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October 04, 1996 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-10-04

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Beethoven in A2
The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra returns once again to the friendly
confines of the Michigan Theater this weekend to perform a program
of Beethoven classics. The ensemble will be under the capable leader-
ship of Maestro Samuel Wong who will conduct. The show is Saturday
at 8 p.m., and tickets range from $15-$25. As always, there are dis-
counts available for students presenting a valid ID.

Friday
October 4, 1996

9

Tommy Chong tokes up at Mainstreet
Aging comedian discusses life with Cheech, making movies, smoking dope

By Neal C. Carruth
Daily Arts Writer
.One could reasonably say that comedian Tommy
Chong has a one-track mind. For the half-Chinese,
/ralf-Scotch / Irish half of the dissolved comedy duo of
Cheech and Chong, the conversation never strays far
from marijuana. And you can be sure that Chong's
current stint of three performances at Ann Arbor's
Main Street Comedy Showcase will play off varia-
tions on this familiar theme.
"I'm a born-again doper, so
there'll be a lot of born-again PR
doper jokes," Chong told The
Michigan Daily in a recent tele-
ihone interview. In spite of the Perforr
dw temperate views of his one- Mains
time partner Richard "Cheech" call 996-9C
Marin, the 58-year-old Chong
has remained unabashedly devoted to marijuana, its
medicinal applications and the industrial uses of
hemp, the fiber extracted from the marijuana plant.
"i'm a big hemp advocate," Chong noted. "Hemp is
going to replace everything."
Chong is certainly something of an authority on
mrrijuana, having been a friend of the weed for the
past 40 years. A unique dimension of Chong's interest
'n:marijuana is his belief that "pot and working out go
land in hand." Toward this end, he has been develop-
ing a workout video titled "A Doper's Guide to
Fitness.' As Chong explains it: "If you're gonna party,
you gotta be in shape. If you're in shape, you can do
everything once." Chong observed that he has been
lifting weights and seriously working out longer than
he's been smoking dope.
Not only is the video no laughing matter, but Chong
was dead serious when he told me that he wants peo-
ple to know, "I really do smoke pot." When asked
*l out Ann Arbor's own slice of commercialized hedo-

M
nin
tre
080

nism, the annual Hash Bash, he said,;"I think we need
more dope-smoking. I intend to make (Hash Bash) so
it's every day."
Chong failed to acknowledge the psychologically
addicting lure of marijuana and said the only thing
he's addicted to is Salsa dancing. And when pressed
about marijuana's status as a so-called "gateway"
drug, Chong responded, "It's definitely a gateway, but
the gate can lead to anything, like creativity or mind
expansion."
Despite Chong's contention
VIE W that "every generation gets to
yChn go through their doper stage,"
mm y Ong g times have changed somewhat
g through Saturday at since the early '70s when
et comedy Showcase. Cheech and Chong arrived on
for more information, the comedic scene. This change
can be gauged by Marin's tran-
sition from a crude, perpetually stoned doper to one of
the voices in Disney's "The Lion King" and his role on
CBS's police show "Nash Bridges." Of this, Chong
said, "If you told me in '85 that Cheech was gonna be
playing a cop, I would have asked what you were
smoking."
Ifthe latest phase of Marin's career trajectory is per-
ceived by some as a "sell-out," then perhaps Chong
represents a vestige of '60s radicalism that is still with
us. Growing up in Edmonton. Alberta. Chong's first
passion was the guitar. From 1967-68, he played lead
guitar in the Motown R&B group Bobby Taylor and
the Vancouvers. Chong still receives royalty checks
for the group's big hit "Does Your Mama Know About
Me?"
After the group's break-up, Chong moved back to
Canada where he met Marin while working in an
improvisational troupe called "City Works." After sev-
eral years together on the comedy circuit, they began
to release comedy albums based on their live acts. 1he

albums were wildly popular, with 1974's "Los
Cochinos" garnering a Grammy for Best Comedy
Album and all six records achieving "gold" status.
The move to film was inevitable. In all, from 1978
to 1985, there were seven films, including "Up in
Smoke," "Nice Dreams" and "The Corsican
Brothers." In 1985, the team separated at Marin's urg-
ing, much to the chagrin of many potheads for whom
Cheech and Chong were iconic figures from a fast
fading era. As Chong explains, "Part of the engine that
drove our act was that we needed property, we needed
to work."
Considering this, Chong still finds the timing of the
split troubling. "It killed me when Cheech quit. We
were just .going into harvest time. We could have
played arenas like the Eagles." To indicate the signifi-
cance of his union with Marin, Chong said, "When
Cheech and I got together, it was the best time in my
life. And when Cheech and I split apart it was the
worst."
Time heals old wounds, though, and Chong said he
has fully recovered from the trauma. He tartly added
that it was very helpful to join a support group in
Beverly Hills for people who "lost their Mexican."
Chong chooses simply to savor the fond memories of
the Cheech and Chong period and does not envision a
reunion. "It can never happen again. The moment has
passed.
For now, Tommy Chong is content to complete his
xorkout video and focus on the stand-up circuit. His
wife, Shelby, plays a major part in his performances.
Apparently, this is because "she's beautiful. I just want
to keep an eye on her." In addition to stand-up, Chong
has collaborated, with his daughter, Precious, on a
film titled "Best Buds." Finally, there's the illicit activ-
ity for which Chong is world-famous. "I'm a super-
guru of marijuana. Eventually. I'll just inhale air and
it'll turn into pot."

Showbiz legend and ardent pot advocate Tommy Chong headlines at Mainstreet
Comedy Showcase this weekend.

Grassy
Knoll
Jillets to
the top
By Shannon O'Neill
Fat the Daily
3n the nether world of ambient, acid
Mz, fusion style and dub techniques,
Wlhe Grassy Knoll sounds off a unique
yawp above the digitized din. Composer
Bob Green summarizes the helter-skelter
trials of everyday life through instru-
mental music that is in constant flux
frem demanding to soothing.
"I just trust my instincts and deal
with music that I love and know," Green
said in a recent
interview with
The Michigan PF
t aily. "I try and Gi
emulate ideas,
and take the phi- ope
losophy and ener- Saturday at the E
gy of a source of 9:30. Call 99685
music."
"Positive, The Grassy Knoll's sec-
ond release, keeps this mood alive with
broad instrumentation. Complete with
drummer David Revelli, trumpeter
bris Grady, multiple reed player
onathan Byerly, guitarist Ralph Patlan
and cellist Matt Brubeck, the music
they create is appealing to all types of
listeners.
"Being an artist I want as many peo-
ple to hear my music as possible. I love
what I do, which is why we're on the
road," Green explained. "I want to get
the music out to the people and then let
them make the decision."
After receiving his master's degree in
*hotography from the San Francisco Art

Valente impresses all at UMS opener
Talented soprano moves crowd with subtle performance of song

Bob Green fearlessly leads the experimental music group The Grassy Knoll.

By Stephanie Love
For the Daily
Rarely does one find a performance that encompasses not
only technical genius, but the subtlety and emotion only the
greatest artists can achieve.
The audience assembled at Rackham last Friday night
experienced the enchantment of sopra-
no Benita Valente and equally moving
pianist Cythia Raim - an impressive 'A R I
opener for the 118th University Bri
Musical Society season.
From the moment she entered the Rack
stage, Valente's animated perfor-
mance captivated the audience in
much the same way as a professional storyteller. The beau-
ty of Valente's voice, along with the talent of Raim, pro-
vided a memorable opening of shorter pieces by
Schumann and Brahms. But the performance of the world
premiere of William Bolcom's "Briefly It Enters" was eas-
ily the high point of the concert.
Based on the poems of Jane Kenyon, Bolcom's musical
setting highlighted the simplicity of nature featured in the
poetry in addition to providing a distinct edge perfectly
expressing the underlying feeling of uncertainty and longing
present in the poems. Paired with Valente's gift of interpreta-
tion, "Briefly it Enters" produced a lasting effect both musi-
cally and intellectually.

E
i

Much of Kenyon's poetry focuses on ordinary subjects,
such as eating breakfast in "Otherwise," taking the dog out
for a walk in "The Clearing" or waiting in a parking lot in
"The Sick Wife." But the poems change each action into a
lucid symbol. It is this symbolism that Bolcom expressed so
well in his interpretation, as his Music paralleled the expres-
sion of Kenyon's poems, capturing the
dualities of the simple and universal,
EVIE W the sufferer and the indifferent.
efly it Enters Valente's voice picked up many sub-
tle details of the poetry as expressed by
ham Auditorium Bolcom's musical setting, and the lyri-
Sept.27.1996 cal beauty interspersed with excited
energy seemed to draw the audience
into a simpler time and place.
Additionally, Raim's virtuosity as a pianist proved an inte-
gral part of the performance. She emulated the feelings
expressed by Valente while presenting her own interpretation
during her featured moments. Raim provided an excellent
backdrop for Valente throughout the concert.
The closing poem of the cycle, "Briefly it Enters, and
Briefly Speaks" provided a quiet yet triumphant ending to a
piece wrapped in layers of subtlety and unanswered ques-
tions. The enthusiastic audience response was a touching trib-
ute to Bolcom and was much deserved. A spectacular perfor-
mance, the duo of Valente and Raim provided an impressive
first display of Bolcom's work.

ra
ping
Blir
55'

Institute in 1990, the Dallas-Fort Worth
area native returned home and began to
think about music. Green took the con-
cept of The Grassy Knoll from his explo-
rations with a borrowed sampler and
computer. He began to experiment with
laying down
tracks, and soon
E VI E W discovered that
3ssy Knoll the type of musi-
cians he needed to
g for Howling Diabios, work with were in
nd Pig. Doors open at San Francisco.
for more information. "I got thi e
equipment and
slowly this project evolved. I started
sending out demos to record labels in
'92 or '93, and that's when Nettwerk
signed me," Green said.
The influences which Green draws
from fall all over the spectrum. He grew
up listening to his older sister's collec-
tion of Moby Grape and Vanilla Fudge.
He was equally attracted to the rumble
of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and
eventually found himself listening to
everything from Pink Floyd to Miles
Davis.
The distinct sound of The Grassy
Knoll comes from Green's ability to
combine all types of music into one
musical journey. The Grassy Knoll's

records prove laying down live instru-
mental tracks can be as much of an art
form as playing an instrument.
"If it's (sampling) used well, it's one
of the greatest sources ever. It bothers
me when people just take people's
hooks and the essence of the song,
there's no merit in that," Green
explained. "People like Beck and the
Beastie Boys do something very artistic
with it, which is the greatest thing."
For "Positive,"G reen composed and
outlined the tracks himself. then record-
ed them in San Francisco w ith the band.
'This type of recording process sounds
time consuming, but Green wouldn't
want it any other way.
"I couldn't function with other peo-
ple's input. I really just love to get lost
in the process and trust my instincts."
Green said. "I basically write all the
stuff in my living room and once the
song's finished I decide what other kind
of instrumentation I want"
The 13-track "Positive;' swirling in its
moodiness and funky beats, is a testa-
ment to Green's love of what lhe's doitt.
As Green explained, "I love
'Positive.' The first record wasn't a
complete record for me - it was good,
I'm happy with it -- but I'm always
striving to improve myself."

I

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