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March 21, 1989 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-03-21

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I

Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 21, 1989

Hot playing matches Cockburn's

lyric images

BY MICHAEL P. FISCHER
STANDING alone last Sunday night in the Power
Center spotlight which isolated him at stage right
through the opening measures of "If I Had a Rocket
Launcher," strapped into his guitar and harmonica-
propping contraption, Bruce Cockburn might have
readily earned pre-determined standing ovations from
his devoted following on the strength of his complex
lyrics and vocal lines alone.
Instead, already about six songs in the opening set,
the bespectacled Canadian quickly engaged a killer
backing duo to charge the hit song with textured rock-
and-roll rhythms, a sharp segue providing the
evening's first highlight. Their brilliant playing, not
to mention the singer's own sometimes explosive
guitar skills, helped the durable artist to flesh the color
of his music out to a level close to that of his irrides-
cent poetry.
Particularly, the virtuoso performance of Fergus
Jemison Marsh on the Chapman Stick - an amazing
2x4-like stringed instrument hammered-on with both
hands' fingers, and whose combined guitar and bass

capabilities can trigger a synthesizer like Marsh's un-
touched Casio keyboards - proved to be Cockburn's
secret weapon. Marsh simultaneously generated a gur-
gling, Tony Levin-like deep end as well as lacelike
guitar overlays and glossy synth washes from the tre-
ble strings to elaborate Cockburn's basic rhythm lines.
Indeed, Marsh's thrusting, wildly arpeggiating bass-
solo on the impressionistic "Tibetan Side of Town,"
following Cockburn's own nimble acoustic effort,
provided the first moment where the band broke
through the songs' normally pedestrian mid-tempos to
above cloud level -- but only at the close of the
opening set. Up until about two-thirds of the way
through, Cockburn had not really manipulated major
contrasts and mood shifts. Suddenly, Cockburn and his
mates broke into a whistle-filled, sing-a-long version
of "Look on The Bright Side of Life," from Monty
Python's Life of Brian. The surprise anticipated the
variety which brought Cockburn's second set to an
exciting plateau.
Although his texts incorporate the lucid social out-
rage of "Launcher" as well as the tender visions of
"Lily of the Midnight Sky," most of Cockburn's older
songs fall into recurring musical patterns. The second
set, though, emphasized tracks from Big Circum-
stance, Cockburn's relatively inventive and fertile new

LP. And peaks began to emerge, as the bandmates fi-
nally overcame the disproportionately blaring EQ of
Cockburn's vocals and guitar- a problem from the
start, especially unsuited to his tempered music and the
theater's intimate acoustics - with superb flourishes.
Skins-man Michael Sloski even took a thunderous
drums-solo before the band encored with "Radium
Rain," featuring some truly smoking blues leads from
Cockburn. The two-and-a-half hour show appropriately
closed with the Bourbon Street whimsy of "Anything
Can Happen" - as the refrain goes, "is it any wonder/
I don't want to say goodnight."
Ironically, the only moments when Cockburn sug-
gested a solo folk past was upon shucking the regular
accoutrements for a drumstick and a big bass tam-
bourine, rumbling out a solemn rhythm behind the
Native American-inspired lyrics of "Stolen Land," or
choking up momentarily during a reproach of Oliver
North and the recent Salvadoran elections in his intro
to "Where the Death Squad Lives." Bruce Cockburn's
still keenly aware that it's the words which have earned
his reputation; "I picked this one to do," he said of the
Python ditty, "because of its...searing profundity."
"I just know," Cockburn added after a little laughter
of acknowledgment, "that's going to show up in a re-
view somewhere."

t
4
ii
rn is known as a solo artist, but a
ight the colors of his lyrics into hit
ver Center concert Sunday.
"one has to consider them... for th ir
personal vision and a community vi-
sion."
MeClane, who will read selectionis
from Take Five: Collected Poem's,
1971 -1 986 and give a lecture on the
works of Baraka and Brooks, looks
forward to his stay at the University.

Bruce Cockburi
crack band brow
music at his Pow

DO

YOU

KNOW

Who's
Your

Spending
Money?

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McClane
Continued from Page 7
the world of musicians in his under-
standing of his jazz player brother is
paired with McClane's exploration of
the prison society in the collection of
essays. He acknowledges that these
two places "now are where most of
the great writers get... the least hear-
ing."
The title essay, first published in
The Best American Essays of 1988,
contain McClane's experiences
teaching creative writing courses at
the Auburn Correctional Facility.
Such an environment, "a musical
chairs for prisoners" which con-
stantly moved prisoners around in the
prison system, is seen by McClane
to hinder the voice of the prisoner
that he tries to carry across in the es-
say.
WhileWalls points out the need
for a better forum for the voices in
literature, McClane is optimistic
about the future of the Black voice in
American literature. "Black people
continue to celebrate themselves.
That will be the voice."
Although he feels the upcoming
Norton Anthology of Afro-American
Literature demonstrates advance-
ments in whose voices are being
heard in literature, McClane also adds
that "it's not the Academy that
makes writers."

(McClane) points to the idea that there exist
beyond the academic world "people with more
authenticity with ideas that have to be said. People
who need to be listened to, need a platform."

McClane attributes the develop-
ment of his own voice to the poets
Imamu Baraka and Gwendolyn
Brooks, whom he considers his
"spiritual leaders." "Both have been
the profoundest teachers. I love then
for different reasons."
A friendship began between Mc-

I

Ma ke

sure it

s", olme one

y o u"

wan t

Clane and Brooks in 1972 when he
mailed the Pulitzer Prize-winning
poet a published pamphlet of his
own poetry. Brooks response back in
one and a half days encouraged Mc-
Clane in his efforts. He was honored
further when Brooks later asked him
to read at the Library of Congress.
McClane believes that Baraka's
influence on his own poetic devel-
opment is deeply ingrained. "In po-
etry there is Before Baraka and After
Baraka."
"Whether one buys- into Brooks
and Baraka or not," McClane adds,

"A lot of students that I taught at
Cornell are here at Michigan in the
graduate program. I want to give
them an accounting of myself, where
I'm starting and where I'm going."
KENNETH McCLANE will read
from his works today at 4 p.m. in
the Rackham East Conference Room,
where he will also present a lecture
on the poetry of Imamu Baraka and
Gwendolyn Brooks Thursday at 5
p.m. Both events are sponsored by
the English Department's Visiting
Writers Series and the KingICha-
vez/Parks Program.

I

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Ar

MSA

Elections

a

March

21&

22

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A
IN

CLASS

ACT

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4

L I N E

F O R

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.1

MICHIGAN STUDENT
ASSEMBLY 1989 WINTER
ELECTION POLL SITES
SUPER SITES

I

Location

FISHBOWL

Information Table
1st Floor;
Bell Tower Side

MLB
UGLI

Main Lobby

UNION

SCHOOL OF ART &
ARCHITECTURE
LAW SCHOOL
BUSINESS
SCHOOL
MEDICAL SCHOOL

By Mug;
in Front of Ride Board
2nd Floor,
Across From the Loung
By Student Mailboxes
Cafeteria
Student Lounge

Tuesday
9:00 am-5:15 pm
9:30 am-5:00 pm
10:00 am-11:00 pm
9:15 am-10:30 pm
11:00 am-2:30 pm
e
no hours
10:30 am-1:00 pm
no hours

Wednesday
9:00 am-4:45 pm
9:30 am-4:15 pm
10:00 am-7:00 pm
9:15 am-7:30 pm
no hours
8:30 am-12:30 pm
no hours
10:30 am-12:30 pm

r -
Join the line-up
of activities on
Tuesday, March 21
in the Union,
on the Diag and
on North Campus.
to am - 4 pm

Thomas J. Bridenstine
Melinda S. Griffith
Amy Rose
Marisa R. Bahn
Julie Ann Barkin
Cristin B. Clauser
Cheryl Drongowski
Jill A. Freeberg
Kristin Gudan

Senior Advisory
Committee:

FI

k

Gail J. Herriman
John C. Kolr.
Lauren K. Lane
Jenifer J. Martin
Laurie J. Michelson
Pamela E. Michelson
William F. Spicer
Candy J. Steele
Laura A. Stuckey
Lynnette M. Tethal
Steve C. Vielmetti

DORMITORY SITES

Location

Tuesda

I Dttnct C1/ IA-:- 1 -LL,.. r--1C rrvn r-"iCZ nrtn

M006H M006H M006H .I LL rf*.4 I m f'.M006-H'A

19

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