The Darjeeling Ltd.

About three minutes into The Darjeeling Limited, we watch a close up of a businessman running to the titular train pulling out of the station. All of a sudden, Adrien Brody’s character pops into frame and overtakes the man to the crunching opening chords of The Kinks’This Time Tomorrow,” and is able to throw himself aboard while the businessman falls into the distance, all in slow motion no less, and I knew I was going to love this movie already.

No one makes a film quite like Wes Anderson does. Bottle Rocket showed promise, Rushmore fulfilled said promise, and his unique filmmaking style culminated in The Royal Tenenbaums. And even though I actually liked The Life Aquatic (so much so that its cool reception actually surprised me,) I will admit it didn’t offer anything particularly new, and when a director releases a movie only every three years or so, especially a director so unconventional, one so-so movie will raise the questions, “Does he still have it in him, or is he just rehashing a formula?” making this next movie much more important.

A Reason To Believe

Few people realize Rod Stewart retired in 1974, at which point he was replaced by a dyed-blonde doppelgänger (much like what happened to Elvis,) but up to that point, Rod had one towering career. As the front man of the quintessential bar band The Faces, they played perfect, rough blues, with occasional hits like “Stay With Me” and “Ooh La La” (which actually features Ronnie Wood on vocals.) Rod Stewart’s gritty, hoarse, and whiskied vocals (along with Jeff Beck’s guitar) powered the heavy metal defining 60s band, The Jeff Beck Group. They were so influential in fact, Led Zeppelin used Beck’s debut Truth as their—ahem—blueprint for Led Zeppelin I, lifting a few riffs as well as Beck’s version of “You Shook Me,” forever causing a rift between Beck and Jimmy Page, who also appeared on Truth. At this same time, Roderick had a solo career with music as hard driving as everything else he did, but with an acoustic, country/folk base, with his classics like Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells A Story.

Rod’s box set Storyteller might be the best for seeing the big picture of this guy’s career. But, if you do check it out, be sure to stop after disc two of the four disc set. Like I said, the guy retired in ’74. Look at the mole. I’m telling you; it’s different.

Happy 323rd, Johann

Today, March 21st, is the birthday of composer and musician Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany. He came from a family of musicians, learned the violin at an early age and was a member of his church choir. The organ, however, was always his favorite instrument. Bach moved from church to church as either choir director or organist. Sometimes his passion for music interfered with fulfilling expectations of his employers. While employed at Arnstadt, he asked for a month off to visit the famous organist, Dietrich Buxtehude who lived 200 miles away. Bach decided to stay another 3 months without letting anyone at Arnstadt know.

He married twice and from these two marriages produced twenty children. As a court organist for Duke Wilhelm Ernst, he produced some of his famous works including Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. His work matured and developed new tonal elements like counterpoint in which two melodies were played at the same time. While a choirmaster in Leipzig, he produced most of his choral music including The Passion According to Saint Matthew which is being performed tonight at Hill Auditorium.

Alan Rich said of Bach: "No composer in history...has been so widely jazzed up, watered down, electrified and otherwise transmogrified, debated and admired as this German provincial.

Attend a rock concert (of sorts)

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The University of Michigan's Basement Arts program is a hidden gem of their theater department. Begun in 1987 in a space no larger than a storage room, the idea was to offer free quality performances produced by U of M theater students. The performances now take place in Studio One at the new Walgreen Drama Center. Their current production, "Mock Rock," is a "riotous evening of song parodies" by members of this U-M student theater troupe. Time is 11 p.m., this Saturday, March 22 at the Walgreen Drama Center, 1226 Murfin, North Campus. Call 764-6800 for more information.

Mitch Ryder is around town this week!

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Local author and reporter James A. Mitchell will be discussing his new (soon-to-be-released) book, It was All Right: Mitch Ryder’s Life in Music, on Wednesday, March 19 at 7:00pm at the Downtown Library. Mitchell will be discussing the life and times of the music legend as presented in the biography. Mitch Ryder has been in the music business most of his life and has had many hit songs, most notably the ones from the 1960s, such as “Devil With a Blue Dress On.”

The music doesn’t stop there! On Saturday, March 22 Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels will be performing live at the Michigan Theater at 8:00pm as part of the Legends of Rock & Roll Series. In lieu of an opening act Ryder will be interviewed by rock journalist Gary Graff. Visit the theater’s website for stats and ticket info. Mitchell's book will be available for purchse at the show.

Mongolia in words, music and pictures

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Join us at 7:00 p.m. tonight at the Downtown library for an evening of Mongolian culture. Bodio and Monkhytuya of Mongol Khan Expeditions will be joined by Mongolian musician Ninjee and other local Mongolian musicians for an evening of culture, music and photos from their native country. Ninjee will perform traditional throat music and play the horsehead fiddle. Next Tuesday, March 18, same time and place, we'll be featuring the music and culture of Kazakhstan.

Steak For The Son

Tea For The Tillerman seems like a folk record. The instrumentation contains only acoustic guitars, piano, bass, a few strings, and an occasional organ. The solos focus more on melody than fret board pyrotechnics. But something about the tone of Cat Stevens’s voice, especially when multi-tracked, gives this record an almost other-worldly feel and Cat’s gift for lyrics pushes this record into a class by itself, mixing songs about angst, lost love, and spirituality with wonderful imagery and provocative lyrics in the vein of Van Morrison or Bob Dylan. Everyone knows the big song off the record “Wild World,” its companion piece, “Sad Lisa,” a piano ballad featuring a wonderfully tragic violin solo is probably the highlight.

Vinx performance at The Ark

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The powerful one-man band known as Vinx lands at The Ark on Thursday, March 13 for another masterful drum performance. Vinx is one interesting man. He was an Olympic track hopeful sidelined by a boycott and then a personal injury. He then became a personal trainer to a few celebrities before focusing on his music career, which began in the late 70s. He’s toured and played with world-class musicians around the world for the past thirty years. "Imagine a classic R&B voice like those of Sam Cooke or Al Jarreau singing a capella over a boisterous percussion troupe and you might get a hold on Vinx's magic...It's his yearning voice, alternately full of both anguish and joy, that makes you listen," says Modern Drummer magazine.
March 13, The Ark, 316 S. Main St. 8pm. Check the website for ticket information.

Take the Music Pulse: All Media Guide

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All Media Guide puts out the definitive guides to music, rap, hip-hop, rock, soul, blues, and jazz. Music news and reviews fill the website. Search by artist, song, or album, and check out the music blog too. Marisa Brown, a Staff Writer at AMG will be at the Malletts Creek branch, Sunday, March 2 from 2:00-3:30 pm.

Klezmer music at the Neutral Zone

Ann Arbor's TeenCenter, The Neutral Zone, is kicking off their concert series, Weapons of Musical Diversity, with klezmer group, Shtreiml. The all-ages show will be Thursday, March 7th, at 7 pm.

A new take on traditional Eastern-European Jewish and Turkish folk music, the group will be performing free of charge at the Neutral Zone. If you like Shtreiml, check out the Klezmatics and The Klezmer Conservatory Band.

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