Tag Archives: Detroit

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

“. . . the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.”
–Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

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The theater where I saw the Faces—with Ronnie Wood and Stewart hiding behind the amps–, the Birmingham Palladium, no longer exists.

The Grande Ballroom, where I saw the original Fleetwood Mac—the one with Peter Green—is gone.

The Eastown Theater, where I saw Derek and the Dominos, is a memory. As are Derek and the Dominos.

What is important: the building or the memories? One could point out that were it not for the building there wouldn’t be the memories, which is absolutely true. But were I to drive down Grand River and see the sad remains of the Grande (if you’re interested in seeing it, the address if 8952 Grand River, Detroit; Google Maps has an image of the remaining structure), would it make much of a difference with the exception of a brief wave of nostalgia? If the Grande was purchased by some corporation and transformed into some faux-hip venue, would that make my memories any better?

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Two miles southeast of the Grande on Grand River, the Olympia Stadium once existed. There is now an Army National Guard facility on the site and most of the property appears to be a shitty parking lot. Olympia was opened in 1927 (the Grande opened as a dance hall in 1928), closed in 1980 and was torn down in 1987.

I saw the Rolling Stones there. That band apparently continues to exist. I have no interest in seeing the present incarnation of the Stones. That the site where I saw one of the best concerts of my life is now something entirely different doesn’t much matter.

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Right now we are in the midst of a plague. A plague that is burning through our lives, leaving charred and devastated rubble in many cases. Things that we did, places that we went to, activities that we were a part of are in all-too-many instances irrevocably changed. They won’t come back.

The National Independent Venue Association has been established to help save independent music performance centers that are likely to be closed as a result of COVID-19.

In a letter sent to Congress in efforts to get financial assistance for the ~800 operations that are members of NIVA, assistance in the form of loans, tax relief, insurance, and other measures, Dayna Frank, board president and owner of First Avenue & 7th St Entry in Minneapolis, writes, “Our stages give artists like Adele, U2, Keith Urban, Prince, Lizzo, the Eagles, Wu-Tang Clan and Foo Fighters their start. The world could be without the next Lady Gaga, Kenny Chesney, Chance the Rapper or Bruce Springsteen if we cease to exist.”

The letter is addressed to Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Kevin McCarthy, and Mitch McConnell.

Does anyone think McConnell would be convinced by that argument?

To her credit, Frank also points out, “While we are small businesses”—and aren’t the Republicans the bulwarks of small business?—“the estimated direct annual economic impact we bring to our local communities is nearly $10 billion.”

That should raise some sleepy eyelids.

Continue reading Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Time Is(n’t) on My Side

Given the most-recent Macaulay oeuvre on this site and the absence of same, some of you might have been thinking (if you thought about it at all), “Hmm. . .he kept writing about dead people; maybe he’s joined them.”

Nope.

Still here.

And not another piece about dead people.

Well, not exactly. They could be zombies, but. . . .

That is, Friday, February 7, I saw on the front page of the Detroit Free Press a piece about the Rolling Stones coming to perform at Ford Field, the football stadium named for (and owned by) the family that built it (and a few million other things every year), in mid-June as part of its North American tour, the tickets for which are becoming available on February 14, a.k.a., “Valentine’s Day.”

Here’s the thing: I’ve seen the Rolling Stones twice here in Detroit. Once in 1969 at Olympia Stadium, which no longer exists. The opening acts were B.B. King and Terry Reid. Everyone knows B.B. More people ought to know Terry Reid, but that’s a story for another time. That tour included Jagger, Richards, Wyman, Mick Taylor, and Ian Stewart. That was the tour where Jagger wore the Uncle Sam hat and a onesy.

The tour that was to end up at Altamont.

The second time was in 1972 at Cobo Arena, which also no longer exists. This time the aforementioned lineup was supplemented by Nicky Hopkins, Bobby Keys, and Jim Price. Stevie Wonder was the opening act.

I graduated high school in 1972. That was 48 years ago. I hate to do the math.

In subsequent years, I have had several opportunities to see the Stones. And I’ve never pursued those opportunities for the simple reason that I believe you can’t catch lightning in a bottle, and what was once there, sparking, hasn’t. Isn’t.

Continue reading Time Is(n’t) on My Side

New Stef Chura video: Scream

Video: Stef Chura -- “Scream”

Directed by Ambar Navarro. From Midnight, out now on Saddle Creek.

Stef Chura grew up in Alpena, a small town on Lake Huron way up north in Michigan. For fans of Michigan garage rock Alpena is best known as the birthplace of Dick Wagner and his bands, the Bossmen and the Frost. Wagner went on to play with Alice Cooper and Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal-era Lou Reed.

Alpena is also the home town of Matt Southwell of Bang Sugar Bang. Before that, Southwell played with my pals the Vantrells.

So Alpena’s rock and roll bonafides are legit.

And now we’ve got Stef Chura, who was an Alpena cheerleader in eighth grade. “I kept the skirt,” she told the Detroit Metro Times. She was also a wrestler, and that dichotomy shows up in “Scream” which features classic Detroit muscle as well as chirpy exuberance.

She moved to Detroit in 2009 and told Rolling Stone, “I feel like it’s not like it was. There was a golden era with the garage-rock stuff and Jack White and the White Stripes but…do I relate to the current scene? There’s definitely a scene that I’ve played music in for a long time. So I do relate to that.”

Chura’s new Saddle Creek album was produced by Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo, who came to Detroit and recorded at Tempermill Studios.

Stef Chura: twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Flint Eastwood video: Monster

Video: Flint Eastwood -- “Monster”

Flint Eastwood - Monster (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

From Broke Royalty, out now on Neon Gold.

Flint Eastwood is a stupid name but this is a pretty cool song. The name might be better if they were actually from Flint (or maybe not) but they’re from Detroit. They used to be a band but now it’s just Jax Anderson. She records in an old church in Corktown.

When I hear you speak
All the words that keep on haunting me
When I hear you speak
I’m missing you here with me
But it’s gonna be alright

She told Billboard, “I wrote the song ‘Monster’ about the dark nights that took place after the passing of my mom & the moment I discovered that things would eventually be okay again.”

It’s good to be reminded that we’ll be alright.

Flint Eastwood: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Anna Burch video: Tea-Soaked Letter

Video: Anna Burch -- “Tea-Soaked Letter”

Anna Burch - Tea-Soaked Letter [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

From Quit the Curse, February 2 on Polyvinyl.

There’s no hula hooping in this one, but the song is just as good as Anna Burch’s previous single.

She’s got such an easygoing, effortless delivery, and her rhythm guitar reminds me a bit of early Liz Phair. I swear I listened to this song ten times in a row.

Strange, the ones you love
Could bury your body underground
I woke up too late again
Would you start the coffee, my only friend?

I forgot to fake away that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late now all my cards are showing

No you can’t come up
Who am I kidding? I would drag you up
What was that you said
That I don’t exist inside your head

You said you would communicate better
So what will you send me a tea soaked letter

I feel so alone
When everyone in town is overblown
So I made a scene
I can think of things more embarrassing

Can’t wait to hear the rest of her album!

Anna Burch: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Continue reading New Anna Burch video: Tea-Soaked Letter

New Anna Burch video: 2 Cool 2 Care

Video: Anna Burch -- “2 Cool 2 Care”

Anna Burch - 2 Cool 2 Care [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO]

Single out now on Polyvinyl.

It’s important to know how to hula hoop. It seems impossible at first, but keep trying. You’ll get it. Don’t try to go too fast or else you’ll just look like spaz. Another tip: learn on a good quality, heavier hoop. You can still buy it at the grocery store but just don’t get the super cheap lightest ones, because they’re harder to do. The heft of the hoop helps keep the momentum, and that’s key.

Anna Burch is a solid hula hooper and this video is evidence of that. She grew up in St. Joe (West Michigan, represent!) and lives in Detroit. She’s been in a bunch of bands I’ve never heard, but now she’s gone solo. Back in January she told the Metro Times that her solo debut (working title: Quit the Curse) had been “all recorded” but she was frustrated with the results and intended to “lay down new tracks” with producer Collin Dupuis in February. The full-length results are due in early 2018.

Burch sings “2 Cool 2 Care” as if it doesn’t bother her that her boyfriend is an asshole.

Slamming all your drinks, you don’t have to think about me
You’ve got all your friends, used up all their meds, honey

She says, “I like you best when you’re a mess.” But the extended bridge reveals she knows the deal.

I don’t even fantasize about what life would be like
If I were to find a one true love
The kind they said I should be dreaming of

Dare to dream, Anna! Ditch that prick and go find yourself a grownup who knows how to treat you properly.

This is a great song, and it would be just as good if its video didn’t feature hula hooping. But it does, so how lucky are we?

Anna Burch: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Jack White in Detroit

Jack White was born in Detroit. He went to Cass Tech High School, which numbers among its alum people including Diana Ross, Alice Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, and Regina Carter. Good company.

Although White moved to Nashville, once a Detroiter, always a Detroiter.

In 2001 White established Third Man Records. In Nashville.

But what may be more important is the establishment of Third Man Pressing. In Detroit.

Jack White’s company is producing LPs in Detroit. It is a 10,000-square foot factory that “officially” opened on February 25.

It is a production facility that presses hot vinyl between a set of dies into discs that has a capacity of 15,000 records a day.

Although “Detroit” is known for cars, in actuality, there are only two automotive plants in the city limits proper, the Jefferson North Plant where Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos are produced, and the Conner Avenue Plant, where the Dodge Viper is manufactured. Viper production ends this year. So there may be just one car plant.

Detroit. One car plant. Imagine.

(And the company that runs that plant, FCA US, is a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is owned by Fiat, which is based in Italy. That car that Eminem drove in that Chrysler commercial a few years back? It was built in Sterling Heights, Michigan, not Detroit. Close though.)

Continue reading Jack White in Detroit

Watch the MC5 kick out the jams in Germany in 1972

Video: MC5 -- Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

MC5 - Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

This footage is amazing. It’s from the weird time right after they had kicked out original bassist Michael Davis. They were in Europe promoting their third and final (and best) album, High Times, although they don’t play anything from that record in this clip, filmed for the German television show Beat-Club. They had been dumped by their record label, and their former manager John Sinclair was accusing them of being greedy junky sellouts. Things were not looking good for the Five. And yet…

Watch this footage!

Everything great about rock and roll is here on display. Sonic Smith’s furry hat, Machine Gun Thompson’s Norton Motorcycles t-shirt, Wayne Kramer’s dehydrated pastiness…I mean, come on! Even fill-in bassist Steve (“Steev”) Moorhouse looks cool. But nobody can get anywhere close to the glory of Rob Tyner with his fantastically crazy teeth, magnificent afro, and face dripping with sweat even before he counts in the band with his famous “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”

This nine-minute extended freakout version of their greatest hit (peaked at #82 in 1969) goes off into jazzy weirdness before coming back around again with Kramer and Smith intertwining guitar leads, getting as funkadelic in their own way as Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider.

They play five songs in total over two separate sessions (clearly differentiated by the new shirts in “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Black To Comm”). The total running time is under 30 minutes and although it would great to have even more, this is really enough to prove that the MC5 is still grossly underrated despite all the praise they get from people like us.

Continue reading Watch the MC5 kick out the jams in Germany in 1972

Goose Lake International Music Festival Documentary

We grew up hearing snippets of the stories: first joints, flying tents, incorrect memories of the acts who played, and even a fabled master recording from the sound board secreted away in a friend’s basement (recently rediscovered). The event was more legend than an established piece of Michigan history, but staged almost exactly one year after Woodstock, the Goose Lake International Music Festival did indeed happen and it was glorious.

Annoying music bed and even more annoying local commercials aside, this 30 minute documentary has an oral history from organizers and attendees with fantastic archival footage of Michigan’s entrant into the 60s and 70s music festival culture.

Continue reading Goose Lake International Music Festival Documentary

New video from Detroit’s Muggs

Video: The Muggs -- “Applecart Blues”

The Muggs "Applecart Blues" official music video

Several years ago I saw the Muggs open up for my beloved Quasar Wut-Wut in Chicago. Being drunk and being in Chicago, I naturally heckled the band. It’s what we do. By the end of their set they had won me over with their high energy Detroit rock and roll.

One interesting feature of the Muggs is that the bass parts are played on a Rhodes keyboard. You might think this is a clever affectation. But you’re wrong. Turns out their bass player had a stroke and the right side of his body is paralyzed, so instead of quitting the band he now uses his left hand to play bass on the Rhodes. And it sounds awesome.

“Applecart Blues” is from their new album, Straight Up Boogaloo, out now. Buy it from the band or on vinyl from Bellyache Records.