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Page 91 text:
Koko Taylor and her Blues Machine
by Jody Conner
The blues came to Schofield Audito rium Feb. 7 In the form of a short Black woman with a great big voice. Koko Taylor and her Blues Machine performed as part of Black History Month, sponsored by the Black Student League.
Taylor Is a performer of powerful Chi cago blues. What her voice lacks in range Is made up in raw strength. She doesn't sing from her throat — she reaches deep within her body for a grav elly growl perfectly suited to her music.
During the evening, Taylor tore through blues classics made famous by herself and others. "Big Boss Man." "Spoonful.'’ "I Got My Mojo Working" — all went down under her onslaught. The show both peaked and ended with a charged version of her blues hit, "Wang Dang Doodle ." When Taylor left the stage she was drenched with sweat, visibly fatigued by her efforts.
The audience obviously enjoyed the performance, as the usually reserved Eau Claire crowd loosened a little with clapping and howls of pleasure.
For most of the audience. It was a chance to hear one of America's unique musical forms. For a few former Chicago residents, it was a chance to remember Chicago's lively blues scene.
"It's like going home." said a concert goer. "Thank you for bringing a bit of ethnicity to Eau Claire," another told Taylor.
"I love all types of music, but blues is my favorite," Taylor said after the show. "It's a part of me, my back ground. It represents what my lifestyle has been. Happy times, bad times. All together if you boil It down, it's the blues."
Offstage. Taylor is not as fierce. She answers questions easily and thoughtfully. whispering as if to save her voice for the next night's performance.
Taylor was born Cora Walton in Mem phis. 1938. She discovered the blues In her youth, listening to people such as Muddy Waters. Howlin' Wolf and Memphis Minnie. Her career started when she sang gospel In her church choir.
At 18. Taylor moved to Chicago, where she began to perform as a blues singer. She was soon performing with
Singet Koko Taykw brought the blues to Eau Cleire In February
established stars such as Junior Wells and Elmore James. Taylor's break came in 1963 when she made two singles for a small blues label.
"It was like a dream." Taylor said. "When I used to listen to all the old blues singers, people like Big Momma Thornton and Muddy Waters and all those people. I said I wanted to do some thing great like they was doing. I didn't know it would happen like It did."
Taylor's greatest success came In 1965 when she joined Chess records. Chess teamed her with blues legend Willie Dixon, who produced several hits for Taylor, including his composition "Wang Dang Doodle."
"Wang Dang Doodle" sold two million copies internationally and gained wide recognition Even the Eau Claire audience recognized the song. The song was popular enough in Europe to justify eight tours of the continent. Taylor said.
"They (Europeans) seem like they know It. They don't speak English, but they make a lot of noise to It," she said.
Taylor spent eight years with Chess records until owner Leonard Chess died and the company folded. For several years she didn't have a recording contract. but she continued to perform. Then she signed with Alligator Records, a small purist blues label that she credits with giving her new popularity.
"Alligator has done quite a bit for me." she said. "I was on a millionaire's station with Chess and I found it doesn't matter how big or how rich a company is. It's what they do for you."
Throughout her twenty-year career. Taylor has worked with the best musicians. A list of the people she has worked with reads like a Who's Who of blues: Muddy Waters. Willie Dixon. J.B. Lenoir. Buddy Guy. and many more.
"I’ve worked with almost everybody you can name in the blues and some who aren't in the blues." Taylor said. "I just did a very big show in Ann Arbor. Mich., at this club called the Second Chance with Chuck Berry. It was quite an honor to be in a show with him."
Her personal life is comfortable despite a busy performing and recording schedule, she said.
"I've been doing it for many years, and I try to put a lot in it because I really feel what I’m doing," Taylor said. "I really love what I'm doing."
Taylor said she enjoys playing in Eau Claire and other towns off the established blues circuit.
"I just want to spread a little joy with my music, letting more people know about the blues and hear the blues." she said. "There's a lot of people not famll iar with the blues. I intend to let more people hear and know about it."
Page 90 text:
by Karen Boehme
The cynical words of Bertolt Brecht and the haunting melodies of Kurt Weill came together in The Threepenny Opera. their adaptation of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera. The Midwest Opera Theater, the touring arm of the Minnesota Opera, brought the 1928 work to Gantner Concert Hall Nov. 24. The company did an excellent job with Brecht's biting dialogue and lyrics and Weill's music.
The Music suggested the German musk hall of the 1920s: dipped delivery of singing and accompaniment, suggestive lyrics to bump and grind melodies, both reminiscent of the tawdry, painted world of smoky night clubs in Berlin.
This production was set in Washington,
D.C. instead of London's SoHo district, as the original. The plot centered around Macheath, or Mack the Knife, a professional criminal and his involve ment with Polly Peachum. daughter of Jonathon Peachum. a man who outfits people In beggars' clothes and props and takes a commission from what they can panhandle.
Weill's music and Brecht's libretto worked well together; both expressed, in sarcastic but honest words and unusual and discordant music, man's shortcomings. The company, especially Gary Briggle as Macheath and Mary Fre drkkson as Polly's mother, proved that good singers can be fine actors.
The Threepenny Opera is the obvious child of Bertolt Brecht. His satire of capitalism and the bourgeoisie is biting and on target; he sees and represents the world as it is. Weill's music, often stark and discordant, echoed Brecht's theme of alienation between people by their mutual leeching and distrust. Yet Brecht leaves the audience with a pseudo-happy ending, apparently leaving mankind a chance to improve itself. Brecht and Weill's Threepenny Opera may not have been escapist fare, but it did give the folks in Eau Claire something to think about.
Page 92 text:
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
by Karen Boehme
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, with its resident conductor, James Paul, brought the sounds of one of the nation's finest orchestras to the Arena Nov. 4.
Beginning with a familiar name. Schubert's "Rosamunde Overture." the orchestra moved Into the works of later com posers. Paul introduced Jean Sibelius's "Symphony No. 6 in D minor" as "different ... music (that) raises lots of questions but answers none of them." The orchestra played the moody, introspective piece with precision, allowing Sibelius's idea filled music to simply exist, without the traditional climaxes
and separate movements.
The second half of the program contained "St. Paul's Suite," by Gustav Holst, variations on themes taken from English folk music, and "The Great Russian Easter Overture." by Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakoff. The Rimsky Korsakoff piece resounded with the joy of Easter after a slow section of introspection and gloom.
Paul led the orchestra through two encores for the near capacity audience.
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