in part, can shape an individual’s values and often grow into values that set a person apart.

One Manistee native has recognized the importance of a small-town upbringing, and participated in a project which she said allowed her the special opportunity to give back to the community where she was raised.

Toni Trucks, actress and Manistee native, recently completed the vocal recordings for the Historic Walking Tour project.

The walking tour is a collaborative effort between the Manistee County Visitors Bureau and the Manistee County Historical Museum, and educates visitors on the rich history of many iconic Manistee destinations.

Trucks worked with Kathryn Kenny, executive director of the Visitors Bureau, and Mark Fedder, the museum’s executive director, to bring this project together.

With the "Made in Manistee" campaign benefitting the Vogue Theatre restoration project, Trucks continues to celebrate hometown pride and felt that the Vogue was one of her favorite locations to record for the walking tour. (Courtesy Photo)

With the “Made in Manistee” campaign benefitting the Vogue Theatre restoration project, Trucks continues to celebrate hometown pride and felt that the Vogue was one of her favorite locations to record for the walking tour. (Courtesy Photo)

“I love to promote all things Manistee, so I was very happy to be part of it,” said Trucks. “There are so many things that make Manistee wonderful, and this tour really conveys that.”

Fedder said that the existing Historic Walking Tour has been updated within the past few years, but the decision was made to upgrade to a bigger book, which includes maps and several historic videos.

“Once the book is published and completed, people will be able to scan a QR code with their smartphone and be linked to a video online,” he explained. “Not all locations (on the tour) will have a video, but almost 30 locations will include a video component.”

The updated tour book has recently been released and is available at the Visitors Bureau and museum, in addition to several area businesses. Around 50 locations throughout Manistee are featured, including businesses, landmarks, industrial sites and historic residences.

The added video component allows viewers to see what the inside of a particular building looks like, and the narration provided by Trucks discusses general information on the location and its history.

The recording process began several months ago, and Trucks said that the recording took place while she was in New Orleans, shooting the season finale of “NCIS: New Orleans.”

“I ended up calling an ADR (Audio Digital Recording) studio that I had worked with during NCIS; I had a really lovely sound engineer sit down with me, and we sort of sequestered ourselves for a few days to do all of the recordings,” she said. “It was nice to have an engineer on board, that way you don’t have to do it perfectly every time.”

Although Trucks was recording from over a thousand miles away, there was plenty of opportunity to touch base with organizers in Manistee.

“I had Mark on speed dial, so I could be in the middle of recording and be able to call him up to check the pronunciation of a name, and that was great,” she added.

The project garnered support all the way from Los Angeles. Near the end of the project, the team decided to add a small tagline to guide listeners to more information about the area, so when Trucks returned to L.A. she sought out another studio to record the last line.

While the recording time for the tagline would only take a few minutes, studio time is difficult and expensive to secure, and Trucks said that a studio would generally charge for a full hour.

“I sent one of my contacts all of the information about Manistee and told her what I was up to, in hopes to sort of pull at her heart strings,” she said with a laugh. “She also hailed from a small town and fell in love with Manistee just by looking at the website, so she did it gratis.”

Trucks said that she enjoyed the chance to talk about many Manistee destinations that were significant to her throughout her upbringing, and felt that the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts and the Vogue Theatre were especially meaningful.

“My heartstrings are always pulled when I do anything about the Ramsdell and the Vogue, especially because those places were so important to my development as a performer,” she said.

Trucks said that she is grateful to the people in Manistee and the facilities she had access to growing up.

“It’s mind-blowing to me when I see how big the world is and what other people have access to, and comparing that to the incredible amount of outlets and creative folds I had in Manistee,” she said. “Being able to give back in any way is so gratifying.”

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