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November 09, 1990 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-11-09

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ARTS
Friday, November 9, 1990

'The Michigan Daily

Page 5

A most gleeful fraternity

by Elizabeth Lenhard
After 131 years, you'd think the
novelty would wear off. But the
University of Michigan Men's
Glee Club is still amazing its au-
diences with impeccable technique
and diverse musical expression. In
its concert tomorrow, the group
promises both tradition and inno-
vation when it performs music
from spirituals to Michigan songs
to classical pieces.
The Men's Glee Club makes no
secret of its pride in being the sec-
ond oldest collegiate male chorus
in the country. (Harvard's is the
oldest.) The image this all-male
institution may call to mind is one
of tradition - maybe a bunch of
guys who wear ascots and smoke
pipes. A glimpse of one of the
Glee Club's rehearsals will quickly
dispel that image.
The Glee Club is filled with en-
thusiasm that at times may appear
to border on chaos. A business
meeting is often characterized by
flying paper airplanes and shouts
as President Mike Pont attempts to
restore order with, "Gentlemen?
Uh... Gentlemen?" Yet, director
Dr. Jerry Blackstone is able to
channel that enthusiasm into the
music with melodious results. The
Glee Club's success is clearly a

combination of tradition, passion
and talent for music, comradery and
Blackstone's skillful direction.
While a good number of the
men are music majors, most of the
Glee Club consists of talented en-
gineers, LSA students and others
who enjoy performing.
"Glee Club rehearsals provide
relief from the stresses of the
week," says Todd Smith, a public-
ity manager. Actually, joke a few
The members see
themselves as a kind
of fraternity with a
common passion for
music. They stick to-
gether outside of
rehearsals...
of the other men, the appeal is the
weekly trips to Uno's.
The members see themselves as
a kind of fraternity with a common
passion for music. They stick to-
gether outside of rehearsals, as well
as living together on their extended
tours, making for great chemistry
musically.
While the men are all talented
(it's rare that a member has not had
years of singing experience),
Blackstone's intuitive direction

seems to be the factor that gives
the Men's Glee Club its excep-
tional quality.
Says Business Manager Bob
Hoff, "Dr. Blackstone knows how
to reach a balance between serious
work and joking around."
Blackstone himself says, "I try
to motivate through energy, ex-
citement and humor."
One of the Glee Club's striking
qualities is its graceful transitions
between works of extremely differ-
ent styles and backgrounds. For in-
stance, tomorrow's program will
include "Under the Sea" from The
Little Mermaid and "Ave Maria."
"Dr. Blackstone also gives a de-
scriptive preface to each piece,
which really helps," says Tim
Schoehner, a member of The
Friars, the eight-man a cappella
group that performs "at halftime."
The Men's Glee Club provides
a combination of talent, fun and,
most importantly, a sense of tradi-
tion. As Pont says, "At the end of
every concert, we ask former
members to join us in singing the
alma mater, and an alumnus from
1917 might come up."
THE MEN'S GLEE CLUB will
perform Saturday at Hill Audito-
rium at 8 p.m. Tickets are $8 and
$6. Student tickets are $3.

Future is a
rock Call
from past
by Michael Paul Fischer
6 4 don't look at music as going
backwards or forwards," explains
singer/bassist Michael Been of The
Call. "It just is, and in fact I hate
the idea of thinking that rock and
roll... could go forward, if you
know what I mean. How do you go
forward past Robert Johnson and
Leadbelly and John Lee Hooker? And
how do you go past Hank Williams
and Patsy Cline?"
For the leader of a group hailed
by the innovator Peter Gabriel as the
future of American music, Been's
vision of music exists not in
timelines, but rather in a rare sense
of purity beyond the fads, trends and
marketing strategies of the day.
Still, Red Moon, The Call's
seventh and latest album, is the first
from this Santa Cruz, Calif., quartet
which could actually be described as
"old-fashioned." Between 1982 and
1985, The Call was regarded as a
"new-wave" group because of their
edgy rhythms and synthesizers -
even though their keyboardist was
Garth Hudson, formerly of seminal
backwoods rockers The Band.
But on the 1987 album Into the

The Call (singer Michael Been stands third from left) base their
spiritually compelling music on roots that pre-date 1970s "classic" rock

Woods, The Call rediscovered the
gritty roots heritage (Been cut his
teeth playing blues on Chicago's
South Side) which has since buoyed
their electric sense of modern
dynamics with a timeless undertow.
The Call returned in 1989 with
the phenomenal Let the Day Begin.
The programming walls of format-
radio, which had resisted their blend
of old and new, finally gave in; the
thunderous title track broke the AOR
charts and ended the year as 1989's
sixth most-played album-rock track.
"We kinda got lucky with that one,"
Been confesses. Along with Living
Colour and Tracy Chapman, a 1989
Time magazine cover story exalted
The Call as one of the bands to
watch in the '90s.

Red Moon is an earthy,
handmade-sounding record that musi-
cally echoes the spiritual reveries of
Dylan, Robbie Robertson and Van
Morrison - through the phenome-
nal vehicle of Been's vaguely per-
sonal lyrics and his heroic voice, the
most powerfully sincere in all of
rock. Red Moon is the album U2
tried to make when they recorded
Rattle and Hum. Melding a philo-
sophical wisdom with Chicago-style
brass sections and bruising, Hooker
grooves, The Call have realized a
singular plateau as the standard-bear-
ers of American roots-rock tradition.
THE CALL jam at the Ritz in
Roseville tonight. Cover is $5. The
doors open at 8 p.m., the band hits
the stage around 12 p.m.

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The Investment Banking Division
of
Goldman, Sachs &-Co.
cordially invites the students
of the University of Michigan
to an information session on careers
in Investment Banking.
All undergraduates are
welcome to attend.
Monday, November 12, 1990
Michigan Union
Kuenzel Room
7:00 p.m.

::::x
X-
XX:1

Sunday, Nov. 25 8pm
Power Center

4

with special guest ISIS
a U-M Major Events presentation
with Kuumba

I

Is

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