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"the View From Nowhere"

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Nowhere.lfyouaskanyoneoneither"coast," at least anyone nvolved in the "music business" (i.e. multinational entertainment corporations with music divisions), Ann Arbor is nowhere. It's not New York, it's not L.A., and it sure the heil isn't Seattle. There are too few venues for live music, too little attention paid in the local print media, and it almost takes a kidnapping to bring an A & R rep (the folks who sign bands to big time record deals) to town. It's never a good time to be a musician, especially one trying to produce music that screams with passion and taste (or worse yet, no passionand bad taste). That's the purpose of this column, The View f rom Nowhere. This town is f illed with wonderful music. Big Dave and the Ultrasonics pack clubs all the time and are one of the hottest blues outfits in the country. Jesus of Quirkiness Frank Allison is an authentic rock and roll genius, and the Odd Sox the perfect backup. Kari Newhouse (almost signed to Elektra at one point) is modem origina! folk-jazz-angst and plays in clubs maybe a half dozen times a year. Greg Applegate, another singer-songwriter who kicks ass with an acoustic guitar can 't draw more than a hand - ful of customers to his occasional gigs at Cava Java. The Deterants, a midwestern version of The Who circa 1994, blow out the walls of any local bar smart enough to give them a weeknight gig. The list is endless. This monthly column will cover, report on, and beat you in the head until you wake the heil up and check out some of what the local music scène has to offer. It's all great stuff, whether it's minimal noise tape loops, clean clear pop music, left wing jazz, ordeath metal. Steve Nardella and his roots rock is just as important as DamzeJ , the women in leather who blow out your eardrums with songs from heil. The View From Nowhere. Itcould be bitching about bands ripped off by a club owner with some hiked-up PA charge or how stupid it was for the Heidelberg to pull The Rationals 45 "Respect" off their otherwise hip juke box. Or the near monopoly of downtown bars owned by the same individual who should perhaps be trying out live music. Stick around. It'll get amusing, I promise. The Lollipop Guild name strikes up an image of naivete and cynicism, just like the Ann Arborpop band's newtape, "YourWay." Singer songwriter Kirstin von Bernthal s angel-voiced and cynical, but not quite depressed enough to jump off Burton Tower just yet. The four-piece band is powerful and rooted in 1 990s hip radio but for a debut is pretty unique. They walk the line between rock and folk rock, and love the sound of loud guitars. But the treat here is von Bernthal's voice. One minute it's a feather up the spine, the next a cry for salvation. And when you add it to her lyrics, it's the best tape l've heard n months. Kiss Me Screaming at long last has a 45 out - "Avalanche bw Glowing in the Dark" (on colored vinyl yet). Both songs capture the essence of Kiss Me Screaming's live gigs. It's the cryptic pop optimism of singerguitarist Khalid Hanifi and the kick-out-the-jams guitar genius of Brian Delaney. From the acoustic shows, Hanifi has proven himself a gifted, low-volume talent. And with this 45, there's recorded proof of the band's ability to crank up the noise level as well in a way that is equal to the stuff pouring out of Seattle. Pretty intense stuff. Speaking of Kiss Me Screaming, I checked out a set by that band and a set by The Restroo m Poets recently at Cava Java, the South University coffee house booked by the legendary exowner of Joe's Star Lounge, Joe Tiboni. Unpluggedisthehipthing,thankstoMTV,butboth bands had the basement of CJ packed with a mostiy student audience, sipping doublé caps and hanging on every word and note. Smokeand alcohol-free and with the crowd paying attention. Performer heaven. Now if Ann Arbor townies could brave this side of town, they could be in for a treat. PJ's Used Records and the No Kick Drum Acoustic seríes has been a source of important and f ree shows for the past few years, and their Friday April 8 show might be worth checking out. A doublé bill of John Hammink, who gets compared to Leo Kottke and Pólice, and Gerry Butterwick'sTownes van Zandt rootsfolkmusic could be just the thing to kick off a Friday night. Cali 663-3441 for more information. So much forthis month. This column will be reviewing any and all local music-related entertainment, so to make sure you are included send your CDs, tapes, and other artistic cries to: The View from Nowhere, AGENDA, 220 S. Main, Ann Arbor, Ml 48104.


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