8A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 31, 2000
The Los Angeles Times
When a musician insists that it's an
honor just to have been nominated for
a Grammy award, it's easy to suspect
that what you're hearing is simply the
sound of false modesty. But as Macy
Gray explains, there's definitely an
advantage to having been nominated.
Since it was announced earlier this
month that Gray is up for two Gram-
mys - including the best new artist
award - business has been booming
for the R&B singer. "Just a lot of
stuff started coming up," she said,
over the phone from a tour stop in
"I noticed that when we got the
nomination, a couple of the venues (on
the tour) got bigger, because there
were more people wanting to see us.
"And all these TV shows came in.
We got Rosie O'Donnell and Conan,
and Letterman again, and Leno.
"I've been getting movie scripts. I
got a soundtrack offer. So it does help
a lot," said the 29-year old singer-
songwriter. "The Grammy people defi-
Could the five freshmen on
Michigan's current basketball team
cut it in a game with the original
Fab Five? Probably not just yet, but
players can give the matchup a try
in "NCAA March Madness 2000," a
Daily Film Editor
ness" features 1501
of enjoyment to
the college bas-
men's Division I
courtesy o www.macygray.com
Grammy-nominated Macy Gray made a splash with her album "On How Life is."
rosters for the game include the
actual players from the team (play-
ers are identified by number and not
name). For the most part (save a
black and bald Gavin Groninger)
the players in the game look quite a
bit like their real life counterparts
(although Jamal Crawford is minus
a headband). This authenticity car-
ries over to the team uniforms,
where Michigan has their awful
block M rags.
However, it would have been nice
to see the makers of the game carry
this attention to detail a few steps
further. The team's stadiums are
major disappointments - each
school's home court is really just a
generic arena with the school's
name and logo slapped down on it.
Gainers are also unable to play the
actual schedule for the team that
they elect and must settle for a com-
-puter generated schedule of one of
three levels of difficulty (cake, ran-
dom or brutal).
As basketball games go, "March
Madness" is pretty easy to learn,
although playing defense boils
down to trying for steals or blocked
shots. The players move around the
court very smoothly and it
shouldn't take long to master their
The appearance of the players is a
major improvement from last year's
version of the game, as they are
now slightly larger and more-
defined in their appearance. Anoth-
er welcome improvement to the
game is a new system for free-throw
shooting that makes it much easier
to connect from the charity stripe.
Once you're in the heat of a
game, listen for Dick Vitale provid-
ing color commentary throughout
the action. Here, as in real life, Dick
makes some good points ("Number
30 on Michigan makes everyone
around him better") and some curi-
ous ones ("Number l (on Michigan)
has go to shoot the ball more
Despite its shortcomings, "March
Madness" is still a lot of fun to
play. So lace 'em up and prepare to
ball with some of the nation's
nitely have a lot to do with pushing
your career. Especially if you're new."
Gray admits to having been floored
by her nominations. "I had no idea,"
she said. "Like, (the Grammy people)
invited me to announce the nomina-
tions, right? My label told me that they
usually don't do that unless you're
nominated. But just the fact that they
said 'usually' made me think, 'Well...'
She laughs, and adds, "It's much
easier for me to hope for the worst.
Because I don't want to get my hopes
"So I didn't really count on it, and
when I went in there and they said my
name, and I was totally shocked. Like
my whole stomach dropped. I couldn't
believe it. And then when they
announced me for two, I was really
Gray said that the nomination for
best new artist was actually less sur-
prising than the nomination for best
female R&B vocal performance,
where she's contending with the likes
of Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston,
Faith Evans and Brandy.
"That was really great," she said.
"I'm really proud of that one."
Gray is especially pleased because
her sound is unlike anybody else in
R&B today. Her voice is tart, with a
slight rasp recalling Al Green, while
her writing is more playful and eclec-
tic than anyone since Prince. It's a
striking combination, and something
Gray said is a natural product of her
growth as a musician.
"I don't try to do what everybody
else does. I think I just grow," she said.
"I've always had this voice. But I
think, subconsciously, the more music
you hear, the more it affects you.
teams along with 16 women's teams
(sorry, no Wolverines) and 20 clas-
sic teams (including '82 North Car-
olina and '93 Michigan). While the
selection of men's teams is thorough
enough, it would have been nice to
see some additional teams included
in the other two categories.
The biggest strength of "March
Madness" is the fact that the school
The Meters can still funk it up
The Los Angeles Tlimes
When George Porter, Jr. looks out
into the audience, things don't look
much different than they did three
decades ago. His crowds are generally
in their 20s.
"It's funny," said the bassist for the
seminal funk band the Meters. "We are
probably playing to the same age group
we played to 30 years ago. That is
something that is very intriguing."
Since 1966, Porter, along with Art
Neville, has served the group that
became to New Orleans what Booker T.
and MGs were to Memphis: They
defined a sound for generations to
The Meters originally grew out of
Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, a
group that included Porter, guitarist Leo
Nocentelli and drummer Joseph "Ziga-
boo" Modeliste as well as Aaron, Art
and Cyril Neville. The group dropped
vocalists Cyril and Aaron Neville in
1968 and the newly christened Meters
became the house band for Allen Tous-
saint and Marshall Sehorn's Sansu
label. They also played a regular gig at
the Ivanhoe Bar in New Orleans. In the
late 60s, the Meters drafted the blue-
print for New Orleans funk through
slinky instrumentals propelled by the
powerhouse rhythm section of Porter
and Modeliste - whose use of the
high-hat cymbal changed modern
drumming - and complemented by
Nevilie's understated keyboard
melodies and Nocentelli's rhythmic and
assertive guitar playing.
"Cissy Strut," "Sophisticated Cissy"
and "Look-Ka Py Py" were the Meters'
highest-charting instrumentals, but the
influence of their early years turned
many musicians inside out. To this day,
musicians spanning a variety of styles
often cite the Meters among their prima-
ry inspirations. The Meters were also
key in modernizing the Crescent City's
sounds after the city's great R&B era
subsided. Other than James Brown and
Parliament/Funkadelic, it's doubtful
there's a more sampled group in hip-
The early 70s coincided with a shift
in the band's focus that put vocal tracks
to their already muscular grooves, mak-
ing them more accessible but no less
potent. Cyril Neville reemerged in
1975, lending vocals and percussion.
"In the 1970s, when both Zig and Leo
felt that we were losing the battle of
competing with the other bands that
were out there, that were at one time
opening acts for some of our shows,
who now had big record deals they
wanted to compete in that musical mar-
ket," Porter said. "They were starting to
write songs at home and bringing them
to the sessions."
During this era, the Meters began
incorporating psychedelic rock influ-
ences into the second-line funk sounds.
"Hey Pocky A-Way," "Fire on the
Bayou" and "Talkin' 'Bout New
Orleans" have become anthems in their
home town, but the quartet was never
limited to a certain style or sound.
In 1977, the Meters broke up. Spec-
ulation has been flying about an origi-
nal-member Meters reunion since the
1999 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage
Festival, when Porter jammed with
Modeliste's band. The rumors intensi-
fied in early December when Art
Neville joined Porter, Modeliste and
other musicians in a "Superjam" con-
cert. Not just yet, though.
"I never say 'never' to anything, but
at this point there's not really anything
that could be conceivable as 'we're
doing this' or 'we're doing that' to
make any moves like that," Porter said.
"But I never close doors on the poten-
tial of anything happening. If we live
long enough, we'll play again.
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