Hey, how's it going?

Good? Great. This week, instead of writing about shows or bands, we’re going to change gears. Confusion and bad feelings are brewing within the Detroit music world, a storm of acronyms and accusations: MCMF, DMA, MXMW, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming, but here’s what I found. It won’t solve anything, but might answer some questions.

Motor City Music Foundation

The nonprofit MCMF presents the Detroit Music Awards each spring, this year April 6 at the State Theatre. The purpose as stated on its Web site (www.detroitmusicawards.com) is “to honor Detroit area musicians working on a national, regional and local level, to nurture music that is being made in the Detroit metropolitan area, and to create a sense of music industry community that cuts across genres and styles.” An advisory board includes around 3,000 people associated with music production, creation, performance, promotion, sales, marketing and criticism. An executive board of 10 members was voted in by the advisory board. To be a part of the advisory board, call 248-486-3424 or e-mail [email protected]. The deadline to request a 2001 nominating ballot is Feb. 9; final ballots are still available. Gary Graff, board member and awards co-producer, says that one of the greatest misconceptions is that you have to join the foundation and pay to vote. Foundation members pay $10 a year, but you needn’t be a member to vote. Yet some musicians have complained their input isn’t welcome. “We’ve never blocked any musicians’ access to the organization or awards,” Graff says. “I’m sorry they feel excluded, but we’ll definitely take steps to make sure they or any other musicians in the area feel like they have input. ... I hate to sound like a politician, but the best way to get involved is to vote.”

The Hamtramck Blowout

Net proceeds from this annual multiband, multivenue event (started by former MT music editor Chris Handyside and former MT promotions director Brian Boyle four years ago) go to the Motor City Music Foundation. This year’s Blowout is March 8-10. Handyside says the intent was to bring a “critical mass of bands and fans together to appreciate just how broad and popular and cool the Detroit music community really was.” The Blowout features around 100 bands who donate their time to benefit the foundation. It has been recognized as the best music showcase in the area. It also provides an opportunity foundation members to see acts they might never have heard before.

Mid by Midwest

This two-day, four-venue festival is being held March 9-10, and is organized by members of Detroit’s musical community who feel disconnected from the music awards. “The purpose of this festival has been to raise awareness of Detroit’s musical community while also giving something back to Southeast Michigan’s community-at-large,” says the group’s Web site (www.mxmw.com).

Half of the proceeds will go to the bands and half to HAVEN, a battered women’s shelter. Many bands have decided not to play the Blowout because they don’t want to benefit an organization that they believe ignores them. One MXMW organizer, Ko (Ko & the Midnight Intruders), says this is a wake-up call. She doesn’t see the opposing festivals as a political decision for bands or fans. It’s just a fun time “for bands, by bands.” Another organizer, Joe Frezza (Wildbunch), says that he’s not concerned with the awards show at all. “I play music for some pretty base reasons, but ‘winning’ something is not and has never been one of them.”

He says that he doesn’t mind playing for free, but he’d rather the cause be something other than an awards show.

Belly of the Beast

Anthony Morrow, this year’s Blowout organizer, is aware of these concerns. He wants to bring the foundation to “the belly of the beast” aka the Majestic complex. “Musicians are less likely to go out to Southfield on a Wednesday night, into a meeting room with cold-cut sandwiches,” Morrow explains. “They feel more comfortable where they hang out.”

This meeting will happen within the next month and a half. If you e-mail [email protected], organizers will send an e-mail update. They plan a town hall sort of event, where people can air grievances and get to know the board. Go there.

Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times music writer. She takes grievances too, even for things that aren’t her fault. E-mail her at [email protected]
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