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October 26, 1977 - Image 5

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Michigan Daily, 1977-10-26

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The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, October 26, 1977-Page,5

Phillips and Sorrels: Downright performers

By BILL O'CONNOR
He looks like a walk-on from an old John Wayne West-
ern. A former archivist, duck farmer, poetry professor and
--freight car rider, Bruce "U-Utah" Phillips sits on the porch
of the Ark coffee house at 1421 Hill St. He's enjoying the
warm, clear night and talking to members of a crowd that
began forming an hour before his 9 o'clock show.
"Hey, old man," shouts a passing panhandler, "You play
guitar?"
"Yeah," he answers.
" ,WITH HIS WHITENING BEARD, creased felt hat and
corncob pipe, Phillips looks more like a lumberjack
than "the Golden Voice-of the Great Southwest."
A few minutes after 9, Phillips is introduced by Rosalie
Sorrels, who shares his Ark billing. Phillips ambles to the
microphones with guitar in hand, tunes, and launches into an
hour of audience manipulation and raucous entertainment.
His voice is hardly "golden." Phillips admits that his
. lullabies put his baby son to sleep only because "he's too
young to get up and walk out." But Phillips uses the gruff
edges of his voice more expressively than operatic perfection
could ever allow.
Phillips strums his first song, a lively traditional num-
ber, "Cannonball Blues." It's the first song from his first
album, Good Though. Between each short verse comes a long
monologue about being a new father (for the first time since

his 3 previous divorces) and the pitfalls of being a consumer
in the drought-ridden state of Washington.
H E BELLOWS out an a capella number which he de-
scribes as a lullaby. It's another traditional song,
"You'veGotta Quit Kickin' My Dog Around," with asfoot-
stomping style more likely to rouse the dead than send a baby
to sleep.
Then, just to prove he's "still monumentally pissed off
about everything I can think of" and not too satisfied with the
state of the world, Phillips begins talking about his work at
Huffman's Rescue Mission back home in Spokane, Wash.
And it starts happening. Utah Phillips starts manipulat-
ing us, and nobody's resisting. The Ark becomes quiet
enough to hear the creaking floorboards.
He tells of a Spokane bum who died from police negligen-
ce. He dedicates his next song to the bum. It is "Hobo's
Lullaby."
S URE, A CYNIC would call Phillips' stories sappy. His
guitar isn't flashy and his voice lacks sparkle. But
Phillips is completely in control, and he doesn't allow that
kind of cynicism.
Phillips has limitations as an artist that may keep him
from making the big time of arena concerts, national fanfare
and big media coverage. But there will keep him coming
back to the Ark, fortunately, as he has for over seven years.
Then it's Rosalie Sorrels' turn. A mother of five and a
grandnlother in her forties, Sorrels looks much older now

than she did on the cover of her first album, "If I Could be the
Rain." But she sings its title song (written by Utah Phillips
himself) with more feeling than on the 1966 release.
Sorrels also sings lullabies. And suddenly, between
songs, one senses that the audience is being manipulated
again. Her guitar sounds a steady, hypnotic rhythm during
her long monologues. She's asking people to care for one
another.
W HEN SHE ASKS everyone to sing, there is little of
the usual self-conscious hesitation in the audience.
The cynic inside us is silent again.
Sorrels talks about childbirth and sings a medley "ap-
propriate for childbearing" - although she admits that while
she was in labor, she wasn't thinking about songs.
She describes "crochety old ladies and funky old geez-
ers" she has known. She introduces a rambling song by Peter
Bowen, an Ann Arborite, about living on "Whiskey and
Chocolate Ice Cream."
Now Sorrels shows us a different side of herself. While a
teenager in Boise, Iadho, she admired the local barflied, par-
ticularly one named Old Rosie. She was the first woman
young Rosalie had ever seen make money by singing. Old
Rosie sang "My Wild Irish Rose" in local bars, and people
threw her nickels and dimes.
A SSORRELS SINGS about female bums, she changes be-
fore our eyes. Rocking in time with her guitar, her

voice no longer soothes. Now she rasps out the lyrics. But the
words are still about caring for other human beings.
Rosalie Sorrels was not what I expected her to be. She
appeals to many feminists, but takes care to define herself as
a "humanist." Instead of dumping propaganda on the audi-
ence, she offers understanding.
Rosalie Sorrels and Utah Phillips sing about real people.
Both performers are approaching middle-age; both have
been in the folk music scene for several decades.
They are halfway through a cross-country tour of forth-
four concerts in thirty-five days. They are driving the whole
way.
B OTH PERFORMERS looked a bit haggard by the third
set, though the energy was still high as they alternated
songs. Phillips wanted to see the Tom Waits concerts across
town, and Sorrels was planning to get up early next morning
to go hunting.
By the third set, the audience was calling out song titles
and questions, and the performers responded to every one.
That's what the Ark coffeehouse is for: getting close to per-
formers.
For some artists the Ark is deadly. The audience sitting
ten feet away can see through the superstar drivel that might
be believable from the third balcony of a big theatre.
But Sorrels and Phillips thrive in the small coffeehouses.
Under such close scrutiny, they appear as real, honest enter-
tainers.

Brasses
By KERRY THOMPSON
D ESPITE some fine playing by a
few individuals and some sec-
tions of the orchestra, last Sunday
night's concert by the Philharmonia
Hungarica was ragged. The violins,
except for one false entrance in the
Dvorak, were excellent, and the
English hdr'n was played with a rich
sound and great feeling. However,
the brasses marred the evening with
poor intonation and raucous, insensi-
tive playing; and the woodwinds
4~ #
Foreigner
'By TIM VAGLE
Lasth'undy, Foreigner and Cheap'
Trick invaded Cobo Arena for what
was expected to be an evening of
powerful rock 'n roll; it was exactly,
that.
In what was one of the best
warm-up acts I have seen, Cheap
Trick excited the sold-out arena with
some good, scorching music from
their first and second albums. The
energetic lead guitarist stole the
show, running back and forth across
the stage, making wild gestures at
the audience, jumping off beat and
soliciting applause during his
crunching.
With the additional aid of a
frenzied drum solo, Cheap Trick did
its job and then some in warming up
the fans for the featured act.
Foreigner began its set with a
slightly toned-down "Long, Long
Way From Home." Then a tune from
the forthcoming album, "I need
You," softened the crowd with an off
and on rhythm and emphasis on
percussion.
"Woman Oh Woman" and "The
Damage is Done" followed an unsuc-
cessful hand-clapping session, and
was backed up by the favorite "Cold
AsIce."
During this song and some pre-
vious ones, lead guitarist Micky
*Jones would saunter downstage and
assume the same dominating solo
position. Sometimes good, some-
times mediocre solos resulted.
Perhaps the best played number of
the evening was "Starrider." Al-
though the backing vocals were
weak, the right beats were accentu-
ated. During the middle of the
arrangement, all but the keyboardist
and drummer left the stage, and the
two players took the audience on a
musical ride to the heavens with rich,

mar Hi
were all but inaudible. The conduct-
or, as well, failed to show much sensi-
tivity to balance, blend, and phras-
ing.
The opening violin solo of the
Bartok was exquisite. The dark, rich
sound that one expects from an
Eastern European orchestra was
epitomized by the concertmaster
(whose name, unfortunately, was not
given in the program). The rest of the
orchestra also played the first move-
ment - "Ideal" - with sensitivity
and warmth, evoking well the image
of Bartok's idealized lover repre-
sented in this movement.
The second movement, "Gro-
tesque", while lacking a bit in
precision, was impressive. I person-
ally prefer, and Bartok indicates, a
brisker tempo than Maestro Kapp
took. But few orchestras ( and
certainly not this one) can handle the
piece much faster. The frenzied
atmosphere was conveyed well,
though, notwithstanding the slower
tempo.
The pianist Balint Vazsonyi was
the highlight of the evening. .He
pleases,
dreamy music. A loud, thumping
ending climaxed this crowd-pleaser.
Following more hand-clapping, the
band broke into the exhilarating
"Hard Knocker."
They took a second stab at the clap-
ping and this time it worked with
everyone getting into the act, rushing
the stage during "Feels Like the
First Time."
Foreigner left the stage but was
quickly summoned back for a "War
With The World" encore. The only
problem was that the lead guitar
wasn't crisp. It almost sounded
bland, lost. in the overall sound.
A grinding version of "Somebody"
ended Foreigner's rather short stint.

ungarica
Philharmonia Hungarica
Hill Auditoriun
October 23, 1977
Ba twk ...............o Portraits
Chopin....... ....... ........ Concerto No.2
in F minorOp. 21
Dvorak..........Symphony No.9 in E minor. Op. 95
Richard Kapp, conductor
Balint Vazsonyi, pianist
played warmly and with feeling,
while retaining that lightness and flu-
idity necessary in Chopin. Vazsonyi
brought out the important lines beau-
tifully, never losing the balance
between melody and subordinate
material. The orchestral accompani-
ment was played almost too careful-
ly. In some passages where support
would have been nice, the strings
were playing so softly as to be almost
inaudible. The coordination, how-
ever, was excellent.
T HE RELAXED, dreamy atmos-
phere of the second movement, a
Larghetto, would have been over-
done if it had not been for the balanc-
ing effect of the few more dramatic
'moments. The third movement, an
Allegro vivace; is a showcase for the

performan ce
pianist's technique. It was played tained crescendoes and d
flawlessly and with just the right, were not even, balance wa
light touch. there was no discernible
The second half of the program, the piece as a whole. L
however, was not as enjoyable. The heard choppy sections an
old faithful "New World Symphony" ragged performance.
was marred by some poor brass
playing. The intonation, especially in
the horns, was poor, and there was
little sensitivity in the brasses. The
trombones were blaring away with-
out a care in the world, the trumpets
looked (and sounded) bored, and the
horns seemed more intent on playing
the right note than anything. And the
abundance of clams made me feel as
if I was in a seafood restaurant.
Credit must be given where it is
due, however. The string section,
with the exception of a few 'cello
passages, played very well. They had
a nice, rich, singing sound on their
melodicpassages, and tried valiantly
to be heard along with the blaring
brasses in the fortissimo passages.
The English horn, too, played his solo
with a wonderful warm tone.
The real problems seemed to be
with the conductor and the brasses
and weak woodwinds. The long sus-

dimuendoes
s poor, and
concept of
Instead we
d an overall

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