Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tantus Studios...Is It a Hot Master You’re After?

An underrated and unheralded Detroit recording studio if there ever was one. Word is they had a custom-made synthesizer in-house that was part of the magic sauce. Oh to just have been a fly on the wall.

List of Tantus Recordings

Sunday, June 30, 2019

How Newly Tweaked eBay Searches Are Blowing It...

     So I've noticed a kink in the results that eBay spits out for its searches and it is pissing me off. 

     For example, I search the term "detroit" under the category "records" probably every other day for the past ten years. I know that titles spit out as if they are ingrained into my soul. This specific search is, by all means, my shit.

     Within the past week or so, searches started being populated with TONS of releases on the Motown label (founded and run from Detroit for most of its existence) all previously unseen by me and none of which have the word Detroit in their title or description.

     Additionally, I use the "vintage Detroit t-shirt" search regularly. Again, I have come to know what to expect with this query. I rock vintage Detroit shirts regularly. 

     But in this same week or so, that search is absolutely littered with Detroit sports jerseys of all stripes and vintage, NONE of which are actually t-shirts or even have the term t-shirt in their title or description.  

     Had acquaintances relay stories of searching for blues records and their searches being filled with blue colored vinyl pressings, now, or searching for a rare 78 of Lewis Black "Corn Liquor Blues" and instead turning up tons of albums by the comedian of the same name. 

     I feel like this is bullshit and it is only further pushing me towards Discogs and Etsy to get my vinyl and vintage shirt fix. I hope the relevant sellers follow suit.

Friday, May 31, 2019

My Favorite Part of Danny Goldberg's Book About Kurt Cobain...

If you'd have told twelve-year-old me literally WALKING to buy my copy of the bootleg "Roma" CD from the neighborhood head shop (wonderfully named The Groove Shoppe) that someday my fandom of Nirvana would lead to a significant mention in a book written about Kurt Cobain by the band's manager...well, I probably would've shit myself.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Remembering Gordy Newton...

I only ever met Gordy once. As I remember it, I popped-in unannounced at Brian Muldoon's upholstery shop one afternoon probably 2003 or so. This was not uncommon as he and I were playing in a band together at that time (invariably known as the Science Farm, Night Latch, or the Thread Counts based, depending on when you asked us) and as I was attending classes at Wayne State just down the street, I was often in the neighborhood.

We made small talk and he made an explicit point to introduce me to Gordy (despite all the scholarly professional mentions of him as "Gordon" I never heard anyone actually call him by that name). Shy, embarrassed, bothered...almost as if he was struggling to just be polite is how I remember him. We shook hands, he kept his head down, I thought nothing much of it.

Gordy left while I was still there and Brian said "If I would not have introduced you, he would've ignored you and not said a word." Which would've been we were the only three people standing there in Brian's backyard.

Later that year Brian and his wife gifted me a copy of Gordy's book and my appreciation has only ever grown from there. Gordy did the cover art for the second Tin Knocker single that I released...something like 7 or 8 layers of polyurethane coated on a single sheet of paper and the edges all disintegrated and demolished and unlike any single artwork I have ever seen (I selfishly kept the gnarliest, most destroyed looking copies for myself...some of them literally had holes in them).

Gordy also did the cover art for the second single by the Upholsterers. An art project if there ever was one, "Your Furniture Was Always Dead, We Were Just Afraid to Tell You" was limited to 100 copies, all secretly hidden in furniture that Brian Muldoon had reupholstered and believed by many to be a hoax until we actually shared the cover art a few years back. At last count I had word that three copies had been found, but none of those people wanted to share any more details than that.

When I was recording my solo album in 2009, I put together a song that was nothing but guitar feedback and an original Bleep Labs Thingamagoop. In hindsight, I would probably go back and remove the Thingamagoop, but that's besides the point. Once I'd recorded the track, the only appropriate title I could think of was "Gordon Newton, 1970." The feeling I got from listening to the feedback was the same feeling when I looked at images of Gordy's early 1970's works of black lithographic crayon on white paper. I also thought, of all the people in Detroit in 1970, Gordy was the one I would most have liked to hang out with at that time.

An example of such works, described as "conveying the sense of motion of the artist's arm and body as he notations of the speed with which he made them" is the embedded graphic in the Soundcloud player below. Also, that description above is probably my favorite written description of visual art I've ever encountered.

Gordy passed away a few weeks ago and it hurts. I have one of his "Heads" hanging proudly in my living room and since I heard of his passing, I can't stop looking at it. I feel downright lucky to have barely even crossed paths with him. A quote from Marsha Miro, longtime Detroit Free Press art critic and a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) called Gordy the "best artist Detroit has ever produced" and in his passing, Miro reaffirmed that by saying "To this day he's still one of the most important artists who lived and worked in Detroit."

After a brief contemplation on Tyree Guyton, I had to agree. I can't think of a solid counterargument to Miro's statement. The entirety of his oeuvre, as vast and wide-ranging as it is (though best known for painting and sculpture) just seems so intertwined with how my brain understands the city of Detroit. Something about the way he OVER applied color, to the point of it turning to dust, and the specific manner he cross-hatched lines, every time I see it...just speaks to me.

It all may sound a bit trite, but that's how I feel. And deep down inside, art that makes you feel is life-affirming.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Nashville After Ten Years...

People ask me all the damn time about the difference between Detroit and Nashville and I feel like I've got my rote, patter down on this one that now is as good a time as ever to carve it into this digital cave wall.

Detroit was a GREAT place to live in my twenties. No real responsibilities. On the hustle. Didn't matter if I was touring with the Dirtbombs, running Cass Records, working for the White Stripes, pretending at Car City Records, freelancing for the Metro Times, busting my hump as a production assistant for the auto show...that haphazard amalgam of low-impact responsibilities kept me busy and just barely compensated enough where I didn't feel too much stress.

The past ten years in Nashville has been a PERFECT place to live in my thirties. To work professionally, at a job with a salary and benefits, to get married, to buy a house, to buy a car (how did I never do that in Detroit?), to have three mediocre daughters and just barely maintain a blog at the same time.

Yeah, that house could use a coat of paint, and missing alot of people in Detroit oftentimes makes feel like I NEED to be involved in the re-imagination of that city...but complaints or FOMO exist wherever you are and also wherever you are not.

I LOVE telling people that I never had allergies until I moved to Nashville. It's vaguely appealing enough for an anecdote while talking at a child's birthday party and is on-brand for the apocryphal tale I've heard repeated ad infinitum that the local Native American population in the area originally called the general Nashville area "The Valley of Sickness" and supposedly would not live here themselves because of it.

But the truth is...I suffered all kinds of allergic nonsense during my last spring in Detroit back in '08. Maybe that's when I grew up. Maybe that's when my body gave up. All I know is that my roommate gave me some Claritin and it was a godsend.

Cut to now, my yearly tradition is whenever that day in hits March where I sneeze three consecutive times, I pop a Zyrtec the next morning and continue to do so every morning for the next six weeks or so and I'm golden. No symptoms at all. Like a well Zyrtec'd machine.

But the past two days, Zyrtec ain't doing shit. Shit is so bad I'm rubbing my eyes like a kid in a "we'll convince you Santa is real" movie.  For a couple of hours today, with symptoms at their most annoying, I just decided to not touch my eyes. At all. Trying to approach this ailment with the zen-like focus of a monk. After an hour or so it was out of my head. And a few hours later, looking into my eyes in the mirror, seeing they legitimately needed to be de-gunked, with purpose and focus, I cleaned those sumbitches out and it was spine-tinglingly amazing.

So, just another curve in life to lean into. Like tricking this six-month-old to down five ounces of milk right in the middle of me trying to sneak this thing out before the clock strikes next month. I pause, I give her my undivided attention, we bond, and an hour later, she's back to sleep and I'm back to work here.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

An Overview of Recent eBay Losses...

1) Monthly Detroit Magazine - never had seen this before, thought it was crazy even bidding up to $67, am terribly curious as to who would pay $135 for this thing.

2) Honestly thought that $55 would get me the Mexican version of the MC5's "Kick Out the Jams" single and thus complete my collection of singles for that specific song. No-go friendo. Ugh. I will probably eventually pay the going rate for this one.

3) Don't even know why I bid on the 12 O'Clock Noon record. Looks funky I guess?

4) I adore the Coconut Groove label and am pretty sure at one point or another I've owned every other record on the imprint EXCEPT this Cherry Slush single. Featuring Dick Wagner, I think.

5) Don't cry for me the three people reading here, I was eventually able to track down a copy of the Marcus Belgrave bootleg LP I lost out on for the absurd price of $78. Not usually one to go nuts for unauthorized jazz LPs, this was literally recorded a half-mile from my house when I was 7 years old at the decomissioned Alger Theater movie house. It ain't a bad record, but it certainly ain't $78 good. The copy I eventually grabbed had different artwork. So it goes.

6) Mid-level Michigan quasi-psych-folk that will probably always be somewhat available, I do not fret missing out on this Peter Stark LP. He was always the least likely to sit on the Iron Throne.