On Monday, May 28, as the second annual DEMF drew to a close, crowds gathered for the reunion of Inner City. It was clear that this year saw even larger crowds, as Hart Plaza seemed near capacity. The uniqueness of this year lay in the weather, which seemed to act as the psyche (and later the id) of the event.
You saw everyone you ever knew with whom you shared a love of this music, too many to even talk to, many sporting custom shirts (“Carl was framed,” etc.) and pink “I support Carl Craig” stickers.
Clusters of important artists (Jeff Mills came in just to watch), label owners and other cogs of the international techno machine gathered with the fans and curious onlookers of all ages and races to witness one of the most thrilling moments in Detroit techno history.
Before Inner City, the City of Detroit honored some of techno’s innovators (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson) with proclamations recognizing their contributions to the global music scene. This was quite thrilling, but no match for the surprise to come. One final proclamation was given, this time presented by Lisa Webb-Sharpe representing Mayor Dennis W. Archer. She said:
“We would not be complete here tonight if we did not take time to honor the person who had the vision to make this festival happen, who came forth with the idea and presented it to the City of Detroit. On behalf of Mayor Dennis Archer, we want to recognize Mr. Carl Craig.”
The crowd went nuts with the biggest reaction I’d seen all weekend. But that wouldn’t stop Mother Nature.
Amid the decay of the politics of the situation, beauty arose from the common man’s fight back, and here, finally, was a reward. People believe in Carl Craig like they believe in the dream of techno, and no one would let that point slip away. In the town that spawned Underground Resistance, it was no surprise to see stickers and custom shirts in support of Carl, but the custom banners were indeed a surprise. The greatest of all, a giant red “DEMF = Carl Craig” banner, appeared at the end of Inner City’s Las Vegas-style revue for our generation, culminating in “Good Life.” Straight out of a communist protest rally, missing only the little red books, the banner marched like a dragon through the most visible points of the main stage, and then through the plaza in an attempt to stay ahead of security.
As Atkins presented a myriad of his inspirations from Kraftwerk to Man Parish, giving another great DEMF history lesson, the storming skies grew worse, giving the out-of-towners a true taste of Michigan weather. A karmically coordinated hailstorm ended the event two hours early, right before May was to take stage. As the storm grew too dangerous, Craig, from the main stage, closed the festival, finally getting the last word: “It was my pleasure to have you in Hart Plaza. We rocked it and once again showed that the D is Number One.”
Saluting a native son
The proclamation from the City of Detroit / Office of the Mayor read: Carl Craig has endeared himself to an international audience of electronic music lovers with his artistic vision, intellectual curiosity, and his willingness to identify with and promote the work of other artists. These qualities made Craig an ideal choice for Creative Director of the inaugural Detroit Electronic Music Festival, and its successor, the Focus://Detroit.Electronic.Music.Festival/2001.
Craig’s worldwide reputation, international network, and experience as a recording artist and producer have served him well. He has put the Focus:DEMF on the map and enhanced the image of the City of Detroit by assembling a superb lineup of veteran artists and relative newcomers. The performers Craig has attracted both years reflect the music’s wide range of styles, featuring not only Detroit techno, but also house, hip-hop and jazz influences.
Craig, a Detroit native and resident, attended Detroit’s Cooley High. He entered the electronic music world after sharing tapes of his music experiments with Detroit techno legend Derrick May. Craig, performing as Psyche, assisted May as May developed his Transmat label. Craig branched out on his own by forming his Planet E label in November 1991. At Planet E, Craig has performed as 69, as Paperclip People, as leader of the Innerzone Orchestra and under his own name. His most influential tracks include “Jam the Box,” “My Machines,” “The Floor,” and “Bug in the Bassbin.” Craig has also signed and developed other electronic artists at the Planet E label.
Craig, has been an articulate spokesman for electronic music and for the redevelopment of Detroit, as well. He worked with Carol Marvin of Pop Culture Media to develop the vision of a successful DEMF.
Therefore, I, Dennis W. Archer, Mayor of the City of Detroit, issue this Proclamation saluting Carl Craig for his leadership of the Focus:DEMF adn dedication to the artistic advancement of electronic music.
Signed Dennis W. Archer and sealed with the Mayor’s seal.E-mail Pitch'd at [email protected]