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April 18, 1991 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-18

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The Michigan Daily

Thursday, April 18,1991

Page 8

Railroad jerks off !
New York band makes steel-driven music

Vy Kim Yaged

The tracks head as far north as
Minneapolis and as far south as
Atlanta. Railroad Jerk will be rid-
ing them. But before their departure
from their home base in New York
(which the band is tired of), we
shared a session of telephone tag in
anticipation of their arrival in Ann
The name Railroad Jerk is an
onomatopoeia for the band's sound.
Perhaps it's equivalent to that nau-
seous feeling one gets when a train
makes a sudden stop while pulling
into the station. Or it could be the
:sound of two locomotives collid-
ing, as the front cover of their self-
titled LP depicts. In any case, that's
for you to decide tonight when
Railroad Jerk graces Club Heidel-
berg with their presence.
The group has encountered a cou-
pie of line-up changes along the way
the latest being the replacement
of drummer Jez Aspinall with
Steven Cerio - but the remainder
of the band stands as Marcellus
Hall (guitar, vocals and harmonica),
Tony Lee (bass and vocals) and
Chris Mueller (guitar and vocals).

When asked about what he
thought of their album, Mueller
replied, "I want more people to buy
it." Well, that's honest enough, and
that's how it tends to go with R.J.
"We're not a crowd pleaser," he
continued. "We don't play a couple
of Stones songs - 'Alright!' - to
get the crowd going." They do per-
form covers, though, notably Bubba
White's "Fixin' To Die," and possi-
bly an Adam and the Ants song in
the future.
Expounding on the ono-
matopoeia idea, Mueller explained,
"We're definitely more quiet and
melodic than most of the bands in
New York City... We play pop
songs... so we present them live as
we presented them on the record.
Basically, our live show is our pre-
sentation, our live presentation, of
the record... with no stage theatrics,
just straight presentation. Basic
rocking, I guess."
He was exhaustive in his praise
for the band's record label,
Matador, and explained the back-
ground behind how R.J.'s sound
evolves. "Each member contributes
twenty-five percent to Railroad
Jerk. Twenty-five percent in;

twenty-five percent out. We don't
really get in on the scene of, like,
song writers... We all want to play
our music, and itfs worked out
pretty well so far."
"It's totally fun," Mueller con-
tinued. "Some people could look at
it as a job because I make money.
Making money isn't so bad... A lot
of people believe that your integrity
is breached when you're looking for
money, and I don't think that's the
case. I really don't."
Fun? Well, this word seemed
somewhat odd when mentioned to
Mueller - he even made a reference
to work in conjunction with it -
but he did reveal that they go to
shows, rehearse and sneak a few
beers periodically. But even if
Railroad Jerk can't quite relate to
fun, goal-setting is definitely on the
agenda. Presently, they are trying to
work their way out to the West. The
tracks for their new record are all
written; they just need to decide in
which studio to record what. In the
meanwhile, they have released a new
single, "Younger Than You," which
was recorded at Waterworks Studio,
with "The Ballad of Jim White" on
the flip side.


Railroad Jerk look kind of pretentious here with the wall jutting out in the middle. The band is not even smiling.
Maybe it's because they are alternative. Maybe it's because they are on an independent label, Matador.

About telephones (and on our
being disconnected during our con-
versation), Mueller had this to say:
"If you notice, it's impossible to
break, or otherwise fuck up, a public
phone, and the phones that you bring

home are so easy to break. At least
you don't have to put a quarter into

case you've never heard of them,
it's Kevin and Jim from the Laughing.
Hyneas and Preston from Wig -
Ann Arbor's first supergroup d la
Electronic and Cream. Doors open
at 10 p.m. and cover is $4.

RAILROAD JERK choo-choos into
Club Heidelberg tonight with spe-
cial guests N.L. MULE opening. In



Theses meant to be watched an

by Caroline G. Shin
For most students, a thesis usually
produces many groans of frustration
because it is such an extremely tire-
some and mundane task: thousands
of hours poring over journals, valu-
able time wasted wandering around
the Grad looking for those elusive
journals and, at the last minute, sit-
tihg down at a Mac to actually
write the 60-page monster. Finally,
it" is turned in, orally defended and
hopefully done with.
For the five School of Dance
students who will be performing in
this weekend's BFA Dance Thesis at
the School of Dance, a performance
thesis proves to be a more reward-

ing, a more creative and, perhaps, a
more challenging experience. This
concert, titled Shaping Forces, will
showcase the final step which is re-
quired for dance students Russell
Constine, Christine Knight, Lynn
Neuman, Christina Sears and
Deborah Weisbach to earn their
BFA. Because five dancers choreo-
graph and dance this weekend, a wide

human beings. "(The show),"
Neuman says, "is just about the
forces which shape our lives or the
personal issues which touch us."
These dynamic shaping forces
range from personal and social is-
sues to global events. They are por-
trayed as struggles, or as a wonder-
ful memories, or as confusing jour-
neys. Both Weisbach and Sears draw

Ld enjoyed
strike a familiar chord in each of us.
Some of the other dancers tackle
social and world issues which affect
us all. Sears choreographs a group
piece entitled "Players: Reading
B/T the Lines," which graphically
searches to find the perfect romantic
relationship and the sacrifices made
for such a quest. Neuman grapples
with the world issue which still
leaves its smoldering mark - the
Gulf War. She expresses through
her often graphic and rigid move-
ments two views of the war crisis.
She does not offer the answer, but
instead presents a parody of the reg-
imented military and of the dra-
matic exposing of vulnerability, the
aftermath of the war.
Weisbach exposes her most vul-
nerable self, her artistic self, in
"Says I to Me," choreographed by
University graduate Lesli Cohen.
This poses a paradox of an artist
who has created a piece of art which
deals with the difficulty in doing
so. Cohen describes the piece as "the
art of making art and a personal way
of looking at how an artist is al-
ways looking at themselves."
The pieces will incorporate all
the elements that make the School
of Dance a dynamic force, using sto-
ries as well as music for accompa-
niments, and using the School's fa-
mous penchant for video.
The dances have not been created
specifically to please audiences, but
rather to explore the dancers' own
creativity. "The thesis is a beginning
of future pieces, a sort of spring-
board," Sears says. "It provides a
safe working atmosphere to launch
ahead and just keep working. I hope
that these dances will allow the au-
dience to stretch themselves, even if
they are disturbed by some of

Woods reveals truth

by Beth Colquitt
0 nce upon a time... All fairy
tales start like this. Most of them
end with "Happily Ever After,"
but this is only the beginning.
Didn't you ever wonder what hap-
pened after Cinderella and her
Prince got married - did they
fight over how to raise the children
since they were from different eco-
nomic backgrounds?
Stephen Sondheim has taken it
upon himself to explore the
grown-up question, "What happens
in Act Two?" In 1987, Into The
Woods opened up to largely favor-
able crowds in the United States.
Sondheim and director/librettist
James Lapine took several familiar
fairy tales, modernized the lan-
guage, elaborated on the characters,
examined how they got their
wishes and told what happened af-
ter they attained their goals. The
concept was excellent, but it was
criticized for being pedantic.
Despite the curiosity to see what
happens in one's favorite fairy
tales, some critics said the novelty
wore off before the show was over.
Guest director John Schak has a
different idea for how to interpret
the show, giving it an added punch.
He sees the first act as the United
States in the 1950s, when everyone
was determined to "make it." He
refers to the consumer-crazy post-
War activity, and even back to the
original behavior of the American
colonists, who took everything
they wanted. The characters in Into
The Woods do the same, but some-
times in morally questionable
Act Two, then, becomes the
1960s, says Schak, "when every-
thing began to fragment and un-
ravel." What the United States re-
ally brought to the third world, he
claims, was capitalism, not democ-
racy, while what we left were to-
talitarian dictatorships. In the '60s,
the people of these countries
started to object. Schak interprets
the Giantess who breaks into the
happily-ever-after world of Act
Two as "the Civil Rights move-

ment, the working class, minorities
- all the groups that began to
speak up in the sixties about those
who made it in the fifties by step-
ping on others."
Schak says that the interna-
tional reaction to the Gulf Crisis is
similar to the way that Into The
Woods ends. When Iraq invaded
Kuwait, he notes, all the world
agreed that "(Iraq's) behavior was
unacceptable." By no means a vic-
tory over individualism, he saw the
U.N. action as a first step towards
an international cooperative effort
for the general good instead of per-
sonal gain. To protect each other,
and defeat the Giantess who is seek-
ing justice for Jack's giant-killing
and thieving offenses, the charac-
ters have to learn to work together.
As the truth-telling witch makes
her exit, she throws out more
beanstalk beans, symbolizing the
future decisions the characters will
have to make. At the end, the char-
acters are beginning to develop the
ability to work together for the
common good.
The costumes and the set design
for Into The Woods are also 1960s
in flavor.} Schak says that "'60s
fashion was such wacked-out cloth-
ing that it had a sort of fairytale
quality to it already. It also al-
lowed, between the style of the,
haute couture and campus style,
coverage of the range of social
classes represented by the charac-
The design uses all varieties of
'60s clothing, to not only indicate
class, but to make the original ren-
derings of certain characters more
realistic. As the mother of a young
boy, Jack's mother will appear as a
youngish diner waitress, a per-
fectly understandable occupation
for a working class mother who
has to tell her son to sell their
only skinny cow for food.
INTO THE WOODS at the Power
Center tonight through Saturday at
8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets
are $12 and $9, student tickets
with I.D. are $5, available at the
Michigan League Ticket office.



The BFA Thesis Concert dancers strike a dramatic dancing pose. Hey,
one of them.could be the next Madonna who was a dance student in the
late 70s at the University. But she never graduated and had a BFA
Thesis concert.
range of style and technique will beĀ° on past travel experiences and ex
visible. press these memories through the
For anyone who finds him/ dances "Across Landscapes" an
herself reflecting over his/her image "Otherworld." They concentrate o
in the bathroom mirror on a given creating an atmosphere reminiscen
morning, contemplating personal of remote lands and times, ult
and world crises, this performance mately reaching their own space.
may be the ticket for you. These "I would hope that the audienc
dancers will seek to make a visual would concentrate on being in;
impact on you with the struggles place, and to experience it, not v
and conflicts they have experienced analyze its content. I'm trying v
in their lives as dancers and as create a sense of timelessness," say



Sears. Knight, meanwhile, chooses
to deal with her own conflict
between responsibility and blame in
"Imaginary Friend Realized," but
her message and implications should

The BFA Thesis Concert SHAPING
FORCES will be performed tonight
through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in
Studio A at the School of Dance.
Admission is $5 at the door.





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