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November 06, 1987 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-11-06
This is a tabloid page

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.! I




Simien, Hammond are on target

By Alan Paul
This weekend is a treat for fans
of roots music. Not roots rock.
We're not talking about the Del
Fuegos, the Blasters, or Los Lobos
here. We're talking roots music.
Real, unadulterated roots music.
Tonight, zydeco wunderkinds
Terrance Simien and the Mallet
Playboys bring their bayou stomp
to the Blind Pig as they crisscross
the country yet again. Sunday
night, again at the Pig, troubadour
John Hammond, one of the last
acoustic solo blues artists
consistently on the road, plys his
Simien and the Mallet Playboys
are a band on the rise. With each
trip to town they seem to have
risen a step in their quest for
artistic and commercial success.
Last March, at their first tree town
appearance, they drew a medium-
sized and very supportive crowd.
They returned in April to open Los
Lobos' Michigan Theatre show,
and received a standing ovation, no
small feat for an opening act. Their
July appearance debuted the new

and improved Playboys featuring
Roy "Chubby" Carey on drums and
guitar whiz Sherman Robertson.
This time around, they are riding
high on the heels of their
appearance in the film The Big
Easy, are gaining a national
reputation through their incessant
touring, and are even being courted
by major record labels.
"It's really strange," the 21 year
old Simien said from his rural
Louisiana home. "I never thought
it would go this far. The movie's
definitely helping. A lot of people
had good things to say about the
music and it opened a lot of
people's ears."
Success has come quickly for
Simien. While much of this must
be attributed to good timing - the
exotic and highly danceable zydeco
rhythms are just now getting more
recognition - Simien's and the
band's talent, energy, and relentless
touring are the real keys. It is
extremely unusual for a band to
tour nationally without an album
to support. Simien has now done it
four times.
"It's a lot of fun. It's something
I've always wanted to do. It's hard
being on the road all the time but
it's the kind of lifethat's almost
like a fantasy - so many good
things that make it all
worthwhile," Simien said. "It's
been happening pretty fast for me

and I'm just going to ride with it
and see where it takes me. I'm
keeping my head on straight."
Having once been close to
signing with boffo blues label
Alligator Records, Simien has now
backed off to listen to major label
offers. The recent success of
Buckwheat Zydeco's On A Night
Like This, the major label debut of
the musical gumbo, has caused
record executives to take heed.
While excited and flattered by the
attention, Simien is adamant about
maintaining control in the studio
and upholding the integrity of what
is essentially a folk music.
"I hear a lot of people with
different ideas. I listen to them and
respect where they're coming from
- but it's my music. The only
way our music's going to get
anywhere is if we can control our
sound and play what we feel,"
Simien said.
"I know a lot of people who had
producers come in who didn't know
anything about their music and try
to work with it and they meant
well but..., nobody knows the
music better than we do. People
want to hear the real thing - that's
why they like us in the first
place- music that can bring them
back and at the same time take
them somewhere they've never
See SIMIEN, Page 6

Continued from Page 12
Movies at Briarwood. First, over
blasting trumpets, the screen
"suggests" no'smoking. State Law
requires no smoking in theaters.
Common courtesy requires no
smoking in theaters. But Briarwood
only "suggests" that you consider
Skoal Bandits instead. Briarwood
also suffers by dint of being a
3uburban googolplex-too many
screens frequented by too many
people in too little space. Ushers
make sure the bovine masses are
flashlighted to their seats, but
disappear shortly thereafter, leaving
disgruntled patrons to wander the
catacomb-like halls to register their
At all area movie theaters,
previews are becoming an
endangered species. This is a
shame, as they are an art form, and
the only type of advertising which
is really acceptable before a movie.
The generally excellent (though
small, subdivided, and
asymmetrical) Ann Arbor Theater
often comes up short in this
department, in part, I suspect,
because many of the independent
films they go after don't have the
financial wherewithal to produce
promotional materials. There is of
course, an excellent alternative -
Yes, cartoons cost more than no
cartoons, but a good Warner
Brothers cartoon makes everyone
laugh, allows theater-goers to get
settled, and makes up for the
absence of entertaining previews.
Perhaps I'm spoiled by the
grandeur and attentiveness of the
Michigan Theater, but I don't think
so. Over the past few years things
have grown steadily worse for area
movie-goers. It's little wonder that
many are turning to Super VHS.
But it's important to ditch the
cathode-ray-tubes every now and
then, and see movies as they were
meant to be seen...larger than life,
with hundreds of other audience
members screaming, crying, and
laughing together, in a huge,
beautiful, symmetrical building
suffused with the aroma of popcorn
drenched in real butter. N

Continued from Page 12
B: Well, they're all linked.
Everything is linked. The things are
not disconnected. When you
struggle to change the educational
system, in that struggle are included
all the fundamental issues. The
struggle against imperialism is
contained in that struggle. Every-
thing is a bigger or lesser version
of the whole. So if you struggle for
reforms in a revolutionary way, you
are constantly telling people that
even though you are gaining these
reforms, they are simply reforms.
Reform in a capitalist society is
like a man in a wagon throwing
meat to a lion. He keeps throwing
meat to the lion, but pretty soon
there will be no meat to throw out.
There's only one piece of meat left.
So, that's what reforms are. You
have to work for them. If you
don't, then you really won't be in
touch with the people because I
realize that most people aren't
snarling revolutionaries. They want
immediate change. So you have to
work within the framework, while
always providing the ideological
fuel to see beyond it.
D: Do you see your art and poetry
as more of an ends or a means to a
higher end?
B: No, no. See art is an ideological
reflection of society. My art is just
a reflection of who I am. It
struggles against imperialism just
as I do.
D: Yet, you consciously chose
your career as a revolutionary over
probably a more profitable and
celebratory career as an artist.
Wasn't that a shift in art as more of
an ends?
B: No, it's just an indication of
maturity. You know, when you get
older you begin to understand the
world more. When I became famous
by winning that best American
play, I came to a real great
revelation. The revelation was that
now people would be asking me to
say things, that they'd be listening
to me. And then it suddenly
occurred to me that I had a lot of
responsibility. That all of the
people that I knew - all the people
that had died like my grandmother
and grandfather - had told me

about society and how evil it was,
and I now had a responsibility to
say that. I couldn't just be a famous
So I think that was kind of a
moment of crisis, and I said that
this is it. I have to be committed to
the things that I felt before.
Otherwise, it's not worth* it any-
way. It's something that you come
to grips.with, and then you see that
people are going to beat you up if
you tell the truth. That's something
that you come to live with.
D: Do you feel that the white co-
option of the Black enteiainment
industry takes away Black dulture to
a certain extent?
B: No, what it does is that it
deforms it so that it cannot teach
what it should. First of all, it's a
usurpation of its economic value.
We are supposed to be prosperous
based upon the music that we have
made for centuries. We are supposed
to be wealthy people, but you
know we are not. Whitney Houston
and Michael Jackson are rich but
what about all the people around
them-the engineers, the producers,
the record label people? They're
taking advantage of these Black
people's talents. Why aren't they
But also the music is a teaching
instrument. When you see it being
played, when you listen to John
Coltrane and Duke Ellington, they
are teaching you things. Because
our children cannot get to that
teaching, they are left with the
commercial version that teaches
them bad things.
D: It also could be the white
culture taking over the Black cul-
ture. When you go to see a great
Jazz artist, 85 percent of the
audience is usually white.
B: That's imperialism. We don't
have the money to go to those
places. People who say that Black
people don't like going to see jazz
are really saying, "Yeah, we create
it, but we're not interested in it."
Come on! That's not it. It's just
that we don't have the money to go
to those clubs. The average Black
family is a blue-collar family,
domestic workers. Asides from the
financial aspects, they don't have
all the energy after all of the
manual work that they do to go
busting out to the nightclubs. If

they're younger or middle-class we
can because we have the money and
social mobility to. But most don't,
and that's the problem.
D: Do you think that responses to
racism have increased in the last
few years?
B: Responses? Racism has
increased.I think this period that we
are coming out of has been a
downswing in the liberation move-
ment. But I think that we're com-
ing out of that and getting ready to
go to the other side. The signs are
imminent that we're getting ready
to bust out of this. Always the sign
is the self-consciousness - people
beginning to ask questions even
though they might not know the
answers. They might be doing in-
correct things, but they begin to

to w

Continued from Page 11
Ypsilanti area, or the study of how
people become political activists.
In recent years RC students have
won over 150 Hopwood Awards for
creative writing. Hecht estimates
that over the years his students alone
have won over 100 Hopwoods. One
RC alum. Jennifer Levin recently
published her third novel in five
"There's a real stress on writing.
The college in general has a strong
emphasis on writing (with the
freshman seminariand writingin
other courses), so of course
Residential College students are
going to do well in a writing
competition," said Hecht.
The Arts and Ideas in the
Humanities concentration combines
the study of literature and visual arts.
Students analyze works of literature

of c
at an
- t
of 1

Terrance Simien and the Mallet Playboys rock the Blind Pig with
zydeco tonight.

Guitarists expand

Joe Satriani
Surfing with the Alien
Relativity Records
Surfing with the Alien is the
second all-instrumental solo album
from Joe Satriani. The usual
problem with such albums,
especially when the primary
instrument is guitar, is that you
hear the artist's entire musical
vocabulary in about two minutes,
and everything beyond that becomes
tedious and repetitive.
Not so here. Like Tony
MacAlpine and Vinnie Moore,
Satriani is a guitar wiz of the first
degree, displaying total mastery of
his chosen instrument. Unlike other
solo albums, however, his displays
not only his technical prowess, but
a higher level of musical restraint
and maturity. In other words, he
doesn't blow his whole wad on the
very first tune.
And what a wad it is! The man
has it all down, from furious
speedpicking and fingertapping to
tastefully executed melodic
passages. He wrenches an assort-
ment of "neat noises" from his
guitar that would turn Steve Vai, a

former student of his, green with
envy. It's not hard to tell where Vai
picked up some of his style.
Satriani's wild approach to the
guitar gives him a unique sound
which is totally his own.
Alien's cuts range from fast
boogies to slow grooves, mostly in
a hard rock/fusion vein. The title
cut is one of the best, with Satriani
setting up a straight-ahead rock
rhythym, stating a melody, then
going wild with mutating this
melody into new alien sounds.-
Another great song is "Satch
Boogie," which sounds like old Van
Halen or ZZ Top back when those
bands really rocked, and features
more crazy guitar.
Don't get me wrong, the guitar
playing is more than today's
standard high-speed blithering drivel
that most of today's hard rock/metal
guitarists seem to aspire to; but it
is at its best when Satriani just cuts
One thought that came to me
while listening to this album was
"Wouldn't it be great if he got
together with other musicians of
his calibre and formed a whole
band, with vocals and everything?"
We can only hope to see something

like this in the future. Meanwhile,
if you're into great guitar, this
album is highly recommended.
-Chuck Skarsaune
Michael Hedges
Live on the Double Planet
Windham Hill
Since the glory days of Hendrix,
Townshend, and Page, a small lot
of diverse stylists have come up
with that really one-of-a-kind guitar
sound whose identity you can
recognize in just a few notes.
There's The Edge of U2, with his
cascading echo-effects, and the
evocative fingerpicking of Mark
Knopfler, to name a couple, as well
as the sparkling, acoustic flourishes
of a guy named Michael Hedges.
And while Hedges' unique niche
in the pop/jazz music scene,
pushing at the horizons of the folk-
singer genre, may obscure him
from the big-time, it affords him
the freedom to daringly re-shape a
six-string legacy with innovative
new ideas, creating a distinctive,
unpredictable style.
Hedges' ambitious synthesis of
See RECORDS, Page 6

Tickets: $10
at Michi
Sponsored by the University c
East European Studies and the
Literatures and the Hebrew Da



0000 0000000

Here is your chance to meet with various
organizations to explore a career in Jewish comm
unal service. Agencies to be represented include
nearly every field of Jewish work: social work,
education, rabbinical, administration, personnel,
journalism, public policy, etc.Reps from the
following major organizations will be on hand:
JWBJewish Community Center, Hebrew Union
College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Jewish
Vocational Service, and more. Appointments may
be made beforehand to meet with
specific representatives.

The University of Michigan
presents a symposium on
Speakers will include,
MARK LEVIN Director of the Nat'l Conference for
JEAN SIMON member Otthe Congressional Wit
ALLA KAHN Ann Arbor Action for Soviet Jewry
TANYA ZUNSHAIN recently released refusnik


Guitarist Joe Satriani explores new territory.



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