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  • The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit

    This Saturday, audiophiles across the world will venture out to their favorite independent record stores in search of limited releases that quickly become collectors items. The third Saturday of April marks the fairly new international holiday Record Store Day. There are certainly dos and don’ts to know for RSD — like where to shop, and how to shop. That’s right, there is an etiquette to shopping on Record Store Day and violating that code makes you look like a real asshole. In my experience of celebrating Record Store Day, I’ve seen stores use a few different tactics as far as stocking the special releases. Some establishments will set up a table, somewhere in the store, where a few shoppers at a time can flip through records in a calm and contained manner. Other places will have a similar setup, with all the releases at a table, but shoppers ask the store employees for the releases they want. It’s like a record nerd stock exchange. This process gets loud, slightly confusing and incredibly annoying — this is where elbows start getting thrown. Then, there are places that put the releases on the shelves, usually categorized by size — twelve inches with the twelve inches, seven inches with the seven inches and […]

    The post The Record Store Day Guide for metro Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled

    The Detroit Electronic Music Festival, which was supposed to be making a triumphant return this year, has been canceled. A statement on the website says that the festival will be back in 2015. Back in November, Ford Field hosted an announcement party for DEMF, where it was revealed that a new DEMF festival would take place at Campus Martius Park in Detroit over the July 4th weekend. “I’m proud to be involved in the biggest and best electronic music festival in the world,” said Juan Atkins. “The future’s here. This is techno scene.” Not the immediate future, apparently. The DEMF people claim that the M-1 rail construction is partially to blame for the cancellation/12-month-postponement. Read the full statement here. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: DEMF 2014 canceled appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards

    Despite a turbulent 2013 which saw Metro Times change owners, move buildings and change editor twice, we picked up eight awards at the Society of Professional Journalists Awards on Wednesday evening. The big winner was Robert Nixon, design manager, who picked up a first place for “Feature Page Design (Class A)” for our Josh Malerman cover story, first for “Cover Design (Class A)” for our Halloween issue (alongside illustrator John Dunivant), and a second in that same category for our annual Lust issue. In the news categories our esteemed former news editor and current contributing writer Curt Guyette won third in “General News Reporting” and third in “Best Consumer/Watchdog” – both Class A – for the Fairground Zero and Petcoke Series respectively. Music & Culture Editor Brett Callwood placed third for his Josh Malerman cover story in the “Best Personality Profile (Class A)” category, and former editor Bryan Gottlieb picked up a couple of Class C awards for “Editorial Writing” and “Headline Writing” (third and second, respectively). We were also pleased to learn that our investigative reporter Ryan Felton won first place and an honorable mention for work published while at the Oakland Press. The MT ship is steady now […]

    The post Metro Times wins heavy at the SPJ Awards appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval

    In this week’s Metro Times we took a look at the state legislature’s role in Detroit’s ongoing bankruptcy — in particular, how it must approve a $350 million pledge for the so-called “grand bargain” to remain intact. And, with last night’s announcement of a significant deal between the city and Detroit’s pension boards and retiree groups, the ball is Lansing’s court now. The new deal, first reported by the Freep, would cut general employees monthly pension checks by 4.5 percent and eliminate their cost-of-living increases. Police and fire retirees would see no cuts to monthly checks, while their cost-of-living increases would be reduced from 2.25 percent to 1 percent. Under the original offer, police and fire retirees cuts were as high as 14 percent, with general retirees as high as 34 percent, that is, if the groups rejected the “grand bargain,” an $816 million proposal funded by foundations, the state, and the DIA to shore up pensions. The sweeter deal for pensions, though, it must be noted, entirely relies on the state legislature approving $350 million for Detroit’s bankruptcy.  And while this broke after Metro Times went to press, that was the focal point of this week’s News Hits column — so, it’s worth repeating: The […]

    The post Detroit’s grand bargain still needs Lansing’s approval appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday

    This Saturday, April 19, is Record Store Day, and there is plenty going on in metro Detroit and Michigan. Of special interest to us is Chiodos’ 7” single “R2ME2/Let Me Get You A Towel,” Mayer Hawthorne & Shintaro Skamoto’s 7” “Wine Glass Woman/In a Phantom,” Chuck Inglish & Action Bronson’s 7” “Game Time,” Chuck Inglish & Chance the Rapper’s 7” “Glam,” Chuck Inglish & Chromeo’s 7” “Legs,” Chuck Inglish, Mac Miller & Ab-Soul’s 7” “Easily,” James Williamson’s 7” “Open Up and Bleed/Gimme Some Skin,” Black Milk’s 12” “Glitches in the Break,” Mayer Hawthorne’s 10” “Jaded Inc.,” Wayne Kramer & the Lexington Arts Ensemble’s 12” “Lexington,” and best of all, Ray Parker Jr.’s 10” “Ghostbusters.” We wrote about James Williamson’s release this week. Go shop. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Local releases for Record Store Day on Saturday appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May

    Margaret Doll Rod will celebrate the release of her new EP, Margaret, with a show at PJ’s Lager House on Saturday, May 10. A statement reads, “The EP contains 3 new original songs and one Chrome Cranks cover with Italian actress Asia Argento singing background vocals. Margaret moved to Italy after the end of the Demolition Doll Rods where she still lives touring and performing festivals in Europe. The Dollrods were a Garage Rock force for over 20 years, opening for Iggy, Jon Spencer, The Scientist, The Monks and The Cramps. Margaret was the front person and principal songwriter for The Dollrods. Her chief musical foil was Danny Kroha, who joined the Demolition Doll Rods after the now legendary Gories called it quits. Margaret’s sister, Christine, on drums, rounded out the legendary trio. Margaret will do a special performance in the round that night with a 360 degree revolving stage and special guest DJ Adam Stanfel.” The bill will also feature the Stomp Rockets and the Volcanos. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Margaret Doll Rod to play EP release show in May appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Stir It Up

Treme and the sounds of revival

Lifeblood of New Orleans rejuvenates with its music

Photo: Photo by Paul Schraldi, HBO, License: N/A

Photo by Paul Schraldi, HBO

In 2004, I crashed on my cousin Frank's couch for a week at his home on St. Philip Street in New Orleans. This was a year before Hurricane Katrina, and gentrification was taking root in the neighborhood. Contractors were busy converting duplex "shotgun" houses into single homes, in most cases converting the two three-room flats into a six-room configuration more attractive to middle-class buyers. 

Frank had a bicycle that I used to get around town that week. One evening I borrowed the bike and headed down St. Philip in the direction of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and all that. After a couple of blocks the streetscape took a downturn. The houses were ragged and groups of people I assumed to be drug dealers stood on corners. I paid little attention to them and headed on my way.

Later, on returning to my cousin's house, he was livid. He said that had I gone in any other direction it would have been OK — that I had gone into a dangerous neighborhood and could have been killed. As it turned out I had gone into Treme.

The Treme neighborhood is now familiar to millions of non-New Orleanians due to the popular HBO program named for it. Treme, which follows a diverse group of people as they attempt to recover and put their lives back together after the devastating Katrina, is going into its third season. As part of the buildup to this season the concert tour "A Night in Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans" stops Friday at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor. The lineup — Rebirth Brass Band, Donald Harrison Jr., Glen David Andrews, James "12" Andrews, Dr. Michael White and Cyril Neville — presents a wide swath of New Orleans music. Most of the performers on tour have appeared in the TV show. 

Trombonist Glen Andrews is one musician whose life changed profoundly after the flood. He kicked a drug habit and became a community leader fighting to save the traditional New Orleans neighborhoods. He was raised in Treme and found himself living in a trailer in the aftermath of the flood. He sees resilience in the people there. 

"I saw the citizens of New Orleans rebuild this city brick by brick," says Andrews. "We will never let our culture die. If we let New Orleans die it's like France losing Paris. The reason I am who I am is old cats. I've been paying traditional jazz all my life and coming from the Treme neighborhood I got to know that music."

Andrews was 25 when Katrina hit. He'd been a street musician and a sideman for much of his life, but living through the disaster taught him he needed to change his ways. In addition to being a compelling speaker and a leader of political demonstrations, he focused on the brass band and traditional music that he'd grown up with. Andrews now leads his band in weekly shows at Preservation Hall in New Orleans and on tours worldwide. I had to schedule my phone interview with him around his time on the set of Treme.

"The show helps New Orleans," says Andrews. "The city is still thriving with culture. When people come to New Orleans, instead of staying in the French Quarter, now they want to go to Treme. It's the best thing that could happen to us and musicians and me as a representative of that neighborhood. The show exposes me to 5 to 10 million people every week."

But Andrews sees the downside of his hometown too. "New Orleans is back, but we have a lot of problems, crime problems."

He likens some New Orleans issues to things going on in Detroit. He was in Michigan recently and saw news about people stealing copper wire from light poles. He also heard about plans to downsize Detroit and stop services to some parts of the city. That's like parts of New Orleans, he says, "They have no plans for these places to come back."

Some of those negatives weigh on the mind of clarinetist Dr. Michael White, too. "I'm just trying to get my head around why 10 people got shot last night," he told me. He got the number wrong, 16 people were shot and two killed in five different incidents in New Orleans the Night of Oct. 31. We didn't get that on Halloween night here, but it sounds like the kind of news we wake up to from time to time.

White is probably the most pure traditionalist among the "Night in Treme" performers. The Rebirth Brass Band mixes their sound with funk and hip hop. Saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr. is a modern jazz player, although he weaves in traditional black Indian music and has collaborated with hip-hop artists. Trumpeter James "12" Andrews (brother of Trombone Shorty and cousin to Glen David Andrews) is a protégé of the singer-songwriter-producer Allen Toussaint (author of "Southern Nights," "Working in a Coalmine," etc.). Singer-percussionist Cyril Neville comes from the legendary Meters funk band and his R&B classic family group. White, 57, came up playing music mostly with the older generation. 

"I played with more than three-dozen guys born before 1910, guys who played with Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton," he says.

His new compositions maintain the style and flavor of music that was made a century ago. "I been here all my life," he says. "I saw the last days of the traditional style brass bands that we're out in the community playing church parades, social club parades and funerals. ... The culture of New Orleans is like a big head of lettuce. You have to peel back each layer. New Orleans culture is not one thing but a mixture of many things. I still don't have it figured out yet." 

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