Packed parting party


When I stepped into my old biker boots and made my way to Lili’s 21 to attend the wake for Detroit’s queen mother of punk, it was a personal journey to honor Lili with like-minded souls.

However, I grossly underestimated Lili’s impact, as there was a wall-to-wall barful of partiers that sucked in their collective breath to make room for the new revelers that crammed in throughout the night. The faces jammed side-by-side were a veritable who’s who of the Detroit music scene over the last 20 years, all there out of love and nostalgia.

I had plenty of opportunities to bond with creased faces beneath ‘80s punked hair, as just moving 10 feet to the bar was a half-hour journey. (I stocked up with two brews per trip, of course.)

Time spent in the butt-to-butt traffic was invaluable for star gazing and meeting. Working my way to the great spread provided by Holbrook Café (laid out on the pool table), I spent some traveling time wedged near rakish Kenny Olson of Twisted Brown Trucker (you know, Kid Rock’s band), who was there with bandmate Jimmy Bones. If the Kid himself made an appearance, my chunk of crowd never slid by his.

Now, who doesn’t know Holbrook Café has the best ranch dressing in Michigan? Common knowledge. But between you and me, I spied a certain local radio babe fill a cup with the glorious nectar, plop in a couple of meatballs, and go to town with a spoon! Positively unsightly!

Wheedling my way into a small huddle that was divvying up a six-pack of Schlitz (I don’t question gift horses), I found myself elbow-to-elbow with Stars & Stripes reporter Greg Piatt, in from Stuttgart, Germany. As a matter of fact, press personae positively lurked in every corner. Even in the ladies’ room, I found myself face-to-face with certain rival reporters. But the love and camaraderie permeating the night left no room for animosities of any sort.

An impressive lineup of Detroit’s finest bands donated their time, talent and energy onstage (as well as chugging away the night with the rest of us).

Jill Jack, Stewart Francke and the Motor Dolls all took the stage prior to my arrival, much to my chagrin. But, wow!, there were plenty of high-profile acts left, including the Civilians, Polish Muslims and Robb Roy, each performing their unique brands of magic.

Turning me into a screaming fan was the surprise performance by Honkey Dory, taking the stage by storm in their perfectly outrageous ‘70s Afros and outfits. This band is a scream. They ripped through my memory bank with a nonstop collage of ‘70s tunes, from Boston to the BeeGees, and left the crowd just roaring.

Blues greats The Immortal Winos of Soul packed the dance floor near the end of the night, even without longtime bassist Verge, who has seemingly put himself out to pasture. The auditioning fill-in was outstanding, in this fan’s opinion. Grab him, guys.

Tear-inspiring testimonials from lives touched by Lili peppered the night, from neighborhood locals to my favorite, Hamtramck mayor Gary Zych. Zych showed up late in the night, tuxedoed and elegant, sharing the news that Lili’s is where he met his lovely wife. Could Hamtown ever have a hipper guy at the helm?

Closing out the night musically was a surprisingly touching guitar and vocal set by Brian McCarty (aka Brian O’Blivian of the Detroit glam band The Trash Brats). Who would’ve guessed this blonde bombshell could be as sweet and melodic solo as he is raunchy and wild with his brats.

Whew, can I drop any more names?! Absolutely! Let me not neglect that soundman Steve Cancel offered his services gratis for the occasion, and McCourt’s Music took care of musical equipment. Lili’s sons Mike and Alan, and Detroiters Mike and Annie worked their asses off behind the bar, looking like little more than blurs the entire night. Lastly, Jim Hebler brilliantly MC’d and played host, creating an atmosphere of warmth that genuinely reflected the legacy of Lili.


Motown’s queen and king of dinner parties, Michelle Winter and David Christl, tied the knot last Saturday at Addison Oaks, with a gorgeous wedding and unique two-hour (!) feast. Spotted at the low-profile affair were Detroit cop Brian Vieau and his beautiful new bride, Tracy, as well as gospel music superstar Kevin Jacobson (who, like me, absolutely worships cheese cubes!).


Feeling the need for a drink after so much coupled bliss, I stopped off for a post-nuptial toast at Main Street Billiards in Rochester. Loved the place!

Mingling, I was charmed by DaimlerChrysler engineers Sheri Rieger and Bryon Cuthbert of Troy, who added some citified style as they played a game of pool. But after chatting briefly with the effervescent duo of Rene Swiderski of Oxford and Jessica Fuller of Macomb County, I exhaustedly set off to ponder my own depleted bubble count in an area populated by less perky patrons.

Ah, a comfortable stool, approachably "real" single people – of all ages – having a great time, and really cold Sierra Nevada on tap. Life is good.

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