Sunday, February 6, 1983
The Michigan Daily'
Trio delights the Ark
By Jim Boyd
It is this humble reviewer's opinion
that music, and indeed art in general,
can aim at no higher goal than the con-
veyance of ideas or the expression of
emotion. That music which elicits
thought and emotion is the music that is
successful; the music that is good.
A great deal of good music has been
playing at the Ark this weekend. Tom
Paxton, Bob Gibson, and Ann Hills, a
trio of folk musicians managed to
produce this great music by suc-
cessfully integrating the comic and the
tragic, the sublime and the earthy. If
the music you've been listening to
lately has not been making you think or
feel as much as you would like, rest
easy in your knowledge that there
definitely is an alternative. In listening
to the sounds of Paxton, Gibson, and
Hills, one realizes that music can be
more than something to which one taps
Friday's performance was marked
by a fair dose of political criticism and
satire. A good example is Paxton's song
"I'm Changing My Name to Chrysler"
in which he describes his attempts at
alleviating his economic dilemma.
Before the night was over the list of the
victims of the trio's biting satire in-
cluded Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter,
and country-western performers.
Their messages were not always
disguised in humor, however. Quite
often, in fact, an idea was expressed in
a painful, jolting way. Ann Hill's song
about a victim of the Hiroshima bom-
bing was anything but funny. The im-
portant thing to note is that the music
of these people is not afraid to make one
simultaneously feel happy, angry, and
sad. The polarity of emotion contained
in Friday night's music gave a very
pleasing, bitter-sweet feeling to the en-
In the span of an hour-and-a-half the
audience was able to laugh, cry, get
pissed-off, feel like jumping around, and
just plain anjoy what was happening.
Relevance and decadence (Gibson star-
ted the evening off with a song telling of
how he has been victimized by a female
interested in nothing more than a one
night stand) walked happily hand in
hand Friday night, whereas in today's
world of popular music decadence too
often walks proudly alone.
The tune that most completely sum-
med up the performance was one en-
titled "Sing for the Song." It was a plea
for a return of the philosophy that used
to motivate musicians; not money, not
the spotlight, but simply a love for what
they do. Taking into consideration the
monetary support provided for folk
musicians, we know that Paxton, Gib-
son, and Hills are singing only for the ,
song. That kind of motivation proves to
be refreshing to anyone who has
become disillusioned by hype.
After listening to this trio one knows
that they would continue to play their
music whether anyone decided to listen
or not. Fortunately, audiences this
week have very much wanted to listen
to them "Sing for the song." Paxton,
Gibson, and Hills have done just that.
They have also instilled in at least a
few of their listeners the desire to sing
for their own song as well.
Here and Now'
It's hard to believe that it's been
nearly twenty years since the
Righteous Brothers were releasing
chart hits like "Ebb Tide" and "You've
Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." Bill Medley
and Bobby Hatfield, along with
producer Phil Spector, were among the
forerunners of what would eventually
come to be known as "blue-eyed soul,"
paving the way for groups like Hall and
Oates to follow.
Although Medley and Hatfield have
Jazz piano great Eubie Blake turns
100 on Monday. His first hit "Charleston
Rag" delighted audiences in 1899 and
the good music has continued to flow
from this master of the keybord. Born
in Baltimore in 1883, the son of two
former slaves, he got his first steady
job at the piano in 1898 playing for the
customers of a bordello in his native
In 1915 -he performed in vaudeville
and in 1921 brought a show, Shuffle
Along to Broadway. It was the first
show performed, produced, and direc-
ted by blacks. He continued the shows
through the thirties and performed in
films. During World War II he conduc-
ted for the USO.
At the age of 64, however, he stopped
performing. During this hiatus he con-
tinued to write as well as studying com-
position at New York University.
During a ragtime revival in 1969
Blake started to perform again. The
performer Max Morath, a participant
in the ragtime movement, said Blake
was "an inspiration to three
generations of musicians of all races
performed together occasionally over
the years, the former artist has been
working on a solo career, recording a
number of albums on a variety of
labels, but receiving virtually no
critical or commercial attention what-
soever. The albums he recorded
seemed as dismal as his prospects for
achieving solo success.
His latest release, Right Here and
Now, however, is a remarkable effort
which redeems past failure and which,
in many ways, recaptures the power of
those early Righteous Brothers recor-
dings. Medley's voice was always the
more dramatic in the duo,and although
time has added a rough edge to the
resonant vocals, they still carry a
richness which can be stunning.
The material selected for this album
shows careful thought given to
Medley's stylistic strengths, as the
tunes fall mainly in the "blue-eyed
soul" and pop genres. The production
work by commercial master Richard
Perry is reminiscent of Spector's "Wall
of sound" concept, but updated for the
Since Medley's vocal performances
are the focus of Right Here and Now,
the instrumental accompaniment,
though solid, is kept wisely in the
background. A few notables pop up here
and all persuasions."
The movie The Sting with a-score of
Scott Joplin tunes, heightened interest
in Blake. In default of Scott . Joplin,
people turned to Eubie Blake and
discovered the talent was there.
He was featured in a Broadway
review, Eubie and traveled around the
country, performing, weaving
reminiscences with ragtime and
classical music. His last public perfor-
mance was last year at the Lincoln Cen-
ter in New York.
Singer Pearl Bailey said of Blake: "I
know the man. God has blessed him
with 100 years to give. That's a lot of
giving. He's used every year very well.
There is no end to Eubie Blake. That's
the wild thing. He's everlasting - his
music will be here forever."
and there; Waddy Wachtel on guitar,
Robbie Buchanan on keyboards, but for
the most part Medley is backed by
lesser-known studio musicians.
Michael McDonald contributes har-
mony vocal on his own composition,
"Heart and Soul."
All of the cuts on Right Here and Now
are enjoyable, although a few really
Sshine above the rest. The title and
opening cut gives Medley the oppor-
tunity to exhibit all of his emotive vocal
prowess, backed by a well-arranged,
group of background vocalists. On "I'm
No Angel" Medley sounds downright
dangerous as he belts out lines like Oh
come on baby/Come and let me
show you my tattoos. And "For You"
is an immensely powerful ballad,
strongly reminiscent of the Righteous
Brothers, featuring a tremendous
falsetto closing by vocalist Philip
The remainder of the album reflects
the quality of their first three cuts, and
together they make Right Here and
Now a genuine success for Bill Medley.
With so many groups today adapting
the affectations of the sixties in their
music, it's good to see an original who
can still belt 'em out.
Tom Paxton "sings for the song."
By Julie Bernstein
W EDNESDAY NIGHT, Ann Arbor
Community High School opened
with Leonard Bernstein's West Side
Story, the classic musical rendition of
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
-The inevitable demands of producing
this musical are numerous. First of all,
Bernstein's score still challenges even
the most professionally trained voices,
the dancing requiring authentically-
stylized cheoreography, and the acting
skills rarely are developed enough to
provoke the dramatic tension
necessary to bring believability to a
seemingly out-dated script. Even
though the cast and crew put forth a
whole-hearted and spirited effort, they
fell short on all three artistic counts.
The singing was pleasant but did not
have the vocal strength to carry the
songs successfully, or training to inter-
pret them dramatically. University
students Greg Viscomi (a sophomore
musical theatre major) and Carol
Kamen (a senior dance major) created
some adequate and fitting
choreography, but the execution of it
had little clarity or flair.
Finally, the student's under-
developed acting abilities could not
project the vulnerability in these
characters which is the basis of the un-
derlying interaction and conflict. It
should be mentioned, though, that as
the stakes increased, so did the sin-
cerity. However, the entire cast did a
praise-worthy job of revealing the in-
tense sadness of Tony's tragic death as
well a communicating anger found
throughout the play within the
Despite the lack of technical and
stylistic ability among the cast, it was
still a clean, enjoyable production.
Director Besty King's appropriate
casting, colourful staging, and street-
gang rhythm kept the play moving (the
staged fighting was escpecially
smooth). The small space was used ef-
ficiently against Kim Hartman's ex-
cellent set design which provided ad-
ditional visual interest yet lacked the
finishing touch of specificity that is so
essential to the play's poignant action.
I am not advocating keeping the
young and inexperienced by saying
that the "sacred" West Side Story
should be restricted to professionals
only. However, the product often ends
up being a recital rather than a produc-
tion when it isn't. Even though the
talents do not adequately fill West Side
Story's requirements, the students
should nonetheless be noted for a noble
Ars Musica fulfills dreams
NO COUPON REQUIRED
The Ann Arbor-based baroque en-
semble, Ars Musica, is finally gaining
the national recognition that
musician/founder Lyndon Lawless has
Lawless, a 1967 graduate of the
University's music school, started the
orchestra in 1970 with the intention of
conducting an orchestra that would
play only baroque music on original in-
struments. Ars Musica ("the art of
music") would be its name.
Playing music on original instrumen-
ts was still a rather revolutionary con-
cept then. "It hadn't been done since
the 18th century," explained Lawless,
"because the 19th century and the first
half of the 20th, people thought older in-
struments were good for just one
thing-museum displays. Baroque
music itself was considered primitive.
Bach wasn't played until the 1820's, and
even then, his music was a curiousity."
Lawless himself was struck by
historical accounts from the baroque
era describing how moved listeners
were by concerts of the time. He felt
modern audiences missed out on that
The 13-member group now uses only
original instruments (most of their
strings were made in the 1600's or
1700's), or exact replicas (their wind in-
struments are custom-made; the
originals deteriorate over time). That
way, at least one musical variable is
certain: the sound baroque composers
Today will be the ensemble's first
Ann Arbor appearance of 1983. 3 and 8
p.m., St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
(306 N. Division). Tickets are $3-10.
- Sarah Bassett
You get a Quarter pound*
single hamburger* * and a 16-ounce Coke.
99c special expires February 13, 1983.
*Net weight before cooking.
* *Cheese and tomato extra.
Other discounts or offers not valid with 99c special.
Last Chance to Ski
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bought & sold
Large selection of
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GOOD AT THESE LOCATIONS:
. Boardwalk next to the Sheraton
. Zeeb at Jackson
* Carpenter at Ellsworth
" Washtenaw 1 mile E. of U.S. 23
FEBRUARY 19 - 26
r : i