8 The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 14, 1999
Da rts Writer
No place does the funk better than
New Orleans. And right now, no one
from that city - or anywhere else, for
that matter - is as funky as Galactic.
since its formation in 1994, the six-
piece band has risen to the level of reign-
ing king of acid jazz soul-funk. Mixing
slinky guitar lines, greasy Hammond
organ, sultry saxophone melodies and
soulful vocals with an ultra-tight founda-
tion of grooving bass and dynamite
By John Uhl
Daily Arts Writer
"It's a different kettle of fish," jazz
Hemingway said as he addressed vari-
ous individual aspects of his music in
a recent interview. Hemingway's
music, which ranges from solo
acoustic and electronic soundscapes to
symphonic orchestra compositions,
has more kettles than the yellow-
brimmed Gordon's fish stick man.
This Friday, Hemingway will bring
his current quartet of tenor saxophon-
By Jeff Druchniak
Daily Arts Writer
You might say that exactly what
literature does not need is another
book about Vietnam. You might be
You might argue that so many
authors (not to mention play-
wrights and filmmakers) havel
hashed out so many details abouf
this tiny country that it is now a
cliche to observe the appalling
scars the Vietnam War left on
say it with me - an entire genera-
tion of Americans.
You might have a point.
You would be missing Mai-
Eliott's, though. This first-time
author is arriving in Ann Arbor to
answer questions and give a read-
ing at Shaman Drum. She has-
written one of the first books in
English that examines Vietnamese
courtesy of capricorn Records
Members of Galactic look cool.
at 9:30 p.m.
d r u m m i n g,
Galactic has rein-
proud tradition of
is our place" said
Clouet. "It's a
music town, a lot
of culture there.
You can't go any-
where in the
United States or in
years. After hooking up with keyboardist
Rich Vogel and funky drummer Stanton
Moore, they began playing all-night sets
at small clubs around the city. After a
few minor lineup changes over the years,
the band is now rounded out by Ben
Ellman (also of the New Orleans
Klezmer Allstars) on saxophones and an
unlikely frontman in de Clouet, who's
been a fixture in the New Orleans club
circuit for more than 30 years.
"Here we're playing this funky, funky
music and I look around and I'm sur-
rounded by these white boys from the
suburbs" de Clouet said with a laugh.
"But the main thing is that they're per-
petuating the sound. Their love for the
music and their respect for it keeps it
Though the band's two releases on
Capricorn Records, "Coolin' Off" and
"Crazyhorse Mongoose" are sure bets to
keep the party going all through the
night, Galactic's blistering live sets are
its bread and butter. Or, perhaps more
fittingly, its gumbo and jambalaya.
The band's October performance at
the Blind Pig was the funk equivalent of
ransacking a small village during the
height of Mardi Gras. Onstage, Galactic
adds an unrelenting energy to its jazz-
fusion onslaught, recalling a more exper-
imental, spaced-out version of the ever-
This penchant for thrilling live shows
has brought the band a significant fol-
lowing among the neo-hippie fans of the
jam band scene. Sharing the stage with
groups like Widespread Panic has only
furthered Galactic's notoriety within the
"These last few dates, we've had some
really good jams, good times;' de Clouet
said. "Basically, all we're trying to do
right now is just get out there and spread
the word. New Orleans music has a
proud tradition, but if nobody does any-
thing successful with it, it's just going to
stay down there. So we're going to try
and be that somebody."
Friday at 8 p.m.
C o n c e r t
House's Jazz at
the Edge series.
miere in 1997,
the world where you can sit down and
hear that kind of music."
It was this age-old reputation that
drew bassist Rob Mercurio and guitarist
Jeff Raines to the city for their college
Courtesy of Kerrytown concert House
Gerry Hemingway gets emotional at the
stellar solo journeying, there exists a
swinging melodic virility that is absent
from much of today's improvisation
emphasized music. Like his flare for
melody amid chaos, Hemingway's
unabashed interest in garnering com-
mercial interest stands out in a scene
of reputed artists. After wallowing in
the relative American obscurity of
European record labels like hat ART
and Random Acoustics, he is ready for
serious domestic exposure. "To me
there is a way to market what I do
without hindering its artistic content,"
On the quartet's latest unreleased
endeavor, the group kept the blowing
to a minimum. Hemingway is willing
to adapt to the commercial industry.
"Most people don't have the kind of
time to get into listening to a CD in the
way they get into listening to a live
performance," he said, "And I'm the
same way ... (so) I really pared the
pieces down to their pure essence.".
He is also willing to do just about
anything to make people aware of his
music. Hemingway totes part of his
nearly 100-album catalog to all his
shows, selling records to audience
members who are eager to finally find
his documented work.
On Friday afternoon, the quartet
will bring their prowess to university
jazz students at a free Kerrytown
workshop (for information, contact
music professor Ed Sarath). Don't be
surprised if Hemingway brings his ket-
tle and fish, and demonstrates how use
them as a drum set.
Tonight at 8
hi sto ry,,
t h e
in the Life of
been a dream
brass and bass players have included
Ray Anderson, Robin Eubanks, Herb
Robertson and Michael Formanek.
This is a stark contrast to
Hemingway's previous group, a
European based ensemble, of which he
said, "imagining another player in a
role (of one of the usual members) was
kind of unimaginable." Since
Hemingway describes the current
group as, "a real player's band ... it
gives a tremendous amount of frontage
to the individual players," there is an
inherent flexibility that allows its work
to evolve as musicians to come and go.
Yet through all the quartet's inter-
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since her adolescence in the
1950s. It intertwines the last 150'
years of her extended family histo.-
ry - the Duongs - with that of
her country, and she calls it "a true
labor of love."
In her charming, delicatel'
accented English, Elliott conveys a
real sense of pleasure in talking
about herself and her writing that
one seldom finds in veteran
"I suppose everyone has the
same thought, to write the story of'
her family," Elliott speculated. But
her interest was spurred in the
1960s by her work with her hus-
band, Prof. Dave Elliott, where she
interviewed Viet Cong prisoners
of war for an American corpora-
Afterwards, Elliott interviewed
her parents and other family mem
bers, and saved her growing co-
lection of material until the 1990s'
when relaxed political tensioiis
between the United States and
Vietnam made it possible to fully
devote herself to researching and
writing the book.
A National Endowment for the
Humanities grant gave Elliott the
funding to work fulltime on "The
Sacred Willow," named for a tree
considered legendary to her fami-
ly's history. This financial support
was a huge aid. Elliott used it to
make frequent trips to Vietnam.
There she explored hitherto sealed
government archives. "The French'
(colonists) loved their paperwork,"'
the author laughed.
In addition, she interviewed
family members with whom, sinced
they had not immigrated to the
U.S. like Mai and her parents, she
had been out of touch for decades.
Elliott considers the time spent
on a book an enjoyable one,
because she found people so will-
ing to talk about her family and-
introduce her to aspects of her his-
tory of which she had never
known. (She likes talking to read-
ers about the book on her tour
almost as much.)
"It's not a tell-all kind of book,"
the author explained, although
there are several intensely person-
al moments. It could hardly be oth--
erwise, considering the book's
expanse from the imperial court of
1850s, where Mai's great-grandfa-
ther was an influential mandarin,
to the historical issues of the post-
Vietnam War era.
Elliott has already written they'
first third of her second book, but'
this one will be a novel. It will deat
with the Vietnam War from t1
perspective of female protagc
nists, another underexplored
option for Vietnam literature.
The novel is on hold now while
Mai promotes "The Sacred
Willow" but she plans another trip
to Vietnam this summer to do
some more work on it.
She credits classic novels she
read before beginning, such as
Joseph Conrad's "Lord Jim" and
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