In one ear 


It started off optimistically enough – a freewheeling Saturday night promising a musical buffet within 15 minutes drive. I soon discovered, however, that no matter how fast I drove, no matter how good my intentions, there was just absolutely no fucking way I was going to be at the requisite four places at the same time. But I tried – and more telling still, I got stamped at each joint with the wholehearted intention of returning to catch the next band. So down into the Shelter I went, visions of Five Horse Johnson blasting through my head. It was, after all, the CD release party for the Toledo quintet’s new slab, Fat Black Pussy Cat (Small Stone Records). So, it was with very pleasant dismay that I arrived in time to catch the dynamic duo du bleus, the Soledad Brothers, blast through Hound Dog Taylor’s "Give Me Back My Wig." Nursing a bottle of Towne Club cola was WDET jock Willy Wilson – who fired advance warning of two upcoming Friday night programs in which he’ll profile legendary Detroit labels Fortune and Hideout.

Promising to return to catch FHJ, I began my wandering. And, of course, when you’re wandering, the best place, really, to amble into is Ye Old Miami. I began to get a sense of what was not to be when informed of my near-miss of both the ever-loving Foxgloves and the ever-lovely Slumber Party – the latter which I’d caught at the Blowout, been duly impressed by and then was consequently assured that it was the worst set they’d played yet. (They’ll take a shot at redemption-confirmation of their dreamy, post-VU guitar-pop opening for Easy Action April 16 at Alvin’s.) Fortunately for my ears, the Universal Indians were about to strike up the noise und swirl in an effort to conjure all the beasts of nature through saxophone, guitar, loops, bass and drums. They called the beast out of everyone in attendance as folks bullied past friends and neighbors to get a closer look at the trio.

Thirst for sound slaked, I was off again, ADD creeping in on the noggin’. I had to see claustrophobia in action and, simply, there was no where else to do that but Ferndale’s Club Bart where dusty soul revivalists the Porters had shoved their 8-member, horn-toting selves onto the tiny corner stage perched precariously above the barkeep. It seems that Club Bart honcho, Jeff, has taken an adventurous tack on booking the intimate Woodward Avenue joint on weekends. A month ago, the Volebeats did a three-week miniresidency; last Saturday found Mod hatters the Sights and the aforementioned Porters, while this coming Saturday pop songsmiths Dean Fertita – who recently inked a rekkid deal with Chicago indie, Bobsled Records – work it out. On April 10, the Go (who have just learned that they can keep their name after all) brings their sound and fury to the cozy hideaway – I was assured that all the chairs and tables would be removed for this special rock occasion. I ambled into Club Bart just in time to catch the last 10 minutes of Porter fever, which had claimed the booty of Eddie Sights and a member of Galicja – who caught me between the gin-and-tonic and water phases of my eve – and shall therefore remain nameless (sorry).

The spiteful music gods conspired against the full disclosure of the Saturday Sonic Spectrum on the 27th day of March, in the year of our rock 1999, but I got just enough to keep me coming back. Let the hits take a back seat if the near-misses are all this good.

The Shelter – 431 E. Congress – features top-shelf Detroit music every Saturday night. Call 313-961-MELT for info. The Old Miami – 3930 Cass Ave. – is a rocker’s paradise and you just may find what you’re looking for in its cool, seedy environs. Call 313-831-3830 for more info. Club Bart – 22726 Woodward Ave. – lets only drinks, literally, come between its patrons and the music they love. Call 248-548-8746 for more info.

More by Chris Handyside

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