Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 15, 1989
Jazz Butcher serves
BY JIM PONIEWOZIK
"M Y goodness gracious me,"
says Pat Fish, watching MTV in his
Maine hotel room, "they've got
what we call 'Kellys' on TV now."
"What?" I ask.
"There's a certain kind of Ameri-
can girl that appears in pop videos,
and we call them 'Kellys.' - after
the character Kelly from Married
With Children, he explains.
"They're kind of, you know, young
Fish, a.k.a the Jazz Butcher, has
an eye for this sort of thing - not
for nubile young actresses, necessar-
ily, but for the stereotypes and oddi-
ties that define the Postmodern
world. It's this satirical, critical eye
that makes his work more than mere
heady, catchy-as-hell pop music.
It's also what makes this sarcas-
tic British singer/guitarist, leader of
the raucous Jazz Butcher Conspiracy
(JBC), relish visiting the States.
"I like to immerse myself in
American TV and the Weekly World
News," he says. "When you live in
Europe, you look at America in
much the same way that a
Czechoslovakian might look at Rus-
sia, like Big Brother... (but) when
we're actually in the place, we have
the time of our fucking lives."
It's a high compliment coming
from a songwriter who's spent much
of his career criticizing. He describes
his latest LP, Big Planet Scarey
Planet, as "quite a pissed-off album"
- an apt tag for an album with
songs like the anti-Thatcher jeremiad
"New Invention" and "Bicycle Kid,"
in which he warns an eleven-year-old
bully who kills rabbits, "I'm going
to get you... you're just another
slicker at heart."
"Pissed-off" as the album is, it is
also Jazz Butcher's best, a witty,
But while Planet is his most is-
sue-conscious album yet, with its
indictments of England's materialis-
tic apathy ("We're all going to hell
in a chrome wheelbarrow"), it also
confirms that he is as much a come-
dian and a romantic as an intellect.
At his best, he's all of them at
once. Who else could put a song
about the bubonic plague on the
same album with several romantic
ballads? The answer, of course, is
Robyn Hitchcock - in fact if you
snuck half the songs from Planet
onto someone's tape of Fegmania!,
they'd probably never notice - but
Fish's music has a coherence some
of Hitchcock's non sequitur-fests
And for all of his joking, Fish's
music has a direct, sentimental hon-
esty, most evident in his love songs.
"I tend to like the slow, drippy
ones best," he says. "They're the
ones that seem to last best for me."
Fish also likes playing around,
both with lyrics and with music
styles from jazz to country. "I was
r Con- always told it was a bad thing al-
ways to be the same," he says. "I
was always told that surprises were
bserva- good. Nowadays, people seem to
g "The complain if you give them sur-
rseplay "I just like the process of making
music," he adds. "I like putting my
a tape fingers in places and hearing noises
ie mike come out, and all the sophisticated
ed like bullshit that goes with that... To
ght, he me, making an LP is spending two
is sick, weeks in a recording studio, not hav-
ing a career and if you're lucky you
treat- become Tom Petty."
Steve Simmons and Kathleen Gale play in the University Opera The-
atre's production of La Boheme. Since most of us don't understand
Italian, the opera is being performed in English.
BY AMI MEHTA
He may look intense and pretentious, but Pat Fish of Jazz Butcher
spiracy watches MTV and lust plain likes making music.
acerbic fest of fuzz-tone guitars and
agressive, hummable tunes that re-
call Robyn Hitchcock at his most
upbeat. Or a more humorous, British
Velvet Underground. Or Camper Van
Beethoven, who have Fish's atten-
"Camper Van Beethoven are now
before my very eyes playing on the
telly. My goodness, don't they all
look clean-cut these days? My good-
Actually, Fish says he is a rather
big fan of the Campers - JBC has
frequently covered "Take the Skin-
heads Bowling" - and his band
shares with them a knack for blend-
ing humor with serious ob
tions. For example, his song
Best Way," about the cruel tre
of farm animals, started as ho]
in the studio.
"I was playing witha
recorder," he says. "Hitting th
against the strings... it sound
a sick chicken." That thoug
says, turned into "chicken
as a concept."
The song catalogues the
ment of the birds in grisly,s
detail. Fish, a vegetarian, say
not the kind of guy that like
into burger bars and harassp
but I think education is impor
s to go
THE JAZZ BUTCHER CONSPIR-
ACY will play tonight at the Blind
Pig at around 10 p.m. Tickets are
INSTRUM ENTS rington has built a career on the edu-
cation and performance of early mu-
Continued from page 7 sic on period instruments, and when
on rvereratng rans intea ofhe explores a composer, he plunges
on reverberating grands instead of in full throttle. He has already orga-
delicate, clear textured fortepianos? nized "Experiences" as he calls them
Conductor Roger Norrington plans on Berlioz and Beethoven, each of
to find out by hosting the Mozart- grand scale proportions, encompass-
Fest, a four day intimate submersion ing not only music but other aspects
into the time and surroundings of of the time and culture the composer
Mozart. was exposed to. Ann Arbor's festival
And I do mean submersion. Nor- will be no exception. The University
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Musical Society reserved historic
Rackham Auditorium for the event,
and the halls will be lined with ex-
hibits of manuscripts, ancient in-
struments and period art. The per-
formances will be held in the audito-
rium and the lectures in the smaller
Amphitheater. Ars Musica Baroque
Orchestra, a pioneer original instru-
ment orchestra native to Ann Arbor
will serve as the concerto orchestra.
Allison Pooley, an 18th century
dance scholar, and members of the
University Dance school will per-
form 18th century dance. There will
even be an 18th century dinner A la
the Michigan League!
The School of Music offered a
course last winter on Mozart piano
concertos in preparation for the
event. Faculty members Penelope
Crawford and Eckart Sellheim con-
tribute their fortepiano skills and
Professor William Rothstein of the
School of Music will give one of
the lectures on the second day of the
This growing awareness of origi-
nal instruments and performances is
sweeping the music world with Nor-
rington at the pinnacle, and now,
with Ann Arbor as a catalyst.
PARIS - it's a city that invariably radiates an aura of romance, charm
and a certain je ne sais quoi. From the fast-paced high fashion in the
heart of the city to the unconventional lifestyles in the outskirts of the
Latin Quarter, Paris contains a rich atmosphere of diversity. La Boheme,
an opera set in the Latin Quarter in the 1830s, profiles some of these un-
conventional scenes of the bohemian lives of a group of artists as well as
intertwining a story of love and loss.
This music drama, put on by the University School of Music stu-
dents, presents a simple plot centered on a young writer who shares a
cold upstairs flat with other witty but impoverished artists and who falls
in love with his beautiful but deathly ill neighbor. It's a classic example
of the trials and tribulations of l'amour portrayed through music,
manuscript and melody.
Idealizing bohemia and rejecting daily life, the performers "alternate
between comedy and pathos," according to director George Mully. The
male characters are very exhuberant. They live a life of fun and games
while rebelling against the structured mold of society. But, "La Boheme
is a serious work, funny and extremely moving but not oblivious to the
social and political problems of its time," says Mully.
After the opera premiered in Italy in 1896, it was poorly received by
the critics but applauded by the public, which gave rise to its present day
popularity. And just as the characters in La Boheme run against the
grain, so does Mully by deciding to have the opera sung in English in-
stead of the original Italian of composer Giacomo Puccini. With hopes to
enhance audience as well as performer comprehension, this twist is very
unorthodox to classic operas. But Mully feels "the text is very literate,
witty and worthy of attention," therefore justifying the change to
English. Although a strong case can be made regarding authenticity and
alteration of the composer's original expectations, Mully says, "By and
large, people who aren't regular opera goers like English, and we've tried
to adapt the translation closely to the original composition."
Another deviation from the standard is the double casting of the four
shows. Mully feels this gives the largest number of students the chance
to participate in the show and this assures no duplicate performances for
audiences who happen to have the chance to see La Boheme more than
LA BOHEME starts tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Power Center. Perfor-
mances on Friday and Saturday are at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 and $7.
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