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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Last Blasts of Summer


So the city's crammed with Labor Day fests? Go see these bands.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will be performing Friday, 9:15 at Arts, Beats, and Eats in Royal Oak

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Jason Stollsteimer will be performing with The Hounds Below Saturday, 5PM at Arts, Beats, and Eats in Royal Oak

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Phantasmagoria perform Friday, 2 p.m at Arts, Beats, and Eats in Royal Oak

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The Sugarcoats perform Sunday, 8PM at the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival

Alternative Stage 

MT cover-girl Neals is making a bit of a name in no small part due to her strangely sultry blues voice that's as raw and authentic as it is honest and powerful. She's handily bridging the idea of a blues chanteuse, the classy, sexy singer, to a genre that seems to be overrun with style-over-substance singers. Neals will likely light up Labor Day.

Why you need to see her: Because husky crooners don't come along like this very often. Her band includes horns and Sunny Payton, the Four Tops' Lawrence Payton's daughter. 


Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful 

Monday, 5 p.m.; Soaring Eagle Stage

This Ypsi quintet established itself as one of the more dynamic delegates of that area's folk community with its '09 debut, the chilly, cathartic and achingly autumnal For the Dead. That richly dressed album (purring pedal-steel, sighing violins and chirping banjos) never bogged down in overly rootsy contrivances and supported the leading lady's warm, breathy vocals. 

Why you need to see 'em: Well, for one, Matt Jones plays with them. Also, they're electrified by a less melancholic muse as of late, which translates better live. So the group — Misty Lyn Bergeron (vocals, guitar), Ryan Gimpert (guitar), Jim Roll (bass), Jones (drums), Carol Gray (strings) — won't go breaking your heart; nay, this is just fun, classy folk rock. 


The Handgrenades 

Friday, 3 p.m., the Budweiser Rocks Stage

Over the past year or so, these young dudes have grown from a fairly standard indie-rock outfit into a brilliant live band. Tunes just fly from their guts,but their real gift is their complicated but ear-sugary harmonies. Three of four band members are songwriters, and there's always a gaggle of screaming girls at their shows. 

Why you need to see 'em: Frankly, the Handgrenades — Andrew Pawelski (vocals, guitar, bass), Tom Pawelski (vocals, guitar, bass), Nick Chevillet (vocals, guitar, bass), Joby Kaslowski (drums) — are a perfect fest band. 


Billy Brandt & Sarana Verlin 

Friday, 11 a.m., Made in Detroit Stage 

This duo were fantastic during Don Was' Detroit revue at this year's Concert of Colors. Brandt is a great guitarist, Verlin's a jaw-droppingly sweet fiddler. They don't play folk exactly, and they don't play rock 'n' roll either. Folk-rock isn't right. But that's the ballpark.

Why you need to see 'em: Because the fiddle is terrible thing to waste!



Friday, 2 p.m., Ford Stage

Are you ready for the country, computer-popsters? Though they set an intricately wrought techno-y groove, when you dig into the vocals you'll discover the heart of these click-clattered, feedback-flumed nocturnes. See, they've a reverence for the outdoors, capturing similar vibes as Eno or Boards of Canada; they can oddly blur the electronic with the earthy.

Why you need to see 'em:Rising stars, to be sure. And curious newcomers may chance upon Christopher Jarvis (synth, sampler, guitar, vocals) and Lianna Vanicelli (vocals, percussion) still bandying their unique Neil Young cover 


Howling Diablos 

Saturday, 9:30 p.m., the Budweiser Rocks Stage

Tino and his funky rock 'n' roll combo are on the top of their game right now. God bless 'em, 'cause these lovable bastards have punched their times cards enough. It's that never-say-quit 'tude that has seen them through some tough times. Now they're getting rewarded, and their new "Mr. Right Now" single is getting mad love.

Why you need to see 'em: Tino Gross (vocals), John Evans (sax), Mo Hollis (bass), Erik Gustafson (guitar), Johnny Bee (drums), Jimmie Bones (keys) can strut like motherfuckers. Because nobody screams "Detroit" like these Howlers. 


House Phone 

Sunday, 3:30 p.m., Bud Light Stage

A distinctive lead vocal needs the proper backing. James Link isn't some arena-rocking yowler, or a wispy folk weaver; nah, his creakily crooned falsetto can scat and soar, making it a fine match for the quartet of jazz-trained musicians, which include drummer Steve Boegehold, guitarist Matt Callaway, keysman Taylor Pierson and bassist Jeff Cuny.

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