Pulitzer Prize nominee...
Author James Tobin reads
from his latest book, "Great
Projects" tonight at Borders.
7 p.m. Free.
OCTOBER 30, 2001
Natalie Merchant to hit
Hill Auditorium tonight
will dazzle, delight
with modern music
B Gina Pensiero
Daily Arts Writer
"Maybe there is something kooky about analog but
then again, I still like homemade clothing too," com-
Tonight at 8 p.m.
mented Natalie Merchant.
down-home, organic take on
recording also transfers over to
her ideals about touring, her
new album and, it appears, her
life as well. Merchant, who will
be playing at the Hill Auditori-
um tonight, said she thoroughly
enjoys touring and is quite
excited about playing a tour
that focuses on college venues.
"Colleges are important.
They are not primary media
venues and I feel that they pro-
vide a really relaxed atmos-
Musically, Merchant describes Motherland as
"loose" due largely to her new producer, T. Bone Bur-
nett, who has also produced the critically acclaimed
soundtrack to "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and the
latest Joseph Arthur album. Also, Merchant assures
that a "new energy" has been infused into her estab-
lished band with the addition of long time Tori
Amos/Fiona Apple drummer, Matt Chamberlain.
Merchant claims that her approach to recording
music is "old fashioned," and "not antiseptic," in com-
parison to what is running rampant in pop music
today. Of the current trend to sterilize sound with
mechanical beats and keyboard scapes, Merchant
commented that she is "not intimidated as much as
annoyed," and that she feels the urge to "resist the
machinery." She explained that she has a personal
revulsion to quantization, the process of computeriz-
ing and measuring beats, and that she favors a less
clean but more genuine sound when it comes to
"That's how life is. It's not a sound vacuum. It's
organic sound," she commented..
As for touring, Merchant strives to do her best to
remain genuine while also retaining high sound and
technical quality. She says she knows when the band
is "cookin"' and does her best to capture that as much
"I find it gratifying to reduce things to their
essence," said Merchant of her live show philosophy.
She cited Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell
and Tracy Chapman as some of her favorite live per-
formers because of the simplicity of their acts.
Additionally, Merchant's concern is not only for her
fans' enjoyment but more importantly for their con-
nection to the music. This has only become a height-
ened focus, she explained, in the midst of a national
By Melissa Gollob
Daily Arts Writer
At the heart of Russian culture lies
the St. Petersburg Conservatory. This
center of art and music has educated
some of the most famous and influen-
tial musicians to ever grace the stage
phere," said Merchant.
The tour comes in promotion of the upcoming
release of her new album, Motherland. The album
was originally supposed to be a concept album, pay-
ing tribute to great American non-conformists, with
each song tackling different personalities ranging in
diversity from Al Capone to folk singer Henry Darger.
However, Merchant scrapped many of the songs for
others, as she considered this original idea for the
album to be "too topical." After all, her previous
record Ophelia was a concept album that vaguely
focused on the multiple personalities of a fictitious
Merchant character, so perhaps it is in her best interest
What Merchant has decided to avoid this with her new
Courtesy of Peggy Sirota
The entertainment world's other Natalie.
"People want to connect right now. It's very easy for
people to cry." said Merchant.
"We're mourning the death of innocence. I think
people need to celebrate the things that are left. Also,
our daily life doesn't give us a chance to scream.
Often over the past month or so, I've felt like scream-
ing," she went on to explain.
For Merchant, touring provides her with this oppor-
tunity. She explained that the World Trade Center cri-
sis was particularly touching for her, being a New
Yorker, and that she even sang at a funeral for one of
the victims. The current mood of the country has
made the need for emotion, expression and fundamen-
tal human connection even more important. As this
seems to be a natural personal concern of Merchant's,
it only makes sense that this would endure and carry
over into her musicianship on this upcoming tour.
"Music is an expression of our humanity," said
Merchant, who clearly has aspirations to keep that
expression and that humanity as sacred and uncor-
rupted as possible.
Tonight at 8 p.m.
or to compose a
notably is Piotr
who was a
member of its
the first music
high school in
Russia. It choos-
es the most
cians, who study
piano, voice or
violin and per-
The program will also incorporate
Pavel Popov on violin. He has made
many numerous recordings on CDs
and performed live on the radio. The
Conservatory's opera presentation
features students from the vocal
school of the Conservatory. Alexan-
dra Kovaliova (soprano) and Piotr
Migunov (bass) will perform. Piotr's
past performances include "The Wed-
ding" by Stravinsky and "The Bells"
The students and professors chose
the pieces together to encompass the
different directions the Conservatory
takes. European, Russian classical
and Russian modern styles will all be
showcased at tonight's concert.
Kovaliova and Migunov will per-
form "Zemphira and Aleko's Scene"
and "Aleko's Cavatina" from the
opera "Aleko." This opera helped to
establish Rachmaninoff's legendary
reputation. In addition, Gershwin's
"Concert Fantasia on Themes from
Porgy and Bess" will also be featured.
This compilation was arranged by
Frolov to exhibit the fancifulness of
the opera. The students will also pay
homage to their mentor Tchaikovsky
himself by performing Iolanta's
Arioso from "Iolanta." It first pre-
miered in 1892 in St. Petersburg not
far from his old school, the Conserva-
This program highlights the most
beloved Russian music, both classical
and modern, being reinvented by the
individuals attending the St. Peters-
burg Conservatory. Tonight, this elite
chamber ensemble will dazzle and
Danger and porno enhance Pledge tour
By Sonya Sutherland highly anticipated live performance. members split their duties between let people know "what is wrong today,
Daily Arts Writer Taking the visual aspect one notch fur- three drummers, one of whom became that hate crimes have increased 58 per-
ther, System of a Down opened with the much needed intermediary triangle cent since Sept. 11." After asking
It's a great time to be alive when you "Prison Song" an ode to the failing player, three guitarists, a DJ and a key- everyone to remember that we are all
can rely on four hours of energizing
Wntertainment. From start to finish the
Pledge of Allegiance tour provided just
that, a complete scope of musical
delight made that much better with a
variety of stage
shows, porno and
Pledge of fire.
IVan Andel Arena,
October 28, 2001
night was Chica-
comers No One,
who held their
own, warming up
and eliciting a
from what was
extremely hard to
American penal system, playing in
front of a giant projection screen that
flashed relevant images of criminal
From that point the slide show
increased in relevance and intensity
while System ran down the best of both
their new and old albums including
"Suite Pee," the new single "Chop
Suey," "War," "Bounce" and paused to
explain that their new song "Psycho"
was inspired by a situation involving
"hard-ons and cocaine."
Despite the American flags that hung
from the set and rafters of the venue,
System of a Down did not back down
from their political lyrics or risque visu-
al tactics. Where most bands have
toned down their themes or plausibly
offensive words, System of a Down
refused to give into pressures and
played a hard hour set, letting loose any
and everything they had. Jumping
around on stage and carrying on as they
always have - hard, motivated and
most excellent - they reminded every-
one that in the face of the hard times,
there is a need to move on. The pleased
crowd responded with full force mosh-
ing, expanding the floor area into an all
inclusive mosh pit.
System left the stage having stirred
up enough enthusiasm for the headlin-
ers Slipknot. Seizure inducing strobe
lights and pyrotechnics brought out the
nine masked boys for their reign of
metal dominance. Corey Taylor led the
crew on vocals while the remaining
boardist; the kids were definitely there
to see theirjumpsuit heroes.
Bringing out what at the least could
be described as an intense devotion of
followers, Slipknot paused between
songs like "Wait and Bleed," "Surfac-
ing," "Spit It Out" and "People Equals
Shit," and exercised their mesmerizing
power in the lorm of a public service
message. While informing the audience
that "the Pledge of Allegiance Tour was
almost cancelled because the promoters
didn't think that America needed hard
music at a time like this," Taylor asked
for a moment of silence, persisting to
plead until the arena fell quiet for the
recent tragedies. He then proceeded to
Americans and need to fight hate with
love for each other, Corey had one last
request -"That you motherfuckers out
there make the pit into the largest
cyclone, hurricane, circular shit this
state has ever seen." The floor complied
creating one of the most dangerous
body slam sites to date, resulting in 58
injuries and at least seven or more
Ending with what they declared to be
the national anthem which, by the way,
did not consist of the "Star Spangled
Banner" in any form, the night provid-
ed just what everyone came looking for
- an intense and somewhat dangerous
form in various chamber ensembles.
The Conservatory's current tour
celebrates the city of St. Petersburg's
300th anniversary. Tsar Peter the
Great founded the city and the nation
plans on commemorating the event
with yearlong events. "The city was
founded as the capital for Russia and
it represented the right for music and
all cultural life to flourish in one cen-
tral location," said a member of the
touring company on the importance
of the celebration.
A small elite group that was select-
ed a year ago is visiting Ann Arbor to
share the Russian anniversary with
the University. These students are
mostly postgraduates studying at the
Conservatory. They were chosen
based on their skill and performance
The program will begin with the
Nevsky String Quartet performing
Prokofiev's "Quartet No. 1 in b minor,
Op.50." This quartet was founded in
1995 and has gone on to compete in
many competitions. Their most mem-
orable moments include winning the
special prize for the best performance
of Russian music from IV Interna-
tional Shostakovich Competition.
Piotr Laul, who was named a laureate
at the Virtuosos of the year 2000
competition last year, will provide the
piano accompaniment. Tatiana Bez-
zubenkova will also enchant the audi-
ence on the piano. She has already
toured Finland and Germany this
Courtesy of UMS
These fine people are ready to perform.
Text, German aggressive rock group,
W ammstein, brought flames and fun to
the Grand Rapids venue, playing
through a set of foreign lyrics, heavy
guitars and explosions. The best com-
plement to the Europeans is that despite
the language barrier there was an ample
number of audience members singing
along with the entire performance.
Next up for the pleasure of the fanat-
ic fans was System of a Down, whose
* ighly anticipated new record Toxicity's
success was followed up by the equally
Slipknot makes the crowd
Poor image quality mars
'Godfather' DVD collection
d cry during their performance on the Pledge tour.
W.. D . SAD PENFOLD)
AT HIS SIDE, GREENBACK DOESH'T
HAVE A CHANCE AGAINST
COME HELP.HIM.BY JOINING
Daily TV/New Media Editor
After a long and arduous wait, "The Godfa-
ther" trilogy has finally arrived on DVD. One
would think with the extensive fan anticipation
and the caliber of these films, Paramount would
have set out to impress film aficionados with a
definitive release of the Academy award-winning
series. Sadly this is not the case.
From the famous opening scene in Don Cor-
leone's dim office, flashes of little white specks
appear on screen. Excuse
r me, but what the hell is dust
The doing on my print of "The
Godfather Godfather?" I thought I just
DVD bought a set of DVDs, but
what I'm looking at reminds
Collection me of my VHS copy of
Paramount "Metropolis." Gordon Willis'
renowned low-key cine-
matography is unjustly marred by the problemat--
ic image quality. While older classics such as the
recently released "Citizen Kane" and "Snow
Whit." n pmA/Pn extesiv r-ct-rt;- n;rin t
to put the film on one longer disc.
Knowing the mass public in their right mind'
would never buy "Godfather Part III," Coppola
decided it would be best (financially) to release
them as a set and not offer the discs individually.
Sorry folks, whether you like it or not the
deplorable film will be sitting on your shelf right
next to two cinematic masterpieces. Hey Francis,
why don't you cast your daughter in a leading
role while you're at it? Oh wait.
Audiophiles may cringe or applaud the newly
created surround sound for all three films. The
5.1 audio mix is rather subtle and subdued,
appropriate considering the context of the stories.
Those wanting the original nostalgic mono track
will be upset to find it quietly ommited from the
list of options.
While there are major problems with the set,
Coppola has included several hours of bonus
material from each of the films, exploring all
aspects of the filmmaking process. Storyboards,
Use the Force Luke ... oops ... wrong film.
featurettes, galleries and a documentary are just
part of the wealth of goodies. Previously unavail-
able deleted scenes highlight the fifth disc of the
package, arranged chronologically over the life-
time of the Corleone family.
Keeping up the trend of other prominent direc-
tors, Francis Ford Coppola recorded an audio
commentary for each piece of the
epic trilogy for the DVD collection.
The legendary director has a lot to
say. but the sheer length of the films