2D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 3, 1996
By Laurie Mayk
Daily Staff Reporter
Things aren't always what they seem
in the world of a cappella music. A drum
can be a bass, a tenor or even a soprano.
And everyone from political science to
pre-med students become instruments
A cappella music groups are taking
root all over campus - from the Diag,
to the residence halls, to the stage.
"You just have to make sure that peo-
ple know that it's there," said Missy
Miller, a member of the Harmonettes, a
group that stems from the Women's Glee
A cappella, the vocal art of performing
without instrumental accompaniment, is
entertaining, but unfamiliar to some stu-
dents when they first step onto a college
campus. Students haven't been exposed
to that type of music, Miller said.
"Somehow college and a cappella go
together," Miller said.
A cappella music requires fine tuning
and blending, and the vocal percussion
the performers perfect comes with a lit-
tle more practice thanjust singing in the
And while a cappella performances
such as the famed Monsters of A Cap-
pella, an annual benefit performance
which grew last year to two nights and
featured campus and guest a cappella
groups, draw crowds and loyal follow-
ers, the complexities of the music often
remain a mystery.
"There's a lot of different things audi-
ences want to get out of (a perfor-
mance)," said Dave Plevin, a member of
The Gentlemen. "The first thing is
entertainment - even if they don't
-understand everything they hear in the
tuning and everything ... people know
what they like and what they don't like
(but) they might not know why."
"They expect to have fun," said
Patrick Garrett, a member of the Friars.
It is that "light-hearted spontaneity"
that holds a Friars audience, Garrett said.
But the jokes and spoofs that often
accompany an a cappella performance
on campus are just the icing on the cake
of original arrangements and interpreta-
tions of songs the groups belt out on
stage. Many of the groups rely solely on
the musical talents of their own mem-
bers to arrange the selections in their
Theory and composition questions are
'often part of the audition process, which
generally takes place once or twice a year.
"It isn't a requirement, but it's a big
abundant in A2
Continued from page 1D
And speaking of film, where else in
the world did Pulp Fiction run as a reg-
ular feature for more than a year after it
was released? It was only here, at Ann
Arbor's State Theater. As far as I can
remember, it was still showing when
the movie came out on video. Of
course, we kept on going to see it any-
way, and it turned into a Rocky Horror
Picture kind of tradition.
One of the city's true treasures, how-
ever, is the Blind Pig. It might be kind
of far for those for don't have trans-
portation, as it is west of Main Street,
but it provides an incredible setting to
view up-and-coming as well as estab-
lished musicians. What's so great about
the Pig? It's small, but it attracts bands
at every state of musical maturity,
from the rising stars, like Nirvana a few
years ago, to the college favorites, like
the Dave Matthews Band. Additionally,
many local bands get their breaks at the
Blind Pig. I'll even go as far as to make
this recommendation: Any concert-
goer must visit the Pig at least once a
during their tenure at the University.
Another great small club is the Bird
Of Paradise, a world-class jazz club
right here in Ann Arbor. The Bird of
Paradise has a house band that is out of
this world, and it also attracts more
nationally known jazz acts, such as gui-
tarist John Scofield. An old-style jazz
club, complete with dim lights and lim-
ited seating, the Bird of Paradise is a
great place to spend a romantic evening
out on the town.
With so many local production com-
panies, virtually no day goes by with
out some kind of theatrical event. Clas-
sic American standbys like "42nd
Street," along with classic Shakespeare
and more modern Sam Shepard plays,
make up a delightful schedule of per-
formances. The academic atmosphere
of the city lends itself to the many act-
ing companies around town, and along
with the University's ownrperformance
students, first-rate theater is a thank-
fully common experience in Ann Arbq
And for all you fine parts denizen ,
Ann Arbor has its famous Art Fair, in
which amateur and professional artists
from all genres take over the city
streets in a creative fervor. Love it or
hate it, the Art Fair is yet another exam-
ple of the Ann Arbor's unique take on a
rather common event. The University
even has its own art museum with arti-
facts and art from all corners of the
world. Picasso? Mont? The Muset
of Art has it.
Of course, there is an incredible
amount of artsy things to do in Ann
Arbor that I haven't mentioned. There
are other bars and venues that show-
case bands and other talent; there are
street musicians; there is the Ann
Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival; there
are even artistic protests. But what
makes all this special is the atmosphere
that Ann Arbor provides. Mixing sm
town setting with b4ig time talent,A
Arbor is like no 'other place in the
Matt Bejin, Matt Laura and Dan Ryan perform at a Friars concert in April 1995. The members of the group were all wearing yel-
low, smiley-face boxers for one of the songs during the concert.
bonus'" Miller said.
It isn't unusual, however, to swap
ideas and arrangements with other col-
lege groups on tours and at competi-
tions, said Drew Quinn, a member of
Outside of Monsters, the groups gen-
erally perform on their own and rivalry
between ensembles in the a cappella com-
munity has eased in the past few years,
"In recent years that
sort of rivalry has calmed 4
down because Amazin'
Blue has been around for k
a while and it isn't as con- 0
cerned with proving itself. they i
It's just one big happy
family now," Quinn said. what t
New a cappella groups
seem to crop up every- don'tfi
where from the Diag to
the Law Quad each year, (bu t
but a handful have estab-
lished themselves as regu- ight
lars on campus.
U Amazin' Blue - know'
Amazin' Blue is one of theC
a cappella groups on the TheI
scene. The coed group
tackles songs from Seal,
Bel Biv Devoe and Take
Six, among others. The group has won
national prizes and attention for some of
their arrangements and songs.
With about 14 members, a hefty
number for an a cappella group, the
ensemble, which has taken quite a liking
to the art of vocal percussion, uses more
vocal parts in its harmonies than com-
parable groups such as the Harmonettes
or the Friars.
"The music that we do can be a lot
more complex," Quinn said. "Since (the
Friars) have fewer parts, they each have
a stronger sound - they have more of
an in-your-face sound. (We're) more
sublime, more laid back and blended."
U The Friars - Perhaps the oldest
(having just celebrated its
40th anniversary) and
most well-known a cap-
Vhat pella group on campus,
the Friars is an offshoot
aof the Men's Glee Club.
The eight men melt the
y hearts of women across
campus with tunes rang-
A ing from '50s doo wop to
those with a '90s beat.
The Friars are one of
the favorite party favors
lot on campus and are hired
to perform at enough par-
hy " ties, dances and Greek
life gatherings to fill all
e PleVin their planners.
entlemen The Gentlemen --
The Gentlemen are still
young 'uns in the Univer-
sity's a cappella commu-
The group formed less than two years
ago as an alternative to the Friars, which
requires auditionees to be members of
the Men's Glee Club. The focus of the
young group has changed even in its
short time on campus.
"We thought our focus was going to
be on older songs - not oldies, but clas-
sics," Plevin said. "You need to have a
good balance of songs that people have
heard on the radio."
With a still-growing resume and fol-
lowing, the group doesn't expect to have
the name recognition of the Friars, but
enjoys its campus performances even in
a small arena, Plevin said.
The Harmonettes - The Women's
Glee Club's counterpart to the Friars, the
Harmonettes have recently moved from
the big band/shoo bop era sound to the
pop arena with songs from the Cranber-
ries, the B-52s, Annie Lennox and '80s
"We're trying to sing more things that
people know and that we know," Miller
The Harmonettes also make the
rounds on campus, performing at parties
and special events.
Kol Hakavod - Sponsored by Hil-
lel, Kol Hakavod is one of the most
unique a cappella groups on campus.
The ensemble specializes in Jewish and
Israeli a cappella songs.
"It's a written or an unwritten rule -
we won't do any pop songs," said David
Caroline, a member of Kol Hakavod.
58 Greene - With roots in the halls
of East Quad (58 Greene to be exact),
this mixed group joined the ranks of the
campus a cappella groups not long ago.
Although not part of last February's per-
formance, 58 Greene has participated in
Monsters of A Cappella in the past.
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Hnn rbor's best source for art,
far tihe shdent
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