Monday, February 6, 2012

We're All Here - Thoughts from Blaksmith

"I've never heard/seen anything like that before...."

Brent Smith (a.k.a. "Blaksmith") hear's this line at the end of many a' weekend's night - around 2 a.m., when he's stepping off a stage inside a local venue, sweat-speckled and breathless, having just rapped his head off via one of his two main performance outlets - Passalacqua or Cold Men Young. 

And that's something the stalwart writer (and supporter of the scene) extends to many other local groups, including: Illy Mack, Sheefy McFly, The Ashleys, / Doc Waffles, / Ferndale Acid Scene, / Clear Soul Forces, / Pink Lightning, / Detroit CYDI

and...House Phone (formally known as James And The Rainbros).

When he got to that last band name, it triggered a poignant memory for Smith, who wrote to me earlier this morning, a bit from some of these bands/artists' backstory:

Blaksmith: "James (Link, singer--House Phone) and I met at a house party in Woodbridge in 2008...
One of those Democratic Society-Red Cup extravaganzas hosted by Michael Shallal, Katie Nolde and Aaron Petkov (now leading Occupy Detroit organizers). The basement was packed and the ceiling was low. James Linck, Ben Sturley on bass (Jessica Hernandez), Steve Kenzo on guitar (illy mack) and Dave Kenzo on drums...

HearJames & the Rainbros - "Chase You" 

...followed by a cover of Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" stunned me. Reggae, soul, a brazilian afro, white kids giggin' to Stevie Wonder like it was a black family reunion...a cultural explosion! I had never seen anything like this before.

On a side note... Noman also played that night. It was Ernie's first time on bass with the band..."

Ernie (Erno the Inferno) Guerra...current DJ (and recording collaborator) of Passalacqua.

Smith, at this time, was promoting monthly variety shows at 1515 Broadway. Newly inspired from the Rainbros set, he set to organizing Hoodstock '09 at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit "a musical melting pot to unite fans of all genres, with performers coming from cities ranging from Rochester to Riverview..." realized as an eight-hour long show/fundraiser promoting "the many sounds of Detroit."

Smith says that "...Sectarian discourse with other organizers of the show prevented it from happening again" in 2010. "That's when I became more focused with Cold Men Young and later Passalacqua- both groups strving off of a new overture...brand marketing expert Steve Stout calls it "The Tanning Of America".

Our dialogue was inspired, firstly, by the Mardis Gras celebration, coming Saturday Feb 11th to PJ's Lager House, spearheaded by the Detroit Party Marching Band... Smith was, at the end of the day, reflecting upon the need for promotion and further unification (in/throughout the scene) in that regard.

Preparing for a show like Saturday's, one that is inspired by the DPMB's ethos of expanding the special inspiration of spontaneous music, is, Smith said, always exciting.

Seeing/experiencing the explosive rock-n-roll-tinged marchers can be a unique experience. Co-founder John Notarianni spoke of breaking down barriers tied to how we typically perceive a live show. "There's the visual barrier...a band on the stage and an audience down on the floor..." which is broken down by DPMB's inherent tendency to roam the entire space, take it over, spill outside and going down to "crash" another venue. "Then there's the auditory barrier...the music goes through wires into amplifiers and out of PA's...but, with DPMB, having the music actually happening right in your face," (with a trumpet, a french horn, or sousaphone), "how that sound feels, right up at you, is very powerful. Sometimes people will be watching this as a passive audience, and you get right up to them, push through them even, while you're playing..."

People respond to this kind of energy... which includes the energy of the likes of Charlie Slick, Patrick Elkins, Run Jit...and Passalacqua (among many others)...

"I will walk away inspired," Smith exclaimed. "Bryan (aka Mister, of Passalacqua) will walk away inspired. More importantly, the people that Passalacqua'll bring out will see that in this scene there's an inclusive process..."

"...We're all here."


More notes on that Mardis Gras celebration (click here...) - there might be a fortune teller...there might also be burlesque... and there's definitely going to be free gumbo and jambalaya (at least when the doors open... - 9pm at PJ's Lager House - 2/11).

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