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January 20, 1995 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-20

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Drink a toast to Mule

Kids Hobbit' breaks habits

By ROBERT YOON
Sue Roe likes a good challenge,
and that's no fantasy.
As if adapting J.R.R. Tolkien's
highly mystical and allegorical
"Hobbit" for the stage wasn't daunt-
ing enough, the director and founder
of the Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild
(YAG) has chosen to tackle this un-
dertaking without certain luxuries
that most theater directors take for
granted - namely a script.
Since Tolkien's interests in writ-
ing his 1937 novel were more liter-
ary and poetic rather than dramatic,
there are no established guidelines
on how to bring this tale to the the-
ater.
This is not to say that the YAG
will simply "wing it" when they
present "The Hobbit" tonight at the
Performance Network. But it is safe
to say that Roe and director Joanna
Woodcock will take many creative
liberties that won't be found in most
stage productions.
"Every actor has his or her own
ideas and interpretations about a
given work," said Roe. "With 'The
Hobbit,' we are giving them the free-
dom they need to shape their vi-
sions."
But this artistic free-hand that the
actors enjoyed came at the expense

of free-time, which is sparse when
you must actually write your lines
before memorizing them. Each of the
40 "Hobbit" cast members had to
read the book and think about how to
make it work on-stage. Then during
rehearsals, they divided into groups
to discuss their thoughts. After hear-
ing everyone's ideas, the cast con-
structed the play scene-by-scene, cre-
ating and modifying the dialogue and
stage directions as they went along.
Roe said a bonus of having no
strict script to follow is that "the ac-
tors got to come up with ideas that
stimulate them. Expression comes
from all over, not just their speech.
They do more than just learn their
lines."
Although the no-script method
means more work for the actors, Roe
believes the production succeeds be-
cause of it. "For any given scene, we
would ask the actors, for example,
'What do you think is going on?' and
then mesh the best ideas together,"
she said. "This is a very difficult way
to do a play, but the result is that the
actors feel the play belongs to them."
And with this sense of belonging
comes a higher caliber performance.
Said Roe, "We're not imposing the
rigid, artificial techniques of
See HOBBIT, Page 9

By JENNIFER BUCKLEY
Out of the wreckage of two bands
from Ann Arbor's amazingly tal-
ented and prolific music scene
(straight faces, please) comes Mule.
Yeeeeeehah.
No, really. "Both Wig and the
Laughing Hyenas used to practice
above Robey Tires. We put the band
Mule together there," remembered
Kevin Munro, Mule's bassist.
"Yeah, the movers and shakers of
the Ann Arbor rock scene," he
laughed.
Former Wig vocalist P.W. Long
and former Hyenas drummer James
Kimball, since departed, hitched a
ride with Munro about three years
ago, and Mule drew its first howl-
ing, gasping, hillbilly breath with
the "Tennessee Hustler" single on
Nocturnal Records.
Three years, many discarded li-
quor bottles and much nicotine later,
Mule has ridden its way through an
EP and two LPs on Chicago's
Quarterstick Records. The band
heads out on tour to promote their
shiny new album "If I Don't Six"
this week.
Munro has seen his band garner
serious national press since the re-
lease of last March's "Wrung" EP,
much of it labeling the band's coun-
try- and blues-influenced rock as
"cowpunk."
And that's a load of manure, said
Munro. "We're not cowpunk. First
of all, punk's been over for a long
time. And I don't have any cows,
nor do I know any cows personally.
Nor do.I want to be referred to as a
cow."
And he's right. The roaring,

drunken "Wrung" EP and "If I Don't
Six" sound far more like over-the-
top punker labelmates the Jesus Liz-
ard than Johnny Cash.
Munro stopped to think. "Actu-
ally, I like Johnny Cash a lot. I got to
see him recently when the band got
into (LA's trendy) Viper Room
while we were on tour. He was amaz-
ing," remarked Munro with awe.
A critic could be excused, how-
ever, from hanging the yoke ofa back-
woods label on Mule's shoulders.
"Wrung"'s wild, stumbling "We
Know You're Drunk" and "Six"'s
lusty little "Hayride" sound as though
they were fermented like moonshine
at an Appalachian distillery.
Long's distorted howl fairly reeks
of it, and the sheer volume of his
chugging, edgy, bluesy guitar keeps
Mule's songs sleazily slurring right
along at an exhilarating pace.
It's a sound that prompted bands
like Urge Overkill, L7, Tad and Pearl
Jam to engage Mule as openers.
"Those are just people we met along
the way," insisted Munro. "Most of
them-were no bigger than we are
now when we opened up for them."
Those swinging medallion-wear-
ing boys from Urge Overkill did
become friends, however. "We used
to hang out with them quite a bit,"
recalled Munro. "Oh, I could tell
you stories about them," he teased.
Which brings the conversation
back to the alcohol topic. The mem-
bers of Mule, now including new
drummer Jason Kourkounis, get
along "just fine, when we're drink-
ing," said Munro. "At the beginning
of the drinking phase, we get along
pretty good. Then we hit a plateau,

Mule - here they are! Mule like them a lot!

and everything is just okay. But
sometimes we do hit the bottom of
the bottle."
It won't happen often on this tour.
"I'm not paying rent. My meals are
taken care of, and my liquor's taken
care of. Hey, we've just got to keep

the gas tank filled," said Munro
happily.
So get in the van, boys.
Yeeeeeehah.
MULE kick out the jams at the
Blind Pig. Tickets are $5 in
advance, doors open at 9:30 p.m.

Sounds of Blackness celebrate multiculturalism "

By EUGENE BOWEN
Coordinating a successful sting of
events commerorating the 1995 Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebra-
Sounds of
Blackness
Power Center for the
Performing Arts
January 16, 1995
tion, the Office of Academic
Multicultural Initiatives would have
been hard pressed to come up with

something that would close the celebra-
tion with the bang that the Harlem Spiri-
tual Ensemble had begun the festivities
on Sunday night. But, OAMI met the
challenge and presented for our listen-
ing pleasure the world-acclaimed
Sounds of Blackness (Perspective
Records) in a concert entitled "Music
for Martin."
Monday night at the Power Center
was one hard to forget, but Sounds of
Blackness doesn't deserve total credit
for the concert's success. The,
University's Gospel Chorale opened
with "My Soul Says Yes" and "Silver
and Gold." The choir showed itself to
be the University's premier singing

ensemble as the men and women more
than prepared the audience for the mu-
sical, spiritual revival that lay in store.
Then came a minor catastrophe,
namely the University sextet Highest
Praise. The three-man, three-woman
group's attempts at a capella harmo-
nizing, while better than average, paled
in comparison to the performance of
the Gospel Chorale, let alone Sounds
of Blackness. Highest Praise's saddest
moment occurred while seeking to
mimic Take6's brilliant acapellasong,
"I've Got Life." Although Highest
Praise attempted all of Take 6's stun-
ning vocal plays, few were up to par.
Highest Praise did, however, re-
gain some credibility with its closing
performance of Take 6's "Oh Mary
Don't You Weep." It was during this
song that the audience finally heard
something that had been missing
throughout the sextet's performance
-harmony, real harmony, melodious
harmony, the kind of harmony that was
expected of the group in the first place.
The members of the group must have
spent considerably more time practic-
ing this song.
Whatever, boredom HighestPraise
infested into the crowd, however, was
soon erased as "The Pride of Minne-
apolis," better known as the Sounds of
Blackness, took the stage by storm
performing "The Drum / Harambee,"
a combination of two songs found on
the group's newest CD "Africa to
.America: Journey of the Drum."
From there, things only got better.
Song after song from their hit LP was
performed to the glee of an audience
hungry for more of that inexplicable
feeling that Sounds of Blackness gave.
From the jazzy sounds of "Black But-
terfly" to the down-home blues of "Liv-
ing the Blues" to the traditional gospel
flow of "The Lord Will Make A Way,"
Sounds of Blackness had the thou-
sands of concert-goers packed into the
Power Center crying, shouting, clap-
ping, dancing and rejoicing.
Sometimes, the members of Sounds
of Blackness looked more like they
were on-stage partying than perform-
ing gospel songs. The secular dancing
and choreography sparked the crowd's
interest, and it made God seem that

much more approachable.
Sounds ofBlackness also performed
a specially-arranged musical collec-
tion honoring the late Rev. Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. The thumping tunes of
"March Medley: Turn Me 'Round/Oh
Freedom" and the mesmerizing slow
song "Martin Luther King" touched
many.
Concert-goers were quick to stress
how great this concert was. Engineer-
ing senior Shegan Campbell felt that
this was "absolutely the most uplifting
concert I've ever been to. It springs you
to life."
The audience definitely sprung to
life towards the concert's end when the
groupperformed "Optimistic," the most
popular song on Sounds of Blackness'
Grammy-winning debutrelease, "Evo-
lution of Gospel," and "I Believe" the
most popular song on the group's new-
est CD. For over half an hour, every
person in the audience was on his or her
feet shouting, singing and dancing.
Freshman Leo McAfee "loved ev-
ery second of the concert. I wasn't a
Sounds of Blackness fan before, but I
am now. I'm buying their CD." This
was echoed by many University stu-
dents who had never even heard of the
'90s-style choir but were now avid
fans.
"Sounds of Blackness is very spiri-
tual," said freshman Andrea Muray. "It
gave me a feeling of unity with others
on this campus. That doesn't happen
much."
Meek Elementary sixth grader
James Prostell was "worried about the
people watching (the concert) from the
balcony who are scared of heights."
But, it's a safe bet that there was only
love and joy in all the hearts in atten-
dance. Fear had no place there.
"Music for Martin" was more than
a concert; it was a reaffirmation of
mankind's need to fight against the
hatred of bigotry and prejudice. Leav-
ing the stage, Sounds of Blackness left
behind a better understanding of what
Dr. King's life was all about. And as
the now-electrified audience exited the
Power Center, the calm of a gentle
breeze could be felt. It was King him-
self, sighing a sigh of contentment and
pride.

The Sounds of Blackness are mighty powerful. Not to mention plentiful.

9

i Hindu Heritage Week
E RITA G(
EK January 22-28

Sunday, January 22: Inaugural Ceremony
1- 5 pm in the Pendleton Room at Michigan Union
3 o Inaugural puja performed by Shri Ramesh Joshi
Sb Importance of Rituals
- Shri Ramesh Joshi
* Symbolism in Hinduism
- Swami Tadatmananda
Sb Preserving Hindu Heritage
- Dr. Gayatri Garg
S Application of Hinduism in the Young Professiona
- Kanchan Banerjee
, Poster, art, and essay exhibit
o Award Presentation

al's Life

J l
- ,. -

Sponsored by Hindu Students Council

W N r-n~~~-m au - am- I N'W I ..QT Ai.TnP 1

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