Monday, February 9, 2009


I have been thinking about music that has become meaningful to me since being here in Detroit. I've been here for just over a year now, moved here last February. Here is a list I started about particular songs that have connections to Detroit, and even to electronic music here, that have taught me something about this place.

Captain Rapp "Bad Times (I Can't Stand It)"

I went down to see DJ WhoDat play at Record Time in Roseville one day last spring. The whole family went down so my kids could meet her and see yet another cool ass DJ play. They liked it alot. WhoDat played Captain Rapp, I had never heard it before, because when I grew up in a small town in Indiana, there were no cool radio stations that played music like they did in Detroit! I asked her what it was and she told me about the song being a Detroit jam back when she was young. Apparently it's such a Detroit jam that Felton Howard won't even play it any more! Oooh! I loved the song and downloaded it shortly I did not seek it out on vinyl, I didn't even have a turntable then. Quickly made a CD with that song on it so I could play it in the car and now it reminds me of driving around Detroit in the spring with the windows open.

O'Jays "Use Ta Be My Girl"

I hear this song on the radio alot here. There's not too much exciting going on on the radio in Detroit in 2008-2009, but when we moved here last February, I found a station that has "Flashback" programming on the weekends. In any other place, flashback could mean a whole lot of things, but in Detroit, it means old funk, disco, and r & b. This was just one of the sonic ways that I got to learn about living in Detroit when I first started this research. Incidentally, this same station plays Christmas music (not Holiday music) 24/7 from November 1st until just after Christmas...yeah, we got tired of that in my household after about a week!

Isley Brothers "For the Love of You"

Again, a song that I did not grow up knowing, but love as an adult. I first heard it in a class on Motown that I was the course assistant for as a grad student at Indiana University. I have loved it since hearing it then. Last year at the Movement festival, 2008, I heard Kenny Dixon, Jr. playing it as I was waiting in line to pay to get into Soul Skate. I just had to do a little dance in line because I couldn't skate to it!

Earth, Wind, & Fire "September"

Another Detroit "Flashback" radio song that I sing in the kitchen while doing dishes.

James Brown "Body Heat"

Rick Wilhite played this, and sang and danced to it, at the 2008 Mojo Tribute Party last February at Bert's Motown Room in the Eastern Market district. Awesome party! Got there early when barely anyone was there yet and heard some excellent music - another DJ, S.G. Detroit, played Christopher Cross "Ride Like the Wind" super loud, and it was one of the hottest songs of the night. I wrote about that party here.

UR "X-102 Discovers the Rings of Saturn"

Talk about education, the amount of knowledge that I have gained by studying Detroit electronic music intensely has been really incredible. Sadly, I admit that I did not know about the Rings of Saturn until I did an interview with Brian Gillespie last summer. I've never been one to remember record titles, release or catalog information, or even song or track titles. I'm not a DJ and have never really collected records, so my relationship to techno and house music was through going out and dancing. Learning more about important releases and getting into musicians catalogs has been invaluable to my understanding of what this music means to Detroit, in Detroit, and around the world. Gotta love Underground Resistance!

Roland Appel "Changes"

I heard this played out a few times in Detroit last summer, but didn't know what it was. Then, when I started my DJ lessons with WhoDat, she got it out for me to practice blending with some other records and I just had to listen to it all the way through, a few times I think. I failed on that lesson because I didn't want to mix anything with it, just wanted to listen to the hot, dirty goodness of it!


Once again, another group that I didn't know much about. I had heard a bit about the mystery surrounding them, but couldn't connect the name to music yet. Talking with Mike Banks about them and reading up on them some more sparked my interest to investigate and their music is wonderful. It's just really innovative and exciting to listen to and the fact that the impetus and inspiration behind some of their music comes from strong feelings of hatred toward white people makes it even more interesting! Especially because alot of what I have learned about them here comes from Mike Banks, who is one of the most generous, open, supportive, and innovative people in Detroit - and clearly not motivated by racism or anti-white/anti-outsider sentiments in his musical endeavors!

So that's my list, maybe I'll add more later.

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