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February 28, 1997 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-02-28

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Keith Ricbburg Reading
Washington Post correspondent reads at Shaman Drum. Richburg,
the newspaper's correspondent in Kenya, will read from his newly
released "Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa" at the
State Street bookstore tonight at 8 p.m. The reading is free. For
more information, call 662-7407.
February 28, 1997


Clapton, Dion, Beck win big at Grammys

By Shannon O'Neill
For the Daily
New York's Madison Square Garden held all the
excitement and allure of a monster truck show for the
39th annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday night.
The stadium was packed to the gills with sequined
musical starlets and producers and musicians sporting
the ever-popular too-long-to-be-
a-businessman hair and tuxedo
combinations. R
Hosted by comedienne/actress.... . ra
Ellen DeGeneres the Grammy's
had a slight edge over the aver-
age Elks convention. The awards
kicked off with an immediate
nod to Eric Clapton's performance of "Change the
World" for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. What
a shock.
It was refreshing to see 14-year-old Leann Rimes
win the Best New Artist award. It did seem like a
junior skating championship, being that she was the
youngest award recipient.
Perhaps the most annoying part of the evening was
the slew of so-so performances by principal award
contenders. No Doubt, nominated for Best Rock
Album, performed its catchy tune, "Spiderwebs," on
a stage too big for even the pogo dancing of lead
singer Gwen Stefani. All dolled up like Madonna in


The Promise Ring takes part in Detroit Fast in Wayne on March 7-9.
Sro se lays
Detoit Fest benefit

skater chic clothes, Stefani's singing was breathless
and rushed. The acoustics at the Garden were awful,
and No Doubt proved too small for its own big noise.
Celine Dion's screeching performance of "All by
Myself" was abrasive and unnerving enough to war-
rant a desire for a gun to blow the TV to kingdom
come. Her attempt to pull off a Whitney Houston-
style look and performance failed
as soon as she opened her mouth.
V I E W What a fine introduction to a
my Awards woman who snagged both the
Best Pop Album and Album of
CBS the Year for "Falling Into You."
Feb. 26, 1997 Yet another disappointing per-
formance came from Best Hard
Rock Performance Award winners, the Smashing
Pumpkins. Not only did the fashionably dark-suited
Billy Corgan's voice sound a bit lackluster, but the
reverberation in the Garden was too much. The
leather-clad women impersonating hip youths, danc-
ing in cage-like cocoons around the stage didn't help
the song much either.
Best Rap Album winner, the Fugees, gave a so-so
rendition of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." With
so many people on the stage to accompany the trio,
and Wyclef draped in the flag of Zaire, the stage start-
ed to look like a Superbowl half-time show.
On a brighter note, Best Male Rock Artist and Best
Alternative Performance winner Beck gave a perfor-
mance of "Where It's At" that was just cheeky enough
to inject the evening with some zest. The catchy
rhythm and beat of the song made for a strong sound
and an electric performance worth watching.
Tracy Chapman and Best Contemporary Folk
Album-winner Bruce Springsteen also took control
of the stage. Chapman's performance of "Give Me
One Reason" with Junior Wells on harmonica was as
perfect as any studio version. Her natural ease and
mastery of the song proved her award slight to be a
very major one. The Boss' new stripped-down folk
tune from "The Ghost of Thom Joad"showcased his
ability to once again give a voice to the downtrod-

By Colin Bartos
Daily Arts Writer
Something about music itself is very
ecial; it has the ability to completely
ptivate and enthrall. A band's ability
to make the listener a part of the music
is very special. Most bands can't do it,
but there are a
select few who P
really are doing '
something to give
the listener some-
thing more. The Tickets $15 for thre
Promise Ring is http://www-personal.um
e of those bands
at can draw you in and keep you for a
while, knowing you're experiencing
something special.
Formed in February 1995 in
Milwaukee, Wis., The Promise Ring
has steadily been gaining a larger and
larger fan base. Jason Gnewikow, Dan
Didier, Scott Beschta wanted to form a
three-piece, and Davey Vonbohlen
needed a new band to join, as he
#plained in a telephone interview with
e Michigan Daily.
"I was in Cap N' Jazz (who are now
The Promise Ring and Joan of Arc),
which was just like getting really
annoying for my travel problems,"
Vonbohlen said. "At one point, I was
(going back and forth between Chicago
and Milwaukee) so much that my car
was just getting worse and died .... In
the back of my head, I'm like, 'Wow! A
nd in Milwaukee, that would be
The Promise Ring have been labeled
a punk band, but have a sound much
more diverse and complicated than
your everyday three-chord run-of-the-
mill yawn of a band. They released "30
Degrees Everywhere" last September
on Jade Tree Records, which has met
with a lot of success thus far, although
some critics have given the record a less
than fair review because ofVonbohlen's
*nique vocal style.
"I still haven't really listened to the
album yet 'cause I'm a little bit hurt by
that," Vonbohlen said. "I sang terribly
and there's nothing I can do about it
and I can't really deal with that ..
That's my voice, but that's bad for what
my voice can be .... That was a miser-
able failure."
"30 Degrees Everywhere" is any-
hing but a failure, though. The record
ombines soft, poetic, creative lyrics
sung with unbridled emotion and
bright, vibrant, driving music full of
hooks and melody by the ton. It's a very
unique and unlikely combination, but


the two blend so perfectly, it just all
comes together so well. "We like to talk
in colors. The lyrics to me are a lot of
blues, lighter blues, if that makes any
sense, which are soft," Vonbohlen
explained. "Jason figures the key we
play, the key of C, is red. I've never
heard a band
E V I E W before which is
like that."
Detroit Fest "Wow! We're
March 7-9 doing something
e days, $7 for one day completely differ-
ch.edu/Jskinner/fest ent, you know,
even though peo-
ple are dying to compare you to some-
thing, but it's really not like anything
else'" Vonbohlen added.
The lyrics create stimulating mental
images. Most of the songs are about
relationships, something about which
Vonbohlen feels compelled to write.
"The boy-girl issue," Vonbohlen said,
"those are really strong images, really
universal images everyone is thinking
about or feeling, you know? Locations
are really universal, too.'
"A lot of songs are just little parts or
excerpts from poems that I've written,"
Vonbohlen said. "I definitely don't just
want to write that rock song with a cho-
rus, you know. There's so much that's
been done before .... I'm not gonna
say, 'Hey! I think you're neat.'
Everyone rides the middle ... and says
middle-ground stuff. I like to be way
left of that, like real poetic and kinda
vague and deal with images and not just
like ideas. Or I wanna go so far right,
like the most obvious song in the world
.... I think every word is really thought
The Promise Ring just released
their second album, "The Horse
Latitudes," a couple of weeks ago,
which is a compilation of their first
three 7" records and two new songs.
They already written more material,
and expect to start recording a new
album in June. Meanwhile, The
Promise Ring just finished a tour with
Texas Is The Reason, and tours here
and there along the way. They're stop-
ping into Detroit on March 7 to head-
line the first night of the Detroit Fest,
a three-day punk, hardcore, and indie
festival to benefit HIV/AIDS. "It
seems like an effective benefit, you
know," Vonbohlen said. "Most bene-
fits are like, you know, a punk show
and 30 kids in a basement. You charge
$3, you give each band gas money and
you get $12 for the benefit. It's like,
'Well, OK ....'

Beck holds his two Grammys at Wednesday's show.
Dark cavernous venue, multiple oversights and
uninteresting performances aside, this year'
Grammy's did have its upside. Beck brought home the
gold, and we finally got to see Billy Corgan struggle
to speak in public as a polite guy. At least this year
there was a creative force behind the most popular
awards. Justice is watching Alanis Morrisette and
Bryan Adams go home empty-handed.
The payback came when innocent viewers were
forced to watch Celine Dion kiss, hug and snivel her
way to the stage to accept her Album of the Year
Award, but of course it wouldn't be the Grammy's
without a contrived ending. "Talent is not enough, I
want to thank everyone that works in the shadows."
You said it Celine.

Eric Clapton receives his award at the GrammyC" 'POT

Orchestra of China offers unique sounds

By Anitha Chalam
Daily Arts Writer
Orchestras usually conjure up images
of tuxedo-clad men, women in black
dresses and violins. But throw in the
word 'China,' and suddenly the whole
phrase takes on a new context. Indeed,
evening's perfor-
mance of the
National Natio
Traditional 1 Orch
Orchestra of China
proved to be an
enlightening expe-
The National Traditional Orchestra of
China, conducted by Hu Bingxu, was
founded in 1960 in Beijing as a part of
the China Central Ensemble of National
Music, which is the largest and most
prestigious organization devoted to the
performance of Chinese folk music. In
spite of their dedication to folk music,
the members of the ensemble are all
highly trained musicians, star pupils of
the leading institutions of China, such as
the China Central Conservatory in
Beijing and the Shanghai conservatory.

And though the Orchestra is centered in
Beijing, it has performed throughout
China and other Asian countries. Last
night's performance was a part of the
Orchestra's first United States tour.
The National Traditional Orchestra of

China performed




Chinese instru-
V I E W ments, so"i of
which had originat-
al Traditional ed more than a
stra of China thousand years ago.
Xill A uditorium The Orchestra was
Feb. 26, 1997 comprised of
strings, winds and
percussion instruments, as well as a
number of plucked instruments without
a western counterpart, accounting for a
distinctive sound.
Eleven pieces were played Wednesday
evening. The first piece, "The General's
Command," was perhaps the best, deeply
impassioned, with excellent dynamics
and balance. At all times, the piece
retained a sense of solemnity, creating
the impressions of a great army on the
march. The last piece in the program,
"Battle at the Golden Beach," had a sim-
ilar military theme.

The National Traditional Orchestra of China performed at Hill Auditorium.

The first featured soloist of the
evening was Wu Yuxia on the pipa, a
pear-shaped plucked instrument with 26
frets. Yuxia played with extreme grace
and dexterity in "Spring on a Moonlit
River." The next piece featured Song Fei,
on the erhu. The instrument itself consists
of only two strings, and its mellow sound
is produced by drawing a bow between
the strings, rather than on top. Fei was the
only woman in the erhu section of the
Orchestra, and her performance was

The third soloist, cellist Hei-Ye Ni,
was the only performer who played on a
nontraditional instrument that evening, in
a piece called "Spring Dreams," written
by University professor Bright Sheng. Ni
did a splendid job with the piece.
The Orchestra was so well received
that they played an encore piece,
"America, the Beautiful." The two-hour
concert was a rare opportunity to hear a
fantastic ensemble.

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