Trending
Most Read
  • Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone

    When we think of honoring the brave men and women who protect and serve the metro Detroit area, we think of trampolines.  We think they should jump on trampolines. And by trampolines, we mean an all-walled trampoline field where they can land in a pit of 10,000 foam cubes. They have to blow off steam some how. Sky Zone, the inventors of such a place, are hosting a special day at their Canton and Shelby Township locations that will be all about police officers, firefighters, EMS workers, and their families. On Tuesday, August 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. there will be free jumping for these folks. All metro Detroit police, firefighters, EMS workers and their families are invited to come, though an employee ID or professional organization ID will be required for admittance to 60 free minutes at the indoor park. The hour of free jumping comes with free pizza from Jet’s as well. This is the first event of its kind in Michigan.  Sky Zone Canton is located at 42550 Executive Drive Sky Zone Shelby Township is located at 50810 Sabrina Drive. Check skyzone.com for more information. 

    The post Jumpin Jumpin: Police, fire fighters, and EMS workers to be honored at Sky Zone appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Metro Times is getting a new website today

    Your favorite local alternative weekly is getting a digital facelift at around 4 p.m. today, and we need your help. If you, dear reader, spot anything amiss or notice that any of our regular features are not working properly, do give us a shout in the comment section below or on social media. If, on the other hand, you find that you positively adore our new design (which we surely hope you do!), we’d certainly enjoy hearing about that as well. Let the countdown to launch begin!

    The post Metro Times is getting a new website today appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • 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 BuildingDetroit.com, 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.

Calendar

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email

Cover Story

Motown revival

Remembering the Marvelettes and the hit factory's beginnings

Photo: Justin Rose, License: N/A

Justin Rose

Photo: Doug Coombe, License: N/A

Doug Coombe

The Marvelettes: Looking for that postman, again?


"The only place we did our warm-ups was in our basements, but we were basically doing the very same thing these kids are doing here," said Contour Joe Billingslea. "You had to keep that energy up the whole time and I'm noticing these kids already got the juices flowing, so they should be really good."

"Even before we went to Motown, we'd get together and practice, but when we got to Motown we had a vocal instructor that had us working the scales," added Vandella Ashford-Holmes. "I think they're sounding wonderful."

Vandella Beard-Helton hoped to impart some wisdom to the young thespians. "Education has to come first. Entertaining is up and down, it can peak and fall back down." 

But Billingslea wanted them to respect and maintain the dream of finding success. "There's going to be a lot of people they'll meet, family and friends even, who'll doubt them at some point. I hope that if they really believe in what they're doing they'll never doubt themselves and stick with performing, even when it gets really hard, which it will." 

Sperling pointed out the guests in the room, letting the company know that more than a few Detroit media outlets and The New York Times were represented. Having the full attention of the company, one last introduction was made. 

Smiling proud and warm, a tall woman took a seat among the other Motowners. In his introduction, Sperling, who wrote and directs Now That I Can Dance, said "more material has come from her than anyone else for this play. She's the source, she's our narrator, it's her story as much as anything. Ladies and gentlemen, original Marvelette, Katherine Anderson-Schaffner — Kat!" 

The crowd went crazy. 

Then all eyes were on Mosaic's Marvelettes, who performed an inspired run-through of "Too Many Fish in the Sea," choreography and all. The song appears in a soul-shaking fantasy concert scene that even includes founding member Georgia Dobbins.

A professional performance of Motown material comes with a serious and unique responsibility. Motown has been more than cooperative with Mosaic since they first started discussing this production more than five years ago. (It's the second time Now That I Can Dance has been staged since the inaugural run in 2005.) 

To put it in perspective, Gordy is a famously stingy (or at least protective) businessman when it comes to licensing out Motown material for film and theater. That, in large part, is why we're left with vague, rehashed versions of the Motown story in productions like Sparkle and Dreamgirls, stories acted out to the accompaniment of songs that strive to capture the Motown era. But as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell sang on the 1968 Motown hit: "Ain't nothing like the real thing, baby."

Think of the cash that could be made from producing a string of Motown biopics, each one starring all the same actors as the last, but the main story arc in each focuses on an individual act or group. Kind of crazy to think we haven't even gotten a one-off called Hitsville. So, until we start seeing some big-ticket projects getting the official Motown stamp of approval, it's mostly the young people in Mosaic who get to fill this cultural void. 

 

After "Too Many Fish in the Sea," the floor was opened up for a Q & A with the resident stars.

With the show's opening night just a few weeks away, here these kids were, trying to perfect their roles with sacred authenticity, and then they got to pick the brains of some of the subjects they're portraying. 

Actor Matthew Webb portrays several parts in Now That I Can Dance, including a period-perfect concert announcer, a confident Contour, and a bluesman named William Garrett who played a role in the Marvelettes story. Webb wanted to hear "what the vibe at Hitsville was like on a regular day."

Billingslea described it as an open-round-the-clock space: "No matter what time of day or night you stopped by, someone was there practicing, writing or hanging out trying to pick up new songs from the writers as they finished them. We were all very fond of each other." 

That last line came with a built-in caveat, as it's well-known that there was internal competition and sometimes tensions would flare. Billingslea continued: "Oh, you had your competition, of course. The Marvelettes were put up against the Vandellas and the Supremes. And the Contours were against the Miracles and the Temptations."

Billingslea said he still gets a rise out of prodding his old labelmates.

"The Temptations were very, very good performers. Voice-wise, they were of the highest quality," he said, "but they could not perform with the Contours on stage. They knew it. Everyone in the company knew it. We could outperform them on stage, but we couldn't touch their voices." 

He told Webb and the Mosaic cast and choir that, after the first time he performed at the Apollo, someone told him something that he immediately took to heart: "When people come to see you, they come to see you perform. If they wanted to hear the record they could sit at home all day and listen to it. They want to see you perform. We were acrobatic, doing all kinds of splits, flips and somersaults."

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

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.
comments powered by Disqus