Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Halloween and November in Detroit

I have recently experienced some beautiful and moving sounds in Detroit. I miss Detroit, I live about 40 minutes away now. It's a tearful reality. Halloween in Detroit was fantastic, and yes, the babysitter did give me the typical warning about October 31st in Detroit (she's white and from Oakland County – whatever). You know, the warnings that you hear about fires, crime, car jacking, ETC in this city. I know it happens, but seriously, can't a lady get out to hear some quality sounds?! I experienced no wild dangers when I ventured out into this city. I picked up my good friend Terri who I hadn't seen in way more than a minute and we went down to the Interdimensional Transmissions' annual Samhain party at the Bohemian National Home. IT consists primarily of Brendan Gillen and Erika Sherman, the two parts of Ectomorph. Amber Elle, artist and Brendan's wife, also teams up with IT for these legendary parties. Here's their Metro Times cribs article.

I figured Erika was playing records first because her name was last on the flyer. Order on the flyer can sometimes give you a clue as to the lineup for the night, but not always. When we arrived, she was playing Synthetic Flemm by Theo Parrish. I was super excited to see her play records. It was my first time. I'd seen her live before, but never with her fingers on that vinyl. She ended up having Carlos Souffront mix the records for her while she picked them out. Not sure if she was having trouble mixing/blending records together, nervousness, whatnot. I've heard she's a good dj, so I'll have to wait around for my next chance. Together, they played some nice tunes. After about an hour there, we jetted over to see Dam Funk at Oslo (pronounce that shit dame or somebody might slap you!). Now this was some sexy music, I'm serious. I did not stop dancing. Well maybe for about a second, but then I just kept going. Here's the Filter D feature.

In addition to playing his own music from his new LP Toeachizown, this man announced, with nothing else playing, "Watching You" by Slave saying they were his favorite artists ever. Then he proceeded to play a super long version of the song all the way through, at least it seemed super long and nice down in that hot, sweaty, almost smelly, sexy, dark club. And yeah, it was kind of dark – no flashing lights, no lasers, no smoke machine. Nice. He got on the mic quite a bit singing as he played. It was fantastic. Unfortunately, we missed Kevin Reynolds, who is awesome, but I had to go see Erika – you understand, don't you?! We stuck around to hear Secrets (Matt Abbott) and it was funky and nice, but it still felt early (the automatic time change on Terri's phone fooled me!), so we made our way back to the Bo House. And what do you know we got to hear Carlos again! He's freaking fabulous, regarded in small, but wide reaching circles, as an amazing DJ, a librarian, a DJ's DJ, yeah, he's pretty dope. We actually caught the tail end of Alpha 606 playing live, then Carlos stepped up and proceeded to do some damage. The sound system was excellent, another reason IT parties are so great. Everything he played tasted really good. I already mentioned this on the Detroit Luv message board, but I seriously couldn't decide whether I wanted to dance or stand there concentrating on what I was hearing. It was intense, some of it was really dark and just great, it felt super intellectual and physical at the same time. There aren't many people who really do that in such a powerful way. Every sound and piece of music he played, the way he played things, the structure of his set, was compelling in profound ways. So I'm still happy two weeks later!

And two weeks later, I made it out to The Chain Reaction Showcase, just this past Friday night, at the Bohemian National Home. I was a pretty big deal for a lot of people. Blank Artists put it on. Another group who consistently throw great parties. Here's the ABOUT from their website:

Comprised of You and Us

Blank Artists was born in 2005 as an art/music collective and has since grown to underline the cherished relationship between the aural and visual disciplines. The label has been privileged with acclaim for its diverse discography of electronically made music, ranging from down-tempo, funk, house, and techno. Considered by many to be at the forefront of the next wave in U.S. domestic dance music, the label aims to catalog releases that choose to remain perched above trends, simultaneously representing the current climate within independent dance music.

I got there in time to see Patrick Russell. His set was great. It took a lot of back and forth for me to decide to actually go. Because I'm not young and single, it's been a small challenge for me to rationalize my going out to parties. But I've realized that the rationalization comes when I acknowledge that I'm not just going out to parties. This is serious buzinezz for me. Research yes, but also, doing this research has brought me to such a new level of passionate appreciation for electronic music, and particularly music that I can hear out in and around Detroit. It's nourishment, I tell ya. I just enjoy a type of musical performance that happens to occur in the middle of the night. I'm not out there getting drunk, cause I'm a lightweight. Not out to catch some ass because I'm not out to catch some ass. I'm out because I'm moved in a serious way, and it's fucking fun as fuck. So the reason I almost stayed home was because we had wonderful friends visiting from Bloomington, IN, with their two kids, and I felt odd going out late while the rest were all sleeping and then feeling exhausted the next day. But I decided I could handle it, I needed to handle it, and went out just as my buds were starting to snooze. I am so glad that I did, because the night was great. I got to see Peter Kuschnereit and René Löwe play live together, the music was beautiful. I met a few new folks, which is always lovely. And I'm not sure how public I should be with announcing some of the people I met, particularly people who really don't have any public online presence. So I'll just say that it was cool and I had lots of good conversations with lots of folks. Although I will say that I ended up standing around talking with three dudes, no listening while three dudes talked about penises – penis talk, really? Don't you know I'm a lady, fools, I don't play that. Naw, I can handle it, just as long as you say some other nice things, I can handle it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Can you stand it??

The following is from the Blank Artists blog:

Scion is comprised of Peter Kuschnereit and René Löwe, both of whom are longstanding employees of Berlin’s legendary record shop/distributor Hard Wax. Also having produced on Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus’ Basic Channel sub-label Chain Reaction, Scion’s revisionist aesthetic looks beyond the standard synth, 303, 808, and 909 sounds, which we associate with house and techno, to set the precedent for the Chain Reaction sound. Together for this rare and intimate performance, Scion extends the invitation to re-connect their listeners with a past often lost, but which undoubtedly served as an impetus to the future of electronic music.

* One of only four North American tour dates

additional support provided by:

Patrick Russell - Circus Company/Mentalux
Drew Pompa - Blank Artists


$10/$15 After 2am
Friday, November 13th 2009
National Bohemian Home
3009 Tillman Detroit, MI
Doors @ 10pm
Map It

I am freaking ecstatic.

And here's the Filter D feature.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Friends and Blogs

Two of my fellow ethno folks have started fieldwork blogs of their own. They are both colleagues of mine from the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University.

Dave is doing research in Trinidad and Tobago on music and HIV/AIDS. http://daveintrinidad.blogspot.com/

And this alien is in Atlanta working with the DJs.

Okay, now back to listening to "Cosmic Cars."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Number of characters exceeds comment limit.

I tried to just comment on that previous post, but apparently I typed a bit too much for Blogger. Well, these words are in response to comments from Kent Williams and Pipecock of Infinite State Machine on my proposal post.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys. I appreciate your continued interest and support.

Tom: "almost exactly" ?? WTF, you mean it's not totally perfect! ;) And, if you want it, a copy of my completed dissertation is yours to have. I'm planning on sharing it with everyone who participated in my research - like people I interviewed and stuff.

It's tough to write about race and Detroit. I'm trying to not shy away from writing openly and honestly about this city, this music, and the people who are here, making and loving this music. It would be much easier for me to not make these things so public and just write my academic writings and share it with my dissertation committee and be done with it. Then I wouldn't have to pay attention so much to getting it right or getting it wrong, because what does my committee know about techno or Detroit? Writing this blog has been a great tool in preparation for writing something that can potentially reach multiple audiences.

Kent: I know that sentence/idea is jarring, but I think that's okay. You're right, I am referring to Blackness as an academic concept that has been written about by scholars of many diverse disciplines for decades. It's not that I'm trying to tell Black people who they are. No, I sure wouldn't head down to Coney Island at 3AM, or Belle Isle on a warm Sunday afternoon, or Submerge and say "Hey, my 'n-words', let me tell you about yourselves!"

That statement is coming from my academic background in ethnomusicology. Historically, anthropologists and ethnomusicologists would approach ethnography as data collection, "armchair ethnomusicology." Go somewhere far away, collect cultural artifacts, maybe talk to some of the "natives," and then head home to make scholarly assessments about the artifacts. And the assessments were based on the scholar's ideas and opinions and training, not based on indigenous cultural concepts, interpretations, creations, etc. This has not been commonplace in ethnomusicology for at least 25 years now, but some of these tendencies/concepts remain. I don't want my research to look like this: I go to Detroit, collect data about a NEW genre of African American music to add to the academic canon of Black music genres, and call it a day. Since Detroit is way more complex than this approach could ever demonstrate, I'm attempting to contribute a much more nuanced approach to music research and scholarship on race and culture.

As far as communicating this work to people outside of academia, in Detroit and out, that would be fantastic! I think, in answer to your question about whether I'm addressing ethnomusicologists only, or whether I could actually communicate something meaningful to Mike Banks, I would say both. I feel freaked out about reaching a non-academic audience, because I know that there are a lot of people out there who know their shit, and I don't want to look like a doofus. :) But I'm starting to feel more confident that I actually, finally, have something to give back. I want to contribute positive ways of thinking about and dealing with race and Detroit. But there are tons of little cool ass details that I think people should know. Like the first time Erika Sherman introduced me to Brendan Gillen, Brendan told me that I need to talk to Todd Osborn, Anthony Shake Shakir, and Carlos Souffront. He said that those are the guys who have extensive knowledge about Detroit electronic music and would have great things to teach me. I happily told him I had already interviewed all three of them. And Kyle Hall has everything Marcellus Pittman has ever released - that's a cool fact.

Oh, and I finally must say that the proposal was pretty jargon-free and lucid (thank you) because its a grant proposal that will be read by people outside my discipline. I've worked hard to keep it succinct and to the point. And sorry to disappoint, but here's my thoughts on academic writing, and jargon - I love it! I would surround myself in jargon just so I could read through it and struggle to figure it all out and then actually understand the ideas, the terms, phrases, and what that all references. And what better place for super theoretical academic concepts than a dissertation! I suppose I'm in a constant state of being between worlds, attempting something that might be impossible, but I'll get it under control! And let me just say, that being an academic is just another job, another profession, with it's own rules, expectations, customs, no better than any other job. Although, I know academics often come off as being superior, exclusive, arrogant, etc. That's not me, I'm actively trying NOT to be that. I'll do my best to be an awesome ethnomusicologist who can still communicate in meaningful, non-academic ways.

Some business.

Getting more official tonight...

I am working on cleaning up my dissertation proposal for a final grant application from the American Association of University Women. Since I'm getting busy with my words lately, I figured it would be appropriate timing to post my brief proposal (it's six pages, dissertations going to be 200+, I'm thinking) to my blog. I would LOVE feedback from anyone who is interested in contributing ideas or suggestions. So thanks in advance. Here we go...

History, Heritage, and Identity in Detroit Electronic Music

Through a complex of history, heritage, and identity, people involved in electronic music in Detroit conceive of and construct this music as African American. Techno, house, and electro, the primary forms of electronic music in Detroit, are not typically identified as African American musics on a national and global scale outside of Detroit. For this reason, my primary theoretical approach is to explore, using ethnographic research, musical, verbal, and other cultural evidence of the discursive construction of an African American identity for Detroit electronic music. I address this objective using three points of inquiry: First, what in the performance, sound, and discourse of Detroit techno, house, and electro tie them to African American culture? Second, why is it important to make these claims of cultural identity in connection with this music? And third, baring the evidence of these musical foundations in African American history and culture, what are the implications of Detroit musicians, of color and white, stating proudly that this is no longer Black music?

Marcellus Pittman, Detroit DJ and producer, explained, in an interview I conducted, what makes Detroit electronic music African American,

The history, the history behind it…There were a lot of drug gangs in Detroit [in the 1980s]…A lot of kids would stay in and just listen to the radio, Mojo and Jeff Mills. That was the only thing that we had that we could look forward to without anything bad happening. We would tape the sessions from the radio…It's also Black because Black people made it. It's this confusion of the Kraftwerk thing and the whole German thing…that was techno too…It was inspiration for us and we fed off that. And we came up with our own style and called it techno.

Marcellus, as well as other electronic musicians/DJs in Detroit, explained that the musical and cultural past for African Americans in Detroit informed the creation of techno and house music, and continues to impact production and performance of Detroit electronic music to this day. Further, many Detroit electronic musicians emphasize the contemporary global impact of techno, house, and electro, minimizing the African American identification in the music and culture. Central to my research, are the concepts of history, Detroit, and African American culture.

Time, space, and human interaction are key markers in the African American identity of Detroit electronic music. I investigate the concepts of music and identity in time and space in order to understand the manifestation of Detroit electronic music as African American, and as not African American. Time emerges in my analysis in various manifestations, including musical time, performance duration, and historical periods. The concept of space is significant, from the layout of musical electronic equipment in a DJ booth or production studio, to locations where electronic music happens in Detroit. Even Detroit itself provides an expansive site from which to investigate identity and legacy, given Detroit's complex socio-historical development. Finally, interaction and communication, in a complex of mentoring, DJ and production partnerships, and institutional upkeep, demonstrate explicit links to African American culture and history in Detroit.

Detroit has a powerful history of musical abundance, extreme innovation, and prosperity prior to the mid-1960s, and extreme poverty, disenfranchisement and violence beginning in the mid-1960s. With the gradual exodus of Detroit's white population to suburbs during the 1960's, and 1969's violent and devastating race riots referred to as the "Long, Hot Summer," the city has continued to struggle with misguided leadership, profound disenfranchisement, and crippling racism. However, in spite of all this struggle, electronic music culture in Detroit is thriving today. I have seen surprising levels of dedication and civic mindedness from Detroit's citizens in connection with electronic music culture. Contrary to widespread views of this city as being a wasteland of crime, abandoned buildings, and poverty, Detroit is full of life, and cultural and civic activity.

The model I will use to investigate time in Detroit electronic music is based on the work of ethnomusicologist, Ruth M. Stone. Stone has established a multifaceted model of time in her work on West African musical performance. Stone is "concerned not only with the rhythms of sound and the placement of text, but also with the larger flow of events, and ultimately with the movement of time for both the individual and the family" (Stone 1998: 124). In Detroit, time can refer to musical time, or the beat, in electronic music. Time also refers to the performance event including the duration of musical segments, duration of a DJ set, and duration of multiple DJ sets in a single night. In addition to the music and performance applications, time applies to historical periods. Taking this approach to Detroit electronic music, I demonstrate how techno, house, and electro are linked to identity, and to broader notions of heritage and legacy. My focus on varying notions of time stems from indigenous concepts of time and musical production among electronic musicians in Detroit. In conducting this research with DJs, producers, record label managers, booking agents, record store owners, club and event promoters, and fans in Detroit, I have found that there is a particular catalog of sounds, musical references, and music production choices that are unique and characteristic of Detroit.

Furthermore, as I investigate time and culture as fluid, reflexive, and dynamic concepts, diverse notions of space become important. The locations where electronic music happens within Detroit are essential to the legacy of this music, as is the connection of the music to Detroit itself. Electronic music has a strong local, independent presence in Detroit where record stores, internet and college radio, roller skating rinks, outdoor festivals, gay and straight dance clubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, museums, and out in the street, are all central to the existence and proliferation of electronic music. These locations impact the local music scene, but they also provide a backdrop for the international success of Detroit musicians. Detroit cultivates musicians providing them with inspiration and community, launching a select few on to international success. Detroit electronic music has typically demonstrated international success, particularly in Europe and Asia, yet in the United States, this music is nearly invisible and inaudible. International success began in the late 1980s and continues to this day; coupled with it came a severe disconnection of the music from its African American and Detroit-centered history, making cultural appropriation an important issue for Black electronic musicians. Nevertheless, the music has a strong presence in Detroit. Space, geographic or otherwise, is central to the exploration of history, heritage, and identity in Detroit electronic music.
Through eclectic methods and diverse relationships, mentoring, partnerships, and the maintenance of musical institutions are the primary processes of human interaction by which electronic music culture thrives in Detroit. Women mentor female and male DJs and producers, and men also mentor female and male DJs and producers. Some musicians maintain a solitary production and performance schedule, however, many enter into partnerships, or crews, with other like minded musicians and artists, striving to represent Detroit in their own ways. Local institutions make profound contributions to Detroit's electronic music culture: radio stations and particular radio programs, a local record pressing plant, a local record mastering company, numerous local record labels and management companies, and historically significant promotion crews and dance club locations. I contend that these methods of interaction and communication are clear indications of the impact of African American heritage on Detroit electronic music culture.

Academic attention to electronic dance music, in general, has increased in recent years. However, Detroit electronic music is still overlooked and replaced by a focus on the global dimensions of this music. There are two scholarly articles published that focus entirely on Detroit techno music, one of which argues that Detroit techno is post-soul and in effect, no longer African American (Albiez 2005). The author of this article did not conduct ethnographic research. The second article, written by techno historian Beverly May, appears in a recently published anthology on African American music and is a wonderful introduction to the history of Detroit techno music (May 2006). This article is also not based on ethnographic research, rather the author did a series of journalistic interviews over a period of five years. Serious academic attention is due this music, and the culture of Detroit. Through my analysis of Detroit electronic music's history, heritage and identity within the context of time and space, I will devote needed attention to the musical culture of this city.

In my ethnographic research, I focused on the perspectives of Detroit DJs and fans. I conducted various types of ethnographic interviews with individuals and with groups of DJs. Topics addressed in the interviews include musical production and creativity, history, African American culture, Detroit history and culture, musical influences, and the international circulation of Detroit electronic music. I spent a year and six months, from February 2008 to July 2009, attending over one hundred DJ performances in Detroit, videotaping many of them. The opportunity to closely observe DJs performing, and then to analyze their video recorded performance, has been undeniably valuable in my research.

I engaged in participant observation in order to understand fundamental elements of production and performance in Detroit electronic music culture. Close attention to the ways in which the DJ manipulates the electronic and digital equipment, transitioning between different audio sources, adjusting volume, the various levels of treble and bass, and other musical parameters gave me a much more nuanced understanding of what a DJ does in performance. I developed a heightened awareness for the role of fans in performance as feedback providers for the DJ, guiding and altering the performance as needed through a cycle of verbal and non-verbal communication. Finally, interviewing, and listening to and talking about musical recordings has provided me with important tools for musical analysis.

The primary contribution to the humanities and social sciences offered by this study is its proposition that cultural and musical identity take shape according to the multi-dimensional communication involved in performance. Furthermore, I offer new perspectives on the concept of Blackness and how this is manifest in the productions of DJs in Detroit. I am basing this on anthropologist Maureen Mahon's model of Black American rock musicians. Mahon moves beyond "racialized thinking" in order to explore and expand the boundaries of what Blackness may encompass or signify. She exemplifies Black rock as an ideological, cultural, and political "breach of racial etiquette" and an expansion of contemporary notions of Blackness (Mahon 2004: 8). Finally, my research will establish a model for investigating other identities manifest in electronic music as well as the dynamic and expansive dimensions of African American culture.

Works Cited

Albiez, Sean. "Post-Soul Futurama: African American Cultural Politics and Early Detroit Techno" European Journal of American Culture, 24, no. 2 (2005): 131-152.

Mahon, Maureen. 2004. Right to rock: The Black Rock Coalition and the Cultural Politics of Race. Durham: Duke University Press.

May, Beverly. 2006. "Techno." African American Music: An Introduction. Mellonee B. Burnim and Portia K. Maultsby, eds. New York: Routledge.

Pittman, Marcellus. Interview with author. August 13, 2008.

Stone, Ruth M. 1998. "Time in African Performance". In The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Africa, edited by Ruth M. Stone. New York & London: Garland.

Monday, October 26, 2009

RBMA Radio - Whodat (As The Point Turns, Detroit) - Train Wreck Mix

So have a listen, and then listen again, and then listen again. I did, and it was a great day.

RBMA Radio - Whodat (As The Point Turns, Detroit) - Train Wreck Mix

This mix is by my friend, mentor, and research consultant, DJ Whodat (Terri McQueen). I have written about her alot on this blog. We've done three interviews together, she taught me the basics of playing records and using analog equipment, and she taught me a whole lot about Detroit. She has started here own record store, Ya Digg Records. It is online right now and she plans to have a location in Detroit open by December.

Whodat is? Whodat, of course!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keeping on...

I have been gone for a ridiculously long time, I know. Things have been busy, and not just with my family. I’m hard at work transcribing interviews and analyzing the research I have conducted and data that I have collected. And lucky me, I get to spend some of my time working with this stuff at the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti while Todd Osborn plays music. Seriously, how awesome is that!? If it seems odd that I would chose a super loud bar as the only other location besides my home that I work on this bitch, just imagine whatever ignites and inspires you to create something fabulous, and that’s what my occasional Sunday nights in Ypsi are for me. I come prepared with my bag full of fieldnotes (next it will be all my blog posts, then interview transcripts, and other printed documentation that I have written or collected since February 2008). I am reading through my fieldnotes doing thematic coding – I’m pulling out all the major themes that I see in my notes as I read through, maintaining a list that just seems to keep growing. I mark the location in the text where that theme appears, trying to keep a workable number of general themes that reappear in my notes. I have taken hundreds of pages of notes while doing this research and trying to write my dissertation just from memory of all that would produce a document based on only a fraction of what I have actually done Detroit. Once I have coded all my documentation, I can begin to decide what I am going to use in my dissertation from all this data, and how exactly I am going to organize it.

I've done most of my secondary source reading already, so just in case you thought I was doing this all from and about me, don't worry, that's not really what ethnomusicology is.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that I can keep up this blog with any regularity while doing all that. Sorry, I know, it’s devastating for me too. So I will try to make monthly posts to keep you up to date and share any interesting things with you.

Here’s an interesting thing: Mike Banks and Carl Craig playing together at the Amsterdam Dance Experience this past weekend and speaking at a conference there. Carl Craig appears at parties in Detroit a few times a year. I’ve seen Mike Banks out once since I moved to Detroit in 2008, and he was in the crowd during James Pennington’s set. The only other times I have seen him here is when I actually went to Submerge for an event and then a second visit to meet with him, attempt to interview him, have things get a little lost because of miscommunication, and then spend the evening talking, joking, and telling stories. Recorded interview will actually be happening in the coming weeks, so I’m really looking forward to that! Anyway, the thought of getting to see Mike Banks on keyboards with Carl Craig in Detroit gives me the shivers and causes my heart to flutter. I guess I can figure out a few reasons why this doesn’t happen in Detroit. For one, Mike Banks has dedicated decades to this city and continues to do so in ways that don’t usually involve live musical performances. Submerge is a remarkable, renowned, and crucial institution in the city of Detroit. It’s global impact is just as profound. The musical and cultural contributions of Underground Resistance are substantial and far-reaching. Also, he keeps pretty quite in the United States in general, including Detroit. He tends to put energy into people and places that already know and care who he is and what he stands for. So doing a show in Detroit that would probably draw lots of people from surrounding areas, and maybe even lots of people from the whole Midwest region, seems like it might not be something he would really devote himself to. And this is all just my own speculation, yes, I’m admitting that to you and not just pretending that I know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t really know why Mike Banks doesn’t play much in Detroit. Maybe I’m kind of right, but it’s not really something that is publicly discussed. I would fall all over myself to see him play here. Actually to see him play anywhere, I’ve never seen him play. Freaking terrible, I know.

Well that’s what I’ve got for you tonight. I’m going out now to see Todd Osborn and a *secret party* at the Elbow Room – I’ll get to hear Choir of Young Believers, Chris Bathgate, and Matt Jones. Let’s see how much work I get done!!!!

Oh yeah, and I’m going to see Dam Funk on Halloween in Detroit. I don’t even have words. And Kevin Reynolds and Matt Abbott are also playing. I’m totally, completely, utterly, stoked.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I'm slowly coming back from my long absence adjusting to major life transitions. Can you tell it's been a bit big? I'm homeschooling my kids full time now, transcribing...still, intending to catch up on a few straggling interviews and follow-up interviews, and getting ready for a year of serious writing. We're in Ann Arbor now, James is in the MFA program at the University of Michigan. He got excellent funding - full tuition remission and then some. This is such a wealthy town and university - so different from Detroit, as I'm sure you can imagine, and even really different from Bloomington, IN, where we lived for 7 years before Detroit. The resources available to grad students are incredible. And I stand outside watching the kids play, talking to other mothers and listening to them complain about not having enough money, even though their husbands are also grad students with great funding and stipends. Yes, we're all relatively poor and qualify for food stamps. But are you seriously complaining about getting paid to be a student?! I guess if you're used to having a lot, it's hard to adjust to having less. But don't they know that Everything Is Going To Be Alright.

I know, financial support for graduate students who are employed by universities to teach undergraduates is extremely important, and U of M has a strong history of unionizing graduate student employees and forming major alliances with other university employees. In 2008, the Graduate Employee Organization organized themselves and stadium construction workers to strike for one day in order to bargain for a new contract.

We've been exploring Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Walking trails and island hopping at Galup Park in Ann Arbor. Trying hard to be frugal at Zingerman's. Enjoying deep fried veggies (that's a me only thing, none of my men have much love for that!) and eggs on burgers at Blimpie Burger. Jerusalem Garden is pretty nice too. And you know I've already made two trips to Encore to buy some records. Tadd Mullinix has some "Tadd's picks" sections - I frequent those frequently. Tadd, possibly known as James T. Cotton, Dabrye, SK-1 of TNT (with Todd Osborn...there's a Tadd n' Todd tab in the electronic bin!) worked/works occasionally at Encore.

A few voyages to Ypsilanti too. Chilli dogs at Bill's Drive-In; we were just there today. My two year old grabbed a hot dog with mustard off the tray while sitting ON the picnic table; the hot dog rolled out of the paper it was wrapped in and landed on the ground; one of the two black dogs who either belong to the restaurant owner or one of the residents behind the restaurant, or both picked it up in one chomp. And then proceeded to breathe and heave until he swallowed it. I'll admit I was concerned. But all was well. Haven't gone to Kluck's Drive-In yet, but I plan to soon. We went raspberry picking at a farm in Ypsi. Have I gone to the Elbow Room yet to see Todd Osborn, no. But I will, I promise.

Sorry I don't have photos of these places. Why would I ever remember to bring my camera anywhere, ever, at any time, to do anything!!??

Thursday, August 13, 2009

There are so many things that I could go to in the next couple of weeks to hear good music, and yet, I'm having such a good time settling in to my new home, I hardly want to leave! I already missed the Ribs N' Soul Festival at Hart Plaza on August 1st. And then I missed the House Music Picnic on Belle Isle last weekend, August 8th. I missed Rick Wilhite, Jit Wiggins, Aaron Carl, Norm Talley, Buzz Goree, and "plus more," which might mean that Kenny Dixon, Jr. played. He played last year, football and records. He is occasionally listed simply as *special guest* on local party flyers. And you just know what that means depending on who is hosting the party or who some of the other DJs are. *For those who know*, and all variations of that idea, is a common phrase surrounding the presentation of Detroit electronic music. Underground Resistance uses it a lot on flyers or other promotional discourse. Some, many, still consider this underground music, so there's some intentional mystery constructed and imagined around Detroit techno and house music. It's fun to be a part of, it's fun to learn about. I understand that this mystery and eventual mythology that arises out of it transforms into negative excusivity to some. But I choose not to interpret it that way. I think it partially stems from a protective impulse more than a "we're way cooler than you" approach to music. Except some Detroiters are way cooler than me. Check out this series of posts over at mnml ssgs . The link is to the first part. The subsequent posts can be found by going to the *old ssgs* links in the archive section from June 2008. Each author takes an interesting approach to Detroit electronic music, and of course you know I appreciate Tom Cox's piece (Part III). And then Cliff Thomas of Submerge contributed an important post as well. And you know I appreciate that one because it comes from a perspective rooted from within Detroit. It's not that I'm majorly concerned with authenticity as a singular and powerful vantage point. I am not seeking out *The Most Authentic Detroit Authority*, I am interested in the complex multiplicity of perspectives and experiences that have created and circulated musical culture around Detroit and around the world. Consulting with people who live, create, and maintain something is significant to the process of learning about it.

And here are some parties that I may or may not be able to tear myself away from my cozy woods to get out to. Just as a side note: when I let you know about a party here or a particular release, it's not because someone has asked me to, or sent me a link to advertise for them. I post things that I think are interesting. I also don't get the time to post all the flyers for parties that I think sound interesting, and I don't get the time to post all the mixes that float around, or promote particular releases that I get excited about. So if I miss your event or release, it's not because I don't love you, it's because *I got other shit to do too*! Love ya.

Flyers. Parties. Flyers. Parties.

And uh, hip hop in Flint, yo. KRS-ONE! I saw him at NYU in 1997 or something, and Dead Prez opened for him. It was such a great show. Free too! He threw copies of a black and white drawing he did of his face out to the crowd. I still have mine. KRS.

And Todd Osborn...Elbow Room...Sundays...Ypsilanti...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Destroy This Birthday!

This is my birthday gift this morning from my husband. It is just so delicious. Records for my birthday. Records for Christmas, records for our wedding anniversary, records for valentine's day, records for Halloween. What does James want for his birthday, oh...records. Turntables are not hooked up yet. What's on tonight's list of things to unpack and set up in our new awesome home? Decks.

And I'll just tell you this, even though this is not really a parenting blog, I spent yesterday evening hiking with my three boys in the woods behind our new place. It was freaking magical. We found the trail on Monday and then decided to go into the woods yesterday. The trail stars with a steep downhill path in a meadowy clearing. At the base of the hill is a gateway formed by vines and tree branches. It is literally a curved gateway directly over the path that all of us except the babe had to duck under. That was our entry into the woods. My boys decided to call it The Darkness; they used to call a patch of woods on Indiana University's campus the same name, so that is being carried on for us here in Ann Arbor. We hiked through those woods, finding decomposing trees, patches of flourishing lowlying plants on the forest floor, and a run off on its way to the Huron River. It was so delightful to watch my boys find Daddy-Long-Legs, toss rocks, and run across the concrete portion of the run off like it was a half pipe (that's what they called it, no influence from me!). And the babe, 22 months and trudging through those woods like he's a professional trudger. Pumping those arms to keep up with those big brothers of his. I am so grateful to have such beautiful abundance just past our backyard.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Love What You Feel

Such a pretty label for Love What You Feel's first release LWYF-001 by Disco Nihilist. This is a new record label by Infinite State Machine's Thomas Cox. I'm going to have to get my white label copy out when I get home tonight and listen to it again...right before I vacuum out my record bag and fill it with vinyl so I can transport it to our new house.

And here's the Little White Earbuds review of the release. I really like what Shuja Haider writes about the DIY spirit of this release, and of dance music/electronic music in general. That's totally here in Detroit, although no one refers to it as DIY, and they don't call it indie either. It just is. People mostly just explain that after brief stints of seeking out help from other local, bigger name artists, they realized that if they wanted people to hear their music, they were going to have to get it out there themselves. This whole region is just ripe with local, independent record labels, many of whom get their records pressed at Archer Record Pressing Plant in Detroit, and then distribute them around the world. Local artists used to be able to get their records mastered by Ron Murphy at Sound Enterprises. Mastering in Detroit is momentarily on hold since his passing in January 2008. On hold, but definitely not permanently exiled. Here's an older post of mine featuring some words on Ron Murphy and vinyl.

Anthony Bourdain, Detroit, and Feather Bowling

What you can learn about Detroit by sitting at work and reading shit on the internet (and no, I'm not spelling it teh intranets, t'internets, interwebs, or any other way. My typing is so straight edge.)

First up, Feather Bowling.

(Taken from Wikipedia):

Feather bowling is a game played with wooden balls shaped like wheels of cheese. The balls are rolled down a dirt or synthetic alley towards a feather sticking out of the dirt at the other end. The object of the game is to get the ball as close to the feather as possible. Teams take turns rolling 12 balls (6 for each team) and may knock their opponent's balls out of the way, similar to Bocce. The team with balls closest to the feather at the end of the round wins 1 point per ball. The game is over when one team scores 10 points.

The game was created by American Catey Traylor, who famously murdered magician Dyna-Mike's bird and then played a game of bowling with its feathers. The only place to play the game in the United States is the Cadieux Cafe in Detroit, Michigan. A variant version, called "Belgian trough bowling" is also available at the Bath City Bistro in Mount Clemens, Michigan.

And now here's a link to the Cadieux Cafe
I am going to have to go there sometime very soon!

Anthony Bourdain took a trip through Detroit for his travel food show No Reservations and visited the Cadieux Cafe. Here is a segment of what he wrote about Detroit on his blog:

Detroit. Where just about everything cool originated. As angry as one gets looking at block after block of abandoned row houses in Baltimore and wondering how the hell that happened, it's mind boggling to see how far Detroit has been allowed to fall. But what a truly magnificent breed of crazy-ass hardcase characters have dug in there. Of all three cities we visited, Detroit, oddly enough, even while looking the jaws of death straight in the face, remains closest to being a true culinary wonderland. This is due entirely to the successive waves of migration and immigration from all over the world, when people came to MAKE things in America -- each group bringing their own food and traditions. Detroit IS the story of America, for better -- and worse, and I think we've missed that, allowed ourselves to look away. Detroit, after all, made us who we are. Literally. A country of cars, highways, car culture, upward mobility, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and what were once, unlimited dreams. Whatever happens next, Motown, Eminem and the Stooges' "Fun House", at least, shall surely outlast the automobile.

Add to that techno and house music. In addition to being a "culinary wonderland," Detroit is a musical wonderland, and I feed on it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dam that's funky, and sweet, and cold...

Spent the evening yesterday giggling with Kyle Hall, I mean doing an interview... things got silly. We giggled about Dam Funk and his song titles, we like them, we like his music more. The interview started out with me being a half hour late...we discovered two kittens that were born in our basement. They needed a bit of care. So I headed to Kyle's, he welcomed me into his studio in his basement. We started off very serious, but eventually came to the conclusion that he didn't really get too excited about the formal *ask a question* *answer a question* system, and that's not what I like to do at all either. Once we got to conversing, we had a great time! He talked about the mentoring he has had here with Whodat, Alvin Hill, Mike Huckaby, Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, Marcellus Pittman, and Omar S. He played lots of music for me: some nice sounding tracks that he has been working on, including the next Wild Oats release!! We almost went down to Stormy Records in Dearborn, but, oh yeah, they were already closed. Tried to get me to go for some White Castle, but I said, naw, they're stinky. Then he just played some records for me. We listened to a Damon Lamar/Specter white label, TM-something, I can't remember, but must be something new coming out on Tetrode Music (I just looked it up on Discogs). All four tracks were very nice old sounding chicago house. We chatted about how Kyle could distinguish the type of equipment the producer was using, meaning hardware vs. software. I could kind of hear it when Kyle played some super digital sounding tracks, but I don't think I could detect digital vs. analog, or software vs. hardware consistently. Anyway, the Damon Lamar/Specter tracks had a very full, complex, and analog sound to them. Definitely something I'm going to look out for in the future. Kyle also played a track by Floating Points, check him here too. Then we listened to some Omar S and Mike Huckaby, Kyle played air chords and silent keys (you know because he really liked the music!). It was dam fun.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Interdimensional Transmissions vinyl
Photo by Erika Sherman
the pawn shop years, march 21 2009 @ bankle, detroit

I am so in love with Detroit right now, I am just brimming with delightful happiness for this place, the people I know here, the music I adore here, and it's all courtesy of Brendan M. Gillen of Ectomorph. I met with him last night in his huge historic home in southwestern Detroit. His passion for this place, and it's music and history, is infectious and I appreciate it. He epitomizes the eccentricity, passion, and beauty that thrives in so many artistic circles here. Brendan spoke at length about Detroit's mythologies and the essential role of mystery, anonymity, and mythology in Detroit techno and house music. For some, that gets warped into serious crises of identity, but for others, like Brendan, Mike Banks, and the musicians behind Drexciya and Dopplereffekt, it's a regular everyday approach to music. 'Why do you need to see our faces, just look at your records and then listen to them!'


Monday, July 20, 2009

Reality and then some fantasy.

Ah man, do I really have to do this...okay so James and I went out to The Works on Friday to see DWynn and Nigel Richards. DWynn sounded good, as expected. As for Nigel Richards, I am content to remain an 18 year old fan in 1995. And I got to see Jit Wiggins play vinyl for about 5 minutes. Maybe he played some records before we got there, but while we were there, he played literally a few records and then the front room shut down. They went past midnight in the front room, but not much past. So here, this is my night: I smelled terrible from the smoke machines and cigarettes. I have never liked those smoke machines, it smells terrible and makes it hard to breathe right when you want to breathe the most after dancing so much to great music (that is the ideal situation!). Visuals never got me too excited either, whether there are a bunch of lasers bouncing around, or an actual projection of video. Just give me a dark room with maybe one light and some slamming sound. And I got a headache from listening to "Girls On Film" by Duran Duran emanating from the single wall of speakers, clanking around the brick and concrete room, with the highs so high, and the mids and lows pretty much gone; I cringed and immediately required earplugs. And this is not good Theo Parrish or Rick Wilhite knob twisting. I really did get a serious headache from moments like that. I'm so sensitive...

Alright now, I need to step out of the *standing in a corner with a scowl on my face* role because I don't like it very much. I like to like things. I did have fun this weekend listening on my nice headphones to Carlos Souffront's Movement 2008 set, Soundmurderer's Movement 2008 set, (here's the general link for those sets: http://www.paxahau.com/sounds/mp3/2008_movement.html They are both at the Red Bull Stage, Carlos' is on 5/25/08 and Soundmurderer is on 5/26/08), some Flying Lotus, and Theo Parrish's Yellow Double Lines, Part 2 mix. I'll probably be staying home more for the next while because we have a big move coming up to a new house!! I'm so excited. And I really need to finish transcribing so that I can work through all the "data" I have collected over the past year and a half and get that outline outlined and then get writing. I am still doing interviews here and there, like Brendan M. Gillen of Ectomorph and Kyle Hall this week!!

I never wrote anything about the Dennis Coffey and Recloose event, how terrible!! Well, I did go and it was pretty good. I got there late because we were coming home from a trip and got stuck in traffic on what should have been the last 15 minutes of the trip. They just shut down a highway! That's Detroit for you, no wait, that's Metro Detroit/Oakland County for you, they do major construction on the weekends and just shut down a portion of a highway from Friday night to Monday morning. Not cut it down to one or two lanes, they close it completely!! So once we finally got home, unloaded, got the kids into bed, showered my funkiness off, kissed my honey (babysitter bailed), and then headed out to pick up Whodat, we had already missed a good portion of the Dennis Coffey Quartet. The music sounded so beautiful when we arrived. We caught the end of the Quartet's set. Dennis Coffey, former Funk Brother for Motown and prominent jazz guitarist in Detroit, is such an incredible musician. The way his fingers flowed across those strings was just really stunning and beautiful. Whodat introduced me to Edwin Fabre, local DJ and producer. So we all talked for a while. He actually knew who I was when WhoDat introduced us (super weird). He said, 'was she the one who brought you all down to Indiana?', referring to the Roots of Techno conference. He shared lots of support and positivity for what I am doing here. This past Wednesday, he was a guest on WhoDat's weekly radio show. And he apparently plays at The Bosco in Ferndale on Wednesday nights now. I'll have to go check it out.

Recloose played a nice set. He was throwing it down playing some good rare jams - all kinds of stuff, funk, techno, house. The sound was a little weird for his set, but I think that's mainly because it's a jazz club, kind of like The Green Mill in Chicago. So the bar is an island in the middle and there are two spaces with lots of tables separated by the bar. The sound was low and the lights were bright. The crowd was proper though. There was actually a line for the men's room all night, and that was funny. I guess that points to my earlier post about women in Detroit. I sailed past right into the ladies room and noticed the line, 'there's a line for the men's room, huh. ...There's a line for the men's room!?' And then some quiet laughing to myself.

Bohemian National Home, Detroit, MI

And now my non-promoter, non-DJ, non-producer self would like to suggest a fabulous Detroit party that I would definitely attend from start to finish. It needs to be at the Bohemian National Home, because right now, that's really my favorite spot in Detroit. It's a really interesting building located in southwestern Detroit near Corktown/Michigan Avenue/old Tiger stadium. It was built in 1914 as a community center for people from Bohemia. There are lots of rooms to explore. It's dark. There's a wooden dance floor, which is always fun. And it's in quiet neighborhood with lots of trees and empty lots. But then sorry to the neighborhood residents for all the noise. And now here's the lineup, and this party needs to go late, like 7AM or something: Todd Osborn and Theo Parrish. THAT'S IT! I know this goes against regular promoter rules of having lesser known DJs play early while the crowds are small, but that ends up forcing all the other DJs who are playing into shorter time slots so that Detroiters never get to experience the journey of a long, intense set by a single person. And if you want one more person added, then I would suggest Minx. But right now, let's just go with Todd and Theo. Todd can play from like 9pm-1am or 10pm-2am or something like that. And Theo can play from 1am or 2am until 7am. I don't care what kind of equipment they have, or whether Todd plays as Soundmurderer, Osborne, or just Todd, but maybe he could bring his vocoder? Shrug? Alright, so there's the idea, someone with money and knowledge can put it together and I can offer to help in anyway I can! Am I dreaming...?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Love To Dance

Heading out again tomorrow night... to The Works. Gabe Real, Nigel Richards, and DWynn - Oh I'm so excited, you don't even know. Saw DWynn spin last spring at Oslo with Minx. Minx had a monthly event going there for a while in the winter and spring called Vivid. It was the first time I had seen DWynn play, he was excellent and I'm so excited to see him again, hear him again! And Nigel Richards, well you know how I feel about him! Read here for a refresher. This is what's happening in the back room starting at midnight. In the front room from 10-12 are Bang Tech 12's DJ Southside, Jit Wiggins, and G. Major. Never seen DJ Southside or G.Major, but why is Jit Wiggins slammed into such a short, early slot? And why are things not going on simultaneously at this club? That's one cool thing about The Works, the two rooms...it's fun to bounce around sometimes. I'm certainly not asking for a ton of DJs in a single location with super short sets. But it might be nice to just fill the night with all these guys. And maybe the party planners assume that the headlining DJs will draw the whole crowd, and the front room will be empty all night. But maybe not. Whatever, I'll still have fun! This does bring to mind some thoughts though: the relation between DJ performances and bar and club hours of operation. How can a DJ really stretch out and play a solid set when the club closes at 2am and there are 3, 4, or maybe 5 DJs crammed into a four or five hour time slot (most nights start at 9 or 10pm)? Some DJs seem comfortable with this, and that's cool, but what about those who like to play for 4 hours, or 7 hours, or 11 hours (Theo Parrish comes to mind!). Geez, actually having enough time to play how you want in public is a real luxury. And yes, the Works usually goes late, like until at least 4am, and that's when DWynn's set is "scheduled" to end, but lot's of stuff ends at 2 in this city. Of course, there are afterparties in both public and private locations, but there's still lots of jumping around and crammed lineups.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Parties and Sunshine

Jersey City, NJ

So today I have a little story for you all. While on my holiday "up north" on Lake Michigan with the whole big fam, yes there were 9 of us in a single house together, the adults stayed up one night to watch a movie that my brother brought along. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. So it's a nice movie, I'm not going to write a review of it or anything. I'm mentioning it here because the closing scene made me remember an end to a party night in 1995 when I was a Freshman at NYU. The final scene of the film is dawn in NYC after a long musically inclined night. It's so much fun to remember partying as a young lady! I had been in NYC for about a month and a half, moving there from rural northwestern Indiana where I spent most of my childhood. The morning after I arrived in New York, as I had planned all summer, I woke up early totally giddy to be in NYC and on my own, headed down to the Antinque Boutique, a vintage clothing store slash designer boutique, to purchase my fuchsia Manic Panic - my hair was totally awesome that first semester! Long, curly, and very pink! Anyway, I only had one rave under my belt by that point. In my search through record stores and cheesy "raver" style clothing stores, I garnished a nice collection of flyers. Sputnik 6 by Satellite Productions was the rave I selected on the weekend of October 6 when my brother and mom were coming up to visit me. I can't even remember who the DJs were for that party. It was in 1995, so I don't expect there to be a whole lot about it online, but I searched anyway. Apparently there were Sputnik parties every year in the New York/New Jersey area for a number of years and we went to number 6. We took the PATH train into Jersey City and gradually found our way to the warehouse. It was a lot of fun, although I don't remember much of it, it was so long ago. We met up with my friend Margeaux who I had recently met at school. In a single night, my super friendly younger brother (who is now a DJ in Chicago, Gregory Dalphond) got to know Margeaux better than I had in the whole month and a half that I had known her. Shy D, yep that's me. So after the party, we walked back to the train station to take the PATH train back into Manhattan. There were two choices, take the train to the World Trade Center or the train that heads farther up toward midtown Manhattan and made multiple stops along the way. We needed to go downtown to the World Trade Center station because my mom was staying in a hotel down there. However, we got on the wrong train and ended up at 23rd street. My fault, I was still learning the city and although I kind of knew how to get around Manhattan on the subway, New Jersey was a whole other story. So we realized our mistake and came up to street level to be pleasantly surprised by the sun gently rising up over the city. The morning was so cool and fresh and the dawn light felt so lovely after a long dark night. We figured out which train to take back downtown and all was well. My sweetest and strongest memory from that night was the dawn light. I didn't go to any more raves in New York after that, I went to a few in Chicago when I was home, and mostly went out to clubs in New York - Shelter was my favorite!! And The Roxy, I loved the wooden floor. The wiki pages for Shelter and The Roxy are interesting. So there you have it, nice memories triggered by the dawn light in a movie that I stayed up way too late to watch trying to drink a beer that wouldn't even fit into my glass because the head was so giant (I think it got too fizzed up on the drive up there). Freaking Arbor Brewing Co. Sacred Cow IPA - tasty and temperamental.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Producer School: Mike Huckaby and Brendan Gillen

Okay, so I have been way out of touch, out of town, and out of internet access. But now I’m back. I meant to leave a “bye-bye I’m taking a little break” post before I headed out on my holiday, but I did not get to that. I’m sorry. I’m back and I’ve been busy.

I’ll just start with what is fresh in my head: last night! I went to the Red Bull Music Academy Producer’s Session at River’s Edge, a grille downtown by the Detroit River. I am so glad I went, it was producer school with freaking Huck and BMG!! Mike Huckaby, producer, DJ, and music production software instructor, gave a demonstration of Native Instruments music production software Reaktor and Maschine hardware. It was interesting to watch him show the transition of a musical creation from a single tone/chord/beat into more complex phrases and layers using all kinds of sonic manipulations available in the software. He also talked a bit about creating your own instruments in Reaktor, which sounded pretty neato. Mike has been producing successfully for decades and is extremely important to Detroit electronic music because of this, but also because of his role as THE buyer for the main Record Time store in Detroit for a lot of years. Many younger DJs and producers in Detroit worked with him at Record Time and describe him as a mentor who educated them and influenced them in profound ways.

Here’s a nice bio from the Red Bull Music Academy site:

Mike Huckaby is a dance music purist extraordinaire. Being an integral part of the Detroit dance scene, he was the man behind the legendary Record Time store and as such gathered an encyclopedic knowledge of music. Mike is one of those rare guys who know all the roots and culture of electronic dance music, who see beyond the hype and divisions in the scene and know exactly what this music is. He is the kind of purist whose love for music has literally had him flown around the globe. Huckaby also produced for labels like Rick Wade's renowned Harmonie Park outfit, London's Cross Section or his own ventures Deep Transportation resp. Synth. Apart from his activities as a DJ and producer, he also works as a sound designer and a tutor for the software company Native Instruments, and Ableton teaching Reaktor and Live around the world, as well as for a special Detroit youth foundation project called "YouthVille". Tune in for a very special classics mix from his vaults in the Motor City...

In light of discussions and debates on musical production using computer software, I would like to make a few suggestions for advocates of this software. But first let me say that my mind is totally open to all the various ways to produce and perform electronic music. As long as I’m moved, I’m good. Now of course, vinyl and analog gear are extremely important to the production and circulation of electronic music. People who buy vinyl need to keep buying vinyl because it needs to remain viable. People who play only vinyl, keep playing that black gold, because you are few and far between, and you help “Keep Vinyl Alive!” I still want a shirt with that on it. Theo Parrish wore that on his shirt at the Roots of Techno conference that I organized in 2006. Okay, so here are my suggestions to computer production software advocates: please don’t repeatedly profess how EASY it is to use. That will just fuel the fire of the staunch vinyl advocates, encouraging them to proclaim even louder that easy does not mean better, and it certainly does not mean better music production. This fact is something that Mike did talk about. He acknowledged that computer software has made it easier for more people to produce music, but he also acknowledged that this often means that more people are going to be flooding our ears and pockets with more mediocre music. Keeping yourself viable and successful means that you must really learn whatever software or gear you are using so that you can really tap into your own creativity and produce important, meaningful music. A lot of talented musicians have told me that same thing here, whether they are talking about choosing a type of computer software, or about analog gear. It is important to acquire a limited number of musical production tools and really learn how to use them well.

Here, just watch this Ghostly video and listen to what Todd Osborn tells ya:

Oh yeah, and one other suggestion, make sure you have zero computer glitches when you are demonstrating or performing using a computer. I know, this is out of your hands for the most part. But still, just do that.

Brendan M. Gillen, BMG of Ectomorph and Interdimensional Transmissions, gave a demo of Abelton Live following Mike’s demo. And wow, he started off talking some trash that had WhoDat and me rolling on the floor. It was hilarious and I’m not sure whether the other folks there just didn’t know he was making jokes or they were just angry that he was being critical of music production software. And he uses Abelton to produce and perform, so it’s not like he got up there just to talk trash about it. He was making a point in a humorous way about how easy it is to make and perform music using computer software, but music that is not so great. This is the same issue that Mike Huckaby was talking about, they just explained their perspectives in totally different ways! So Brendan was up there talking about how he has seen DJs get up and use things like Serato as elementary school iPod DJing. My abilities to retell funny stories and maintain the humor in my retelling are second-rate, so just trust me when I say that it was pretty damn funny. Brian Gillespie, the primary organizer of these RBMA info sessions in Detroit, mentioned that the video of these sessions will be available online sometime soon. If it is publicly available, I’ll post it here and you can watch and laugh for yourself. And then you can go to producer school on your own time.

Brendan also pointed out that sometimes, all it takes is a DJ up there with a pretty lame beat pumping his fist to get the crowd going. He lauded DJs for getting caught up in staring at a screen all night… “It’s called checking email,” he said. He explained that it should be standard for there to be a small camera pointed at the DJs laptop, and even other equipment up there, capturing what the DJ is doing and projecting it up on a big screen so that the crowd can see what the DJ sees and does. One reason for this is so that DJs cannot just stand up there and pretend to be playing live, but in reality, just push play and then dance around. I’m not sure how common this is, but lots of people talk about this so it must happen sometimes. He also wants this to be standard practice so that people who enjoy watching a DJ perform, watching their hands move on the equipment can really understand what is going on during the performance. It doesn’t have to be such a secret or a mystery. I would love to see this happen sometime, because I really enjoy watching DJs perform, no matter what type of equipment or performance tools they are using. Not because I want to keep track of what music they are playing (I like to pay attention to the music too of course), but because it can be really interesting to study how they manipulate the equipment to produce the sounds you are hearing. Brendan explained that if you can’t see what software the DJ is using, then you can’t really understand how the sounds are being produced because you don’t know how the other equipment, like a mixer or drum machine are interfaced or programmed with the software. Brendan had an AKAI APC – it’s kind of like an MPC, but the APC is able to interface with Abelton Live software so that you can manipulate the musical samples that you have set up in Abelton on your computer using knobs and buttons instead of a mouse and keypad. Brendan explained that he likes it so that he can get away from keeping music so visually oriented. He wants to be able to interact with the crowd in a way that he feels he cannot using just a computer.

I really learned a lot last night and tried to write down as many notes as I could just so I could get a grasp of how Mike and Brendan talk and think about music production. There’s a pretty specific vocabulary and if your not actively doing it, like me, then you really have to be tuned in to words and phrases to understand what’s going on. There was one other presentation in the other room of the upstairs at River’s Edge, DJ 2ndNature gave a demo of Pro Tools and Final Cut Pro. It would have been interesting to stick around for it, but Mike and Brendan were both talking outside on the upstairs patio and it would have been a bit nutty for me to pass either one of them up.

Brian Gillespie, local producer and DJ, and RBMA representative for Detroit (official title? Not really sure, I do the best I can…), seemed frustrated with the low turnout. There were fewer people there last night than were at the info session in May. I was surprised about that because this session was so clearly beneficial to local musicians in ways that are just not publicly available in most places in Detroit or anywhere else. I think Brian assumed that people in the area would jump at the chance to learn from Mike Huckaby or Brendan Gillen, two people who obviously know what they are doing with these programs and with music in general. Organizing and promoting events is tough work, and it seems extra tough in Detroit where there is so much local talent, and also a lot of self-directed pride. Yes, pride is good, but not when it keeps you from being open to learning and experiencing new things. It drives me crazy when I hear people say things like, ‘there’s no good music coming out lately’ or ‘I’m bored by most of what people are putting out lately.’ I’m not! Maybe you need to look somewhere else, or just open up your ears and head a bit more. Yeah, I love Detroit, I love living here, I love this whole experience. There’s lots of weird judgmental shit that goes on here, just like every where else. But there’s also lots of beauty and life. I hate it when an event promoter, whether an actual promoter, or a DJ promoting her/his own parties, apologizes or takes a low turnout personally. Yeah, I suppose a small crowd reflects badly on a promoter who is supposed to be responsible for the event. Like Brian feeling down about not enough of a crowd turning out for the sessions. I have even had Rick Wilhite apologize to me because one of his parties had a relatively low turnout. Really? Why apologize? I understand why you might feel that way, but did you know that you’re Rick Wilhite and I think what you do for Detroit is pretty awesome? And I know that everyone wants to be supported in their hometown, particularly if that hometown is Detroit. It seems like people here who are into techno and house music are so used to being here and being around all these artists who receive much attention and love globally that it’s just everyday for them in Detroit. You don’t have to go very far or pay a lot of money to see these DJs play, they’re right here. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t seem like a big deal for someone like Mike Huckaby or Brendan Gillen to talk at length for free about music production and performance. When I first met Pirahnahead last summer at the Belle Isle house music picnic, Kenny Dixon was walking past and he said something like ‘most people think KDJ is a god, but he’s really just a regular guy who lives down the street.’ That’s the general perspective whether you’re buddies with Moodymann, or worked with Mike Huckaby at Record Time, or Theo Parrish is your mentor, or you learned to DJ from Ken Collier. “Eh, it’s no big deal.” It is kind of a big deal, it’s at least important to educate yourself and pay attention to. Anyway Brian, it was totally worth it. Thanks to you and everyone else involved.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I knew it...

I knew I was going to forget a few important women.

Angie Schwendemann, owner and label manager for Detroit Techno Militia. And she documents the hell out of this town with her camera!

Erika Sherman of Ectomorph. Here's her 24 hour radio site: erika.net

Zana Smith of Spectacles, long time promoter and supporter of Detroit house and techno music. She also owned multiple record stores in Detroit over the years.

Stacey Hotwaxx Hale! And Theresa Hill, local radio disc jockey and DJ.

And Liz Copeland...see Movement post below.

Oh, this is lovely. I know there are more important ladies out there, maybe we just haven't met yet...

The Detroit Ladies

There was some dialog on the 313 list yesterday about the lack of women in electronic music. It started off with a question about a video interview of Jeff Mills on EQ Magazine website. ‘Where are all the girls in that club?’ I watched the video, footage of the crowd is in the first few minutes of the nice, lengthy interview with Jeff Mills. And really, there are hardly any ladies present. The video is taken from a set Jeff played at a club in Glasgow. It looks like the crowds at a lot of Detroit parties, except fewer people in general in the Detroit clubs. Then of course came the terms sausage party and sausage fest. The sausage fest was my fault. Where are the chicks? The girls? The ladies? The women? Well, I’m right here. Really though, in electronic music production, performance, promotion, consumption, and writing, women are not nearly as visibly involved as men. And I want to tell you that I use the term consumption widely, hesitating to include it here because of its connection to marketing and dollars. Economic consumption is not the primary way that I use this term, although marketing and the music industry are still really important in any discussion of musical consumption. I’m speaking of consumption in terms of musical enjoyment, fandom, support, listening both privately and publicly, and other ways in which people consume music. I know that’s a jumbled list, but this is a pretty informal blog and jumbled is how I sometimes roll. My use of consumption comes from some ideas that I am working from in my doctoral research: in music, and other forms of cultural expression and performance, we have production, consumption, and circulation, all concepts involved in the inter-performative relations that form from and formulate what music is and does for all of us. I know, I’m getting mildly academic here with my language. I always want to be careful with how far I go with that here because I really don’t want to alienate any of my readers. This blog is a realm for mostly informal, but detailed discussion of electronic music in Detroit and my doctoral research here. I have had and will continue to have plenty of opportunities to get super intellectual and theoretical in my dissertation and subsequent book, and I will try to find ways to make part or all of my dissertation public so that you all can check it out if you want to. I’ve already thought a lot about the audience for what will eventually become a book about all this stuff. That is still a few years down the road, but it’s there in my future. It needs to be an academically focused book because as a person with a Ph.D. (in the future) looking for an eventual tenured teaching position at a university, I will be required to have a major publication like a book accomplished and out there. However, I realize the potential for readers outside of the realm of academic scholarship as well and will work to figure how best to approach a wide audience. Anyway, this blog is my opportunity to write in a less formal, more immediate and public way than my fieldnotes, conference presentations, and early dissertating allow.

All that for consumption? Alright, so onto the ladies. There are a few fabulous females making music in Detroit. Kelli Hand, the first lady of techno, is busy making music. She doesn’t currently play out much here, but she is hard at work making some sweet beats. DJ Minx and her label, Women On Wax, are staples in Detroit techno and house music. And Women On Wax is not just chicks on vinyl, like Minx and Diviniti, the men are involved too and they all bring the heat. She has releases from Pirahnahead, Reggie Dokes, and Jerry the Cat. Punisher and Sassmouth are a few others, who started HEJ records in Detroit in 2007 with John Overfiend. And you know I’m a fan of Punisher! Jennifer Xerri is another local house DJ who is fairly active here.

And, one of the most instrumental people here who has helped me become more knowledgeable than I ever expected about Detroit and its music, WhoDat, Terri McQueen. I met her unexpectedly when I organized a conference on Detroit electronic music at Indiana University in October 2006. The panelists for the conference were Theo Parrish, Rick Wilhite, Marcellus Pittman, Minx, Mike Clark, Terrence Parker, Cornelius Harris, and 2 of the co-curators of the Detroit Historical Museum’s exhibit on Detroit Techno music, Sulaiman Mausi and Katherine Burkhart. So while planning travel and lodging arrangements for the panelists, Terri was one of the people coming with Theo, Rick, and Marcellus to help out and be at the 3Chairs/Sound Signature table with vinyl and CDs. I did not know she was a DJ, I just knew she was super friendly and funny. We kept in touch via Myspace for the next year and a half and then I moved to Detroit in February 2008 and connected with her in person again. We did multiple 3 hour + interviews, girl has a lot to say! And then, after talking one evening with her, telling her I was really interested in learning how to really play records, not so I could become a DJ, but just so I could have a deeper understanding, she offered to teach me, continuing the mentoring tradition that is part of Detroit’s DJ culture for some. We started weekly evening “classes” in her basement. Each week she had a theme or activity all planned out: she would pick records, she would let me pick records, blending tracks with vocals, sound quality of LPs vs. EPs and 12 inches, how to play a set and select well, how to setup all the equipment and care for it. One time I even brought some of my records and we listened together. We always had a great time together. Now she is opening her own record store, Ya Digg Records. It is currently operational online, but she is still working on setting up the physical location. Supporting local music and vinyl are really central to all that she does and that’s what you’ll see a lot of at her store. She has been trying her hand at producing for the past while and has a track ready to press and release! So yeah, WhoDat is the shit and my dissertation would not be what it will be without her!

So those are some of the ladies. And now for some exploration of larger themes. When I asked Kelli Hand about being a female DJ, she said, “It is what it is.” We’re always last, but the first one they call to organize an event. You always get called last for a gig, after all the guys, especially if it’s a club opening or something like that. WhoDat has described some similar instances of that kind of lack of support and strange expectations from the sausage owners.

Coming back to the 313 listserv on these bigger issues, one of the replies to my “I don’t get why there aren’t more women involved in electronic music as fans, writers, or musicians” speculated that perhaps women don’t feel that they will have success and so don’t bother, or do try to DJ and produce, but find less success than the many other men out there doing the same thing. Additionally, one person suggested that women don’t typically get into the technology, mythology, gear head stuff, and are less likely to become heads, like techno heads or house heads. Further, another 313 lister wrote that female DJs are often aligned, or align themselves, with campy themed parties and events, like topless lady DJs, or all girl DJs for a night. I’m not quoting directly; this is all my interpretation of what was written by others.

I’m not really interested in involving myself in a debate about how men and women are physiologically “wired” differently, and even if they/we are in any meaningful, universal way. I am only speaking for myself when I say that I am very interested in the technology, production, performance, and all the other details that are there in the production, circulation, and consumption of electronic music. I am extremely interested in learning about record labels, pressings and other release oriented details, recording/production/performance equipment, and all the other possible ways to list, define, categorize, and classify all this stuff. Hell yeah vinyl is sexy and when Todd Sines recently posted photos of his production studio to Facebook, I got kind of excited. It is certainly a male oriented, and sometimes male dominated musical culture in a global way.

The topless DJ party is not one that I have found myself at in Detroit, I’ll admit. But I have heard about and been to a few all women events. One included Aaron Carl as one of the ladies last year at Sakana sushi bar in Ferndale! The women that I mentioned above have not aligned themselves strictly with women in their musical endeavors. They have teamed up and collaborated with women and men with whom they pair well. So even though they are few in number compared with all the talented Detroit dudes, Detroit’s women have found/created some nice long lasting success and relevancy for themselves.

It’s in the crowds at parties that I also notice a strong lacking of upside down triangles. And I don’t get this either except that maybe this is just an effect of “underground” musical cultures. Would you agree with me if I say that in general, musical cultures that are labeled as underground tend to be made up of men in larger numbers than women? It just seems like that to me, I’m not really basing this on any kind of serious study. Is there some sort of hostility to women that is inherent or assumed in underground cultures? I don’t know. I don’t really feel that too much in Detroit as opposed to any other realm of general daily existence. I mean why would chicks want to frequent bars and clubs with boring music when they could go enjoy Kenny Dixon’s skills on the decks, or be intellectually and physically stimulated by Theo Parrish’s sets, or have a real party with Rick Wilhite? I mean come on, how could you pass up any of these Detroit folks, like Omar S, D.Wynn, Shake, Todd Osborn, Minx, Buzz Goree, Terrence Parker, or Marcellus Pittman…oh man, Marcellus Pittman, now he would be someone I would like to see play here again! Do I have to wait until Halloween again so that he can wish the devil a happy birthday?!

So this is what you call heat.

Turning Point

Check out this week's show. 80s heat Detroit style!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oh wow!

Recloose and The Dennis Coffey Quartet


At Cliff Bell's in Detroit
2030 Park Avenue
Saturday, July 11

Here's the description I swiped from Facebook:

Atlast! Detroit & Family Funktion proudly present

Part 2 of the Family Funktion reunion series.

In case you missed the Memorial weekend party now you get another chance.
If you did attend, we thank you for helping to make it a great night.

This time, we a bring you a special night with Recloose and the Dennis Coffey Quartet.

Matthew Chicoine, aka Recloose, returns to Detroit, for a one night, rare, special DJ set. As a DJ/ producer and live musician Recloose is one of the most versatile and successful talents to emerge from the Detroit scene in recent years. Coming to us from his new home in New Zealand, this native Detroiter returns to hit us with his eclectic taste of musical wonderment.

Along with very special guest Dennis Coffey and his Quartet. This legendary funk/jazz guitarist is the man who gave us the classic and much sampled tracks Scorpio and Taurus as well as the theme to Black Belt Jones. As a former Funk Brother, Dennis played on many of Motown's greatest records and has recorded with Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Marvin Gaye and George Clinton to name a few. Dennis Coffey and his quartet join us to lay down some Detroit funk/jazz genius.

I might possibly be out of town that weekend...sadness. This night looks so hot! I really want to go, but I'm not sure if I can perform that kind of magic.

Also that weekend, which I will definitely have to miss because James has a gallery opening at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago that same night.

Robert Hood at The Works in Detroit
Friday, July 10th

Here's the link on Detroitluv

Very disappointed to be missing this.

Oh yeah, and to add to good radio, Recloose's show which is posted regularly on his blog, http://hititandquititradio.blogspot.com/.

Listening right now...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Electivism, I mean Eclecticism

Alright, been listening to some radio again lately, been streaming/DLing some radio lately, that is. First off, Drew Pompa and Josh Dalberg have a new weekly radio show called Babes in Hi Def Wednesday nights on WDET. Here’s the link for their blog: Babes in Hi Def. Some enjoyable listening.

And what, did you say that show is on the same night as WhoDat’s Turning Point on Netmusique.com?? Mama’s gonna get me! Wait, no Mrs. McQueen, I only listen to Turning Point…I listen to it every day until the next week’s show. Oh yeah right, you can download WhoDat’s shows from her blog: Win WhoDat Blogs. Good listening all around – lot’s of deep house, old R&B, great 80’s music, some techno and electro thrown in for jollies, and just all around mixed up goodness.

I have finally started tuning in to Beats In Space, Tim Sweeny’s weekly radio show. His most recent show pairs a nice Maurice Fulton hour with an hour of Sweeny. I’m going to be spending some time there in the coming weeks.

Then we’ve got the RBMA radio, which really rounds out my work week as I slave away trying to ignore as much of the office “liveliness” as possible and nourish myself with good tunes. Always enjoy a good Morgan Geist mix, there’s plenty to choose from on the RBMA site. Listened to a good Benga & Skream show last week, and a couple of good Dam Funk features. And, right after returning from the IASPM-US conference a few weeks ago, I discovered a lovely chat with composer, Steve Reich. According to the RBMA blurb, he prefers to call himself a post-minimalist composer. Labels are so fabulous! Well, this is interesting to me because my fellow ethnomusicologist friends with whom I presented at the conference brought up his name and his music several times over the course of the weekend. All three of my friends are way more musically trained than me and much more knowledgeable about Western Classical/Art music than I. I’m just the chick who likes that rave techno shit…Anyweedle, one such mention of Steve Reich was prompted by my playing of Theo Parrish’s “Synthetic Flemm” in the hotel room we were all sharing the night before our panel. Their comments? Wow, it really develops slowly. It unfolds like a Steve Reich piece. It was so much fun sharing all our musical knowledge and learning from one another. This leads to one reason I chose to play this track. When I’m speaking to or with people who are not very familiar with any kind of electronic dance music like house or techno, I find that their sonic assumptions about the music are based on mainstream representations that they might hear in commercials, the radio, MTV, etc. And that’s cool, that’s what they know, they’re not fans of the music, they’re into other sounds, fine. But I think the Theo Parrish track has the potential to get beyond those boxed notions of what Detroit electronic music might possibly sound like. Additionally, it abandons genre boundaries so profoundly that drawing comparisons to other seemingly distinct forms of music is almost automatic. And this is Detroit all the way, crossing genre boundaries, getting beyond categories while simultaneously embracing classification as a necessary part of the culture.

And then, when I went to the RBMA radio site yesterday, I saw a new Preset show, #32, up by Todd Osborn. I had to listen right away, you see. Roxanne Shante A.N.D. Drexciya in the first 5 songs! And then the last hour of the show is all Chicano/Latino/Brazilian sounds, some bossa nova, even Tom Zé! And I’m not even going to pretend I know all the genre labels to describe these songs, because I don’t. I do however enjoy the Brazilian love songs because my knowledge of Brazilian music is one of the few good things that came out of my major college relationship with a Brazilian capoeirista (okay, no, that’s not all he was), that, the courage to make momentous life-changing decisions, and momentary almost fluency in Portuguese.

So then from #32, I navigated to #25 and just you wait and see what I come up with using that playlist as a springboard to my own life story…well maybe not life story, but I’ll draw some connections and you can just read along with my inane, I mean brilliant, musings. So the first song is a little hard to listen to at work because of the yelling. I get a little embarrassed in front of the old ladies and turn down the yelling to almost silent during that song. But they’re all very polite and just tell me that I listen to some very interesting music! Next is a great, funky, deep track by DMX KREW, also known as EMDX, Ed DMX, and Ed Upton, who is featured on Osborne “Our Definition of a Breakdown.” Then you get to hear Q-Tip’s sweet voice and then A Tribe Called Quest’s “What,” which always makes me smile and think of my husband…because he likes the song a lot. Next up is Arthur Russell “Make 1, 2” which is a beautiful song that was new to my little kitten ears. Love the melodic, rhythmic vocals and keys – has a syncopated feel, although any good ethnomusicologist would probably shame me for using the term syncopated and force me to replace it with polyrhythmic with the threat of having to transcribe a lengthy field recording of Temiar music from Maylasia. Geez, as though you don’t think my levels of self-absorption and reflexivity were enough to maim a small flock of seagulls, now I lapse into such extreme navel-gazing and solipsism with a transcription reference that potentially 8 readers might catch, if that. Because, as newbie ethnomusicology graduate students at Indiana University, we were all required to take a rigorous transcription & analysis course steeped in historically significant methods of analyzing music. One of the first listening assignments we were given was a field recording by anthropologist and ethnomusicologist Marina Roseman of Temiar music performance that she recorded while conducting research in the Malaysian rainforest. And, we were not told what the recording was, we just had to figure out what all the different sounds were and how they were produced. I actually do prefer the term polyrhythmic to syncopated, it addresses a broader, more nuanced understanding of rhythm that syncopation does not. Apparently I thought it would be fun to tell you a story about historically significant methods of music research.

So here’s a segment of the tracklisting for Preset #25:

Squarepusher - The Coathanger - Warp
Pink Floyd - Wot's Uh The Deal - Harvest
Gandalf The Grey - The Grey Wizard Am I - Gwm
Morgen - Of Dreams - Probe
Stevie Wonder - It Ain't No Use - Unreleased
Frente - Bizarre Love Triangle - Mammoth
Arto Mwambe - Btwo - Brontosaurus
A-Ha - Take On Me (Instr.) - Unreleased
The KLF - Dream Time In Lake Jackson - Wax Trax
Nine Inch Nails - March Of The Pigs - Nothing
Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love - Polydor

And it sounds even better than it looks, so go listen. And not only that, but it’s freaking hysterical to hear all that classic rock after Squarepusher and then Stevie Wonder, A-Ha instrumental, then Nine Inch Nails, which is the culmination of the good sounding, funny youthful reminiscing in the middle of a set that ends with Osborne and Starski & Clutch. And Frente, Frente?? Wow! I have that tape, by accident, but I have that tape, still. It’s tucked away in a Deee-Lite case for Dewdrops in the Garden. You know, “Applejuice Kissing,” “When You Told Me You Loved Me,” etc, from 1994.

And who has, or had, that Deee-Lite tape that I would still listen to today if I had it? My good friend K-Rock totally stole it from me and forced me to spend my adult years with Frente peaking out at me from that cassette case that I refuse to get rid of. And no, her real name is not K-Rock, but we had a very healthy obsession with the Beastie Boys in the mid-90s in high school. Michael Diamond was my boyfriend, of course. Denise Dalphond converts easily to Denny D, you see. My friend K preferred Ad Rock, thus K-Rock. She was also quite a Rock Star. And our third friend, LN, accepted MCA, but I don’t think she was too enthusiastic about it. We were way cooler in real life than it seems on this screen.

After the Bee Gees, you get to listen to the Lyman Woodard Organization play “Belle Isle Daze.” Lyman Woodard, who recently passed in February, was a local jazz musician. Here’s an article about him from the Detroit Free Press. I love that George Benson sounding funky jazz with extensive use of the organ. And then some nice old and newer hip hop, again reminded of my husband by that Method Man track; and finishing with Osborne, R. Kelley (sounded great by the way), and Starski & Clutch.

So yeah, Detroit still has good radio, it’s just way more globally available and not really on the airwaves…

And don’t forget about Crush Collision on WCBN in Ann Arbor, Carlos Souffront’s weekly show. I’ve tried listening live several times to his show on Thursday nights, but the streaming doesn’t really work. It’s frustrating. And then CJAM in Windsor, Mike Huckaby has a weekly show and Adam Francesconi does as well. Mike Huckaby’s show is on Monday nights and Adam’s show is called The Rhythm Gallery on Wednesday nights. Jerry the Cat and Minx started the show years ago and now Adam Francesconi and Tom Desmond host it.

And now for my final story of the day prompted by current happenings in Detroit. Terry Mullan is playing a party this Friday at The Works with DJ Dara and DJ Bone. Now DJ Bone, I like as an adult. But as a newly turned 18 year old living in NYC and college freshman at NYU, a mix I had by Terry Mullan was my favorite tape ever. And I think I drove my two roommates a bit nutty listening to it so much. I was handed a flyer for the party a few weeks ago at the Red Bull Music Academy info session that I went to shortly before the festival. “Terry Mullan!?” Unfortunately, I think I’m going to stay home…for a while. After the festival and then San Diego, I really need to be at home with my family. I mean come on, they need me to carry the heavy star wars ship and continually put the light sabers and little guns back in Darth Vader’s, or Anakin’s, or the clone trooper’s hands! They need me to find all the tiny, very specific lego pieces in the construction of whatever is being built. And I need to shove my nose into their necks every so often and get a good whiff of their childhood loveliness. And I need to do all the daily wonderful things that a wife gets to do! But I’ll reserve the specifics for James…

This post exemplifies the eclecticism of Detroit that I love. And I know I keep writing about Detroit’s vibrant eclectic diverse culture, but it’s really true and it’s really happening here. People are creating and embracing new and different things here all the time and that’s one of the things that is keeping Detroit’s musical life thriving.

So Todd, and doubters that Todd actually reads this, but Todd, Christopher Cross in the next Preset, K!?