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October 30, 1989 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-10-30

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Page 12 -The Michigan Daily - Monday, October 30, 1989


awes Ark
Indian summer stirs physical ela-
tion with its warmth and bright col-
ors, and recalls bone-aching memo-
ries of colder days soon to return.
James Keelaghan invoked a similar
spirit in performance Saturday at the
Ark. His songs combined stirring
lyrics with expressive music much
to the satisfaction of a foot-stop-
ping, near-capacity crowd whose
members were evidently fans from
his previous Ann Arbor perfor-
Accompanied by electric bass and
dobro, Keelaghan took command
with the rousing "Hillcrest Mine,"
which evoked a mining catastrophe
in Alberta. He sang in a clear, en-
gaging baritone: "And in that mine
young man you'll find/ A wealth of
broken dreams/ As long and as dark
and as black and as wide/ As the coal
in the Hillcrest seam." The uptempo
tune and driving rhythm belied the
somber refrain and chorus.
"Red River Rising" featured a

ringing dobro slide solo by Gary
Bird, creating the sense of shimmer-
ing expanses above Keelaghan's 12-
string rhythm and Bill Eaglesham's
plumbed fretless bass. Keelaghan
pushed for vocal power on "Misty
Mountain," a somber anthem with
driving bass, exclamatory singing,
and chilling chorus harmony.
He covered a range of songs,
some romantic, some protesting,
others reminiscent of traditional bal-
lads. In between, he mixed it up
with the audience, throwing off droll
puns and repartee, leading Bird to in-
struct the audience, "Don't encourage
Many of the new songs have a
prairie feel, contrasting with a more
maritime tone on Timelines, his de-
but album. This was intentional in
part, he explained. The fine guitarist
Kathy Cook was not available for
touring, and so Keelaghan high-
lighted Bird's playing on dobro and
pedal steel.
Keelaghan is inspired by local
and obscure histories, and he ac-
knowledges traditional forms while

following his own intuition. "Small
Rebellion," the title song from his
new album, is written in ballad form
and was delivered in steady, measured
singing until bursting out in refrain.
The song evokes the Bienfait mas-
sacre of 1931, when miners tried to
organize in coal fields of Western
Canada: "Peace may be signed be-
tween two nations/ But for protec-
tion of your rights/ My friend it's
always battle stations."
He brought in the duo Bell and
Shore for four songs prior to his
own set, featuring the vocals and
strumming of Susan Shore and the
ringing guitar lines of Nathan Bell.
Hailing from Southeastern Iowa,
their music derives from traditional
American folk sources but, like Kee-
laghan, they bring humor and mod-
ern insight to their stories. Shore's
singing covered the full musical
range, gaining strength and beauty
rising from her natural contralto
voice. They will be playing later
this year at The Ark and were a won-
derful complement to Keelaghan' s
After the show, Keelaghan said
that, as a child, "Folk musicswas the
music of the house." The inspiration
to merge traditional folk music with
his own research of history "came
naturally," he said. "Folk music has
always been historically based." The
music comes from a Celtic connec-
tion, to Appalachia and west to his
native Alberta. A fan of Yeats,
Pierce, Joyce and other Irish poets,
Keelaghan follows their narrative in-
His craftsmanship has helped to
reach audiences outside of Canada.
He said, "They seem to pick up the
stories even though they aren't fa-
miliar with the history." His new
songs have brought the States,
where Keelaghan has spent much of
his time recently, into his songs.
"The background is mainly different,
but they are similar stories. The his-
tories are quite the same," he said.
He shares a sense of kinship with
other Western Canadian folk artists.
"Stephen Fearing, Spirit of the

Canadian folk musician James Keelaghan returned for yet another Ann Arbor show (actually two of them) on
atrda'' Fol' fan "m' rememher him frnm Iet ver's FoIk Fetivii atHill Auditorium


"Dia the French Revolution Make a Difference?"

The Sixteeth Annual Hayward Keniston


West, we run in a pack. There is
strength in numbers."
Keelaghan introduced "Small Re-
bellion" by saying, "While writing
the liner notes I was thinking about
the small rebellions that go on in-.
side us. And then flickering on my
TV screen I saw the rebellion taking
place in Beijing. I realized that Kent
State, Northern Ireland, Basque
Spain, South Africa are all similar...
the song has come to mean to me all
those little acts of defiance that pro-
tect our freedom."
-Mark Webster
Drood: Not
If you were unfortunate enough
to stumble into the Lydia Men-
delssohn Theatre this weekend, you
caught the Ann Arbor Civic Thea-
tre's shriveled offering, Drood. They
were perhaps lucky that the show
itself is a play of a melodrama done
at a Victorian music hall. How
convenient that all that bad acting
could be justified as intentionally
wretched - nothing could be this
unentertaining and off-key on pur-
Michigan Law School's own
Beverley Pooley was the Chairman
who guided us through the show, in-
troducing us to the various actors
and their characters and covering for
the technical mistakes. The audience
warmed to his bawdy humor though

I was not impressed. I enjoyed him
last year in the Music School's
Gianni Schicchi much more. The
two main characters, Jasper (played
by an unappealing Joe Diederich
who looked at least 20 years too old
for the young choir master) and
Jasper's nephew Edwin Drood
(played with no charisma by Wendy
Gartner Bloom) had admirable sing-
ing voices. But with the orchestra
sounding like a dreadful high school
recital and the tempos all laboriously
slow, their unmiked voices could not
help. And since neither of them
could act, each was stranded on stage
floundering. Edwin's fiancee, Rosa
(played by Sue Booth), had the curi-
ous habit of standing perfectly still
while she was trying to sing. She
had a rich tone, but I heard the same
performance on the original cast
The scant plot was made even
more undecipherable by Jim
Posante's worthless directing and
inept choreography. A simple tale of
Jasper's jealous love for Rosa and
Drood's murder (which the audience
gets to solve in Act II) was stretched
into a three hour torture-athon. Hqw
or why the audience sat through the
whole thing I will never know. They
must have just wanted something for
the outrageous ticket price. The
cardboard-box sets with framed pic-
tures hanging on them were ap-
palling. And the few rented back-
drops looked ironically out of place.
Whatever possessed the Civic to be-
lieve they could do justice to the
challenging Drood, which requires
only a mild level of performing

competence, is beyond comprehen-
sion. There was nothing to suggest
that this was anything but a theatri-
cal mishap filled with ridiculous ac-
tors who yearned to be on the stage
but who had no facility to make the
stage shimmer with life.
Sadly, The Mystery of Edwin
Drood does not have one murderer
but several: the director, the design-
ers, the orchestra, and the actors. I
suppose this corpse of a show is per-
fect for Halloween, but even the dead
couldn't stay awake through the
whole thing.
,-Jay Pekala
by Zukerman
In a sea of flashy, passionate
young instrumental divas, Pinchas
Zukerman is an island of refinement
and carefully sculpted musical im-
ages. But the island was under clouds
for the first half of his concert last
Friday at Hill Auditorium.
Zukerman experienced the plague
that afflicts many older, established
musicians in the first half of his
program with pianist Marc Neikrug.
He let the music go on without him.
Stravinsky's Pulcinella Suite was
there, and Beethoven's Sonata in E-
flat major was there, but
Zukerman's heart was not. Phrasing
and intonation were exact, but the
pieces were lifeless, particularly the
Beethoven - like a freshly cut rose
without fragrance. This problem,
See REVIEWS, page 13




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