The Michigan Daily-Thursday, September 4, 1980-Page 3-E
Rock around the block
Stevie Nicks performs during Fleetwood Mac's appearance at Crisler Arena last winter.Daily Photo by JIM KRUZ
Need a -rock & roll fix',?
Major Events delivers
bY TIMOTHY YAGLE
"We buy the best entertainment we
can give to the students at the best price
available," says Karen Young, director
of the University's Major Events Office
Nestled in the corner of the Michigan
Union's third floor, MEO competes with
such Detroit promoters as Brass Ring
and Son of Bamboo, among others, for
booking the nation's top performing
rock and pop artists in Ann Arbor.
In recent years, the six full-time staf-
fers at MEO have enticed such popular
bands as Earth, Wind & Fire, the
Eagles, Frank Zappa, Billy Joel, Linda
Ronstadt, Bob Seger and John Denver.
Two reasons explain why the five-
year-old MEO can attract these much-
in-demand artists to Ann Arbor. One is
a college audience in a "secondary
market". (as opposed to a major
market like Detroit). The University
also can offer five first-class halls for
the musicians to perform in.
The 13,609-seat Crisler Arena and Hill
Auditorium, which sports a capacity of
4,177 are the showcases for artists who
come into Ann Arbor to perform. The
1,400-seat Power Center for the Per-
forming Arts, and the smaller Lydia
Mendelssohn Theater also hosts
Moreover, because .the city bought
the Michigan Theater late last year,
MEO now hasaanother facility in which
to book acts. And Young, who4s on the
theater's board of directors, says this
addition has only helped MEO in
booking concerts for the city.
"I would say it has (the Michigan
Theater) enhanced them," Young
commented, "because Mendelssohn
and the Power Center are always
* Even with the wide choice of concert
halls, MEO must deal with' certain
;unavoidable problems when booking
* One complication stems from profit-
oriented Detroit promoters offering
touring acts more money to play in
Detroit - more than MEO can offer
because they keep their prices lower.
Detroit promoters usually charge $10
and up for concets at Cobo or the Joe
Louis Arena while MEO would charge
$8.50 or $9 for the same performance
here. Young said MEO knows that
students cannot continually afford $10
Aside from finances, the other
,problem, ironically, is concert hall
availability, Young explained.
On many occasions, these heavily-
booked halls and auditoriums are not
available when the act can play here
because a certain student group
already has the hall. Consequently, Ann
Arbor has lost dates with Fleetwood
Mac, Joni Mitchell; Boz Scaggs and
Smokey Robinson, among others, ac-
cording to Young.
Young said that after October 15,
which is when the basketball teams
begin practice in Crisler Arena, chan-
ces for booking an act there are remote.
Due to this heavy advanced booking,
Young saidi, matching the concert hall
to when the act can play is the toughest
part of her job.
Another problem, she contends, is
most of the major acts only tour during
certain months of the year - namely in
the fall, when they want to plug albums
for brisk Christmas sales, and begin-
ning in March, when the weather im-
proves in most parts of the country.
Few bands, Young added, like to tour
the Midwest during the winter, for ob-
Major Events is unique in the college
concert production circuit. Most other
schools give a semi-experienced
student production board some money
to produce a few concerts. Major Even-
ts receives less than a quarter of its
$80,000 annual budget from the Univer-
sity. It gives all of its profits - which
are not substantial, Young said - to the
University, which in turn pays their
Because students lack experience in
concert production, they often can find
themselves in frustrating situations
while attempting to produce a concert.
Thus MEO's experience is one of its
major assets as a college concert
Another MEO plus is staff continuity.
Student committees have a high tur-
nover rate due to graduation. But
because the MEO staff doesn't have
this problem, it can accumulate ex-
perience and compete in the major
markets for the top touring acts.
Another, advantage MEO has for
students is the experience they can gain
from working in the student wing of
MEO, Eclipse Jazz.
Since Eclipse Jazz is under the direc-
tion of MEO, students can gain
promotional and production experience
from working with an MEO advisor.
Young said. In addition, Young lectures
to student committees at other univer-
sities to pass on her knowledge about
concert production and promotion..
As a result of working with MEO,
Eclipse Jazz has attracted such popular
jazz artists as Herbie Hancock, Chick
Corea, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Jarreau and
While Young and her staff, including
media liaison Jill Madden, and ticket
and advertising personnel, do their
work, Talent and Booking Coordinator
Bob Davies supervises the actual
arrangements with the act and also has
a hand in the advertising and promotion
of the show.
But Davies' forte is in the technical
production of the performance. Davies,
who has been with MEO for four years
and hAs handled production chores for
the past 2 years, said he spends much
of his time on the telephone with
booking agencies in New York and Los
Angeles, finding out who is on tour and
where, and trying to free an auditorium
for an act to perform in.
He said the hardest part of his job is
trying to entice artists to Ann Arbor
that students will like most. "But," he
said, "I can't please everyone."
Major Events has been under fire in
recent months for attracting perfor-
mers, like Ted Nugent and REO
Speewagon, that don't have a heavy
college following, but do have a vast
money-making potential because they
attract younger people in the area. The
office has also been accused of not at-
tracting enough black performers.
"The worst part of my job is taking
the heat (from the public) for not
bringing in the most popular bands," he
Davis, who has toured with Bob Seger
after being Kiss' production manager
in the mid-1970s, said an equally dif-
ficult part of his job "is gearing up
psychologically for every show. It's
hard work and long hours. It drives me
crazy, but I just like it. I don't know if
I'll do it forever," he quickly added.
Major Events has demonstrated an
ability to attract groups here, and also,
equally as important - knows howto
handle the act once it is here.
Consequently, MEO has been named
College Concert Producer of the Year"
by Billboard Magazine, the music in-
dustry's trade publication, several
times in recent years.
by MARK COLEMAN
Of all the cliches trotted out before a
new college student, the most tiresome
involve the wide range of activities and
exciting new experiences that await.
Chances are you'll soon get sick of all.
these wonderful opportunities and
decide to get drunk and head out for a
night on the town. Now you're talking!
There is a fascinating indigenous music
scene in Ann Arbor, populated by an
eccentrically diverse collection of
musicians. However, most local per-
formers can be categorized into two
basic camps: Punks and hippies.
Within these sub-groups there is quite a
bit of deviation. Of course, one of the
joys of moving to a new city is exploring
these things personally, but it helps to
get a head start.
Punks first. In a sense, Ann Arbor
was one of the birthplaces of punk, the
home in the late sixties of the mighty
MC5, the seminal Iggy Pop and the
Stooges. Survivors of both these groups
constitute the backbone of ever-
increasing new wave activity. MC5
guitarist Fred 'Sonic' Smith heads Sbn-
ic's Rendevous Band, a quartet that is
expanding their repertoire of relentless
hard-driving rock to include some
punk-jazz experimentation and the
soulfull vocals of rhythm guitarist Scott
Morgan. The strongest, most mature
band on the scene, the "Sonics" cer-
tainly deserve a listen.
ALSO DRAWING on Ann Arbor's
rock heritage is Destroy All Monsters,
featuring Stooges guitarist Ron
Asheton and MC5 bassist Michael
Davis. The Monsters play straightfor-
ward heavy metal punk competently,
although they tend to be a bit excessive.
Rounding out this bare bones quartet is
vocalist Niagara, who has to be seen to
be appreciated, and/or believed.
Also drawing on the Stooges in-
spiration are the Cult Heroes, a young,
constantly improving band. More
brash, feedback-fueled rock here, with
yet another intriguing singer that goes
by the name Hiawatha, and the
toughest rhythm section around.
Nothing revolutionary from these guys,
but they are punchy and convincing,
and Hiawatha's onstage contortions are
Two recent arrivals on the scene are
sparking some interest with their
respective departures from the hard
and heavy tradition. Nikki and the Cor-
vettes are a trio of female vocalists (a
la the Shangri-Las) who front a capable
three-piece rock band. The Corvettes do
a lot of old girl-group and rockabilly
covers, and their originals tend to
sound at least that old. This punkish
nostalgia does wear a little thin but they
are great for dancing and the women do
provide a nominal diversion on stage.
Two former members of Destroy All
Monsters are attracting some attention
in the early summer months as this is
written, combining some sophisticated
musical influences (television, Pere
Ubu) with pure rock and roll tenacity in
a group known as the Same Band.
THERE ARE A variety of other new
wave bands locally, playing support for
the aforementioned groups and visitors
from Detroit, primarily at the Star Par
and at weekend gigs at the VFW hall on
Liberty Street. Ann Arbor's only club
that books rock and roll exclusively is
the Second Chance. Amidst the flood of
frankly weak cover bands, the Chance
comes up with three or four "new wave
nights" a month. The Chance also has
an excellent track record in booking
nationally known performers from Joe
Cocker to Steve Forbert. Patti Smith
and the Ramones try to play here once
a year, and the Liberty St. nightclub
has been host to rare appearances by
John Cale and Pere Ubu over the past
, For those put off by punk rock
pretensions, there is not much rock and
roll worth paying a cover charge for. A
possible exception would be the Points,
fronted by Cub Koda, noted rock ar-
chivist record collector, and former
lead guitarist for Brownsville Station
(another bit of Ann Arbor history -
remember "Smoking in the Boys'
Room"?). Cub continues his affable r-
and-b rock pastiche today, though the
Points provide the most mundane kind
of heavy metal accompaniment. Not for
the humorless or weak of stomach.
Then there are the hippies. These are
the musicians that have eschewed rock
and roll for jazz, blues, folk, country or
multi-style hybrid: Anything as long as
it won't make your ears bleed. These
bands form the roster at places like the
Blind Pig and Mr. Flood's Party, and
are booked along with nationally known
blues artists at the campus-convenient,
Rick's American Cafe. And they really,
do still wear their shoulder-length hair
in pony tails and smoke pot!
LEADING THE list here are Steve,
Nardella and Dick Siegel. Nardella is a
rockabilly singer a la Robert Gordon,
who leads a folkishly academic band
featuring an outstanding jazz-*
influenced guitarist in George Bedard.
These guys are consistently satisfying,',
but lack the crazed abandon that their
choice of material calls for.
Dick Siegel is a performer that defies.
categorization (even though he does
wear a pony tail). There are traces of
jazz, blues, rock and soul in Siegel's,
swinging potpourri. His band, the
Ministers of Melody, don't mind
showing off their chops a little bit but
seem more than content behind Siegel's.
winsome vocals and witty songwriting.
A rollicking good time band with a
decidedly sensitive side, the Ministers
of Melody provide a wide musical and
See LOCAL, Page 10
Hei f yling te PlAe
LONG or SHORT
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A ll at Ann Arbor's Finest
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