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October 21, 1987 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-21

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily_

Wednesday, October 21, 1987

Page 7

Taj

Mahal

sings

savory

By Todd Shanker
You can just feel that Delta mud
between your toes when the
imposing, six foot four inch Taj
Mahal kicks into the stinging
Mississippi country-blues of Sleepy
John Estes' "Leaving Trunk." Mahal
will bring this and an extraordinary
palette of personalized blues
variations to the Ark for two shows
tonight.
"Leaving Trunk" is a down and
dirty example of Mahal's eclectic
musical approach which draws
equally from Caribbean music
styles, early jazz, folk, and the
music's African antecedents,
demonstrating a wider and more
universal definition of the blues.
Mahal accentuates the symbiotic
relationship between rock, jazz, and
blues with personalized renditions of
popular and obscure classics as well
as his own tunes. "The only thing
that matters is to give the music all
of your personality you can get into
it," he says.
Throughout his musical career,
Mahal has been experimenting with
his own unique interpretations of
indigenous and international Black
music. His first big break came with
a band called the Rising Sons in
1966, which included the talented Ry
Cooder and "Jammin"' Jesse Ed
Davis. It was during the middle of
the psychedelic era and Mahal's

'80s, Mahal formed the Inte
Rhythm Band touring/re
troupe which featured
(steeldrum) master Robert Gn
and Rudy Costa on re
kalimba. Mahal's band emj
repertoire that encompasse
facet of the Afro-American
experience, from delta bluesa
In 1979, Mahal to
International Rhythm Band
country tour of Africa
audiences were delighted
warm showmanship. There
that he discovered "music
much a basic necessity... ju
the basic blessings of life."
Some examples of Maha
variations include a mesm
weeping-guitar version o
Dixon's "Spoonful," a stuttt
interpretation of "Litt
Rooster," as well as a gunsh
version of "Stagger Lee."
transcendant grace, gentle s
riveting articulation break d
existing barriers between p
and audience, which creat
sense of adventure and ex

blues
rnational and keeps the audience deeply
cording involved at all times.
"pan" Mahal has said he can adapt the
eenridge blues to any context or any audience.
eds and "There are different attitudes and
ployed a situations that fit... you got low-
ed every down chew-tobacco-and-spit-your-
musical juice kind of blues, the low-down-
to disco. and-weird blues, and the feeling-kind-
ok his of-like-shouting blues."
on a 16 Taj Mahal always lends a tangible
where freshness to each and every song he
with his performs. In his 23-year musical
he says career, Mahal has mastered at least
isn't so half a dozen musical styles and
st one of instruments. He's played reggae,
funk, and rock. He's picked
d's blues bluegrass, strummed folk, belted the
nerizing, blues, and sang soulful R&B. He's
f Willie a virtuoso of the guitar, piano,
ered scat harmonica, vibes, mandolin, and
le Red dulcimer. With that in mind,
hot guitar tonight's performances at the Ark are
Mahal's likely to be nothing less that
pirit, and fantastic.
town any Taj Mahal will play two shows at
erformer the Ark tonight at 7:30 and 10 p.m.
es a fun Tickets for I4oth performances are
ploration $10.

deliver

Taj Mahal combines several cultural influences to
Ark tonight.
mutated blues music was considered was a dis
a popular curiosity. country-bli
Years later, well into his career calypso/st
on Columbia Records in the '70s, tunes her
Mahal concocted what he called the Town," "
"West Indian Revelation," which Too Bad"{

his original brand of blues. He will be performing at the

tinct fusion of acoustic
ues with the Caribbean
eelband tradition. Three
rein, "Cakewalk into
Chevrolet," and "Johnny
(the superb reggae anthem

originally done by the Slickers),
showed Mahal settling into a unique
musical style which has been his
alone since around 1972.
In the late '70s and on into the

Books

Bop
By Maxine Chernoff
Vintage
$5.95/paperback
It's amazing sometimes that
some of the most powerful things
are also the smallest, the sweetest,
and the quietest - like Maxine
Chernoff's debut collection of short
stories, Bop. Each story here is
memorable for its own unique set of
characters and situations. All the
stories, however, share one thing: a
sense of poignancy and a low-key
humor that is often ironic but never
mean-spirited.
The title story contains one of the
book's most memorable characters,
Oleg Lum, a Russian emigre who
works a switchboard by night and
during the day visits the public
library. Oleg brims with a love for
America that is soon shattered by a
disillusioning experience. Chernoff

tells the story with irony, showing
Oleg to be naive but never a fool:
"Everything in America gets lost,
sometimes stolen. I lost my
umbrella on el train. It is never
returned. Meanwhile, baby is left on
beach to weather, danger, criminals,
drug takers, God knows. Parents
come to police. Say they are sorry,
so baby is returned. Why in
America is easier to find lost baby
than umbrella costing nine dollars?"
It is an impressive accomplishment
when an author treads the line
between making fun of a n d
sympathizing with her characters,
and Chernoff pulls this off
beautifully not just once but several
times in Bop.
There are also times when no
irony is present, as in the haunting,
sad, "That Summer." Yet here
Chernoff seems distant from her
characters. It is the style, which
never slips into cliche or melodrama,
which makes the story succeed in its

portrayal of a shocked, grieving
young woman, rather than a deep
exploration of character.
The opening lines grab and pull
the reader right into the story. In
"Phantom Pleasure," "Lacey Davis
lost his right leg up to the thigh one
week after he was shot by his male
lover." This is the most striking
opening paragraph in the book, but
they all have that come-hither
quality, essential to, the very short
story, where every word counts.
In Bop, every word does indeed
count. The stories are shining and
immaculate, with not a phrase out of
place. Chernoff draws the characters
so precisely that the reader can
picture them clearly, and her talent
for trascribing dialogue allows one
to eavesdrop on their conversations.
Some authors write with various
different voices; others, like
Hemingway, make one style their
trademark. Chernoff seems to be
striving for this. Her quiet,

ironically wise voice speaks through
and about all her characters. After
reading this collection, one should
be able to immediately recognize a
Maxine Chernoff story. Here is a
strong voice that has not spoken its
last.
-Meredith McGhan

ON SEXUAL ASSAULT AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT
in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Week
Survivors can choose to
speak openly,
or anonymously from backstage.
Thur. Oct. 29, 8 pm
Michigan Union Ballroom
Call the UM Sexual Assault Prevention
and Awareness Center at 763-5865

PUBLIC WELCOME

I ~

THIS IS HOW
MUCH
DRINKS ARE
WEDNESDAYS

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*ATE YORV mcee) RUN DATES AND COST
10. Lost & Found 100. Help Wanted START DATE: NUMBER OF INSERTIONS:
20. For Sale 110. Business Services
30. Automotive 120. Going Places
40. For Rent 130. Miscellaneous DA S 1 2 3 4 5
50. DOrm Doings 140. Musical 2 3.66 4.98 6.22 7.44 8.68
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