The Taos News from Taos, New Mexico on September 12, 1991 · Page 25
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The Taos News from Taos, New Mexico · Page 25

Taos, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Thursday, September 12, 1991
Page 25
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Arts Guitarist's fingers do some fast talking By Deborah Ensor The Taos News M ichael Mandrell doesn't need words. All he needs is imagination and a steel-string guitar. • "I think my songs speak enough," he says. Mandrell is a recent immigrant to Taos. He moved here in December from Houston, and, from day one, he has been making himself quite a success on the local music scene. Mandrell is an instrumentalist who writes and composes music on his guitars — hand-made Brazilian rosewood guitars crafted by Tom Cornett of east Texas. But he didn't start out that way. He received his college degree in forestry from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, east Texas. In his senior year he began playing in a string band which performed at folk festivals throughout Texas. Mandrell said it was here where he began to feel at home. "I was self-taught," he said. "I learned from the influences of many great musicians who were my friends. It all just sort of happened." After graduating from college, Mandrell moved back up to Houston in the early '80s. He began performing in folk clubs and traveling the Texas circuit. "It all happened from getting involved in the art community in school," he said. "I meet people who, for them, life was a changing experience. I got my degree, but I was no longer interested. I wanted that changing experience." Several good friends convinced Mandrell to come to Taos. Their "gentle persuasions convinced me to come here and decompress." Michael Mandrell and his steel string guitar Deborah Ensor Mandrell's guitar playing is extraordinary. His tunes are lyrical — the stuff fairy tales are made of. They are slightly jazzy, seductively smooth and consistently beautiful. All his music is original, and all is played on open tunes on a steel string guitar. His influences, he said, come from jazz, classical, traditional, Keltic and folk music. "Much is based on images of Keltic mythology from Wales and England," he said. "Fve pulled many musical images from that. It is also a lot of spiritual and emotional expressions on guitar. I just enjoy playing the instrument. I've never been very much interested in writing." Mandrell has worked mostly as a solo performer, but recently he's been pool- ing his talents with others. "For years and years," he said, "I just wrote for solo guitar. Now I'm playing with other people, and it is definitely a new experience." Mandrell is now playing in a band called "Slight Crisis," with members Stephanie Lee on vocals, Heidi Haehlen on flute and Mark Kemper on drums. He also performs as a duet with Peter Barbeau on saxophone. Mandrell has played the local circuit — the Taos Inn, Gaffe Tazza, Stables Summer Music Series — and his next gig is on Sunday (Sept. 15) at the Taos Inn with Slight Crisis. He also plans to perform on 8ept. 27 at Gaffe Tazza's Friday Nigh c, Concert Series from 7-9 p.m. Cover charge is $4. In Houston, Mandrell was performing at the Anderson Fair Club, as an opening act for such people as Lyle Lovett and Nancy Griffith. The club is considered, he said, to be the oldest surviving folk club in the United States — dating back to the early '70s. He also performed live on public radio and recorded his own "grass roots" tape titled "Soliloquy." Though he admits it's very difficult for a musician to make a living in the local Taos scene, he said he feels the move has been good for his career. "Taos is missing a decent Bohemian folk club, there is really no decent showcase music club. We all have to play in bars and restaurants. I'm used to playing to a listening audience in Texas. People come to the club and pay to hear you sing. I miss that consistency here, but little concert series like the Stables series are a step in the right direction." "But," he continues, "I have a whole new groove here. Fve met many new musicians, and it has opened me up. In terms of a musical career, this is not the place to support you. But it's a great place to write, arrange, compose. , "I was really surprised to find these stellar musicians here. There are so many great ones. It has been very positive and has created a lot of forward motion for me." That forward motion is taking the form of putting together a recording project. Mandrell hopes to put together some original music on tape, and to have it distributed nationally. "It is in a conceptual stage right now," he said. "I am really, really into it. I put a lot of energy and emotion into it. You never know what's gonna happen ..." Though Mandrell said his work may never be in the pop lexicon, he said "there is definitely an audience for what I am doing. It's esoteric jazz and there is that sub-culture listening audience." Workshop uses vocal sound and movement as medicine L ocal voice and movement expert Beth Goren recently returned from four months of travel, study and teaching in Bali and Australia. While there, she said, she immersed herself in the polyrhythmic percussion of the Gamelan orchestra. Goren now is offering a 10- week workshop, titled ^oice and Movement as Medicine," beginning Sept. 25 in Taos. She also is offering a weekend workshop in Santa Fe Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 14-15). "The essence of the work is accepting and exploring the many voices and dances within," Goren said, "breaking creative expression with the power of intention and emotion, and releasing and rebuilding the sound body." Goren has specialized in movement as a student, performing artist and teacher. for more than 30 years. She began developing her work with vocal sound in 1977 as a takeoff from studies in body/mind centering, when movement for the glandular centers required more subtle vibrations of sound. "As all of matter depends upon vibration for its existence," Goren said, "the body can shift and change through the creative choices in vocal sound and movement. This class emphasizes working intuitively and automatically, and ' talking about the experiences afterwards, thereby embodying our growing understanding." Goren is working on a book and tape cassette of her Beth Goren experiences with sound. Her workshop is planned Wednesday evenings from 7-9 p.m. in Taos through Nov. 27. Cost is $135. Daytime classes are available on request. For more information and registration for the "Voice and Movement as Medicine" workshop, call 751-0799. Color your heart Local santera Lydia Garcia has spent the last few years working on a coloring-book project. "Color Your Heart with the Colors of God" is a bilingual children's coloring book featuring her prayers and drawings of her artwork. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to abused children in Taos. The books are available for $8 at the Stables Gift Shop, the Millicent Rogers Museum Gift Shop, the Martinez Hacienda, the St. Francis Gift Shop and Act 1 Gallery. Garcia has printed 300 copies of the coloring book herself, and said she is excited to finally have it out for sale to benefit the area's needy children. "I can't be quiet anymore," she said. "This has got to get out." TEMPO Sept. 12,1991 C-5

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