At some point in the mid-2000s everyone with a MacBook and a decent set of headphones decided they were going to become a DJ. But when it comes to entrusting the task of getting a party started and keeping it going until the break of dawn (or last call, in most cases), metro Detroit knows better than to relinquish control to just anyone. Enter DJ Danny D — a real crowd-pleaser. Danny D, aka Dan Duchateau, says it’s a natural high to see people dancing to his sets. It is his penchant for good timing that is far and away his greatest gift as an entertainer making his ability to make Top-40 hits sound exciting a close second. “I am so grateful to have come this far with something that started as a hobby in my garage,” Duchateau says. “Always believe in yourself and follow your dreams.” —Jerilyn Jordan
316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; 734-761-1451; theark.org
This cozy Ann Arbor non-profit venue hosts live music over 300 nights a year in a room that is incredibly conducive to performing softer music. Top notch acoustics and seating very close to the stage intimately connects performer and audience. With a 400 person capacity, the Ark is where you want to see your favorite up-and-comer or longtime folk music hero play. Since 1977, each year the Ark hosts the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. The funds raised all go toward keeping roots and folk music alive in downtown Ann Arbor. The 2018 festival was headlined by Jason Isbell of Drive-by Truckers fame and country and folk singer-songwriter John Prine. —Anthony Spak
4114 Vernor Hwy., Detroit; 313-279-7382; elclubdetroit.com
While this Southwest Detroit music venue is perhaps better known for booking indie rock, a close look at El Club’s calendar shows acts from just about every musical genre under the sun are well-represented — and that includes plenty of great hip-hop and R&B. Some highlights from the past year or so include Ghostface Killah, Kelela, Lil Xan, Nightmares on Wax, Kitty, Milo, Shamir, Ravyn Lenae, and Detroit’s own Sam Austins, who made his headline debut earlier in April. “I think what our room does best is intimate,” El Club owner Graeme Flegenheimer says. And that intimacy, Flegenheimer says, translates especially well for hip-hop shows. “Hip-hop is the new punk rock,” he says. “That’s what people mosh to now. They don’t mosh at rock shows anymore!” —Lee DeVito
We wouldn’t be doing our job if our readers weren’t hip to the musical stylings and happenings of indie angel Anna Burch. Burch, who landed a spot on our “Bands to Watch” roundup in 2017, became a Metro Times cover girl earlier this year, and is riding the wave of her successful debut record Quit the Curse with an extensive U.S. and European tour. What makes Burch’s music special, aside from her candid and confessionary storytelling, lo-fi sensibilities, and infectious hooks? The girl has a voice that surges with warmth even when putting an ex-lover on blast or calling herself out. “I was insecure for a long time about writing about heartbreak and relationships,” she told MT. “I didn’t want to fit into this trope of the broken woman. I kept feeling like, what do I have to even sing about? The world of the emotions is all there really is. I think writing the record I had to get over that feeling. I haven’t looked back since.” Looking ahead, Burch’s forecast is looking bright. We expect Burch and company to take the world by storm — or at least hold the umbrella while we cry because goddamn her lyrics cut deep. —Jerilyn Jordan
345 E Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-291-6160; otussupply.com
Over the past decade or so, a strain of jam-based rock music mixing Americana, bluegrass, and roots influences has flourished, and in Michigan, Kalamazoo’s Greensky Bluegrass might best exemplify the genre. So it makes sense that the band helped christen Ferndale’s restaurant-music venue, Otus Supply, when it opened at the end of 2016. Thom Bloom, one of Otus Supply’s owners, says they saw a void in the local scene when it came to that kind of music. “When we set out to do the music program, we had a core belief that some of our favorite music was jam-based,” he says. “We’d get a lot of bands for 10 or 12 years who would just skip Detroit and do Cleveland and Chicago and sell out shows. There wasn’t really a home for that.” Until now. For the past year and a half, the venue’s Parliament Room has hosted a variety of acts primarily along the jam-band axis, but often delving into other genres as well, including recent shows by rockers Greta Van Fleet and funk pioneer George Porter Jr. The psychedelic music pairs well with Otus Supply’s out-of-this-world interior decor, as well as the restaurant’s inventive menu. “We wanted to create this place that was kind of like a utopia for us,” Bloom says. “We love music, and food, and art. We were always wondering why all of those couldn’t live in one venue.” — Lee DeVito
4126 Third Ave., Detroit; 313-482-9028; cinemadetroit.orgJust because Cinema Detroit is Detroit’s only independent movie house doesn’t lessen the honor conferred upon it by our readers. The little theater on Third Avenue is up against some stiff competition: the recently restored Maple Theater in Bloomfield, with its stadium seating, in-house restaurant, coffeehouse, and VIP club; the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor; the Main Art Theatre nestled amid the hustle and bustle of Royal Oak. So why did our readers give the nod to Cinema Detroit, a small theater run for the last five years by husband-and-wife team Tim and Paula Guthat? Must be the top-notch programming, which includes not just eclectic first-run films but more mainstream art house fare backed by major studios, from such directors as Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, and Nicole Holofcener. Into that mix the Guthats add indie features from smaller distributors, new restorations, tributes, genre films, and even question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers when available. “Many times we’re the only theater with a film on screen in the metro area,” Paula Guthat says, “sometimes in all of Michigan or the Midwest.” —Michael Jackman
431 E. Congress St., Detroit; 313-961-8961; saintandrewsdetroit.com
Since the 1980s, Saint Andrew’s Hall has been one of the most active and important music clubs in the city. It’s played host to household names like Iggy Pop, Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Mayer, and Adele. It’s been praised by the late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell as his favorite club to play and its basement venue, the Shelter, was the backdrop for B-Rabbit’s rap battles in Eminem’s 8 Mile. These days Saint Andrew’s is still going strong most days of the week, putting on rock shows with a sprinkling of hip hop, jam bands, and indie performers in the mix. In just the last few months, the venue has hosted a diverse list of names including post-rockers Godspeed! You Black Emperor, costumed metalheads Gwar, funkier names from the jam band crowd like Papadosio and Lettuce, emo rockers Jimmy Eat World, and even Gin Blossoms for the ’90s nostalgics. A 1,000 capacity room, Saint Andrew’s is the perfect in-between venue to see your favorite performer — not too big and not too small. Get up close in the pit or watch from high atop the balcony for that Instagram-ready concert photo. —Anthony Spak
It’s been a transformative past couple of years for Brian Nickson, whose illustrations and paintings often incorporate celebrities (like his portrait of O.J. Simpson, which he says was inspired by a Jay-Z song) and other pop culture references (like a recent painting involving the child from H&M’s recent racially charged viral faux pas).
Nickson, 31, says he only started pursuing art full time last year after what he describes as divine intervention. He says he had been making money from his art since 2014, selling prints off of his website. It was during one trip to the post office while off from his day job working at Chrysler’s Jeep plant in Toledo when he decided to take the plunge. “I was in my car and I thought, ‘God, if I’m not supposed to be working at this plant, just give me a sign,” he recalls. “As I pulled out of the post office, my exhaust pipe cracked in half.” Nickson says he never looked back.
You can see Nickson’s work at the upcoming Black Identification exhibit at the Carr Center in June, and the Palmer Park Art Fair in August. —Lee DeVito