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March 05, 2008 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2008-03-05

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Wednesday, March 5,2008 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

The latest, greatest
blues band

wouldn't be surprised if you
told me you'd never heard
of a group called The Blues
Hawks. Frankly, they're not much
of a band.
together for
a handful of
days and only
played one
show - in
Clarksdale, CHRIS
Missis- GAERIG
sippi, no less.
You might
know one of the members of the
three-piece troupe - they're all
members of the University of
Michigan. But they've more or
less disbanded with only casual
thoughts of ever playing together
again. So no, it wouldn't surprise
me if you said you'd never heard
of The Blues Hawks.
And yet, somewhat paradoxi-
cally, I wouldn't be altogether
dumbfounded if you said that not
only had you heard of them, but
you were anticipating a reunion
show and the grapevine held
nothing but rave reviews. in the
group's short existence - the
members known colloquially as
The Hawk, T-Bone and Wonder
Bread (myself, full disclosure)
- they've managed to play one of
the most well-known juke joints
in Mississippi, garnered a num-
ber of random, though devout,
fans and gotten themselves in the
Delta Blues Museum in Clarks-
dale in what is certainly one of
the greatest musical non-truths
(I hesitate to say hoax because
that wouldn't necessarily be true
either) of all time.
Allow me to start from the
It began as a group of associ-
ates on their our to Mississippi
for spring break. We knew of one
another's musical prowess only
peripherally. As such, The Hawk
and T-Bone, the masterminds and
guitarists, brought along their
acoustic guitars to have casual
jam sessions and bond over
old Robert Johnson tunes. I've
played the guitar for quite some
4 time, but stopped honing my
skills a while back. As such, my
ax stayed at home.
After arriving at our destina-
tion, we sat around, planning
out the week to follow, laughing
about Eric Clapton's lack of the
blues and salivating about all of
the barbeque and greens we were
going to eat. And sooner rather
than later, the guitars were
pulled from their cases - one of
which was decimated by the Mis-
sissippi airport's luggage crew
and opened rather haphazardly
- and the jamming ensued. After
a fulfilling session and a hearty
meal, The Blues Hawks decided
to head downtown to a small juke
joint named Red's Lounge, where
a Mississippi bluesman by the
name of Lightnin' Malcolm was
A word about Red's: though it's
rather famous for any number of
reasons - and apparently "Good
Morning America" is doing a
piece on this small bar in the
near future - the most notable
aspect of the bar, to an outsider,
is probably its leaky roof with
accompanying buckets and sin-
kless bathrooms. The diviest of
dives, Red's is not particularly

welcoming but has a strangely
homey feel.
In any case, Lightnin' Mal-
colm walked into a packed bar
shortly after we arrived, played
an incredible set of originals
and covers and commanded the
crowd better than most seasoned
mega-artists. What happened
next, though, is where the legend
was born.
Maybe it was our successful
jam session earlier, the ease at
which Lightnin' handled the bar

or just the thought of playing for
the profits from the door, but The
Hawk somewhat rambunctiously
walked up to Red and asked if he
had anyone booked for the fol-
lowing night. No one was sched-
uled so The Hawk volunteered
us, The Blues Hawks, to play. Red
told us to be ready to play by9
Not thinking much of it until
the next day, The Blues Hawks
went to bed confident we were
going to play an incredible show
for the hell of it and bring in a
few bucks in the meantime. But
upon waking up and realizing we
- that a group of guys who had
never truly played together - had
a concert in less than 12 hours
with no electric equipment or
drums to boot, panic set in.
Rushing into downtown Clarks-
dale to rent equipment from a gen-
erous shop owner - two guitars
How I stumbled
upon musical
immortality in
and an amp for $50 and two pairs
of drum sticks bought cheap - we
began practicing immediately in
an old barn nearby.
Without a drum set, my job
was running back and forth, get-
ting lyrics for T-Bone. Upon my
return to the barn, there was a
woman standing around filming
the rest of The Blues Hawks for
a documentary. We paid them
no mind and when they had
wrapped shooting, asked if we
were playing somewhere. "Red's,"
we said.
"Oh, you're The Blues Hawks,"
she said. "I heard you guys are
great. I am going to come see you
guys tonight."
Now, it had truly set in. People
had heard of us. And were actually
comingto see us play. Practicing
intensified as the sun gradually set
and before we knew it, we were
in the van, rented equipment in
back, on our way to Red's. A point
of intere st: We weren't sure that
there was a functioning drum set,
though we had seen the remnants
of one the night before and upon
getting there, we found that the
snare was broken, the floor tom
was missing a leg and there were
no cymbal stands.
I placed the only functional
cymbal on a stool and propped
up as much of the set as I could.
About a half an hour later, we
were playingto a mostly empty
Red's as our various fans straggled
in and out of the bar. After an hour
and a half, we had ran through
every song we had rehearsed as
well as a couple of extended jams
and were packing up in an effort
to leave before anyone found us
The next day, we ran into our
friends who were making the
documentary only to be handed
release forms. They were filming
for the Delta Blues Museum and
were searching for artists from
the area or ones that embodied
the sound. Apparently, The Blues
Hawks did and we were being cut
into their film. Needless to say, we
never told them that we weren't

really a band.
Inexplicably, three guys named
The Hawk, T-Bone and Wonder
Bread went from casual musicians
to a well-known trio of Missis-
sippi musicians in the Delta Blues
Museum over the course of a
couple of days. But don't hold your
breath for a reunion; The Blues
Hawks went out on top.
Wonder Bread loves fan mail. Show
him some love at cgaerig@umich.edu

Deerhunter frontman
releases an album
of impressive yet
difficult tracks
Associate Arts Editor
eerhunter's Cryptograms(2007) was
difficult. Psychedelic shades plas-
tered against the subtle undertones
of flowery production juxtaposed with com-
manding guitar riffs and bass rumbles don't
make for the most sonically pleasing, acces-
sible effort. It wasn't an album you could
throw on at anytime of the day and work
with it. But it certainly shouldn't have been
dismissed as scattered and
incoherent, though it sure
could feel that way. Front-
man Bradford Cox was well Atlas Sound
aware of this. His sweeping
and understated vocal abil- Letthe
ities grounded Deerhunter Blind Lead
and often created the more Those Who
casual and supple tracks Can See but
(see something like "Red Cannot Feel
Ink" as a prime example). Kraky
All this would certainly
speak to his need to release
something slightly more low-key and less
And it's pretty obvious from the get-gothat
this was the inspiration for Cox's first solo
LP, Let the BlindLead Those Who Can See but
Cannot Feel. The unusually tender spots of
Cryptograms are in the spotlight here when
Cox breaks out of the band dynamic and
plays with the production on his own. And
based on his blog, he certainly hits on true
emotions. From his experiences with drugs
to his reactions to children with AIDS, he
doesn't hold much back. He also wastes no
time displaying his production prowess. But
as difficult as it isnto describe something like
Cryptograms, Let the Blind triples the level of
difficulty. So much sound occurs at one time
that it's hard to pinpoint exact moments of
brilliance. But everything works as one: lyr-
ics, production and bubbly, hollowed-out
tides of noise.
T EL EV :0 R V E
to the

DailyArts Writer
Ever since the timely demise of "Sex and the
City," the networks have been searching for a
show to rise up and fill the void. Say what you
will about "Sex and the City," but it was unde-
niably iconic and hard to replicate. That's why
NBC went to the same well for "Lipstick Jun-
gle," which is based on anoth-
er one of Candace Bushnell's
novels. It seems like a fool-
proof plan to replicate the LIpstick
success of the first show, but
with a longer time slot, a dif- Junge
ferent cast and substantially Thursdays
less sex, can the show still at 10 p.m.
thrive? The answer is, well, NIC
kind of.
Three successful women,
Wendy, Nico and Victory (yes, that's her name)
are among the 50 most powerful women ir
New York. This suggests that "Lipstick Jungle'
should be about empowering women, but thai
doesn't stop the show from having two of the
three main characters cry on multiple occa-
sions in the very first episode. it seems rather
self-defeatingut thatisn'tto sayit'snotalittle
bit interesting.
Yictory (Lindsay Price, "Pepper Dennis") is
a fashion designer recently snubbed by critics
and she spends a good deal of the pilot sobbini
over her most recent failure on the runway
Afterbeingconsoled byher BFFs, shegets acall
from a local billionaire who wants to take he:
out to dinner. After a few extended moments'o
incredibly douchey behavior (having his assis-
tant ask her out and pick her up, talking on th

High school prom photos with an awkward fifth wheel.

. But it's the calculated qualities of the
album that are the most jarring, in a ghost-
ly, hushed sort of way. Blending equal parts
reverb and joy, frankness and shoegaze,
Bjfrk and Noah Lennox, the album sounds
like oil on water, but through Cox's mas-
tery of production and his subtle charisma,
the jingly and atmospheric plucks form the
perfect layer cake. Take something like the
casually placed "Cold As Ice" that disrupts
the album's first half - songs mostly filled
with buttery ghostliness. It's the first track
with hints of spastic, computerized tinkering
and the song playfully bounces along with
keychain jingles that seem to reflect some
mechanical, structured aesthetic. But then
the track spills into a brick wall on "Scraping
Past." It's a perfect disruption from an album
teeming with powdery, fluffy sonic qualities
and shows Cox's awareness of timing and
Still, the album's certainly more than just
exquisite production. The affecting lyrics
are most astounding in the way tha Cox can
grab so much out of the air with such seem-
ingly sophomoric lines. "Recent Bedroom"
and "River Card," the album's first two true
tracks and easilythe best on the album - and
maybe of the year thus far - float with tide-
in, tide-out auras, but are grounded by the
simplicity of lines like,"I walked outside / I
could not cry / I don't know why" and "Riv-
ers so clear and blue / I am so in love with
you." They're loose and airy, but seem so
utterly dominant within the deluge of sound.
Even Cox's "ohs" carry weight, reeling in the
complexity of the production.
Cox may be starting to trademark a new
train-entering-the-station type of sound.
Most tracks ripple with echo-like, ghastly
thrusts. Some may seem more overwhelming
than they really are, like the jittery, skittery
"Ready, Set, Glow" or the subtle techno-

beat driven "Winter Vacation." Still others
show that Cox hasn't quite found his perfect
stride. "Bite Marks" tries a bit too hard to
waltz with stoic lyrics, but the bucket just
doesn't hold water. And it doesn't help that
the fuzzy, car-alarm sounding beat might
be the most uninspired on the album. It's
too easy to tell what's going on in the track,
something Cox rarely allows to happen. But
generally, he keeps his sounds and tenden-
cies within the fences of his enormous sonic
He does draw on certain influences,
though, which are instantly recogniz-
able, but newly vibrant. "Ativan," possi-
bly the greatest departure from the rest of
the album, strikes in with echo-like guitar
strums while Cox's voice easily mirrors
Robert Smith's. The song creates something
so '80s, it's surprising that the track isn't
actually a Cure b-side. But he's not sticking
to just one genre, Cox embraces his inner
Bj6rk with strained, almost growling vocals
and sparkling computerized tappings and
swellings as a backdrop on "Quarantined."
Though both could easily be covers, Cox
throws his own spin on them with the So-
Cal-inspired guitar waver on "Ativan" and
the steady pace gain and influx of percus-
sion on "Quarantined."
Let the Blind isn't an easy listen, either.
While Cryptograms examined a special cul-
mination-of varying styles blending togeth-
er, Cox's solo effort feels genuinely warm,
but with an undercurrent of cautious opti-
mism missing from his group's work. You
probably won't want to throw this on while
going to the gym. But can you take this with
you on a stroll through downtown Boston.
Maybe. There might not be a perfect setting
for the album, or maybe it's for every situ-
ation. It's difficult - but it's damn memo-

Rejects from the latest talent search for "The View."
phone during dinner, telling her that "he's cho-
sen her"), she finally caves in when he charters
a private jet for her to come see him, and they
make out on the tarmac. I'm not really sure
what message that sends to little girls, but OK.
Nico (Kim Raver, "24") is the editor-in-chief
of a big fashion magazine (are all women in
New York in fashion?). She's married to a hus-

For an application, e-mail

All the city,
none of the sex:
NBC ruins HBO's
perfect model

the showbut the whole affair thing in the first
episode seems a tad rushed.
Finally, we have Wendy (an extra-terres-
trial looking Brooke Shields,"Nip/Tuck"), who
is actually not involved in fashion, but is the
president of a movie studio. Her character is a
half-hearted attempt at a female Ari Gold, but
whereas Ari might actually score a Leonardo
DiCaprio cameo On "Entourage," we are forced
to watch Wendy have imaginary phone con-
versations with Mr. DiCaprio where she "plays
hardball" in order to get him to sign onto her
new film - it's quite lame indeed.
Despite some glaring flaws, the show is actu-
allyquitewellwrittenand executed as opposed
to say, "Big Shots," which is essentially a'mir-
ror image of "Lipstick Jungle" (complete with
a few cast carryovers). Whereas "Big Shots" is
somewhat of a scrambled mess, "Lipstick Jun-
gle" clearly knows its audience. Though it lacks
all the sex and swearing of "Sex and the City,"
the ultimate premise is the same: successful
New York women having adventures. But with
decent writing and storylines, the show should
be able to keep an audience's attention for at
least a few seasons.

band who doesn't appreciate her sexiness so
she turns to an illicit affair with some, young
dude who wrote his number on her thigh at a
party - I'm goingto have to try thatsome time.
Nico is the most balanced and real character on


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