Ben Blackwell vs. Detroit

The Dirtbombs’ Ben Blackwell calls out the Detroit music scene for paying lip-service to mediocre bands and calls for honesty and straightforwardness: Lessons I Hardly Learned at the Hamtramck Blowout…

“I believe a lot of people are scared to be frank for fear of how others will be honest in return. Too few a people in town are comfortable enough with how their own band is/was/will be to genuinely give others their honest opinion.”

Via mtmb.

8 thoughts on “Ben Blackwell vs. Detroit”

  1. I would like to add a couple things, actually: 1) I have their new EP and single, and think their cover of “Hey Hey My My” is pretty solid. The rest, generally better than Gasoline, but not great; 2) I still haven’t seem them live.

  2. The Hard Lessons are way fun, especially live. More fun than the Dirtbombs, frankly. And probably more popular in Detroit these days. And don’t get me wrong, I like the Dirtbombs. That whole blog entry seemed pretty unnecessary, though. I can’t imagine the Hard Lessons similarly writing such a thing about fellow local musicians, and they certainly don’t love all of the music being made around town (who does?). But why make a point of such a public calling-out?

    I also take a lot of offense to his one-line write-off of Great Lakes Myth Society, whose maritime/indie/folk/pop/ Michigania/whatever, full of, you know, actual songcraft, harmonies, melodies, and intelligent lyrics, not to mention intersting instrumentation, is breathing a lot of much-needed life into the same boring-old Deeetroit Rawk scene that still isn’t over the MC5 and Stooges. Or the White Stripes. It’s perpetually 1969 or 2001 around there most of the time.

  3. “I can’t imagine the Hard Lessons similarly writing such a thing about fellow local musicians, and they certainly don’t love all of the music being made around town (who does?).”

    That’s really the point of Ben’s post. There isn’t any critical analysis of the Detroit scene. It’s all so insular that nobody dares “rock the boat,” especially in the days after Jack White beat Jason VonBondies’ ass.

    I think it’s great when the members of a music community support each other. I’ve lived where bands were constantly backstabbing, so it’s nice to see the opposite. But if nobody is willing to call bullshit when they see it, the scene will get stale real quick.

  4. Derek,

    That’s an interesting perspective, but I think that it’s new bands like GLMS and the Hard Lessons that are breaking the insularity of it all. For so many years it’s been these same old 2001-era blues-rock bands like The Sights, The Dirtbombs, Muggs, Hentchmen, Cobras, (don’t get me wrong, I like these bands) etc, and just finally this past year the main local weeklies and larger fanbases seem to be discovering that there’s a hell of a lot else going on in the area (it took them a few years though). I think the sort of diversity of bands booked at the Blowout preparty reflects this.

    To me it reads more like Blackwell is pining for those old, insular days and that old scene when Detroit bands were “good” and the times the British press salivated over the city. Most of these new bands don’t give a flying fuck about Jack White or the Von Bondies. They associate that old, insular scene with bickering, backstabbing, drama, leeching, and everyone trying to be a Rock Star. It’s been refreshing that it seems like everyone was rising above that B.S.

    Again, it’s fine to not like every band around, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves for various band members to post critiques of other bands in public forums. it does no good in a city that where it’s already almost impossible to fill the clubs. To me, this looks like falling back into the old bitchiness, not some refreshing new era of honesty.

  5. Sure, but Ben isn’t just another band member. He’s a critic and label owner, so maybe that perspective should be considered in reading his piece.

    I haven’t been to Detroit since my band’s doomed Motor City Music Conference “showcase” so I am not hip to the mood of the scene. I’m just saying a little criticism is usually good for us all.

  6. I think Ben is just cranky because he is tired of Mick Collins making him dress up in a panda costume and watching him while he sleeps.

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