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  • Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit

    Former American Idol contestant Vonzell Solomon weighs in on twerking, natural hair & CEO status. In 2005, recording artist Vonzell “Baby V” Solomon embarked on a journey that changed her life. At the age of 20, Vonzell made it to the top three on American Idol before she was eliminated. But that was not the beginning nor the end of her journey to stardom. Vonzell is one of more than two dozen artists on tour with YouTube sensation Todrick Hall, who is a former Idol contestant as well. Todrick gained notoriety for his fast food drive-thru songs and also for producing parody videos  —  based on popular Broadway musicals and songs. His tour, uniquely entitled Twerk Du Soleil (translation: twerk of the sun), is a combination of his popular YouTube spoofs. Both Vonzell and her ratchet alter ego,Boonquisha Jenkins, made an appearance in Twerk Du Soleil,which stopped in Detroit July 23 at Saint Andrews Hall. Boonquisha opened the show by facilitating a twerking competition among the audience. Next, Vonzell made a reappearance singing a fan favorite – Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing.” Later, Boonquisha came on stage screaming “It’s so cold in the D! You gotta be from the D to […]

    The post Twerk du Soleil shakes up Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race

    If a poll released this week is any indication of how the August 5 primary election will turn out, current Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano has reason to worry, Fox 2 reports. Ficano, who’s seeking a third term, polled in fourth place — behind former Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans, Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Wayne County Commissioner Phil Cavanaugh, according to Fox 2. The poll by Strategic Solutions LLC, showed 6.7 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Ficano, which isn’t so bad: He finished ahead of County Commissioner Kevin McNamara (who came in at No. 6) and someone literally described as “a candidate not named here” (who polled at No. 5.) If you’re planning to head to the polls — which you should! — and need some input on the candidates and ballot proposals, you can read for our election coverage in this week’s Metro Times.

    The post Poll shows Bob Ficano behind in Wayne County Executive race appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • A Mad Decent Mixtape

    Mad Decent Block Party will roll through town on Saturday, August 16, bringing to town artists like Dillon Francis, Diplo, Flosstradamus, RiFF RAFF, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. Thugli, a Canadian duo, will perform on the Toronto leg of the tour and they put together a 45 minute mix that features songs by some of the tour’s featured artists as well as a host of others.  Listen to it here. 

    The post A Mad Decent Mixtape appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders

    Detroit’s Tangent Gallery will host a special event this Saturday, July 26 in hopes of raising money for the local faction of an international nonprofit, Burners without Borders Detroit. Breaking Borders is a one-evening-only event that will feature live music, performance, and art. Satori Circus will perform along with spoken word artist ZakAndWhatArmy. Music by Tartanic, Dixon’s Violin, and Servitor. Fire dancers, hoop performers, and acrobats will provide a certain mysticism to the ambiance as old Victorian steampunk and tribal art is shown in the main gallery. There will also be a runway fashion show and the evening will end with a dubstep rave featuring DJ Forcefeed and Dotty. Truly, there’s something for everyone. Perhaps more importantly, there will be a full service bar. The event is open to those 18 and older and IDs will be checked at the door. Admission is $25 at the door, or $20 with the donation of a canned good. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the party goes until 2 a.m. A 20 percent commission will be taken from all art sold at this event and donated to Burners without Borders. The Tangent Gallery is located at 715 Milwaukee Ave., Detroit; 313-873-2955; tangentgallery.com.

    The post Tangent Gallery to host Breaking Borders appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project

    By Amanda Mooney There’s a lot that goes into producing a film, and unless you are a filmmaker you really have no idea. Writing, casting, finding a location, shooting, and editing; each step of the process can take days, months, and sometimes years to complete. Can you imagine doing it ALL in just 48 hours? The 48 Hour Film Project is an annual competition that takes place all over the world in various cities. According to Mike Madigan, head of the Detroit 48 Hour chapter, the city is one of the largest participating in terms of the number of teams. The competing teams go in blind as to what kind of film they will be producing, with no creative planning beyond getting a cast and crew together, Madigan explained. “They pick a genre out of a hat, and they get a line, a prop, and a character. And they have to incorporate that within a short film, that’s usually between 4 to 7 minutes long. And they have the timeframe of doing it all within 48 hours,” said Madigan, “So all the creative process of it all has to happen within that 48 hour–writing a script, putting it together, editing–to […]

    The post 48 to film — behind the scenes at the 48 Hour Film Project appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space

    Church: Revival is the new project by local rap duo Passalacqua (aka Bryan Lackner and Brent Smith), but it’s more than just a new Passalacqua release. The rappers teamed up with siblings Jax Anderson (frontwoman of rockers Flint Eastwood) and Seth Anderson, who together form the songwriting team called Syblyng (naturally). The result is a cycle of songs that promises to be darker than Passalacqua’s material so far. The project will make a live debut on Saturday, July 26 at a brand new venue space at the Detroit Bus Co.’s building Eight & Sand, and they will premiere the Right Bros.-directed video for the track “Baptism” as well. Other performances include Tunde Olaniran and Open Mike Eagle, and DJ sets by Nothing Elegant, Dante LaSalle, and Charles Trees. We met up the two duos at Eight & Sand to check out the new space and to talk about the project with all parties involved. Metro Times: How long have you been working together? Jax Anderson: Seth and I are constantly writing songs together. We want to push in the direction of becoming songwriters more frequently. This is our first project that we took on to co-write everything together. We’re basically just a songwriting entity. We won’t play live that […]

    The post Passalacqua debut dark project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

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Best of Detroit 2012

Spend the Night - Staff Picks

Our staff picks for nightlife in Metro Detroit

If, like us, you're into cheap buzzes and greasy-delicious, hangover-minimizing meals at night's end, take note: Honest John's kitchen swings its doors until 2 a.m. (Oh, why don't other local watering holes do same?) Also, they serve up your basic 40 of Old Milwaukee, which works mighty sweetly in a pinch. Sure, the cost may be double what you pay for same at a reasonable liquor store. But this is about convenience, yo. Besides, if you're on unemployment and shootin' pool with pals, you'll want a minimum bar tab. If you're a go-for-it day drinker into breakfast, John's opens at 7 a.m. daily. 

Best Free Thing to Do on a Friday Night for WSU Students 

The Detroit Institute of Arts

5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-7900; dia.org

The Detroit Institute of Arts, for most, probably doesn't mesh well with your typical escapist collegiate lifestyle. But, after book-pounding the entire week, broke students looking to get it up for an evening that fits nonexistent budgets, the DIA is an idea that smokes. Open till 10 p.m. Fridays, with free admission for Detroit residents (proof of residency required) the DIA is more than just gallery-gazing on the cheap at one of the finest art collections in the country. There are also free drawing lessons, free music performances, and sometimes other various gratis events pop up too. Movies at the lovely Detroit Film Theatre don't drain your pockets (nor your IQ) either: $6.50 for students with I.D. 

Best Proponent of Local and National Authors and Oddballs 

M.L. Liebler

We love his unironic name-droppage of Kerouac and Keats and Moby Grape, and his unjaded ear for music new and old, and the hours he spends in local record stores, and that glorious snow-white facial hair that's unrivaled anywhere this side of Mark Twain. We also respect that he's an award-winning author who can write, teach, perform — and sometimes even sing and dance! — with the best of 'em. But what often goes unnoticed and should be applauded is how M.L. Liebler is himself a tireless and selfless proponent of local and national authors, big and small, published or unpublished. In fact, he often hosts nights that lift unknowns onto little pedestals that otherwise wouldn't exist. Whether it's bringing in old Ed Sanders to the Wayne State Student Center or hosting readings featuring young poets at the Scarab Club, or those spirited Detroit Tonight Live shows at the Jazz Café that mix rock 'n' roll and jazz with great readings, Liebler brings to our area folks who should be known to anyone with even the slightest interest in literature. And he does this in unpretentious and spirited ways; he doesn't care what people think. Good show!

Best Introduction to Opera

Dr. Opera's Pre-Show Talks, 

Michigan Opera Theatre

1526 Broadway, Detroit; 313-237-7464; michiganopera.org

There's one more set of performances in this year's Michigan Opera Theatre season — Ruggero Leoncavallo's 1892 classic I Pagliacci, running May 12-20. It's also the last chance of the season for the uninitiated to be ushered into the art form of opera by Wallace Peace, aka Dr. Opera. The good doctor operates via pre-show talks that come with the price of admission and start an hour before curtain time. Peace delivers the important musicological context and previews snippets of the music to come, for sure. But, moreover, he makes sure you understand, as only a natural raconteur can, that opera's over-the-top yarns of love, lust, longing, loss, treachery, betrayal, adultery, greed and mayhem are rollicking good fun, not to mention the precondition for shamelessly ravishing music. His crowd is mostly staunch opera fans, but for the curious and newbies, there's no better welcome to the circle of devotees. 

Best Place for Curious Claustrophobics to Feel Cozy With Killer Music Programing

Woodruff's Bar

36 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; woodruffsbar.com

This Ypsi venue has lots of space, but not all amassed in one area, but that doesn't take away from its cozy ambience, which is particularly augmented by the stone fireplace that stands in the room's center like an ornate tree stump. This place is nearing its 18-month anniversary. (What is that, the tin anniversary?) It attracts much of the same Elbow Room crowd, but also a notably wider breadth of musical performing styles and talents — from, yes, indie-rock and neo-folk to rousing bluegrass and punk, and even jazz and some electro-dance from time to time. Situated in the heart of Depot Town, just off the train tracks, Woodruff's has made admirable efforts to foster regular rotation of engaging weekly programming — from new-wave, post-punk DJ Nights (Absolute Beginners) to Hairy Karaokee nights to acoustic open-mic nights, even a monthly drag show! This is a great room; yes, the vintage arcade playing space is a bit cramped and it is awkward dancing around the old fireplace and maybe you feel even more awkward standing to the side of the stage in front of barstool revelers, but, on particularly packed nights, if you add in the pool table and loitering-friendly floorspace near the usual merch table area, this building can feel like you're in four or five different rooms at once. Eclectic entertainment and curiously cozy. 

Best Irish Bar, Kinda

St. CeCe's

1426 Bagley St., Detroit; 313-962-2121; saintceces.com

So, what happens when you mix the cozy, neighborhood ambience of a proper Irish pub with a welcoming staff and a cast of regulars who remind you that not all Detroit bars obey the rules of either hipster-baiting or divey obscurity? St. Cece's is what happens. (See, St. Cece is the patron saint of whiskey.) The former Baile Corcaigh at the corner of Bagley and Trumbull (just up the street from Hello Records) is a stained-glass and wood-paneled port in the nightlife storm. A joint where you can have a conversation, swap a few jokes and feel left-in even when no one actually knows your name. There's a crackling fireplace to warm by when the weather is beating you down and the smell of the fireplace remains and adds an olfactory comfort even when the temps are balmy. Co-owners Colleen and Celeste Belanger (along with brother Jerry) know what the hell they're doing when it comes to running a bar (see also: Cliff Bell's, Park Bar). And any joint that can A) be the place where Van Dyke Parks ends up holding court at closing time and B) keeps the lights on long enough to let him play an impromptu concert for an audience of 15 has a lot to recommend it out of the gate.

Best Place to Drink

Like a Viking

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co 

5919 Chicago Rd., Warren; 586-979-8361; kbrewery.com

Neighborhood micro breweries are becoming commonplace these days but while everybody and their cousin can whip up a decent IPA, it takes someplace special to offer up a whole menu of mead, the ancient beverage made from fermented stuff and honey. That magical joint is Kuhnhenn Brewing Co, a convivial wood-lined drinking hall, which is one of the super coolest things in all of industrial Warren. Along with a delicious, ever-evolving lineup of finely crafted beers and wine, there is that incredible mead, served in a dizzying array of flavors, the sort of hearty drink that the Mighty Thor or Lemmy might chug a barrel of before slaying an army of frost giants. The adventurous might also sample the award-winning Fourth Demntia Olde Ale, a thick, highly sophisticated concoction with notes of chocolate, figs and burnt coffee, tasting something like the bottom of a wizard's cauldron. It's a powerful brew to tackle, but at 13.5 percent ABV, you'll probably only need one. Probably.

Best Drinking Trend

Craft cocktails

The cocktail is to drinks what jazz is to music — our distinctly American contribution to the art form. For decades, that heritage was obscured by shelves of flavored vodka and gallons of artificial food coloring. No longer. Sure, Detroit caught up to the craft cocktail resurgence a bit late, but 2011 was unquestionably our year for the cocktail: Fresh squeezed juices, rye whiskey, house-made syrups, perfectly cubed ice and herb-infused booze have arrived. And they're here to stay. Sidle up to the bars at the Sugar House in Detroit, the Oakland in Ferndale, the Last Word in Ann Arbor, or a half-dozen other spots and see what's shaken — or stirred. 

Best Place to Play 

With a Mother

RGB Trio's Thursday Jam at Bert's Marketplace

2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030

So you're a musician looking to up your cred in the musical version of Six Degrees of Separation? The RGB Trio's Thursday jazz (mostly) jam at Bert's is a one-stop of Kevin Baconian importance. Bassist Ralphe Armstrong is a former Mother of Invention, former member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, sideman to Miles Davis, Jean Luc Ponty, Aretha Franklin, James Carter, etc. (He's also a son of late roots giant Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong.) Drummer Gayelynn McKinney hails from the musical McKinney clan (she's a daughter of the late jazz-scene sage and Tribe member Harold McKinney), is a member of Grammy-nominated Straight Ahead, and has played with folks from Geri Allen to Benny Golson (the latter just a bit ago at the Dirty Dog — smokin' sets there). Pianist Bill Meyer is a former musical director for Martha Reeves and go-to guy for such ambitious projects as the Mosaic Youth Theatre's Motown show (see above). Plus you never know who else will show up to jam (Martha Reeves, James Carter, Larry Smith, out-of-towners looking for after-the-show action). 

Best Suburban Punk Hangout That's Not a Joke

Woodward Avenue Brewers

22646 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-546-3696; thewabsite.com

Aside from brewing some of the best Mitten-made beer and beyond, the WAB is a major meet-up for Ferndale punks, hipsters and indie kids. With the Loving Touch nearby, the vibe of the whole place is very punk rock in the sense that it's inviting and warm like a UK local, but there's food, a happy hour and an inside aesthetic that's both fetching and cozy. Staff's cool too (includes Stevie Michael of the Grande Nationals and Running With Panthers). Live bands perform on occasion, but this place is about hanging with pals and like-minded souls. Drew Podgorski of Running With Panthers says that, "The WAB is the punk rock Cheers."

Best Club That's 

Not Open at All

Old Nasty Yacht Club

West Fort Street, Detroit

Two years ago, Detroiter Patrick Jarvis and two friends pooled together a few thousand dollars and bought a building on Fort Street — apparently, just for laughs. They hadn't realized the building was quite so decrepit, and weren't sure what to do with the property, other than chase out the occasional crackhead who broke in looking for loot. When some of their friends decided to join the Detroit Yacht Club, Jarvis and company jokingly decided to create their own yacht club. And so they spraypainted the words "Old Nasty Yacht Club" on the front of the building, complete with a little image of a boat. Something about the tag captured people's imaginations, and it wound up on local artist Scott Hocking's bad graffiti photo blog (scotthocking.com/badgraffiti.html). Some east siders even starting printing up novelty T-shirts with a logo and the nonexistent club's name. Jarvis says, "We found out about that and we were really confused. Like, what? You're not even members!"

Best Night to Laugh

Thursday

Various locations

You've got to have a sense of humor to tough it out in a town where even the manholes are steaming mad. Fortunately there is a pretty vibrant standup comedy scene bubbling up here, one that's whacked, raw and as fucked-up as our rusty burg. While big-name headliners own weekends, Thursday night's ripe is for emerging talent slugging it out at the various open mics that can be found everywhere from the east side to Hamtrammck, where the Painted Lady sports an "alternative" showcase hosted by tough-talking derby girl Lauren Uchalik. The wildest of them all is at O'Mara's in Berkley, a cozy brunch spot by day, but an inventive, rudely funny showcase on Thursday nights, hosted by the unpredictable Harry Artin, who stokes the rowdy comedy spirit of the late, lamented Club Bart Thursday show.

Best In-Yer-Face 

Music Venue, Detroit

PJ's Lager House

1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-4668; 

pjslagerhouse.com

With the Hamtown's Belmont shuttered and various upscale-esque venues now littering the metro area, spit 'n' sawdust venues such as the Lager House, which are an essential part of Detroit music, get more and more precious. Lager House owner PJ is trying his damnedest to keep that spirit moving forward, and he's succeeding thanks to a great sound system and a consistently high-quality list of killer, under-the-radar bands from here and afar that choose the venue whenever possible. To wit: Lettercamp singer Liz Wittman says the Lager's "a no B.S. place to play. You show up, you set up, you play. It's also a pretty intimate setting, whether you are playing a show or seeing one. There's little disconnect between the audience and the artist. I dig that."

Best In-Yer-Face 

Music Venue, Burbs

Berkley Front

3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; 248-547-3331

Berkley's a fairly quiet little burb, but with a little rockabilly aesthetic and hip-hop development. Even the barber shop, the Chop Shop, sorta fits the 'billy image — hot rods and Morrissey (?!) on the wall, Elvis crooning in the background. The Berkley Front, while not exclusively a rockabilly venue, has that sort of old-school feel about it. The beer selection is great, the downstairs bar is a sweet place to shoot billiards, and the bands and hip-hop artists who play upstairs are consistently worth seeing. No shit. Jeff Howitt of Duende! even compares the venue to the legendary Manhattan rock 'n' roll launch spot. He says you can "close the deal downstairs in the Bier Garden, then you can go upstairs and it's like Max's Kansas City." You best believe I'm in love — L-U-V.

Best Michigan Beer Bar, Downriver

The Rockery

1175 Eureka Rd., Wyandotte; 734-281-4629; rockerywyandotte.com

Specializing in Michigan brews, beer nuts can expect suds from everyplace from Arbor Brewing to Short's, as well as cider from J.K.'s Scrumpy and meads from B. Nektar Meadery. The four taps all pour Michigan beer, and there are more than 90 Michigan bottles to choose from. Burgers, chicken strips and other finger foods will help bring you back from the brink. In addition to live music Friday nights and karaoke Saturday nights, they regularly host events, posted on their website, that can be quite interesting. Tastings bring in local brewers, offering quaffers the chance to taste many different brews for a fixed price; past events have included Frog Island Brewery. It's also where the Downriver Women's Craft Beer Lovers Society often meets, and their inaugural guest was the first certified female cicerone, Annette May, from Merchant's Fine Wine in Dearborn. 

Best Stylish Smorgasbord of Local Coffee, Music, Beer, Art

Café Ollie

42 E. Cross St., Ypsilanti; 734-482-8050

Café Ollie's just a hopscotch down from the main live music venue in Ypsi's Depot Town; it's got a somewhat heavy door, echoey wood floors, hot zingy coffee and a fine menu friendly to all, particularly vegans. It sounds like your typical college town hub — before you find out how much more it's got going for it, such as tall bookshelves displaying various local releases, CDs, cassettes and vinyl (7-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch). The shelf is consistently updated month-to-month, keeping pace with the ever-industrious community of DIY-musicians situated in the Ann Arbor-Ypsi area (and beyond). A place for lunch as much a place for expanding your engagement with local culture, a place for homework and laptop clattering as much a place to network and soundboard potential song ideas with new collaborators. Over the winter they started a Sunday night acoustic open-mic night ("Ypsi Facto") and for Detroiters heading westward to a Woodruff's show or something at Ann Arbor's Blind Pig or the Ark, this is an ideal place to stop, just north of the freeway, to caffeinate before your night's planned high jinks.