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December 13, 1988 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-12-13

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The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, December 13, 1988 - page 9

Continued from Page 8
The group initially started when Grace landed a job
playing at a local bar, but lacked a band to perform
with. So she called up Connie, then just a musical ac-
"I wanted to get a band together really bad," says
Grace. "I was kind of acquaintances with Connie, so I
called her up and asked her if she wanted to be in this
band with me. She said 'Sure, I'd love to, who else is
in it?' And I said, 'Well, just you and me, but don't
worry, we'll find some more people!' We had a month
to get something together."
They wanted to perform Aretha Franklin's
"Respect," but needed another singer to help Connie
with oackground vocals. They spotted Cheryl in the
"We haven't really come up with a good
definition (of our style)... we're going
to let other people do that."
-Chenille Sister Grace Morand
audience and had her come up on stage to perform the
song with them. The group liked what they heard and
started to get together and learn songs in their living
Success came quickly. The happy hour spot they
acquired at the Old Town Saloon drew such a large
crowd that the restaurant had to hire bouncers for their
Thursday night performances. Shows at the Ark and the
Ann Arbor Folk Festival followed, providing the
exposure that landed them a spot on Kelly and Com-
"We really wanted to make a splash," recalls
Dawdy, "so we wore our prom dresses. The person who
was designing the set was told that we were 'down-
home' girls. So it was a barnyard setting with this
split rail fence in the background, and fake grass."
"It was like a Hee Haw set," says Grace. "And it
was seven o' clock in the morning. The audience just
didn't get it."
As funny as they are, The Chenilles are very serious
performers. They are extremely talented musicians who
love what they do and strive for perfection. "As much
fun as they have," says James Dapogny, professor at
the School of Music and head of his own jazz band
(James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band), "they are as se-

rious about their music and about making, it come out
the way they want it to. They know exactly what they
want to do with their music and their performances and
they do it very well."
So well, in fact, that the demand for the Chenilles
is growing so fast that bookings, originally handled by
Grace, warranted their hiring of agent Donna Zajonc.
"The get more requests now than ever before," says
Zajonc. "They are getting so popular that they get too
many calls and just can't take them all."
But the Chenille Sisters are bursting with talent,
energy, and ambition. The month of December
promises excitement to fans both old and new. Their
second album, At Home With the Chenille Sisters,
was just released. Their second solo concert, The Son
of the Big Show, is on Saturday at the Michigan The-
atre. Their goal, to leave their day jobs and become
full-time-performers, seems close at hand.
So the Chenilles wait patiently and happily. Satis-
fied with their success, they refuse to become obsessed
with stardom. You will not hear about them being
consumed and destroyed by the stilted dreams co many
artists suffer from. They love to sing and are happy
doing it both at home and on stage.
"You should always be very careful about what you
do, and don't spend a lot of time doing things you
don't enjoy doing," says Connie. "It's just going to
make you unhappy. Even if you perform only four
times a year, and if they are really choice performances,
then that's great. You should always be careful so that
it stays something that you really love."
And if there is one thing the Sisters love more than
singing, it is being together. Insisting that they really
are sisters, but just have different parents, they value
their friendship more than anything else.
"Our music is based on our friendship, and our
friendship is based on our music," says Cheryl.
"We were friends before we were doing this," adds
Grace. "I don't see how the two could ever be sepa-
"For me, it's a very important element," says Con-
nie. "I don't think that I could do this if I weren't close
to the people I performed with."
Beaming, the Sisters nod their heads in agreement.
If heads can nod in perfect unison, the Chenilles can
also do it in perfect harmony.
THE CHENILLE SISTERS perform Saturday night at
the Michigan Theater. Tickets are $12.50 and are
available at Ticketmaster Outlets.



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Continued from Page 8.
the outsider as to how it can possibly
stay together. In the case of Walk the
Dogma, there's an even greater sense
of wonderment that the band can ne-
°gotiate, within a single set, the hair-
pin course from the nervous, staccato
pop of rhythm guitarist Gary Sos-
nick's "Bumblebee" to the smooth,
sax-tinged "Edge of Night" to the
dirty 4/4 rock of "The Heater" while
not only not suffering whiplash, but
actually sounding good on each.
How do they pull it off? Democ-
racy in action again - they hammer
out their differences in subcommit-
tee. "We listen to each others yeas
and nays, with the object being that
the overall band sound is what we're
trying to elevate," says Schuster.
Overall? Yes, Virginia, there re-
ally is a Walk the Dogma sound. For
all their meanderings, it's still the
same five musicians playing on each
song. Much like XTC (one of the
few bands each member professes'
listening to), the Dogma manages to
insinuate a certain unknown element

into each known quantity (e.g.,
rockabilly, ethnic waltzes, jazz fu-
sion) that they base their work on.
The result is a repertoire not so tight-
knit as a family or disparate as an
orphanage, but rather like a pack of
neighborhood kids none of whom are
related but each of whom bear a faint
resemblance to a certain mail carrier.
And then there's the voice - oh,
that voice. Jurgutis, formally trained
as an opera singer, has one of those
rich, forceful altos that will forever
be compared to Natalie Merchant's or
Grace Slick's for a lack of female
referents in the popular conscious-
ness. Capable of delivering despair
("Guilty"), whimsy ("Why Oh
Why"), and good-old-fashioned lust
("Bumblebee") with equal gusto, Ju-
rgutis' voice is the musical Philoso-
phers' Stone that unites the band's
five elements into one.
"Asta's voice is so exquisite that
we don't even have to come up with
a melody line; (we) just come up
with the words and play the chords
behind it," says Sosnick.
The band, which hopes to release
an EP in February was formed last
summer by Jurgutis and Sosnick
from the ashes of their former band,

Of All Things; the two, along with
bassist William Lamb, were students
here at the University. But although
the band members say they draw on
their education in their songs
(musically in their taste for exotic
chords and meters, and lyrically in
songs like "The Politics of Mind,"
about the turmoil in Central Amer-
ica), their first mission is to be a
rock 'n' roll band...
("It's pointless writing music
that's going over everybody's heads
-- " says Sosnick, quoting Schuster.
"-- we think a lot, but I wouldn't
want us to be construed as an 'art
band,"' continues Lamb with mock
horror, "we want people to sweat and
dance. We may write a song like
'Politics of Mind' about Central
American farmers, but -"
"- we want them to dance while
they get the message," finishes
.albeit a democratic one.
WALK THE DOGMA will play at
the Blind Pig Wednesday, Dec. 14 at,
10 p.m. Cover is $4. Lamb guaran-
tees that anyone who goes to the
show instead of studying for finals
will do 15 percent better.


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