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September 16, 1973 - Image 3

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1973-09-16

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inside:

editors:
martin porter
tony schwartz

Sunday

mcigczrne

more blue's festival-page 4
a freshnan's impressions-page 5
the news in review-page 5
books-page 8

Number 9 Page Three

Sunday, September 16, 1973



spectac%

both

on

and

Off

the

stage

It is a few months after the first
Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival. A
freelance writer is desperately trying
to ply some worthwhile quote out of
the Rainbowmeister himself, John
Sinclair.
Sinclair's blue denim work shirt
bulges at the waist. A corolla sized
joint juts from between his fingers.
He leans back in his chair and says,
"You know I am really getting into
business."
But as the figures had rolled in they
revealed that Sinclair's Rainbow Mul-
ti Media was far from making a pro-
fit. They had lost four grand on the
festival.
"We might have blown it this time
but there is always next year," Sin-
clair adds with the half hearted en-
thusiasm of a last place baseball team
manager.
The months rolled around quickly,
the second Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz
fest promised to be bigger and better
than last years.
Tickets had sold well. It is to be
broadcast on national radio. Ray
Charles is sure to pack them in. Be
sides Jerry Wexler's Atlantic double-
record package from last year's con-
cert had sold over 70,000 copies.
On the eve of the Second Blues and
Jazz festival all was well. Besides if
worst came to worst there would al-
ways be next year.
* *3F *
Friday afternoon, a few hours be-
fore the festival was scheduled to be-
gin.
First day of classes, a brilliant sun
had drawn bronze skinned sunwor-
shippers, frisbee hotdogs, and univer-
sity freshman to the diag.
On the steps of the grad library,
Jerry DeGrieck, HRP city-councilper-
son, former SGC honcho in the days
of political activism, appeals to the
throngs wht remain oblivious.
The contrasts are inescapable.
In the days of Sinclair's White
Panthers, the mix of music and poli-
tics seemed possible: a rock and roll
revolution replete with electric gui-
tars letting loose a torrent of ammo
on the straight world.
On this day, next to no one is in-
terested.
"There's a rally here in five min-
utes if any of you care," DeGrieck
pleaded.
"Or do you just want to go to
school and get into a profession?"
Few turned their heads, and when
one finally does his answer is curt,
"It w o u ld certainly help," someone
yells.
* *d *
Shakin' Jake Wood floats in from

Delta Woman: Houston's Grand Lady of the blies, Vic-
toria Spivey.

One String Sam nickel and dimin' it . . ."If there's one thing I
ove more than my music it's my women."

Saginaw early Friday morning: tank-
ed, reeking, decked out in a brown
serge suit, brown and white bucks,
sporting a plastic flower on his lapel
and eight garish, oversized rings
weighing down his hands.
He talks a blue streak as he saun-
ters down State Street:
"I'm gonna turn these hippies on,"
he explains, "ain't not nothing to
worry about, the Shaker's here. I love
the hippies."
Slung over his shoulder, Jake has
a cloth-cased guitar which he takes
out to display. Pinned to cracked and

chipped wood are fading snapshots of
the man himself shakin'.
And sure enough Saturday after-
noon Jake is up on stage as part of
the Detroit blues smorgasborg. He
isn't the musical hit of the festival,
but he doesn't seem to mind much.
Late Saturday afternoon Jake is
spotted with a pretty stringy-haired
young thing -- 14 at the outset -
clinging to his arm.
Jake grins, "I got me a woman to-
night."
Curiously, the Primo showbar (for-
merly Mackinac Jack's and one of
Ann Arbor's few boogie houses), is,
featuring a blues band on Saturday
night. The place is crowded, but seems
a bit subdued. Some seem embar-
rassed to be there.
When the crowd doesn't rise out of
its stupor after the first three songs,

the lead singer steps up to -the micro-
phone.
"I guess I know why you're not get-
ting it on," he deadpans, "cause if
.you knew anything about music, you'd
be out at the Blues Festival."
* * *
"Get the fuck out of the way,"
yells a yellow haired member of the
Drug Help army. "We have work to
do."
An adolescent male body is carried
through a fog of smoke and the waves
of sound that float across the crowded
field. The youth's eyes are rolled back
into his head. His skin has taken on
a deathlike pallor.
"Take his blood pressure."
The body is quickly surrounded by
a gang of ten. Three doctors are try-
ing to find out what is wrong. They
work quickly. An ambulance is called.
The crowd begins to boogie, and a
realization that the only tragedy at
the festival has just been brought in
settles into the heads of the people
surrounding the medical tent.

"This year was so much easier than
last . . . a lot less quaaludes, no bad
acid, people seem to be getting things
together," one volunteer reflects.
A siren disrupts a rocking harmon-
ica solo, and as if the piercing noise
is an electrode needle driven into the
unconscious boys' brain, he sits up.
He stares atthe apparatus attached
to his body. He is confused by the
human forms surrounding his stretch-
er.
"What the fuck do you think you
are doing?" he cries.
In five -minutes he is back among
the crowd dancing to the sounds of
Luther Allison.
A greyhound bus pulls up back-
stage. The crowd of press people, per-
formers, workers and hangers-on
watch as it parks next to a row of
trailers.
"That's the man himself . . . Ray
Charles," someone says to himself.
The big show of the festival had
just arrived. Ray Charles is the draw-

ing card. For a great many people in
the crowd, he is the only reason they
are there. He is the star of the show,
and it is sort of disappointing to see
him dressed so plainly as he leaves
the bus and enters a throng of press,
and fans.
A reporter tries desperately to push
his way in, but instead he is presed
against the wall next to a tall lean
black man who is watching the scene
with delight.
'What a joke," he says to the writ-
er. "They pay ten grand to get one
musician while they could get a hun-
dred for that much."
"Well he's Ray Charles you know,"
the reporter says.
"It's just a plain waste of money.
There are plenty of good musicians
who would play a festival like this
for chicken feed." the man says.
"But the Fetival wouldn't have
drawn as many people if it wasn't
for him," the reporter explains.
"Yeah you are right," the black
man admits, "you white folks still
don't know anything about the blues."

Photos
by
Ken Fink
Steve Kagan

Karen

Kasmauski

The Magazine...
Beginning today, the inside pages of the
Sunday Daily will be devoted to longer
features, forums on topics ranging from
prison reform to alternative kinds of edu-
cation, profiles of campus notables, book
reviews, guest columns, and a week-in-
review. We'll be experimenting and in-
novating in an attempt to write about
issues and people in the kind of depth daily
deadlines often prohibit. Our goal is to

IL
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