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  • 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 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 […]

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  • Detroit launches website to auction city-owned homes

    “Neighbors wanted.” That’s the message on the homepage of, 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 […]

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  • 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 […]

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  • 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 to see the schedule and plan your festival. Follow @City_Slang

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  • 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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  • Cycle 7 opens at the Red Bull House of Art

    By: Ayana Bryant-Weekes The Red Bull House of Art, a multidisciplinary and collaborative art project, relieves the stress of financial limitation or lack of tools and space so budding artists can manifest their creative dreams right here in Detroit. Six artists are selected for a three-month residency where they are provided individual studio space and materials, allowing their artistic concepts to flow freely. At the end of each residency is an unveiling and public display at the Red Bull House of Art Gallery. As show curator Matt Eaton told us in a 2013 interview, “The selection process for the current crop of artists was just the same as every round. The goal is not to find the hippest, coolest artists (though I think they are all very cool), but to find the people who may not typically have a voice.” This year, for the first time, Red Bull House of Art will showcase more than just Detroit artists. National artists from across the country in a special artist-in-residency program will have the opportunity to showcase their work to a much broader audience, and bring a national art stage to the Motor City. Since opening, 54 Detroit-based artists have been given the […]

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The Gift Guide

Motor City seasonal

For Christ's sake, support your local mom & pop

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Handbags and other fabric goodies by Dang Argyle at D.I.Ypsi.

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Collectible snowflake ornaments from Pewabic.

In the consumerist orgy of the holiday season, it's important not to let the cries of "shop local" fall on ears deafened by endless demands and brains dulled by to-do lists, fiscal worries and yuletide cocktails. Patronizing indie businesses keeps more bucks in the local economy than visiting big-box retailers, and preserves the distinct, local character of neighborhoods and cities. In the past few years, the shop-local movement has steadily gained momentum — evidenced this year by the first Small Business Saturday, a counterpart to the traditional Black Friday mall madness. Spearheaded by American Express OPEN, AMEX's small-business unit, and supported by more than a dozen organizations, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Yelp, Small Business Saturday aims to get shoppers packing the mom-and-pops and spending locally on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And in metro Detroit, there are plenty of opportunities to do just that — cherished local institutions, brand-new storefronts, gallery gift markets and community events all provide plenty of ways to keep your dollars in Detroit. Here's our annual shop local suggestions, just to get you started.

Pewabic Pottery
10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit; 313-822-0954;

The signature ceramics fired at this Detroit institution date back to 1903, when Mary Chase Perry Stratton founded what is now Michigan's only historic pottery. Pewabic's annual Earthy Treasures Holiday Show provides both newcomers and aficionados a prime opportunity to visit the pottery's quaint, cottage-like shop on Jefferson and peruse Pewabic's ceramic ornaments, vases and tiles decorated with images of animals, plants, geometric patterns, the Detroit skyline and more. Tiles can be snagged for as little as $13.95, while vases can approach the $200 mark. Along with Pewabic's signature items, works in a range of styles and prices by ceramics artists both local and national are displayed. For the 2010 holiday, the pottery introduced a number of special pieces, including a snowflake trivet, a six-pointed star tile and a series of collectible snowflake ornaments — priced to give at $18 each or $50 for the set of three. Slip one on a bottle of wine to jazz up a hostess gift or give it to the person you have to buy for but know nothing about (a brother's girlfriend, a picky mother-in-law) — if they know Pewabic, they'll appreciate the gesture. If they don't, explaining the local significance of the pottery will keep the conversation rolling.

Paint Creek Center for the Arts
407 Pine St., Rochester; 248-651-4110;

Paint Creek's annual gift gallery features handmade gifts and artwork by artists from throughout the state. Items come in a variety of styles — for the traditionalists, there are hand-blown glass ornaments by George Bochnig and wood bowls by Jim Fuller. For those more prone to whimsy, check out wooden rattles by Sandra Westley, or the plush animals created from distinct fabric and patterns by Cassandra Schoneck. Other goodies up for grabs include jewelry, holiday decorations, toys, wood block prints, scarves, purses, ceramic items, handcrafted paper goods and more. Gifts come in a variety of prices; for a truly big-ticket item, consider signing up the amateur artist in your life for one of the center's classes, which cover everything from clay and painting to digital photography and collage, ranging in price from $100 to $190 for nonmembers. More than just an exhibition space, Paint Creek is truly a community arts center, offering studio classes for all age levels, hosting summer art camps for kids and spearheading a number of community arts initiatives, including Rochester's annual Art & Apples Festival.

GifteD: A Holiday Boutique
99 Monroe St., Detroit

If one-stop shopping has been your excuse for fighting crowds of frenzied shoppers at the mall, this pop-up shop will make you bite your tongue. Located in one of the Compuware building's retail spaces, GifteD has collected a range of Detroit retailers into one convenient spot. It's a boon for downtown workers, who can now take a short lunch-hour jaunt to holiday shop instead of spending their after-work hours waiting in lines and scouring parking lots for empty spaces. Open Fridays through Christmas Eve, GifteD features artwork courtesy of Re:View Contemporary Gallery, bikes and biking gear from Wheelhouse Detroit, and home and office supplies from Bureau of Urban Living. Others setting up temporary shop at GifteD include Leopold's Books, City Bird, Motor City Sewing and downtown clothing stores DSE@Grand and Rags. Onsite services such as dog training from Canine to Five, massage from Re:new Detroit and tailoring from Motor City Sewing are also available.

Dec. 11, at the Savoy, 23 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti;

Metro Detroiters are no strangers to the bar-based craft fair — there are old stalwarts such as Bar Bazaar and Rock 'n' Rummage, there's Handmade Detroit's stellar Detroit Urban Craft Fair, there's the relatively new It's a Craft Thing fairs and there's Ypsi's always kickass Shadow Art Fair. And now there's D.I.Ypsi. This one-day handmade spectacular features 29 local vendors slinging everything from clothing and jewelry to paper products and sculptures. The Ypsi artists behind the event — Cre Fuller, Sherri Green Carroll and Marcy Davy — hope to connect shoppers with indie artists they may otherwise be unfamiliar with, as well as to highlight downtown Ypsilanti as a holiday shopping destination. Highlights of the fair include bags, wallets and other items made from reclaimed fabric by Dang Argyle; cheeky greeting cards and stationery (one card reads "You put the ass in asshole." Enough said) from Junkmail Greetings; shirts, hoodies and bags sporting an outline of our great state, by Great Lakes Shirts; jewelry carved from reclaimed hardwoods by Four Chamber Forge; and beautiful handmade scarves by Ion(a)rt. Along with the local gifts, the family-friendly D.I.Ypsi will also feature local eats, free admission and of course, a full bar.

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