The Michigan Daily--Sunday, sep em er eit --rager-
English balladeers triumph at Ark
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By WENDY GOODMAN
and MIKE TAYLOR
Traditions flourish - even in the
everchanging, inconstant Ann Arbor.
The Ark coffee house on Hill Street, just
entering its thirteenth year as a haven
for local folk music buffs, is such a tra-
dition, as are John Roberts and Tony
Barrand, two proponents of old English
folk culture who have visited Ann Arbor
twice a year for the past seven years.
Friday night brought his fascinating
pair of transplanted Britishers to the
Ark once again.
Although the stage appeared clut-
tered with instruments, many songs
were sung unaccompanied, in the tra-
ditional pub fashion. "Usually you'd
have a pint in your hand," explained
Barrand. Thus the focus was often on
Barrand and Roberts' strong, harmoni-
ous voices. Without instrumentation,
the words took on a truly stirring char-
From time to time, however, they
turned to a variety of instruments to
achieve a more colorful effect. To tunes
ranging from "The Legend of the Danc-
ing Bear," and "Foggy Dew," to an ob-
scure version of "Waltzing Matilda,"
the pair played accordion, concertina,
banjo, guitar, mandolin, bones, drum,
and an occasional set of spoons. "The
song dictates the kind of instruments
we use," stated Roberts.
Most of the songs Barrand and Rob-
erts perform originated in the seven-
teenth century and were updated and
changed as time passed, marking these
tunes as true folk songs. The first ones
collected were written down by educa-
tedomen and "little old ladies on bi-
cycles." "Whenever we get interested
in a certain theme or area we research
it to find out as' much about it as we
can," remarked Barrand. Roberts
claimed to have a folk library rivaling
that of the University of Michigan.
As the songs were passed on, their
melodies were often altered. In addi-
tion, varying styles of instrumentation
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John Roberts and Tony Barrand relax before their Saturday per-
formance at the Ark. The English music hall balladeers appeaed
Friday and Saturday nights.
became part of the songs themselves.
Barrand and Roberts are part of this
folk process themselves. Reflecting
upon this, Roberts noted, "Many of the
songs we do we learned from artists
who sing them unaccompanied: We
added the instrumentation ourselves."
Through their investigation into old
English folk music the pair have un-
covered a wealth of material that is not
music at all. Barrand the storyteller is
as captivating as Barrand the singer.
For example, during "The Story of Sam
Small," the hero of the battle of Water-
loo, Barrand portrayed characters
ranging from privates to the Duke of
Wellington, with each taking on a
unique but believable personality.
The two of them, who first met doing
graduate work at Cornell, teach psy-
chology of art in Vermont when not
traveling with their music. As "profes-
sional Englishmen," Roberts, and Bar-
rand have tried to maintain their native
dialects, even though both are now U.S.
All the songs and stories the two per
form are from cultures whose language
Barrand and Roberts are comfortable
and familiar with. "I'd never do a Scot-.
tish song," Barrand emphasized. "I
just don't know enough about their lan-
guage. If you don't know the language
and the people, you can't portray their
songs with any meaning."
Before each song, Barrand and Rob-
erts taught the audience the chorus.
Traditionally, according to Barrand,
"This allowed the singer to drink bet-
ween verses." Like most crowds at the
Ark, this was a most willing one; at
times th- room filled with soaring,
Before concluding the first set, Bar-
rand calmly announced, "during the
second set, please ignore the TV cam-
eraman walking around stepping on
your hands and filming." The film crew
from Channel 2 News wanted everyone
to act naturally when they added
thousands of watts of light to the nor-
mally dim rooms. The thought of out-of-
town publicity and perhaps some reve-
nue for the financially distraught Ark
boosted the audience's enthusiasm ad-
Roberts and Barrand have made a
number of albums, including one soon
to be released on the Folkways Legacy
label. Each record has its own thematic
focus due to the pair's changes of inter-
est and knowledge.
Barrand's clog dancing, wiich open-
ed the third set, was one highlight of the
evening. Another highlight was the sur-
prise appearance, shortly after mid-
night, of the Highwoods String Band.
The band, on their way to a festival, had
time to do only a few numbers, but the
crowd loved them. Percy Danforth,
Ann Arbor's master of the bones, joined
them for a couple of tunes, making the
evening all the more special.
It was a warm, informative, and en-
tertaining way to spend a few hours, but
that's nothing out of the ordinary for the
Ark. As Barrand noted, "Linda and
David Siglin, operators of the Ark, un-
derstand two things: first, traditional
music, and second, entertainment.
They offer a little bit of everything
TOLEDO,-Ohio (AP) - The To-
ledo Museum of Art has published a
new "Guide to the Collections," in
honor of its 75th anniversary.
This 96-page book contains over 400
black and white and 38 color illustra-
tions of the paintings, sculpture,
furniture, glass and ceramics from
the museum's collection. The book is
arranged chronologically by culture.
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JBy-JOE IAUN4)S .which will.. be performed this week
We con help you get the best possible score.
To many aspiring actors,. the Univer-
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Frequently students cannot find roles in
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The Back Alley Players, 'originally
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Charles Gordone's Pulitzer-Prize-win-
ning work, No Place to Be Somebody,
Wed.2'Sun., Sept. 14-18 at the Arena
Theater. He acted in the 1976 University
production, and assisted,! as artist-in-
residence, in another mounting at the
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The play itself takes place in a West
Village bar, and concerns the lives of
Gabriel, an embittered actor, and his
friends, assorted pimps; prostitutes,
and habitues of the bar. The cast in-
cludes Jim. Martin, John McCants,
David Grier, Eva Gower, Dawn Coop-
er, Char Bailey, and others. Music is
provided by the Streetpeople Band.
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