Page 12-Friday, April 20, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Power pair like
By STEVE HOOK
Steve Goodman sits in his dressing room after
his performance Tuesday night, with his hands in
his pockets and his pointed boots propped up on a
table. He's not saying much; it is clear that he's not
His sax man, Jim Rothermel, enters, and begins
putting on his jacket. After several moments of1
silence, he says to Goodman with his back turned,
"Taj wore 'em out, Steve."
"Naw, it's cool, Jim," Goodman responds.-
"I know, man, but it's just that sometimes it's not
fair ... getting short-changed.. ." He accepts an
assuring glance by Goodman and leaves.
Taj Mahal has a funny clause in his performance
contracts, one which states he must play first. No
warm up hands for him; he opens. Tuesday night at
Power Center, he held to form and opened before
Steve Goodman and his bad. He should have closed.
AFTER SINGLE handedly revving the audience
up into a euphoric frenzy, after shouting "Are you
happy? Are you happy? TESTIFY! TESTIFY!" God a
and bringing the audience passionately to their feet,
after engaging them in jubilant refrains, Taj Mahal
abruptly left the stage expecting Goodman to carry
the load. Impossible.a
This is no knock against Goodman, mind you. He
is a skilled performer, a top-notch musician, and he
put on a good show. But he could not hope to.
recreate the revival-like spirit that disappeared
when Mahal slipped backstage after his set. Nobody
could. It seems unfortunate that the two were
paired as they were; call itamismatch.
I have never seen anything like Taj Mahal's per-
formance. He is a veteran bluesman, one who grew
up with blues, and those lives blues. His music,
some originally written, some borrowed, but all
uniquely arranged and interpreted, is a curious and
intriguing lot. He likes to sing blues from all
regions; Chicago blues, country blues, be-bop and
even some ragtime. Although a diverse reportoire,
his music has a fairly common silly, lazy-jive'
theme, with that revival tone which preaches for
love and happiness.
HE BROUGHT all of the personality his studio
albums display to the stage, and the already elated Mahal
audience (last day of classes and all) feasted on it
oil and water
like starving wolves. The smell of reefer, uncom-
mon at Power Center, uninhabitedly filled the air.
Taj Mahal's music seemed perfect for the high dogs
as well as the others. By his second song, "Ain't
Nobody's Business," he had everybody singing:
Champagne will make me crazy,
Cocaine will make me lazy,
Ain't nobody's business
but my own ...
His works possess art attractive lack of pathos,
literary merit, or social consciousness. In general,
they are free-wheeling, free spirited and nonsen-
sical works with no reason for existence but the
sheer fun of it. You could feel this joyous
recklessness, and this moral apathy. by watching
him perform. Wearing a white satin shirt and a
straw panama hat, he danced and played effor-
tlessly, appearing about as nervous in front of his
audience as a 60-year-old law professor.
His show was a revivial, a celebration of spring and
all it implies. And this was a revival, a clebration of
spring and all it implies. And this was just dandy,
except that Steve Goodman was waiting in the
GOODMAN appeared with a six-piece band and
performed a collection of his most notable works,
many of which, including "City of New Orleans"
and "Banana Republics," were made famous by
other musicians. In addition, he displayed his newer
works, from "Say it in Private."
Although the musis was performed well, and the
set was by no means unenjoyable, one wonders
about the necessity of the band. Goodman has
toured in recent years unaccompanied, playing
acoustic sets. With the band, he added questionable
orchestrations. Instead of a quiet, emotional
"Banana Republics", the pounding percussion and
electric guitar chords detracted from the mood
rather than adding to it. In others, the sax was sim-
ply too loud, the vocals and other instruments like
the mouth harp and keyboards, hardly discernable.
In his encore, Goodman brought Taj out with him
and treated the audience to some exciting swing
music, including the familiar "Tossing and Tur-
n ng." Although much of the crowd had departed,
those that stayed responded excitedly, revived to a