Free the BPM!

Jan 18, 2006 at 12:00 am

Your night-crawling options lately come down to this: Stay home and watch today's Auto Show highlights and another warm, fuzzy featurette on the upcoming Super Bowl or get your asses out to one of the many free regular rotations hosted by vet Detroit DJs.

Yes, that's right, free. At several locations around town you can listen and dance to techno, house, soul, funk, electro and other body-shaking sounds without paying a cover. It's not novel or revolutionary, but it's smart, especially in a music-rich city not swimming in dough.

Where to start? Try two nights hosted by Brian Gillespie, a musical polymath who has some kind of wonderful in his bag. At Monday night's Soul Kitchen (Majestic Café, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700) and uptown at Passport Tuesday's (Bosco, 22930 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-541-8818), Gillespie spins classics, his own edits and mixes, left-field hip hop and rare grooves given to him by master recording engineer Ron Murphy of National Sound Corporation and Sound Enterprises fame. It was as much Murphy as anyone who gave sonic boom to the first wave of early '80s Detroit techno. What you won't hear from Gillespie is radio hip hop. Says the man who's been calling 'em like he sees them since his DJ beginnings more than a decade ago: "You want that, get a damn radio."

You also won't hear radio hip hop at Northern Lights (660 W. Baltimore St., Detroit; 313-873-1739) on Tuesdays, when DJ Houseshoes spins concise audio social histories of the Detroit hood at three-quarter speed and slower. It's recommended you get there before the needle drops at 10 p.m.: Shoes draws, and you could shiver up to an hour in line outside. Also on Tuesdays, resident Element 8 hosts Input-Output at the Works (1846 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-961-1742). Guests have included former Detroit Grand Pubah Andy Toth, and local pros Mike Huckaby and Matt Clarke.

Each Wednesday at Corktown Tavern (1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103) the free beats are at Funk Below, hosted by residents Benji Hayes and Superjoint. They invite guests to spin disco, Motown and, oh, yeah, da funk.

The choices open up on Thursday nights, when DJ Shortround hosts a night he says is "for the heads" at Northern Lights. Expect any dope track ever laid down on vinyl ("Except trance!" Shortround says) and special guests like Malik Pittman of Three Chairs (the Detroit super DJ production group that features legends Rick Wilhite, Theo Parrish and Kenny Dixon Jr.). Head west for more free fun at Double Olive (22027 Michigan Ave., Dearborn; 313-359-5533), where the Cynic offers up Classic Thursdays, a night of old-school this 'n' that, hip hop, soul and funk. Head to Ann Arbor for Audio at Live (102 S. First St., Ann Arbor; 734-623-2070), a venue that sits above Goodnite Gracie. Eclectic electronics rule when DJ Scotty Styles hosts special guests such as Ghostly International's Ryan Elliott, Todd Osborn and SV4.

On Sundays, two weekly events in the north Cass Corridor (um, Midtown) will give plenty of buck-o for less of your buck. Start at Motor City Brewing Works (470 W. Canfield St., Detroit; 313-832-2700), where trailblazing Dirtbomb-Gorie Mick Collins shows off his teen tech-house roots by spinning from his collection of weird 12-inchers from the '70s and '80s. And get this: Collins has a new dance record due later this year produced by Moodyman (aka Kenny Dixon Jr.).

Around the corner and up the block at the Cass Cafe (4620 Cass Ave., Detroit; 313-831-1400) find Sonoroussouse, a listening party hosted by Milieu. Upcoming guest DJs include George Rahme (Jan. 22) and Israel Vines (Jan. 29).



Wednesday, Jan. 18: 25 Years: The Musik of Al Jourgensen, featuring Asrock of Final Cut, Detroit Techno Militiaman T. Linder and Ian Hind. Delux Lounge, 350 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-962-4200; $5.

Friday, Jan. 20: Paxahau presents Manamana, featuring Berlin artists Dan Bell, Zip and Sammy Dee, with Tony Zadonia. Bleu, 1540 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Ticket info at

Saturday, Jan. 21: Hijacked Entertainment presents Detroit's Electronic Funk Foundation, featuring Antwon Faulkner (live), Traxx, James Pennington, Buzz Goree of Underground Resistance and more. Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103; $5 before midnight, $10 after.

Saturday, Jan. 28: Nocturnal Sounds presents 3 Way Punishment, featuring Frankie Vega, Sassmouth, Punisher and others. Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-964-5103; $5 before midnight, $10 after.

The Subterraneans is a column dedicated to Detroit dance culture. Send comments to [email protected]