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February 07, 1971 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-02-07

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, February 7, '

1971'

THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday. February 7. 1971

., .,

music
Kiowning with Al Kooper

Poorsid: Plays
of a sick society

'" Dial 5-6290

1

By R. SUSAN BERSTEIN
Al Kooper is a Komplete
down.
The versatile former lead sing-
r with Blood, Sweat and Tears,
inmber of the Blues Project
nd backup for Dylan came to
[ill Auditorium last night to
lectrify a raucous crowd.
Kooper is equally adept at
he piano, the organ and the
uitar, which is probably why
e kept switching around a 11
ight. The program was neat-
' divided into segments, or so
Cooper told us. For example
here was the Kooper segment,
ollowed by the Crosby, Stills,
lash and Young Memorial, The
'ountry and Western Travesty,
nd the Blood, Sweat and Tears
seasonable-facsimile Attempt.
Some of Kooper's songs were
lot exceptionally distinguished,
ome of his funny stories in be-
ween the songs weren't, b u t
rhen Kooper had done his stuff,
he audience seemed to forget
he shortcomings, which, indeed
id not mar his performance.
A particularly newsworthy
portion of the program w a s
dedicated to the Apollo moon-
hot" for all the space freaks
resent. Just like a news bul-
etin on television, this interlude
f excitement interrupted a
ong, for a higher purpose, of
ourse. As Kooper ground his
rgan, the spotlight passed over
im, hitting the organ pipes
vhich bedeck the stage, the real
rgan pipes. And I couldn't help
binking that those pipes look-
4 distorted, wounded, hurt.
Synthetic effects on the order
f 2001 flew through Hill and
rith each ear-piercing screech,
hose organ pipes seemed far-
ther gone.
A more memorable though less
ignificant between song-story
>receded "The First Time
Around," with Kooper explain-
ng how easy it is to write songs
hat would get censored were
he censors aware of their exist-
nee. As an example, consider
The First Time Around." What
todgy censor would suspect?
3ut, with Kooper's extensive
reliminary briefings, the aud-
ence certainly did.
Moving along on his inter-de-
artmental tour, Kooper stopped
> make fun of country music
rith "I bought you the shoe

you're walking away in," a re-
markable enough feat in itself
(that walking away in a shoe)
without a funny song to explain
it. Another blissful backwoods
romance, this song purports to
tell us, is shot on its way up, and
the nasty lass had the heartless-
ness to walk away in his gift
shoe.
Another problem in Kooper's
love life is New York City. So
impressed by the largish town
is he, that he titled the title song
of his new album "New York
City." This song is amazing, just
like what it represents. It starts
our fairly rationally, with just a
tinge= of bitterness: "New York
City, you're just like a;woman/
cold-hearted bitch,/it ought to be
your name,/you ain't never loved
nobody/yet still I am drawn to
you/like a moth to flame." But
then Kooper loses his forced cool
and breaks into animated reac-

tion. He wails and screams and
even sings, but his temperamen-
tal outburst apparently can't
alter reality; and so he eases
back, the music softens, he
strokes the piano ever so much
more smoothly and sadly.
He explains his obvious real-
ization. "And I guess it's silly
to think you'll ever change," is
his feedback to the monstrous
and awesome entity.
"What a funky audience you
are," Kooper kommented as the
time grew apparently closer for
his phase-out. He explained be-
fore the last set that the gath-
ering he had played for on the
previous night had needed to be
perked up, leading him to play
a "song I haven't played for a
long, long time," just to pro-
voke some reaction. But Kooper
didn't have to try to provoke
anything. People felt what w a s
happening and they reacted.

Before Kooper had even begun
the set, people were clapping
and stomping, and he had to re-
mind us, "I'll set the tempo."
Kooper let loose on the piano
and switched to the organ, and
his backup men performed ably
and well too. In fact, his drum-
mer beat out a charmer that ri-
vals the Cream's Toad. But it
didn't stop there.
Amid the electrifying attempt
to turn on the crowd, the music
rose and rose again, with inten-
sity its focal point.
Yet there he was, uniting the
noisily attentive crowd with the
piercing intensity, and then it
cracked and was over.
No more encores, no more mu-
sic. Kooper wistfully tossed upon
the floor a cymbal, and it was
gone. The mood was shattered
with the clash.
And so it ended, not with a
bang but a cymbal's clash.

By MARCIA ABRAMSON
The Poor Sid Theatre h a s
come, surprisingly enough, from
Detroit with another strong and
innovative performance in the
continuing Ann Arbor Drama
Festival at Canterbury House.
Two short plays, "A Day in
the Life of MayyWeed" a n d
"Mara," both by Richard Reetz
attempt to examine both the
sicknesses of our society and the
new and growing potential of
the drama to reveal them.
"What Poor Sid is attempting
to do is make man aware of
himself in this moment," t h e
company explains. "Theatre
should be responsive. It should
evoke a passion, a recollection,
a sense that every day life has
depleted. The audience should
be involved: Judging, relating,
questioning."
Poor Sid does not always suc-
ceed in these goals, but they
do often enough for them to
have been invited to the 10th
American Festival in Britain
this summer.
What they succeed in best is
working with the forms of the
drama. "May Weed" combines
live music (piano and drums),
home-made film and even a
musical comedy number which
Busby Berkeley could be proud
of. The "sex and sand" epic
film was just that, with a live
sound track and some very fun-
ny acting by Henry Roberts and
Gail Mazura.
"May Weed" is a satire of
plastic America and its tele-
vision mentality. May Need is a
totally selfish person who
dreams of becoming Vivian Van
Dusen and living the grand mid-
dle class American life w i t h
swimming pools, servants a n d
trips to Tibet.
She tries to dramatize every-
thing in her life, but she is
stuck with a mundane little
husband who can't play along
very well and who finally breaks
under the strain as she tries to
train him to win his way to for-
tune via the quiz shows.
Perhaps the best part of the
play was May Weed's visit to
her friend Mary Tyler Moore
and her son Richie (Rob is
away on "business.") Paul Kop-
onen and Mazura were just per-
fect as the pretentious mother
At State & Liberty Sts,
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and the spoiled son who punc-
tures his mother's act whenever
he can.
May Weed senses that she may
be the butt of a terrible joke,
but she goes on, determined to
make life a musical comedy,
which it actually becomes in the
finale. The problem with the
theme of May Weed is that it is
not at all new. The parody quiz
show, "The Bird Call Game," is
not a success like the Firesign
Theatre's "Beat the Reaper."
At times, the play seemed to be
dealing with the superficial man-
ifestations of the problem rather
than with its deeper implica-
tions.
"Mara" is a shorter and deeper
play about seven women, use-
less because they are no longer
young and attractive. Several of
its characters achieved a real in-
tensity in their portrayals of
these women.
Here the idea is also not new,
but it was given form in an origi-
nal and moving way. The seven
women are dead until animated
by a touch of the man, the all-
red Rouge Frolic, a picture of a
sexist society.
The faded women went into
the audience, asking, begging,
"You'd give sex for love,
wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?"
"If I were the ugly I'd have to
give sex for love. But I'm not
ugly. Am I? AM I?" And the
audience, led on by the man, is
encouraged to say yes to the des-
peration of the woman, who
breaks and dies, saying, "I don't
want anything if I can't have
love."
Mazura again and Theresa
Kowall stood out in "Mara."
Kowall played the final woman,
an old woman. The woman's
hoarded treasures of her past are
raided by the other six, symbolic
of the way in which women hate
and fight each other for posses-
sion-of man and love, the trin-
kets of a woman's past. The fight
dissolves. into a stark and mad-
dening chorus line.
The Uni

tos

a

i

Fill in ticket information: place, price, day, time for
Programs t, It, and Ill
Series Tickets $3 (103 Mahon Hall, Adrian College,
Adrian 49221) Feb. 15, 17 & 10-8 p.m.
Dawson Aud. 50 min. South and West on
State St. Highways 12 i 52

-Daily-Tom Gottlieb

Characterizations of uniformity

By JOE PEHRSON
The first concert of the 1971
Contemporary Directions Series
might be distinguished only by
its uniformity. Attempts at in-
novatlon turned to a mediocrity
in their exaggeration.
The first piece on the pro-
gram, Background Music, by
Richard Felciano was a piece of
theatrics rather than a theatri-
cal pieee of music. In this work,
Felciano has a harpist visually
portraying the characteristics of
the instrument. The antics, how-
ever, often seemed overdone,
and the tape was much too con-
cerned with display. Felciano
appears to place emphasis on a
series of impressionable events
rather than creating events, vis-
ual or musical, which are in-
teresting enough in their own
right to hold the audience's at-
tention.:
Improvisations for Solo Con-
trabass by Eugene Kurtz, a
member of the Music School
faculty, is a coherent work, and
one of the few I have seen which
has successfully employed the
technique of the "finger snap"
with no artificiality.
This elenient, and the tech-
nique of rapping one's hand
against the instrument to pro-
duce a percussive so u n d are
particular in their nature and
usually cliche. The language
Kurtz uses in this piece seems
relatively thoughtful, however,
in the use of these elements
and there is no real discrepancy
between these single events and
the rest of the musical fabric.
Kurtz is more successful in
sections of sul ponticello and in
his use of the predominant
overtoneharmonies of this in-
strument. There is one section
which is really astonishing in
the ethereal quality of these
sounds, produced on the lowest
(E) string of the instrument.

The piece by George Roch-
berg, Tableaux, must be consid-
ered a complement, and a rather
poor one at that, of Books III
and IV of the Madrigals by
George Crumb.
Rochberg seems to be borrow-
ing his style from Crumb, with-
out really defining the essential
characteristics.
The Crumb piece has a clear
quality, the elements which are
particular to his style (light
percussive effects added as em-
phasis, vocal reiteration of syl-
labic sounds) always receiving
enough individual attention.
Rochberg seems to have set-
tled on this form but provides a
somewhat filled-in effect, hav-
ing no real regard for the out-
line, the perimeter of the lan-
guage which Crumb articulates
so successfully.
Elizabeth Suderburg should
receive some mention for a per-
ceptive vocal performance. Un-
fortunately, the Rochberg piece
has atconsiderable soprano bra-
vura that has no place in this
style. Perhaps Rochberg is more
successful in the third section
where the addition of brass ele-
I

ments, not in astonishing con-
ceptional function, at least pro-
vide elements which are original.
The Crumb piece was the
most successful work on the
program and seems to contain a
more compressed energy, re-
flected in rhythmic elements
and coloristic changes, than
Rochberg could imagine.
Crumb uses a sparing orches-
tration, his attention is always
on the magnitude of the indi-
vidual. Of interest is the rela-
tionship between the unusual
percussive e 1 e m e n t s (wind
chimes, frequent use of tubular
bells) and the pitch character-
istics of his style.
While it is true that a light
instrument such as the wind
chime is primarily an articula-
tory device, providing overtone
additions to the fundamental
pitches, Crumb's involvement
with instruments of this nature
seems more immediate.
The wind chime, when heard
alone, appears to have certain

pitch relationships which are
reflected in the pitch choice used
by the composer for other in-
struments. Perhaps this is an
illusion, fostered by a precon-
ception of Crumb's instrumental
style carried over in the percep-
tion of this instrument: I would
like to imagine Crumb's fascina-
tion with these exotic instru-
ments creating a music which is
in essence an extension of one
of these instruments. This is the
effect.
The final piece on the pro-
gram, Session 4 by William Bol-
com, is a discouragingly eclectic
work. Quotations may occasion-
ally be effective, particularly if
they are continuous and inte-
grated in the piece (the baroque
variations by Lucas Foss are
such an example). The quoted
sections of Bolcom's piece are
not particularly amusing and, of
more importance, sound poorly.

_. _
3
t

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