detroit - The I-94 Bar

Bookie's reunion celebrates groundbreaking Detroit club

bookies logoOn March 17, 1978, Bookie's Club 870 became Detroit's answer to New York's C.B.G.B., The Whisky A-Go-Go in L.A., and London's Marquee Club.

Bookie's hosted shows by The Police, Iggy Pop, J. Geils, The Damned, Ultravox, The Dead Boys and many other international punk and new wave performers.

It also served as a home base for Detroit area bands like The Sillies, The Romantics, Gang War and former MC5 and Stooges members like Ron Asheton, Michael Davis,  Fred Smith and their then-current bands, Destroy All Monsters and Sonic's Rendezvous Band.

At least three live albums have been released of Bookie's concerts and a new two-record set of Iggy Pop's six-day residency is now being released on Easy Action in the UK. The book "Detroit Rock City" chronicles the Bookie's days through the eyes of people who were there.

The Bookie's 40th Anniversary Reunion will be held on Saturday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) at the New Way Bar on Woodward, Detroit, roughly three miles north of the original Bookie's. Admission is FREE. There will be posters and photos on display that night as well as live performances from The Sillies (who started the club) and members of R.U.R., Coldcock and other surprise guests.

Detroit - Deniz Tek (Citadel/Career)

deniz tek detroit coverNeil told us that rust never sleeps. On his fourth solo band studio album, Deniz Tek acknowledges as much, examining the oxidation that’s all around him in clinical detail. Relationships and places go under the microscope and are dissected - like a scalpel through a heart - with keen precision.

Detroit - Sonic’s Rendezvous Band (Easy Action)

real-detroitWhat do you think we’d say? Sonic’s Rendezvous Band was truly The One That Got Away. It’s a crime they weren’t signed, recorded and backed to the hilt by a major label and elevated to a household name, but rock and roll is seldom fair. That’s why you need to hear everything you can of this great lost band.

Never heard outside a small circle of alumni and fans, this short but sweet five-song set comes from the January 14,1978 show, on the undercard to the Ramones and the Runaways at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Maybe.

The opening act was un-billed and surviving band members (that would be Gary and Scott) can’t agree that they played it. All but one song (“City Slang”) has remained in the vaults and the label thought it had issued the gig as part of its splendid box set. But that disc wasn’t even from one entire show, if that makes sense.

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock and Roll in America’s Loudest City– Steve Miller (Da Capo Press)

detroit rock city bookCall me biased and armed with far too much hindsight for my own good, but for a brief time in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Detroit was the lesser-known but undeniable epicentre of genuine rock and roll. The music industry, as it was, might have had its moneyed roots deeply planted on America’s East and West Coasts, but the real action was occurring deep in the US Midwest.

Sure, there was Motown and its over-ground success that eventually shifted to L.A. to mutate and die but we’re talking a parallel universe here that was populated by a different cast of characters plying a blue-collar strain of music. It’s an eternal truism that musical scenes never last. The Motor City’s rock and roll had its moment but succumbed to fashion, drugs, shifting attention spans – whatever factors play to your own historical biases – and has never recovered.

Grande Ballroom movie released and it's Louder Than Love

It’s been years in the making and "LOUDER THAN LOVE", the long-awaited documentary paying tribute to legendary Detroit music venue the Grande Ballroom, is finally available.

The Grande was the birthplace or breeding ground for the likes of the Stooges, the MC5, The Up and The Rationals. It also became a notorious killing field for visiting international bands who had to undergo a "trial by support band" where the locals did their best to blow them off the stage (sometimes succeeding.)

“LOUDER THAN LOVE: The Grande Ballroom Story” is Tony D’Annunzio’s first independent film as a producer and director.  His movie chronicles the Detroit music scene in the late 1960s, as told through the eyes of the legendary bands that played there.

Joy Ride - The Seat Belts (Super Torque Records)

seatbeltsWhat is it about Michigan rock bands releasing debut albums 30 years after they were regularly working the live circuit? The Ramrods did it a few years back and The Seatbelts, now well and truly reformed, continue in the same vein. Contemporaries of the similarly non-prolific Sonic's Rendezvous Band, they've unleashed "Joy Ride" onto an unsuspecting public with rock and roll seemingly in its death throes. Maybe, just in the nick of time.

Metallic KO Flashback: The Mercenaries of Time (Part 1)

metallic ko colourThe last Iggy and the Stooges show.  Michelle Dawn Saint Thomas photo.

I was oblivious to it at the time but the signs were all around. The counter-culture scene in early '70s Detroit was in a state of free-fall, towards a tragic demise from its epic creative height of the '60s.

Plum Street's attempted bohemian arts colony had completely collapsed, along with efforts by local artists to establish a street fair on Woodward Avenue similar to that in Montreal. The existing brick and mortar business were strictly opposed to this effort, in the belief that when people came downtown the local artists would seize profits from the larger stores of the establishment.

Problem was, people were just not venturing downtown like they used to. Life had changed. Two major aspects, one, the “white flight” exodus, and two, the high crime rate, were keeping people away from Detroit. Plus, something new was on the horizon: the suburban shopping mall. Why travel beyond your neighborhood community when all could be found locally?

Scott Morgan back to serious gigging, new album

scott-morgan-darkAfter serious ill-health, Detroit rock and soul legend Scott Morgan (The Rationals, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band) is returning to regular live shows with a new album in the throes of being written.

Morgan fell ill with liver disease a couple of years ago but has undergone extensive treatment. He still needs to manage his health but has bounced back this year to play a couple of shows with the well regarded soulful rockers The Sights as his backing band.

TENZEROEIGHT - The Undermines (self released)

the undermines albumIt’s taken me a little while to get to this one, and I wish I’d got here sooner.

There’s 12 tracks, nine by guitarist Dylan Webster, three by other guitarist Jason Sharples. With your bass by Dave Lundquest, drums by Serge Ou (no, really, that’s what it says here) and vocals by Michael Preiss… we’re looking at a band capable, if we read the back of the CD right, of constructing and delivering the twin guitar assault.

Do they?

My oath they do.

The Racketeers - Mad For The Racket (Muscle Tone)

racketeersAccuse me of revisionism if you will...but when I caught Mad for the Racket live at SXSW, I was less than optimally stoked with their performance. Coupla months later, in a column, I was making more conciliatory noises.

Thunderstorm in Detroit - Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers (Captain Trip/Motor City Music)

thunderstormFar be it from me to claim that I had my finger completely on the punk rock pulse of the Murder City back in the late '70s and early '80s, but try as I might, I just can't remember this show ever taking place, but nearly a quarter century of recreational beverages, better living through chemistry, three kids, and a 15-year adjustable rate mortgage may have dulled my synapses a tad.

You don't need to be Big Ears to catch these Noddys

mutated noddys

Blink and you’ll miss them. The Wollongong band that got away, The Mutated Noddys, are playing one reformation show at Jane’s Cafe in their hometown on December 23.

With their roots firmly planted in the Detroit and ’60s punk scenes, the Noddys blazed away for the best part of a decade in the 1980s and early ‘90s, playing many high-profile supports and recording an EP and an as yet unreleased album with producer (and fan) Rob Younger.

Apart from a one-off in Sydney in 2010 to support GBH, the Noddys haven’t been sighted since and have no plans to play any other gigs due to one member living in the USA. Crapulous Gee Saw and Oceedeecee (yes, that’s a Ramones tribute band) will support there, Tickets are a bargain at $5 on the door and Jane’s is at 40 Flinders Street in North Wollongong.