Ed Hamell Really is the Happiest Man in the World

July 23, 2014 by  
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I had my MasterCard “priceless” moment last Friday night. A six pack of beer, Bud light Lime, $6.99. Donation to a house party,  $10. The opportunity to hear Hamell on Trial in a basement with friends, priceless.
I’ve known about Ed Hamell of Hamell on Trial for about 15 years (maybe even longer),  going back to when I received his first press release from Mercury records with his single that introduced me to a singer that really was like his song “Big as Life.”   I loved the hell out of that song as Ed tells a story of misguided racism by the media that still brings a tear to my eye.
The years that followed I’d see Ed’s name pop up every now and then, usually in a UK music magazine that would heap loads of praise on him for being one of America’s great storytellers and songwriters. He released albums that were full of crime and wit. Shady and colorful characters he met appeared on the albums like a psychedelic version of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. However, I didn’t get Ed’s real magic and charm until I experienced him live about 8 years ago. He played a small club on the very east side of town in front of a crowd of about 20 people. He joked between songs and played a beat up guitar like a madman that had made a deal with the devil. I interviewed him that night in his car while rain splashed on the windshield and he told me stories about music and touring.
I’d almost recently forgotten about Hamell on Trial. I tucked him into a corner of my brain where smart, talented people that don’t fit in go while the rest of my mind space is full of hollow, entertainment candy that never satisfies. But I was fortunate enough last week to find myself invited to house party that Ed was playing. That’s part of Ed’s life now, playing intimate parties around America that afford him enough to travel to the next stop and maybe take in some fun for him and his son, Detroit (coolest name for a kid ever). I spoke to Ed  before he played and he told me about his travels the last few years, including a recent trip to London. Those people over the pond still get what makes Hamell on Trial great.

The night kicked off with Ed introducing my friend’s daughter with her ukulele.  It was her first real audience so she was full of fright but took a bold approach and sang some songs that made us all beam and tear up. I could look over shoulder and see that Ed was sharing in this special moment. Around midnight, Ed strapped on his rugged guitar, the same one I saw him with years ago, opened with a few jokes and then tore into his set. He started the show with some songs from his new album “The Happiest Man in the World” and made us laugh by telling us about hard and bad times that still fill him with joy. His guitar playing was ferocious. There were times I thought I saw smoke coming off the strings. It didn’t take long before everyone in the room, even the young  and jaded, were transfixed by Ed, realizing they were in the presence of an authentic entertainer. He took requests and I had him play “Big as Life”. We laughed hard during “When You Are Young” and sang with him on several others. He ended the night imploring us to shout an expletive that I enjoyed yelling along with my daughters. Then, we all, everyone in the room, surrounded his table of CDs and albums to buy a couple and put in a few dollars to get his son a new Xbox.
That night has made me think again about what it takes to make a great show. It’s not fancy lights, a packed house or even a good PA. It’s songs with melodies that speak to the heart and mind from a gifted artist that has lived a life true to his art.

Post and pics by Mikel O.D. of MPAD Media  

THIS WEEKEND: Maker Faire Detroit on Saturday & Sunday (July 26-27) at The Henry Ford in Dearborn

July 23, 2014 by  
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Maker Faire is an award winning, family friendly event celebrating technology, education, science, arts, crafts, engineering, food, sustainability, and more. Maker Faire has become part of pop-culture, a place for experiential marketing, debuting new technologies and inventions, and celebrating geekdom. Maker Media produces two annual flagship Maker Faires, partners with museums to produce Featured Maker Faires, and works with communities to license Mini Maker Faires around the world.

On July 26-27, 2014, The Henry Ford in Dearborn will be the place to visit when Maker Faire Detroit returns to The Henry Ford for two days of unconventional ingenuity, unbridled creativity and a whole lot of forward thinking. More than 400 makers will bring their wares, ideas, inventions and solutions to this two-day festival offering everything from robots, flame shooters and animatronics to solar-powered mechanical sculptures and fashionable finds. Go to The Henry Ford, roll up your sleeves, and make something.


The event runs from 9:30am-6:00pm each day.
The Henry Ford is located at: 20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124

For information on tickets, parking, makers, lodging and more visit the extensive Maker Faire Detroit website

UPCOMING: TAPE EATERS VHS CONVENTION on Saturday, July 26 in Ann Arbor

July 23, 2014 by  
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The 3rd Annual Tape Eaters VHS Convention will happen on Saturday, July 26th, at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, located at 2900 Jackson Rd, in Ann Arbor, MI.

TAPE EATERS specializes in Horror, Grindhouse, Science Fiction, Exploitation, Drive-In, Sleaze and generally weird releases on VHS, along with other "forgotten" formats, like beta & videodisc, plus posters, magazines, and other related merchandise. 


The Convention runs from 11:00am-8pm. 
Films will be shown from 11:30am-8pm.

Guests include:












And tons and tons of used VHS!



11:30AM- ADJUST YOUR TRACKING (encore matinee showing)
5:05PM- BACK FROM HELL (followed by 15 min director Q&A)

(Please keep in mind that this schedule can change, so check day of at the show, for any posted changes to the schedule. Intermissions between films will be very short, so keep that in mind also.)

Lots of VHS prizes and goodies at the show!

Visit the conventions website here...http://tapeeaters.weebly.com/ 

REVIEW AND PHOTOS: YES @ Meadowbrook Music Festival

July 23, 2014 by  
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Review by Michael Doré
Photos by Paul Hitz

Rochester Hills, MI - July 22nd 2014 - The great aspect of being at a Yes concert is knowing that if someone didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t be. The band will never be mistaken for a flavor of the month, or the hot new group rising up the charts in the summer months. To be quite succinct, it is not a see, or be seen, type of show.

Formed in 1968, the group has evolved, disbanded, re-formed and has a current line- up that includes former members as well as new the addition of Jon Davison as the new lead singer (if you want to consider 2012 as new) whom in the true tradition of rock stardom was plucked in “Rockstar” fashion from the tribute group Roundabout.  Alan White on Percussion is also known from his younger days with the Plastic Ono Band prior to joining the group. After a brief break from Yes in the early 80’s, he has been with the band consistently since 1972. Geoff Downes on Keyboards rejoined his mates in 2011 after a cup of coffee stint in 1981. Downes has had a steady career and Is  looked upon with respect for the cultural significance of his work with the group Asia,  and the shot heard round the MTV generation world “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Original members Steve Howe on Lead Guitar and Chris Squire on Bass are still the heart and soul of the prog rock icons.

Yes is an acquired taste and was at the front of the prog rock genre in the late 60’s and early 70’s. This tour was put together as a gift for the die- hard fans that have followed them from their inception.  Starting the trip, Yes learned a lesson from the previous show in Detroit and reversed the order of performance to start with “Siberian Kahtru” instead of “Close to the Edge” for the performance of the album in its entirety. If you were new to the group, this made for a hefty start to the show as you were looking at 40 minutes for 3 songs.  This is not to mistake the group as an early precursor to the DMB or Widespread Panic Jams, as what the group does is take you on a journey. You can follow the music and be surprised at the different levels of intricacy that can be developed.

As with any artist, the band played a cut from the new album “Heaven and Earth” which was received warmly from the relatively full Meadowbrook Music Theatre. All new music has the herculean task of immediately being compared to the bands past classics and with the FM airwaves no longer playing the current hits from the classic artists, this was no different.

“Fragile” was performed in order and very close to the original cut, including the sound from back in the day which was distorted a bit by the placement of the speakers as well as the overall weak sound system at the amphitheater. Despite the weak sound, the hash bash crowd was feeling every bit of what the band was giving them. Davison was more than passable as the lead singer; in fact he had the soul of what Jon Anderson originally brought to the band and let the audience know that he felt what they felt in both the performance of the music as well as the enjoyment of the experience.

The true love was directed at the 67 year old Howe on his Gibson, still plugging away on all of the strings that define the eclectic mix of the sweeping solos of the group. Squire, as an original founding member is still having fun, after 6 decades of playing the same Bass lines. Like many others, he did not seem to be put off that this was now a job as opposed to a passion.

Encores were what you would expect, with the radio hits of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper” putting a cap on a night for a crowd that enjoyed a show of perfect length on a summer night. This is the type of show that outdoor venues are for. What make a band are memories and Yes rekindled many of those for an appreciative fan base.

Set List:
Siberian Khatru
And You and I
Close to the Edge
Believe Again
Cans and Brahms
We Have Heaven
South Side of the Sky
Five Per Cent for Nothing
Long Distance Runaround
The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)
Mood for a Day
Heart of the Sunrise
I've Seen All Good People
Starship Trooper

MGM Grand Detroit celebrates Detroit’s 313th Birthday with specials at TAP

July 22, 2014 by  
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TAP at MGM Grand Detroit Celebrates Detroit's 313th birthday
TAP offers specials for $3.13 on Thursday July 24


MGM Grand Detroit will celebrate Detroit's 313 birthday with special pricing on several of their most popular food items and all domestic pints. 


TAP's 313, $3.13 specials:

·      Coney Dog with Coney Chili, onions and mustard with a side of fries.

·      Small Detroit House Nachos

·      Two beef sliders with your choice of American or Swiss cheese with a side of fries.

·      All domestic pints


Food specials from 11am-11pm and pints all day.


Additionally, the MGM Grand Detroit/ NHRA dragster will also be on site for the celebration.


MGM Grand Detroit 1777 Third Street Detroit, MI 48226




Rockers White Shag perform Unplugged Shows this Summer!

July 22, 2014 by  
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There are two chances to hear the hard rock band White Shag in a way you haven't heard them before! They will be performing two unplugged acoustic shows this summer! 

White Shag will be the special guests and will perform an acoustic set on Tuesday, July 29 as part of songwriter/host Audra Kubat's open mic night at Union Street restaurant in Detroit

Guitarist Jorge Cortez and singer Laura Mendoza will serenade you with the acoustic versions of their songs and select covers for the occasion. The Tuesday night series hosted by folk songbird Kubat has brought a variety of local talent to the stage that includes first-timers, up and comers like Michelle Held, and some of Detroit's finest rockers including Eddie Baranek of The Sights and Troy Gregory.

The night starts at 9 pm and goes until midnight and is FREE to attend! $2 Michigan pints on tap. Union Street is located at 4145 Woodward Ave. in Detroit. 313-831-3965 www.unionstreetdetroit.com

The second performance will be on Sunday, August 17 as part of the Tequila Cabresto Summer Heat Wave at The Old Miami located at 3930 Cass Ave. in Detroit 313-831-3830. This all-day party starts at 1 pm until 9 pm and features musical performers, games and prizes,other attractions include: A Taco Truck featuring authentic Mexican food and a chance to drop the Cabresto Girls in our Dunk Tank! This event is also FREE! 

For more information on the band check out www.whiteshag.com or reverbnation.com/whiteshag

Album Review: The Infatuations – "Detroit Block Party" out now on AcidGroove Records

July 21, 2014 by  
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Summer. Party. Record.  That's really all you need to know about The Infatuations new album Detroit Block Party (Acid Groove Records).  With a familiar Detroit flavor thrown in as an added bonus, the band has a familiar sound that references Motown, The MC5 and P-Funk all in the same song. And the new full-length showcases the fun, versatile style in grand fashion.

In case you've been hiding under a rock, you might not know that Mayor Duggan might as well declare 2014 as the summer of The Infatuations.  Since the record release show with Ty Stone back in May, The Infatuations have been everywhere.  Festivals, block parties, even Tigers games at the CoPa. This summer has been one big coming out party for the band, and this record has been the soundtrack.

At its core, The Infatuation are the brainchild of founding members Marco Lowe and Christian Draheim, and Detroit Block Party is the culmination of that dream.  The duo make up the songwriting/production team Dra/Lo, and their unique, funky flavor is all over this record.  But the band as a whole is what brings the music to life, both on tape and live.  The Infatuations have a retro-soul vibe in the same vein as Vintage Trouble or Fitz and the Tantrums, but with a distinct Detroit rock edge. You can dance to and just as easily play air guitar to any song on the record.  

"Tonight We Celebrate" kicks off the record as a perfect radio-ready dance party anthem.  With a slinky-funky disco groove, and an infectious refrain, it's nearly impossible to resist singing  "Don't stop the mu-sic!"  As with "Dancin on My Knees" and "Diamond Disco", the band sometimes rides the line of cliched disco, but pulls it back in with Draheim's edgy rock guitar work.  Add to the mix the storng, soulful voice of Caleb Gutierrez and The Infatuations are a four star restaurant.  Gutierrez really carries the record and keeps listeners engaged as he easily shifts dynamics between sweet and soft  on "Yesterday Morning" and sharp and assertive on "Box of Shells."  And even though the band switches up the vibe here and there, it has a cohesive feel that makes you want to listen to the whole record without having to skip around.

All in all, Detroit Block Party is exactly what it says it is. A funky, rockin' dance record with a little something for everyone. Make sure you grab a copy and catch the band at one of the many live appearances this summer.

But, you don't have to take my word for it. Take a listen right here and give it a spin.

Interview with Matt Fink of The World’s Greatest Prince Tribute: THE PURPLE XPERIENCE

July 21, 2014 by  
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The Purple Xperience, a five-piece Prince tribute band who have been zig-zagging  the country since February of 2011 will play the Magic Bag this Friday. Led by Matt Fink (a/k/a Doctor Fink), a member of Prince and The Revolution from 1978 to 1991, The Purple Xperience is a band that leaves no one disappointed. You might remember Dr. Fink from many of Prince’s videos as the keyboardist in scrubs. His notable work with Prince includes co-writing credits on the songs “Dirty Mind”, “Computer Blue”, “17 Days”, “America”, and “It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night,” as well as performing credits on the albums “Dirty Mind”, “Controversy”, “1999″, “Purple Rain”, “Around the World in a Day”, “Parade”, “Sign ‘O’ the Times”, “The Black Album”, and “Lovesexy .” During a phone call last week with dogs barking and TV interruptions, I spoke to Matt Fink about the band and the tour that will take him far away from his seemingly normal family life.

MCB: How long the Prince Tribute been around?
Matt: About 3 years,  our first shows were late November 2011. A couple of friends of mine and I were doing an event at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 and they approached me about doing a Prince Tribute band. I wasn’t looking to do something like this but after I thought about it more and more, it sounded like a good thing. Prince can’t be everywhere so I thought it would be cool for me to go out and play some of the material as well.
MCB: What’s the story behind how you found your front man?
Matt: Marshall Charloff  introduced himself to me back in the early 1990s. He was a big Prince fan and an inspiring songwriter as well. He’s younger than me but coincidentally we went to the same high school growing up. He brought me his music and I thought he was real talented. We stayed in touch over the years and he was one of the people that approached me at the Hall of Fame Gig.
MCB: Did you perform with Prince in Detroit during the 1999 or Purple Rain tours?
Matt: Yes, I was in the Revolution and in the band before we had that name. This was late ’78 to ’90. I thought Detroit was great. A great audience with one of the more vocal, fanatical fan bases in the US. They were and boisterous and loved Prince. 
MCB: What’s a typical set for your band?
Matt: We play all the hits from Prince and a few deep cuts that are album favorites. Primarily we do songs from the Purple Rain era but you will hear all the classic hit songs.
MCB: What’s rewarding for you to perform live these days? 
Matt: I really enjoy reconnecting with the fans and they like to come out and see that I’m playing. 
MCB: In the early days with Prince in Minneapolis, did you have a hard time getting acceptance at shows?
Matt: It took about 3 years of a building process of playing out. He had full support or the record label and they worked to bring him to the general public. Prince also worked real hard to create music that appealed to the mainstream which he did with Purple Rain. It was inclusive to all the ethnic groups in America. Michael Jackson kind of kicked it off and then MTV picked up on it, so there wasn’t the segregation that was prevalent in the industry at this time.
MCB: On his early records Prince always made a big deal about writing and playing all the instruments, but the band seemed pretty tight, so how true was this claim?
Matt: There was quite a bit of influence from the band on that material. We were used as session players but the Revolution was very instrumental to the chemistry that surrounded him in that era. I brought my own influences into the band at the time and we learned from each other and fed off each other. 
MCB: You’ve been around the music business to see the formats move from vinyl to cassette to CD to digital. What do you think of each? 
Matt: Things have changed because of all the digital selling markets and most of them are singles driven with the MP3, AAC and MP4 formats. A lot of engineers from the past complain a lot about the audio quality not being as good as vinyl or even CDs. I tend to agree. When you compare playing Purple Rain on vinyl then listen to it on MP3 you miss some of the things in the music and things don’t pop out in the mix like they should.
MCB: Where are the most surprising Prince-crazed places you play? 
Matt: Well, how about parts of Ireland that were absolutely insane when we came out. The audience was amazingly loud.
MCB: What’s your opinion on pop music of today?
Matt: I really like a lot of what I’m hearing. I like a lot of the new styles of electronic music. I get a kick out of dubstep because it is so heavily influenced by synthesizer music and I really enjoy the high energy aspect of it. My son who is a keyboard player as well has written some dubstep music. I’m just sort of an eclectic person.  I even enjoy some good country music once in a while.
MCB: As far as diversity of talent do you think there will be another Prince? 
Matt: Yes, I do, in fact there is a new artist signed to RCA that I just met last week for the first time that is already being touted as the next Prince. Her name is Gabi Wilson. She joined us on stage in San Francisco and did Purple Rain. She played the solo and sang, just nailed it.

THE PURPLE XPERIENCE featuring Doctor Fink (of The Revolution)Friday, July 25 – at the Magic Bag, Doors 8 p.m. - $17 

REVIEW: "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" Exhibit at the Henry Ford (Part 5 of 5)

July 21, 2014 by  
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In 2012 I found myself on at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland on assignment from Motorcityblog. The museum was massive and contained 6 floors of exhibits. A music lovers dream come true.

A music lover trough and through, I jumped at the chance to cover the "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" touring exhibit brought to you by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and having it's final U.S. touring stop at the Henry Ford in Dearborn. A large collection of over 250 pieces of memorabilia from 70 women in rock and roll history.

There was so much to cover in regards to the exhibit that I released my "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" review in five parts over the last few weeks. This is the conclusion.

Alongside all the instruments, outfits, and lyric sheets, the exhibit has some truly unique pieces on display. Enjoy this sampling of them.

On display is Queen Latifah's 1987 Morrellian High School Yearbook. See her as "Dana Owens" on the bottom row.  

A few Aretha Franklin artifacts includes this demo cassette for “Rhythm of the Freeway" and a tape box for “When the Light” with Paul McCartney...

Here is a 1985 dressing room door note Aretha Franklin used prior to performances...

Amongst all the Yoko Ono artifacts in display are her porsche glasses from 1980...

On display are two faxes sent from Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones to Marianne Faithfull in 2006 and 2008. "Keith doesn't do e-mail" Faithfull says.   

Here is Kate Pierson's wig from the 1989/1990 B-52's Cosmic Thing world tour....

Fan of Blondie? Then your sure to dig Debbie Harry's blonde wig along with her blue mini‐dress outfit with built in tights/boots..

See the large collection of over 250 pieces of memorabilia  from 70 women in rock and roll history for yourself. The "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" exhibit runs till August 17, 2014 so be sure to stop by before it's engagement ends. You will not be disappointed.


                                               **All photos by Adrianne Johnston**

The "Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power" exhibit is FREE to view with regular Henry Ford admission ticket.

Admission Ticket prices are as follows:
MEMBERS- free of charge
NON-MEMBER SENIORS age 62 & up- $15
NON-MEMBER ADULTS age 13-61- $17
NON-MEMBER YOUTH age 5-12- $12.50
CHILDREN 4 & under- Free

Details: 313-982-6001 or The Henry Ford Website

A Review of "Ernie" by Brett J Lawrence

July 21, 2014 by  
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 A Review of "Ernie"
by Brett J Lawrence

I have been looking forward to seeing "Ernie", by Mitch Albom, for some time now.  It was always in the back of my mind to see, but as soon as I wanted to go, the fundage just wasn't there. At one point in time, my two teenage sons were planning on getting together, pooling their savings and buying me a ticket for Father's Day.  While that never happened, the mere thought of it still warms my heart everytime I think of it.  They truly understand how important this guy was in my upbringing with Detroit baseball.  Anyways, once I was approached to review this for MOTORCIYBLOG, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Anyone who was raised in Detroit knew The Voice of Tiger baseball.  It was, and always will be, Ernie Harwell.  There is no denying it.  While I am a true fan of Dan Dickerson and Jim Price, whose voices remind me of Summer days and nights on the radio, Ernie had something different.  Whether it was his southern drawl, his stories, or the signature calls he made, he will always be Tiger baseball to me.  And, for anyone who feels the same way, I suggest getting down to The City Theater in Detroit, attached to the Hockeytown Cafe, and spending some time with Peter Carey...the closest thing we still have to Ernie Harwell.

It was hard at first.  We know every inch of Ernie's face, every nuance of his speech patterns, and every single signature call he would make.  We all have tried to do a poor imitation of them for our kids, who might never have heard him before, and that's acceptable.  He was our Friend, and impersonation is the best form of flattery, right?  Ernie would probably laugh at them all.  But, to be honest, it's hard to see an actor trying to pull it off.  The first thing you notice are the errors in his drawl, the not-so-many wrinkles on his face, or the brief moments when he would slip out of voice.  It saddened me.  I had such high hopes.  But before I knew it, as soon as I stopped being so critical and analytical for a moment, and allowed myself to listen to the stories coming from his mouth, and see the minute details of the stage set-up, I found myself hearing The Voice...I would up seeing him...I wound up Believing it was Ernie.  It took time, almost into the 2nd inning, but it happened.  And, for the remainder of those 7 innings, I was in a room, alone, with Ernie, as if he were telling his stories to me.

I'd love to tell you all the great parts of the play, the revelations that appeared, and the lines that brought outbursts of laughter from the crowd.  (I scribbled notes on my program...)  The problem is, that would completely ruin the play for you.  It would soften the impact should you decide to go see it with your Dad, or your Uncle, or even you Son(s)...and I don't want to do that.  You deserve to find out the details of what I feel inspired William Earnest "Ernie" Harwell, a small kid with a speech impediment from Georgia, to become one of the all-time most popular sports announcers in baseball.  You deserve to find out what motivated him.  I think it's best for you to hear from Ernie how he truly felt about Lulu, and what his philosophy on Love was, or rather, is.  I will give you one moment of philosophy from Ernie, though, that i will always carry with me:

"Given the chance to be right or kind, it was always best to be kind." -Ernie Harwell

YOU deserve to spend some time with Ernie.  And when you do decide to go, make sure you bring some tissues.  You'll need 'em.

Last thing, a big heartfelt "Thank You" to Peter Carey for making me believe Ernie is still with us, if even for only a brief moment in time.  Your talent is truly appreciated and your performance will never go forgotten.


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