Surrounded by stars

Spring is here! Hoorah hoorah! I went and bought some model rockets this weekend. ... It was sort of an impulse buy but what the hell, it will give me an excuse to stay off of the computer for a few hours a week. —Bryan Bickel writing one year ago in his blog,


It seems like spring is always an emotional time. There are loose ends to tie up — taxes, deep cleaning, bodies need to start moving after a Motor City winter. The atmosphere thaws, the pace of the world quickens, hormones fly, and people can finally smell the air again. Lots of things happen and there’s usually some loss of control involved.

Whether or not it’s influential on a grander scale than a single region, genre or milieu, any music scene is merely a composite of the attitudes and attributes of those whose time and energy make it happen. Detroit is fortunate enough to have a music scene filled with a seemingly disproportionate number of people worth caring about outside of the club/bar/whatever. This week’s abridged laundry list of happenings is more about those people themselves than where they meet up.

No cold feet here

Kito and Kenjji are getting married and it’s about damn time. If you don’t know who this exceptional pair is, too bad for you — but it’s not too late. Head over to Centre Street Multimedia Lounge (311 E. Grand River Ave., 313-965-3651) this Friday night for a pre-wedding bash where everyone’s invited.

Kenjji is the comic artist behind the award-winning Witchdoctor series ( Kito, meanwhile, is marketing and PR director for the Gem Theatre ( Kenjji’s also done cover art for Planet E records (see Recloose: Cardiology) and Kito did the PR for the label during its most prolific years. Kenjji’s drawings have also been featured in the internationally touring Dtroit (yeah, that’s actually how it’s spelled) exhibit that just had its debut opening in New York this winter.

Since they both have résumés a mile long, let’s just say that they’ve been integral to Detroit’s vibrancy for a long time. So now that they’re getting hitched, the couple’s musician friends are showing them some love with an event they’re calling “Do I Do.”

Luckily for us, the two have some talented friends. Korie and Mike Clark will set the mood with deep house, some Prince tracks thrown in, assorted funk morsels from left field and, hopefully, the appropriate and obvious Stevie Wonder jam. Just like it should be — and without risk of seeing anyone play CDs in a red sequined tuxedo. A certain legendary Detroit DJ/producer — who keeps his superstar status not just because he’s the best, but because he makes promoters, and apparently engaged people, make journalists promise not to print his name when he plays in public — will be the real draw.

Just don’t forget to congratulate Kito and Kenjji.

Ich bin ein Detroiter

The last time Perlon records sent a DJ over to Detroit (Sammy Dee in January) he left the crowd screaming and drinking up the bar at Times Square. Even the club’s will-dance-for-trance regulars went ballistic. The bartenders were yelling and pumping fists like it was a Nugent show. The point is that the Perlon crew can get down. They’re like the anti-Sprockets.

While Dee, who’s an honorary Detroiter at this point, has been here several times over the past year, Zip hasn’t been to these parts for too long. He’s missed. Why? Because he smoothly matches the hot new deutsche tracks — many of which haven’t dropped stateside, or at all, yet — in with anything and everything bloopy, wobbly and astro-funky. Check out the Paxahau website ( for more details and an animated cartoon of Zip saying the name of the party, which is, of course, “Punky Jown.” What else would you expect from people who once titled a party “Listen to my hooves, they’re crayyyzee!”?

You can go down to Punky Jown this Saturday night at, once again, Centre Street (311 E. Grand River Ave., 313-965-3651).

Looking to the sky for answers

I met Bryan [Bickel] when he was one of the key guys at Record Time’s dance music room. It seemed as if he always had a list tailor-made in his head for my arrival. Bryan’s passion was music. He was always willing to educate selflessly; [he] saw past the elitism most record snoots feed upon. Rob Theakston on April 8, 2004 from his blog,


Eulogizing someone like Bryan Bickel is difficult. He died too young — he was 28 — he was intelligent and his wry wit was renowned among those who knew him well. Bickel passed away last week from heart complications due to colon cancer, which he battled for the past year and half.

Bickel was a coder for i33 (formerly Sigma 6, AppNet, among other names), a furniture enthusiast (a couch he never saw was being shipped by boat), a record geek in the purest sense (he was part of the RIAA’s defunct Ambient Friends Network and his collection was often raided for Liz Copeland and Clark Warner’s “Focus: Electronic” segments on WDET), a telescope enthusiast (he was, of course, a [email protected] participant), and a man who loved his cat, Juno (evidence: Bickel also designed and maintained the Web sites for each year of both the DEMF and Movement festivals despite tough deadlines, bitter politics, and no pay.

He was a gentle man with an engaging smile and a good heart. Ultimately, it was his heart that failed him.


Bryan Spencer Bickel
January 19, 1976-April 7, 2004

Robert Gorell writes about electronic music and such things for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]
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