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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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Cover Story

Made in Michigan

We're smitten with the mitten ... An economic snapshot shows Michigan is finally producing numbers to take pride in.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


MICHIGAN HAS OFTEN been called a “canary in the coal mine.” The state’s once-dominant manufacturing base — its automotive sector — has always been susceptible to the slightest hint of recession. As a result, economic contractions are typically felt here well in advance of other indicators that register on a national scale.

Of course, the gutting of the U.S. manufacturing sector, which began after the rupture of the tech bubble in 2000, and continued throughout the new millennium’s first decade — exacerbated by a real estate bubble that drove the entire Western banking system to the brink of collapse — has made our once-rich state’s economic output comparable to states in the deep South.

Yet, despite Michigan's loss of more than 700,000 manufacturing jobs — and nearly 1 million people — over the course of 10 years, the state is on firmer economic footing now than it has been in a generation. The latest indictor, provided by the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index, shows a near two-point increase — to 50.9 in June 2013 — from 49 a month earlier. (A reading of 50 is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.)

And while Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, and his predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, have championed industry diversification, the car is still king — especially in Detroit. And, according to the latest release of information, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

U.S. auto sales accelerated in June to the fastest pace since December 2007, according to a survey of analysts by Bloomberg News. The projected growth in June, which analysts say was led by Nissan Motor Co. and Ford Motor Co., will keep the United States on track for its best annual sales in six years.

“The market is very strong and we seem to be doing well despite what’s going on,” George Magliano, senior economist at IHS Automotive in New York, told Bloomberg News, referring to the volatility in the stock market due to uncertainty over continued Fed involvement. “Is the market going to be immune to the sell-off of the stock market and the rising mortgage rates? I find it hard to stay as strong in the face of these things. We’ll probably back off a little bit and then pick back up.”

Brisk auto sales are a combination of low rates for new-car loans, pent-up demand from Americans replacing the oldest vehicles ever on U.S. roads and the domestic auto manufacturing quality; the Big Three are producing their best cars in a generation.

As well, the latest report from the Commerce Department showed construction spending increased 0.5 percent in May. Michigan is one of only four states that have shown job gains in construction since June 2009 and is currently fourth out of 50 states in terms of construction spending.

The state’s expansion, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, is concentrated in specialty trade construction, but a May report by the Home Builders Association of Michigan indicates that the industry is on pace for a potential 37 percent increase in single-family home construction permits. However, a shortage of skilled laborers may hamper that estimate, according to the report’s authors.

“Right now the worker shortage is really causing things to slow down,” Robert Filka, the association’s CEO said in a recent interview. “And I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Despite a statewide unemployment rate of 8.4 percent in April, still one of the nation’s highest, it seems the economic expansion continues to lift Michigan from its most severe economic crisis since the Depression.

Overall, things look better now than they have in several years, setting the stage for healthy, sustainable growth in the decades to come.

Most notably, growth will no longer be solely dependent on the Big Three. Instead, it will come from both the autos and a new creative class coalescing in and around the state's hub cities, like Detroit and Grand Rapids. Small businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators, creating better mousetraps and driving new ideas, will play as significant a role in helping the state redefine its definition of success.

Meet a handful of these innovators by clicking on the links below; throughout the next several months we plan to keep those introductions coming too.

Michigan Made Features

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Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
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