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  • City Slang: Music review roundup

    Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, Metro Times, 1200 Woodward Heights, Ferndale MI 48220. Email MP3s and streaming links to bcallwood@metrotimes.com. Ricky Rat’s Tokyo Pop/Glitter People (New Fortune) 7” single highlights all that’s great about the Trash Brats guitarist, but also his limitations. The man can write a bubblegum rock ’n’ roll song to match anyone in the city and most beyond. He’s also a killer guitarist, ripping out one throwaway riff after another with reckless abandon. He’s a machine. On his own though, without Trash Brats frontman Brian McCarty, his voice doesn’t have enough strength to do the songs justice. Not that you need to have the greatest voice in the world to sing this stuff – you don’t need to be able to perform vocal gymnastics – but you do have to be able to wail the tunes out. Both of the songs on this single are great, but you can’t help but wonder how much better they would sound with McCarty or somebody similar talking the mic. Still, as they are the songs are great fun. We’re just being picky. The Paper Sound’s Trajectories is a dense, atypically dark Americana-tinged album, unrelenting and […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of buildingdetroit.org, a new website launched by the City of Detroit today to auction off city-owned homes to prospective buyers who pledge to fix them up and move in. “We are moving aggressively to take these abandoned homes and get families living in them again,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement today. “There are a lot of people who would love to move into many of our neighborhoods. Knowing that other people are going to be buying and fixing up the other vacant homes at the same time will make it a lot easier for them to make that commitment.” The website to facilitate the auctions went live this afternoon. The first auction is scheduled to take place Monday, May 5. Officials said in a news release that one home will be auctioned per day, Monday through Friday. Fifteen homes are available for sale on the site, a dozen of which are in the East English Village neighborhood. Any Michigan resident, company, or organization that can do business in the state can bid, according to the website. Properties will be for sale for only one day, with bidding taking place from 8 […]

    The post Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes

    In case you haven’t heard, two of the biggest names in film, Steven Spielberg and John Williams, are collaborating to put on a benefit concert for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra this summer. In case you wanted to go- well, you’re too damn late. The DSO says tickets to the June 14 concert were snapped up in a record-breaking 15 minutes after they went on sale at 9 a.m. today. The DSO has since released this statement to fans who didn’t snag seats: Our apologies to everyone who was unable to buy tickets this morning for our historic benefit concert featuring John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Despite increasing our phone and internet system capacity for the day, a surge of hundreds of ticket buyers purchased tickets in a matter of minutes, filling the phone lines and temporarily maxing out our web servers. After a one-hour pre-sale made available to donors and subscribers at 8am, we released additional seats at 9am to the general public, including seats available for as low as $30. All seats sold out immediately. The concert program seems nothing short of top notch: Williams will conduct the orchestra as it performs some of his most iconic tunes, such […]

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  • Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now

    The schedule for Blowout 17, taking place Wednesday April 30 to Saturday May 3 in Hamtramck, Detroit and Ferndale, is available to see now. Visit MtBlowout.com to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

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  • City Slang: Trash Brats get sleazy at Small’s

    The Trash Brats hardly ever play live anymore, so each show feels like an event. Wandering around Small’s in Hamtramck late Saturday night, there’s a near-carnival atmosphere in the air. The Brats were never supposed to be taken seriously, but years on-and-off the radar have given the band the gift of respect born out of longevity. We’re not being dismissive at all. In fact, no amount of kooky faces from guitarist Ricky Rat and bassist Toni Romeo can hide the fact that these boys can play and the band writes killer bubblegum sleaze-rock tunes. The fact that the venue was packed compared to, say, a recent show by internationally known punk icons Sylvain Sylvain and Glen Matlock (which you would think would attract a similar audience) is testament to the fact that, in Detroit, the Trash Brats command a certain reverence. Before the Trash Brats took to the stage, local punks The Dives kicked off the night with a set of sincere, energetic and well-performed, if standard, punk rock. No frills (besides frontman Ron McPherson’s dapper suit), the band features members of the Junk Monkeys, the Black Mollies and the Joint Chiefs, and it drives through a set of catchy, […]

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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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Best of Detroit 2012

Spend the Night - Staff Picks

Our staff picks for nightlife in Metro Detroit

Best Art Gallery 

Vim and Vigor 

Whitdel Arts

1250 Hubbard St., Detroit; info@whitdelarts.com; whitdelarts.com

Whitdel Arts set out to be a gallery that wouldn't feel too much like a gallery. Yet it's still pretty much a gallery — art will hang on the walls or media will project onto screens or elaborate installations will hang from the ceilings — but this place, run by three esteemed women of the arts, each skilled in her own respective forms, be it photography, printmaking or screenprinting, is the approachable kind of gallery. It's an art space to be sure, but approachable like a community center or, perhaps, a DIY rock venue. There may be wine and cheese, but there's no stuffy art gallery feel here. Whitdel displays established area artists as well as it does up-and-comers — beyond that, it pursues educational programming in the form of various art workshops, also reaching out to DIY artists to inform them on how to be a better self-promoter, how to polish a portfolio, just ... how to do it, the artist's life, in a better, smarter way. Nestled in the first floor of the historic Whitdel Building (a stone's throw from the heart of Mexicantown), this is a humble flower of a local art experiment that bloomed from a branch of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit — and it's a surprisingly refreshing and enlightening place to spend a Friday evening. Take in some art. 

Best Bukowskian 

Watering Hole

Donovan's Pub

3003 W. Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-964-2267

Imagine this. It's midnight and baseball fans decked out in silly orange and blue are crowdin' up your favorite downtown liver-picklin' hole. Hungry? Forget it. Slows Bar BQ is out 'cause it's packed with overfed baseball fans from Howell. You could try to hit LJ's Lounge up the street but it's likely crammed with the same jersey and waistline mix waiting for the queue to clear back at Slows. But, there are safe options for the introverted on the outskirts of (down)town. Enter Donovan's Pub, situated about a half mile up from Slows just before you slip into Mexicantown. More, the nearly vacant area bestows upon the place a cool, soundstage-y, desolate feel, just enough to frighten off the 586ers and 248ists. But inside, it's filled with mirth and booze with no shortage of warm receptions from proprietors or bartenders. The patrons range from career drunks, hipsters and barstool Venuses to off-duty cops, Latino pool-hall commandos and Detroit writers and rockstars. It's like this: cheap beer, keen food and no bullshit conversation. Some call that a community.

Best Dive Bar with a Cocktail Menu

The Painted Lady

2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck; 313-874-2991

Hamtramck's Painted Lady bar has lived a long and charmed life. They've poured beer there since the dawn of the 20th century, and the spot attained local fame as a divey punk club named Lili's for more than 30 years. It's still much the same, serving cheap draft beers and shots of jezynowka brandy, and you'll probably want to dress down and not wear your Sunday best. That said, mirthful owner Andrew Dow has definitely improved the quality of hooch behind the bar, putting a bit more effort into the joint's offerings. There's no cognac, but many varieties of vodka, gin and bourbon grace the bar, as well as some local ingredients, such as Perkins' Pickles and brine. But fear not, boozehounds, other than that, it's pretty much like walking into a bar 10 years ago, starring a cast of drinkers, locals and the occasional alt-weekly journo or two.

Best Neighborhood 

Music Venue 

The Shack

Woodbridge neighborhood, Detroit; woodbridgerecords.com

Say you're out one night wandering through Woodbridge — maybe on your way to a pal's house, maybe on your way to Woodbridge Tavern — and your ears spot the sounds of edgy folk-rock or hip-hop-inflected guitar jams rising from an otherwise innocuous tin building at the corner of Merrick and Trumbull. You've wandered into the world of the Shack. Run by the folks behind Woodbridge Records (home of rock-adventurous downtown fixture acts Noman, the Summer Pledge and I, Crime, among others), the Shack is both a label clubhouse as well as a wink-and-a-nod-invite live music venue. The place exudes the kind of DIY spirit and artisanal, skilled trades ethic that has come to define the neighborhood — and the label. The joint just hosted a double record release party by Woodbridge Records' the Anonymous and the Summer Pledge. The lovely garden out front, the label folks' participation in the community and the constant stream of non-coke-head comers and goers in the 'hood make it seem like a true and well-integrated good neighbor. 

Best Successor to Bohemian Home in Exile 

It doesn't have a name yet

1464 Gratiot Ave., Detroit; newdetroitsounds@hotmail.com 

For a few years, Joel Peterson booked some of Detroit's most adventurous music at the Bohemian National Home on Detroit's west side, from ex-Mothers of Invention to the Sun Ra Arkestra to Human Eye to Nathaniel Mayer. After a less-than-amicable falling out with his associates there, Peterson's Bohemian in Exile series has continued the same free-spirited programming in about a dozen spaces, from the Trumbullplex to the Kerrytown Concert House. After three itinerant years, Peterson and company have a space on Gratiot Avenue in Eastern Market, with plans to open a multipurpose performance room, gallery, café and more. We've heard a lot about building the stage and painting and possible names, but not a firm opening date. Shows on the horizon for May and June include Thollem McDonas with Arrington Dionyso, and separate gigs for free jazz giants Charles Gayle and Joe McPhee — either in exile or the new space.