I have a beer cozy with the words “Born to Gol” on it (no, not “Born to Golf”; the “f” has worn off through years of use, smarty-pants!). Anyhoo, when the weather gets to sizzlin’ and you start hearing the distant thud of a PA in the, er, distance, you can bet I bust that bad boy out — ’cuz it’s summer music festival season, and there’s nothing that washes away the lingering aftertaste of a mediocre band like a nice, cool Schlitz from a beer cozy. The only thing more satisfying is seeing hundreds of pasty-skinned nighthawks blinking away the sunlight. Summertime, after all, is when the rock ‘n’ roll tourists are on vacation, the touring season takes on an overheated torpor and only the biggest names fill the amphitheaters. It’s then up to enterprising Detroiters to reclaim the nights with music from funky festival inventions. Case in point: The annual shindig folks like to call the Fourth Street Fair (technically “Positively Fourth Street” a moniker that, like the other big ol’ Detroit summer music soiree, Dally in the Alley, harks back to the event’s counterculture genesis). So, like I was saying, Fourth Street. Right. The little fair that could is going down again this year (despite constant noise that highway and other developers have other plans for the neighborhood tucked away below the Lodge Freeway) on July 15. As of press time, the lineup was still being finalized, and the Rainbow Gathering-esque organizing network (i.e. a bit anarchic and difficult to track down but nevertheless working toward one goal) wasn’t available for confirmation. But if years past have taught us anything, it’s that there’ll be a healthy mix of the weird, the wild, the rockin’ and the head-scratching, intriguing sounds we Detroiters have come to take for granted. Did I mention that it’s free? It is. Meanwhile, a little further downtown, the Metro Times will be kicking off the weekend of fine, fine sounds with the inaugural incarnation of Sonic Boom, a six-venue celebration of the wide, wild world of Detroit-born music.
It’s on a grander scale than Fourth Street (the showcases include the Majestic Theatre, the Magic Stick, Old “funky-but-chic” Miami, the Gold “funkier-and-chicer” Dollar, Bittersweet Coffeehouse and the New Med), but it is, as the kids are saying these days “down,” nevertheless, with the cause (or something like that). The Boomout (as I’ll affectionately refer to it) kicks off on Friday, July 14, and continues Saturday, July 15 (do you dare make the commute between midtown and Fourth Street?). I’m pretty sure most of the venues are cool with people bringing in beer cozies (though beer helmets are another matter altogether). Here’s what I’m thinking — cloning. How the hell else are you going to do yourself aural justice and catch sweatysuedelips and NPFC at the same time (9 p.m. at Majestic and Magic Stick, respectively). Or worse, what about the W-Vibe-ebeling hughes dilemma? Two of Detroit’s phinest elector and phreak-rock outfits, respectively, both going on a 8 p.m.? Grrr! Can you say embarrassment of riches, kids? But wait, the fine folks over at MT Promotionsville have just whispered in my ear that the Detroit Grand Pubahs have been announced at the Magic Stick on Friday at 11 p.m. Friday also features sets from Soul Clique (Bittersweet Coffeehouse, midnight), rockabilly/western-swing heroes the Starlight Drifters (Gold Dollar, midnight) and the Witches (Gold Dollar, 1 a.m.). Sounds like the folks booking this shindig have figured out the definition of “eclectic.” Saturday’s no slouch, either, with featured sets by Six Clips (Majestic Theatre, 1 a.m.), Gaffle (Magic Stick, 9 p.m.), Virginia North & the Divorcees (a country-rock outfit featuring former members of the Breakdowns at the Gold Dollar, 11 p.m.), an acoustic night that features a one-man electronic outfit in the mix (that’d be Richard Panic amid strummers and singer) at Bittersweet. Oh, there’s more, but you should visit sonic.metrotimes.com for that info, ’cuz I haven’t got the space and my critical faculties are already going bananas. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Detroit’s Mistress of the Night Liz Copeland and Detroit’s Maestro of the Nightlife Tim Price have organized one helluva electronic lineup for Sonic Boom at New Med (a hall just below Bittersweet Coffeehouse on Woodward Ave.) featuring Copeland, Persona, Derek Plaslaiko (happy birthday!), Year of the Robot, Tommy Onyx, Magda, Kelvin Larkin and many more.
Sonic Boom’s a mere 10 bones for admission into any one or all of the weekend’s showcases. Bust out the sunblock, rockers, and strap on your drinking helmets. It’s gonna be a good one!