Blues, boys and bar stools


Uncharacteristically sans family, I decided to share Turkey Day with the folks who always know my name – Hamtown bartenders. But Fast Eddie was apparently fast asleep, as the Norwalk's lights were out. So it was the Attic instead, where beatific bartender Johnny Pero greeted me like long-lost family. Who needs turkey anyway, when there's Motor City Nut Brown on tap?

Standing in as pseudo-family members were some amazing blues talents, including the legendary Butler Twins and stunning songstress Nikki James. All this wonderful fellowship was to the blues of Don MacIntyre and True Blue; not bad background sounds, and far less odiferous than the noises my family members produce after Thanksgiving dinner. I nightcapped at Small's, which was stuffed full of the hipper products of dysfunctional families. Love that place. Stop by soon to see the charismatic Chris, fresh from LA, whose intelligent conversation and cheery good humor are a satisfying replacement for familial bonding anytime.


Wallowing in the blues, I treated myself again to the Attic Friday night and the award-winning enchantment of Big Jack Johnson. I am so glad I didn't miss this one! The place was packed with an incredibly diverse crowd, including the wittiest person walking planet Earth, darling Dan Donohue, who dazzled behind the bar, shocking his fans with the new beard he's sporting. Be quick if you want a glimpse; he'll be shaving it soon to catch some Florida sun.

Motown's suavest lothario, Nico, resplendent in a chartreuse shirt, courted me with Oberons and definitely added to the night's aesthetic value. Actually, it seemed pretty boys were on parade, outnumbering the ladies by a large margin. Giving Nico a little competition – at both charming the birds and coloring the night – was tangerine-suited Tony Valentino, better known as the Godfather of Blues. Onstage or off, Valentino is always one of the best shows in town.


Saturday night I took it easy, planting myself atop a bar stool at Majestic Café where I held court until I drank the place out of Killians. (Don't worry, Ginger; I'm purely a social drinker.) Many fine people stopped by my corner of the bar throughout the night, affording me the luxury of socialization while remaining firmly planted.

It was a nice crowd; friendly and exceptionally unpretentious. In addition to enjoying some of my favorites of the downtown scene – such as Control Freq's Rockstar Steve (looking positively cuddly) and dashing dancer Mickey (spotted with a lovely on his arm; could it be this Romeo is taking himself off the market?) – friends old and new peppered the night.

New Royal Oak homeowner Matt Busdiecker was a welcome sight, and we caught up before he headed over for a game at the Garden Bowl.

Former co-worker and fellow writer Lisa Sztuba and I talked shop, she a vision of style and elegance, as always.

Making a rare public appearance were Pounding Ketchup's Rob Evans and Jed Rowe. Having left their glam-rock personas at home, fresh-scrubbed faces were all the disguise they needed. The boys tell me certain indie labels are vying for their attention, adding urgency to their search for a new drummer. Apparently, former skins man Paris failed to return home with the band after an acoustic set at Kirby's in Wichita last month – he's always been a wild card.

A rare bit of what could loosely be termed "performance art" occurred late in the night. Home from California to celebrate his 30th birthday, Matt DeLoach proved he's not over the hill yet by literally turning flips! Quite an impressive show, rivaled only by the one on the other side of the wall at Majestic Theater, Maceo Parker.

Though I didn't see or hear the funk of Maceo, I felt it, my bar stool purring like a Harley all night.

The only aggravator of the evening was a barely post-pubescent chap two stools to my right, who loudly pontificated the cost-benefit analysis of buying one condom at a time versus an entire box. Puh-lease. Not only does this boy's mother still lay his clothes out for him – as evidenced by his little outfit of white Oxfords, Buster Brown-style sweater vest and prerequisite white undershirt – but I suspect the Parliaments he was smoking were snitched from dad's carton. Hey, Junior, come up with a more believable line of grown-up, cool-guy bar talk; or better yet, drop the act altogether.


Closing out the night, I was "escorted" to my car by a member of the street-dwelling army that patrols Woodward Avenue, vigilant in their efforts to separate me and my change. This particular fellow, who calls himself Stumpy, held his one palm out to me with commendable determination. Fearing he would continue blocking entrance to my vehicle indefinitely, I finally proclaimed that though I had nothing to give, I did have something to take, and whipped out my camera.

His transformation melted my heart, as he struck a pose against my car, beaming brightly. The essence of this fellow human shone for just a moment, having been given a little positive attention, and the moment was poignant. We're friends now. If you see Stumpy roaming outside Union Street, give him a smile for me.