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January 28, 1979 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-01-28

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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, January 28, 1979-Page 5

Sonic's band rendezvous with
eager bunch at benefit bash

Musicians party down

The terms ''punk rock" a'nd "New Wave" are now
apparently passe enough that the posters advertising
Friday evening's benefit for WCBN-FM lacked any men-
tion of the musical orientation of the three bands-Cult
Heroes, Flirt, and Sonic's Rendezvous Band. I find this.
amusing, since last year's benefit, featuring bands with
similar musical formats, was billed as a "New Wave
Marathon." Indeed, I seriously doubt bands like Flirt and
Cult Heroes would be around had there been no New
Wave, and I'm sure Sonic's Rendezvous Band wouldn't be
half as good as they are now had the New Wave not given
them a booster shot. Yet, as Cult Heroes' suave lead
singer remarked early in the evening, "This is Ann Arbor
rock' n'roll ! "
The Michigan Union Ballroom was filled with shadows
and very few people-maybe 100 at most-when Cult
Heroes mounted the stage at 9 p.m. A power trio began
sending off throbbing, somewhat melodic chord pattersn
as the singer' stood wearing an overcoat, his back
discreetly turned to the audience. He was a man of many
mannerisms: he removed his overcoat with just the right
swing of his arms, and when he felt a bit warm, he made
sure we saw his every gyration as he took off his shirt. As
the show progressed, he made his tank top's shoulder.
strap rise and fall on cue.

After an impressively short 20-minute break, Flirt
bounced into a muscular instrumental that promised
great things to follow. I was disappointed when a slight
woman in an even slighter sequin-studded dress rose to
the stage to sing a rather tepid version of Patti Smith's
"Pumping (My Heart)." I've never been able to under-
stand why so many female punk rockers feel they must
sell their bodies as well as their music. The rest of the
band-two guitarists, a bass player, and a drum-
mer--wore quasi-Nazi outfits: black ties over blue shirts,
tight leather pants.
THE MUSIC, which lasted about as long as the first
band, was very fast, reasonably high energy, and quite
entertaining after all. Rockee Re Marx's shrill voice
might be hard to take for extended periods of time, but she
did just fine Friday night. The band played both sides of
their rather dubious single, "Don't Push Me" b/w
"Degenerator," and took off when they puta Gene Pitney
song through their frenetic formula.
As the crowd, which had grown to perhaps 300 people,
rushed up to greet Sonic's Rendezvous Band, it was clear
who the stars of the show were. The difference between
this band and the two preceding ones was immediately
obvious-these guys have charisma. With members
drawn from the MC-5, the Stooges, and the Rationals, and
several years' experience playing as Sonic's Rendezvous
Band, they have every reason to be a great performing
Fred "Sonic" Smith and Scott Morgan are both terrific
rock'n'roll singers; drummer Scott Asheton isn't called
"Rock Action" for nothing; Gary Rasmussen's bass is
lyrical yet bedrock-solid; Fred's guitar playing is so good
I sometimes find myself getting hypnotized by it:
THERE IS A primeval, earth-shaking quality to this
music. I can't quite pinpoint what I like best about it;
maybe, like the charm of a bowl of Haagen Daz carob-
flavored ice cream, its beauty can't be easily defined. I
guess all that's important is that it's great for dancing.
The band was noticeably tighter than they were at Patti
Smith's poetry readings last October. This time, Patti
made what has become an almost obligatory appearance,
sitting quietly in front at first, and dancing wildly to the
side later. Actually, I shouldn't sound so cynical; I think
it's kind of neat that every Sonic's Rendezvous Band show
means a chance to dance with Patti Smith.
Speaking of dancing, I was surprised that more people
weren't. As a group of us danced by the right bank of
speaker I gazed out the corner of my eye to see most folks
standing motionless. What a shame, I thought.
The band plays pretty much the same songs at each gig,
which is all right, I suppose, since they get better each
time they play them. The highlights were the same as
always: "Sweet Nuthin'," "So Sincere," "Sweet Little
Sixteen," and "City Slang" (Fred thanked everyone who
bought the "City Slang" single).
As Fred tore into the guitar solo that ends "City Slang,"
Patti walked right to the front of the stage, bringing a
throng of fellow admirers with her. Fred knelt down on the
floor, pressing his body close to Patti's, while continuing
to play the best solo of the night. They bent closer to each
other, as if in some form of holy communion, and then the
song ended. Patti turned around. Someone said, "Well?"
and she responded: "These guys are great!"

"We haven't the foggiest idea what'll
happen," said Barry O'Neill, one of th'e
four musicians performing in a
"Ceilidh," a musical party, at the Ark
this weekend.
A Ceilidh (a Gaillic word pronounced
kay-lee) is a folk music tradition as old
as the music itself, wherein a group of
nlusicians gather at one time and ex-
change songs and stories.
For the performers, this is a rare op-
portunity to be relieved of the conven-
tional concert format, and a chance to
compare notes with others. And for the
audience, a Ceilidh is an equally
welcome change, as they are the
benefactors of the inevitable magic that
occurs when a group of folk singers
spontaneously play together.
BARRY O'NEILL plays the concer-
tina tocomplement his large repertoire
of light-hearted folk songs, and is joined
in the Ceildh with Ark veteran Michael
Cooney. Known as a "one-man folk
festival," Cooney and his many in-.
struments lend a nice touch of diversity
to thefestivities, which continue
through tonight. Joe ickerson, a 43-
year-old folklorist who heads the Folk
Music Division of the Library of
Congress, adds a collection of in-
triguing songs, each exactly suited to
the prevailing mood, as well as
providing interesting insights into the
obscure histories behind others' songs.
Completing the group of players is
Irence Saletan, who sings beautiful folk
tunes from the past accompanied by
her autoharp.
Though Friday's Ceilidh was
unorganized, unpolished, and, in some
measure, unprofessional, it was the un-.
predictability and spontanaeity that
made it so much fun: None of the per-
formers knew exactly what songs they.
would be singing, nor did they know in
what order they would be playing.
"IT'S A TIME when we don't come to
entertain as such," said Michael
Cooney, who has been coming to the
Ark's Ceilidhs for the past nine years.
"We. come because we like each other.
When one sings a song which triggers
something in the others, they sing it.'
The audience at the Ark on Friday
night took the occasional confusion in
stride, accepting blunders on the lyrics
and hesitations as refreshing changes
of pace. The Ceilidh went on until past
one, as the musicians were very com-
fortable with the mood. When Cooney
noticed that nearly half of the audience
had filtered out between the second and
third sets, he sighed "that is to be ex-
pected," and remembered "the good
old days" when the players would
literally be picking and singing until
THE MUSIC varied from humorous
cowboy songs to emotional work and
love songs, and the performers chose

uaily rnoto by PAM MARKS
Barry O'Neill .and Michael Cooney joining in the fun during one of the Ceilidhs
this weekend at the Ark. Joe Hickerson and Irene Saletan round out the group,
which will be appearing at 9:00 this evening.

from their repertoire songs that
followed from one another and fit the
general mood of the evening. Some of
the highlights Were Irene Saleton's ver-
sion of Woody Guthrie's "Ramblin
'Round Your City," Joe Hickerson's
hilarious "I'm an Old Cowpuncher,"
Cooney's equally clever rendition of
"The Pied Piper," and the range of
O'Neill's curious stories and bagpipe
As is typical of performances at the
Ark, the audience joined in on many of
the choruses, often without instruction
from the musicians. The informal,
living room atmosphere broke down the
barrier between performer and spec-
tator, and invited participation by all.
For the students who found them-
selves mired halfway between winter

and spring breaks, and, indeed, for
everyone else who turned out to join in
the fun, the Ceilidh was just as the ad-
vertising posters claimed: "A perfect
way to spend a cold, January evening."
An Afernroon
Of Op era

JAN. 31- FEB3

Fred "Sonic"Smith
THE WORDS WERE very hard to pick up, so I can't
really say what the songs were about. One thing I did cat-
ch-"social fashions are just a distraction"-made me
think of the attire of my concert-mates. It's very hard for
wealthy college students to look truly down-and-out, but
most folks tried hard. Call it "prep-punk," or
whatever-many achieved it by wearing expensive leather
jackets, loose ties over t-shirts with pictures of "real punk
rockers" like the Uamones, a couple of well-placed New
Wave buttons, and freshly uncombed hair.
As Cult Heroes' 35-minute set continued, I began to have
difficulty telling one song from another. Only when the
tempo slowed or quickened did I realize a new song had
begun. These guys have some potential; let's hope they
utilize it.

the Collaborative
art & cGraft
j classes
Classes and workshops including:
U-M Artists & Craftsmen Guild
2nd Floor, Michigan Union








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