Blow by Blow-fest
The Hamtramck Blowout … Mid by Midwest … smoke … beer … multiple wristbands … when will it ever end? Fortunately for all concerned, it pretty much ended in the wee hours of Sunday morning, as the last of the wrist bands were torn asunder and Detroit music fans of all stripes found their parochial appetites sated for yet another year. Covering even a crumb of this past weekend’s local music orgy required careful planning and lead-footed driving. Nevertheless, folks came out in droves for the shows, as the Blowout logged more than 6,000 attendees. What follows is one columnist’s selective recap of the weekend:
Friday, 9:15 p.m., downtown Detroit, hipster central. The spewing steam of the Woodward Corridor was not enough to deter me from my trek to the Magic Stick to catch a fest-opening performance by the Buzzards. Making our way through the crowd, the Loose Lips camera crew caught sight of Holly Nelson and Tina D’Angelo hooting and hollering for more Buzzards (and rightfully so). Kudos to the band for covering the Angry Samoans’ “Lights Out.” Although a tight schedule forced me to move on, the magnetic proto-power pop of the Mood Elevator along with special guest Virgin recording artist Brendan Benson compelled me to stick around. Duty called after a few songs, however, and I quickly pulled myself away and headed down the stairs of the Stick, stopping briefly to chat with Leslie Paterra of the Buzzards and sculptor Ed Sykes, who posed in front of the newest component of the Majestic Theater entertainment megaplex, an as-yet unnamed pizza parlor which is shooting for an April 15 opening date.
Next stop: 10:45 p.m., the Gold Dollar. Just catching the end of the set by Fletcher Pratt (which included, I do believe, some Hanoi Rocks and Pavement covers), I stuck around a bit and chatted with local music scribe/Book Beat denizen Greg Baise. Also bumped into a fully clothed Danny Doll Rod, who along with the rest of the Demolition Doll Rods, have a show scheduled next Saturday at the Magic Bag, along with Scott Morgan and Ko and the Midnight Intruders. Speaking of Ko, after catching a hummable batch of tunes from Climax Divine at the Gold Dollar, I sped back to the Stick to catch Ko and the Midnight Intruders (which looked to include members of the Sights) at 11:20 p.m. The group played an engaging set, seemingly veering between ready-steady power pop and an almost country-by-way-of the Mekons vibe, with a soupçon of off-key warbling. I also chatted with former Atomic Fireball singer John Bunkley, as well as Amy Surdu of the Gore Gore Girls, who confirmed a rumor that, based on an informal poll in the local hospitality industry, Carmen Harlan is the stingiest tipper to come down the pike since Scrooge McDuck. That said, however, it was time to roll to the Hamtramck Blowout, and I pulled into the Holbrook Cafe at 12:10 a.m., anticipating catching the tail end of Broadzilla’s set. Surprisingly enough, the Holbrook gigs were ahead of schedule, so I awaited Crud, which was next on the bill. The crowd was packed into this expansive space, and there was not an inch of flat space that was not covered with an empty beer bottle or an overstuffed ashtray. Apparently, the busboys took the night off. It was hard to see much in the darkened main room, although a preference for hockey hair seemed evident. Seeing no urgency on the part of Crud to take the stage, I decided to forgo the opportunity to stand and hear a sound check, and headed a few blocks over to Lili’s, where Paradime was supposed to be starting up. The crowd at Lili’s was sizable, but not jammed in, and I chatted with Made in Detroit’s Robert Stanzler and wife Bronwyn, who were eagerly awaiting Paradime, whose gig they are apparently sponsoring; Paradime’s at South by Southwest this week. At 12:40 a.m., “weighing in at 220 pounds and from the dirty armpit of Detroit,” Paradime took the stage, urging all in the audience to “get the fuck up.” Heeding his advice, after a couple of songs, I did just that, and headed over to the Carbon Lounge (arrival time 1:15 a.m.) to catch an intense set by Give. Their front man Ferris George, who does double duty at Christine’s Cuisine in Ferndale, noted that Derrick May hosted a private dinner party for record industry and Ford bigwigs at the café last Thursday, prior to his set at the Temple. Moving on, I jumped into Paycheck’s only to hear the final strains of deathgirl.com (1:30 a.m.), and then quickly walked in (and out) of Motor, checking in on the Detroit Grand Pubahs. Speaking of Motor, word is that owner Dan Sordyl has bought out the late, lamented Café Zuppa in Hamtown and is reopening it soon (after putting a bunch of dough into the interior). I hope the food is at least half as good.
Saturday had even more to offer, but I eschewed the Blowout and headed to the fabulous Maniscalco Gallery on Mack Avenue for the latest Girlee Show opening. As is the norm, the gallery was buzzing and packed early, with folks such as City of Detroit cultural czarina Marilyn Wheaton, celebrated local artist Tyree Guyton, John Bunkley (again ... he must be stalking me), celebrated attorney Joel Sanfield and eye doctor-to-the-stars Joe Ales. The crush of the event began to induce flashbacks of the previous night at the Holbrook Cafe, except the tables weren’t covered with beer bottles, and you had to go outside to smoke ... and the lights were on ... and, well, it was nothing like the Holbrook. The artwork was selling like hotcakes, tho, so get over to the Maniscalco Gallery while you still can. The show runs through the end of the month (I think).
What, no Vespas?
From the Girlee Show, it was off to the Magic Bag in Ferndale, where former English Beat front man Dave Wakeling was performing to a packed house. I confess, I can’t recall ever seeing this many drunk, 42-year-old people in my life, and they were clearly reliving their salad days circa ‘83. As 11:10 ticked by and the band had still not taken the stage, the mirror in the bathroom was still unbroken, and the 40-somethings were getting restless. Once the band bounded out however, a charge went through the crowd. Wakeling looked to be holding up well, except for a few pounds around the waist. Spotted smack dab in the middle of the stage was a lip-synching Amy Yokin, who saw the English Beat on their first U.S. tour in ‘83 (when REM opened up for them) at the Grand Circus Theater. Also ran into Tim Castaneda who owns Café Zumba, voted Best Mexican and Best Takeout by MT readers. In any event, there were lots of sweaty two-toned fans in attendance, including a “Dr. Hugh Jorgan,” who briefly stopped perspiring for a moment to pose for a photo...(waitaminnit ...”Hugh ... Jorgan...” Oh wow, that is funny — somebody call Moe’s Tavern). The Bag, by the way, is opening a new bar next door named “Bosco” some time this spring.Casey Coston writes here every other week. Got gossip, essential factoids or party invites? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial