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December 07, 2005 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-12-07

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 7, 2005 - 9

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
"Yep. Yep. Yep." It almost sounds like a Lil' Jon lyric.
Heartwarming Texan
toon 'King' on DVD

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Music Editor
This is a love letter: Social realism is
While "The Simpsons" got cultural

Courtesy of McCoury Music

The bluegrass mafia.


icons for guest stars
"serious" television
audience swing-
ing from its chain
for the past decade
or so, "King of the
Hill" has done its
time as the lead-
in - despite the
fact that it's always

and had most of the

By Joey Lipps
Daily Arts Writer

The Del McCoury Band, headed by 66-year-
old patriarch Del McCoury, is back on tour to
promote their new release,
The Company We Keep. The The Del
album, released under the McCoury
family's new record label, Band
McCoury Music, features
familial relations - Del's Friday at 8 p.m.
sons Rornie and Rob play At The Ark
mandolin and banjo, respec-
tively, in his five-piece outfit.
On Friday evening at The Ark, The Del McCoury
Band will play pure bluegrass, inspired by the genre's
founders and McCoury's teachers - Bill Monroe,
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Despite the fact that
McCoury has played for more than 30 years, he only
obtained this level of recognition with his band in the
past decade. The group won four Best Male Vocal-
ist awards-and three Best Album awards in the '90s
from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
McCoury said he can't explain the recent popu-
larity of the band or the genre. "You've heard the
expression, 'Every dog has its day,' and bluegrass
is having its day now. God knows why.
"I never figured it out, but there are probably

a lot of things that point to this. The movie ("O
Brother, Where Art Thou?") helped a lot. They
released a single and that song they chose was a
great song, and it helped us a lot. It was the pure
thing," he added.
The Del McCoury band has also gained a
large fanbase from cultish jam-band follow-
ers after their collaborations with groups such
as Phish. McCoury finds his concert audiences
have become a mix of bluegrass purists and
long-haired, half-baked contemporary counter-
"I tell you the truth," he said. "When some of
those jam bands used to come to my shows when
they were young, before they were in a band, they
were fans. Then they grew up and wanted us to
play at their (performances), and that's kind of
the reason we have been playing a lot of those
things. The jam band community has kind of
accepted us."
McCoury noticed through his concerts that
this younger generation not only appreciates his
present work, but have also gone back to explore
his older material. He often gets requests dur-
ing his concerts for songs he recorded 30 years
ago. He said this is what makes his live per-
formances exciting. McCoury rarely ever enters
a show with a set list; instead, he caters to his
"We mostly do all-request shows; we have no
idea what we're going to do when we walk on

the stage," he said. "I try to do some of the new
things, but then I say we'd like to take requests
and they start hollerin'. It's more exciting for the
audience, the band and me to do things we aren't
expecting to do. It makes for a really live show,
mistakes and all."
The Company We Keep is a record close to
McCoury's heart, the work of a man who trea-
sures his family and all those who worked so
hard to make the group a success. He likes the
idea of carrying on the tradition of bluegrass
music; teaching his grandkids to play bluegrass
is "just a natural thing to do, and sooner or later,
they'll be the ones on stage and I'll be sittin'
down somewhere," he said.
The tradition of bluegrass is what draws
McCoury to its sound the most. He said as long
as he's alive, the tradition of bluegrass music
will remain alive. McCoury also pointed out
that all rock stems from his genre - that Chuck
Berry's licks are simply an electrified version
of Bill Monroe's mandolin picking. He is confi-
dent that today's musicians will similarly follow
his band's influence.
"That's what inspired me in the beginning -
Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs," McCoury said. "I
think God said, 'Well, if I'm going to introduce
bluegrass music, I'm going to get the best musi-
cians there are.' And this tradition is what really
attracts me to the music. I can't see myself set-
ting up a band with anything but that sound."

sharper on the social
side and sweeter on the humane side.
While "Family Guy" grabbed a scat-
terbrained fanbase due to an onslaught of
hip references and cracked-out scene cuts,
"King of the Hill" matured into the best
slice of Americana and suburban life since
John Updike finished "Rabbit, Run."
The show's home in Arlen, Texas is
almost magic. It's a town populated by
dynamic, hilarious and wonderfully
human characters who all have at least one
irreplaceable and often brilliant gimmick:
Dale's never-ending government para-
noia, Boomhauer's whiplash, ion-quick
mumble and, of course, the trials of Khan,
the Laotian neighbor and executive whose
adjustment to middle-class American life
is the most telling and nuanced aspect of
the show.
As for the titular family, Hank Hill still
sells propane with a sweet zeal, his wife
Peggy is still the best substitute teacher in
Arlen and their son, Bobby, the prop-com-
edy loving, chubby young lad who gets
along better with adults than his plodding
classmates, is still one of the most consis-
tently irreverent figures in recent TV lore.

King of the
Hill: The
Fifth Season
20th Century Fox

Even in its relatively brisk and brief
fifth season, the cast manages to party
with former Texas governor Ann Richards
and explore Veterans' Day with Hank's
always-surly father, Cotton (yeah, the
guy with no shins). In the season's most
brilliant episode ("Yankee Hankie"), the
proud Texan Hank finds out that he was
actually born in (gasp!) Manhattan.
Texas usually gets a bum rap from those
Manhattan critics, college kids and other
pseudo-intellectual bobos, but what "Yan-
kee Hankie" does better than anything is
throw decades of Texan history at viewers
as if we're expected to know what's going
on. It's a self-confident move, and one
that lesser shows couldn't pull off. And
sometimes, "King of the Hill" actually
informs as much as it blissfully entertains.
It grabs ahold of the foibles of the honest-
to-goodness middle class (SUVs and pri-
vate school are thoroughly mocked by the
series) without becoming mean-spirited
or condescending.
As for the DVD, don't expect anything
much from the special features. What's
there is mildly entertaining at best. The
set's picture and sound are crystal clear
and better than the standard broadcast
Those lesser shows, such as the increas-
ingly inane"Family Guy,"claimtobe more
absurd and off-the-wall, but "King of the
Hill" sticks to the daily bread that's often
more uproarious than it looks (Bobby sav-
ing a drowning pig, Dale's lawsuit against
his favorite cigarette company forruining
his wife's skin). In doing so, "King of the
Hill" makes real, heartland American life
into slanted magic realism. And that gives
it one thing no other animated comedyon
television has right now: a heart.

Show: ****,A
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: *

Basement puts on creature musical

By David R. Eicke
Daily Arts Writer
Rehearsals for Basement Arts' newest production,
"Bat Boy: The Musical," have echoed
through the halls of the Frieze build- Bat Boy:
ing for the past few weeks in prepara- The Musical
tion for this weekend's performance.
"Bat Boy," another example of Base- Dec. 8-10, 7 p.m.
ment Arts' versatility, revolves around Free
the story of a small town's discovery At the Arena Theatre
of a half-bat, half-boy hybrid and the
moral conflict that ensues.
Ryan Foy, the show's director, has wanted to stage this
play since high school, when he was denied the rights
to perform it. Now, with the resources to the Bat Boy's
zany tale, he is up to the challenge. "The show itself is
huge undertaking," Foy said. "It requires a lot of props
and special effects."
"I love the story, and the show is so funny," he
added. "It's the kind of comedy that I really enjoy." He

said that the play is a sort of campy comedy in which the
play's world is so absurd that theatergoers cannot help
but laugh.
Choreographer Marjorie Failoni, whose credits
include a stint as an assistant choreographer at a profes-
sional theater in Indiana said, it even breaks into "crazy
vaudeville numbers," complete with top hats and canes.
Other bizarre costuming includes a loincloth and fangs
for Bat Boy, a bear, an elephant, a bumblebee and a liz-
ard. The dancing has even been fine-tuned to fit the cos-
tumes' themes.
Failoni is a special addition to the traditional Basement
show crew, along with an orchestra and a musical direc-
tor. Most Basement shows normally employ only show
director, a lighting director and a stage manager.
The 10-person cast is also larger than normal. "It's a
huge show for the basement, and (Foy) is doing a very
good job with it," Failoni said. The cast is extensively
involved in the onstage work and quick costume changes.
Most of the cast also knows each other very well, she
said, which helps everything run smoothly.
The show kicks off Thursday night at 7 p.m. and the
music will play on through the weekend.

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