After the bleakest of winters, it appears that Detroit is finally leaving hibernation. Kicking off the spring-summer season was Spiritworks’ strong grand opening for a new weekly Wednesday night at The Works. The Works is a somewhat new venue which hosted a Hawtin party last Labor Day: It’s a two-room refurbished Irish bar in Corktown complete with a stellar, Burst-installed sound system (with the front room waiting for the rest of its sound rig) and a license to stay open until 4 a.m. Spiritworks is hosted by the now-dysfunctional Family residents Derek Plaslaiko and Echo, with new talent Mathew Boynton and Greg Mudge, and bimonthly superstar-resident Tommy Sunshine (a Midwest rule-bending party favorite). With all the right cards in place (DJs who are pure music heads, great sound, open till the wee hours), it looks like Spiritworks might just be this summer’s weekly hotspot. The Works is at 1846 Michigan Ave. (at Rosa Parks), Detroit. $5 cover.
In the know
Spiritworks is named after a track by Baby Ford, one of the original UK Acid House producers. With big records as early as 1988, he later re-emerged in the mid-’90s with his now legendary Ifach label (this is the music for deep techno connoisseurs). Peter Ford has since released many mind-bending records on a number of legendary labels (Elektro, Perlon, Rephlex, remixed Autechre, etc.) and is making an incredibly rare appearance in Detroit at Motor, Saturday May 5, with yet another connoisseur opening up: Carlos Souffront. Carlos now has a residency in the Intuit-Solar room at Clutch Cargo’s on Saturdays. Motor is at 3515 Caniff, Hamtramck. Visit www.motordetroit.com or call 313-369-0090.
About last night
The season of rebirth continued on Thursday night, April 19, when an evening of life-affirming funk took over Detroit. The night began rather early at St. Andrew’s Hall with an incredibly diverse crowd gathered to see French jazz-house act St. Germain. Long before St. Germain moved into jazz (his recent Blue Note record sold more than 100,000 copies), he was an important deep house and techno artist on FNAC, with a significant following in Detroit, as well as having been released on the “Acid Eiffel” 12-inch on Derrick May’s Transmat-Fragile. This show featured a live five-piece band playing over previously arranged samples to a very crowd-pleasing effect. The life in this music became apparent to all, not just the ones who understood electronic music. With a music as rich and mature as deep house, it was certainly a pleasure to see a way that it could move into a larger audience and get the respect it so justly deserves. The show was so strong and the sound so good that St. Andrew’s seemed like a warm, inviting place, and the crowd left the venue elated.
The night of life-affirming grooves continued at the Temple, with a lineup announced word-of-mouth style at 3 that afternoon: Theo Parish and Kenny Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann. Part of the continuing Transmat Ezz-thetic biweekly Thursdays at Temple (coming on May 3: Stacey Pullen’s four-hour set), historic lineups such as this are by no means rare, but always appreciated. To walk into a nightclub and have a DJ the caliber of Theo Parish throwing down perfect deep tracks (such as Liquid Liquid’s “Optimo”) reaching across boundaries was a pure joy, with the celebration of life flowing through everybody in the room. By the time Kenny Dixon took over, the crowd was at fever pitch, and he rode it perfectly by playing tracks that spanned more than three decades — such pure gems as Bohannon’s “Let’s Start the Dance,” Adonis’ “No Way Back” and Jay Dee’s latest, “B.B.E.” Nearly everything was throbbing, the room practically dripping with funk, a true hot night on the dance floor. Kenny closed with the incredibly funky “B.B.E.” again, showing a unique side to Detroit down tempo funk, and Theo took over to play the perfect closing tracks — but when he stopped, the people weren’t having it and kept the beat going through stomps and hand claps for yet another five minutes, with the whole crowd instinctively switching to double time halfway through. Yeah, it was that kind of party — this kind of night can only happen in Detroit. For more deep-house funk check out Exclusive Productions and Beatdownsounds.com’s “About Last Night” on Saturday, April 28, at 1345 Division (in Eastern Market), Detroit, with Alton Miller and Norm Tally, The night includes live drums and guitar by Ife,