In one ear 

ROCK ’N’ ROLL NEVER FORGETS

It was a weekend of bittersweet celebration as members of Detroit’s music community memorialized the loss of two of their own who lived life to their own beat.

There’s really no way to encompass in such a short space the position that promoter, manager, mentor, friend and fan of Detroit music David Leone occupied in our city’s musical pantheon. Though he was known most recently as the manager behind Detroit funk’n’rock’n’soul powerhouse outfit Howling Diablos, his legacy extends in an unbroken line back to the days when Motown still called Grand Boulevard home. Back then, Detroit teens were itching for a place where they could get away. A place where they could get together and indulge in rock ’n’ roll. A hideout, if you will. So it was that Leone founded and managed the Hideout club, a touchstone of Detroit’s AM rock ’n’ roll culture. And, in the days when regional hits were still possible and bands were clamoring to get in on the rock invasion, Leone started up Hideout Records, which became a home to the first generation of Detroit garage-punk no-goodniks.

As the ’60s gave way to the ’70s, which gave way to the ’80s, Leone took on the mantle of artist management, aiding, along with longtime cohort Punch Andrews, the careers of such artists as Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Suzi Quatro, Glenn Frey, the Romantics and Mitch Ryder – all artists who helped define the world’s idea of Detroit’s working-class, idiosyncratic rock scene.

Leone, who died on Tuesday, Oct. 5, was 57.

Last Saturday, Oct. 9, would have been Larry Terbush’s 28th birthday. He died in his sleep on Oct. 2. The former guitarist for punk-and-proud rock nihilists the Dirtys, Terbush was affectionately referred to as Larry Dirty. Terbush provided his fair share of the sonic bluster and punch that epitomized the Detroit-Port Huron band’s brief but tempestuous blast through the scene. But, just as importantly, he had the ability to infect both the Dirtys’ live show and the cynical downtown rock scene with his uncontrollable, anarchic enthusiasm.

So, last Saturday, that scene threw Larry a birthday party, and all who were able were in attendance at Cass Ave. haunt the Gold Dollar. The show, which raised $1600 to help cover the costs of Larry’s funeral, featured basement-punk champs Rocket 455 blasting through a set (with Big Chief’s Matt O’Brien on bass) with guest appearances from former skins-man and current Teach Me Tiger nexus Crispy Fachini and rock ’n’ roll audio-savant Dion Fischer. Rocket 455-the-younger, the Go – in which Fischer slings an axe – took the stage for its own set and planted the flag of boogie. Bantam Rooster worked its whiskey-soaked mambo-mojo and the party raged till closing time, and Larry would’ve been grinning his face off.

YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW ’EM WHEN

Before they went Up North, before they shared stages across the nation with the darlings of alt-country, before A&B, the Volebeats were a loose conglomeration of five friends and family, making street corner-living room country music with whatever old instruments they had at hand. In 1986, this was not such a popular idea as it now seems in the light of the No Depression market share. Thankfully, Vermont’s Gadfly records thought enough to resurrect the only document of the original Volebeats, 1989’s Ain’t No Joke. The 12 songs included here represent the sprawling scope of the Cosmic American Music to which Voles – Jeff, Brian and Al Oakes, Terry Rohm and Matt Smith – aspired. Much of it is more raw and direct than the wistful, bittersweet pop ache that now informs the Voles’ musical musings, but that adds a refreshing sense of fun and spontaneity to the proceedings. Before Whiskeytown and before Uncle Tupelo (yes, Virginia, there was country rock before Uncle Tupelo), the Volebeats were chasing down the trails of Gram Parsons and Hank Williams. Thankfully, the evidence of their travels is now widely available.

The current incarnation of the Volebeats performs this Saturday at Ferndale’s Club Bart, 22726 Woodward Ave., 248-548-8746. Power-pop songsmith Dean Fertita opens the show.

More by Chris Handyside

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