.rhe Michigan Daily
Thursday, November 2, 1989
BY NABEEL ZUBERI
IN 1984 Rolling Stone named jan-
gly guitar band True West one of
their hopefuls of the year. True West
promptly split, but that hope has
Obeen partially fulfilled in lead singer
Russ Tolman's career. Tolman's star
is definitely in the ascendant. His
second album, Down in Earthquake
Town (Skyclad Records), poetically
follows through the western preoc-
cupations of his old band. Tolman's
distinctive voice is a cross between
Iggy singing "China Girl" and Al
Stewart doing the venerated '70s
classic "The Year of the Cat." Don't
let that put you off, though.
Songs such as "Vegas," "Down
in Earthquake Town" and "Palm Tree
Land" are thick with seamy romanti-
cism. Down in Earthquake Town
(about L.A., not San Francisco) will
remind you of Robert Altman's The
Long Goodbye, in which Elliot
Gould's scruffy Philip Marlowe
shuffles through seedy joints in
rmodern L.A., trying to make sense
of various incidents. Likewise, Tol-
man sings of bars peopled by
grotesque characters, pathetic wash-
outs, guys with axes to grind, and
guys who are just dreamers. The
album's title track is a first person
narrative by a man from Smalltown,
U.S.A. moving to L.A. and still
celebrating that he's at least escaped
o the big city, despite none of his
hopes being realized. All he wants is
"an unlimited credit line and pole
position in this human race." Is that
too much to ask?
Failure is the subject of many of
Tolman's songs. "Palm Tree Land"
is a philosophical loser's tale. The
way Tolman's songs come over, you
can't help feeling a grudging respect
for the sorriest of losers. He never
,shirks from reporting the ugliness
and failure in the California
"utopia." In "Baby," Tolman sings
"I wish I could write a song where
everything's right and nothing's
wrong/ But I don't feel that way,"
and then adds, that if you don't like
it, "why don't you take a flying fuck
at the moon." There's a consistent
Russ Tolman, formerly of True West, flies the solo route with the help of his Totem Poles tonight at the Blind
Pig. Tolman's guitar craftsmanship and distinctive singing style make mincemeat out of most singer-songwriters
out there. Beantown's The Neats open up the show.
Guys and Dolls a good bet
BY AMI MEHTA
ON a stage stand characters ranging from a promiscuous showgirl to a
nosy lieutenant to a gang of half-witted hooligans whose leader cries out,
"If a guy doesn't have a doll, who's gonna holler at him?!"
That's Nathan Detroit, a dowdy, streetwise gangster who spends his
life setting up and playing crap games behind the back of his own doll,
Adelaide. The fact is, guys need dolls and dolls need guys and this inter-
play is shown in the musical comedy Guys and Dolls, presented by
This hip, upbeat musical, set in New York City of the '40s, shows a
comic portrayal of the intertwining lives of gangsters, showgirls and
missionaries rolled up into an unlikely love story. With the cast of 36
people, most of whom are non-theater majors, the show comes together
to capture the audience through its lively dancing, music and acting. Ac-
cording to director Matt Meko, a junior musical theater concentrator,
"The cast comes from such different backgrounds and majors, and it's
nice to see them building and all working with each other." He has seen
this dedicated and hardworking cast show a day and night improvement
from early rehearsals.
The four main characters are brought out strongly by the students who
play them. Sky (LSA sophomore Jaimie Mistry) is a "slick, persuasive
smooth-talker" who takes on a bet from Nathan. Nathan (junior commu-
nications major Joey Craine) is everything that Sky is not. He's the
leader of a set of gangsters in the play, and everyone depends on him to
find a place to hold the "oldest established floating crap game in New
York." Bilmore's Garage seems to be the preferred choice, but there's a
$1000 rental fee - a lot of dough Nathan doesn't have. So he bets Sky
$1000 that Sky can't take Sarah (first-year student Angela Peterson) to
Havana, Cuba with him. She's active in the local mission and "wants to
save the world, basically," according to Peterson. "Sarah is a naive,
uptight and sheltered girl, and Sky is the wrong type of guy for her, but
t all works out in the end." (Just as all good musicals should.)
Most of the characters represent extreme types of people. Adelaide
(Kelly McGrath) is Nathan's ditzy doll who's been engaged to him for
over ten years and hopes to eventually get married to him. The storyline
revolves around Sky getting Sarah to go to Havana and Nathan wanting
:o win the $1000 to hold his crap game. The heat's on Nathan but he
,.omes through and everyone is happy, including Sarah and Adelaide who
get together with their respective guys. A double wedding results - a
orny but always welcome happy ending, especially in the '40s.
As an entirely student-run production, Guys and Dolls also showcases
the talents of choreographer Elizabeth Rossi and the conducting of sopho-
more musical director David Kirschenbaum. The music ranges from jazz
to brassy Broadway tunes to a unique Irish ballad. With all of the music
and dance uncut from the original show, Guys and Dolls promises to be
an inventive as well as authentic hit slapstick musical.
The word is out for the rest of you guys and dolls out there. If you're
looking for a swingin', frazzlin', dazzlin', hip-hoppin' good time, this
show is a must see, sweethearts!
GUYS AND DOLLS runs tonight through Saturday; shows start at 8 p.m.
in the Power Center. Tickets are $6.
bite and irony in Tolman's lyrics, man's band, the Totem Polemen, content of his lyrics. It was Jack
which keeps him from sinking into provides a definitive rock group Kerouac who blamed city intellectu-
the conceptual mire that is the backing. Jangly and chiming guitars als for forgetting the folk-bodied
"singer-songwriter syndrome." are still in high relief, and there's blood of their own land. That's sadly
So many singer-songwriters also rousing brass accompaniment true these days, but nobody could
swathe their Gucci existentialism in from the the L.A. Free Love Orches- ever accuse Russ Tolman of that.
wimpy, arrangements that lack any tra on the album. This muscular
strength of conviction. But Tol- sound complements the sanguine RUSS TOLMAN plays tonight at the -
nt" T T FT 1nfm OC
p.m. Sunday this weekend and next;
Directed, acted, and scored entirely
by students, this promises to be
worthwhile. Student tickets are $4.
-Pianist Malcom Frager will
perform with the Orchestre de la
Suisse Romande, conducted by
Armin Jordan tonight at 8 p.m. at
Hill Auditorium. Frager replaces the
originally scheduled Martha Arg-
erich. Student rush tickets should be
available at Burton Tower.
Blind Pig; THE NEATS open it up at
9 p.m. Tickets are $4 with student
The RC Players present Plautus'
na, an Athenian comedy, in the
Quad Auditorium at 8 p.m.
rsday through Saturday and at 2
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