March 17, 2011

Two Ideas: Please Steal

Here are two very cool things.
1: The Chicago Mixtape (started in Chicago, early 2011)

2: The Mississippi Records Tape Series (started in Portland, early 2008)

Chicago Mixtape

The basic premise of their site is this: the music scene in Chicago has literally dozens of bands that roll through town each week, just in the world of Punk/Rock/Alternative alone. Why not give out free tastes of what's to come ahead of time? Casey Meehan, who started the series, decided to get people psyched about Chicago's upcoming shows by curating a mix each week that's filled with music from the bands that are just about to come to town. You sign up (free) and he sends you a mix with an mp3 track from each of these bands the week before. Free curated music for your ipod, sent to your inbox each week. If you don't like a track, just throw it out, it didn't cost you a dime. This is a super cool service. After you finish reading this post, go to and check it out for yourself (I won't give you a hyperlink because I don't want to lose you just yet).

Someone from Detroit needs to get up off their bar stool and copy this idea. We have a great music scene here, not just in the world of punk and garage rock, but hip hop, electronic music, and others as well. The city is a showcase for national and international acts, not to mention the legions of homegrown talent that fill up our bars and clubs every night. You could probably finagle a way to get money out of this, maybe from the venues themselves, or at the very least, score yourself a few dates with the scenesters. The people I know who would be good candidates offhand (Greg Baise, Chris Koltay, Steve Nowara, etc) are all probably too busy making that scene work already to take on a big project like this. But I know there's somebody out there. Someone who goes to all the shows, has good taste, and at least some ability to motivate and get organized. I can't think of anybody myself. But one of YOU, kind readers, probably can. I have faith. Our rock scene needs it!

Mississippi Records Tape Series
Read this from the folks at Very Short List:

"Do you remember mix tapes? The owners of Mississippi Records—a vinyl-and-cassette-only record store located on North Mississippi Avenue in Portland, Oregon—most certainly do: They’ve put together the best mixes we’ve never seen (because you can get them only by visiting the store in person). But a Bay Area record label called Root Strata has digitized dozens of these tapes and distributed them (as free downloads) online. The series starts off with House of Broken Hearts—an hour-long collection of “Early R&B, Doo Wop, Rockabilly & Instrumentals”—and only gets better.

"Other tapes are devoted to early soul music, ’60s rock, funk and hip-hop, various kinds of world music, politically minded jazz, ska and rocksteady, postwar gospel, Quebecois psych-rock, and all sorts of old-timey music (which is Mississippi Records’ sweet spot). You’ll find selections of Lullabies & Dream Songs, and a collection of Classical Music for & by the People; one of the most charming mixes contains Difficult Songs for Children."

Wow. I'm sold. I started downloading some of these mixes, and they are most excellent. Very, very heavy stuff from all types of outsider genres.

The collection actually reminds me of some of the mixes that I've stumbled across in Detroit. I've found some pretty eclectic mixes in the time I've lived here, mostly without really trying. Some are on tapes, some on blogs, some handed out at shows, and others just made for me by friends. From time to time I get my act together and throw one of these up on the blog. I should be more consistent with that, because this music usually is really good, but... well, yeah... sometimes you just fall off your blog for a while.

Anyway, we all know that Detroit has a reputation as a seriously huge music city. Despite economic, political, social, racial, or other hardships in this city, the band has always managed to play on. Perhaps it's because of all this adversity, but that conversation is for another time.

When you walk into a place like People's Records on Woodward, this musical legacy literally surrounds you. From Berry Gordy carving out the sounds of the crossover "hit machine" in the garage of a West Grand Boulevard house, to the heart-wrenching religious numbers pressed in dusty vinyl and stacked neatly in hand-painted shoe boxes. A day spent between the headphones of the listening station is a true lesson in the struggle of this great industrial metropolis, sung in four part-harmonies.

Maybe hearing the Mississippi Records Tape Series selfishly causes me to wish that the caretakers of Detroit's vinyl vaults would curate something similar. I know personally that the collections that flow in and out of shops around town are filthy rich with nuggets. But then again, it's our first sixty-degree day this year, and I ought to get off my ass and stop pointing fingers.

Here's a link to the mixes, see what you think:

December 17, 2010

Après-Ski Party at Hugh

Kick those ski boots off and sip some champagne by the fireside at Hugh for the Holidays' après-ski party, this Tuesday 12/21. If you haven't made it out to Park Avenue's 3-week pop-up shop this holiday season, I urge you to check it out. This year's theme is Hugh Hefner on a swank Scandinavian ski holiday. The collection is part new, part vintage, with a heavy Danish Modern focus. Lots and lots of beautiful teak.

I dropped in this week and picked up a killer fondue set.

Rumor has it that this may be Mr Posch's last retail endeavor. He mentioned hanging this hat up and starting to look for a j.o.b. Please urge him not to make that mistake. His store is one-of a kind.

Hope to see you Tuesday.

Link to the website.

Dave Bing Volume 2

This year's Holiday party is at Leopold's Books. Tonight!!! at 7 pm. Come as David Bowie or Bing Crosby, but don't come as Bill Cosby because that one doesn't really work. I tried last year. Damn, it's hard to find a box of puddin' pops in a pinch.

December 12, 2010

Tears Baby

Just came across the November edition of Daptone Jukepox featuring a mix by Brad Hales, owner of People's Records on Woodward & Peterboro. Highly recommend it. Give Maggie Thrett's "Soupy" a try. Hard to imagine her day job was acting, not singing.

Here's the link:

December 6, 2010

Spitzer @ the Burton

Last Thursday, the night after the D Show, the Creative Arts Scholarship Series (CASS) debuted at the Burton Theatre with a special screening of Client 9: The Rise & Fall of Eliot Spitzer. Academy Award-Winning Director Alex Gibney came out to show the crowd his latest work. Those of us who weren’t too hung-over from the night before were able to get in a few more drinks and watch a great film in a hip Detroit theater, while raising money for the College for Creative Study’s Advertising Scholarship Fund.

If you’ve never been to the Burton Theatre, then you’re missing out. Once an elementary school auditorium, this hidden gem features velour seats, suspended iron & glass lamps and a modest stage where you can imagine grade-school students putting on Holiday pageants. The Burton hosts everything from zombie flicks to international award winners to blaxploitation to oddball/home made/found/psychedelic/’Never Seen Anything Like This’ movies. Always interesting. The theater hosts barbeques in the summer with a generous outdoor screen, grilled Porktown sausages and classic favorites like The Burbs & Polyester.

It was certainly the first time an Academy Award-Winning director dropped by to show his/her own flick, and his work did not disappoint. His take on the Eliot Spitzer story was less of a ‘here’s what happened & why he’s a bad/good guy’, and more of a ‘here’s how this story is a fairly-common tragedy that we’ve all read before’.

The Q&A benefited from the intimate size of the crowd and their industry experience. Questions ranged from how Gibney pulled off so many impossible, close-up interviews to more technical matters of documentary style and crew size. It was a pleasure to have such a tuned-in group, it made me feel smarter.

The Creative Arts Scholarship Series is devoted to supporting the development of the next generation of creative thinkers in Detroit by raising money for CCS Scholarships. This marked the debut event. I will be working to help this series gain traction. We aim to bring world-class film-makers to Detroit to screen their films, and eventually to branch out into music and art-based events as well. We're gonna start with a mission statement. One step at a time!

If you feel like you missed out on the invite, it’s probably because you did. We blew that part. But fear not, next time we’ll do it a little better! I promise.

Here’s to keeping more creatives in Detroit...

If you weren't able to join us, but are curious to hear what Gibney has to say about the film, check out a video of another Q&A here:

We'll have to get ourselves one of those fancy video-camera things to start taping our own Q&A's next time...
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