Sunday, July 13, 2008

Corktown Tavern & The Works

Corktown Tavern: techno BBQ
DJs: Punisher, Kero & Tetzzie, John Overfiend, Lindsay Yeager, Dan Bain, CFX, Errol, Drew Pompa
6PM (we arrived at 9:15PM) – 4AM (we left at 11:15PM and I came back at 1AM for a bit)

The Works
Felton Howard
2AM-6AM (I left at 4:30AM)

Corktown Tavern is an interesting place. Corktown was historically an Irish neighborhood of Detroit, near Mexicantown, west of downtown, near Michigan Central Station (the giant, abandoned train station), it also holds the now abandoned and partially torn down Tiger's Baseball stadium. Wiki for Corktown:

The bar was two levels, ground level was mainly a long bar with a DJ set up at the front with her/his back to the door/street and looking down the bar. Tables and chairs, gambling machine, shooting arcade game, that's the downstairs, then stairs leading up and a door to the fenced patio area where the food was being BBQ'd and served. Upstairs there was a similar set up, bigger DJ booth taking up the full width of the building on the street side. Then dance floor, bar along one side, tables along the other. There were stickers on the draught pumps, one of them was Detroit Techno Militia! Took a crappy cell phone photo of it because, AGAIN, I forgot my camera. I leave it in the diaper bag, which is kept in the bedroom where the baby sleeps. By the time I remember to get the camera, it's too late - I would wake the babe. Lots of DTM shirts there, and Bang Tech 12 shirts as well. The music was really techno, but with hard bumping bass. Bang Tech describes it really well. Both James and I liked it alot! James and I got beers and some food. Then we went over to Michelle/DJ Punisher and I introduced myself. She remembered me from my MySpace email about doing an interview. She said that she would like to meet for an interview anytime. Then I introduced James and he gave her a disc with some photos on it that he took of her at Movement. She was really appreciative. So then we hung out for a while longer, went upstairs to hear Drew Pompa. Much different sound – darker, a bit slower, like DJ Krush, really dark and deep, almost down-tempo, but not quite. Having sound issues, sound went out and we could hear the music from downstairs coming up really clearly. Then we went out for a walk partway around the old Tiger Stadium which was right next to the tavern. On the way back to the tavern, I got a text message from our babysitter that the baby would not stop crying and would not take the bottle. So we headed back home an hour earlier than we had planned. As it turned out, she got Earl to sleep right before we came in the door. So, she left and James and I relaxed for a bit. Then I got myself dressed again to go out to the Works. As I checked the directions that I had printed out from google maps, I realized that I was heading back to Corktown just a few doors down from the tavern! Funny night! When I got to The Works, I was the second car in the lot and did not hear any music. As I walked from the side gravel lot to the sidewalk, a man was walking toward me. It was late and I was alone, and I tried not to make eye contact with him. But he asked me if I knew when the club opened. I didn't. So then he just started talking to me, and talking, and talking, and talking. It turned out he was gay and seemed pretty harmless, so we talked for a while as we walked over to the Corktown Tavern to hear the music while we waited for the Works. I should have just told him that I planned on going into Corktown Tavern and left it up to him to pay the $5 and come on in if he wanted to. He didn't like the music, he made that clear, it didn't have enough emotion, or feeling for him. He was critical of the Harley crowd who had come to the tavern in my absence. The Avengers of Michigan motorcycle club. They clearly were there on purpose and knew lots of people in the tavern, but this guy I was talking to for 1 ½ hours assumed they came to the tavern thinking it was a motorcycle bar and mistakenly happened upon the techno. It was just a difficult conversation waiting for the Works to open up. It's my own fault for worrying what this guy would do with himself if I left and went in to the tavern – because he was by himself and didn't know anyone, but neither did I. I just wanted to hear some good music. Then, close to 2AM, Felton Howard freaking walks out of the tavern to head over to the Works! The plan was that I was going to videotape his set and then take a look at it together and talk about it. We greeted each other and then he asked me to give him a half an hour (ahhhhhhhhhh!) to get things set up and going. Finally, we walked over to the Works, there was no guest list, so I paid my $10, it was only $7 for guys, $10 for girls (That's what the sign read). It was boys night at the Works! We walked in and Felton found me, asked me if I had to pay, then called the manager to get my money back. It was so nice to not have to pay for once, I don't expect that to happen usually. I want to support musicians, many of whom rent out the club or make very little money on a party. But it was nice to save a little money.

I extracted myself from the guy, finally, and headed over to the DJ booth to get set up. Felton did not say anything to me, nor make eye contact with me until 2 ½ hours later at 4:30 when I had packed up and was ready to say goodnight. He was so focused and really busy non-stop. It was an interesting night – he had two turntables, a mixer, two CDJs, an effects processor, and a laptop running Final Scratch. He had two copies of the same record playing on each turntable the whole night – this was really unusual, and I was a bit confused at first to not be able to see him flipping vinyl around. The two records supplied the beats for the night, basically. He did not even flip either record, just moved from track to track, sometimes stopping one record, using them as the beats for the other samples and tracks that he was playing overtop. I had never seen anyone spin like that and it was a really interesting approach. He had a bunch of CDs laid out on a shelf to the side and behind him. He used those CDs and Final Scratch to play lots of vocal tracks, Nelly Furtado, Janet Jackson, etc. He had written lists, maybe of the tracklistings for the numbered CDs (?, I didn't look closely), that he would periodically check and then choose something through Final Scratch (I don't really know what that program is capable of, so there is great possibility that he was doing lots more than I even realized). It was neat to watch him on the mixer. DJs definitely have their own style of using their equipment, how they handle their records, mannerisms with their hands, ways of moving knobs and levers on the mixer, dancing/or not dancing. Videotaping is giving me great insights into all this.

Definitely a great night! Thank you Felton!

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