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  • 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.

  • 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 […]

    The post City Slang: Music review roundup appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 […]

    The post Tickets for Steven Spielberg, John Williams summer concert sell out in 15 minutes appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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

    The post Blowout 2014 schedule available to view now appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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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Cover Story

Beat Angel

A Detroit writer brings poetry to a war-torn zone

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: , License: N/A


The poems they created were based on Native American poetry and music exercises that I gave them. They wrote beautifully using this music and short poems as their lyrical and musical inspiration, which was totally foreign to them. (To read the good work these women are creating in anonymity, go to awwproject.org/ and support them by purchasing the brand new anthology of their work entitled The Sky Is a Nest of Swallows: A Collection of Poems and Essays by Afghan Women Writers [Bellville Books Press 2012].)

After the AWWP meeting, we headed via our trusty bulletproof SUV to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in another part of town near Kabul University. The sidewalks of were jammed with pedestrians, and the unlined main roads were bumper-to-bumper with small cars, each packed full of passengers driving through the dusty, hot hazy streets of the capital. People on bicycles and walking wore scarves or surgical masks over their mouths and noses to keep the car and dust pollution from their lungs. If you think the bus system in metro Detroit is bad, try jumping in a moving Toyota minivan with sliding doors wide-open and broken seats for bus service commute. I watched an older guy in a suit miss the jump to catch a quickly moving bus-van and literally get left in the dust. 

When we arrived at ANIM (The Afghanistan National Institute of Music — a public arts-based high school in city-center Kabul) and entered the building, I guessed this school was some sort of Fame-style high school, or Kabul's version of Glee. The students were a combination of working-class and middleclass students. The boys and girls, ages 12-18, wore school uniforms. This school is famous for graduating some of Afghanistan's most acclaimed musicians. The kids were very serious about their studies and their music. My plan was to introduce them to performance poems by showing them one of my pieces with tape loops that I created in various studios around Detroit with area musicians. This is a technique I picked up on after seeing Postal Service play The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles several years ago. The loops are created so musicians in other countries can play along. Sometimes, I plug my iPod into a sound system or amplifier for a fuller sound.

I performed a couple of my standards in a large ANIM High School classroom, including John Sinclair's "The Screamers," so they could see how I performed poems with music. Next, we discussed Langston Hughes' poetry, concrete and abstract language, and then I got them to write some poems using repetitious lines starting with "I Have a Dream." 

I was now bringing a little M.L. King into the program. Next, I wanted the students to put the pieces to hip hop. We were doing everything from Langston's "Harlem" (with its famous question: "What happens to a Dream Deferred") to Notorious B.I.G.'s "Juicy" to M.L. King with the hip-hop thrown in for good measure. They were all totally unfamiliar with these American cultural signposts, but I could tell they were interested and ready to dig. 

These were amazing kids who communicated at various levels of English, which these students were all learning as a required second language. In addition, the students are all music students. As they were writing their "Dream" poems, I got the idea to have them play their own live hip hop Afghan-style versus using a tape loop. I asked who had their instruments handy? Several hands went up. A very hip drummer kid had his doumbek (a sort of Middle East and Asian conga) handy; another kid grabbed his sitar; and I got a very shy, quiet, veiled girl to fetch her viola. I started the drummer with a cool, funky beat. Next, I had the girl bow repeating chords on her viola, and I told the sitar player to make like Jimi Hendrix and rip some lead. Many in the room seemed to know the name "Jimi Hendrix." I was surprised because they had never heard of Detroit, Eminem or hip hop, but "Jimi" they got. Breakthrough! I thought. Yes, we were making good progress in Kabul. 

After they jammed a bit, I started bringing the poets of all ages up to rap their poems. Some were shy and more reserved, so they came up in small groups of two or three, but others jumped up and started reading their poems to the beats and sounds. It was beyond cool. A couple of dudes even free-formed after their written poems ran out.

The room was rockin'. They were on fire, and like true open mic poets, I couldn't get them to stop, so we jammed on for an hour or so. Their unique instruments jammed funky beats, and we were grooving, Detroit stylin', ancient Afghanistan. This class was seriously rocking out, and a lot of other students gathered outside the door to see "sup" with the goateed bald dude rockin' the ANIM poetry class. It ended a very cool and culturally rewarding first day in the 'Stan. This homey quickly realized that he wasn't in Kansas, or Motown, anymore, Dorothy.

 

The next day, I met with my first group of Access students in Kabul. Access is a U.S. government-sponsored English-language training program administered around the world to make the study of English more accessible to students and teachers. I have visited several of these programs not only here, but in Israel, the West Bank and Russia over the years. These students were very fluent in reading, writing and speaking English. I brought a little Paterson, N,J., with me to the class. I turned the students onto pediatrician and major American writer and poet William Carlos Williams, who often wrote short poems on the back of prescription pads. The students had all been to the doctor as children, so they knew what a prescription was and what it looked like. They seemed to find it amazing that a children's doctor wrote poems and stuffed his white doctor's coat with poems. I shared "The Locust Tree in Spring" and his very famous "The Red Wheelbarrow." The students were very familiar with wheelbarrows (which they called "carts") because it is quite common for Afghan men to push them down the sidewalks, down the middle of the busy streets and the side streets of Kabul. We even saw a guy pushing a red one down the road just after the class. 

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