Most Read
  • Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark

    Oh, the irony — initially criticized as Marxist propaganda when Mexican muralist Diego Rivera painted them for the Detroit Institute of Arts in the early 1930s, Detroit Industry has now been designated as a a national landmark. The announcement was made Wednesday, according to the Detroit News by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis as part of National Park Week. The designation does not change the ownership status of the murals or grant any new protections or rights, leaving its place among the rest of the DIA’s art in possible bankruptcy negotiations in question. The work is considered the best of Rivera’s work in the United States (another mural Rivera had done in New York was destroyed by orders of Nelson Rockefeller). Rivera himself regarded Detroit Industries paintings as his finest work. In the midst of the McCarthy era, the DIA posted this sign outside the court: Rivera’s politics and his publicity seeking are detestable. But let’s get the record straight on what he did here. He came from Mexico to Detroit, thought our mass production industries and our technology wonderful and very exciting, painted them as one of the great achievements of the twentieth century. This came […]

    The post Once-controversial Diego Rivera murals now national landmark appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit area code 313 may be phased out

    Hey, everybody from the 313, start thinking of new numbers to rally around– the longstanding Detroit area code may be phased out. Our friends over at the Detroit News report that pending a revised estimate next week, the North American Numbering Plan Administration will stop handing out 313 telephone prefixes on new phone numbers. Detroiters with existing cell phone lines would be able to keep their current area codes, while those with land lines would change. via Detroit News: The venerable 313 will ultimately become overtaxed. Even as Detroit’s population has fallen, cellphone usage has accelerated like one of those smoldering SRT Vipers that Dodge has been bolting together at Conner Avenue Assembly — which is, of course, comfortably within the confines of 313. … When the first five dozen area codes were assigned nearly 70 years ago, says NANPA’s Tom Foley, “that was expected basically to last forever.” Instead, somebody invented fax machines, and then somebody else came up with cellphones, and lots of somebody elses decided to give them to 10-year-olds, and meantime the population grew to 300 million. Now every telephone carrier is required to submit twice-yearly forecasts of its needs in each area code, factoring in […]

    The post Detroit area code 313 may be phased out appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council

    Unfortunately, we were unable to attend last night’s Neighborhood Advisory Council, which, in case you were unaware, is a 16-member board established to weigh in on the new Red Wings arena near downtown. About three dozen residents and property owners cast ballots by the 8 p.m. deadline on Wednesday inside the Block at Cass Park, The Detroit News reports. It’s the culmination of a handful of community meetings which began weeks ago. Councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez facilitated the meetings, but emphasized at previous meetings that it’s up to the community to conduct business. According to the News, the 12 candidates selected include: Michael Boettcher, Richard Etue, Jason Gapa, Francis Grunow, Steve Guether, Paul Hughes, Ray Litt, Warner Doyle McBryde, Karen McLeod, Delphia Simmons, Melissa Thomas and Anthony Zander. Joel Landy, a land owner in the area, lost his bid. The City Council appointed four candidates last month. As we reported in this week’s issue, the Neighborhood Advisory Committee was negotiated after Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit Red Wing’s owner Mike Ilitch’s real estate arm, balked on a proposed community benefits agreement.  The committee is charged with the task of offering input on the arena’s design, parking security and more.

    The post Final members selected for Red Wings arena Neighborhood Advisory Council appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag

    The Magic Bag in Ferndale will host James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets on Thursday, May 28, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. A press release reads, “James McMurtry recently signed with the bourgeoning Los Angeles record label Complicated Game. The legendary songwriter will enter the studio later this month to start working on his first album in six years. “I’ve got a new batch of songs, organic and with no added sulfites, aged in oak for several years,” he says. “Francois Moret at Complicated Game seems to like these songs and (producer) C.C. Adcock thinks he can turn them into a record. Good times fixing to roll.” Label head Moret agrees. “In March 2013, when C.C. Adcock told me we were going to see James McMurtry at the Continental Club in Austin, I expected to see a good show,” he says, “but what I saw left me mesmerized! I immediately knew I wanted to sign him. As a European, it is an amazing opportunity to work with one of the most talented American singer-songwriters.” Evidence: McMurtry’s Just Us Kids (2008) and Childish Things (2005). The former earned his highest Billboard 200 chart position in nearly two decades and notched […]

    The post James McMurtry and The Bottle Rockets coming to the Magic Bag appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit

    The Dead Kennedys, still with local boy Klaus Flouride in the ranks, will play St. Andrew’s Hall on Tuesday, June 24. Alongside Flouride and fellow original members East Bay Ray and DH Peligro, the current lineup includes singer Ron “Skip” Greer, taking the place of Jello Biafra. Downtown Brown will open that show, which starts at 7 p.m., with tickets priced $20-$25. Give Klaus a hero’s hometown welcome. Just over a week before that, strangely enough, Jello Biafra & the Guantanamo School of Medicine will play at the Magic Stick. It’s a weird coincidence, but one that DK fans should be happy to embrace. That show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $17-$19. Local hardcore vets Negative Approach play before Jello, with the Crashdollz opening the show. Follow @City_Slang

    The post City Slang: Dead Kennedys to have a holiday in Detroit appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain

    The Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck will present a police drama called A Steady Rain May 2 through 24. Planet Ant veterans Ryan Carlson and York Griffith will star in the play, written by House of Cards and Mad Men co-writer Keith Huff. Tickets ($10-$20) are on sale now at According to the press release, “A Steady Rain by Keith Huff focuses on Joey and Denny, best friends since kindergarten and partners on the police force whose loyalty to each other is tested by domestic affairs, violence and the rough streets of Chicago. Joey helps Denny with his family and Denny helps Joey stay off the bottle. But when a routine disturbance call takes a turn for the worse their loyalty is put to the ultimate test.First produced at Chicago Dramatists, A Steady Rain appeared on Broadway featuring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The Planet Ant production of A Steady Rain is directed by York Griffith featuring Ryan Carlson and Andy Huff. This marks the return of two of Planet Ant’s founding members. Carlson and Griffith. Griffith has served as the theatre’s Artistic Director where he directed the critically-acclaimed productions The Adding Machine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? […]

    The post Planet Ant presents A Steady Rain appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



Search thousands of events in our database.


Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.


Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

MT on Twitter
MT on Facebook

Print Email


The music man

There’s magic where children learn to make sweet sounds for $5 a lesson

Photo: , License: N/A

Mark Lamonte waiting for students at his store.

The little girl struggles to hold the heavy clarinet in her hands.

Amira Chambers, all of 5 years old, sits inside the cold air of the Metro Music store, with her winter coat still on, and blows out one unsteady note after another as she learns her new instrument. 

Her teacher, wearing a knit hat and winter coat, points to a sheet of music and instructs her note by note. "F," he says. She blows F. "F again," he says. She does F again. "Now an open G. OK, another one. Again. Again. Now play F. Good! Good! Good!" he exclaims.

Sometimes her notes slip a little into sharps or flats, but each time they do, Mark Lamonte, the store's 64-year-old owner, gently prods her back on track, without a trace of impatience in his voice, always with the same gentle, steady tone of a good teacher. He charges only $5 for a half-hour lesson in any instrument you want to play. He knows how to play them all.

George Cunningham, her grandpa, who's winter-bundled like the others, sits and watches as he does every Saturday with two other little children, one a grandchild and one his own, who fidget as they wait for their own lessons. He marvels at the teacher's tenderness. "The music man here, the way that he takes time with the kids, the way that he reaches them — not everybody's got that kind of patience with kids," the 66-year-old minister says.

Children, the reverend thinks, should learn to play a musical instrument. Doesn't matter which one. Not only does it give them something constructive to do, not only is it a skill that will benefit them in other ways, but there's just something that's good for the soul about creating music out of nothing. That's why they're sitting here now, in a cold, unlit room, with this likable, slightly eccentric teacher.

"Everybody love music," Cunningham says, as the clarinet behind him honks out one note at a time. "Show me somebody that don't love music. I don't know nobody that don't."


You can see the tall, brick Metro Music building from the freeway that runs below it. Faded lettering up high announces it with a name that says not only are instruments sold here, but that the ability to make your own music is taught here.

Lamonte's father, Fred, started the store back in 1952. He'd been a steel guitarist in a touring Hawaiian band, and for years had his own music store called the Aloha National Conservatory of Music on 14th Street near Grand River Avenue, where he taught how to play what was then still a popular genre. But he and his business partner had a falling out, so Fred purchased a plot of west side land that now overlooks the sunken Southfield Freeway near Joy Road and had the Metro Music store custom built.

Lamonte has loved music his whole life. "I used to sit and listen to the record player when I was a kid," he says. "Man, I would sit there for hours, trying to figure out the chords and the song." He played saxophone in elementary school and at Mackenzie High in Detroit, then got a music education degree from Eastern Michigan University. After graduating, he joined his dad at the store. 

Back then, just about every school had band and music classes, and customers poured into the store for lessons and instruments for their kids. It also drew local stars like members of the Four Tops and the Temptations, and dozens of backup and bit-part Motown musicians. The giant store carried just about any instrument anyone requested. 

It still does. Besides guitars and amps and drums and horns, you can get a cowbell or a tambourine, bongos or an Ozark harp, maracas or cabasas. There's even a box of metal kazoos under the glass counter, which Lamonte gives free to each of his students, just because it's yet another way they can make music.

Business was so good for a while the family opened a second store on Grand River at Lahser, then a third out in Chesterfield Township. But the ups and downs of the economy in the past few decades whittled business away, as did local budget-strapped schools cutting music and arts programs, particularly in Detroit. "Business just fell right apart," Lamonte says. First one store closed, then the other, and Lamonte dragged the stock of both back to the original store, where he planned to start over. The idea was to unpack all the instruments, the amplifiers, the drumsticks and strings, and go back to having a single grand store, just like it was when his dad first ran the place. 

It's been 12 years now, and still the store is full of unpacked boxes stacked halfway to the ceiling. Maybe it's because there's just so much to sort through, so much to unpack, that it's hard to know where to begin. Maybe it's because his mom and dad died not long ago, barely a year apart, and going through all this stuff is an emotionally draining task. But he pledges he's going to get to it someday.

"I'm trying to start over again, but as you can see the place is really a mess because I have all of this leftover from the other stores," says Lamonte, who lives in the apartment upstairs. "I kind of have to sort it all out. It really looks terrible now, but we still have a small business here. Things dropped off, but it will pick up again. It's just a matter of time."


The dim winter sun spills into the room, casting angular shadows in the natural light. Lamonte sits in a chair, by a portable heater, strumming an acoustic guitar, waiting by the door in case a student shows up. He centered in the one open space he's left himself to teach music, next to the front window, surrounded by his stacks of boxes. 

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