Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Baptism - Passalacqua - CHURCH

"Ravenous...these ones that are left to salvage..."

I press play and immediately press the headphones snug against my ear. It's not loud enough.
I turn it up just 12 words into the first rap and there's a feeling of ascension with the choir, even though their chanting something as colloquially endearing as...
"Ohhhh, YEAH!" 

"Trying to keep my composure, wise enough not to call myself soldier" 
"I don't see another way / no, I sure do hope that all this pounding on my chest wasn't done in vein..." 

What do you do with that beat? Rock the body, shimmy shoulders? Nod the head with neck-kinking catharsis...? ...Or are we supposed to march? To stomp? Brace the knees and stand taller? 

This isn't proselytizing as much as it's instilling. It's not damning, it's emboldening. It's a rap that doesn't just point to the splay and spill of broken pieces...but resolves to pick them up. Fit them back together. 

Oh, but it's also not idealistic, preachy protest-rap. No, It's rap that does just as Mister says... pounds right on your chest. Ya' know, part of a baptism involves a regeneration. And that's one of the key ideas here, on this collaboration between Passalacqua and SYBLING

But the biggest idea is a bracing, a building, a galvanizing... of, what? You, yourself? This area? The style of music, hip-hop? New levels of production with those body-rocking bass booms and jitter-juking synth-chirps, new possibilities of genre-fusion? Possibly all of that.

There's these guttural spitfire raps, the words still serrated from the MC's teeth as they seethe out (and soothe away some spite), "Original mystic, evangelist gone ballistic, words with a man on a mission...and it all started out from a vision..." And then the choir's celestial voices coalesce again as the chorus comes in, belted as if nearly breathless, like the singer's assuring herself that her crescendo reaches the rafters: "this World's my drug..."

It's telling that, during Mister's opening rap, there's pitch-shifted samples of other voices repeating "Hit 'em."
Hit them.
Hit them. If that's what it takes, right?

The final chorus comes in and it starts to feel like something's dawning upon you; not like any heavenly light coming over the distant dark horizons (though the arrangement of synthesized strings, guitars and drums, mixed in such away, certainly does evoke a certain mystical radiance), but, no, it's like a widening of perception. That there is this whole fucking world, yawning and yelling and dying and living, all around you; big, enveloping, broken apart, surrounding you and your headphones. 

Turn it up more. Headphones, press em closer. The bass samples swoon, heavier, louder, and you feel like you're in a cement truck mixer and those snapping beats start to feel more like the alleviation of a pain you'd grown too used to to even feel anymore. Now, cleansed.. Back, alive. Braced, galvanized.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Wave Music

So, pretty soon, a new music store will open up in Detroit dedicated to establishing itself as "the best support system" for local musicians.

Third Wave Music will, eventually, be a full-service musical instrument shop; " and used gear, retail accessories, lessons, repairs and locally made goods!"

The Detroit Music Federation estimates upwards to 10,000 full time musicians in the Detroit area, but no substantial outlet for them to obtain supplies, equipment, replacements or lessons for the upkeep and continued evolution of their craft.

But more than just a locally owned and operated Guitar Center or some Detroit-version of a Memphis Drum Shop, this place, Third Wave Music, aspires to be a gathering place not only for obtaining strings, sticks, new keys or new reeds, but also for an overarching meeting-of-the-creative minds -of Detroit, for tutorship, for networking, for soundboarding in order to seek a renewal of inspiration. A musical place to meet.

So... who's behind this?
Jen David - daughter of a jazz musician father and a mother who ran a music store...(both of them integral influences for her, particularly as she works toward Third Wave's realization).
Get to know her

What inspires most idealistic ventures? Frustration.

David, who sings/performs/writes with local groups like Mama Roux and Illy Mack, also teaches a handful of budding students, part of her participation in the Detroit Music Teachers Collective. But the commute, from her home in Hamtramck out to the suburbs to see her students, was taking up time (and gas money, not to mention) as well as the extra time she'd have to devote to her day job.

So, A.) she needed that vital "creative time" that all musicians/artists need...but could never find the right balance of scheduling.
That's frustrating.
But, more importantly
B.) Why is there no reliable resource/outlet for musicians to obtain the supplies (and the education) they need, centrally located near downtown Detroit?
That's also frustrating.

"I had to make a plan forward," said David. "I just was never sure if I was ready to sacrifice creative time for business time. I realized, talking to other entrepreneurs, how rewarding all of this hard work could be. Kelli, from Wheelhouse Detroit, really encouraged me. 'Just do it!' she basically said.

"I really want to make a place, locally, where teachers can teach without getting stressed out by a commute..."

You can vote for Third Wave Music via the Hatch Detroit Contest -for entrepreneurs to obtain securing, start-up grants. Click here.

The store "will exist, definitely" with or without the grant...but the grant assures that this business will thrive, right from the get-go. Think about it: more used gear, more free community lessons, better soundproofing... And an overall welcoming, supportive and encouraging environment - a business owned by an enthusiastic woman musician who knows, having been raised by her mother, what it's like to run a music store.

"Many ladies I know," David said, "dread having to buy anything from (a music store), with having to deal with the sexist comments from the 'guitar store guy.'"

The name is a reference to the sound of a third, in music (two notes played together.) "It's harmonious and makes me feel positive," said David. "But, yes, it is also a feminist reference. As a feminist, I know it's important for women to have positions of power in male dominated fields."

Third Wave Music will be located in Forest Arms, with renovations slated to be finished by June of 2015.

The store will open shortly thereafter.

If it sounds like a good idea, you can vote here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Currently Listening: Turn To Crime

Detroit trio Turn To Crime released their debut album last month (via Mugg & Bop records). Defying preconceptions of psych, glam and out-there rock music and clattering it together into a groovy, yet gnarly new sound that has faint gusts of friendly pop under the crustier distortion's grimace.

A new video was released at the end of July, view and watch:

Pertinent info:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Passalacqua, SYBLING, Right Brothers, "Baptism" and CHURCH (Revival)

"The idea is that CHURCH is a space. A space for release, worship, exercising demons, the whole works. If we all come together, we can raise hell. Or heaven. Which ever you prefer."
--Brent (Blaksmith) Smith - on Passalacqua's Church - a collaboration with SYBLING (founding members of Flint Eastwood).

"Coming together as a coalition, yes, and also showing how strong the coalition is. Busting walls, wielding microphones as hammers. Restoring authority with art." --Smith

The Right Brothers - filming Jax Anderson (SYBLING), with Bryan Lackner, a.k.a. Mister and Smith - for the video of "Baptism" - premiering 'The Baptism' at 'The Revival' on the 26th.

7/26 - Eight and Sand - 3901 Christopher St, Hamtramck, Michigan 
Church: Revival
An Album Release Party 
ft. Tunde Olaniran, Open Mike Eagle, Nothing Elegant, Charles Trees, Dante LaSalle, SYBLING and the film by The Right Brothers 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Methodist Girls

Nathan K. has unpacked some ghosts, some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them just awkward, but all of them get addressed, nonetheless and with a poignant earnestness, here; Methodist Girls is the soundtrack of a songwriter reflecting while being reflective, letting you inside as well as just exploding outward.

The K. stands for our Ann Arbor-ite’s given name, Klages. He’d recently helped his mother move out of the house in which he grew up. “I’m not so glad (that) I visited …back here…” he sings on “Most Birthdays” with his distinct voice, a nasally thing that wisps along with a soft chill like a sleepy autumnal breeze. How do you not write a record when, after digging through all the manuscripts and childish artifacts of your past, you become flush with so many disparate emotions – rewinding, reminding, but not necessarily trying to forget, just, trying to dissect, through song, with an acoustic guitar and rolling strings, light percussive claps and some warming chimes, more orchestral-pop than the folk/country vibe of his first two records.

“I had this vision to make the record sound like something akin to “Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles,” Nathan K. said. “Darin Rajabian (of Nightlife) and I recorded this in St. Joseph between my tours with Stepdad, back in the middle of the winter. We were finishing the Nightlife record just before and we had a lot of time to discuss how we wanted (Methodist Girls) to sound during the much needed breaks from the studio. I think we did a good job of creating this lush, big sounding…but…also still very intimate feeling acoustic pop record.”

He finds all these notebooks filled with na├»ve, blunt love songs to the girls he met at summer camp, knowing, now, as an adult male churning through his 20’s, that these coming-of-age blips from his past must have meant something to him, then, so that now, they could or should, mean just as much. That’s why he and Rajabian spent so much time discussing, arranging and recording these songs, going so far as to meticulously research preamps and different recording techniques.

Well, they also took their time because those Stepdad tours forced them to stop and start, here and there. But, there’s a palpable carefulness in the songwriter and producer’s crafting of these songs.
As a songwriter it was nice to look back at things I wasn't afraid to say, mostly because I didn't know any better, and that had a huge effect on my writing for this record- saying and sharing things I never thought i would say in my music- it's my most personal music I’ve ever made.”

Album will be available on CD (via bandcamp) and digital (itunes, bandcamp, amazon, spotify)

Friday, June 27, 2014

All The Wild Children

All The Wild Children sound like freedom…

…like  barefoot jogs through the thorny brush, fearless of barbs, bugs or whatever kind of bacteria breeding in the puddles at the edge of that swamp that you intend to swim through – it is a muddy kind of rock, an elbows-up, let’s-go-right-now, the sun-is-out kind of sound. Read off the song titles from their recently released super-EP Songs From The North, “The Ropes” (makes you want to swing out, right, on some splintery-twined strand slung from an oak branch) or “SunSick,” sounds like a bad trip or a day-long party taken just too far, but it still embodies that nuanced electrified feel to their particular brand of psych-rock, something supernatural that beckons you to either let loose or just run outside. Or how about “Mountain Lion?” Wild, man!

 This outfit, which started as a quartet and played several shows in Woodruffs as part of an Ypsi-based collective of rock acts known as Ghost Family, has gone through some membership shuffling, but still retains its core.

All The Wild Children perform with Ypsi’s own Lizerrd, tomorrow night (Saturday) in Hamtramck (at Small’s Bar).
Songs From The North is murky, it’s twangy, it’s not metal and not hard rock and not entirely psychedelic-soul, but somewhere, in the middle of the bubbly bog, wades all the children, wild!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Start The Summer

There are few songs that have so profoundly evoked the emerald green explosiveness, the mosquito-bite madness, the humid-night / riled-up run-amok, the fulsome fire heat, head-on-a-swivel, super-soaker-slip-and-slide, bike-breaking NOWNESS of SUMMER TIME ...MORE....than THIS song.

I know it's the middle of the year, right now, and we should probably follow-suit of other blogs and reel off a list of the "Best So Far." But it's 2014 and you don't need a blog to do that for you. You have your own list.

Today's my brother's birthday - so, fittingly, I'm unabashedly bucking "internet" trends and "looking back" at an "older" song -that features two BROTHERS at the front of it (with an awesome Kalamazoo-bred drummer keeping time). This song IS summer.

So happy summer.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Track By Track - DUENDE's Mezcal

1.) "One More Time"

Duende's new album opens with a storm of a song called "One More Time," a boogie-sledge-strutter that sings of that special bloodshot, sweat-beaded bedlam we all have found ourselves caught in, one weekend or another, where the songs just don't end and friends keep piling in around the turntables, assuring we're always willing and ready to whirl around just one more time, provided the wine bottle ain't empty yet and the stylus needle ain't worn out.

Singer/guitarist Jeff Howitt:
"One More Time started around a fictional weekend that never ended. Starting over at Pookie (from The Beggars) house then over at Ryan Dillaha's (front man for The Miracle Men) where we shout out a bunch of our favorite recording artists. Then end up at Loving Touch where we've held court with our monthly showcase DUENDESDAY. We even work in our long time Friends of Rock 'n' Roll, The Oscillating Fan Club, "Party Hat" literally into the outro. I always loved that the early Rock 'n' Roll songs were mostly about People and Places not some vague emotional situation. Something you could see in your imagination."

2.) "Mezcal"

Track two is also the "title track" for the LP, Mezcal, which will be released on Saturday via Bellyache Records. Guitarist Joel ("Jelly Roll") McCune channels the spirits of both Link Wray and the Ventures and then jettisons the thing about 8-miles-high into spacier, more psych-freaked territories with some groovy flits of noise. Oh, and that's the legendary McKinley Jackson on the organ, adding integral soulful ambiance.

Guitarist Joel McCune:
"I have a very difficult time sorting through my musical inspirations and translating them coherently. I have always had great reverence and respect for the folk forms: country, rockabilly, bluegrass, blues, jazz. You know, the oral history of song and the language of music as it is passed from generation to generation. But, many people listen to the blues and feel there is a lot of plagiarism, which really isn't true. It is a language. There are certain rules. Certain times when you use a musical adjective rather than a musical preposition. They all know where the commas go and where the quotation marks are inserted. It isn't plagiarism, it is respect of the form, and it is your responsibility to figure out how to get your own idiosyncrasy into it. When I say blues, I mean the original, old timey blues. Skip James, Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Not Stevie Ray...
   On the other side of the coin, I love music that destroys tradition. Sonic Youth, early Butthole Surfers, punk, post punk, Neubauten, noise...."

3.) Herstory

Wordless backing vocals imbue their haunting, distorted melody into your ears as this otherwise slower tempo rock song starts to slime its way into those noisier, cathartic territories that McCune referenced above. The guitars become rusty buzzsaws over steady drums that shoulder their way through a storm of feedback, while the overlay of different vocal parts, high falsettos, mid-range and low growls, certainly gets pretty trippy.

"Probably about as close as we can get to Doo-Wop at this point! Started with a riff I played at various tempos until Laura and I jammed on it one day and she ended up "Ba-Bop-Bop-Bop-Ba" singing the riff back and it clicked. This song really depends on the elemental and oozing fuzz dynamic. Where on the past few releases we honed in on the arranging of parts in the songs this time around our strategy revolved around the Sonic features. The lyrics also play off gender themes and power. History is written by the victors but Herstory is written by who knows the Truth."

"Our philosophy was to capture and document what happened in the studio on a particular day or days, and let that document stand. Very few overdubs, very few takes, we weren't trying to make the perfect record. To me, I believe trying to achieve perfection in the studio will only capture some of the most lifeless and rote performances ever! We went for the opposite."

4.) Devil Do

Those organs come back in for this Holly Golightly cover and we play with tempo - demonstrating Duende's characteristic here-and-there, this-but-also-that, unpredictability, going from a shuffle, to a steadier toe-tapper, to a faster, knees-up kicker.

"We arranged this specifically for Theatre Bizarre last year and it has stayed in our set. Their has always been the Light and the Dark. Perceptions of Good and Evil. Sides. Always have to have a Side, right? The Devil is classic in theme. I've never written a song with heavy handed morals but this song and it's nature spoke to us as a performance piece that accelerates with each verse. 

5.) He Meant No Harm

Devil Do fades away...and we fade back into this one, with two overlaying guitars--one reverberating dazzling with a lilting riff over another grinding an agitated, sizzling rhythm, while bass and drums start subtly accelerating into a punchy overdrive. It's another instrumental, but a bit more cinematic, like shunting a chrome, flame-wreathed Semi down a gravelly, Route-66-type road under ultraviolet skies and evading varying apocalyptic circumstances threatening from behind...a chase... Ah, the inherent drama that Duende can evoke in their strange, psychedelic compositions.

"....and it's our first fade out! We recorded DEVIL DO and this together and decided to split the two sides of the record with them. Again some have taken this song to represent dual gender perspectives. Most songs if you listen narrate from the masculine..."

6.) Damn

The aerodynamic, burn the place down, country-punk tantrum - just two minutes, surfing in and out over voraciously wavy guitars and a rhythm section that, for the first time on the record, finally looses its cool (in the best way possible) and starts joining in on the musical melee.

"We have stretched out songs to over 10 minutes. Churned repetition and mined and opined the atonal. This however became an exercise in pure muscular DUENDE. The ringing out Hard Days Night chord at the beginning. The extra rolled out drumming at the end. I get my foot in the door to spit some lyrics and get it out before the song squeezes it shut."

Duende! began as a philosophy of sort of lawlessness within a structure musically speaking. It is a very liberating way to approach music, but it requires attentiveness and listening."

7.) Burn This Town

This song was recorded during the sessions for their previous record, Murder Doesn't Hide The Truth. Oh, the echoey distortion, the dazzling reverb, the relentless march of the drums, the steady, if feedback shaded, heartbeat of the bass. This is the song in which you lose certainty of which way is up, which way was down... Therapeutic--yes, but a blend of breathing meditation and the sting of electro-shock. Ten minutes long? A blur of guitars, like a slow-motion cyclone. By the end, one did I get here?

"...churning repetition and mined the atonal stretches... The lyrics, in all their apocalyptic gaze,are pulled from News Paper headlines and arranged as William Burrough's suggested in his cut-up theory and practice. Just as you can't take another dip back down to see the scorched Earth the song instrumentally shifts into a sensation of relief and builds until the ground has stopped shaking and you have only what you were left with, and that's different for everyone."

What you were left with...

Mezcal was recorded by Dave Feeny (of Gangplank Records) at Ferndale's Tempermill Studios.

"I live in walking distance from Tempermill studios, and can honestly say that Duende! has no need or desire to record anyplace else. Dave Feeny has become the essential ingredient in our records, the File' to our Gumbo!! He gets us, knows how to get the best performance from us, will give as much or as little input as is necessary, and is just the easiest cat to get along with anywhere! "

May 31st - - 8/9pm @ The New Dodge Lounge in Hamtramck

Caveman Woodman & Bam Bam Moss celebrate the release of debut 7" (also on Bellyache Records--with art/design by Annette DeLorean)

Duende will also perform, showcasing songs from Mezcal (with artwork by Tato Caraveo and layout/design by Slasher Dav)

The inimitable Beggars will be joining the party, as well.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Blue Lightning by Bars Of Gold

We first talked about this trippy video back when we were doing an interview for PASTE

Now, the video
Meet Bars Of Gold

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Woodruff's Last Waltz - 4/24 - 4/27

Hasan Mihyar - Woodruff's Operator: "My family is broken and I want to do anything I can to find a spot for them again...."

Back in January, Woodruff's went up for sale.

It was only one week after hosting the annual Mittenfest music festival where the live music venue and bar helped raise more than $25,000 in funds for non-profit education organization 826Michigan). This nightspot was (and will, for a period of time, continue to be) regularly populated and fueled by the talent and enthusiasm of Ypsi/Arbor local music scene’s fans and performers.

This is the "...Last Waltz"
Photo by Doug Coombe

Doors at 7 PM every night, music starts at 8 PM
THURSDAY APRIL 24thLost Boys 8:00 PMAbe!Maybe? 8:45 PMDouble Weirdo 9:30 PMPING PONG 10:15 PMGhost City Searchlight 11:00 PMDave Menzo 11:45 PMDragon Wagon 12:45 PM

Full line-ups below. More information here.  

“I don’t remember much…(after hearing the news)” responds Jake Zettelmaier, lead singer/banjoist of regular Woodruffs headliners BlackJake & The Carnies, “…between just telling myself to keep it together and later when they found me wandering around in a daze, in my boxer shorts, covered in ash with tears streaming down my face.”

However facetious Jake was being, he gets earnest when he acknowledges that Woodruffs, just like the Elbow Room before it, “was our home base. We tried out new stuff there and knew we could always come back to our home crowd to be recharged.”

FRIDAY APRIL 25thSalt City 8:00 PMThrill Train 845 PMAll the Wild Children 9:30 PMAbsolutely Free 10:15 PMChild Bite 11:15 PMThird Coast Kings @12:15 PMAyinde Audio DJing between sets

What does it mean for Ypsi?

“It sucks,” responds Zettelmaier, with no other way to say it, really. “This place is turning into a ghost town.”

But the space, which was operated by Hasan Miyar (initially collaboratively with Andy Garris), will not stay empty. Woodruffs valiantly (and swiftly) moved in to 36 E. Cross St in Depot Town at the end of Autumn 2010 just in time to provide an ideal hosting venue for that season’s Mittenfest. After three and a half years, Woodruff’s, “the venue,” the “home” for so many musicians and of so many memories, is gone… 

A Mexican restaurant, Ann Arbor-based Maiz, moves in this month, obtaining the furniture and the liquor license but completely refashioning (or burying over, if you will) the lingering ambience.
“Woodruff’s was one of those places,” says Robbie Bolog, lead guitarist of Ypsi-based Captain Ivory, “those hard-to-come-by venues that’s responsive, supportive and really understands what it takes to make live, original music work.”

SATURDAY APRIL 26thModern Lady Fitness - 8:00 PMDanny Kline 8:45 PMCaptain Ivory 9:30 PMWicker Chairs 10:15Congress 11:15 PMBlack Jake & the Carnies 12:15 PM

Even Mac Davis (singer/songwriter of Double Weirdo and Nightbeast), despite his qualms and memories of frustrating experiences, can’t deny that it “…was the last legitimate venue in town.”

“The bookers did a shit job, the shows were disorganized and the sound guy didn’t give two-shits how you sounded, but, it was our clubhouse. A place where we could easily book and put on a show for our friends and local music enthusiasts.”

At the end of the day, Davis says, “…it was a venue…” He goes on to say that, “it was a place where it was comfortable, a place where people could do their thing.”

But the simplicity of that declaration bears repeating: “it was a venue.” The bedrock of any functioning scene if to have that “place” or a hub, a meeting ground, a main stage for the local talent to get their chance, to communicate, network, commiserate, collude, collaborate…all of it. It’s the cafeteria, the arena, the breakroom and the playground, all in one…

Or at least it was…

But, the owners of the space made it clear that, despite the success of Woodruff’s, they wanted something more “long-term.” And if music scenes are inherently short-term, these happenings or bursting “eras” of inspiration and creation that have a beginning and an end, and your business depends on the fickle coming-and-going of said-scenes, well, then… One might want to bank on something more like a restaurant.

Not every venue is going to be CBGBs.

“That is gone,” says Davis. “And until another venue gets going somewhere, Ypsi will have a major void for a lot of people. For me, this was the final sign that it is time to leave town.”

SUNDAY APRIL 27thWhite Dwarf 8:00 PMThe Understorey 8:45 PMTruman 9:30 PMThe Jols 10:30 PMNausea Valley 11:30 PMDisinformants 12:15 PM
TUESDAY APRIL 29thElbow Deep Meets Boylesque 9 PM until 2AMLAST WOODRUFF'S SHOW!

Hasan Mihyar's take:
"It's driving me insane, I'm trying to find a spot in the area..." (to open what would ostensibly be Woodruff's version 2.0.

Mihyar: "I approached a couple places around here with no success. Building or  renovating a spot is gonna cost a lot of money. Some friends tell me to take a breather and focus on the next step, but all I want is just move into 3000sqft spot, and keep doing what we did. I will keep a smile on my face no matter what and I'm determined to bring that huge and wonderful family back together. Again we don't get big national acts, my focus is to cater to every artist that would like to play here, as much as possible

Favorite or lasting Woodruff's memory?
Jake (/Black Jake & The Carnies):
That's a tough one. We've had so many good shows there... I always enjoyed doing Jenny Harley's birthday shows until she got sick of us.  :) But I'd have to say our last Halloween show with Chris Dean and the Gepetto files was a high point for me.  The Miss Pumpkin Princess Pageant was a last minute addition after 1/2 of the Doppelganger's  unexpectedly bailed, and we pulled it off with everybody's kind indulgence.  There was blood. Worked out well.

Robbie (/Captain Ivory):
 In one recent instance, we were playing a benefit show at Woodruff’s for a local boy who was diagnosed with cancer. Two hours before showtime Ypsilanti was hit with one of the biggest blizzards of the winter, and there was talk of canceling the show. Instead, Hasan grabbed a shovel and spent the next two hours clearing over a foot of snow off the sidewalks, parking spaces, and digging out our van & trailer. The show went off without a hitch. If that’s not a testament to his love of Woodruff’s and live music, I don’t know what is.

Both Black Jake & The Carnies along with Captain Ivory are working on new material to be released in the next year or so; the former is wrapping up its first formal LIVE album while the latter is performingg on May 3 at Ann Street Music Room in support of its debut LP on Gangplank Records. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Splitting The Scene? Speaking Too Soon? More inclusiveness? Let's just "move the tradition forward"

Likely you've heard about the Blowout at this point.

I know most of this site's traffic are people living in Michigan. I know you've likely already read three (four?) other blogs based around the scene who have already uploaded the posters and the MP3 streams and the line ups ....
(You can get all that here)

This is the second year that the annual music festival will be an "expanded edition." In fact, going from being hosted exclusively in Hamtramck (with a kick-off party in Detroit) to being an event spread across three cities (including the northern neighboring suburb, Ferndale) seems to be the new norm for Blowout.

"Blowout was born and raised in Hamtramck," acknolwedges Chris Johnston, co-owner of the Woodward Avenue Brewers and co-coordinator of this year's Blowout, (year #17). Singer/songwriter Jeff Howitt (of local post-Beat/post-surf/post-psych outfit Duende), refers to it as "...a young adult," now. 

"Now ..." says Johnston, "with Blowout in its teenage years its 'parents' separated ...and one moved to Ferndale. Now it gets older it finds out it has ties to more and more places. I'm always disappointed to read one parent say something bad about the other, and now have other relatives take sides. This kid still needs support from everybody. I feel the same way about the music scene. I'm excited that Ferndale is making a stand as great live music town, but I don't think the goal is to do it at the expense of any other cities. I'd like to believe that the bar is being raised everywhere. I'm strongly in favor of a vital music scene in the Detroit area, and work hard to promote good shows and great bands in far more places than Ferndale."

I have fond memories of going to Blowout's just as many of you do. I think this is my 10th time attending, if not just the 9th, for certain. It was (usually) always three days, hopping from a dozen different bars in Hamtramck to catch as many 3- and 4-band line ups performing live, simultaneously. It was like our own CMJ-fest or SXSW-fest. (In fact, it started out as a launchpad-type event for the local bands of the late 90's to gear up for ambitious road trips of their own down to SXSW itself...but...)

The whole event flowed by like a movie montage - sometimes sequenced for perfect visceral sublimity and sometimes cut, staggered or disoriented with pauses, blips or blow-ups -all, nonetheless, giving the attendee a profound sense of nowness - bursting into one venue, and then another, just as the band that you wanted to see and hear was already midway through their set and essentially hitting their performance pique - beads of sweat showing, every instrument warmed up nicely, the vocals hitting their proper pitch - the nowness, the fun-ness of each band, their energy and overall electrified enthusiasm was often just popping at all those instances where you brushed, elbowed and impolitely-toe-stomped your way to the front of make-shift audience spaces in front of makeshift stages. 

At least, that's part of what I remember...

Some history from Mr. Howitt: "I remember during the first couple BLOWOUT’s I’d just go into any bar and see what was happening. There wasn’t a sense of who you had to “see” but who you could. I didn’t know who any of the bands were beyond The Hentchmen or Murder City Wrecks or trying to figure out who Mick Collins was playing with. My first gig was at The Hamtramck Pub, that I think had closed by the first BLOWOUT even, so I was hip to that enclave, but to see the streets flooded with so many people I had never seen really made you feel part of something that still is so surprising and unclassifiable as our the Detroit scene."

In fact, as I was going around interviewing various performers and event coordinators for another story published recently, some had a lot more on their mind, than others. Howitt painted a vivid picture of Blowout's primordial days...days some of the newer bands might not remember, if at all, or least have only heard about...(in instances such as these)...

Mr. Howitt continues:
"For the most part leading up to what became known as BLOWOUT it seemed you either went to The Gold Dollar or Magic Stick which wasn't really developed yet with a couple bowling lanes still there, a stage on the other side of the room and a bar that you almost immediately bellied up to when you got to the top of the stairs. I remember a rumor that Jack White was quitting all his other bands, The White Stripes and Two Star Tabernacle, to focus on The Go who had just signed with SUB-POP but at the show Willy Wilson announced them and said “This is not their last show”, and you know the rest. 

After all this, though, Howitt still believe The Blowout to be an effective barometer of what's happening in the contemporary scene, despite, as he puts it, how random it can be as far as style and presentation. 

Howitt says that Detroiters have always rebelled against something if it felt like a bait ‘n’ switch, acknowledging those who were disconcerted by proceeds rolling into the Detroit Music Awards, he recalls the uproar spawned by protest experiments like the Anti-BLOWOUT (or "Mid-by-Midwest" hosted, once, during the actual Blowout at the Majestic Complex. "Another time," Howitt said, "a former organizer of BLOWOUT started a blog and tried to run another competing festival the same weekend which got beat down as “splitting the scene”. That person learned the hard way that you can’t play people against one another. Especially Detroiters.

What's it all come down to, though? What's the takeaway?


"Some forget that BLOWOUT had become slightly stagnant in the post-Garage Boom-era (03-06-ish) and to some degree, somewhat of an insiders game, where it felt like you had to have the pedigree or blessing of those who had come before." 

Which is completely opposite of how it started, he concurs. 
"I think the expansion into two weekends spoke to that and attempted to settle that issue by being more inclusive, which I do think it accomplished. I think it is still solidly representative of how many people love as well as play music around here, and to continue to level the playing field so the newest bands can share stages with those who has stuck it out over the years is part of our living musical tradition." 

And so... The Blowout seems to be here, in Ferndale (and elsewhere) to stay...for now. People will always beat up on the 'burbs, Howitt says, but "...we should see all these neighborhoods and smaller cities as boroughs of the larger Myth of Detroit. It’s Spirit."

"... and then move the tradition forward." 

Further thoughts shared HERE via the Ferndale Friends Newspaper