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 […]
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.
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.
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; tangentgallery.com.
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 […]
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 […]
Bathed in the light of a Pacific Ocean sunset, lounging on a hammock in the in the back yard of his Maui bachelor pad, talent manger Shep Gordon surveys his surrounding like a master of the universe. He has many reasons for his ample self-regard, having spent his life building the careers of such diverse musical artists as Alice Cooper and Teddy Pendergrass, French master chef Roger Vergé and even Groucho Marx, and he helped make all of them, and himself, very wealthy. Gordon’s roster of former clients, celebrity pals, and past lovers sometimes seems a bit like the guest list at a Vanity Fair post-Oscar party, and a great deal of these famous friends line up here to sing the praises of the man who, through his ineffable wisdom and chutzpah, has made them all a great deal of money. Star after star, from Sylvester Stallone to Michael Douglas to Creole cooking magnate Emeril Lagasse, all seem eager to bask in the glory of Gordon, a big, warm gregarious character, who is unusual only in that everyone in showbiz seems to genuinely like him.
One of the man’s most ardent admirers is SNL vet Mike Myers, who crashed in Shep’s guest room during a particularly dark period in the comedian’s life, and Myers has repaid that generosity by directing an endlessly fawning tribute to Gordon, not just recounting his life, but showering him in glory and stopping just inches short of full beatification. Myers gazes in perpetual awe at his subject, sitting and soaking in the stories of sex, drugs, and hard-living debauchery with the wide-eyed glee of a child sitting on the knee of a favorite uncle.
In fairness, Gordon does have some delightful stories to tell from a long run in showbiz, even if those stories somehow always bend toward self-congratulation.
After the requisite humble beginnings back East, Gordon ambled his way into Hollywood in the late ’60s, and he recalls a tale of getting punched by Janis Joplin at a pool party, and then meeting Jimi Hendrix, who encouraged the lanky, slightly dorky Shep to get into talent management. His first client was shock rock innovator Alice Cooper, who rose to fame through a combination of talent, stagecraft, and a string of very canny PR stunts. Gordon moved Cooper back to his native Detroit, where hard-rock-obsessed audiences ate up his mix of glam rock, gender-bending, monster hooks, and sinister, comic book mysticism. Of interest for Detroiters of a certain vintage is the mention of CKLW 800 AM, the Windsor station that was once a musical powerhouse, and which helped push Alice’s breakthrough hit “I’m Eighteen,” mostly because it was recorded in Canada and therefore fulfilled a government mandate for “native content.”
One of the most infamous incidents in the Cooper mythos occurred at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival in 1969 where, as an opening act for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the proto-goth rocker tossed a live chicken into the crowd, which promptly tore the poor bird to pieces and hurled the bloody remains back at Alice, who basked in the carnage. Nearly a half-century later, Gordon takes unabashed joy in pointing out that he was the one who brought a chicken to the rock concert on purpose.
The manager used less grisly but equally effective techniques in promoting snooze-rocking Canadian siren Anne Murray, proving that his genius for publicity was legit.
As entertaining as Gordon’s adventures in the music industry are, Supermensch is far less successful in explaining why we shouldn’t just be watching a movie about the performers he managed. Gordon recounts everything with a soothing but mildly scratchy baritone that is equally charming when he discusses his deep personal relationships with Sharon Stone and the Dalai Llama. Shep’s tone of faux humility and the vocalized disdain for fame ring pretty hollow for a guy staring directly into a camera lens.
That camera lovingly embraces the grinning, frizzy-domed impresario, as he recounts the varied, often ingenious tricks he used to boost the profiles of his clients, but the film never once pauses to consider if Gordon’s knack for media manipulation doesn’t extend to manipulating everyone in his personal sphere. Such questions, or really any sort of investigation, would be better suited to an actual bit of documentary filmmaking, instead of the extended infomercial that Supermensch turns out to be.
Supermensch is rated R, runs 84 minutes, and is playing in theaters now.