Tag Archives: Detroit

T.G.I.F. – Ten More For Jimmy Mac

Had I not already had tickets and an entourage headed to Buffalo to see Elvis Costello – a magical show, by the way – I would have made a (Johnny) bee line to Detroit to catch the album release party for Jim McCarty. The legendary guitarist (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Cactus, The Rockets, The Hell Drivers) was hosting a star-studded show at Callahan’s, the Mecca I drove ten hours to for my last Detroit pilgrimage.

McCarty is often asked to jump onstage with bands who come through the area, and this latest album features collaborations with Duke Robillard, Jimmy Thackery, Johnny A, John Nemeth, Jason Ricci, The Millionaires and long-time partner in crime, Johnny “Bee” Badanjek. My friend Kevin thinks we should sell our houses and move to Auburn Hills. Not his worst idea.

I couldn’t be at this show. But thanks to Al Gore’s Internet, I was able to enjoy the magic after the fact. So too, now, can you as this week’s TGIF features Ten More For Jimmy Mac. If this doesn’t convince you that Jim McCarty is one of the greatest guitarists in rock’n’roll history…you are Tommy.

(01) – Prisoner of Love

(02) – Tell Me What’s The Reason

(03) – Loan Me A Dime

(04) – Knock On Wood

(05) – Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

Buy Jim McCarty and Friends at Amazon

(06) – Black Night

(07) – Goin’ Down

(08) – Oh, Well

(09) – LaGrange

(10) – Can’t You See

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Camping…in Brooklyn?

If it’s Brooklyn, Michigan – damn straight!

The inaugural Michigan Music Fest is going to take place September 17th, and discounted tickets are on sale now. Featuring one of the few performances this year by Jack White (with The Racounteurs, no less), the lineup includes an amazing array of legendary Detroit talent as well as some hot up-and-comers.

And Sheryl Crow, who for some reason is getting all the lead press. Hey, she’s good-looking and very successful, and by all accounts a nice person. But when your festival boasts The Rockets, Mitch Ryder, The Howling Diablos, The Romantics, Alto Reed and Mark Farner, do you really need to lead with that? Unless she’s planning to bring Kid Rock with her, I think this is a bit ass-backwards.

Other bands announced to date include Whitey Morgan and The 78s, Jill Jack, The Juliets, Ty Stone and The Truth; Jack White is poised to bring more acts from his Third Man Records roster.

More than a concert, it’s a full-blown arts festival with food and beverage tents manned by Michigan vendors and an art gallery featuring the work of local artists including Johnny “Bee” Badanjek and the legendary Stanley Mouse, who is designing the events poster. Gates open at noon, the first band is on at 1pm, and the show is slated to end at 11pm. Ten hours of mind-blowing music and an opportunity to see some of the greatest musicians in Detroit history, even if you would rather camp in a hotel.

Big thanks to my Detroit buddy Sue for tipping me to this can’t-miss event.

Get more information here.

Buy Michigan Music Fest tickets.

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I May Not Be Mr. Right…

…but I’m Mr. Right Now.

New music from The Howling Diablos!! From the forthcoming album Ultra Sonic Gas Can; dropping this July on Funky D Records. A perfect blend of blues, funk, rap and rock by some seriously talented musicians (Johnny Evans – sax/harp; Johnny Bee – drums; Mo Hollis – bass; Erik Gustafson – guitar; Tino Gross – vocals).

Video: “Mr. Right Now” (New Link as of June 1!)

Lots of great guests on this album including Jimmie “Bones” Trombley (Kid Rock), Robert Bateman (Marvelettes/writer ‘Please Mr. Postman’), Kymberli Wright (Mary J. Blige), Detroit axe legend Jim McCarty, Motown Ron and many more. Can’t wait!

Now excuse me for a minute…gotta do me some howlin’.

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Still Alive And Well

Every so often I Google just to see if he’s still out there, rockin’.

He was in the 60s.

He was in the 70s.

He was in the 80s.

He was in the 90s.

He was in the 00’s.

And he was just in Germany doing it again.

Still alive and well.

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Time To Assemble, Again

It’s always great when you meet someone and immediately sense that you’ve been through a lot of similar experiences, even before a lot of that conversation comes out on the table. Maybe it’s a story about this concert you saw, or that odd job you had, or (more likely) something that happened that just made you laugh your ass off. It’s the kind of stuff that happens much more often when you’re younger, perhaps because you were more frequently in situations where it was easy to be open and honest. Maybe it was naive to do so, but you weren’t focused on being guarded.

Now if you’re sharing a table at a club or hanging outside the same building waiting to be let in, it’s more likely that you’ll do the nod’n’smile or toss off a safe line of small talk. Because if someone started to engage you in an actual conversation, your first thought would be “what does this person want from me?”. And I hate that it’s come to that, but it can be a sick world out there.

In the summer of 2009 I jumped in my car and drove ten hours just to see Jim McCarty play guitar and Johnny Bee play drums. I didn’t know a soul who would be at the club but I didn’t care, I was on a mission to see two of my musical heroes. I got there early and would up sitting with three other people at a table about ten feet from the stage, and something got us past the polite nods and smiles. We started talking a bit, then buying beers, and although a good portion of the night was spent staring at the magic happening on the stage with mouths agape, we connected in the moment. And it wasn’t a long, deep conversation with Sue and Linda and The Dude, but enough to know that if we had grown up in the same town, yeah, we definitely would have hung out.

Sue and I have emailed back and forth on occasion since, and it was she who first tipped me off about the Assembly Line Concert in Detroit last year. This annual event not only aims to hold the longest continuous music festival in history and feature a tremendous amount of local music, but it also seeks to bring awareness and foot traffic to Detroit businesses and to grass-roots organizations trying to rebuild one of America’s greatest cities.

It started with one man’s offer of a free cup of coffee for anyone who would pledge that their next car would be a car made in Detroit, and it mushroomed into this manic challenge to have the longest continuous concert in the Guinness Book of World Records (which they did with 288 straight hours in 2009…only to be overtaken by Atlanta in 2010.)

Shortly after the event was over last year, Sue sent me a commemorative t-shirt since I was there in spirit, which was just beyond cool. And I just got an email from her tonight telling me it’s on again, warts and all, “…some good, some bad and some downright ugly; but always entertaining.”  So how could I not pass the word? I don’t expect anyone to stay up for fifteen-plus days glued to the monitor, but check in once in a while, and if you are so inclined, drop a coin in the slot and back a great cause.

The ALC started tonight and runs through April 3rd; here’s the lineup.

And here’s the streaming concert.

Sue tells me that Atlanta is going down. Don’t ever doubt Detroit.

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Top Ten Albums of 2010 – #7

The Sights’ newest release Most of What Follows Is True might be their best yet, and that’s saying a mouthful. Despite their relatively young age, these garage/pop/blues rockers have distilled the essence of primal garage inspirations like The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Pretty Things with a modern pop sound (many pull out a Supergrass comparison, and that’s not far off).

Video: “Rock and Roll Circus”

But it’s their versatility that slays me. “Guilty” is raucous, guttural rock’n’roll that intimates more horns that it actually contains. “Maria” is music hall crossed with sixties pop – like The Kinks and Small Faces made careers upon; shit, “Tick Talkies” all but has tap dancing in it. “Take and Take” and “How Do You Sleep” (with traces of “Tin Soldier” DNA in it) mine Freakbeat waters, and “Back To You” and “I Left My Muse“? Americana meets garage.

And can they wail? Oh yeah…”Nose to The Grindstone” closes the album with that 60s/70s FM deep track vibe that is so sorely missed today.

Video: “Nose To The Grindstone“.

The Sights are yet one more underrated American band – and from Detroit, mind you – who deserve much bigger and better things. Now a four piece (Eddie Baranek on guitar and vocals, Dave Lawson on bass and vocals, drummer Skip Denomme and Gordon Smith on guitar, keyboards and vocals), they’ve had a few changes over the years including Bobby Emmett, whose solo album was in my top ten last year.  This effort is their first studio album in five years, and it was worth the wait.

All of what follows is true

  • Their albums groove.
  • They’re Nugget-y.
  • You will play them often and loud. 
  • I highly recommend you check out their entire catalogue.

Listen to clips at Amazon.

Enlist in The Sights Army

The Sights on MySpace.

Four guys, totally fab.

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Happy Birthday, Fred “Sonic” Smith

Fred (Sonic) Smith would have been 61 years young today.

Fred Smith departed far too soon – six years ago this November – but he left behind some seminal rock moments, from founding the MC5 to Sonic’s Rendesvous Band (which until recently only existed in my tactile world through the classic single  “City Slang“).

Sadly, he is only known in some other circles for marrying Patti Smith. I guess when your name is Smith it isn’t a shock when you marry a girl with the same surname; it saves a bunch on monogrammed towels.

Video: “City Slang

The other members of the MC5,  Scott Morgan, The Hellacopters and many other bands are keeping Fred’s legacy alive through their (and his) music, and more and more recordings of the SRB are surfacing as well as a treasure chest of sides from The Rationals and other classic Detroit bands. Man, was that place cooking. Still is!

I met him once; we sat down at the same table at the Bottom Line in NYC. He was saying hello to a friend, who was a friend of my friend (Kevin Bacon explodes about this time) and the four of us enjoyed whomever we had driven in to see that night. Seemed like a really down to earth, regular guy. Wish I got to know him.

Fred Smith Wiki page

Fred Smith at Allmusic.com

***

And Happy 25th Birthday to Mario!

Click the picture for the secret message…

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