THE MICHIGAN [DAILY
Tuesday, February 9, 1971 *
Tinfoil oblong things swing from a string and reflect differ-
ent colors. Brightness. Oil mixed with water and projected on the
sheet screen on the main wall-kaleidoscopic. Fluid. Breaking
into new shapes, bursting 'into new creations. Pictures projected
on the wall. The wall is caked with squares of pictures. The pictures
are sunk into the wall. The wall looks eatern, decayed with colors.
The people whimsydance. They take big skips, they hold onto
each other's waists and dance in a long coiled line. Guthard
gyrations. Spread-eagle frolic dancing. Sweeping slow motion
dancing. Arresting dancers, weaving in and out. Colors red-white-
blue-dancing. The walls, the floor are dancing with the dancers
and weaving with the music.
th E i
By LUKE BALDWIN
After hosting overflow crowds
for the last two weeks, Friday
and Saturday nights the Ark was
filled with old time music and the
subtley vibrant and unassuming
presence of John Cohen of the
New Lost City Ramblers
Many people from this area
may remember the Ramblers
playing at Canterbury House,
when the lines wound down to the
shoe repair, and the folk boom
Things have changed since
then. The popularity of folk
music has subsided, or at least
changed in character, and for
the Ramblers, long road trips and
one night stands are a thing of
But Cohen is much mere than
a performer. He is a component
of his art, a scholar of folklore.
Though Cohen is in one uense an
innovator, capable of playing a
banjo lick with a dozen different
accents, he prefers to be ju ,t one
of the people singing. He has a
great sense of historicity, and a
respect for the traditions and life
styles of the people from whom
he has collected his songs.
Combining his interests in filn
and music, Cohen began the eve-
ning Friday by showing a movie
he made in the mountains of
Kenticky. The film served as an
expression of his attitudes to-
ward his work, reflecting both
the music and the culture of the
people who brave the drudgery of
Appalachia by picking banjo, or
playing fiddle tunes they have
picked up over the years.
After establishingrhis format
through the photographic me-
dium, Cohen shifted the ele-
ments. The music was essential-
ly the same, but the earth be-
came the waxed, hardwood floors
of a coffee house, and the cool-
ness of the film was exchanged
for warm, direct contact with a
small group of people.
When Cohen sang, one was not
drawn into a dazing stupor, or
seduced by the sirenic sound of
a sweet baby folk hero. Instead,
one heard a very average, some-
what nasal voice, sometimes
straining, but nearly always con-
sistent with the sense of the song.
Though all of the songs bore
some similarity, the music cov-
ered a wide range. "Shady
Grove" was one of the first num-
bers. It was probably not imme-
diately familiar to everyone, but
the audience soon joined in tiie
singing. Cohen also worked nls
way through several very well
known songs such as "Railroad
Bill" and "Worried Man Blues."
But the songs I enjoyed most
were the ones Cohen collected
himself. Cohen beamed as he de-
scribed one old man: "He lived
in a shack up in the mountains
. . . just a small place with a
wood stove. And he was wearing
a coat just like they wear al tie
Ivy League colleges. You know,
a nice heavy brown tweed. But it
was all worn and had patches all
over. He even had tobacco stains
on his chin. It was really unbe-
lievable. He was just too much
of what he was 'supposed to be.'
But that's the way he was. And
he didn't care. He was just try-
ing to survive."
In the Saturday afternoon
workshop, Cohen spent most of
the time picking banjo (and a
little guitar) with those who
brought their instruments.
By the time the afternoon
picking session was over, Cohen
was tired, and there wasn't much
time left to talk. I would have
interviewed him, otherwise. Still,
we had time to talk (bout a
couple of things.
One of those topics related to
more "popular forms of nusic.
Cohen had made the comment, "I
like the new music, but I love the
old music," Friday night. I was
also interested in an article he
published in SING OUT! about
Nashville, and the country music
The magazine article (Cohen,
to my mind, is Sing Out's most
articulate writer) seemed to re-
flect a tone of resentment to-
ward the commercialism of the
country music scene. Though
neither of us remembered enough
specifics of the article to deal
with it directly, we did at least
talk around the topic.
Cohen alluded to one scene in
his second film (shown at the end
of the evening) which showed an
old man singing his blues away at
the local bar. The juke box comes
on, and his voice is muddled by
the sound of a Merle Haggard
record: "You see the juke box
seems to take the song away
from the man. But after a whil-,
the two songs seem to comple-
ment each other in some strvnge
Indeed, Cohen doesn't resent
the new music; he just holds a
great love for the old. As he sat
on the stairs playing the rock hit
"The Cuckoo" (an old traditional
song), Cohen said "If there is
anything I would really like to
say, it would be that the current
revival in folk music relates very
much. to rock. The direction of
the music is toward the people.
At least I think it's headed that
way. If it's not, we might as well
4 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 9
RACK H AM
LAST TIMES TONITE
"Oowl and Pussycat"
7:15 & 9:00
John Marley &Ray Milland
~ ~'6 ( IN COLOR A PARAMOUNT PICTURE
603 E. Liberty
By MARCIA ZOSLAW
The Retinal Circus took over
the Union Ballroom Sunday
night, and brought a kind- of
multi-media extravaganza that
Ann Arbor has fever seen the
It was movies. From on alle-
gorical stories of pigs to the
moredown to earth 'Dracula'
and then on the the more
satirical "Why man creates."
Lights flashed on and off al-
ternating the media of the film
and the circus enters. Not a
normal circus in the Toby Ty-
ler frame of reference but a
circus of the mind. And the
mind was already beginning to
At State & Liberty Sts
OL ..WI~fRI .. 88SPuJ, r-
-N.Y. Film Critics
OPEN 1 P.M.
SHOWS: 1:20, 3:10, 6 P.M.,
7 P.M., 9 P.M.
go as a result of the several
media already presented.
People danced with not-de-
feaning bands playing s o m e -
where in the not too distant ex-
tremity. And a dog barked . . .
yip, yippp ... bringing an un-
expected media to tha fore and
The Circus did what it in-
tended to do ... at least super-
ficially. It brought people to-
gether. A crowd of about 25 had
swelled to over 250, and they all
watched, and danced and en-
The movies that are shown on the wall run the gamut from
pigs to "Dracula." The pigs on the screen yawn. I yawn. The
farmer in the movies strokes the hairy pigs with his wrinkled hand.
Pigging it: sticking their snouts in the food, grunting obnoxiously,
greedily, their dialated snouts sometimes look like human mouths
pursed for a kiss. O.K. pigs, a mirror image? Instead" of clowns,
we're entertained with this new caricature.
Another movie "Why Man Creates." Looks like this audience
isn't going to participate as I'd feared, just listen and watch in-
stead. Easy does it for a Sunday night. My favorite part of the
movie is when a man opens up a boring lady's head as one would
take the lid off a carton and shouts, "Hello down there."
Wednesday & Thursday-February 10th & 11th
Department of Speech Student Laboratory Theatre
THE TWO EXECUTIONERS
by FERNANDO ARRABAL
TIE WAX MUSEUM
by JOHN HAWKES
Promptly at 4:10 P.M. or earlier if theatre is filled
ARENA THEATRE-Frieze Building
Litter doesn't throw
itself away; litter
doesn't just happen.
People cause it-and
that denim look has come a long
way for Miss J. . .it's showing
up now in cotton/polyester knit
separates where every tine leads
to action. In a tittle jacket,
a matching pant and a print shirt
with denimy background to pair
with solid pants. SiZes 5-13.
A. Zipped jacket, $12. Jeans, $15.
B. Shirt in blue/white. S-M-L, $9.
Solid pull-on pant, $10.
: Ul ~
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
only people can prevent:
it "People" means you.
Keep America Beautiful.
jor the public good
the ann arbor film cooperative
+,^r~rikf riv 1
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