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March 24, 1987 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-03-24

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ARTS

Tuesday, March 24, 1987

Page 5

Simien: An heir to the throne

By Alan Paul
Zydeco, that Louisiana blend of
cajun, rock, blues, and country is a
music dominated by regal titles. If
Clifton Chenier is the "King of Zy -
deco", Rockin' Dopsie the "Prince
of Zydeco" and Queen Ida the royal
matriarch, then 21 year old Terrance
Siiien must be the heir to the
zydeco throne.
Simien and his band the Mallet
Playboys, appearing tonight at the
Blind Pig, bring the high energy of
young rock and rollers to the
traditional music of their childhoods
and infuse the old music with new
life. For years the music was vir -
tually unknown outside of the
Louisiana swamplands. The master -
ful Chenier toiled in oblivion for
over thirty years, touring the
country playing small clubs, his
records available only on tiny
Arhoolie Records.
Recently, however, zydeco has
received increased national expos -
ure. Queen Ida received a grammy
for best ethnic album, Rockin'
Sydney had an international hit
with "Don't Mess with my Toot-
Toot," and, most importantly, Paul
Simon included a cut with Dopsie
on his multi Grammy winning
Graceland LP.
"Rockin' Sydney gave zydeco
music a real shot in the arm,"
Simien said. "That song opened
alot of peoples' ears andl showed
them what's happening - showed
people a sound they didn't even
know."
Two years ago Simien and the
Playboys were discovered by Paul
Simon who was researching zydeco
for his album project. A Simon
funded studio session ensued result -
ing in the bands first single, "You
Used to Call Me," featuring Simon
on backing vocals. Though Simon
Hedg

Terrance Simien and his Mallet Playboys bring a piece of Louisiana to the Blind Pig tonight.

chose to include the more exper -
ienced Dopsie rather than Simien
on the album a friendship developed
with Simon lending advice and
confidence to the up and coming
musician.
"It was fun," Simien said. "I was
crazy about him and a lttle nervous
but he was real nice, real laid back.
He treated me with respect not like
he was a star. He came to see us in
New York and said he thought we
were doing great."
"He gave me tips on how to
work a crowd and on writing
songs.," Simien continued. "He
said to write what I feel. Be honest
and tell a story - make your songs
tell a story. And keep doing it until
one makes a hit."
It may not take that long. The

young band (aged 19-25) have
toured the country twice, receiving
many rave reviews including write
ups in The New York Times and
Boston Globe, as well as Musician
and Downbeat magazines. Next
week the band will open four shows
for Los Lobos on that bands By the
Light of the Moon tour. Further,
Simien and the Playboys appear in
the upcoming film The Big Easy
starring Dennis Quaid and Ellen
Barkin.
So as the future looks bright for
Terrance Simien and the Mallet
Playboys, tonight looks bright for
Ann Arbor. This band brings an
energy and vitality to their
performance which is all too rare in
any musical form. They're genuine,
playing music they love and feel

and they're young and, well, it's
just nice to see a bunch of guys
roughly your age tearing up the
stage. They posess youthful
enthusiasm rather than experienced
cynicism. Simien hopes to
continue opening up people's ears
and demonstrating that there is life
beyond the top 40. 1
"There's other music out there
besides rock and roll, soul and
disco," Simien said. "Actually,
music is music. I don't know why
they divide it up like they do. It's
all music and if it's good, it's good.
If it's played with feeling - you
know it."
Terrance Simien and The Mallet
Playboys appear tonight around
10:00 at the Blind Pig. Doors open
at 9:00 and cover is just 5 bucks.

es: Someone to consider

By Mark Swartz
The photograph on the cover of
Michael Hedges LP Watching My
Life Go By gives the impression of
your typical hippie folkster. His
shaggy hair reaching halfway down
the back, and his battered acoustic
guitar simply scream "mellow."
His softspoken Oklahoman drawl
does not belie this notion, either.
Nonetheless, a word that also
accurately describes Michael Hedges
is "ambitious."
Consider that he is an artist
recording for Windham Hill, a label
synonymous with the all -
instrumental "new age" excursions
of George Winston and others (and
Hedges' debut on Windham Hill,
Aerial Boundaries, was a solo guitar
effort.) Hedges has dared to record
an album with vocals. "I'm not
attached to any particular musical
form," he says.
Consider that in addition to an
astounding guitar, Hedges plays
flute, harmonica, and synthesizer on
this album. Modestly, he explains,
"I just try to pick up everything I

can.
Consider that he has the nerve to
tackle Bob Dylan's classic "All
Along the Watchtower." Though
Jimi Hendrix's interpretation has
long been considered the ultimate
cover, Hedges' version is virtually
as stunning, though much more
understated.
To see how Michael Hedges
reconciles these two aspects of his
artistic personality, "mellow" and
"ambitious," come down to the Ark
tonight, or to one of his two shows
tomorrow night, and see him play.
"(Spanish classical guitarist Andre)
Segovia with a touch of Pete
Townshend," is how he describes
his playing. Innovative finger-
styles and unorthodox timings
distinguish Hedges as an important
guitarist, cited by Frets, Guitar
Player, and Down Beat magazines
for his skill. The show promises to
be equally impressive.
"There's good music and there's
bad music," explains Michael
Hedges. "^just try to stay on the
good side as much as I can."

Musical auteur Michael Hedges performs at the Ark tonight and
tomorrow.

Records
White Pigs
White Pigs
Have Mercy
Armageddon Descends
Combat Records
These are the debut EPs by two
of Combat Records' newest
recruits. Both are in the
speed/death/black metal vein, as
evidenced by their song titles,
"Body Parts," "Blood Thirsty
Wreaks," "Mass Destruction," and
'Faces of Death." The lyrics are
probably quite violent and evil too,
but they are for the most part
undecipherable and no lyric sheet
was provided (why does the PMRC
worry so much? Without being
told, nobody can tell what the lyrics
are for most of the bands they're so
worried about).
Each of these EPs has one main
iult. White Pigs' songs are too

Have Mercy's problem is a little
more drastic. Imagine a soprano op -
era singer gone bad. Real bad. Bad
enough to make listening for three
minutes unbearable. The band is
good, with plenty of speed burner
guitar solos and crunch 'n' thud
rhythyms, but the vocals doom this
release.
With some better songs, White
Pigs could have a chance on the
metal battlefield. If Have Mercy
would replace their singer, they
would stand an even better chance.
But as they stand now, both of
these bands are poised to sink back
into the post-nuclear holocaust
wasteland they came from.
-Chuck Skarsaune
Concrete Blonde
Concrete Blonde

from California newly signed to
I.R.S., and produced by Earle
Mankey with the band, is no
exception to this rule for the '80s.
Concete Blonde is one of a
billion guitar bands with not great
direction. The band may not be
entirely sure where they are going,
but their influences are pretty
widespread. They come off sound-
ing at times like the Ramones, Til
Tuesday, the Pretenders, old Heart,
the Replacements, Lone Justice,
any garage band around, and a very
small bit of the Venice Beach
thrash sound. All this adds up to
create an album that is loud and
hitting at times and sad and melodic
at others. But beyond the eclectic
selections, they Concrete Blonde
leave one thinking that its all been
heard before.
Johnette Napolitano's vocals are

hardships of the city, but the lyrics
are too common and uninspired.
Guitarist James Mankey has
some talent and creates a back-
ground that varies from coun-
try/western on tracks like "True"
and""Beware of Darkness," to
speedcore on "Still in Hollywood,"
but it is not enough to make this
album anything beyond mediocre.
Another law of music this band
subscribes to is that their album
cover reveals everything about the
music contained within. Drummer
Harry Rushakoff sports flowing
hair and a tied died shirt ( they're
into psychadelia), Mankley wears
an open leather jacket over a bare
chest (they're tough, they do
thrash) and shows a disinterested
scowl (they're a mean band), while
Napolitano is shown kneeling in

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