Thursday, September 28, 1989
The Michigan Daily
Bluesmaster Taj Mahal finds his roots
TAJ Mahal has seen it all and done
most of it, but in mid-career he is
hardly pausing to look back. He's
known as keeper of the blues flame
but his musical versatility and di-
verse heritage make him one of our
most original and charismatic per-
formers, incorporating blues, folk,
caribbean, latin, and rock all within
a single personality.
He'll be playing this Friday night
in Ann Arbor at The Ark, and you'll
be able to see him perform on David
Sanborn's Sunday Night this week
on network TV.
In the late '60s Mahal achieved
-immense popular success. After sev-
eral big-selling albums and a couple
tours of America and Europe
(arranged with the help of new fans
the Rolling Stones), Mahal took a
break to assess his life and the indus-
try and decided to pull off the fast
track. He says, "We'd lost too many
musicians, siphoned off by drugs and
all... I said hey it's time for this
stuff to be over. I decided to take
back the day, and the night, and the
Conflicts over musical styles
were a big factor in his decision. "I
worked real hard with the big record
companies for ten years, and they
wouldn't let me do my stuff," he
says. "You could make big flash
stuff and then be scared to death that
it wouldn't be accepted and they'd
Raised in Springfield, Mas-
sachusetts, Mahal grew up in a
diverse cultural environment. "I grew
up believing that the world is a
multi-national place. As a youngster
I thought the world was out of joint
because the music was one-dimen-
sional. See, I grew up listening to
all kinds of music - Tito Puente,
Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet,
Thelonious Monk. I have relatives
who are West Indian, Latins, Native
Americans, Afro-Americans. The
music of these cultures is what we
went out and danced to."
"When I was a teenager and lis-
tening to the radio they were always
playing new music from England,
Mr. Ackerbilt and all, and one day I
heard this song 'Freight Train,' and I
said, 'that song does not come from
England.' It took me 15 years to find
that woman, Liz Cotten, and all that
time I had this image of her being
like all popular performers, so
highly revered, and then I came to
find that she looked just like my
Aunt Estelle. So I realized how im-
portant it was to uncover your roots,
to build your music out of your own
For Mahal, the choices were
about music and about life. He says,
"Going through my youth I got to
know all these great things my rela-
tives had done, how much they
achieved. My grandfather came to
New York from the Caribbean, got a
job as a Pullman porter, saved
enough to buy a house. That kind of
legacy helps everybody to know
about themselves. Unfortunately,
it's not the message given to some
of my partners. They're still hanging
out on street corners, drinking wine,
driving around in long-ass
In his travels Mahal has become
keenly aware of social and political
problems facing the world, and he
tries to address them with a positive
message in his music. He is careful
in his approach, noting that "It's
okay now for Axl Rose to slam
Black people on record, and they still
American music legend Taj Mahal is privileging Ann Arbor with his appearance at the Ark tomorrow night.
Renowned for his deft synthesis of many American musical traditions, this is one cool guy.
make the cover of Rolling Stone. human spirit - yes, you can do it. themselves to make the world right.
But everyone slammed Public You can try to make improvements. Males are going to have to give in
Enemy for making statements. I like And you know, the future is female, to a sensitive side. We have to nur-
celebrating the perserverance of the females are going to have to assert ture one another." See TAJ, page 8
Kincaid discovers beast beneath beauty
BY JIM PONIEWOZIK
IN my dream, I walked down a smooth, unpaved
road. The road was lined on either side with palm
trees whose leaves spread out so wide that they met
and tangled up with each other and the whole road
was shaded from the sun, which was always shining...
my steps were quick and light, and as I walked these
words would go around in my head: "My mother
would kill me if she got the chance. I would kill my
mother if I had the courage."
-Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
In a way, I hope you're not reading this. I hope you
just read the paragraph that I retyped above and have al-
ready skipped down to the italicized blurb at the end of
this article so you can find out for yourself what sort
of person is capable of producing those rich and jarring
Because I can't tell you. I can't guess from whence
within Kincaid spring these contradictions: this
painter's instinct for physical beauty and this psychol-
ogist's discernment of inner pain. I can tell you, how-
ever, that they are there.
Kincaid was born in St. John's, Antigua, a city on
a Caribbean island which, with its combination of
tropical beauty and poverty, may have provided the
seeds for both sides of the contradiction. Much like her
homeland, Kincaid's prose bears underneath its lush,
vibrantly colorful surface an undercurrent of unease.
Such contrasts are easy for an author to exploit;
many make the mistake of pushing readers back and
forth between literary hot and cold water taps ("Why,
LOOK at this character who's SO MISERABLE de-
spite this IDYLLIC BACKGROUND!!! MY, but isn't
that IRONIC! !! ").
Not so in Kincaid's fiction. Like the Trystero
postage stamps in Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49
made all the more eerie by their deviating only slightly
Kincaid was born in St. John's,
Antigua, a city on a Caribbean is-
land.... Much like her homeland,
Kincaid's prose bears underneath its
lush, vibrantly colorful surface an
undercurrent of unease.
from their authentic prototypes, Kincaid's writing
derives its power from its subtlety. In Annie John, the
reader is first caught by her fluid, friendly prose and her
sensitive description of the pastoral life of the
Antiguans, lulled into near-complacency by the nar-
cotic pleasantness of the narrative. The true gist of the
story - the adolescent confusion, spiritual unease, and
mysterious guilt which shatter its protagonist's world
- settle upon the reader unawares, like the first vague
shadows of an approaching thundercloud.
Kincaid, who now resides in Vermont and has been
a staff writer for the New Yorker, is also the author of
the novel At the Bottom of the River and the non-fic-
tion collection A Small Place.
The University's King/ChavezlParks Visiting.
Professors program and Visiting Writers Series pre-
sent JAMAICA KINCAID, who will read from her
work at Rackham Amphiteatre today at S p.m. A re-
ception for her will be held in the Hopwood Room,
1006 Angell Hall,from 4-5 p.m.
BETTER THAN THE BATHROOM WALLS!
SiGive your message a
5 2*Z JJ2 Touch..
*it ER hbti 1utIh Personals
'** ATENION: Supreme Course Tran-
scripts, the LS&A lecure notetaking service,
has the following notes avail. at Alpha-
graphics Printshops at 715 N. Univ.: Anthro
101, Anthro 161 Anthro 368 Astro 101/111,
Astro 102/112 Class Civ 111 Comm 103,
Comm 320, Econ 201, Econ 21)2, Econ 395,
Econ 401, Geog 101 Geol 100k Geol 101,
Geol 107, Geol 115 ieold 222, [ist 160, [ist
200, Hist 332, Hist X366, Physics 125, Physics
140, Physics 240 Poll. Sci. 395 Physiology
101, Psych 101, 1sych 171, Psych 33, Ps
368. Ca663-6816 for more info.
FE DANCE LESSONS Sept. 18 & 25
6:30s. AA 1st United Meth. Chur. State &
Wash. Square and Round - No partner
needed. Park at Tally Hall. 437-8828./e
* * STACY-"Sisters At Heart!" You Are
The Best Friend Anyone Could Ask For.
Thank You For Everything & Es cially For
Just Being You. I Am Alf SMILES ! ILove
***YEARBOOK PORTRAITS TAKEN
TODAY ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF
THE UGL FROM 8:30 TO 5:00 pm. CALL
764-0561 FOR MORE INFO ORT'IO
RESCEDULE YOUR APPOINTMENT.
*FREE PIANO LESSON!*
Casio rental available. Mike 994-0371.
DIAL A JEWISH STORY. Another project
of the Chabad House. Call 995-5959.
BALLOONS! BALLOONS! BALLOONS!
Call BALLOONEY TOONS for all occas-
sions. 996-4526. 415 Church. Free delivery.
My Buddies at 1019 Church St.: Thanx for
the Best B'Day Ever! You Guys are theBest.
I Couldn't be a Happier Camper. Special
Friends Forever! Get Psyched foran Awe-
some Year. I Love You, Debbie.
JOEL- I can't breathe. Pick up some Sudafed
for me at the Village Apothecary. 1112 S.
STICKY DART Tournaments!! Have you
boys fixed those weapons yet?????
THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE. Certified
holistic practitioner. Debra K. Rozek 663-
t WANT TO learn word processing? At the
Academic Resource Center (The Arc), in
room 219 of the Undergraduate Library
we'll show you how easy it is to master MS'
Word. Drop by the Arc Mon. 2-4, Tue.Fri. &
Read Jim Poniewozik Every
in, RM WA AMA
ek 99F- a md ,l
_______________________________ m h l U V
Fri. Sept. 29
Sat. Sept. 3t
The University of Michigan
SCHOOL OF MUSIC
28 Faculty Recital--Hamao Fujiwara,
violin, with K. Mikami, piano
Mozart: Sonata in B Flat Major, K. 454
Prokofiev: Sonata #1 in F Minor, Op. 80
Bach: Partita #2 in D Minor for Solo Violin
Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy
Recital Hall, School of Music, 8:00 pm
Tickets $7, call 764-0450
Trueblood Theatre, 8:00 p.m. (Th-Sat);
2:00 p.m. (Sun)
Music of G. Frescobaldi, John Bull
Blanche Anderson Moore Hall, School of
Music, 8:00 p.m.
0 Dance Guest Artist Series--Alan
Lommasson & Lynn Slaughter
For tickets call 763-5460
Dance Bldg., 8:00 p.m.
1 rt _ _- _ -U__ _- _ I