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January 26, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-26

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EIC goodbye
For most of you out there, this has
been just another snowfilied Michigan
week with the same old grind of classes
and responsibilities. But for a small
group of us at the Michigan Daily, it is
the last week we have spent as editors
of the newspaper.
Tonight, while all of you will be
studying, going to the bar or sleeping,
the people who have been leading this
paper will be putting out our final edi-
tion. Forthe last time we will be editing
stories, placing them in Pagemaker and
attempting to do it all by 12:30 a.m.
As I prepare for my last night as
editor in chief ofthe best college news-

-J E





paper in the country, I am met with
many different emotions. It is some-
* what of a bittersweet ending.
No longer will I be propping my
eyes open at four in the morning as I
wait for pages to print at the Ann Arbor
News. There will be no more calls to
me from angry readers who are un-
happy with the day's top story. Never
again will I have to struggle through
the payroll paperwork.
These will all be reliefs. They will
free up my time and allow me to work
on other things, like maybe even find-
ing ajob or passing a couple of classes.
Yet, afterspendingnearlyfouryears
of my life working in the Student Pub-
lications Building, putting in incred-
ibly long hours, it will be hard to say
Being the editor in chief carries
with it a long tradition that is rich with
the struggles of journalistic integrity
and campus activism. I don't think I
will even fully understand what that
means until I've had a little distance. I
do know that this campus would sorely
be lacking without a publication like
the Daily and the hard work of the
students who toil to put it out everyday.
A lot of things have happened on
this campus since the day I started
writing for the Daily Arts staff in the
Fall of 1991. Controversy over the
running of the Holocaust Revisionist
ad hit campus hard. The University
was sued for violating the Open Meet-
ings Act during the presidential search
which resulted in the hiring of Presi-
dent James Duderstadt. The Statement
of Student Rights and Responsibilities
was drafted, making it difficult for the
press to gain access to information to
which we believe we are entitled.
Being amemberofthe student press
has been challenging. As a student
journalist there are many obstacles.
We fight for a respect which is some-
times denied us because of our student
status. This is ironic since most of the
amazing reporters I have had the privi-
lege of working with hold strongly to
journalistic ethics, perhaps even more
so than some professionals.
We thrive on idealism. We ques-
tion authority. We dare to take risks.
And we do it all amid classes and social
lives, both of which often take a backseat
to the Daily.
We admit that we make mistakes.
What newspaper doesn't? When these
mistakes occur, we attempt to fix them.
It is the nature of our being a student
paper that opens us up to incredibly
harsh criticism from our constituents.
We accept this and attempt to work
harder the next day to lessen the mis-
takes of the day before.
The Michigan Daily is a lab where
talented writers and critical thinkers
come together to test the waters of
journalism. Some of us have years of
experience and others have only read
the paper on occasion. But whatever
each person's expertise, the Daily is a
*place to learn. It is a place where stu-
dents learn from each other, protected
from the direction of "adults" telling us
how to do it. It is trial by error, sink or
swim, kill or be killed. And it's good.
For the rest of my life I will carry
with me the memory of the Daily. I


The concept of folk music
may be a slightly amor
phous one, encompassing,
it seems, nearly anybody's definition
of the term. One look at the stellar
lineup for the 18th Ann Arbor Folk
Festival, a fund-raiser for the Ark,
only confirms that folk music can be
just about anything it wants to be.
Included this year is everything
from the amazing guitar picking of
Doc Watson to the optimistic acous-
tic pop of Victoria Williams and from
the bluegrass of Alison Krauss and
Union Station to the confrontational
songs of Ani DiFranco. Along the
way is the master fiddler, mandolinist
and guitarist Mark O'Connor, the awe-
inspiring guitar work of Leo Kottke,
the wild trio Betty, storyteller LaRon
Williams, distinctive songwriter Catie
Curtis and the genre-crashing, four-
person Dixie Power Trio.
At one time, folk was a label used
primarily for traditional music and
songs, songs that had been passed
down through several generations and
across continents. Folk musicians
generally did not play their own songs,
instead drawing upon this vast body
of work that existed almost entirely in
the hearts and mouths of those that
knew it. At some point in time, prob-
ably during the 1960s when folk art-
ists began writing and recording much
more of their own material, folk be-
came a label more for acoustic and
acoustic-based music than anything
else. Now, any singer-songwriter who
performs with an acoustic guitar can
be a folk musician. Thus, the lineup of
this year's, and every year's, festival,
is amazingly varied but can still be
called folk.
Arthel "Doc" Watson may be the
most traditional of the musicians on
the bill. Raised in
the Blue
R i d g e
tains in
the first

half of the
W a t s o n
learned the banjo
and guitar while ab-
sorbing the local folk
and bluegrass along with
the big-band and pop sounds on
the radio. His story, while perhaps not
a pleasant one, is the dream of every
folk biographer. Blind since infancy,
Doc grew up in a poor family, at-
tended a school for the blind for only
four years before rebelling against
what he called the tyranny of the
teachers, and played a banjo that his
father made from the skin of his
grandmother's cat. While his father
worked odd jobs to carry them through
the Depression, Doc split wood and
saved all of his money for a guitar.
When he finally had one, he started
hitchhiking to nearby towns to play
on street corners.
In 1951, recently married, Doc, in
order to supplement his income from
the state, traded in his acoustic Martin
for a Les Paul and earned himself a
spot in a dance band. In 1960, when
mountain music was enjoying a surge
of interest due to the folk renaissance
taking place in New York, two
northerners came down to record
banjo legend Clarence Ashley and
wound up recording Watson. With a
record out, Doc began touring with
his son Merle. After a performance at
the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, his
fame in folk circles was assured.
Now, with over 25 records to his
credit, Doc is one of the most well-
known keepers of the folk tradition.
Much of the music he performs is the
very music he grew up playing and
singing, the music of the Blue Ridge
Mountains. Songs like "House Car-
penter" and "Talk About Suffering"
threaten to fade from the collective
folk consciousness if people like
Watson do not keep them alive. They
are simple songs, usually with simple

structures and melo-
dies and yet they are
often more achingly
beautiful than any-
thing more modern.
Tales of love, lust,
adultery and re-
venge are mixed
with old-time la-
ments and hopes
for better times.
U l t i m a t e I y,
though, it is Doc
Watson's flat-pick-
ing for which he is
m o s t well-known. His dis-
tinctive style, fast and accurate, has
influenced generations of guitar play-
ers. Though it may not be bluegrass,
exactly, it had a profound impact on
bluegrass-style guitar playing. With
his mastery of the guitar, his warm
voice offering everything from 17th
century ballads and early Appalachian
mountain music to more modern ma-
terial like "Blue Suede Shoes,"
Watson is a true taste of musical his-
On his most recent record, "He-
roes," Mark O'Connor indulged in a
bit of history making himself. Master
fiddler O'Connor gathered together
his major childhood musical inspira-
tions for an album of duets. Among
those represented on the album are
Stephane Grappeli, Charlie Daniels,.
Doug Kershaw, Jean-Luc Ponty,
Pinchas Zukerman and Benny
Thomasson. In most cases, the songs
performed by O'Connor and his "he-
roes" were the songs that O'Connor
first heard them play. Thus, in the
case of Grappeli, they chose "This
Can't Be Love," which O'Connor first
heard when he was 13 and attending a
show in Vancouver. "I wanted to dip
into their world for a tune or two as if
I was II or 12 again," he said. In
a tip of the hat to his own
history, he included one track,
"Sally Johnson," that was re-

corded with Benny Thomasson in
1976, when O'Connor was 15 years
"It was a fantastic experience," he
said. "It made me realize how heart-
felt and emotional my music is, how
much of my childhood is a part of it.
I felt for the first time that no one
would be judging my technique and 1
could finally let it all hang out."
Not content with merely making
history, though, O'Connor is on the
verge of changing the future of the
fiddle and the violin as he blurs the line
of distinction that has kept the tradi-
tional from the classical for hundreds
of years. He is first and foremost a
fiddler, but he has written what he calls
a "Fiddle Concerto for Violin and Or-
chestra," which will receive a Lincoln
Center debut in 1995. His latest project
is another concerto, this one for the
bicentennial of Tennessee in May of
During the 1980s, O'Connor be-
came one of the most in-demand of
session musicians in Nashville, play-
ing with everyone from Willie Nelson
and Chet Atkins to Paul Simon and
Michael Brecker. He was named "Mu-
sician of the year" in 1991, 1992, 1993
and 1994 by "Country Music Associa-
Even amidst his writing for an en-
tire orchestra, and backing numerous
musicians on their records, O'Connor
still finds time to play solo concerts,
which allow him to stretch himself in
directions that a band might restrain.
"There and only there, when I'm play-
ing by myself, can I perform freely
almost anything my head can think
Equally talented is steel-string gui-
tarist Leo Kottke, who has been defin
See FOLK, Page 5




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