This is going to be another long one, even though it only covers three days.
Huggy Bear's Hideaway
Saturday, August 4th, I drove out to Hamtramck for the first of two events: Lac La Belle’s CD release party. It was set up in someone’s garage behind their house, and, despite a slight rain delay, was a success. The atmosphere was much different from what concerts are usually like: very rustic and relaxed. It was almost like we were transported into another era; the music, the people, and the setting made it seem as though we had gone back in time, back to when things were simpler. As the ground began to dry, people began sitting on blankets in front of the performers. There was even a little kid there, dancing to the music and playing with Colleen Burke’s (Outrageous Cherry, Danny & the Darleans) dog, Baba D.
Lac La Belle
Lac La Belle did a quick opening set, which worked out well since we were going to have to leave before their actual performance. I hadn’t seen them before, but know Nick from Detroit Pleasure Society and recognized Jennie as a fellow patron of the monthly New Orleans Nights at PJ’s Lager House. Nick and Jennie are both extremely talented musicians, and I loved their performance so much that I bought both of their CDs.
Danny Kroha performed next, putting on yet another soulful show. He switched it up a little during his performance, playing a few different stringed instruments throughout his set. It was during this time that I noticed familiar, unexpected faces in the crowd. Two people I went to high school with just happened to show up at this remote backyard concert. Really weird. Up until this point, the Detroit music scene and my "previous life" Downriver had been two separate entities; I'm still not sure how I feel about them mixing.
As Steve Nawara took the “stage,” it was starting to get dark outside and the backyard was filling up with enthusiastic patrons. The door to the garage was lined with Christmas lights, creating a unique atmosphere and framing Steve as he sang a number of songs, including some I recognized from his band, Colorwheel. I was sad that we had to leave during his performance; Steve’s a busy guy and I rarely get to see him play. It was necessary, though, if we were going to make it to the other venues on time.
Before our next concert, we backtracked a bit and stopped by PJ’s Lager House to pick up some merch from the Growwing Pains boys. I definitely needed to be one of the first people to own one of their t-shirts, which they had just made. I picked out one with a mutant baby design on it, got my free pins, wished the boys well, and hustled back to the car. As much as I love GP, Small’s was hosting an event that I couldn’t resist.
Me with Eldorado & The Muggs
The Muggs, after spending a good portion of their tour in Spain, had brought a band back to the States with them: Eldorado. After taking a concert poster off the wall and tucking it away safely in my car, I found Tony DeNardo and had him introduce me to his Spanish friends. So nice. We spent most of the time talking to Andres and Cesar. This was their first time in America, and they were going to be on tour for a couple of weeks. One of their favorite experiences so far? Tony had taken them out for Polish food in Hamtramck. They were glad to have a good meal, especially after eating McDonald’s and Subway every day on the road.
Six and the Sevens
I don't think there's any better way to get the crowd excited and moving then by having Six and the Sevens open. I honestly don’t think I can rave about them enough. Watch our calendar for when they’re playing next and see for yourself. They’ve added a sixth member and have never sounded better. I highly regret not recording all of the performances from this night, but especially Six and the Sevens’. They nailed it.
Eldorado went on next, and, to be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect. I was a little bit concerned about how the crowd would react, but, luckily, I had nothing to worry about. I should’ve just realized that any friends of The Muggs would be completely awesome. The audience couldn’t get enough of them; they kept begging for more songs. The crowd really responded to and accepted them, even chanting “one of us” by the end! :) Check out this video of the last song of their set. I can’t wait for them to come back on tour next year! They definitely made some American fans that night.
The Muggs headlined and did a great job following the frenzy that was created by Eldorado. They never disappoint. This was their first show since Tony had $4000 worth of gear stolen out of his car, and they were just as strong as ever. (Speaking of which, there’s a fundraiser for Tony in Clinton Township tomorrow [August 18th] at Freddy’s. Tony’s other band, The Blue Collar Boys, will be playing, along with Bixy Lutz. Tony is literally the nicest and most genuine guy I know; come on out and show your support. :) ) The Muggs played right up until the bar was about to close. After saying our goodbyes, we drove back downriver and crashed as soon as we got home (as in fell asleep, not crashed the car).
The next day, August 5th, I met up with Mike Alonso (Electric Six) for lunch. We went to The Fly Trap in Ferndale, which is an adorable little place with great food. We traded travel stories and talked about upcoming events, including his fall European tour with E6. I desperately want to go, but will probably just end up following them around Ohio and Pennsylvania in October. Almost as good. -_-
Before heading home, I made my way over to Sindbad’s Restaurant and Marina in Detroit for Jackson Frederick Smith’s (Amy Gore & Her Valentines, The Orbitsuns) 30th birthday party. I had incredibly good timing, because I walked in just as Grayling was about to go on. As they performed, I looked around the room and saw a number of familiar faces: Jackson’s sister Jesse, mother Patti, and wife Meg, along with about a third of Detroit Pleasure Society. I had a bunch of stuff to do for school that night, so I wasn’t able to stay, but I’m sure it was one heck of a party. Those guys know how to have a good time.
Skip forward a couple of days to Saturday, August 11th, the day we’d all been waiting for: the return of The Sights! I gave away my shift at work to properly prepare myself for the day’s events. In addition to the big show that night, The Heidelberg Project was hosting the “Detroit’s Got Talent” festival, for which The Sights opened. Short one saxophone player from Ohio, they still played an excellent half hour set to the few people who had come out that early. My favorite part, though, was probably the band’s interactions with the comedian MC. Very strange, to say the least.
We left after their set, drove back home to recharge the camera, picked up pizzas (one vegan, one cheese) from Sgt. Pepperoni’s, and made it back to Heidelberg just in time to see Jarrod Champion’s (The Sights) solo set. He is an INCREDIBLY talented piano player and singer. He had me captivated; I still have King Comfortable stuck in my head. I’m definitely going to see him perform again this Sunday (8/19) at Cliff Bell’s in Detroit, and you should, too.
Me with Sidewalk Chalk
A band from Chicago, Sidewalk Chalk, was headlining the festival, and their promotional manager had contacted me prior, wanting us to check them out. I’ve been contacted by bands before, but this was the first one I actually acted on. Not only were we already going to be there, but, from the few videos I watched, they looked REALLY good. We met them briefly after Jarrod’s set for a quick photo op before heading to our next destination: Ferndale.
Me with Chris & Chris
Saturday was also opening day for Love It To Death’s merchandise booth at The Rustbelt Market. Love It To Death is a new clothing line, run by Christopher Tait (Electric Six), Christian Fuller (Electric Six’s manager), and Tom Deja (one of Electric Six’s graphic designers). Tom wasn’t there, but we talked with Chris and Chris for a while, picked up some free stickers, and bought a track jacket. Couldn’t resist. Check out their clothing line here.
We headed back to Heidelberg one last time to see Sidewalk Chalk perform. We arrived after they had started, so I took a spot near the back of the crowd, eventually working my way up to the front. The crowd was absolutely in love with them, and so was I. Everyone was grooving to the beat, and a few talented dancers even got up front and showed off their skills. They connected with the audience in a way I’d never seen before.
Audience @ Heidelberg
During the time we were together, we formed a sort of community, all moved by their sounds and showmanship. My favorite part was when lead MC Rico Sisney improvised “I Spy,” a song whose lyrics were solely based on items provided by the audience. His words were fast and flawless, and I couldn’t help but be impressed. Afterwards, I was second at their merch table and bought a CD. Hopefully, this Chicago band will be making their way back up to the Motor City sometime soon; I think they’re a great fit and know they created quite a following after their Heidelberg performance. [Thanks, Charmin, for inviting me out to see them! :) ]
After a long day of running around, it was finally time to make our way over to The Magic Stick for The Sights’ Homecoming/Record Release Party!!! :D If you couldn’t tell, I was pretty excited, and for good reason: the lineup was stacked and I knew quite a few of the people who were attending. I got both versions of the night’s concert poster (suitable for framing), and happened to walk outside just as Jerry Sprinter was pulling up to the venue, full of The Sights. My dad was already outside, so we offered to help them with their gear. However, after an entire summer of loading and unloading, they had it down to a science and we went back inside to claim our spot.
Katie Grace opened the show and made a fan out of this usually anti-country girl. She sang with such passion and had such a likeable presence that I couldn’t help but be drawn in. It was also kind of cool for me because I had just met her bassist, Greg Beyer, a few days earlier at Jackson’s party. He’s also the bassist for Grayling, so it was interesting seeing him in a completely different setting.
Me with The Hard Lessons
The Hard Lessons were next and were even more high energy than they had been when I first saw them back in April. Augie was jumping off amps and Korin was rocking out as she sang and played the keys. I absolutely adore The Hard Lessons; I think it’s awesome that Augie and Korin are married and perform together. I think I’ve said it before, but I love when they sing “My Kind;” it’s a song written for their infant son, Santino. You can feel how strong their connection is and how much they care for each other and their son as they sing. Powerful stuff.
As The Hard Lessons left the stage and The Sights started setting up, a guy approached me and attempted to strike up a conversation. Here's some good advice: don’t distract a girl who’s obviously super into the concert right before the headlining act goes on. It’s The Sights; I’ve driven across the country to see them. Twice. I wasn’t about to let a stranger compromise their homecoming show for me. He finally got the hint and walked back to wherever he had come from.
The Sights were so incredibly tight and charismatic; you could tell they had perfected their set over the summer and were happy to be showing off on their home turf. I, of course, always have strange people by me during shows, and this was no exception. There was a man sitting on the edge of the stage next to me, pointing at the guys as they played, like some sort of conductor, and grasping for high fives. After getting a couple high fives from Dean and Kyle and touching Kyle’s leg, he moved down to be closer to Eddie. He ended up grabbing some of the cords from the stage and I think he got kicked out. He was obviously a big fan, but it was getting a little distracting, not that the guys let it affect them. They finished strong to a roaring crowd, which was made up of all sorts of friends and family members, including a couple of their grandmas. The night was all that I had hoped for and more; wouldn’t have missed it for the world, and I’m glad I didn’t.
Tonight, after work, I’ll be catching my favorite DJ, Richie Wohlfeil (Danny & the Darleans) at The Rockery in Wyandotte. Definitely looking forward to that. Tomorrow, there are a number of worthwhile shows going on. Like I mentioned before, Tony Muggs’ fundraiser is being held at Freddy’s in Clinton Township, featuring The Blue Collar Boys and Bixy Lutz. Bootsey X has a record/DVD release party at Corktown Tavern in Detroit, featuring Troy Gregory and The Seatbelts. Motown legend Melvin Davis is also playing at New Center Park in Detroit with Willie Jones. Last, but not least, The Crooks are playing at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit with Origami Ghosts, The Mythics, and Hotel/Motel. Not sure where I'll end up, but, no matter which way I go, it's bound to be a great night for music in the D.