The buzz around the nest 

Working six days a week, designing costumes and makeup for fashion shows, co-hosting erotic poetry festivals and getting married: Karen Neal’s had a busy year and a half. No wonder her band, Queen Bee, hasn’t played a show since a November 1999 party for the late Orbit magazine. Her glammed-out sex-rock outfit hasn’t been placed on the back burner, mind you. She and drummer Adam Berg (Godbullies) have been trying out guitarists since that last show, after which Bravin Neff quit. (He now plays guitar in 60 Second Crush.) And she’s been working with Brian Oblivion (Trash Brats) on the Superelectronic Queen Bee project, a recording of Queen Bee songs overlaid with techno beats. But we’ve had to sit patiently for the ever-promised return of the live experience.

Well, the wait is over. Neal and Berg have been practicing with Broadzilla guitarist Rachel May, and things have been going amazingly well. The new lineup debuts at this weekend’s Hamtramck Blowout. Queen Bee plays Thursday night (technically Friday morning) at 12:45 a.m. at Holbrook Cafe, 3201 Holbrook (313-874-1965).

“It’s a breath of fresh air. For a while there, I didn’t think I’d meet anyone I could work with to do Queen Bee again. I almost felt like I was being punished,” says Neal.

But usually it’s Neal doing the spanking — that is if you recall her “Wheel of Torture” at the above-mentioned festival. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another year and a half! Melissa Giannini

You again?

The MT is working overtime on this local music issue! Melissa needed a little assistance, and me being in the next office and all … here I am with the 411 on the Rocket 455 reunion! About the only constant during the past seven or eight years with this band has been Mark Walz on vocals and Jeff Meier on guitar. Seems every D-troit garage scene name has passed through the Rocket ranks — Marco Delicato (The Wildbunch), Kenny Numbers and even Chris Fachini (Teach Me Tiger) and Tom Lynch (The Dirtbombs). But this is not by any means bad. As former In One Ear guest writer Mitch Jenkins says, “Rocket are a big, powerful rock ’n’ roll engine.” And you can’t keep something good chained up for long, so a reunion seemed inevitable … just ask the Hentchmen, Detroit Cobras and the Wildbunch. Rocket 455 are the Saturday Magic Stick headliners at Mid by Midwest. You know, that other festival … Catch them before they disband again. Alright, signing off then. It’s been fun. –Aaron Warshaw

Mood swing

One of last year’s musical highlights was the Mood Elevator’s debut album; one of its biggest disappointments was the threesome’s breakup a few months later. So we were excited to see the Mood Elevator on the Mid by Midwest schedule (Magic Stick on Friday, March 9 at 10 p.m.), paired with the brilliant Brendan Benson, who rarely performs live.

But we had questions. Is the Mood Elevator back for good? Are they backing Benson or is Benson sitting in? Or is this a newly forming all-star collective?

Here’s the double-scoop. March 9 is a Mood Elevator show, with singer-songwriter Chris Plum and bassist Eric Pott playing several new songs from an album they’re recording with producer and studio-owner Benson. (Former drummer Loren Guzik has moved to Chicago and is no longer working with ME.) Benson is the band’s guitarist that night, but don’t be surprised if one of his own songs makes the set list; he’s finishing up his sophomore full-length. And here’s another surprise — the supergroup will be rounded out with Jeff Hupp and Zach Shipps from the Atomic Numbers.

The Elevator operators think their upcoming record is even better than the first, but they’ll continue to work on separate projects and don’t plan many shows. So Friday isn’t a reunion per se — it’s more of a two-man crockpot rising from the campfire ashes. Eric Pott explains that he and Plum have “created a new stew. It’s on simmer … and it’s kinda part of the recipe to keep it that way.” Karen Fisher

E-mail In One Ear at mgiannini@metrotimes.com

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