T ..___ _
,j he Michigan Daily .
Madcat blows t
By Jerry Brabenac
WITHIN A few days, the planets
are supposed to align up in the
same part of the sky, in a formation
that only occurs once every five hun-
dred years. As a result, astrologers say
we can expect all sorts of miraculous
accurrences. Well, four musicians and
an enthusiastic crowd made a similar
rendezvous at the University Club
Friday night, and the result was a
miraculously good time.
The musicians were the members of
Peter Madcat Ruth's band, and a more
able and seasoned gang of
houserockers couldn't be found in Ann
Arbor. Ruth has been cooking up a
potent gumbo of blues, rock, boogie,
and funk for years, but his current band
may be his best since the days of Sky
King. A huge crowd witnessed Ruth's
performances with bassist Jason
Boekeloo and drummed Danny
Brubeck at the Art Fair last summer.
At his Thanksgiving appearances at
Mr. Flood's Party and the opening of
Joe's Star Lounge in Janunry, Ruth ad-
ded longtime associate David Mason on
guitar. This is the modified group that
playeTFriday at the U-Club.-
Ruth is probably one of the great
harmonica virtuosos qf all time. Using
an electronic pick-up and a
sophisticated amplification system, he
bases his unique style on the sounds of
blues and rock electric guitarists, new
and old. His vocabulary includes
whoops, clicks, growls; bird whistles,
wailing blue notes, and the sort of
brilliant, high feedback sound Jimi
Hendrix used to create. Stomping and
dancing around the stage, singing with
great power and presence, Ruth is a
regular one-man show.
So are the rest of the players. Mason
has played before with Ruth in a couple
of little known but innovative bands,
New ,Heavenly Blue and Sky King.
These bands combined the humor of
' blues and country, the virtuosity and
complexity of jazz, and the danceability
of funk. Only a lack of record company
support doomed them to obscurity.
Ruth has a sizeable local ,following,.
and the coxy University Club was
packed Friday night-especially the
dance floor. The first of three sets in-
cluded some of the band's new
material, as well as a chestnut from the
Sky King book. "Mr. Swing" is a lively
combination of tight ensemble
arranging and open, walking jazz,
rather in the style of Weather Report,
while "Watching the World Go By" is a
quieter number. A gentle atmosphere is
evoked by Ruth's playing on the kalim-
ba, or thumb piano, and Mason's violin.
"Hot' Mustard" was Sky King's
signature tune, a sped-up dance num-
ber with vocals /by Mason. Guitar and
harmonica play a slightly stretched out
funk phrase that leaves just a little bit
of extra for hot phrases during the
This rhythmic trickery is one of
Ruth's trademarks-almost all popular
music is in a steady four beat rhythm,
but this band explores the possbilities of
adding a beat here or substracting one
there, using the rhythm to accentuate
the phrases and play games with dan-
cing feet. Dave Brubeck was a pioneer.
in expanding the rhythmic
sophistication of jazz,' and RuthY
probably picked up this influence,-
through Danny and through another
Brubeck, Chris, who played bass' in
New Heavenly Blue and Sky King.
The second set opened with the
band's adaptations of an older piece
simply entitled, "Fishin'." Made
famous by Taj Mahal, 'this tune
received a treatment that puts it
somewhere between reggae and slow
funk, and the result is compulsively
danceable. Ruth seems to understand
the chemistry of dance rhythms perfec-
tly-tunes like this are played at exac-
tly the right tempo and mood to get'
people out on the floor, clowning around'
and grinning from ear to ear.
A Chicago-style blues called
"Walkin' " followed, and then Danny
Brubeck took over on "500 Miles From
Home." This tune is in a medium four
and has wide open spaces that inspire
the feeling of pointing a fast car west'
and heading for the sunset. Brubeck's
solo was built in a series of climnaxes,
and each time he seemed to have given
his all he settled down and came back;
stronger than ever. By the end of the
solo he was piling up polyrhythms on
-snare and tom toms over' the steady
beat of the bass drum and high hat, in
an onslaught of controlled ferocity that
left him dripping with sweat.
Mason was hot all night, so much so
that Ruth could be seen during the
guitar solos, alternately chuckling in
delight and turning to watch in
amazement. -On the aptly named
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"Universal Boogie," Mason 'turned in
his best solo, building up to a level of
engrgy that could have gone on forever.
Jason Boekeloo contributed several
witty' solos and some tasty keyboad
bass work, and Ruth played'a
memorable unaccompanied solo 'by
overlapping riffs with an echoplex
device. An original, "Give it all I've
Got," featuring three-part vocals an't a
style calculated for funk/soul airplay,
and sapa, and a fast samba gave the
dancers a workout. The band is at home
in several musical genres, but brings
them all together on a unique common
There's probably more to be said, but
much of the night was lost in the
general ephoria on the dance floor.
The band has been rehearsing exten-
sively, and plans to record a demo tApe'
soon, with an eye toward more touring
and hopefully an album. WCBN taj d
the show Friday, so those not fortunatte
enough to attend will be able to hear.
what went down on the station's Reel
Live Music program. The consensus't
the band and crowl is that the band has
never played better-one of those
nights when everything goes right. May-
be it was because of the planets. .
Madcat Ruth. captivated a marge crowd at the U club last Friday evening.,
Holliger:World's premiere oboist
By Jane Carl
T HE MUSICAL world is replete with well-trained,
I solid players who have provided many evenings
of enjoyable listening, but it has few real virtuosi
whose technical and musical vocabulary are astoun-
ding. Heinz Holliger is sgph a musician. Presented in
recital with wife Ursula Holliger, a harpist, on Sun-
day afternoon in Rackham Auditorium, Holliger
proved worthy of the praise awarded him, including
the title "The world's premier oboist."
The first half of the concert was devoted to 19th,
century 'araphrases by such memorables as Rossini
and Donizetti, and more obscure composers like
Pasculli and Kalliwodar "Andante con variazioni inF
major for Oboe and Harp" by Rossini and
"Variations on a theme of Rossini for oboe and harp"
by Cholpin, had typical lyrical themes that were fod-f
der for Holliger's boundless musicality. In the new
:,variations of the Chopin work, Holliger's use, of cir-
cular breathing made the difficult runs flawless.
The following three works, "Andante sostenuto in F
minor for oboe and harp" by Donizetti, "Omaggio a
Bellini for English horn and harp" by Pasculli, and
"Morceau de Salon for oboe and harp" by Kalliwoda,
were operatic in character and the perfect showcase
for Holliger's bel canto playing. The Pasculli piece
was notable for its use of the mellower sound of the
English horn, and its more active harp part that,
allowed Ursula Holliger to show more than her fine
The second half of the concert opened with Brit-
ten's "Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49," for
oboe solo. Based on six mythological characters, the
music ranged from the melancholy Pan to the
boisterous, convivial Bacchus to the introspective,
dreamy Narcissus. A blockbuster piece for oboe,
Holliger missed the occasional note, but his over-
whelming musical sense made the omissions unim-
This was followed by the Britten "Suite for Harp,"
which was Ursula Holliger's only real chance to
display her considerable technique. Composed 18
years after the "Metamorphoses," its movements
made use of ostinato bass lines and much harmonic
tension. The wispy Nocturne was perhaps'the best
performed movement. Its large range contributed to
its ethereal quality, and made-it a night song in the
truest sense of the word.
The concert ended with Andre Jolivet's "Con-
troversia" for oboe and harp. Composed in 1968, this
contemporary pieceused new techniques and effects
that were not only interesting to listen to, but seemed
to make thematic sense, which is sometimes a rare
quality in music of that genre. Heinz Holliger, of
course, had the most noteworthy effects, including
quarter tones, multiphonics, and flutter tonguing;
while Ursula was limited to techniques like rapping
on the harp, but it w's a work well worth program-
For an encore, the Holligers performed a tran-
scription of Ravel's "En forme d'harbanera," which
survived transcribing very nicely. Throughout the
recital, there was an incredible amount of com-
munication between the two that added an intimate
quality to their performance. If you missed this con-4
cert, you missed one of the most exciting performan-
ces the Musical Society has offered this year. Of
*course, if you were there, you already know that.
Gun Club concert shot down
By Ben TichoF
*4HE GUN CLUB arrived at the
TStatehouse last Friday night ready
to fire their special blend of punk and
blues at a large and enthusiastic Ann
Arbor-audience. They left less than an
hour later, the disappointed victims of
the local fire code.
Citing fire code violations and the
lack of a properly authorized occgpan-
cy permit, city officials halted Bored
Youth, one of the Gun Club's opening
bands, in mid-set and sent the hun-
dreds-strong audience of skinheads,
high schoolers, and assorted freaks into
After a frustrating half hour or so of
waiting outside Statehouse doors, the
crowd dispersed-with police encour-
agement, of course. And then the Gun
After some initial confusion, the band
grasped the situation, a familiar one in
their home base of California. "This
happens all the time in L.A., but I didn't
expect it here," commented bassist
Rob Ritter, whose family 'members
travelled from the Detroit and Lansing
*areas to.see the show.
The, Gun Club's nationwide tour,
scheduled to conclude in two weeks,
"has been going pretty good, up to
now," Ritter said. Ritter complained of
distribution problems with the group's
first album, Fire of Love, released un-
der the.Ruby label, a division of the Los
Angeles-based Slash records. "Most of
the places we've gone, people don't
even have the record," he Jamented.
The Gun Club, formed over a year
aand a half ago by lead singer Jeffrey
Lee Pierce and guitarist Kid Congo
(now of the Cramps), incorporates slide
guitar and blues licks to create a unique
approach to punk music.
]Pierce uses sexual and inflammatory
songwriting angles ("dressed like an
Elvis from Hell") to catch listeners' at-
tention. Fire of Love's best track,
"She's Like Heroin to Me," Pierce
reminds one of a higher-pitched Lou
Reed, displaying the former Velvet Un-
derground signer's characteristic wit
and feel for the interesting phrase.
("She cannot miss a vein").
The albumes musical range is
somewhat limited, though perhaps
more from inexperience than from
genre. Pierce can lead in a very rocking
fashion, as he does in ;'Sex Beat," or
delve into haunting lyricism as in
"Preaching the Blues." The band cer-
tainly has a great deal of potential.
Speaking unusually candidly, Dotson
described the financial motivation of
many young groups: "We want to get
ahead. If anyone says that bands don't
try to make mnoney, they're full of shit."
He then qualified the statement,
saying, "Hey, we've got rent to
pay-we're not out to make millions or
With a fork I exhibit great flair;
With a knife I've.a savory air!
Now I eat continental
And boast monumental
At the League I can savoir la fare!
Next to Hill Auditorium
Located in the heart of the campus.
it is the heart of the campus ..
A Very Special Event
" How to fulfill your goals
" How to reach your true potential
" The keys to absolute success
NICK PAPPIS, International Speaker, regularly
tours university campuses throughout the United
States, in England, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina,
Nick will be speaking...