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The Hamtramck Blowout, a name so in tune with its definition, so provincial in its cheap rock 'n' roll metaphor as to render all other title suggestions moot, owes a kindly hats off to Chris Handyside and Brian Boyle for nailing it 12 years ago. Lord knows we've tested our livers and tripped overourselves down on those Hamtown streets, on those consecutive nights in early March, because nowhere else on earth can one see so many homegrown acts in one tiny multi-culti melter of a town.

We've seen kids crash guitars into ceilings and portly pukers in venue bathrooms.We've seen crowds chant black-white rhymes with anthemic, life-affirming sparkle at the New Dodge and watched Asheton-worthy power chords sting faces and bend ears at Small's ... all within 15 minutes. Heard the ubiquitous coulda-shouldas (often led by a guy like Kenny Tudrick!) kick up goosebumps with Band-o twang and hooks on perfect singsong. Watched girls who look like transvestites slip on icy sidewalks outside Paycheck's and the Belmont and observed at arm's length our pals get straight, and then drunk again, A.A. - style, within the Blowout timeframe. We've seen our faces reflected back at us from ugly snow puddles on Caniff.

We've discovered worthy songsters and attendant bands whose bash and pop would stay with us for days, whether we wanted it to or not. We've had killer-metered rhymes spit and fall before us, only to see them rise and take on true meaning before the next one could fly. We've smelled piquant Mediterranean fare mix with the Old Milwaukee as wet man-tit rubbed us to Loretta Lucas' lilting and lovely croon.

Whether inside the spirited confines of K of C lounge or among the jolly, red-nosed inmates at Whiskey in the Jar, we've felt that sticky humid rush of packed old-man-bar interiors on cold, Detroit-dark nights.There's a warmth there; warmth in the music, in the drink too. And Blowout numero 12, in all of its 200-band, four-night glory, ain't that many beers away from now. Good on it.

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