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December 07, 1994 - Image 8

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-12-07

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RTS

Chieftains find pot of gold

By EMILY LAMBERT
"If there is a more beautiful musi-
cal sound in all the world than that of
the Chieftains, I haven't heard it,"
wrote Bob Claypool of the Houston
Post. The Chieftains, a well-loved
and much-acclaimed group of musi-
cians, have traversed the world play-
ing traditional Irish music to appre-
ciative audiences for 32 years. This
Wednesday, the popular band returns
to Ann Arbor to give a "Christmas in
Ireland" concert at Hill Auditorium.
The Chieftains' group leader,
Dublin-raised Paddy Moloney, seems
somewhat amazed with the interna-
tional fame the band has achieved.
"In 1962 Iput the group together,"
said Moloney. "At that time there was
nobody much playing Irish music. It
wasn't fashionable; it was just played
in the homes and houses. A friend of
mine had a record company and he
asked me to put a band together to
make a record. It came out in '63 and
was called 'The Chieftains.' I didn't
think it would ever go any further."
32 years, 30 albums, several
'Grammy awards and many sold-out
international tours later, Moloney is
ready to admit that the Chieftains
have achieved something special. The
Chieftains performed for a record-
breaking audience of 1.35 million
before Pope John Paul II, became the
first Western band to play on the
Great Wall of China, and was the first
group to give a concert in the U.S.
Capitol Building. The Chieftains com-
posed and performed music for sev-
eral films, and inspired director Ron
Howard to create the movie "Far and
Away." \The members, who have
played together in Carnegie Hall, on
"Saturday Night Live" and with many

leading orchestras around the world,
have been officially named Ireland's
Musical Ambassadors.
"The combination of instruments
that we play covers a whole range of
traditional Irish instruments. There-
fore, our sound has to be as authentic
as you can get," said Moloney.
The band includes Martin Fay and
Sean Keane on fiddles, Derek Bell on
harp, Kevin Conneff on the goatskin
Bodhran drum, Matt Molloy on flute
and Moloney on tin whistle and
Uillean pipes. A form of bagpipe,
Uillean (pronounced ILL-ean) pipes
have a beautiful but exotic sound that
even Moloney deems "very differ-
ent." "It's not an octopus as some
people think," he laughed.
The musicians' backgrounds, in-
struments and charm have blended to
create a band with unbelievable ver-
satility.
"I'm 56," Maloney said, "and I've
been playing since I was three years
of age. So I've accumulated a lot of
music over that time. And that applies
to the rest of the band, too. They're all
out-and-out traditional musicians. But
that doesn't say that we can't sit down
and listen to great classical music,
music from Japan or country music."
Incredibly adaptable, the Chief-
tains have a "Chieftains in China"
recording, and recently teamed up
with musicians from Nashville to cre-
ate the album "Another Country,"
which connects country music to Irish
folk songs. Among the artists that
have worked with the Chieftains are
Emmylou Harris, INXS, Willie
Nelson, Bob Dylan, Nanci Griffith,
Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, James
Galway and Meryl Streep.
"It's amazing that there are people

all over the world who are playing
Irishmusic,"saidMoloney. "It'sgreat
to meet up with them and swap tunes.
It's a whole world of music out there."
Despite the years of traveling and
collaborating, the Chieftains have re-
tained their traditional Irish style.
"We always insist on coming home
and 'recharging the batteries,' you
might say," said Moloney. "Ireland
has been recognized over the centu-
ries as one of the richest nations in
world when it comes to culture. The
music has always been so strong. It's
been a great anchor for tradition. It's
held in there wonderfully."
The Chieftains' 31strecording, "The
Long Black Veil," will be released in
January. It features another array of
guests, including Sting, Mick Jagger,
Tom Jones and Sinead O'Conner.
"Over the years we've 'guested'
on other people's albums," Moloney
explained. "I decided in the last year
or two that it was time for us to invite
them to come on our album. As I say,
it's just one big, happy family.
"When you hear (the record),
you'll hear other sounds, but you'll
hear our distinctive sound coming
through. Most of the songs that are
sung by the guests are Irish songs. It
has some songs composed by the
members of the band, and some com-
posed reels and jigs that make it even
more exciting."
Although the recording process was
great fun for Moloney, he still prefers
giving live performances. "Playing live
is the ultimate," he said. "You never get
onto tape the excitement that is created
on stage. This is one thing that we have.
We create great humor on stage and that
makes people very much relaxed. They
feel that they're at a party in a parlor

A bunch of Smilin' Irishmen: The Chieftains. The world-renowned group gives a Christmas concert at Hill tonight.

back home. The thing aboutplaying the
music on stage is that it's never the
same. Something new happens to every
tune."
Improvisation and general excite-
ment are central features of the Chief-
tains' performances. If the expected
measure of spontaneity is any indica-
tion, Wednesday's concert should be
fabulous. The program for "Christmas
in Ireland" will be announced from the
stage. Amazin' Blue, the University's
co-ed a cappella student ensemble will
participate in the festivities. The con-
cert will also feature the Kennelly Irish
dancers, who will give a seasonal per-
formance of an old Irish custom, the

Wren Boys.
Immense success has made 1994 a
busy year for the Chieftains. In addi-
tion to preparing their recordings, they
traveled around the world and made
their third trip to Japan in the last 12
months. The Chieftains were too busy
to attend the Grammy celebrations at
which they were honored.
"We're trying to put the brakes on
at the moment," said Moloney. "It's
just getting ridiculous the way things
are going for us. It's just amazing....
We can't complain."
Despite the Chieftains' worldwide
popularity, the group has not lost its
distinctive Irish flair, and Moloney has

not lost his primary motive for music-
making. Said Moloney, "It's best to sit
in aroom and exchange tunes. It's a pity
that the powers that be around the world
don't do likewise. Instead of making
war they could make music. Sit in a
room and exchange a few songs, and it
would be marvelous altogether. The
world would be a happier place."
THE CHIEFTAINS will present a
"Christmas in Ireland" tonight at 8
p.m. in Hill Auditorium. Tickets are
$25, $20 and $16, and are available
at the Union Ticket Office and all
TicketMaster outlets. For
information or to charge by phone,
call 763-TKTS or (810) 645-6666.

Those spontaneous Friars are out to have a good time

By JESSIE HALLADAY
When you get eight men together,
and those men happen to be Friars,
you are in for an experience which
makes you want to scream. Some
may be screaming from the fact that
these are some of the best-looking
men on campus, who can sing to boot;
others may scream because it is al-
most impossible to hold a conversa-
tion with all eight of them at once. I
felt a combination of both after my
interview with them last week.
The men who make up the a
cappella singing group known as the
Friars are once again preparing for
their annual study break concert. This
year the show will be held at 8 p.m.
this Friday at the Power Center. We
got together to chat about the show
and what it is like to be a Friar.

It is obvious from the beginning that
these guys have a camaraderie that is
somewhat undefinable. Dan Ryan, Matt
Bejin, Dave Huey, Matt Laura, Jason
Menges, Greg Fortner, Trevor Sprik
and Tom Vesbit don'tjust sing together
- they play together.
Trying to ask them questions was
next to impossible because there were
always distractions which could turn
into lengthy conversations. I did ask
them what it meant to be a Friar. After
some random jokes and side com-
ments, Vesbit, one of the five new
members of the group, spoke up.
"It's freedom to explore my fanta-
sies. My fantasies on stage," he said
with a surprisingly straight face. Ev-
eryone at the table looked at him
quizzically and began to laugh. He
went on to describe his first stage

experience as the Apple seller in
"Annie." Being a Friar, he said, is
giving him an opportunity to prove
that he could have played Annie.
As you can see, it is this type of
seriously sarcastic responses which
filled the interview. But that is what
being a Friar is really about - you
know "light-hearted spontaneity" and
random answers.
Menges, who has been with the
Friars the longest and is turning 21 on
the Sunday after the concert, tried to
be serious for one moment.
"(Being a Friar) is like a way of
life," he said. "It's a continual set of
things. I mean, it changes every time
you do a gig."
When asked for information about
the concert, the Friars were frustrat-
ingly vague. They insisted that the

elementof surprise is important tothe
show. However, they did promise
spectacular special effects, not to
mention good music.
One big difference in this year's
group is the addition of five new mem-
bers. "It's only three-eighths what it
used to be," said Sprik, who is one of
the new members. With these new
members will come a different sound
and a different personality.
After spending about an hour witlh
these eight men, it is clear that these
guys are out to have a good time. And
most of the time they succeed, whether
in rehearsal or in concert. And "that
was really great."
THE FRIARS wilJperform Friay
night at 8 p.m. at the Power Center.
Reserved seats are $6 at the Union
Ticket Office. Call 763-TKTS.

JUDITH PERKINS/Daily
Those wacky Friars are comin' at you live on Friday from the Power Center.

It's 'Nobody's Business'
By THOMAS CROWLEY
Forget grunge. Forget punk rock. Straightforward,
earnest, original rock 'n' roll - the music of Eddie
Cochran, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and
Elvis Presley - is alive and well, living in Detroit.
Though rockabilly hasn't had a place in mainstream pop
music since the Stray Cats, a dynamic, roots-rock trio by
the name of Nobody's Business is in the process of adding
another dimension to modern music, by breaking new
ground with an old sound.
The band, featuring brothers Bill and Chris Giorgio, on
guitar and drums, respectively, along with Artie Wolff on
bass, carry a sharp, catchy, innovative, but familiar sound -
as fundamentally American and unspoiled as "Rock Around
the Clock" wasin 1955. Each member of Nobody's Business
is a bona fide veteran of '80s/'90s national rockabilly scene
that included the Kingbees, the Forbidden Pigs and the
Waykools. Nobody's Business handles singing and writing
democratically - all three take turns at each, hence their
wide range of collective experience has allowed the guys to
bring a lot of songs, ideas and diversity to the new band.
But, is there a place for rockabilly in music today, or is it
simply a relic of pop culture that can only be expected to be

if these guys wanna rock
confined to the underground? Chris Giorgio is confident that
despite their uncompromising allegiance to the genre in its
truest form, there is indeed: "I think Nobody's Business has,
enough original material that is definitely airplay material.
We have a lot of songs that either have real nice, catchy
hooks, or there is something about them that would appeal to
a large market." He sees mainstream success as a means of
putting "Detroit back on the map in terms of national recog-
nition, or as a 'hot-spot"' for rockabilly music.
Likewise, Bill Giorgio wholeheartedly believes in "the
energy," "the rawness" and the "unpretentiousness of the
music," regarding Nobody's Business as the perfect vehicle
for making rockabilly, once again, accessible to the public
through their effective revamping of an old musical blue-
'print: "I think we bring a little bit more to the table, in that, we
are definitely not 'neo-rockabilly,' where you're getting the
same sound overandover, which Idon't mind-Ilike aslap
bass and I like a nice snare drum, but we're offering a little bit
more than that.... We like to think that we take a' 50s feel and
give it a '90s sound."
NOBODY'S BUSINESS will be appearing at the City
Limits (2900 Jackson Avenue), at 9 p.m. tonight, and at
the Blind Pig on December 29.

9

COMEDY COMPANY DID IT!

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