Alin Youngblood Hart hits A2
Catch Alvin Youngblood Hart at The Ark. Hart, a blues guitarist, will
be sharing his tunes with Ann Arbor tonight. Take a night off from
studying to check out the show. Tickets are $10 and are available in
advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office or Schoolkids' Records.
Don't miss out!
September 8, 1997
A CELEBRATION OF ECLECTICISM
25th Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival brings worlds of music together
By James Miller
Daily Arts Writer
In loving memory of Luther Allison,
who saw the Blues walking like a natur-
Detroit blues bands are sometimes
kind of a risk. What is billed as old-
fashioned, down-home electric blues
winds up being the kind of red-neck
blues rock that makes guys wave their
Jack Daniels hats in the air and hoot.
It is precisely for this reason that
Johnnie Bassett and the Blues
Insurgents are such a gust of sweet, blue
air. Bassett himself has a tasty, thick
baritone that makes audience members
lean over and whisper to their neigh-
bors. The band members themselves are
good players, maybe a bit on the aver-
age side, excepting the horn players,
both of whom turned in at least two
excellent solos apiece.
Bassett's set had standards ("Muddy
Water") and some of his truly entertain-
ing originals, "The More Things
Change, The More They Stay The
Same" and "I Love a Good Woman, But
I Like The Bad Ones Too." Glued
together with erudite guitar work and
great theatrical sense, it seemed a
shame that Bassett was confined to the
role of opener.
Have you ever seen a blues band with
two huge mountains of amps, like it was
sharing a bus with Pantera? Have you
ever seen a blues legend in overalls and
a Reebok headband? Have you ever
seen that same legend equally at home
with Tampa Red and Jimi Hendrix?
That is the Buddy Guy Experience.
His set opened with a razor-sharp
and rocket-fast "Got My Mojo
Workin"', faster than even the original.
From there, Guy slowed down the
tweaked crowd with a massive
"Hootchie Cootchie Man" (complete
with the dirty verse that starts out "She
got one leg to the east / She got one leg
to the west." You get the idea.)
Languidly and self-indulgently, the
song drifted into a tortured and strange-
ly soft "Love Her With A Feelin"'
before rolling to a halt.
It was the quiet ones that were dan-
gerous. Buddy Guy plays a loud show,
as a general rule.
The two stacks on R
the side of the stage B
aren't for bluffing.
But he has this way
of beginning a slow
and fitful blues at a Friday,
very low volume,
Pendergrass kind of voices that you
could listen to all day. Songs like "Too
Poor" and the Joe Cocker classic "You
Can Leave Your Hat On" shone like jel-
lied fire, on singing alone.
To prove that the rest of the band had
just as much smoke, the pianist led an
ues and Jazz
Sept. 5 - Sunday, Sept. 7
of the venerable
"Down in New
Orleans" with even
more vocal might.
The group's set
strayed into auxil-
(spoons and bones)
with the aptly titled
playing softly and pining with his high
tenor voice. When the song approaches
an emotional climax or similar
moment, Guy immediately brings him-
self and the band up to an ear-bleeding
intensity instantly because the sound is
up so high anyway.
And while we're on the subject - a
few words about Buddy Guy's voice.
The high tenor is a dying art. A lot of
mediocre blues singers will try to cover
up a lack of talent or feeling with a fake
baritone or pinched growl. Guy is the
genuine article, with a high, anguished
voice that comes from the august likes
of Son House, J.B. Lenior and John
Mayall. The amazing thing about it is
how it can go from soft and pleading to
ecstatic in about three seconds flat. The
technique is great, but the execution is
The second half of his set was inter-
esting, to say the absolute least. Guy
began with talking about influences that
all modern guitarists share, followed by
a thunderous 30 seconds of John Lee
Hooker's "Boom Boom." He then
talked about a few of the "young" play-
ers today, Hendrix and Clapton, and
accompanied his examples with
"Strange Brew" and a huge version of
"Red House." Swatches of "Johnnie B.
Goode" and "Mustang Sally" followed.
Proof, indeed, if proof were needed, that
Guy has a strong command of all the
You know you've been to a good con-
cert when your only complaint is that
there wasn't an encore.
The Saturday festival was a bit more
of a mixed bag. Fortunately, Lady X
and the Sunshine Band was at the front
of the bag. Playing mostly originals like
"The Blues Is Alright" and "I Don't
Care," Lady X made the most of the tra-
ditional R&B band format (i.e. small
horn section, two guitars, rhythm sec-
tion.) Ms. X has that kind of dense,
powerful voice that had to have been
nurtured in a church, grown under the
light of a stained glass window. She
moved easily between the highly melis-
matic gospel styles to the more declara-
tive styles of the blues. Act No. I was a
The second group, Mudpuppy, did
even better. The lead singer had one of
those great, masculine, Teddy
"Spoonful" and "The Plumber," as well
as the old, reliable "You Got Me
Runnin."' Mudpuppy is what a soul
band should sound like - dipped in the
mud behind the Stax studio.
Lavell White, the third act, was a dis-
appointment. Despite her age and
impressive resume, her voice is weak
and uninspiring, her band is bland and
unconvincing and her set was rambling,
dull and fairly rotten. She spent about
10 minutes on a rambling, dead-end
song, inciting the uninterested crowd to
"go and take your drawers off." Not
even that worked.
Big Jack Johnson and the Oilers did
better for itself. Johnson's band provid-
ed a strong and interesting platform for
his excellent, and heavily Chicago, gui-
tar work. His "Boom Boom" and "Got
My Mojo Workin"' were very good, as
were his versions of Guitar Slim's "The
Things That I Used To Do" and "That's
Alright, Mama." Decent, if not great.
l'm not really sure what to say about
Don Byron's set. Byron is one of the
most inventive and courageous musicians
in jazz today, experimenting freely with
Klezmer, avant-garde and Dixie elements
with equal fluidity. But this doesn't lend
itself to a festival crowd all that well. The
crowd (myself included) didn't seem that
into his set. A good man in the wrong
place at the wrong time.
And now for the great Medeski,
Martin and Wood. MMW is the musical
equivalent of Play-Dough. It's experi-
mental trio jazz. Squeeze it one way it
turns into funk. Pressure on another
plane yields solid groove. What I found
most intriguing, being a casual fan, was
that I kept thinking I wasn't enjoying
the show, until I realized that I had been
staring intently at them for about a half
an hour and bobbling my head like a
white man at a wedding reception the
whole time. It grows on you.
Enjoy the manic keyboard work from
John Medeski for a few minutes until it
becomes the bass work of Chris Wood,
which leads into Billy Martin's drums.
The greatest praise I can give MMW is
that the festival that day went from strict,
puritanical R&B, to Chicago blues, to
avant-garde jazz to super-hipster jazz
funk and everyone still had a good time.
Happy 25th to the Blues and Jazz
Festival, a monument to eclecticism.
sixth-grade Sex Ed
By Julia Shih
Daily Film Editor
Back in 6th grade, when I went
through sex education with a dozen
other embarrassed pre-adolescents, I
may have found the informational
videos on how babies are made inter-
But now well- RI
informed about theA
details of life, 1 1
could care less
about the boring
and asinine film,
"A Smile Like
Yours," which is nothing more than a
stylized Sex Ed video.
"A Smile Like Yours" attempts to
play off the sexual chemistry
between Greg Kinnear and Lauren
Holly to provide a touching romantic
The two look at each other with
lovey-dovey eyes, and they try to
prove who loves whom more,
butchering every romantic-comedy
cliche ever written. But in the end,
their charm and cuteness become
disgustingly overwhelming; and as
with Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls, you just
want to kill them.
Kinnear and Holly play a couple who
are desperately trying to have a baby.
Holly tries to increase their chances by
mixing up aphrodisiacs in perfume and
surprising Kinnear, a construction
worker, at odd times.
By dabbing on the secret scent and
having sex in random places (a sports
stadium, an elevator, a bathroom in a
pool hall), her chances of conceiving
are supposed to increase.
Of course, these strange scenes of
seduction are incredibly pointless and
grueling to watch. They take up most of
the movie, and as this is going on, there
is close to no plot advancement or char-
When Holly's character takes her
husband's sperm in to be analyzed
(which, incidentally, is obtained by
some extremely unorthodox means),
she finds out that he has "lazy swim,
The rest of the movie is devoted to
the couple's trials and tribulations.at a
Scenes of Holly being probed wit
what looks like heavy machinery ant
Kinnear in a
:V E EW"Masturbatorium"
fallVfar short of
A Smile Like
they just reaffirm
the movie's stupidi-.
pace is slow while the flat and skimnpy
plot is spread incredibly thin. Nothi4
really happens that sparks any audi-
ence interest, and the climax of the
film is nonexistent. What results'is a,
dull, monotonous cheese-fest 'that
moves just like the voice of thc
teacher from "Ferris Bueller's Day:
The only highlight of the movie-
would have to be Joan Cusacl
("Grosse Pointe Blank") who plays_
the best-friend role. Holly and Cusac -
own a quaint little shop in Sa
Francisco that sells perfumes andd
Cusack is hilarious as the desper.r
ately horny friend who has her eys
set on a mortician. Cusack, vWHo-
always delivers solid performances.-
supporting roles, once again shows
why she is one of the most underrated
actresses in Hollywood.
Otherwise, audiences sit throu
nearly two hours of learning the roe
of fallopian tubes and ovaries during
conception, what goes on at fertility
clinics, just what a MasturbatoriurA
looks like and what a bad movie reatr
"A Smile Like Yours" might have
been an interesting way of teaching
kids about how babies are made. Biat
watching this tedious, mind-numbing
film is the ultimate test of patience -
for those who already know all th
Top) Marcia Bal lets it all out at the Blues and Jazz Festival yesterday.
jBottom) Ann Arbor's own Shakey Jake boogies down with a fan at the Blues and
Jazz Festival at Gallup Park on Saturday.
Early birds can get something
a whole lot better than worms.
Enroll in any of our
Fall '97 graduate courses
If you think you're pregnant...
call M:-we listen,we care.
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