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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;

    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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Sloshed 2012

Into the past

The Oakland's oasis of quality, style and manners a successful one

Photo: , License: N/A

The Oakland Art Novelty Company

201 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale


For a few years now, metro Detroit has seen coastal cocktail culture slowly creeping in from the coasts. From the East Coast comes an emphasis on classic recipes and exclusive, almost candlelit interiors; from the West Coast, it's more an emphasis on fresh ingredients and complex flavor profiles. Luckily, we seem to be getting the best of these two worlds, as cocktail joints informed by both trends have opened their doors this year, such as Detroit's Sugar House in Corktown, and the Oakland Art Novelty Company in Ferndale.

The Ferndale spot, better known as "the Oakland" to its guests, is the creation of thirtysomething husband-and-wife team Sandy and Heather Levine. Sandy Levine says the genesis of the Oakland dates to 2007, when, having moved back to metro Detroit after traveling with his wife quite a bit in their 20s, he couldn't find one bar or liquor store that had absinthe or rye. The two had been a wee bit spoiled by the resurgence of the cocktail on the coasts, and so they opened the Oakland in July of last year.

It's a moody, atmospheric spot decorated with candles and chandeliers a la the 1920s, which Levine calls "arguably the most stylish of any time. It creates a special atmosphere. When we were doing build-out and design, we were inspired by bars in New York and Chicago that had an element of not just nostalgia but timelessness. For instance, there aren't windows, it's very dark. We play specific music that's not necessarily all old but we try to create an environment where you forget about the outside world."

The intention to create a haven away from the modern world means low music and no TVs. With few distractions, good chatter has a way of blossoming. 

"That's a huge topic in terms of feedback. People say, 'It's nice to be in a bar where I can talk to my friends and actually hear them.'"

To preserve the mood they've worked so painstakingly to create, the Levines do have some house rules that are slightly more involved than at a typical bar. Guests must be seated to be served. Sometimes, as with large parties, that can cause problems, but it certainly is appealing to sit at a bar and not have customers standing behind you, shouting orders at bartenders. The Oakland also discourages cell phone use, because, as Sandy Levine puts it, "your guests would value your company more than your mobile device."

While most customers appreciate the rules, there has been some push-back. "No question about it," Levine says, "some people resist the house rules. The biggest one is our seating policy; we stick to it. And if you use your phone, please do it quietly. And about being able to hold your liquor and not being rowdy and raucous, most regulars are into that. Of course, there's a small group of people that are against that. We get online reviews occasionally that say, 'I don't want to be told what to do when I go to a bar. I want to shout and be rowdy.' Well, we go to those dive bars mostly patronized by people like that. But we want to provide a more relaxed atmosphere where you can have a classy drink, be able to hold your liquor, and taste what you're drinking and savor it — instead of gulping and chugging, which certainly has its place."

Levine continues, "There are 1,000 different ways you can do a bar and all 1,000 have some element of merit and can create a cool place. There's nothing wrong with having a sports bar with 1,000 TVs. We just feel this is one sort of bar that was underrepresented here."

In a way, the Oakland is more than a bar: It's a social experiment, trying to push people a little bit to expose themselves to things they haven't had 1,000 times before.

"Sometimes people say something about the drinks being a bit more expensive," Levine says, "but we try to make up for it by making them strong. And with vermouth that's, say, $25 a bottle instead of $3, hopefully it makes a difference by tasting better. It makes a big difference when you start with fresh ingredients and better spirits.

"We don't keep any soda — except homemade — no Coke or Red Bull, no cranberry juice. ... Basically anything that comes in a box or a jar, we don't have. All the juices are squeezed daily, we make the syrups and bitters in-house here. There are a couple drinks we even scrape our own fresh nutmeg over the top of. Our Manhattan even has real maraschino cherries, grown on a farm up North and soaked in Maraschino liqueur. Any one of those things may or may not make a difference, but when you do seven or eight things right together, I think it makes a difference."

Having tried the Oakland's Manhattan, we can assure you of its excellence. After finishing off one of these creations, we wished we could strike every so-called Manhattan we'd ever tried. After the second one, we forgot where we were. These drinks weren't cheap, but they were worth every penny. And, as the success of the Oakland shows, quality — in product and environment — is something today's drinkers are willing to put a premium on. —Michael Jackman

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