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Bar none

Watching the Atomic Numbers at the Dally in the Alley got me to thinking. Bars and bands make a great match, but taking the bands out of the bars every once in a while makes for a nice change of pace. Even though Zoots and Io are now just fond memories and summer’s end marks the rounding up of outdoor festivals, this doesn’t mean the underage set has to sit around twiddling its collective thumbs until May. Here’s a quick intro (or reminder) of some cool spots around town that don’t care if you’re under 21 or over the bar scene.

Entropy Studios

This not-for-profit Hamtramck performance-rehearsal space provides an outlet for local, national and international artists whose experimental music for the most part goes underrecognized. Hearing Trumpet and Mike Debryn join Khurl and Songs of the New Erotics from Toronto to create avant-garde soundscapes with a hint of dadaism at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16. Admission is $5. The following Saturday, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m. Entropy hosts the Sufi hand drumming of Hamid Drake along with Assif Tsahar’s saxophone work. Suggested admission is $10-$12. Entropy Studios is at 10338 Joseph Campau. Call 313-874-2639.

The Grounds

During the school year, this coffeehouse on the campus of the University of Detroit Mercy (at Livernois and McNichols) hosts some great bands in a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. It’s a nice break for students between classes. And many a passer-by has been known to walk in on an afternoon show after hearing the music waft outside. In April, the students who book the shows at the Grounds put on Groundsfest, a precursor to the summer festivals to come.


A studio theater between two big houses on the corner of Trumbull and Willis (4210 Trumbull, Detroit), Trumbullplex is run and collectively owned and lived in by a group of radical DIY music and art enthusiasts. In one of the more interesting venues in the city, the members of the households each play a role in hosting punk, jazz, experimental music, poetry, political speakers, benefits, movie nights, art shows and plays at the theater. Call 313-832-1845 for more information and upcoming schedules.


Every Tuesday at around 8:15 p.m., established local musicians and the general public alike step up to the open mic at Bittersweet Coffeehouse. Blair, who performed with Afeni Ngozi Hill on the acoustic stage at the Dally, opens up each night with three or four songs that can be described as urban folk, influenced by everyone from Nina Simone to Stevie Wonder to Tom Waits. “I’m black and one thing I noticed when I would go to open mics, they were very segregated, so I’ve tried to build my open mic with the philosophy that music and art are universal forms of expression and that people, when given the opportunity to experience something different, really tend to enjoy it,” Blair says. Although most of the performers are singer-songwriters and poets, African drummers, Scottish bagpipe players, Mexican and Cuban folksingers, rappers, comedians and DJs have all shared the stage. Sign-up is anytime before 8 p.m. and the schedule is first-come, first-served. Each performer gets 15 minutes or three pieces. The evening usually lasts until around 11 or midnight, but if need be, the night will continue until everyone has had a turn.

detroit contemporary

Although the converted storefront art space at 5141 Rosa Parks in Detroit is more widely known for its exhibitions, musicians display their art through performance in the back room at detroit contemporary on a regular basis. The Czars are scheduled to perform Friday, Sept. 15. The Denver-based band is signed to Bella Union, the label owned by Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins, and has a sound that’s sparse yet fulfilling, and a singer with a voice borrowed from the Indian Ocean. Call 313-898-4ART.

Keep your eyes open for flyers around town. Plenty of people bring big name bands to their houses, warehouses and other spaces all the time. Now go finish your homework!

Melissa Giannini covers the metro-Detroit music scene for the Metro Times. E-mail her at

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