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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 2011

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Photo: Marvin Shaouni

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Spend the Night - Staff Picks

From upscale cocktails to dives to rawk 'n' roll, our fave nocturnal haunts

 

Best Dive Bar

The Painted Lady
2930 Jacob St., Hamtramck, 313-874-2991; myspace.com/paintedlady

Do you remember what bars used to be like? Dusty, dirty, dark places where shifty characters gave you the fish-eye as you walked in? Places where any decent person would about-face and walk out? Where illicit behavior was warranted and winked at? Don't remember? Then you should stay as far away from the Painted Lady as possible. But if you want to join the ranks of the down and out, the losers, the screamers, the whiskey-soaked crowd mulling over failed dreams and washing the bullshit down, you couldn't do better than this venerable Hamtramck watering hole. Best of all are the oddball groups of crust punks, hipsters and, heck, even full-on Zen Buddhists who seem to enjoy crashing the fun. No yuppies allowed. Use the side door.

 

Best Low-Key Bar Night

Tuesdays in the Forest at the Loving Touch
22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-546-3696

For the last few years, champion bar manager and community energizer Carey Gustafson has invited musicians, music writers and certain music scenesters to haul their music collection to the Loving Touch — your best bet to find a drunk musician any day of the week — and play DJ in "the forest" for a night. The thing is, no matter who's designing the night's playlist, the atmosphere is perfectly rounded out by conversations that swell mostly around music — good music — by chatty folk into what they're talking about.

 

Best Way To Have Concert-Quality Sound In Your Home

Pay musicians to play there

Andrew Rothman gives concerts under the banner of the Detroit Groove Society with his wife, Diane, in their West Bloomfield home; Danilo Perez, Cedar Walton, Michael Weiss are a few of the 20 or so artists they've presented in the last six or seven years. He shared a few pieces of advice for the prospective home-concert promoter when we contacted him the other day. He's a jazz fan, but the advice works regardless of genre. First, realize "the Internet is always your friend" for contacting artists. Second, figure out who is already booked to perform in the area so that their major travel is already paid for; the idea of staying in town an extra day to play in a relaxed enviroment for an attentive audience may be enticing for an affordable fee. The Rothmans charge $40 for adults, $15 for students, and get 35-45 attendees per concert, which more or less breaks even other than food and refreshments for the party. The most important thing, he said, is to remember it's a labor of love. Get on DGS e-mail list by contacting arothman@comcast.net.

 

Best Fire Guild

Detroit Fire Guild
detroitfireguild.com

OK, so there aren't any other "fire guilds," but that doesn't mean this troupe of outlaw circus and fire performers hasn't earned this honor. Rising from the ashes of the former Fire Fabulon group, this group of 20 to 30 Burning Man alums has been playing everywhere from Theatre Bizarre to Hustler Club, surprising people everywhere they go. Lately, they've upped their game, putting on the Winter Ball at the Crofoot's Eagle Theater in Pontiac, a full-on circus with fire dancers, gypsies, clowns and pagan revelry. Don't miss their upcoming show at the Crofoot (9 p.m. on April 30), The Fires of Beltane, a pagan-themed springtime spectacular with trapeze acts and a "human sacrifice." Their goal is to create an immersive experience where the audience wonders where the hell they are, or may even join the out-of-control fun.

 

Best Place to Understand What "garage-ist theater" Means

Planet Ant
2357 Caniff St., Hamtramck; 313-365-4948

Despite Hamtown's dire fiscal straits, the local amateur theater has managed to stay afloat with eye-widening spirit and plenty of blue-collar sweat equity. Kudos to them for that, to be sure, considering the local failure rate of indie enterprises. Located on Caniff — which is, you'll note, Hamtramck's Broadway — where it's still kinda Detroit, the theater's like any other art that manages to thrive in the city; it's gritty and hard-won, but this one's blessed with performers who trade in authenticity. Besides, what are the options?

 

Best Old Speakeasy

Tom's Tavern
10093 W. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit; 313-862-9768

Founder Tom Lucas bought the building in 1928, when Prohibition was law, and when Seven Mile was a dirt road. An astonishing 83 years later, Tom's survives, despite problems. In the last 10 years they've dealt with failed city lighting, a half-dozen break-ins, stolen power hookups, cut gas and water lines and, a few years ago, a car crash that caved in the front of the tavern and killed a woman on the sidewalk. How does it go on living? It's because the tavern's loyal patrons step into the breach whenever the bar is endangered, as volunteers and benefactors. It helps that the tavern has always attracted interesting people, and celeb news anchor Bill Bonds and pizza baron Mike Ilitch have been past patrons and supporters. Owner Ron Gurdjian, who purchased the place from Lucas in 2001, has overseen some radical effort to keep the building safe, and says, after almost a decade of work, it's "almost ready for bad weather." Open mostly on weekends, it's most crowded around Babe Ruth's birthday, when the walls are decked out with Ruth-related quotes and history.

 

Best Karaoke

Auto Tune Karaoke
autotunekaraoke.net

Every Monday night at the Majestic Complex's Garden Bowl and Thursday nights at the River Place Bar, karaoke innovator Adam Pressley hosts Auto Tune Karaoke, where, as he puts it, "We can all be just like Kanye!" Kanye's too cool to have this much fun. The thrills here are cheap and true. Take your best shot at MJ, ABBA or Morris Day, all natural fits for the Auto-Tune treatment — hey, just like radio stars! — or digitize your voice to create playful contrasts and redo Bobby Brown, Björk or the Beatles.

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