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December 02, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-12-02

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, December 2, 1992

Page 5

To 'folk' or not to 'folk'

- a handy guide
A mellow ti through the gentle
world of the best offolk music

Attention Losers
Are you a complete loser?
Have you been dying to change
your life? Here's your chance to
make a brand new start, or at
least pretend. The Virtual Reality
Seminar is coming to town to
demonstrate the latest in virtual
reality, that glorified video game.
You can even participate in the
fun and games yourself with an
advance reservation. There's also
a lecture by Steven Aukstakalnis,
who wrote a book about virtual
reality. The illustrious event takes

Brenda Kahn plays the
acoustic guitar in a dress
by Scott Sterling
O.K., let's draw a picture. Imagine. A woman. With
a guitar. A big, clunky, acoustic guitar. You get to fill in
the blanks. Thin, close-cropped 'do, combat boots,
ripped jeans perhaps? Kinda that Michelle Shocked
meets Chrissie Hynde thang? Now pull a Sinead, rip it
up, and meet Brenda Kahn.
"It's the biggest challenge for me as an artist, to be
taken seriously, but not going the 'guy' route," she says
from her New York digs, moments before heading to a
Soul Asylum gig.
"It just won't work for me," she comments on the
androgynous look of so many guitar-toting females. "I
don't look good in short hair, and I'm not skinny or flat-
chested. But it's really hard for us to get over in this so-
ciety while still being feminine. You end up like
Marilyn Monroe or something."
At the forefront of the burgeoning "Anti-folk'
scene, the twentysomething Kahn's acoustic-soaked
rock and roll is filled with 'grrl riot' spirit and plenty of
attitude. Her major label debut, "Epiphany In
Brooklyn," is an estrogen-powered collection of angst-
ridden introspection that utilizes a cynical sense of hu-
mor to it's definite advantage.
"We slammed the new record out after only a few
rehearsals, much like my first one" (the hard-to-find
"Goldfish Don't Talk Back" on Community 3 Records).
It's much more introverted and reflective of me than
"Goldfish..," Kahn intones. "I listen to the first one
now, and it's just very young. I was so political back
then," she laughs.
Kahn quit her day job and hit the road following the
release of her debut, playing anywhere and everywhere
she could. "It was a year of experiences, playing, and
sleeping on floors," she remembers.
But constantly changing circumstances are a catalyst
for Kahn's music.
"I've always done that, sort of run away, ever since I
was sixteen and spent a year in France. You're so influ-
enced by your surroundings. It's like drinking a cup of
coffee in New York compared to drinking one in
Tunisia. Or even New York compared to the
Appalachian Mountains. Two thousand miles is two
thousand miles," Kahn says.
Gearing up for a tour in early 1993 (that will be her
first with a band), Kahn is also excited by her new sin-
gle, "60-Second Critic," a duet with Soul Asylum's
dreadlocked boy wonder, Dave Pirner.

Oldman

Kahn

by Andrew Cahn
Have you ever been mellow?
In case you haven't noticed, folk
music is cool again. Did you just
ask, "When was it ever cool?" When
my parents were in college in the
early sixties, Peter, Paul & Mary, the
Kingston Trio, and the Bobster made
Greenwich Village the Seattle of
their time. If you want to be part of
the '90s folk music revival, here are
ten records you must buy.
Michelle Shocked, "Arkansas
Traveler," Mercury. This record is
much deeper than it sounds at the
surface. At first, it seems like a
"Graceland"-esque survey of folk
music styles from around the world.
Listen a bit more carefully, and you
realize that Shocked has re-invented
a few fiddle standards with updated
socio-political subtexts.
John Gorka, "Jack's Crows or
Temporary Road," High Street.
Gorka graduated from college in the
early eighties overeducated and un-
derqualified for real work. It's a
great thing he has a sense of humor
about it. When he sings about not
letting your own disillusionment dis-
tract you from falling in love, he
means it. These records don't put
you in any moods, but enhance
whatever one you are already in.
Chris Smither, "Another Way to
Find You," Flying Fish. Chris
Smither, not John Hiatt is Bonnie
Raitt's favorite songwriter. She has
covered two songs which appear on
this disc, "Love You Like A Man"
and "I Feel the Same." This solo,
acoustic mix of originals and tributes
invited the listeners inside his emo-
tions, leading them to investigate
their own. "Don't It Drag On" is my
life story.
Bill Morrissey, "Inside," Philo.
Many literary types compare him to
Raymond Carver. His songs describe
scenarios with minimal lyrics, but
his most poignant lyrics might be the
ones he doesn't even sing. The gaps
he leaves open fill themselves.
Strength In Numbers, "Tellur-
ide Sessions," MCA. Is it jazz,
bluegrass, or new age? Whatever it
is, it's fuckin' cool. Sam Bush, Bela
Fleck, Mark O'Connor and Jerry
Douglass are not only the finest mu-
sicians to ever play their instru-
ments, but they have respectively set
the mandolin, banjo, fiddle and do-
bro free from genre prison.
Cowboy Junkies, "Black Eyed
Man," Capitol. "Trinity Sessions"
broke down many walls in 1989, but
their latest release may be even more
captivating. Michael Timmins has
perfected that po-mo, reluctant

genius look while top notch country
rock players jam around him and his
babe sister takes all the credit. Listen
carefully to the lyrics on "Oregon
Hill."
Subdudes, "Subdude," Atlantic
or Lucky/EastWest America. Singer/
guitarist Tommy Malone is Radiator
Dave Malone's brother. The basic
idea behind this band is four guys
from New Orleans who moved out
to Colorado and got real mellow.
They blow you away by not blowing
you away. Not only are they the only
band of white guys you can cover Al
Green's "Tired of Being Alone," but
their drummer grooves harder than
any white funk wanna be and the
guy only plays a tambourine.
Life According to Four Bitchin'
Babes, "Buy Me! Bring Me! Take
Me! Don't Mess My Hair," Philo.
Christine Lavin and Patti Larkin are
two well known solo folkies, but
when they joined up with Sally
Fingerett and Megan McDonough,
they created the female CSN&Y of
the '90s. Their next album, with
Julie Gold instead of Larkin, will be
out soon and should as fine as this
live set.
Iris Dement, "Infamous Angel,"
Philo. She is so rural, she makes
Nanci Griffith sound like Ice Cube.
Each song here is like a chapter from
the memoirs of a young girl from
Arkansas, who might have never left
the state. This is one of the most
genuine records of the past year.
Peter Holsapple/Chris Stamey,
"Mavericks," RNA. They invented
college rock in the early '80s when
they were the Db's, but then they
took their own advice and changed
with the changing times by going
acoustic. The recording is overdub
heaven and the tunes have more to
do with Liverpool tradition than the
La's or Teenage Fanclub do com-
bined.

place tomorrow at Chrysler
Center Auditorium on North
Campus. It's free. Call 747-1844.
Short Plays
If you think plays are fun but
just too damn long to sit through,
you're in luck. The RC Players
are putting on two, count 'em,
two one-act plays. The first,
'Grandma Duck is Dead," has a
weird name. The second, "The
American Dream," is written by
Edward Albee, who wrote that
great Liz Taylor/Dick Burton
vehicle, "Who's Afraid of
Virginia Woolf?" The double bill
debuts tomorrow night and runs
through Saturday, 8 p.m., at the
Residential College Auditorium
in East Quad. Call 741-0599.
Cox & Sid
UAC's M-Flicks has finally
gotten their act together. Instead
of spending the University's
billions on dreck like "Die Hard
2," this weekend, they're
showcasing that fine British
auteur, Alex Cox - known for
directing Emilio Estevez's one
good movie, "Repo Man," and
the ultimate in disgusting,
drugged-out, overlong, rock
biopic extravaganzas (except for
"The Doors"), "Sid and Nancy."
Catch Gary "Dracula" Oldman in
a good movie, as the venerable
Sid. The movies are showing,
Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9:15
p.m. respectively at Aud A. For
more information call 763-1107.

"We were at this Sony convention, completely
trashed, and somehow we ended up in his hotel room,
determined to write a song. I found this questionnaire
thing on the night table called "60-Second Critic," and I
was like, 'Here's our song!' We just started throwing
lines back and forth. It was so fun and crazy."
Recording the tune turned out to be a very similar
experience.
"We got trashed, went into a studio, and just did it.
The best part is that at like four in the morning, Dave
looks at me, totally serious, and says, 'Should we call
the banjo player?' I thought I was gonna die. But it was
so fitting."

Gorka

A film gone to the 'Dogs'
Written and directed by the brash 27-year-old filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, "Reservoir Dogs" packs a visceral
punch unmatched in 1992's weak crop of dramatic films. Don't miss any opportunity to see this revisionist heist
movie as it makes its painfully slow way to the Midwest. "Reservoir Dogs" chronicles a diamond robbery gone
wrong and stars what might be the best assemblage of character actors since the "JFK" cameo fest, including
Tim Roth (above right) and the greatest character actor of them all, Harvey Keitel (above left). Wildly violent and
wickedly funny, "Reservoir Dogs" brims over with the in-your-face style of early Martin Scorsese. It isn't
scheduled to hit Ann Arbor until mid-January, but it is playing in Detroit at theaters like the AMC Abbey (254-
7400) and the AMC Woods (884-6186). Find a way to see it, if only to hear Tarantino's off-color interpretation of
Madonna's "Like a Virgin" - destined to be a classic moment in film history.
- Megan Abbott

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