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October 16, 1979 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-10-16
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Page 6-Tuesday, October 16, 1979-The Michigan Daily
The Ark really gives a hoot

The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, O

Onward and upward with Artwoi

It's true. Over the past 14 years,
some of the worst amateur acts in Ann
Arbor have paraded to the microphone
at the Ark coffeehouse.
They came, the tin-eared singers and
lead-fingered guitar pickers, to join the
other musicians and storytellers who
invade the Wednesday night hootenan-
nies, and they are allowed their few
moments in the spotlight just like
everybody else.
There are no auditions like at UAC
Soundstage, Ann Arbor's other
ama'teur coffeehouse, and no formal
rehearsals. No one knows for sure who
is going to play until the musicians walk
through the door and sign up on the
clipboard. Then, promptly at nine
o'clock, a delightfully uneven show
begins, featuring a fascinating
microcosm of the Ann Arbor com-
ALL KINDS SHOW up here. Hoot
night regulars are fond of remembering
a rather spaced-out gentleman who en-
tered one night carrying a Bible and
signed -up for some stage time. His
evangelical pitch was punctuated by-
thumps on and references to the good
Shenannigans like these are the ex-

ception rather than the rule, says Linda
Siglin, co-manager of the Ark and ad-
ministrator of the hoot nights. "I've had
everything here except heavy metal
rock. We get all kinds of rock and jazz
on acoustic instruments, and many dif-
ferent folk music styles."
Linda has been overseeing the hoots
for the past five years. She allows any
act on stage just as long as it doesn't
last longer than the "three songs" time
limit. "We've had comedians,
storytellers, puppeteers, African dan-
cers, mimists, high school kids singing
show tunes, classical musicians, and
people who bend balloons into animal
shapes. You name it."
ADMISSION TO the Ark, the regional
bulwark for folk and traditional music,
is free for the musicians and but a
dollar for those who'd rather listen.
"Profits?" Linda laughs. "Are you
kidding? It costs almost as much as we.
take in at the door to turn on the lights
and serve coffee and popcorn."
David Siglin, Linda's husband and
the co-manager of the Ark, points out
that the hoot nights almost pay for
themselves, and they continue because
the Siglins feel a commitment and
responsibility to Ann Arbor musicians.
"IT'S IMPORTANT to the com-

munity," says David. "Most of the
people who come in here for the first
time are terrible because they've never
played for an audience. Of course, some
of them are just terrible period, but
performers have to learn how to put a
song across to a cowd. They can't get
away with sloppy instrumental breaks#
or looking away when they talk.
"Most of the time, once they get over
the nervousness, our performers are
quite competent. They begin to polish
their acts and develop some sort of
stage identity. This sort of opportunity

music come down and perform. I think
a lot of people worry that we're ex-
clusive in some way, but we're not at
Hoot night audiences tend to be very
knowledgable; and "critical, but very
accepting," says David. Often per-
formers receive suggestions for im-
provement from interested observers,
and musicians typically stay around
the Ark to learn and observe.
"Occasionally we'll get a very sur-
prising reaction from an audience,"
David says, remembering one of his

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They never would have met on the
street. They met in 1975, in a stained
glass workshop offered at Artworlds, a
non-profit creative arts institute
overlooking Ann Arbor's commercial
Main Street. "That long-haired hippy is
gonna teach the class?" a middle-aged
prospective student asked. "I want my
money bak." Dave, 'the "long-haired
hippy," was also less than enthusiastic.
"That redneck is gonna be in my
Wouldn't you know it, redneck and
beatnik became the best of friends, con-
tinuing private workshop instruction in
the basement of Dave's home after the
Artworlds session ended. The older
gentleman, an engineer for Ford,
helped Dave develop machine molds
for iass-producing his own lead sup-
plies. Today Dave has his own stained
glass shop in Ann Arbor.
This is just one of countless Artworlds
success stories, claims Cecil Taylor,
the organization's founder and sole full-
time emplyees. Taylor first conceived
the idea for Artworlds in 1962, but a lack
of funds, supplies, and volunteer man-
power postponed the realization of Ar-
tworlds until two years after the "Me"
Generation, in 1972. Seven years later,
Artworlds has expanded from three in-
structors and less than fifty students to
more than a hundred class offerings
and eighty times the original
Artworlds wasn't an immediate suc-
cess. Cecil recalls the lean years bet-
ween 1972 and 1975. Beledi (belly) Dan-
ce was popular then. "If it hadn't been
for Suheyla, our Beledi instructor, we
would have folded. Artworlds was a
gamble from the start." Working for
the Air Force as an aerospace engineer
in 1962, Taylor financed everything for
Artworlds himself. He began by collec-
ting equipment, buying when prices
were low. "For years I had things in
storage, in garages here and there: an
airclamp, a silkscreen, a printing
press, darkroom equipment . . ." Ar-
tworlds finally got off the ground, and
today, despite overwhelming material
obstacles, Cecil sits on a comfortable
couch and gestures around the lobby,
modestly insisting, "Artworlds is just a
shell. It's all the people involved who
make it what it is.
"Our basic set-back is still money,
but we don't believe in going out and
begging," Cecil continued. "We believe
wecan be resourceful enough to make
do with what we've got." In 1972, for in-
stance, when mirrors were needed for
the dance studios, the members of
Suheyla's Artworlds-based belly dance
troupe each pitched in and purchased
small reflective tiles. Blossoming
prima ballerinas eventually got used to
seeing disjointed reflections. .
Fortunately, professional mirrors
were recently acquired. Like much of
the equipment at Artworlds, these were
donated. Everything elseis paid for
through class fees and a rental
program with the darkroom and pot-
tery studios.
Artworlds' philosophy is that no one
should be prevented from electing
classes because of lack of funds. Many of
the part-time office people are volun-
teers working off class fees.
The polyglot of independently con-
tracted instructors hail from every
place imaginable. Suheyla trained with
Marthae Graham and spent four years
with the Turkish National ]Dance Comn-

pany before settling in Ann Arbor with
Artworlds. Jacqueline Barth, who is
teaching flamenco dancing this fall, is a
University of Michigan graduate
student from Madrid, Spain.
"We can offer classes in just about
anything," Cecil Taylor boasts. In-
struction in "conventional" courses

such as ballet, jazz, figure drawing,
pottery, and photography are provided
along with those that teach an Egyptian
belly walk, or playing the castanets
while a native Flamenco dancer calls
out the steps: "Planta, tacon, tacon,
planta, tacon, golpe! golpe!"
Even the most exotic classes at. Ar-

tworlds a]
American it
initiates hov
cymbals) w
bands, and
class sug

Daily Photo by KAREN ZORN
Roger Treet, a local violinist, performs at the Ark's hoot night.



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is very important for artists. For
example, Leon Rebdone played at hoots
in Toronto at the Fiddler's Green for
years and years before hitting it big,
but by then he had firmly established
his stage character.
"There is no substitute for actual per-
forming," David adds. "We all sound
good in the shower."
Hoot nights have been around since
the Ark first opened its doors 14 years
ago. "We've tried different formats in-
cluding round-robin style musical par-
ties," remembers Linda. "Eventually
we just got too many singers interested
and had to go to one person at a time."
A TYPICAL Wednesday night finds
between 15 and 20 performers on the
roster and twice to three times that
number lounging in the audience on
throw pillows and chairs. "I do my best
to put everyone on stage who comes
by," says Linda. "Sometimes I'll put
off some of our regulars in order to get
the new people on. I'd like to see more
of the people in the dorms who play

very favorite moments from years'
worth of hoot nights. "Somebody called
me from the Daily and asked if we
auditioned new talent because he had a
fantastic new comic and would we like
first crack at him.
"I TOLD HIM we take anybody. Send
him over. I think the comic was a Daily
editor or something, I don't remember,
but anyway, he was dressed in a sport
coat with a bow tie, and he stood
backstage just completely stiff and
nervous. Well, he went on, and he did
his routine and was completely awful.
It was a sarcastic, put-down type of
humor, and the audience just wasn't
"Then a few people started throwing
remarks at him, and they were
hilarious. He'd say something, the
someone in the audience would answer
and everybody would crack up. He was
heckling the audience and they could
handle it, just the opposite of a regular
comedy bit. At the end of his act, he had



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