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    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 2011

Tashmoo Biergarten

Building community in Detroit's West Village — by the glass

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

The Tashmoo Biergarten in Detroit's West Village.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A

A few months ago, this corner of Van Dyke in West Village was an empty lot with an overgrown tree in the back. It was less a place for people to hang out than to cut through to the alley. 

Not today. On this sunny Sunday, it is fenced in, filled with crowded, communal tables and benches, a place where revelers drink Michigan craft beer, listen to music, eat local food and play beanbag games. From old codgers to young kids, from locals to yokels, it's a pretty inclusive bunch, alive with chatter and mirth. The lot's spreading, newly pruned tree now arches over a leaf-covered lawn, with lights spiraling up its branches and strung over the tables, since the fun lasts until after dark. 

The empty parcel has become a pop-up, open-air beer hall — the Tashmoo Biergarten — all the work of "Team Tashmoo." And, despite the jolliness and toasts, there's good reason local media have taken such a serious look at it during the short five weeks since its inception. Anything that can turn a vacant lot in Detroit into this demands attention. 


Grabbing a beer on the second floor of Park Bar, amid the late Tiger playoff hysteria, Tashmoo organizers Suzanne Vier, owner of Simply Suzanne granola company, and Aaron Wagner, a buyer for a purchasing company, explain the project's genesis and growth. Vier, who lived in New York for 16 years, did her master's overseas in the Czech Republic and Croatia, where beer gardens are typical. "It was something I frequented a lot. Then, when I got back, I began noticing lots of beer gardens in New York," she says

New York's beer gardens have gotten a boost since the late 1990s, when hipsters started crashing places like Queens' traditional Bohemian Beer Garden. The phenomenon there has grown to where even pop-up, temporary beer gardens spring up, such as chef Tom Colicchio's summer-only "Lot on Tap" under Manhattan's High Line.

Vier thought a beer garden might be just what Detroit needs. With her partner Wagner, a longtime resident of West Village, they began planning. Though she lives in downtown Detroit, Vier's affinity for close-knit West Village is contagious: "It's an amazing community that's still making headway, and active residents there have a fierce loyalty to it. It was definitely the right place for Tashmoo."

Wagner has lived in the neighborhood east of Grand Boulevard — bounded roughly by Parker, Seyburn, Jefferson and Kercheval — since 2007. He says, "There are different kinds of people, different kinds of architecture. You have some single-family houses, but you have some apartment buildings too. Right behind the beer garden, you have the Parkstone Apartments. It's a good mix of homeowners and renters."

But the two felt the neighborhood lacked a place to get together.

Wagner says, "About 10 years ago, Honest John's moved from the area. Then about five years ago, the Harlequin Café closed. That has left a void; now there's no bar in the community."

Better than a bar, Vier thought, why not a beer garden? "In Eastern Europe, beer gardens are a place to come together. That's intrinsic to the European beer garden experience," she says.  "In Eastern European culture, it's not just about drinking, it's about food, music, families — it's an open and inviting place."

She adds, "We weren't trying to create a hipster place — we already have enough of those."

The group established a relationship with the Village's Community Development Corporation, for use of necessary permits and insurance, and found a vacant lot in an excellent location. "It's a central point," Wagner says, "very easy to walk to from anywhere in West Village."

Along with help from friends, other "Team Tashmoo" volunteers and "community support," they built it, scrounging up materials. The fencing is made of recycled shipping pallets. The benches are made of two-by-fours, and the tables are topped with reused flooring. Wagner says, "It's definitely not fancy." Practically the only thing they had to buy outright was the supply of wristbands for customers.

Oh, and the beer, all Michigan-brewed, including pours from Motor City Brewing Works, Founders, Jolly Pumpkin, Bell's, Atwater, New Holland. Tashmoo serves a wide variety of session beers, including ales, lagers, porters, and even some cider.

And, for those who were wondering, they say the "Tashmoo" tag resurrects a Native American word for "gathering place" — as well as the name of an old dance hall on Harsens Island in Lake St. Clair and the ship — the S.S. Tashmoo — that ferried guests there. The inside reference implies a connection not just to the community, but to the past as well. In fact, Wagner grows excited discussing a Tashmoo guest who realized his relation to an old engineer of the S.S. Tashmoo, who once lived in the neighborhood during its high German period.

And, more than just the West Village community, Vier and Wagner hope to draw in visitors from Detroit and surrounding suburbs — and they've been successful.

Vier says, "We even had people from other countries who said it was awesome."

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