In the infamous words of Huey Lewis and the News, "If this is it, please let me know." Well, folks, this is it, and I thought it was only fair to let you know myself. So here you are, Detroit music spirit — my final offering to the In One Ear volcano. (Insert booing, hissing and/or cheering.)
After getting passed the baton from the column's founder (one noble former Metro Times music editor, Chris Handyside) almost two years ago, I've been constantly amazed by the absolute wealth of talent Detroit is willing to share with the rest of the world. Especially since it doesn't always come back in the form of green paper. But in nearly every "news" paper in every major city I've traveled to in the past year, writers have had something good to say about some musician from Detroit. These have got to be some of the most important years in history when it comes to this city's music. Hello, remember the DEMF (2000 and 2001)? And it would be hard to argue with the declaration on this month's cover of Mojo (the British music mag) that the White Stripes are "the best live band in the world."
I can honestly say that my favorite musicians live within an hour of my house. How cool is that? And they're not just my favorites. People all over the country, and a few other countries too, can't get enough Detroit techno, house, trash-tech, ghetto-tech, garage rock, hip hop and, gosh, a whole lot of other stuff too. I mean, the Howling Diablos are playing at the Olympics this year!
Being surrounded by hints of a fascinating history, from Motown to MC5 to the Electrifying Mojo, while witnessing burgeoning scenes sprouting up and into the spotlight during my tenure here was just as exciting. There's the urban folk movement, spearheaded by Blair, who's got a cool opening gig for Mike Doughty, Thursday, Feb. 21, at the Magic Bag. And Sista Otis, another fine urban folkie, is opening for Bitch and Animal the Thursday before that, Feb. 14 — aka V-day — at the Royal Oak Theatre.
On any given day, there's something fun and challenging to discover, whether it's one of Thornetta Davis' weekly gigs or the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, rare funk and dub discoveries once a month at detroit contemporary or any combination of world-class musicians freeing jazz from saxophones and trumpets in a loft near you.
It took me two years just to scratch the surface. And I can't wait to hear more. Because at least once a week I'm reminded that there are certain things that can only happen in Detroit, whether it's a noisy actionist spotlight at a gallery — "Acting Up" this Friday at C-Pop. Or watching a DJ'd, choreographed fire performance a few weekends back in my neighbor's back yard — a back yard that also features a two-story steel pinwheel. You can't get away with that kind of stuff in the ’burbs, y'all. That's for sure.
Because of this, you'll still see my words in this fine weekly from time to time. While I won't be in the office on a daily basis, I still have a few things to say and, hopefully, you'll be glad to hear them. Or you might get pissed off, but let's hope you have some opinion. That's what it's all about, after all.
Where am I going? Oh, you know. Hopefully somewhere where I won't have to open another thick yellow bubble-wrap envelope. Those give nasty paper cuts! And popping the bubbles loses its novelty after package number 11,250. I will, however, miss the never-ending supply of Post-It notes, my swivel chair, the kindness and cruelty on the local front, of course the music, and you know, probably some people too: Karen and Nate, who kept the fabulous Sonic Metropolis and What's Happening fires burning and me laughing week in and week out; George and W. Kim, who pushed my creative limits until my synapses hurt; Nicole, who somehow always knew the answers to all my dumb questions and could always come up with the word that was on the tip of my tongue; the news crew — Curt, Ann and Lisa — who would listen to me bitch about trivial things like paper cuts while they were in between bringing down the man and changing the world. And the rest of the super-supportive editorial staff — Dennis, Vic, Jeremy, plus all the other people who made the day-to-day more fun, such as Brian, Jason, Anthony, Courtney, Paul, Charlie and, well, I better stop now before I forget anyone ...
Well, there you have it. It really has been so much fun. Thanks for welcoming me into your lives and living rooms and practice spaces and minds. Now there's an idea, maybe I could host tours of Detroit Rock City. I can see it now: "On your left is Eminem's elementary school ... next stop ..." Who knows?