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November 29, 1990 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-11-29

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Thursday, November 29, 1990

The Michigan Daily

Page 5


by Andrew J Cahn
in an age when technology seems
to gloss over most recordings, it is
refreshing to see musicians shirk the
synths, sequencers and Simmons
drums in favor of acoustics. Bands
such as Guns n' Roses and Tesla,
who are known for their full-blast
electric styles, have released albums
made up of acoustic material.
MTV's Unplugged , which has fea-
tured acts as varied as Stevie Ray
Vaughn, Crowded House and Aero-

smith playing acoustic sets com-
prised of originals and covers, has
been one of the network's most
popular programs.
The Complete Recordings of
Robert Johnson, a compilation of all
29 tracks he cut over 50 years ago,
is about to be the first acoustic blues
recording to crack Billboard's Top
100 Albums chart. Although many
bands have been capitalizing on this
trend, appearing at the Ark tonight
are four artists, John Hammond Jr.,
Bowling Green Cephus and

blues gi
Harmonica Wiggins, and Paul
Geremia, who have been playing
this way all along.
Hammond, whose father was a
talent scout who is credited with dis-
covering Bob Dylan and Bruce
Springsteen, has been performing for
more than 25 years and says his ma-
jor inspiration came from Robert
Johnson, as well as other country
blues artists from the '30's.
He also says he thinks of John
Lee Hooker as one of his major in-
fluences. Hammond remembers that
when he first heard him, "I imagined
him to be about eight feet tall and
just a monster giant. Then I was on
a show with him... and he was
about five foot five, and looked like
just a receding kind of guy. And then
he opened his mouth and sang and it
all came back."
Through the years Hammond has
recorded in both acoustic and electric
situations, but when he performs he
prefers to play solo. "I like country
blues songs that a band just gets in
the way of... It's harder and more
demanding to play alone, but I think
it's more rewarding in the end. When
you can pull that off, when you can
reach an audience by just being a
solo artist, it's just much more ef-
fective and affecting."
"Acoustic music brings out the
truth in your ability... I'd love to go
hear B.B. King play so. It would re-
veal so much about him. It's like
the crucible there," he adds.
While Hammond's playing is
rooted in the Mississippi Delta tradi-
tion, Cephus and Wiggins play what
is called Piedmont Blues. In Guitar
Player magazine, they described the

o north
difference between the two styles.
"Mississippi Delta blues has
more single-string, harsh progres-
sions," guitarist and vocalist John
Cephus points out, "while Piedmont
style has a richer, more full-bodied,
melodious sound. It features a multi-
tude of strings, just ringing out of
the guitar." The two see Rev. Gary
Davis as an important influence.
Cephus says Davis "did some stuff
that was so fancy that even I can't
get in on the guitar."
Both artists were touched by that
type of blues at an early age. Accord-
ing to Guitar Player, Cephus, who
grew up in Virginia and Washing-
ton, D.C., says, "There used to be a
lot of blues musicians in the Black
community. - not people that were
really known, but it was like a way
of life." Hammond says he had been
a blues fan through his teens, and
when he got a guitar at 17, all he
wanted to play was the blues. Unlike
Cepus and Wiggins, Hammond is
white, and grew up in an affluent
But his background has never
made any difference to him.
"Country blues is so demanding that
anybody who could do it, no matter
where they came from, had a valid
right to play it," he says, adding that
throughout his career he has been
openly accepted by his peers, and he
has only felt animosity from
members of the press who simply
wanted to "blow (the race issue) out
of proportion."
Tonight's show, which also fea-
tures another solo performer, Paul
Geremia, will be a showcase for
some of the finest harp-pumpin',

Picking up on the footwear precedent set by Ann Arbor's own Sense of
Smell, John Hammond Jr. kicks off his shoes and plays the blues

What would the world
to lip sync?4

be coming to if Cephus and Wiggins ever decide

Sex and money
make good books

finger-pickin'facoustic blues musi-
cians still performing. "(We are)
three out of only a handful that play
this kind of music, and it's rare that
we all get to play on the same
stage," Hammond says. "It's gonna
be a hell-of-a show."

LOTS OF PEOPLE will play at the
Ark tonight. The show begins at 7:30
p.m. and tickets are $11.25,
available at Schoolkids, Herb
David and TicketMaster (plus evil
service charge).

by Carolyn Pajor
Sex and money: each is good on its
own, but linked together they can
sell anything from cars to perfume
to books. Especially books. Author
Jaimy Gordon knows this; her sec-
ond novel, She Drove Without
Stopping, tells of a young woman's
desire for emotional and sexual inde-
pendence as she drives across the
country. Jane Turner is "a half-baked
adventuress who-knows herself to be
one," a 20-year- old who beds men
with a frenzy and attracts a macabre
pageant of suitors along the way.
One was an artist child prodigy
until he "became a bum." Another is
an owner of a junk store, a middle-
aged African-American man who ro-
mances Jane in outrageous raiment:
'...say, a plaid smoking jacket and
blue foil birthday party hat, with a
pair of rubber antlers strapped to his
9 forehead."
As delicate the line between
truth and fiction really is, Gordon
does not let complaints from those
who recognize themselves in her fic-
tion get in the way. She says, "I
have a high idea of the mission of
art and aesthetic living. People com-
plain but they leave me to go my
way. They all recognize that ulti-
mately, this is a work of fiction."

Gordon has been called an eclec-
tic writer. She tries to write
"beautiful prose, something different
every time." Her first novel, Shamp
of the City-Solo, is hailed as an un-
derground classic, and Gordon has
also written a novella, Circumspec-
tions From an Equestrian Statue and
a narrative poem, "The Bend, The
Lip, The Kid." She currently teaches
fiction writing at Western Michigan.
When giving advice to young
writers Gordon says, "Just be as-
sured that you can write about any-
thing." These words are not surpris-
ing because Gordon's own writing
has been described as "the kind of
unblinking feminist writing that
isn't afraid to admit of a woman
whooping it up all night, then wak-
ing next morning, disgusted and not
a little exalted to discover just how
close to the edge she'd crawled."
"I do not want to repeat my-
self," Gordon says. With feckless,
fearless characters hell-bent on deca-
dence and midsummer madness,
Jaimy Gordon's readers should not
be very worried.
JAIMY GORDON will be reading
from She Drove Without Stopping
this evening at S p.m. in the
Michigan Union Pendleton Room.

Wendy and Lisa
Virgin Records
Wendy Melvoin is still one of
the sexiest women in music today.
Her third album with longstanding
partner Lisa Coleman continues a
string of albums all charged with
palpable passion and sensuality. Un-
fortunately, Eroica is Wendy and

Lisa's nadir of sorts, far from the
superlative presence of Fruit At the
Bottom. As ever, the two women
seem more than happy to follow the
Prince tenet of music production,
"Better sorry than safe." Their risk-
taking edge is gleaming and bare on
"Strung Out," produced with Tony
Berg. The song is in many ways the
current tip of the women's iceberg

here, rife with guitars and sparse
with the lyrical mumbo-jumbo.
As wonderfully harmonic and
passionate as their best, "Strung
Out" is a brand new funk for the
women. While earlier jams like
"Satisfaction" depended mostly on
mechanical-synthetic expression,
Wendy's stinging guitar tones and a
solid beat make the funky ditty work

extremely well.
Cleverly evocative is "Don't Try
To Tell Me," with lead vocals by
Lisa. With a dissonant, initially
pleasing-sounding string pattern car-
rying it, Lisa's delivery about a very
imbalanced relationship seems quite
trite. But the disturbingly sung cho-
rus, "Don't try to tell me what kind
See RECORDS, Page 7


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r- 9

Ode to

4Y Tl

Finals are up and coming,
co I wrote thin little rhyme,
To get you down to AshleyB
Qemember, stressful times
are soon ahead,
co why not drink Ashleys
Ale instead?9

338 6.(state



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