I stepped into a pleasant surprise Friday night while quenching a craving for iced chai and Edensoy at Xhedos Café in Ferndale. The place was packed with what appeared to be a Gretchen Busam fan club (that evening’s headliner). Having really long hair is apparently one of the requirements to join the club. As I settled into a comfy fabric camping chair and slurped my chai, the opener, Sean Fitzgerald, was finishing up his set of yummy granola guitar-plus-voice selections. Next onstage was Busam. Understated in a simple black turtleneck, blue jeans and a ponytail, she took a second to clear her throat and then let loose her first wail of the night, which I’m sure still shocks the fan club every time they hear it. A chanteuse in every sense of the word, Busam’s voice falls somewhere near jazz, soul and opera. It’s trained and relaxed at the same time, without a single ounce of Mariah Carey squeeze-cheese. During the past six years, Busam’s written close to 100 songs for voice and guitar. Last year, she won an award for distinguished musicianship from the department of music, theater and dance at Oakland University, where she’s a student. As she moved from guitar to piano, each note dripped from her lips like honey, each syllable rounded and sweet, from the deepest well to the highest skyscraper. Keep an eye out for Busam’s next performance. Her music is truly a treasure to experience.
After fueling up on my size-three spiced tea, it was off to 313 JAC to check out the latest metamorphosis of the brothers Dado (Jamiel and Chris Dado that is). In the past year, we’ve heard them as Fedora, My Paper Moon and now, the Jinx, which also features the talents of Nick Pirog on guitar and Ryan Maslyn on drums. The sound is a little bit harder, rockier and grittier than past formations, but the music still embraces Jamiel’s melodic mutant soprano, another shocker of a voice that keeps audiences looking for the female singer the guys are hiding in the back, somewhere behind the drums, maybe? I mean the lips of the guy in front are moving, but there’s … no … way … he could be making those sounds. Chris also took his turn on the mic, seducing the crowd with his dark whisper in a haunting new tune. The Jinx was opening up for the Twelfth Hour, a metallic, bang-your-head band of goth-ish guys from various south Oakland County suburbs. With Anthony “I’m really a nice guy” Brancaleone as their manager, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from the Twelfth Hour soon enough.
If you were wondering what Michael Davis from the MC5 has been up to, go to the Gold Dollar on Friday (Feb. 23) to hear his bass lines keeping time for the exquisitely rooted and wandering Americana act, Rich Hopkins and Luminarios from Tucson. And definitely check out the band’s album, Devolver, out on Hayden’s Ferry Records. It’s chock-full of glistening lucidity that’ll break your heart and give you that far-off look of wonder and thought that perhaps Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” gave you the first time you heard it. Opening up the night are the Paybacks, Detroit’s own muscular arena-garage-rock outfit tucked inside a neighborhood bar. And then, if you were wondering what Scott Michalski from Godzuki, Christopher Rewalt from Applecore, Courtney Sheedy from Cloud Car and Carole Piechota from Slumber Party were up to, go back to the Gold Dollar the next night (Saturday) to check out their new formation, the Americans. They’re playing a show with Slumber Party and Everything is Fine, a band from Philadelphia, that’s described in its hometown as Dracula music for cowboys.
One of the cooler performance spaces in town, Trumbullplex (4210 Trumbull Ave., Detroit, 313-832-7952) needs some help. The place is known and loved in the underground for its great theater, circus, music, what-have-you shows. The problem is that above-ground it’s known by neighbors and local law-enforcement officers for the noise. See, Trumbullplex is actually a common area with a stage, some chairs and benches that joins two houses smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood. The people who live there want to keep putting on incredible shows, but they need to find a way to cheaply soundproof the premises. If you have any ideas, call the number above and leave a message.E-mail In One Ear at firstname.lastname@example.org