Out of focus 

First Pop Culture Media fired Detroit Electronic Music Festival co-founder Carl Craig as the festival’s creative director.

Then on Monday, Craig said he had filed suit against Pop Culture Media for defamation of character and breach of contract.

The firing came as a surprise: one year after Detroit’s most successful (concept-wise and attendance-wise) free music event, and just two weeks before the much-anticipated second fest over the Memorial Day weekend. Carol Marvin of Pop Culture Media — also a DEMF co-founder with Craig did not return calls from the Metro Times, but has been quoted elsewhere saying that Craig had breached his contract. She cited a number of allegations, including that contracts for 18 artists were late. Craig’s termination is effective May 30, two days after this year’s festival.

“Marvin acted recklessly, damaging the integrity of the DEMF and my own reputation by acting with only two weeks left before the festival,” Craig told the Metro Times. He said the suit did not put a specific dollar amount on his alleged damages.

Many within techno are auteurs; often, one person is the artist, label and agent, making it at times difficult to complete required contract paperwork, especially with artists on tour.

With Craig as the artistic face of the DEMF celebration of underground music, it’s no surprise that major Detroit techno artists have come out in support of him, many claiming they would not have participated in the festival without Craig’s presence. The timing of Marvin’s statements and allegations against Craig have caused many scheduled artists of the DEMF 2001 to reconsider their performances, yet Craig has encouraged them to continue their participation in this year’s show.

“This is my dream to have my friends and family of the techno community perform at Hart Plaza,” Craig said. “This festival is good for everyone and I hope that it will continue to be a success.”

Sticks and stones

Like your eardrums rattled, battered, blown and swallowed whole? Great! You’ll want to be at St. Andrew’s Hall for sure this Saturday for a super stoner-rock triple-threat CD release party. Three Small Stone bands (Five Horse Johnson, Halfway to Gone and Novadriver) will celebrate the release of brand-new albums when they appear with Nashville Pussy. Octopus — your new favorite band — opens up the night. Novadriver’s Void sounds like Hawkwind dry-humping Sabbath while Foghat peeps through a crack in the door. I guess that’s what you get when you mix members of Walk On Water, Small Stone’s head honcho Scott “Slow Ride” Hamilton and way too much beer at the W.A.B. You practically have to wipe the spit off your face after listening to the sweaty rock slaughter of The No. 6 Dance, the latest from Toledo’s Five Horse Johnson. And Long Branch, N.J.’s Halfway to Gone gives contemporary rock a much-needed enema with the heavy guitar haze of High Five. Remember in school when you studied high and then had to take the test high? This show is going to be kind of like that. You’d be wise to assign your designated driver now. Small Stone’s also releasing the latest from Morsel (the band recorded the album before calling it quits) at the end of June. The advance for the CD, Para Siempre, is absolutely gorgeous — light rainfall swirling into thunder, the sound of a storm brewing when the sky’s that menacing grayish-yellow color. Also watch for a new Medusa Cyclone record in July.

Blissful beginnings

Bliss 66’s startlingly punchy debut, Trip to the 13th, doesn’t hit the shelves until June 26, but this young rock band of relative unknowns from Taylor is already hard at work making a name for itself. The group has some high-profile shows lined up to preview the release on Epic records, including a slot on the bill with Evan and Jaron, May 24 at St. Andrew’s Hall, and a headliner at Grand Rapids’ Intersection May 31. Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band, No Doubt) produced the album, which has “huge hit” written all over it. The six band mates met through a youth group two years ago. Since then, they’ve toured extensively throughout the Midwest and hooked up this impressive record deal. And most of the band members are just out of high school! Go check ’em out while they’re still cute and humble.

Brendan M. Gillen contributed to this week’s In One Ear. E-mail In One Ear at mgiannini@metrotimes.com

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