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  • 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 […]

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  • Passalacqua debut dark new 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 new project ‘Church: Revival’ at new Hamtramck performance space appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan

    #150207742 / As locals continue to flood Detroit streets to protest the city’s ongoing water debacle, one national organization is hoping to be part of the solution — that is, for a dietary price. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA as the organization is more commonly known, has offered to pay outstanding water bills for 10 Detroiters who are willing to go vegan for one month. “Vegan meals take far less of a toll on the Earth’s resources,” PETA representatives said in a recent press release. “It takes about 2,500 gallons of water to produce just a pound of meat but only about 155 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat.” PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk adds, “Vegan meals are also a cost-effective way to help prevent health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart conditions, the last thing that someone who is struggling financially needs to deal with.” Folks interested in participating are asked to send a copy of their most recent overdue water bill and their written pledge to go vegan for one month to PETA Attn: Detroit Water at 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510 before Aug. 1.

    The post PETA offers to pay overdue water bills for Detroiters willing to go vegan appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Dinner Club Does Brunch

    Sure, The Dinner Club, a regularly occurring pop-up that takes places at the Storefront Gallery  in Ferndale (and other locations, occasionally), usually happens around dinner time, but this Sunday, July 27, there will be a special edition: Brunch Chef Matthew Baldridge, who’s resume includes stints at such Detroit greats as Cliff Bell’s, The Rattlesnake Club, and Seldom Blues, has crafted a menu of French-inspired items that employ locally procured ingredients. Brunch includes four courses where guests will be treated to such delights as cocoa, cinnamon, chili-spiced creamy grits with pickled strawberries, cocoa puffs and strawberry-infused syrup, a smoked gouda potato gallette with Faygo Root Beer braised pork belly, quail egg and Faygo Root Beer syrup, banana marscapone-filled French toast with fresh raspberries, whipped cream and balsamic syrup, and champagne-soaked strawberries. It is also important to note that brunch is BYOChampagne. Baldridge, along with The Storefront Gallery’s Derek John and Lilacpop Studio owner and artist Janna Coumoundouros, curate the event that includes an art show, a great playlist, and visuals. Brunch services are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and last about two hours, only 20 seats are available at each service. The cost is $25 plus a service fee. The Storefront Gallery […]

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  • Jurassic 5 holds onto what’s golden

      By Ashley Zlatopolsky It’s been a little over twenty years since iconic ‘90s alternative hip-hop group Jurassic 5 first formed in Los Angeles’ Good Life club. Widely regarded as a pivotal influence in the decade’s underground hip-hop movement by critics and fans alike, the six-piece crew consisting of two DJs (Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark) and four MCs (Akil, Zaakir, Marc 7 and Chali 2na) were well on their way to becoming one of hip-hop’s greatest and most powerful acts of all time, ranking alongside names such as Public Enemy and N.W.A. with socially-conscious lyrics and smooth beats paired with smart sampling. But in 2004, Cut Chemist left the group to pursue a solo career, and in 2007 Jurassic 5 completely called it quits after nearly 15 years of music. And that was it for the crew until 2013. After almost seven years apart (nine for Cut Chemist), Jurassic 5 reunited and re-emerged stronger than ever before with a new flair, seasoned attitude, and more vibrant energy at Coachella Music Festival, the group’s first show with the original six members since Cut Chemist split. During their performance, Jurassic 5 gave fans a memorable concert revisiting all the classic feel-good tracks […]

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  • Detroit Riverwalk west extension opens from Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks

    Dogs of Detroit have new territory to trot: Yesterday, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy held a soft opening for a 20-acre westward extension of the Riverwalk. Part of a planned two-mile track of the West Riverwalk, the new span runs from the Riverfront Towers to Rosa Parks Boulevard, says Mark Pasco, director of communications for the conservancy. “It’s going to be great,” Pasco says. “It’s a wide open green space. It’s going to be great for activities.” The endgame for the Riverwalk, Pasco notes, is to extend the walkway from the Ambassador Bridge to Gabriel Richard Park, just past the MacArthur Bridge — about a 5.5. mile route. The new westward expansion is wider than most of the walkway, about 30 feet, says Pasco — a decision made by the conservancy to accommodate fisherman that previously frequented the area. “We knew … once it opened up they’d want to fish there again, so we made the Riverwalk itself wider,” Pasco says. The conservancy will hold a grand opening in late September, which will include “food and music and activities,” Pasco says, though no official date has been set.

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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?

Anderson-Schaffner added that "the energy was high and the vibe was immaculate. We were family, and we were always on the road. We never thought we'd break a million, and we were on the road when it did, barely had a minute to celebrate. The boys did all the partying."

Vandella Ashford-Holmes said "the atmosphere at West Grand was that everyone really did love each other — at least until you got on the road. But when you were at Hitsville, everyone greeted each other with a hug and a kiss." 

This was the kind of interaction Sperling was hoping to produce. He addressed his cast: "See, guys, she just gave you an actionable bit of research there. She said when you arrived at Motown, there was always a hug and a kiss."

"When we went to the Boulevard, it was like we were going home," said Vandella Beard-Helton. "Once we were on Motown, we actually spent more time at the studio than we did at home."

When Sperling said, "That sounds like Mosaic for some of you," he was met with a rather harmonious choruses of yeses.

It went on like that all afternoon, Mosaic mining away at source material for what are known as "actionable" moments, insights to life in the '60s and life on the road, dealing with Southern racism, separation anxiety and educational sacrifices.

"When you're 15, 16 years old, sometimes you don't think of all the consequences that are out there when you make the decision to dedicate your life to it," said Anderson-Schaffner. "We were there before the vocal training, the choreography; we had to learn as we went. We were at the start of it all. We started it. Not the Temptations, as it's been told; not the Supremes, as it's been told; and not Stevie Wonder, as it's been told. 

"We like the idea you're telling, the original story, performing the truth. This story has never been told." 


Last Friday night, Now That I Can Dance opened to a packed house in the DIA's Detroit Film Theatre. The frenzy in the lobby wasn't such a surprise.

Before the house lights came down, within the first few rows, some original Motown singers and faculty mixed it up. There was original Marvelette Wanda Young, who married her longtime boyfriend Bobby Rogers, an original member of the Miracles. The graceful beauty that is Maxine Powell, at 88 years old, sat among other Motown producers, musicians, friends and family. At one point, it seemed the family representing Florence Ballard had to fend off some diehard fan. And, of course, also there with loved ones, were Vandellas Beard-Helton and Ashford-Holmes, Contour Billingslea and that one very important Marvelette 

A feature-length play featuring an all-youth cast that works just as well for adults as it does for even elementary-aged audiences is a tall order, especially when the production involves themes such as mental illness, physical abuse, violent bigotry, broken hearts and fractured friendships. But that's exactly what Mosaic does, and Now That I Can Dance shows the Mosaic company at its best. 

With well-honed humor and well-toned drama, the early Motown story is unfurled through the perspective of Anderson and the Marvelettes, though we get plenty of the Miracles, Vandellas and Contours, as well as Stevie Wonder and Mary Wells. And if there were an antagonist, it'd be the original diva herself, Diana Ross.

It's hard to say if the acting or singing is better. On one hand, there were times when you had to remind yourself that these actors aren't even out of high school yet. But being that the audience knows the rhythms and lyrics to every song in the production, it's safe to say the play delivers the purest form of fun when they're singing.

Now That I Can Dance chronicles the early years of Motown, when Marvin Gaye wanted to be "the colored Sinatra," Martha Reeves was a secretary, and Berry Gordy was just beginning to build the foundation of an immense culture-shifting factory in what looked like just another house on West Grand Boulevard. 

If you're reading this as a Detroiter, Now That I Can Dance is, in a way, also your story. It's set in a time when our nation's social fabric was being tested and torn, yet the American Dream was coming alive one song at a time in the Motor City.

Given the state of bewildering social, political, economic and racial polarization that exists today, this production reminds us of the magic we're capable of making in the midst of it all.


Travis Wright is arts & culture editor at Metro Times. Send letter to


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