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October 08, 1977 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-10-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Michigan Daily-

, Qctober 8, 1977-

Picker does

ii

By MIKE TAYLOR
A legend visited Ann Arbor Thurs-.
day night. Eighty-four-year-old Eliz-,
abeth Cotton, who wrote Freight
Train as a girl, and along with
Mississippi John Hurt and Rev. Gary
bavis invented and defined guitar
finger-picking many years ago, was.
back at the Ark coffee house, and she
was exquisite.
Opening the show was Mike Seeg-
er a singer of traditional songs,
multi - instrumentalist, and half-
brother of Pete Seeger. Unfortunate-
ly, it just didn't seem to be his night.
His set was pleasant and interesting,
but it lacked the spark that makes so
many other performances at the Ark
electric.
Seeger's material, which included
the banjo instrumental Leather

Breeches, a strictly American ver-
sion of Pretty Polly, and Bowling
Green, lacked variety. His banjo,
mandolin, jews harp, mouth pipes,
fiddle, and autoharp playing pro-
pelled the songs well enough, but
didn't seem very distinctive. In addi-
tion, Seeger's voice sounded ordin-
ary. In short, his show was nothing
special; for the Ark that's rather
unusual.
In a few weeks, a triple album of
folk songs for children Seeger record-
ed with his sister Peggy will be
released on Rounder Records. The
several selections he performed from
the album, including a Leadbelly
song about a "house of ill-repute that
by the clever removal of a couple of
verses my mother made into a nice
children's song", were his most suc-

up me
cessful efforts. .
"I'd like to remind you of the old
country tradition of bringing your
records around with you and selling
them. Perhaps you'd like to help
keep this tradition aliye", Seeger
joked shortly before the end of his
set. Before long, one of the Ark's
front rooms had taken on the appear-
ance of a record store, as a flood of
people tried to cram themselves in,
hoping to buy a Mike Seeger or
Elizabeth Cotton album.
Then, Elizabeth Cotton took the
stage. Right away, she was playing
an extraordinarily beautiful instru-
mental. Then she said, "We're going
to sing a song", and we did. She said
I'm So Glad Jesus Is In Me is her
favorite song, and it wasn't hard to
see why it could be anybody's top
choice. Freight Train was next. She
didn't really have to sing this one;
the audience was doing a good
enough job on it.
.In her spirited, folksy voice, Cotton
was forever telling amusing stories
about her childhood. Her voice is so
musical, so rhythmic, and her tales
so well tied to her songs, that her
narrative seemed literally like a
thread on which the tunes were
strung.
"I'd go from door to door asking
people if they wanted someone to
work for them," Cotton recounted. "I
got one job for 75 cents a month. I
guess they decided they liked me so
they said, 'We gonna give you more
money', so I got $1.00 a month. I don't
mean four weeks. I mean a full
calendar month," she quipped.
Her first guitar cost $3.75, which

Ark

for her was several months of work.
She was so excited, she couldn't put it
down; before long, she had taught
herself how to play. When her
brother pointed out that she was
playing it upside down and back-
wards and tried to get her to learn it
over or at least change the strings so
it would sound better, she said she
liked it just the way it was; she still
plays it that way.
When Cotton joined a church, they
told her she couldn't play her
"worldly" songs,'so she learned the
spirituals that now make up much of
her repertoire.
The tunes she played on the banjo,
which she plays just like her guitar,
were highlights of the show. Tunes
like Old Georgie Buck were especial-
ly good.
Cotton and Seeger, both natives of
the area surrounding Washington,
D.C., do quite a bit of traveling
during the year. Cotton usually
makes it out West once a year, and
Seeger likes to tour the midwest once
a year with traditional folk artists.
"This year it's Libba," he smiled.
A true performer, Cotton saved the
best for last. Willie Allen's Song was
a funny, but tragic piece that
combined a story with a song to form
something extra special.
I Want To Be Ready To Walk In
Jerusalem, Just Like John, the
closing tune, set people up for a bad
case of uncontrollable humming. In
fact, I left the Ark trying to sing
Freight Train and hum I Want To Be
Ready at the same time. Elizabeth
Cotton did it better.

r

(U

(1

a mellow new talen
By MICHAE L BAADKE life tn the sng with a vnice that reT

B M
By MARK FRIEDLANDER

The Firesign Theatre's chief zanies, Proctor and Bergman will offer
an evening of oddball yoks on Friday, October 14 at the Michigan
Theatre.
o a

Late Show'

lo w-key

West
S-K 8 4 2
H-985
D-J9
C-Q 753
South
2D
2 S
4NT
7NT

North
S-A63
H-KQJ102
D-762
C-10 4
East
5-95
H-7643
D-1085
C-J 982
South
S-Q J 107
H-A
D-AKQ43
C-A K 6

There's not a whole lot one can say about The Late Show - currently and
belatedly playing at Briarwood - other than that it's a comfortable, sometimes
downright gentle film torelax into, no mean feat in these days of either frenzied
alienation or torpid goo juxtaposing our cinema fare.
This purple-hewed private eye film comprises the directorial debut of
screenwriter Robert Benton, (Bonnie and Clyde), who also penned the script. But
lest one think The Late Show is strictly a one-man creation, let me hasten to add
that it was produced by no less than Robert Altman, a fact which likely induced the
knee-jerk reaction of critical raves that accompanied the picture's release about
six months ago, and possibly also gave impulse to the subsequent mass audience
abstinence traditional with most Altman non-entertainments. But it isn't really
fair to besmirch The Late Show with Altman's rancid, human-zombie taint, for
Benton has actually invested a compassionate depth to his characters well above
and beyond any cadaverous influence his erstwhile golden-boy mentor may have
attempted to exert.
Benton's protagonist is aging detective Ira Wells, (Art Carney), a near-sixty
loner beset with a bleeding ulcer, a gimpy leg and an unstated but ever-increasing
desparation to hang on to the remnants of a profession he was once a master of.
Approached by a loonily eccentric female client (Lily Tomlin) ostensibly to
retrieve her stolen cat, the intrigued Wells accepts her case and of course soon
discovers the feline's plight is only a camouflage for far more malignant goings-
on, including sex, blackmail, robbery and multiple murder.
THE LATE SHOW'S PLOT is too labyrinthian for condensed summary (I
have always been beleagured anyhow with a distressing inability to competently
follow the unravelling of mysteries. The trouble with The Late Show is that while
Benton swathes his film in shadows, half-lit faces and night sounds, he rarely
generates any feeling of suspense, of terror lurking just around the corner.,Though
The Late Show is surprisingly professional for a novice director, it lacks altogether
the white-heat explosiveness of Murder, My Sweet, or the 3 a.m. terror of the
brilliant Kiss of Death. If the inhuman hand of Altman is anywhere to be seen in the
film, it is in its unrelenting lackadaisicalness. The Late Show's flow of events
proceeds logically enough, but its momentum - so essential to the crime genre -
is often nonexistent._
But where Benton fails as an excitement maker, he excels in characteri-
zations - especially in depicting the halting, gradual evolvement of two offbeat,
lonely people toward each other. Carney is wonderfully in the groove, enlarging a
standard would-weary detective prototype into an eitibitter'ed everyman, involv-
ing the audience painfully in his own very close mortality. At one point Ira forgoes
chasing a murderer on foot for fear of having a heart attack; later on when he
keels over iri a restaurant, his ulcer tearing his stomach apart, you realize that he
is less likely to end The Late Show strolling cynically of imto the night as ne is to oe
carried off in a wooden box. It lends a fervent immediacy to his efforts that is
sobering and touching.
I have always been less than fond of Lily Tomlin's indulgent obstreperous
brand of comedy, so it is all the more surprising that she plays her film role of
professional scatterbrain with such aplomb and restraint. The' temptation is
always to play a kook with such patronizing cuteness ("look at me being silly and
adorable, folks") that the intended humor gets neutralized, as witness Barbra
Streisand's simpering insufferability in What's Up Doc? It is to Tomlin's credit
that she blends herself to her weirdo's role with such sober and earnest gusto that
she achieves a comic endearment without a trace of accompanying phoniness.
Though Carney and Tomlin do well enough to carry The Late Show all by
themselves, they are bolstered by a superb collection of supporting perform-
ances - perhaps the only positive Altman trait present in the film. Best among the
cast are the neglected Eugene Roche (the quintessential Edgar Derby of Slaugh-
terhouse-5 but rarely seen otherwise) as an engaging head bad guy, Altman
regular John Considine as a knuckleheaded 70's version of Malese Falcon's
Wilmer, and Bill Macy (once of Oh! Calcutta!) as Ira's treacherous sometime-
friend.
One would wish these excellent people had been provided a little more
pulsating material to work with, but The Late Show must in fairness be judged on
two levels. As a private eye story, it's a flop; as a funny, low-key midnight love
story, it works just fine. Go.
.*
3* a...t ft

West.
pass ,
pass
pass
all pass

North
2H
3H
5D

East
.pass:
pass
pass

anytime the spade king is onside or any-
time diamonds break 3-2. These com-
bine to form an approximately 87%
chance of success. I can calculate the
precise odds if you wish."
"You've certainly bid very well,"
Frank Poole agreed. "So anytime the
spade king is in the West hand or the
diamonds break 3-2, South makes his
contract. Is that right, Hal?"
"Yes Frank, that is correct."
"And in the actual layout, both the
king and the diamonds are right, so
South will make his contract?"
"Yes, Frank. Need I explain the line
of play?"
"You're going to have trouble doing
that," Dave exclained; "because if I'm.
West, my opening lead is the kingof
spades! I'll bet you a ton of integrated
circuitry that even you can't make thir-
teen tricks then. North must win the
king and hopelessly block the heart
suit. South gets his four spade and five
diamond tricks, but only one heart and
must lose a club in the end."
The computer hummed furiously for
a few moments and then fell silent. A
green light flashed on signaling the ac-
tivating of the manual override circuit.
And the spaceship Discovery sped.
silently through space to its rondezvous
in Jupiter's moons.,

Although Top 40 radio doesn't have
the best reputation in the music world,
it is occasionally possible to hear some,
top-notch keyboard artists like Billy
Joel or Elton John. All Randy Edelman
lacks to be in this group is the airplay;
he definitely has the talent, and it's
evident on his latest LP, If Love Is Real.
(Arista AB 4139).
Edelman's best-known composition is
A Weekend in New England, the song
that Barry Manilow turned into a hit
earlier this year. Edelman's style is
similar to Manilow's, although his
material is more diverse and less senti-
mental. He's gotten away from the
overdone sweetness characterised by
composers like Paul Williams. The best
songs on If Love Is Real are the most,
unconvential, as the change has been a
good one for Edelman.r
The 1962 hit The Night Has A
Thousand Eyes is the only tune on the.
album that Edelman did not write, but
the updated arrangement gives the.
song its needed credibility. Back-up is
provided by a capable band featuring
Dean Parks on guitar and The Fair-
banks Boy's Choir with Dee Murray
and Nigel Olsson of Elton John's old
band.
An escapist space flight is the topic of
Looking Up .4t Mars,pan unitiempo tune
that sidetracks occasionally to cover.
old love and independence. Edelman's
tongue-in-cheek lyrics evoke a smile
when he sings, 4
"It's quiet and it's clear
no freeways lined with cars.
hey life is sure serene
when you're up on mars"
The song also has a mirthful electronic*
keyboard arrangement which accents,
the slightly bizzarre aspect of the lyric
line. Edelman has a masterful talent
for matching musical tone with lyrical
content, and the effect is consistently
pleasing.
Slippin' Away is another escapist
tune which showcases synthesizer and
background vocals,,a pleasant combin-
aion of the electric and the natural in
music. It's one hundred per cent
mellow music, although it's far from
dull. Edelman's enthusiastic vocals add

--.--- - --,.
ds me of both Harry Nilsson and Bill
Joel, but has a smooth characteristl
all its own. His voice seems to hray
strengthened some since Farewe
Fairbanks, a less impressive L
released two years ago,.
The remainder of the songs on If Lo
Is Real are concerned with romance
all are good, but the best is Can't It A
Be Love, a solid song that takes a hak
look at unnecessary tragedy and pl d
for an alternative. The lyrics chronil
instances of injustice, deception, an
heartbreak, and with surprising powe
Edelman makes his despair known.
If Love Is Real is an album tha
deserves to be heard. Unfortunately
Rancy Edelman is not well-knowI
although he's been recording fa
several years, and that needed airpla
may be hard to get. With some publicit
and a little radio time, Edelman coul
become an important element in coi
temporary music, and he just riigt
find that fame that's been eluding him.
ITHE
FREE UNIVERS IT

I

OQFRAN

"Hal," explained Mission Com-
mander Dave Bowman, "you must be
wrong. There is no malfunction in the
AE-35 unit of the directional antenna."
"But Dave, I cannot be wrong. I am a
heuristically-programmed algorithmic
computer of the 9000 series, an artificial
brain, product of the third computer
breakthrough. I cannot err."
"But Hal," interjected astronaut
Frank Poole, "suppose we could show
you a situation which you have mis-
takenly analyzed. Would you let us acti-
vate the manual override then?"
"Certainly Frank," purred the soft
voice of the computer, "but don't ex-
pect to find one any more easily than
you could find Euclid two points that
fail to determine a line."
"All right then Hal,"' Dave demand-
ed. "Bid the South and North hands to
the best contract."
"As you wish, Dave. I open the Souti
hand with two diamonds, a demand bid
in my longest suit. North makes the en-
couraging response of two hearts, and
South bids his second suit, two spades.
Since the auction must reach game in
any event, North rebids three hearts to
emphasize the quality of the suit.
Now South takes over. He asks for
aces, and upon learning that North has
the missing aces, contracts for all thir-
teen tricks. The contract should at wor-
st depend on a spade finesse.
"Please, Dave, let me forestall your
objection. The grand slam is not a guar-
anteed success, but bridge is a game of
probabilities. South has thirteen tricks

The Free University of Iran is cur-
rently accepting applications from
Iranian nationals who have com-
pleted or who are pursuing gradu-
ate degrees in the following fields:
aducation, psychology, economics,
sociology, anthropology, health
sciences, natural sciences; physical
sciences,. mathematics and TESL.
in addition to employment opportu-
nities a limited number of scholar-
ships are available for those condi-
dates who will be finishing their
studies within the near future.
Adfditional information on the
Free University .and request
forms for applications can be
obtainsd from Mr. James Mont-.
gomery, Foreign. Student Advi-
sor, International Center. bSiE.
Madison Street.

;f
yoU
see
news
happen
call
76-DAILY

CELEBRATION MIME THEATRE
PRESENTS
THE CELEBRATION TRIO
IN-
"aPuNoccHI@,"
an original adaptation of the ciasic Itlian fotktale
direteed by TONY MONTANARO
TRUEBLOOD AUD. - U-M Campus, State & Huron
SUNDAY, OCT. 9 2:00 & 7:30 p.m.
TICKETS: 1.50 children, 2.50 adults
Advanced Sales t Logos
BENEFIT CLONLARA SCHOOL[

IclO1T®O ®LJUY TI-iIA TL IZ CI2GAN OOL1EL1TYQOH o
in Her 192j St~er
nr Cori~
pr . [ Fetu1/

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