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February 09, 2000 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-02-09

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Top 'o the evening to ye!
Hear your favorite pub-style drinking songs as
the Ann Arbor Irish Ensemble performs at
the Arbor Brewing Company. 9 p.m. Free.
michigandaily.com /arts

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LrRTS

WEDNESDAY
FEBRUARY 9, 2000

i

Guitarist Harris
travels the world,
makes stop at Ark

African American
heritage highlighted

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By Rosemary Metz
Daily Arts Writer

By Chris Kula
Daily Arts Editor

If musicians could be judged solely on
the path that they have taken through life,
Corey Harris would certainly stand out
among his contemporaries.
Harris, an acoustic bluesman who bor-
rows equally from the sounds of West
Africa as he does those of the Mississippi
Delta, has taken something of a world
journey to reach his current level of

acclaim.
Denver,

Born in
Harris

Corey Harris
The Ark
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

sang in gospel
choirs throughout
his childhood, but
it was the first
time that Harris
heard the earnest
acoustic blues
stylings of
Lightnin'
Hopkins at the
age of 12 that he
picked up the
guitar and devel-
oped an all-
encompassing

traditions of West Africa, Harris returned
to the States, opting to relocate in this
country's musical Shangri-La - New
Orleans. It was in the Crescent City that
Harris began developing his world-
inflected, solo bluesman repetoirre as a
street musician in the French Quarter.
At this point in his life, Harris made
the decision to fully devote himself to his
music. In 1994, after honing his sound by
playing coffeehouses and college cam-
puses, Harris went into the studio and
recorded his debut album, "Between
Midnight and Day," the strength of which
earned him a record deal with blues
mega-label Alligator Records.
Shortly after the release of "Midnight,"
Harris was invited to open up for Natalie
Merchant's west coast tour, during which
he'd often join Merchant onstage for her
encores. This high-profile gig lead to
other touring opportunities, including
opening up for blues legends B.B. King,
Taj Mahal and Buddy Guy, as well as
frat-rock kings Dave Matthews Band.
Harris also spent several stints head-
lining clubs in Europe and, as a part of
Alligator's 25th anniversary celebra-
tion in 1997, toured extensively in
Japan. During this time, Harris also
wrote the song material that would
become the basis of his second album,
"Fish Ain't Bitin'." Harris' sophomore
effort built on the solo acoustic foun-
dation of his previous release by incor-
porating a more diverse pallette of
sounds, including a full New Orleans
brass band-style horn section on sever-

The rich tapestry of African
American history is interwoven with
vibrant threads of sadness, joy,
laughter and tears. These threads
erupt in voice and dance in this
weekend's presentation of "Colored
People's Time."
Theatre Prof. Darryl Jones directs
this production of Leslie Lee's
unique show celebrating diversity.
Running through the play is the
sense of affirmation, strength of
spirit and independence that is part
of the African American heritage.
"CPT" is a metaphor based on the
idea that African Americans are not
bound by traditional time con-

Colored
People's
Time
Mendelsohn Theatre
Thurs. to Sat. at 8 p.m.

Pnoto courtesy of Alligator Records
Corey Harris and his National steel guitar are no strangers to the world's terrains.

straints and can
proceed at their
own pace
through histcry.
"CPT" becomes
an affirmation
of how African
Americans
"retained our
own indepen-
dence and sense
of self, even
under threat of
the whip,"
Jones said. "We

with the tale of slaves' escape
attempts. The episodes move
through the Jim Crow South into the
Harlem Renaissance and on into th*
civil rights era of later 20th
Century. The lively singing includes
gospel, blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll and
hip hop, highlighting African-
American roots. Accompanying the
singing, the play features dances
such as the Lindy, the Charleston,
the jitterbug and the Funky
Chicken, all of which have origins
in plantation slavery life. One of
more picturesque examples is th*
"cake-walk," which was a slave imi-
tation of the minuet.
Lee is especially pleased at the
inclusion of the last scene in this
production. He describes it as being
"waiting for Godot-ish." The scene
sends the message that there are no
easy or proscribed explanations,
and, as one character says, "Time
doesn't have any answers." An enor-
mous sense of sadness permeate
this historical moment in the pla)W
because African-American leaders
have been assassinated. Lee infused
this scene with incalculable loss.
Yet, even in this dark hour of confu-
sion, "the heroes we seek are never
more evident," he said. "They are in
within each of us."
It is this powerful element that
Lee describes as making the show a
"play of discovery, a work-in9
progress." This complex and multi
layered work is, in. the words of
Jones, "entertaining entertainment
for everyone, so much singing and
dancing for all."
Lee adds that Walter Kerr, the
former NY Times drama critic,
thanked Lee for being the first
American-American playwright to
invite him to share the experience
through this work. Lee, a member of
the faculty of the Tisch School '
the Performing Arts at New York
University, will attend the Friday
evening performance, rand lead a
master class on Saturday.

passion for music.
After graduating from a small, liberal
arts college in Maine, Harris left the U.S.
to travel in Africa, eventually settling in
Cameroon, where the heavily rhythm-
based nature of the area's indigenous juju
music made a strong influence on Harris'
guitar playing.
After soaking up the rich drumming

al tracks.
By this point in his career, Harris
was beginning to receive the kind of
notoriety reserved only for true crit-
ics' darlings. Though featured in
CNN's "Showbiz Today" as well as
in cover stories by "Living Blues"
and "Acoustic Musician," Harris was
bestowed his greatest honor to date
when "Fish Ain't Bitin' " won the
1997 W.C. Handy Award for
Acoustic Blues Album of the Year.
On the strength of his past merits,

Harris has now reached a point in his
career where he is landing name slots
at some of the nation's most presti-
gious blues events, including the
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage
Festival, the Montreaux Jazz Festival
and the Chicago Blues Fest. His lat-
est album, "Greens from the
Garden," is so deeply steeped in var-
ious genres - reggae, Latin, tradi-
tional Southern blues and even rag-
time - that it succintly mirrors his
long musical journey.

Have fun with death, try 'Crystal Meth'

maintained our
spirit and would not be dominated."
In a series of amusing vignettes,
the play illustrates, through song
and dance, the history of African
American struggle from slavery to
present day. But "this is no wordy
docudrama," Jones said. "It is a
dramatization of fictitious charac-
ters reacting and responding to real
events."
Playwright Lee echoes that inter-
pretation, describing his play as his
own "personal journey" chronical-
ing his struggles as an African-
American man in 20th Century
America.
The show's events begin in 1859

By Anika Kohon
Daily Arts Writer

MTV's informative, entertaining documentary,
"True Life: I'm on Crystal Meth," takes gritty
look at one of the most dangerous drug pan-
demics plaguing the United
sStates. "True Life" is both
bold and. well-executed.
P~ue Life: I'm Serena Altschul probes all
aspects of this scary drug in
on Crystal Meth the program produced in
Grade: B association with Channel
MTV One, the in-school news net-
Tonight at 10 p.m. work.
The documentary begins
with an interview of Amber, a
19 year-old girl, who has been
trapped in a cycle of addic-
tion for six years. Altschul
and the camera crew even
accompany Amber into a cof-
fee shop bathroom as the young woman shoots up.

When asked when she last slept, Amber is not
sure. Other people interviewed on the street admit
that they have had periods where they did not
sleep for weeks. Prolonged periods of sleep depri-
-vation, resulting in rage, disorientation and per-
sonality changes characterize some of the delete-
rious effects of Meth, Dr. Alex Stalcup said.
Stalcup is an addiction medicine specialist who
works with Crystal Meth addicts. A veteran of the
rehab battalion of the 70's, he says Meth "makes
Haight-Ashbury look like a picnic." Stalcup fur-
ther outlines one of the primary problems in the
fight against the drug: use is more pronounced in
the rural and suburban areas, precluding massive
intervention. He said no one takes a drug problem
seriously until it hits New York City. Additionally,
Crystal Meth is the only hard drug for which pri-
mary production occurs in the United States.
Altschul and the camera crew are granted
amazing access as they sit with an armed, camou-
flaged battalion staking out a possible lab. Later,
she speaks with cookers themselves, and also vis-
its a prison in Maricopa County where 80 percent

of the 7,000 inmates are there on drug-related
offenses. Additionally, according to the law
enforcement officials, the number of labs seized
in Maricopa County is up 100 percent since last
year.
One user, or tweaker, as they are commonly
called, claims that everyone knows a cooker
whether they know the person is producing Meth
or not - a bold statement.,Or is it? Considering
the lack of media attention Meth has received.
perhaps the general public is as nafve as this man
claims. Appropriately, MTV is the first network
to give the problem in-depth attention since
MTV's demographic includes the younger seg-
ment of the population, the very people this drug
is hitting the hardest.
Long takes, characterized by numerous pans back
and forth, and changing focal planes result in a dizzy-
ing effect at times. Understandably, this is more a prod-
uct of the limited shooting locations than a deliberate
aesthetic choice. MTV pulls out all the stops on this
groundbreaking look at a (new) American Crisis. Don't
miss this one.

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Photo courtesy of David Smith Photography
A story of perserverance under pressure, "Colored People's Time" debuts this weekend.
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