Monday, November 29, 2010

New Stuff Added!



I have finally added my Master's Thesis and my curriculum vitae to this blog. My thesis documents the Roots of Techno conference that I organized at Indiana University in 2006. You'll find my thesis and CV in the upper right corner near the Heidelberg Project image. Enjoy. And, as always, I really want to get your feedback. So let me know thoughts you'd like to share!

And that bike has nothing to do with anything. It's just awesome.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cultural Anomalies, Ethnomusicology, and SEM 2010


Broadway and 5th Street, Los Angeles

I just recently returned from a fabulous trip to Los Angeles for the Society for Ethnomusicology's annual meeting. Last year was Mexico City, next year is Phili, I'm totally suggesting Detroit to the SEM Board! Seriously. The conference was excellent. There were over 1,000 people registered and in attendance. It's crazy big, even if you've never heard of ethno-what? George Lipsitz gave the Seeger lecture, a major event during which nothing else is scheduled. It was really excellent and inspiring. He's always been an influential person for me, academically. Ever since I was an undergrad at NYU studying with Tricia Rose and reading great essays by Lipsitz, I developed a fondness. To hear him speak eloquently with barely a nod at his notes about Johnny Otis, social justice, and our responsibilities as scholars was so moving. Some of the major themes of the conference were social justice and activism. Those ideas were ever present throughout conference presentations, discussions, and informal conversations.

I picked up some books at the conference that I'm excited about:

How I never read this book is beyond me.

I feel a strong responsibility to read anything and everything written about electronic dance music, and other forms of music that involve DJs, especially if there is some form of ethnography involved.

That said, I finally own this:


Also,

Black Women and Music: More Than the Blues edited by Eileen M. Hayes and Linda F. Williams


And finally, bought with no knowledge of the book, but a strong interest after looking over it:


Can't wait to start in on these.

And now for the meat of this post. I'm not a big "tweeter," I get kind of overwhelmed by the overload of jumbled utterances and bit.ly's, ETC. I also get overwhelmed and annoyed by having to make quite an effort to filter the tweets. Anyway, at the Sound Studies special interest group meeting on Thursday at the conference, I volunteered to tweet the conference for friends who couldn't be at the conference as well as for anyone who missed papers that I attended, but were still interested in knowing a bit about them. Twitter doesn't allow for extensive descriptions of academic papers, of course, but my efforts at keeping people informed were fun, for me. I also linked my Twitter account to Facebook so that interested friends on the FB with whom I'm not connected on the TW (?) could join in as well. And it ended up leading to a bit of extended discussion in a few cases. I like that. I included a few SEM tweets about a genre of music known as enka and enka artist, Jero.

Here's what I typed:

#SEM10 So far 2 major uses of Jero at conference that I have seen, although I know there have been more. http://bit.ly/dJvJt

#SEM10 #Jero #enka Super weird cultural aberrations and anomalies that fit your theories with ease; doesn't mean they should.

#SEM10 Blog post brewing about anomalies and academic analysis. Did someone ask about cutting up vinyl? WTF, what a freak.

These three comments will be the organizational themes for the rest of this post. Jero is an African American man from Pittsburg with Japanese ancestry (his maternal grandmother was Japanese). He began singing enka as a child, speaks (and sings) Japanese fluently, and has had a great deal of success singing enka. I knew nothing about enka or Jero before this SEM conference. I was interested in the panel of which the Jero paper was a part because ethnomusicologist Noriko Manabe was presenting on Japanese hip hop. She's a prolific writer and excellent scholar, and I'm always interested in what she has to say. Here's something to listen to and watch:





I admittedly have no idea how relevant this song/video is to enka or Jero, except that it's him singing enka. In accordance with the multiple conference presentations that were based on, or included, Jero (I saw two, but heard about more), the draw is his existence as a cultural anomaly. I'm not trying to label an entire human being as an aberration. However, a young African American man who adorns himself in US hip hop styles, attempts pop dancing and b-boying in his videos, and sings a relatively dated form of Japanese music that is not typically recognized as a genre embraced by youth in Japan, is a cultural abnormality. That said, weirdness breeds academic excitement. The ease with which a scholar could potentially scoop up such anomalies and capitalize on them with a wide range of analytical ideas is tremendous. A scholar could wax theoretic on Jero for weeks! But that ease does not always mean that it works in a broader scheme. Ideally, and I think those readers who were at George Lipsitz's lecture may recall his thoughts on this, we as scholars strive to get ourselves beyond our small, very specific, detailed worlds of ethnographic, cultural, and musical analysis, and make broader, stronger contributions to the world around us. We are not just writing for other scholars!

The conference mentions of Jero came with interesting analyses of identity, blending of cultural norms, genre, and language. There is certainly validity in exploring these kinds of cultural performances - and I mean performance in a very broad sense, performance of identity, of culture, etc., not just getting up on a stage and "performing." But I think that as scholars, we have enough background in ways of writing about and analyzing culture, that we need to interrogate any kind of easy, smooth analysis that is not really informed by local, or indigenous, ways of theorizing culture. Detroiters and Detroit musicians have a vast array of analytical tenets that are very specific, and simultaneously diverse. It would only serve to alienate them from me, and me from them, if I wrote some big analysis that was entirely disconnected from local ways of theorizing culture, music, and history.

This experience at SEM brought me to thinking about a personal experience I had with my own ethnographic research in Detroit on electronic music. I recently posted an inquiry in a number of places (313 email listserv, FB, and DetroitLuv).

Here's the question I asked:

Has anyone ever done or heard of anyone doing the following IN DETROIT:

Physically manipulating a piece of vinyl by cutting it down the middle exactly and then gluing it to another half of vinyl so that the grooves match up and it can actually play? Or any other kind of dramatic vinyl manipulation?

I'm thinking of things beyond concentric grooves, inverse grooves, and locked grooves.
I know lots of you already, but just in case you're wondering, I'm writing a dissertation on Detroit techno and house music through Indiana University. I've lived in SE Michigan since early 2008, did research, including lots of interviews, steadily for a year and a half. Still here, still doing interviews ... but I'm mainly writing. Starting chapter 3 tonight!

Feel free to message me directly if you'd rather. Thanks!


My thoughts about this stem from an interview I did in 2006 with a musician named Carrie Gates. I'm working on a few chapters of my dissertation simultaneously and was reading over the paper I wrote for a course, a conference, and an award competition (which was successful), that was based on that interview, among other things. The paper was mildly Detroit related, although I had done zero fieldwork in Detroit by that point, so there was not a whole lot of Detroit related insight. I'm still working with a few of the core theoretical ideas that I introduced in that paper and wondered if vinyl manipulation of this type was something people did or cared about in Detroit.

That DLuv link is to the discussion on that message board, but I also got lots of feedback from 313 list members and on FB. Most of what I got was the following: not really, sort of but no, here's something related but not exactly, and a big old fuck no. I didn't know what to expect in the form of responses when I originally posted the query. I'm really glad I asked in such a public way, because the resulting discussion was really helpful. I'm not going to be writing about vinyl cutting of this kind in my dissertation because it's clearly not a relevant issue here and there are many more way important things to write and think about.

The things I am going to spend a great deal of time on are the concepts of intertextuality and interdiscursivity in the context of performance and production. For the purposes of this blog post, I will define intertextuality, but I'll leave interdiscursivity alone. Just modify what comes next in terms of discourse and more expansive understandings of time.

Intertextuality: the intercommunication of cultural and performative texts.

A text can also be thought of as a unit of communication, or an utterance. I use the concept of text as a way of analyzing performance and production of electronic dance music. Just to reassure you, I'm not using text in a limited verbal sense, and I will explain that in detail in my dissertation. I have developed this approach after endless frustration and disappointment with theories of postmodernism, hybridity, and improvisation; all of which have been used in analyses of electronic dance music for a while now. My thoughts on intertextuality also tie in interperformative relations and the concepts of eclecticism and diversity in Detroit music and culture. Sonic eclecticism and diversity of identity. I know, this is so brief, maybe annoyingly so. But there's more to come, just not necessarily on a blog.

Vinyl cutting was the single most obvious and tangible case for intertextuality in the paper I wrote in 2006. An aberration that fits my theories with ease. Doesn't mean it should! And clearly it won't.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Aaron Carl, August 19, 1973 - September 30, 2010

I'm so pleased I knew Aaron-Carl Ragland and got the chance to interview him ... in a Bob Evans in Warren eating up some waffles together! I'll be writing a bit more about him next week when I get back home from this brief weekend trip. In the meantime, check these.














http://www.littlewhiteearbuds.com/podcast/lwe-podcast-48-aaron-carl/

Monday, September 20, 2010

Busy Weekend in Detroit

I started the weekend off with a fun night at New Center Park in Detroit. Michael Geiger and Mike Huckaby were playing. It was a free event from 8pm-midnight. I was happy for the early evening since I had big plans for the next day... I'll tell you in a minute. It was cold too, but that didn't bother me much. I danced enough to fog up my glasses a few times. Speaking of dancing, Gehrik Mohr and friends were there dancing some greatness. Gehrik is a fantastic dancer, known all over Detroit as one of the originators of Detroit's freestyle house dancing. A few other dancers who fit this label include Thaddius Reed, Vince Haliburton, Chris Jones, and Tammie Walters. I don't know all Detroit's house dancers. There are some younger dancers that I see around, but I don't know who you are ... so just know that we see you and love you.

The music was fun. Huck played this



So serious.

And if you don't know who Michael Geiger is, just click here and listen, it's great.

http://www.myspace.com/geigermichael


The next day, I itched and anxiously awaited 4pm, the magic hour of babysitter arrival and Ma and Pa's departure to Detroit for the We Like Music festival.

And yes, that means I missed Kevin Reynold's live set with a Yamaha and an 808. That is terrible, I felt pain. But 4pm it was. We arrived in time to hear some hot beats from DJ Dez. Dez/Andres is definitely someone I'm excited about. He's been producing and djing for a while now. His Untitled 12 inches on KDJ are incredible and his most recent II on Mahogani Music melts me.



Yeah, that's Minx. Not sure how to type what I think/feel when I hear this. Just breathe and love it. Dez was playing inside at the Old Miami, and I could have easily spent my next 45 minutes there, but Kyle Hall was playing outside and I wanted to check him out too. I definitely wish they had not been scheduled at the same time. But I get it, scheduling can be challenging for a festival. I'm glad I went outside. It turned out to be the best set I've heard Kyle play yet. Lots of fun, excellent transitions and selection, good dancing tunes. And on a side note, I like to watch DJs move as they play. Not, oh yeah I'm hot shit it's a party kind of moving. But just how they feel the music and dance slightly. Kyle has a really distinct head groove. Theo Parrish gets all bouncy. Rick Wilhite gets all spiritual, head to the heavens. Carlos Souffront moves like a soft librarian who will house you. What the hell am I even talking about anymore. Those last three dudes weren't even at the festival. Focus.

On our way out to Cass Cafe for some food, we checked out Madis One who have a new release on Blank Artists. They sounded good and interesting. Experimental instrument usage is always exciting. After a lovely meal (Artichoke pesto melt and Motor City Brew Works Pale Ale), we got back in time almost at the start of James T. Cotton's set. That's Tadd Mullinix. Tadd is a fantastic producer. Please listen to one of the greatest songs ever:



His set was really great. I stood and listened for most of it, partly because I had just had a meal, but also because sometimes it's nice to just listen. I repeatedly had a smile on my face at varying moments of his set. And, although I can't be sure of how much time exactly,
I lose track of things when I'm dancing, a little bit, but the last quarter of his set was exquisite. I'll say it again, exquisite. From the super fantastic Italo song through to the end, I was dancing. I woke up thinking about it the next morning. It's really lovely to listen to someone select music that is not simply to get hips bumping, but is also intellectual, educational, inspired by something bigger than tits and beer. I love parties, you know I do. But I also love to be moved. And you know he's drawing from an incredible archive of house records. I've spent some quality time with the "Tadd Recommends" sections at Encore Recordings in Ann Arbor. There's almost always a copy of Vanity 6.



Usually some Mobb Deep in there too. Good thing having Tadd at Encore. Good thing having Encore in SE Michigan.

And finally, nospectacle ended the good music portion of my evening.





Nospectacle, Old Miami, 9/18/10, Photos by James M. Rotz

Nospectacle consists of Walter Wasacz, Jennifer Paul, and Chris McNamara. They were really interesting and fun to watch. It's always great to hear serious noise while the musicians are bouncing around, dancing, fist pumping, and smiling. They weren't going crazy by any means, but they were pleasantly boisterous. Here's a descriptor from their twitter page: hi-fidelity dream-based written word and live performance electronics. There was some interesting video installation going on around them, although I didn't catch who that particular artist was. The festival featured art by a number of artists. The range of sounds was really exciting. The bench we were sitting on was vibrating us. They started their set out with some nebulous droning tones. Oh, and I'll admit right now that my capacity for describing experimental music is limited at this point. But I'll just keep at it, reading and writing, and it will get better. Gradually, they got more regular with rhythms, verging on some electro style sounds at times. My feet were definitely tapping the whole time.

We left Old Miami at about 10:30 intending to get some dessert somewhere and then head over to the Magic Stick thinking that we would catch Jimmy Edgar and Mux Mool. Unfortunately that did not happen. But I didn't know the set times. As it turned out, we missed both. Elliot Lipp was unremarkable, the sound was really quiet, and we didn't stick around for glitch mob kraddy. So we headed home early and I tried to salvage my night by listening to this on the way home, but you can bet it did nothing for James ... too annoying cheese for him. I tortured him anyway.



Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sonar Chicago



So you're going to Chicago next weekend for Sonar? You know, that Barcelona festival that is implanting onto Chicago this year. I just saw that Ron Trent is giving a lecture at 4pm Saturday, September 11. And Appleblim is lecturing the day before. So reading about this makes me actually regret not going to the festival. But I've got some Indiana brews that are just waiting anxiously in my basement to be enjoyed by some friends. I'm trying to make up some weirdo "bros before hoes" rhyme but with "brews." ... Brews before Sonar ... nope, not effective ...

And here's another great reason to be in Chicago looking for tunes:

Sonar Club Night by Red Bull Music Academy

Black Devil Disco Club (Rephlex)
Appleblim (Apple Pips)
Cosmin TRG (Tempa)
Space Dimension Controller (R&S)
Todd Osborn (Spectral)

10 September 2010
From 10pm until 4am

Smart Bar

3730 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60613

Ticket info
:
$5 all night










The festival actually seems more interesting than I originally thought a few weeks ago. The Ron Trent lecture totally seals the deal! You might want to take a look at this article by Terry Matthew about electronic music in Chicago:

Sonar Is Coming To Chicago. This is Not Necessarily A Good Thing.

I was just in Chicago last weekend and had such a great time, I wanted to share some places with you so that you can go and experience them for yourself.

Coffeeshop #1 Fifteen Stars 110% Excellent !!!!One!!!!:
The Wormhole in Wicker Park
1462 N. Milwaukee



Metropolis and Intelligentsia are both good too. I'm becoming an espresso head, so that's why these places are good. Don't worry, just order whatever you want, and if you get lip, give them sass.

If you're looking for records, Chicago is good for that. But if you're reading this, then maybe you already know about Chicago vinyl spots.

Groove Distribution
KStarke Records
(Thanks to Gridface/Jacob Arnold for the heads up on those two.)

Two other spots: Gramaphone Records and Reckless Records

We ate at this great restaurant on the south side called Amelia's. It's BYOB and you can swing by the grocery and liquor store right down the block on your way. Yes, it's on the south side. Don't be scared. It's perfectly reasonable to go down around 47th street in Chicago, even if you're a big gleaming whitey like me. Just keep your wits, like you would in ANY part of ANY city, and don't go much further south alone after dark. See, here's me perfectly safe and delighted after a fabulous meal at Amelia's.



And if you need anything else, just consult the Chicago Reader.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We Like Music Festival



This ought to be great!

Saturday September 18 2010

2pm-10pm The Old Miami 3930 Cass Avenue Detroit, MI
9pm-2am The Magic Stick 4120 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI

Music:

Jimmy Edgar
Mux Mool
Eliot Lipp
Kraddy
James T. Cotton
Madis One
John Arnold
Kyle Hall
Mobil
Kevin Reynolds
Aether
Perilelle
Intricate Dialect
Leo123
DJ Deadlines
Bobby Dolo
nospectacle
Green Meadows
A.M. Architect
Kadence
Slufter

Visual:

Broken City Lab
VJ Kero
Linsay Jewell
Nivek Monet
Detronik

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mike Huckaby, Maschine Demo at YouthVille Detroit



Just spent the evening at YouthVille Detroit, a not-for-profit community center for Detroit youth, ages 11-19. Here's a bit about YouthVille:

YouthVille Detroit is "a youth development center (not just a recreational facility) based on the belief that young people need: • A Safe Space • Responsible, caring adults engaged in their lives • To be intentionally involved in their own development • Broad supports and opportunities Communicating the concept of positive youth development as the mission of YouthVille Detroit was a key initiative. The inclusion of youth parents, teachers, school administrators, business leaders, legislators, and the governor brought commitments and enthusiastic support from various stakeholders in the Detroit community and southeastern Michigan."


Malik Alston & Mike Huckaby after the demo playing around.

Mike Huckaby offers regular courses there in music production. Kyle Hall got his start at YouthVille in Huckaby's class, and eventually started teaching on his own there for a time. Tonight was a demo offered by Mike Huckaby for free (a relatively regular occurrence here in Detroit!) of Maschine by Native Instruments. If you want to know more about Maschine, just click back there. I'm going to tell you about the event. I went because I think it's so great that these types of events happen in Detroit - free, no registration, open to all, just come together and hang out and learn about music production. I'm not a producer, not a DJ, not even a collector...of anything. I'm telling you that so that you'll understand where I'm coming from. I'm a lover of this music, this place, culture, and people. And I write. Mike is clearly devoted to educating people and sharing knowledge. Check out this article by Brendan M. Gillen about him. And this rad LWE podcast. And this Red Bull Music Academy mix. All dope ass hotness. And for the demo, he prepared a file titled "dope ass pattern for demo." It was Dope. Ass.

The room was full when I got there. I was a bit late, had to wait for my man to come home from work. Those kids can't watch theyselves! Anyway, the room was packed with incredible musicians and DJs. Anthony Shake Shakir, Kelli Hand, Eric Johnson, Raymond Jones (DJ Raybone), Rick Wade, Delano Smith, Malik Alston, Mike Grant, Kero of Kero Logistics, and Michael Geiger. Walter Wasacz was in the house as well. And devotees to Detroit, social visionaries Shay Maxwell and Jay Newhouse showed some love. You'll certainly be hearing more about them soon...


Side of YouthVille on Lothrop Road, Detroit.

One of Mike Huckaby's audio files for Maschine was called "dubstep kit" - I really wanted to know what that sounded like!!! Probably awesome. He had a YouthVille student of his on his keyboard assisting with the demo. There was discussion of sampling. Let me just say, when you're an academic, any discussion of sampling always involves some DETAILED, LENGTHY discussion of legal issues. And sure, that's important. But it's damn refreshing to just listen to musicians talk about using sounds. Oh, and Mike described some of his samples as "nonsensical samples" that he would use to turn into something fabulous (my words, not his!). Some of these nonsensical samples had the words "dirty electro" in the title - Dirty Electro! As he flipped through them, I got excited over the dirt. Finally, he described his synthesizer from an unmentioned Dutch company with whom he may customize his own synthesizer...in its own special color. The Huck Synth (again my words, not his...).

It was really lovely to be at YouthVille - my first visit. Detroit is such a great place. Whenever I visit, it's hard for me to leave. I just want to go hang out in all the places I really love. I don't live that far away. Ann Arbor is about 40 minutes away. I just really like a lot of things about Detroit.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Arthur Russell

Watch this please: Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell



Excellent film about musician Arthur Russell.





Then you can read this: Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992 by Tim Lawrence.

From the Duke University Press website:

Hold On to Your Dreams is the first biography of the musician and composer Arthur Russell, one of the most important but least known contributors to New York’s downtown music scene during the 1970s and 1980s. With the exception of a few dance recordings, including “Is It All Over My Face?” and “Go Bang! #5,” Russell’s pioneering music was largely forgotten until 2004, when the posthumous release of two albums brought new attention to the artist. This revival of interest gained momentum with the issue of additional albums and the documentary film Wild Combination. Based on interviews with more than seventy of his collaborators, family members, and friends, Hold On to Your Dreams provides vital new information about this singular, eccentric musician and his role in the boundary-breaking downtown music scene.

Tim Lawrence traces Russell’s odyssey from his hometown of Oskaloosa, Iowa, to countercultural San Francisco, and eventually to New York, where he lived from 1973 until his death from AIDS-related complications in 1992. Resisting definition while dreaming of commercial success, Russell wrote and performed new wave and disco as well as quirky rock, twisted folk, voice-cello dub, and hip-hop-inflected pop. “He was way ahead of other people in understanding that the walls between concert music and popular music and avant-garde music were illusory,” comments the composer Philip Glass. “He lived in a world in which those walls weren’t there.” Lawrence follows Russell across musical genres and through such vital downtown music spaces as the Kitchen, the Loft, the Gallery, the Paradise Garage, and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation. Along the way, he captures Russell’s openness to sound, his commitment to collaboration, and his uncompromising idealism.

It really is an excellent read. Fascinating details framed by skilled story telling by Lawrence and by everyone he interviewed. Lawrence gives insight into how he approached this project in the preface, telling the reader how he knows what he knows. He explained the challenges in writing a book about a person he could no longer interview. A man who did very few interviews while he was alive. It's refreshing to read about these details and issues of conducting research because it allows the author and reader to really think about and understand how this kind of research and writing gets turned into a book. It also removes a bit of the authority of the author, in a good sense, and acknowledges in a more public way, all the people who contributed to the construction of this story.

On a personal note, the historical connections between New York's downtown music scene of the 1970s and 1980s and the modern dance scene of this time period were a sweet surprise. I've been a dancer since I could walk and spent some time as a teenager studying modern dance history - learning about innovative and experimental choreographers and dancers in New York City. As it turns out, Arthur Russell often played music with many of these dancers, or at least played in the same performance spaces. The Kitchen in particular is a notable performance space for experimental music and dance during this time period. And the overlap with dancers and choreographers like Stephen Petronio, Trisha Brown, and Wendy Perron was totally unexpected when this book came home from the library.

Really excellent read. Wonderful history. I even cried in chapter 7.

And now for some listening:












Saturday, August 7, 2010

Especially Good



Especially Good is a band from Detroit consisting of Julio Efrain Dominguez, Paul Kiry, and Joseph Flis. I saw them play for a lousy 20 minutes last night at Savoy in Ypsilanti, MI. They are especially fucking ridiculously excellent. I know, total cheese that I'm using half their band name to describe them. Or steeze, your choice.




There's clearly no lack of funk going on here. The reason I only got to hear them for 20 minutes is not because I was late, but because they were crammed in with a bunch of other bands. It was a release party for Especially Good's 7 inch on Party Ngg. You can get this solid piece of vinyl at Encore Recordings in Ann Arbor. The original idea for this event was for Wolf Eyes and Especially Good to play and Todd Osborn and Carlos Souffront would provide selections in between. Things changed and the event grew to include lots of other interesting bands and performers, including Amanda & Joey, Duane, Bad Party, and Moon Pool and Dead Band. Carlos did not DJ because of an injury, but Todd played, selections were excellent as always.




The only thing lacking from Especially Good's performance was that I could not hear Julio's voice. I honestly could have listened to them for the entire night. 4 or 5 hours. I don't even care if they repeat songs, it was that good. And it was my birthday party too, no one else really knew that it was, but I knew! What a gift. I experienced some mild, amicable mind melting - you know, the kind of feeling that stirs in your chest, you can't stop smiling, and lasts the longest in your head so that the next morning, you wake up happy. And there's something great about watching some burly guy playing hard, funky music, standing at a synthesizer on a delicate stand (no matter the quality of the instrument stand, it always looks that way to me, funny) and reading song lyrics from varying sized pieces of paper and a cell phone. I really do love that. Reminds me of seeing Ectomorph live at Oslo last year sometime and Erika Sherman had notes written on tiny pieces of paper and she used a little flash light to squint at them. Not notes for lyrics or anything vocal, notes for her drum machine and other equipment.




Especially Good is supposed to have some vinyl coming out on FIT distribution in Detroit soon...I'll be waiting! They are also working with Cornelius Harris of Alter Ego Management and Submerge...yes, that's exciting...more vinyl releases. Cornelius was there and we talked about being into all kinds of different music and how bringing it together can be so great. Yet another music visionary!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gary Springs Hunting Club, Detroit, America

Click on that title up there. That website is so horribly awesome. Anything GSHC related cracks me up in a serious way. Their party last night, Lazer Tan, was fantastic. One of my favorite parties ever - I have a growing collection of those, most of which have been in Detroit. I danced so much, I sweated my upper underclothes green (...cause I had a new green shirt on...). It was a hot hot sweatbox. I think I'm in love with Gary Springs, but don't say anything or shit might get stupid.



The party sounds were hosted by the good Reverend Robert David Jones (GSHC/Tour Detroit), Secrets (GSHC/Blank Artists/Secret Mixes Fixes), and Darshan Jesrani (Metro Area/Environ-NYC). It was held in a private loft in Greektown. It was a fine space, small and heated, but nice for that party. It was real crowded (and hard to dance) for about an hour at the end of Secrets' set and at the beginning of Darshan's set. Other than that, I had plenty of elbow room. I arrived mildly early, before things started filling up. I caught a good portion of Secrets' set. It was really fun, funky disco, with some touches of house and electro.

Darshan Jesrani - what a DJ. Boy, I had some fun. He played vinyl and cds. Heard some real nice jacking tracks. It was an excellent set. Solid and proper.



I had some fun dancing to this. It just sounded really beautiful.

Got to chat with Robert David Jones about the party and about GSHC in general. They have a really youthful, creative, positive, Detroit centered approach to hosting and sharing music in this city. And I love it. I anxiously await some recorded conversations with these guys, whether together as a group or individually, whatever. I am as excited about talking to them as I am about interviewing Juan or Derrick, just so you know.

Sadly, I forgot to carry out my special GSHC animal mask as I was leaving the loft. You can bet there's not much that will hold me back from their next party.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Writing with words.

So I'm heavily entrenched in writing this dissertation. I've got two versions of chapter one almost complete. The dissertation version is not totally done, but the other version is for the second edition of an anthology on African American music titled African American Music: An Introduction edited by Portia K. Maultsby and Mellonee V. Burnim, published by Routledge. The first edition is dated 2006. I'm not sure how long until the second edition is available, but definitely not until next year some time. I'll let you know!

I'm so excited to be working on an essay for this anthology. The second edition will have some updated essays and will be formatted a bit differently with two volumes instead of one; and there will be a listening portion as well, but I'm not sure what format it will be. My approach with the chapter is to move away from the typical history of Detroit techno. You will see the Bellville Three, but only briefly. There is so much to discuss about Detroit, that I decided to cover lots of what gets passed over. I have had the luxury of living in southeast Michigan for 2 1/2 years now and there's so much happening here that's worthy of being written about. And I'm not choosing to write about different stuff just because it's not covered in depth very much. I think all the people I have talked with in Detroit, all the music I have learned about, and the rich musical culture that makes Detroit special, are all equally important and significant when held next to Juan Atkins, Derrick May, or Kevin Saunderson, or other frequently mentioned names. I also left behind the chronological history approach; you will see almost no mention of "waves" - Detroit techno is often written about in waves, an idea initiated from Alvin Toffler's books The Third Wave (1970) and Future Shock (1980). This is certainly a valuable approach to discussing Detroit techno. The connection was made by local artists like Juan Atkins and Derrick May in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I just chose to go about it my own way based on what I have heard from all the fantastic interviews I have been able to do. The concept of waves of techno did not come up more than once my whole time here doing this research. So my approach, which is generally an ethnomusicological/anthropological approach, privileges indigenous concepts and ways of formulating and negotiating culture.

I would LOVE to be able to post a pdf of my chapter for you all to have; make it open access for all. But I suspect that would go against my contractual agreement! So, once it is published and available, if it is out of your price range but you want to read it, go to your university library or public library and request that they purchase it. I have had lots of success requesting books this way. (I certainly can't afford to buy all the books I want to read, plus, over the past few years, I have begun to prefer not to waste the paper and other resources of new books, so I normally go used or library anyway.) I will say that once my dissertation is completed (hopefully next May!!), I plan to make it available online for anyone to access. There is an online database of academic theses and dissertations that most university libraries subscribe to (in the US at least, sorry, but my knowledge and experience with libraries outside of the US is zero) called ProQuest. Typically, to be able to access full text versions of dissertations, you need to either subscribe for a large fee or be able to access it though a university that you are somehow affiliated with. It is possible, however, to have your own dissertation made openly available to all readers, no matter how they access ProQuest. I've been told it costs a small fee for the author. I'm not exactly sure of all the details, but I definitely plan to do this. There should not be so many boundaries separating academic writing and research from people outside of higher education systems.

Finally, I want to share with fellow writers who may be struggling with their dissertations or whatever you may be writing.

Here's a great site: http://dissertationdiva.typepad.com/ She's got some lovely supportive suggestions and ideas.

Also, this book: Writing Your Dissertation In Fifteen Minutes A Day by Joan Bolker. Helpful and encouraging. While you might not really need to read it cover to cover, it is helpful to get to you to think about how YOU can best approach YOUR dissertation.

I also would like to encourage you all to remember that even if your path does not fit some typical model of research and writing, it's really going to be alright. I spend two full days a week writing. Sometimes a bit more. But my primary responsibilities are being a full time mother and homeschooler to my three boys. So when I am able to get a few hours to write, no matter what time of day, I take it. Although, daytime, non-exhausted writing is way easier than nighttime tired head writing. Whatever you've got going on in your life, just take it as it comes, embrace that reality, and take care of your shit. And, I'll add smugly that having limited amounts of time usually makes your use of that time way more efficient! That's been my experience and the experience of lots of other parents doing all kinds of great things.

As far as the specifics of getting the writing done, I have relearned that I am able to best get my ideas to flow if I have pen in hand and paper in front of me, not keyboard and computer screen in front of me. For me, this means that I handwrite most of my ideas first, and then type it up after - this becomes a second draft because inevitably as I type what I have written on paper, editing and shifting gets accomplished. Choose a nice space to write in. I don't write at home during the day because the rest of my family is around and that just doesn't work. Luckily I have two wonderful coffee shops in the area with very special espresso: Comet in Ann Arbor, and Ugly Mug in Ypsi. I also use computer labs in some of the University of Michigan buildings on both North Campus and Central Campus. My favorite spot is in the School of Natural Resources on Central Campus. At the east entrance, there is a garden of flowers and plants native to Michigan. Butterflies almost fly into my head every time I use this entrance! This garden also means no grass, no mowing, no fertilizer, and no watering. You can see where I'm going with this...all this energy conservation gets me happy. The lighting is low throughout the building, air conditioning is kept reasonably efficient as well. There is a column of natural light extending down from the roof to the ground floor, providing light to all the inner rooms and offices. The computer lab has large windows letting this light in. There is a display of "Cones of American Conifers" on the same floor as the computer lab. And, while I hesitate to discuss bathroom habits in any public way, there is a composting restroom on every floor!

So I hope this helps some. There are some other things I have been wanting to tell you about, but I just haven't taken the time. I want to review the film Tresor Berlin: The Vault and The Electronic Frontier that I saw in Detroit recently. I also want to write a bit about Arthur Russell - I'm reading Hold On To Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973-1992 by Tim Lawrence. It's really great.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pansies



I was sitting in the Ugly Mug, champion espresso house in Ypsilanti, MI, making wonderful progress on chapter 2 (!!!) last Friday (and yes, that means chapter 1 is pretty much done), and I overheard two delicate little guys talking on the couch about traveling across Michigan. I'll call them Frances and Hortense (I know, Hortense is a lady name, but it sounds funny to me, so just keep reading). So Frances says to Hortense, 'I'm planning a coast to coast tour of Michigan in one day, from east to west.' Hortense says, 'Are you going to take Michigan?' Michigan Avenue is US 12. It begins in Detroit and cuts west and south across the state and into Indiana around Lake Michigan. Then Hortense mumbles something and then I hear, 'or you'll get shot. Wayne is fine, Dearborn is fine, but not Detroit.' (Wayne is a neighboring town, and Dearborn is a suburb of Detroit). Frances says, 'Oh, maybe I'll go north.'

Bitch, don't go fucking north. Are you kidding me? When I describe these boys as delicate, I am referring to their sensibilities, not stature. Taking Michigan through southwest Detroit, Corktown, and Mexicantown to downtown Detroit, you'll get shot??? Fuck. I hate that shit, hate it. Hate. It. Michigan Avenue in Detroit is a wide street flanked by plenty of open businesses on either side all the way down...to downtown. Downtown Detroit - which was sort of dangerous and run down about 10 years ago, ... when you were TEN! But now, as many of you know, holds plenty of operating businesses, beautiful and active concert halls, lots of restaurants and bars, and Campus Martius park - a lovely park with an ice skating rink in winter and alluring fountain in summer.

I wanted to speak up and apologize for my rudeness, but imply that they were a bunch of lame, scared, delicate flowers. But I didn't. Sorry bout that.

I refuse to let fear and ignorance determine where I go and what I do. Why don't you do the same, honey?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WCBN




Driving home this evening after spending some hours reading Michael Veal's Dub: Soundscapes and Shattered Songs in Jamaican Reggae.

I turned on the radio and went immediately to WCBN, Ann Arbor's fabulous radio station. I heard some lovely something and kept it. A few moments later, I exclaimed, aloud, hands in the air, with my windows open, driving through Ypsilanti, "IT'S CARLOS!!" Aloud. Loudly.

I had forgotten that it was Thursday, the night of Carlos Souffront's weekly radio show, Crush Collision, on WCBN from 10PM-1AM. You can listen to it streaming on the WCBN website. Needless to say, I ran straight in and slipped into my headphones to listen some more. Carlos has unannounced guests nearly every week including Todd Osborn. The show was begun in 1987 by Tom Simoyen as a primarily acid jazz program, but also included house 12 inches and remixes of pop bands. Footnote this to Brendan M. Gillen. Then, in the early 1990s, Brendan Gillen of Ectomorph took over the show and transformed it into more of a techno show, but also included lots of types of electronic music. Carlos Souffront began participating in the show in 1995. He has been doing it for a great number of years now. It's fucking great.

Other folks, indirectly involved with the show, but directly involved with WCBN include Erika Sherman, also of Ectomorph, and ethnomusicologist Ben Tausig, possibly known as Data General. You can check him here: Weird Vibrations. Erika started working at the station in 1993. The day after she arrived in Ann Arbor for college, she went over to the radio station and began working there immediately. She worked as the general manager of the radio station, program director, and gave disc jockey training classes. Erika, can you do that again? I'll be in your class. She also hosted her own free form weekly radio shows, taking on 3 hour time slots at first, and then began to take other time slots so that she began playing 6 to 9 hour sets on the radio. Her time ended at WCBN around 2000, and she devoted all her shining musical brilliance to production, touring, the Interdimensional Transmissions record label, and super party planning.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meatballs for everyone!

If you are looking for some nighttime activism, check this.



http://plutoisaplanet.info/

The following is taken from their website:

Our next event is our yearly gala which we have bestowed the honor of hosting upon the City of Detroit. Details of the event:

P.L.U.T.O. Solidarity Rally: 9:00pm Friday, June 18th (tentative time) which is to be held in Campus Martius Park.

Location: Detroit, America

Details: At the rally we will be providing complimentary refreshments, attendees are encouraged to bring signs proclaiming their committment to the Planet Pluto.

Immediately following the rally we will join together and march approximately 1/4 of a mile through downtown on Woodward Avenue to Vain (1500 Woodward Ave) where we will begin our fundraiser event reception hosted by Gary Springs Hunting Club. Attendees of the rally will receive $5 off at the door by being present the rally beforehand. You need not head directly to the event, we just ask that you march with us and you're free to depart and return as you please

Details of the Fundraising Reception

Location: Vain, 1500 Woodward Avenue, Detroit America

Duration: 9:00pm-2:00am

Performances by: Junior Boys (Get Physical, Universal, Domino-Canada), Secrets (GSHC, Secrets Mixes-Fixes-Detroit America)

And here is the Facebook event page in which they promise meatballs.

And this Secrets dude got his set rained out at the Movement Festival, so rally for Secrets love too!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Movement 2010, Day 2 & 3

Shit Show was on Sunday. I had my tickets early and really wanted to spend some time there. But sleep and other interests got the better of me. We got down there in time to hear Kyle Hall's set, about 10:30. He was scheduled to end at 11 and then Todd Osborn for the next hour. Sadly, I missed Darkcube live and Derek Plaslaiko earlier in the morning. Todd played a banging set that kept my tired legs going for about an hour straight. Seriously, I really didn't stop dancing the whole time. They had two rooms going - one inside and then one outside. Outside was packed that sunny morning, inside was not. There were bunches of people sleeping on couches and chicks swinging on bathroom stall doors - tp party. Todd's set was great, as I expected. No "hot mixes," nothing predictable, primarily lots of lovely things I had never heard before. So that's a score for me.

We left to get lunch at Slows Bar-B-Q on Michigan. First time eating there, it was fantastic. One more notch on the happiness scale for the weekend. I had never had North Carolina style sauce before, so that's what I fell in love with at Slows. And the beer, oh my god, it was a good weekend for beer. Rochester Mills IPA. So good, I had it twice.

We then headed down to Hart Plaza for the Electrobounce crew/Starski & Clutch/Godfather. They were pretty fun as always. By that point, we needed another break and some sleep. I missed some excellent music that afternoon and evening, but getting up for an early party will do that. We got back down to the fest at about 9pm and I got to enjoy Rob Hood's set. By that point, I was crowded out, so we just stood up on a bench and listened from up top. I enjoyed it. What he played was some fun and interesting techno. There were some moving beats. I am so spoiled by being in Detroit year round and have the pleasure of small crowds and small venues. I can easily see what is going on all the time. I love to be able to see what a musician is doing while playing a live set - the equipment and how they manipulate it all. I would have loved to be able to do that for Rob Hood's set.

After that, we very slowly made our way to milkshakes and then to No Way Back. This party is what I should be planning my weekend around. But instead, I exhaust myself to the extent that I am unable to handle any more beats, even beats that I am loving. It's been at the Bohemian National Home for the past two years (not sure about years before that). All the DJs are bound to be fantastic - it's Brendan M. Gillen and Erika Sherman choosing them, so come on, you know it! They decorate the space in such a lovely way to create a great, dark, actually peaceful atmosphere for listening and partying. They had Motor City Brewing Lager - more good beer! I came for Mike Servito, Derek Plaslaiko, BMG, and Carlos Souffront and did not stick around long enough to hear any of them. Saw photos of Carlos playing with morning light coming in softly. He was scheduled to play at 7:30am. I'm serious, next year, I'm leaving the festival early and sleeping until maybe 4am or something so that I can enjoy the whole party, to the end. And I must add, ladies, you will be treated well here. And not in the wink wink we treat the ladies right way. It is a safe partying environment created on purpose. It's actually an important part of Interdimensional Transmissions - Erika and Brendan's record label - to produce parties that are safe and genuinely fun for women and men. They actually accomplish this really well too! Chicks dig IT.

The next day we slept in until I just couldn't sleep anymore, which turned out to be about 10am. Crazy, I know, but I had been away from my kids all weekend and sleeping away from them was actually difficult for this Ma. Rain ended up closing much of the stages down for big chunks of the day. Missed Shigeto and Secrets. Hung out at Forans for a while for more good beer. Then back for the Moritz von Oswald Trio. Now this was another true highlight of the weekend. I had been looking forward to hearing them for a long time. Before they started, we caught some of Francesco Tristano live. He played Strings of Life on his piano without any electronically produced sounds . That was pretty fun. MOV3 got set up a bit late and welcomed Carl Craig on modular synthesizer as a guest.

Now this is not my photo, it's by Greg Cristman of a show by MOV3 + Carl Craig + Francois K at the Unsound Festival this past February. But just look at this. He's producing tones by patching cords.



I mean I can hardly stand it. Check out the rest of the photos of this show here.

The music was interesting, slow to build (in a good way), intellectually moving. It was a weird beauty. There were some nice percussive moments. They played great together. It was a joy to just sit in the alternating sun and clouds and listen. How I wished to be standing with my face in all the gear watching every moment I was hearing.

So that's my weekend.

A few general comments ensue. Serious body jacking happening at specific moments over the weekend. I'm a serious mover so that's important to me. The stages were surprisingly clear of media folks this year as compared to last year. I learned after the festival that Paxahau designed a two tier system for media credentials - media and stage media. So there were some with credentials who could go "back stage" but not on stage. This is excellent for the artists. But not so fun for folks who need/want to report and share images of the fest with their readers. I also learned after the fest that Paxahau did not allow promos to enter Hart Plaza - no cds or vinyl. "To protect their investment." This is actually ridiculous. A lot of small labels benefit from networking inside the festival. This seems particularly damaging to local artists who could easily transport their releases down to the festival and distribute their music on their own terms in a very immediate way.

Once again, I really enjoyed meeting new people and seeing old faces that I hadn't seen since last year. Met Rob Theakston of EMA and Moodmat. Met Jacob Arnold of Gridface. Glad to finally meet both of them! Got a few chances to chat with Frank Glazer of Infinite State Machine. That Frank, he's a good man. Also Tom Cox of ISM.

I didn't get down to YaDigg Records, Whodat's new record store. But I helped her fold shirts and sort records the week before, so that's okay. I'm glad so many people made it over there! Better plan to fit another visit in next year all you fest goers!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Movement, Day 1

Saturday started off pretty nice for us. Went straight to Submerge and down to Somewhere In Detroit. Had a nice talk with Mike Banks. Bought some choice records from John Collins. Saw Ed DMX there. Such a nice way to start off the weekend. We headed down to Motor City Brewing Company for lunch and a Ghettoblaster, of course. Then on down to Hart Plaza. I really wanted to catch Patrice Scott, but I knew that if I didn't get to Submerge early in the day, I would have a hard time making it there later on. I went straight for the main stage for Mark Ernestus. Sound was weird and really quiet. It was actually hard to hear what he was doing and easy to have conversations with folks. I finally met Lori, the other chick from the 313 list! Proper.

The sound was actually disappointing in general for the festival. Things were uneven and inconsistent, volume and levels turned down often. There were other glitches as well over the weekend. The only time the sound quality was truly beautiful was during Plastikman's set at the main stage Saturday night. Now no judgment to Ritchie Hawtin or his fans, really no judgment, but I was just passing through from Theo Parrish to the NDATL party. I knew it must be crowded in that bowl, but I had no idea. I had no desire to hang out in that. But the sound was pristine, just delicious. Each tone was so precisely sounded, I just felt like I had been let down. Knowing that that was available, but not in use during the day, and not possible at the underground stage, let down. The underground stage sound was better than last year, but not good still. They certainly put a lot of work into the acoustics down there with all kinds of panels and backdrops and acoustic structures. It was still disappointing.

Went to check out Niko Marks, Kyle Hall, Martyn and Scion over the next few hours. Scion was just eh because of the turned down sound. They were much better at the Blank Artists party here in Detroit last November. And it was just exciting to see Kyle play the festival. His father was there to see him! The bit I heard from Martyn was actually disappointing. I was excited to hear him because I like his productions, but I just wasn't grabbed by his sounds.

After a bit of a break from the festival, we got back for the end of Rick Wilhite's set and then Theo Parrish. I had a lot of fun during Theo's set, but I think he lost a lot of people. They just weren't into his Brazillian/jazz tunes. Plus, Plastikman was scheduled to play soon, so that really emptied out the underground quick. But I like to stay where I like to dance, and I always like to dance when Theo is playing. So that's where I stayed.

I'd like to conclude this festival segment with the following statement: just because you're playing DEMF doesn't mean you have to play big room techno (thank you Kent Williams for that one). It is especially disappointing when you produce really interesting, even weird shit all year round. Please don't have an instantaneous identity crisis and think that you have to play to a certain crowd that you see before you. You are on that stage because of who you are, not because of who the crowd is. Thank you.


Larry Heard, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz

Like I said in the previous post, I enjoy my time outside of Hart Plaza way more than my time in it. The NDATL party at 1515 Broadway, the second location for the famed Music Institute, was incredible. Definitely my favorite thing all weekend.


Kai Alce, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James M. Rotz

And I have to say, after we left, I did say that was the best party of my life. My whole life. Maybe my memory has faded and I'm missing something, but it really was excellent. We arrived around midnight and got to hear much of Larry Heard's set. I had never heard him play before, he was just great. Plenty of old disco and garage, Adonis, some r&b. It was excellent. The club filled up quick. It really felt like it came near what the Music Institute must have felt like. I know, total speculation. But it was packed, no alcohol (officially), excellent music, and not all the same bpm/beat/tones/etc, and a generally dance happy and knowledgeable crowd. It was a sweaty sweatbox and I was at home. Kai Alce's set was just great as well. We stuck around for the first while of Theo's set, but by 4am, we needed to close our eyes.


Theo Parrish, 1515 Broadway, Photo by James Rotz

Theo played some lovely tracks, including some lengthy James Brown edits through which he had a great time EQing in his special percussive way. Picked up a couple copies of the special NDATL 45 as well. It's very special.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Movement Festival, 2010, Happiness

This was a really happy festival for me. Just joyous. And not because every single sound or set was fabulous, but the whole weekend, both inside, and especially outside of Hart Plaza, was filled with great things.

I'll start you with this message from Peaches. Not the pink electro fuck Peaches.



Outkast Peaches.

video

I have loved this album since high school and this intro expresses how I feel about Detroit and this whole May weekend. You know what I'm talking about, I know you do.

So, for starters, Friday night. We began our weekend with 2010: A Detroit Odyssey hosted by Carl Craig, Planet E, and the Detroit Techno Foundation.


The films were excellent. The event was free. It was such a creative, educational, inspiring, and exciting event. I hope these kinds of events happen every year! Cycles of the Mental Machine was an interesting film. I'll definitely use that when I teach in the future! Mike Banks was interviewed for the film with his back to the camera in front of a photograph of Jeff Mills' hands. It was lovely. I had seen Metropolis before, but never with Jeff Mills' score. Well, I partially slept through Metropolis before. I was very pregnant and it was a quiet, dark theater! This time around, there was no sleeping, I was enthralled. Suite for Ma Dukes was inspiring - particularly the visual aspects. Nice to see lots of Detroit faces in the film performing. And The Drive Home was a film documenting the first year of the Detroit Electronic Music Festival. Definitely fun and interesting to watch. Particularly paired with RA's oral history of the festival. Carl Craig introduced each film. And the filmmakers of both Suite for Ma Dukes and The Drive Home were present to speak before their films. Derrick May rose to conclude the film portion of the night and prepared the audience for Timeline. Finally, Timeline played featuring Mike Banks, DJ Sicari, Jon Dixon, and De'Sean Jones. It was really exciting to see Mike Banks playing in Detroit! They were all having a great time, and everything sounded great.

It was really moving to be at this event. The crowd grew slowly, but by the time Suite for Ma Dukes began, the Detroit Music Hall was pretty full. The week prior to the Movement Festival, Carl Craig held music workshops for high school students at Detroit School for the Arts, from which Kyle Hall graduated just last year. One of these workshops was hosted by Jason Huvaere, president of Paxahau, on event planning. I was so impressed to learn about these workshops. I truly hope that these kinds of events happen every year during the festival. Free events that have the potential to reach Detroit residents, but also to educate visitors from out of town. Kenny Dixon Jr.'s Soulskate definitely accomplishes this. Maybe next year, there could be a block party outside of Submerge, or somewhere around Techno Boulevard - 1486-1492 Gratiot. Theses addresses housed the studios of Juan Atkins' Metroplex Records, Derrick May's Transmat Records, and Kevin Saunderson's KMS Studios. The party could be off Gratiot somewhere around there. The Heidelberg Project is a few steps from there too.



Or a picnic on Belle Isle, on Sunday, with a serious sound system blaring old Mojo radio shows.

There's much more that I have to tell you about, but my boys, they run me ragged...because they're so damn awesome. You'll have to wait until tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ya Digg Records


Coming to Detroit? Looking for records? Make a trip to Ya Digg.

Whodat runs it. Real name is Miss Terri McQueen.

The mission of Ya Digg Records is to deliver the best in independent and underground music by providing quality products on vinyl and other relevant formats for the true music enthusiasts worldwide.

1610 Clay Ave
#210 Bldg 2
Detroit MI 48211
313-285-9988

MAP

Tuesday 11am-7pm
Wednesday 11am -5pm
Thursday 11am-7pm
Friday 11am-7pm
Saturday 11am-7pm
Sunday and Monday Closed

Thursday, May 6, 2010

It's May!

I am getting so excited about this year's Movement Festival in Detroit. It's Detroit's electronic music festival. It's been going on for 11 years now. It has a long fascinating history in Detroit. I went to the second one in 2001, it was free. Inner City and Saul Williams were highlights for me. De La Soul were there too, and would have been a highlight had they not done a MEDLY. A medly. Really?

Anyway, I didn't go again until 2007, and since then, it's become an annual thing for James and me to love doing! I've written about the festival quite a lot, just look at my May archives. The afterparties are so great too. I was trying to just stay in on the Friday night before the festival begins, you know, for sleep! But then last night I saw that Omar S is doing the Beretta Music party at 10 Critics on Friday night. I inhaled sharply with excitement and told James slyly that we might not be staying in after all. There are too many damn parties for me to promote here, so just look at the DLuv for pointers.

And yes, I did post the down with the underground thing to Paxahau. And I stand by that - I refused to miss the artists that I wanted to hear last year even though they were in that concrete tank and the sound was mostly terrible. But I don't want to have to go down there to hear mostly local artists who I am excited about anyway. The Made In Detroit stage is in the underground space again this year. Last years set-up was the worst yet. The gigantic stage was hoisted way up high surrounded by huge bass bins with little attention to the mid and high range sounds. Not only is the sound bad down there regardless of set-up, but Paxahau is continuing to put primarily local, Black artists down there to play. The guys who run Paxahau are not new, they are not confused, they are not slow on the uptake. They know what they are doing and while I don't know everyone's background, most of them have spent a great deal of time in Detroit. Jason Huvaere even lived in Detroit for a few years. I'm sure that collectively, they know every single Detroiter who has ever spun a record or ever released any kind of electronic music. So the fact that they repeatedly fail in the sound quality department at the underground stage, while sound at the other stages gets better every year, confuses me. Additionally, the fact that they put local, mainly Black artists down there, also confuses me. I don't think Paxahua sits down and says, yeah, let's put those Black folks down there because they don't deserve as much respect. But when you step back and take a look at the layout and set-up, the Black, local musicians are getting the shaft. I think a lot of white people like to think that racism no longer exists. That we are now past all that. And particularly with electronic music, many like to think that because the music as a culture sounds and looks so diverse and universal that any kind of oppression based on race and ethnicity is impossible. Clearly the dialog in the comments section of Tom Cox's post at Infinite State Machine will attest to that. But in reality, that is just not true, not anywhere, and certainly not in Detroit. No one is saying down with whitey, but how about we bring the Black people upstairs, K?

It is seriously disturbing that this keeps happening at such a successful and important event. I love this festival. I love the music I get to hear, the people I get to meet, and the people I get to see that I haven't seen since the last festival. I love the new artists that I learn about at each festival. I will keep going, I just want this to change.