Tag Archives: detroit

MTH-V: Type O Negative

With today having been Friday the 13th, I can think of few artists or groups more appropriate than Type O Negative. They’re not for the faint of heart, and it’s one of the things I love most about them. The last few weeks have been quite busy, and I’ve been trying to think of just the right video to break the recent streak of posts featuring blog regulars DMB, Dave Liebman, and Richard Wagner. Type O Negative do just that.

TON hold a special place in my heart. They not only write and play heavy, dark, high quality rock – a powerful mixture of baritone vocals, organs, and metal – but they don’t take themselves too seriously. Many of their songs include very dark humor, which I of course always appreciate. Though there are some that at least appear to be relatively seriously, even if the tongue was planted firmly in cheek upon writing. Regardless of any humor, these self-described “four dicks from Brooklyn” bring it musically. In that sense they fall into a lineage not far removed from Frank Zappa. It’s a subtle subversion: for those fans that may be somewhat literalist with the lyrical content, they’re missing the point. It’s rock and roll – you’re not supposed to take yourself too seriously. But the boys still rock. HARD.

Well, they rocked. Bassist and lead singer Peter Steele died in 2010. That wasn’t without some confusion, however, as, due to a gag in 2005, a number of fans didn’t believe the initial reports. I remember walking through an airport in Colorado around that time of the hoax wearing a Type O Negative t-shirt and being stopped by another fan asking, “Is it true?” Ha! Joking aside, Peter’s death was a musical loss for me. I miss him.

I became an active fan around the time of October Rust‘s release (late ’96/early ’97). I saw the band three times: twice at Grand Rapids’s Orbit Room and once at Detroit’s infamous Harpos. (Unfortunately I didn’t attend that Halloween 2009 show at Harpos, which turned out the be the band’s last show.) They were always solid and the shows were tons of fun. The last time I saw them, which was at Harpos in April 2007, they pulled out a couple nice surprises including a renditions of “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Hey Joe” (which they dubbed “Hey Pete”).

I try to keep this blog safe for work, greatly limiting my choices to feature. But this performance of World Coming Down‘s title track in Germany in 1999 is solid. This song is one of their serious numbers, and its album isn’t nearly as humorous as some others (e.g., Origin of the Feces), but if you’ve ever had a tendency to headbang then this should scratch you where you itch. Dig it:


And a nice audience tape of “Magical Mystery Tour” from the April ’07 show at Harpos:

Heads Up: Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

The 34th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this weekend in Motown. Detroit’s been picked on quite a bit these last few years, particularly in recent months, but the Motor City continues to thrive. One of the ways in which the city reigns is by continuing to host, and somehow continually improving, the world’s largest free jazz festival. And it’s not simply the fact that it’s both large and free that’s notable, but the fact that it features such a powerful lineup. (2013’s lineup is here.) I have neither the time nor space to go through all the artists individually, but suffice it to say that if you’re anywhere near Detroit this Friday-Monday you MUST head over and catch an act or three!

I’m especially excited this year – more so than any other time I’ve attended – as some of the headliners seem as though they’ve been curated to meet my tastes. Usually I’m seeing DMB at The Gorge over Labor Day Weekend, but not this year. I was originally deeply regretful about opting out of this year’s pilgrimage, but the DJF lineup made me quickly forget about it. Three of my favorite saxophonists will be performing, and regular readers of this blog should recognize at least a couple names.

DAVE LIEBMAN — The Master is performing three sets this weekend: one each with Saxophone Summit, Richie Beirach (duo performance), and Quest (!). If no one else I liked were performing, Lieb’s appearances alone would make this my most anticipated Jazz Fest. Wow. (A couple rare album reviews here and here, and MTH-V appearances here and here. And he is referenced in many other posts throughout this blog. And since Saxophone Summit also features Joe Lovano, here are a few great clips with him.)

CHARLES LLOYD — The saxophonist who always commands with subtle intensity. He’ll be performing a set featuring guitarist Bill Frisell immediately preceding Saxophone Summit Saturday night. (A Lloyd post is here.)

JAMES CARTER — Hometown hero and perhaps the greatest living technician of the instrument. (A couple Carter-centric posts are here and here.)

Those aside, I’m also quite looking forward to John Scofield’s Überjam Band and a host of others. You’d have to shell out a lot of bread to see just a couple of the acts that will be performing this weekend, but the fact that so many artists will be performing at a FREE festival is almost incomprehensible. As mentioned above, you must attend if at all possible…

MTH-V: Marcus Miller’s “Detroit”

It’s almost been a year since I started this series, the second entrant for which was my beloved Marcus Miller. This week, it’s time for another dose. I have a couple reasons:

1. It’s Marcus.
2. A few weeks ago, I saw his solo band live (finally!) at Detroit’s Jazz Cafe at Music Hall.

Outside of the coasts, he rarely tours the US, so it was nice to see him visit the mitten. This year he has been touring with his new (younger) band – occasionally with a different keyboardist and/or trumpeter – instead of the usual crew of Poogie, Patches, et al., the members of which are featured on this summer’s Renaissance. It was so great to see him and his group in such an intimate venue. The video below doesn’t even begin to capture the energy that was present.

Here’s footage of a performance of “Detroit” (from the new album) in Marciac, France. As with everything Marcus touches, this is FUNKY:

The band above is:
Adam Agati – Guitar
Kris Bowers – Keys
Louis Cato – Drums
Alex Han – Sax
Sean Jones – Trumpet

And here’s a little clip from the Detroit show featuring Miller’s Detroiter protégé Brandon Ross:

MTH-V: Montreux Redux

As mentioned in my previous post, I saw a burnin’ lineup at Montreux Jazz Festival‘s Miles Davis Hall this past July. For this “return post” in the MTH-V series, I thought I’d feature some live clips of those three groups: James Carter Organ Trio, Spectrum Road, and Neneh Cherry & The Thing.

Below is perhaps my favorite single James Carter clip on YouTube. It’s a full concert from Germany in 2004, the year his Organ Trio – with fellow Detroiters Gerard Gibbs and Leonard King – began. (I saw them that spring at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall and they blew the roof off the place.) Since then they’ve been tearing it up across the globe and through two official releases: Out of Nowhere and At The Crossroads. (Those musicians are also featured on Live At Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.) Do watch the full concert if you have time, but if you don’t the first tune alone (Eddie Harris’s “Winter Meeting”) sums it up pretty well, especially Carter’s final chorus. An interesting tidbit from the Montreux performance: Carter eulogized both Whitney Houston and Andy Griffith (whom died that week). He based the opening cadenza for “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone” on Houston’s “Saving All My Love For You,” and then for his last chorus on “JC On The Set” he quotedThe Andy Griffith Show’s theme song over the rhythm changes.

Next up, Spectrum Road. This is a live clip taken about ten days before I saw them. It includes a bit of everything: solos by Reid, Medeski, and Santana, and vocals by Jack Bruce. While Reid may show off a bit more than I’d like, the group works quite well as a unit. And Medeski always brings the madness, of course. Spectrum Road is a tribute to The Tony Williams Lifetime, one of the first fusion bands. If only I had a clip of when John McLaughlin made a surprise appearance at the end of the Montreux set…

Capping off this post, and the Montreux set, is Neneh Cherry & The Thing. This is one of the better, more representative videos I could find with decent audio and video quality. I wasn’t aware of either group, let along their collaboration, before purchasing my ticket. But I can safely say that I’m now a fan and would love to see them again. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it is lovely…

Radiohead Live in Detroit

Monday night my bucket list substantially shrank thanks to Radiohead’s performance at The Palace of Auburn Hills. (I know I’m not the only one who can say that.)

Like many, I hold Radiohead on a pedestal. No matter what else is happening in music, I know that they’ll continue to press forward, creating stimulating art that both moves and makes you move. I discussed this a bit here in the context of artistic evolution. I know that a number of rock music fans felt betrayed by the electronic turn with and after Kid A. But, for me, that’s just when the band started to get to the nitty gritty. Yes, OK Computer was a harbinger, but it’s still a solidly nineties rock album. Yadda, yadda, yadda. The point is that I seem to love the band and its catalogue more with each new album. (King of Limbs and Amnesiac are probably my favorite Radiohead records, for what it’s worth.)

Famously, Radiohead hasn’t performed in Detroit for fifteen years. Even though the band tours little as it is, the tours that do sweep through the US skip Michigan, often with the band playing Chicago and Cleveland while thumbing their noses northward. Needless to say, my anticipation for Monday’s show was immense, despite my hearing and reading mixed reviews of past Radiohead concerts, both in media and from friends and colleagues. Well I’m hear to say (write/type/etc.) that their performance at The Palace was AMAZING.

I entered the venue excited but with a slight asterisk in the back of my mind, attempting to buttress any possibility that the band might go off the rails with experimentation, etc. Midway through the first verse of “Bloom,” the opening number of both the show and their latest album, any shred of doubt was instantly forgotten. The band, expanded to a sextet with the help of Portishead‘s Clive Deamer, performed impeccably. I wasn’t too surprised by the instrumental cohesion, but Thom Yorke solidly maintained his delicate falsetto throughout the night, something I didn’t quite expect. (I was similarly surprised, positively, by Justin Vernon’s vocal acrobatics when I saw Bon Iver in December.) “Reckoner” and “Give Up The Ghost” sounded no more difficult for Yorke during the encore than “Bloom” and “There There (The Boney King Of Nowhere)” did at the show’s start, more than two hours prior.

I’m not here to write a concert review, but rather to simply state what a wonderful time was had on Monday evening. Technical facility aside, it was refreshing to see a band like Radiohead “rock” an arena with typically un-arena-rock stylings. (Except for three songs from OK Computer, all the material was from Kid A and beyond. Though if you can get beyond the timbres and registers, it’s not as far from rock as one might think.) They simply did what they do, and they did it well. My wife and I sang and danced the whole night and are still grinning ear to ear.

It was a great way to cap off an epic weekend of concerts. (The preceding DMB shows in NY are discussed here.) And if there’s to be a moral to this story, and a way to tie my recent posts together, it’s this: as much as I love creating and performing music, I also love simply being an audience member. I fear that this is something too many performers  and composers forget. It’s nice to produce, but there’s nothing like being on the receiving end of something so enchanting as a great live performance. Especially one such as this.