Monthly Archives: December 2011
‘Tis the season to be distinguished! And there is no better way to ring in the holiday cheer than with new music from Royal Greatness herself, Gwenation! On this past Wednesday, December 21st, A Gwenation Christmas was released for the masses to enjoy just in time for the holidays and the attendees of Open Mic Jam got a chance to enjoy the music in person and purchase autographed copies. The 4731 Gallery was jam-packed and everyone was gathered around the stage anticipating new music from Detroit’s rising diva.
Since the Holidays are centered around celebrating with family, it was very necessary for Gwenation’s album release to involve her family members, as well as on the album. Setting the tone for the evening and reminding us of “the reason for the season”, Gwenation sang her jazzy rendition of “O Come All Ye Faithful” accompanied by her uncle Timothy Moore, Sr. Then the party was started as her talented background vocalists (and blood sisters) MiMi and Becca Je` accompanied her for the party groove “Miss You Like I Thought”. Next was a remake & duet of “This Christmas” with Dyrel J, the lead singer of Detroit’s R&B “man band”, Hotsauce. I must say their rendition- hands down- is the greatest of Donny Hathaway’s cult classic!
Accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, “The Christmas Song” had everyone hanging onto her every note, riff and run Gwenation sang with ease and comfort. My personal favorite on the album is her hip-hop/soul rendition of “Santa Baby” and it soon became a favorite amongst the crowd. And the special treat of the evening; “Have Yourself A Merry little Christmas”, a family record with her mother, three sisters and best friend Tommy Henderson was a crowd-shocker and a wonderful joy to watch a musical family unite in song.
DJ L Boog, the founder and host of Open Mic Jam was celebrating his birthday that evening so Gwenation saluted him by singing Andre 3000’s “Prototype”, then ended the night with her latest single, “The World Is My DJ”. The entire performance was a polished presentation of what to expect on A Gwenation Christmas so I doubt you want to spend your holiday without purchasing it for only ten dollars here! Be sure to check out other released material at Gwenation.Bandcamp.com and follow her on Twitter, @Gwenation!
Hello to all of my fabulous readers! I hope all is well with you and I wish you all a blessed holiday season! I want to present you all with a great opportunity to be a part of the Distinguished Detroit family and help give feedback to the readers, as well as maybe promote yourself as a writer/ connoisseur. This is what Distinguished Detroit is all about- promotion! This site isn’t catered towards LiLi Sheree or my success but to spread it around. You can call me a socialist in that aspect when it comes to helping Detroit garner the national accolades it deserves. Now, lets make sure we are making ourselves worthy to receive the accolades and stay on our ‘A’ game at all times (talking to myself as well).
Not only does our city hold a lot of talent but we also have a lot of discerning eyes, ears and hearts to the fine arts. So what better way to help us grow in our own than to receive constructive criticism from the home-team? Now let me say that having an opinion and hating are two different things- let’s be VERY clear about this. What I will not accept is material made to solely bring down someone’s spirits or purposefully written to be mean-spirited or harsh. The main goal is to help one grow as well as a way for the artist to know what their audience would like to see more of. Don’t highlight weaknesses without an honest solution and please do not disrespect the artist’s craft. We are a community of respect and are here as iron to sharpen each other.
If you have a noteworthy commentary/ review about someone’s artistry, business, or event please feel free to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will gladly post them to The Connoisseur’s Corner. Below you will read the first submission and example as to how you should rate the artist, business or event (on an A-F grading scale). If you wish to remain anonymous, please sign the end of your review with a funky pseudonym as “Music Lover 313″ did below. Enjoy!
RATE THE BAND
I had the pleasure of attending the Acoustiq Musique show at the Jazz Café inside of Detroit’s legendary Music Hall. The show consisted of about six acts but the one band that definitely grabbed my attention was Matt Reed and TGP. I was not prepared for their set which was diverse, energetic, and unique but lacked cohesion in their sound- the most important element of a great band. Here’s what I thought:
LYRICAL CONTENT- C
Mediocre at best with songs such as “I Got Soul” and “We Got Style”. I wasn’t impressed with this group’s ability (or lack thereof) to deliver lyrical content that is full of soul and funk as they claim. All of the songs are “catchy” but nothing possessed timeless lyrics that can be played decades from now.
STAGE PRESENCE- B
The stage presence of the group was highly entertaining! As they approached the stage and began to set up, they appeared socially awkward and I immediately thought of a ‘B’ version of Hootie and the Blowfish. Front man Matt Reed, although standing about 5’3, has a large presence that captured the audience. Standing to his right on vocals and keys is a bad Remy Shand look alike that may have actually had the most soul in the group. Matt Reed and TGP really got the audience going when they each spit sixteen bars during the song “We Got Style”. I will go out on a limb and say that more people were probably laughing at them then cheering them on. However, the fact that the group had so much fun and energy on stage was great to watch. I caught myself laughing and smiling the entire time.
Vocals from Matt Reed were just sub par. Considering his boisterous personality I expected him to come with more “umph” vocally. The other band mate on vocals was Jeff Trasin and his vocal abilities did nothing for me either.
I can describe the sound of the band in one word: LOUD! Equipped with keys, drums, bass and electric guitar, the band also brought along an MPC player and voice box. Instead of creating a masterpiece with the machines and instruments they bore a monstrosity that was at some times in the show quite hard to listen to.
OVERALL PERFORMANCE- C
This band has some work to do. In their case, less is definitely more. I would like to see them work on vocals and creating a sound that is unique but equally consistent. Matt Reed and TGP scored poorly in a few areas but the energy and passion that they had for the music almost made me like them. Almost
Music Lover 313
Karl Kingson is a very well-known performer in the city who has titillated quite a few audiences with his electrifying choreography and music that raises the hair on your arms. Not only is he well versed in the performing arts but he is no stranger to media arts- creating music videos and promo commercials for his shows. Although he has a wonderful support system and people who help build his kingdom, he is truly a one-man show. Mr. Kingson recently had a show at U Detroit Cafe in Harmonie Park on Friday, December 11th but unfortunately the Distinguished Detroit camp could not attend.
The awesome thing about social media that is overshadowed by all of the drama it can create or harness is its ability to inform and archive details when one is not present. If you have a Facebook or Twitter account then you are privy to the monstrous amount of tweets or status updates when an award show or popular television show is on. Or even if there is an event within your local area and the majority of the people you know are in attendance, there will be plenty of reporting minus commercial breaks or wiggy news anchors. With that being said, I wanted to try something different and post all of the pleasant comments and reviews of Mr. Kingson’s show as well as photos for your viewing pleasure. Although DDET was not there in person, we were there in spirit and friends of our site gave us plenty to savor until the next time Karl takes the stage. Enjoy below
NiaAnnesha ~Gifted and Cursed~
boogsworld DJ L BooG
NiaAnnesha ~Gifted and Cursed~
wfmatix ♪ Awkward Genius ♫
@IamKarlKingSon RIPPED THE ROOF OFF OF UDETROIT CAFE !!! Great Job Fam !!!
Great show @IamKarlKingSon 2nite!!!
SassiBlaque Sassi Blaque
EllieSandiego Liz St.Clair
LoganMarioMusic Logan Mario
@IamKarlKingSon Great seeing you Karl! Keep doing your thing! Sorry we didn’t get to chat more!
MssDani Dani Michelle
@IamKarlKingSon very proud of you
VinaMills Vina Mills
DDHollins Derek D. Hollins
@IamKarlKingSon Had fun bro, it was great show
LoweDunnit Lowe Dunnit Comedian
shouts out to @IamKarlKingSon for inviting me to perform last night..that show was well put together fam..
@IamKarlKingSon your the performer I just followed u! now get some sleep
KeziBear Kezia Russell
S/O to @IamKarlKingSon who murdered his show last night! Great man. Not everyone understands his art.. but thats their loss <3
ijuzwannadanz Lydia Sims
Be sure to support Karl Kingson at www.KarlKingsonPRESENTS.com for more information and the artist. SUPPORT DETROIT!
R&B Live is a music showcase that highlights the up and coming artists in the city as well visiting artists from out-of-state. I had an opportunity to attend the latest one at The Music Hall jazz Cafe, Acoustiq Musique this past Friday, December 9th and I assure you this is not an event you want to miss the next go ’round! The show was hosted by Jay Michealz and had a nice roster for attending patrons ready to have a good time.
The show opened with an R&B duo by the name of Mirimage who gave us the right grooves to set the tone for an evening of feel good music. Britney Stoney took the stage next with a percussionist and her famed guitar, serenading us with original pieces, “A Plus” (for the haters), “Dreamality” (make your dreams reality), “My Favorite Song”, “3″, and the famous song known by many “Rebel”. Ms. Stoney definitely left the audience wanting more and put on a heck of a show despite technical difficulties trying to deter her energy. It didn’t work- we were served with awesome stage presence, material and creativity.
Next on the roster was Matt Reed & TGP an ecclectic fusion band hailing from Backlick, Ohio. They gave us a lot of energy, funk and individuality with their mash-up of electronic and hip-hop music.Once we got done riding the Matt Reed & TGP train, we were introduced to a very talented local band who did a host of covers as well as originals, named THE HTS Band featuring Kendrick Hardaway & Elise King. They wowed us with an Arrested Development, “Everyday People” vibe, making us feel like they’ve been around all along and we were just catching on.
Pato Margetic was next on the list and he was a special treat in my eyes. As he leaned into the microphone and crooned with a voice that was very subtle yet demanding of attention, we were caught up in the rapture of his acoustic spell. And just to tease us even more of his limitless ability to croon us with any song via guitar, Usher’s “Nice & Slow” was the next song selection that proved a hit for the audience. Next, Pato invited a local artist and collaborator, Keely to sing “Love Still Works”. He was a hit with the audience and I couldn’t wait to get home and fire up my laptop so I could hear and learn more from the Detroit artist. Discovering new talent in my city is like a kid attaching him or herself to a new video game- I have to find it, buy it, and play it out!
Although the acts before the opener had us pretty full, there was still room left for dessert as the sweet Charity and her guitar graced us onstage. The love was warm in the Jazz Cafe and as she started to strum her guitar to the melody of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”, the feeling expanded. The next was one of my personal favorites, “Pink, Purple & Gold” (which I am highly anticipating her album for) and she added an excerpt of another classic Stevie Wonder Song, “Isn’t She Lovely” but with her acoustic twist. The final song for the evening is a song that is available for purchase on itunes, entitled “Sounds Like Love” which is already a smash well within its right (check out the video below). Not only did Charity serve us wonderful lyrical content, spellbinding vocal riffs and a personality fit for the stage, she also gave us the sound of love.
The entire show was well worth the ticket price and there will be plenty more. I encourage everyone to check out each and every artist that was on the showcase (pictures below) and be on the look out for upcoming ventures from R&B Live Detroit featured here.
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Noel Night is an annual event that takes place around the holiday season every year in Midtown Detroit. The museums are open for extended hours to the public free of charge as well as shops with extended hours to get a jump start on holiday shopping. Street vendors are even within a blocked off section of Woodward in front of The Detroit Institute of Arts for live music, food vendors and patrons to walk uninterrupted by traffic.
This year a special treat was given to us as The Detroit Historical Museum hosted a special evening with Detroit’s burgeoning artist, Monica Blaire. My boyfriend accompanied me on this journey and as we found the auditorium where she was to bless us with her talents, we were happy to see a full house. Seats were packed and the room was warm with holiday cheer as well as the temperature climbing within the compact theater. However, no one was leaving or missing their opportunity to witness another Monica Blaire experience, or a new experience, for that matter.All of a sudden an applause broke out and we turned around to see a beauty walking towards us in a gold sequin tube dress with an ivory sheer flowing to the bottom. Monica’s hair was pulled up in an elegant ponytail showing off her cheekbones that supported a sincere smile. She thanked the audience for being in attendance and then begged our pardon as she removed her heels. That is usually an indication that their is a mutual sense of comfort and we were in for a great performance unhindered by uncomfortable feet.
Ms. Blaire performed songs from her highly acclaimed project, Portraits of Me as well as a sultry mix of diverse holiday songs. Proclaiming, “Detroit, you make me feel special” before her set, it was only fitting for her to open her show with “Special” from her album. Next song was “Promise”, a Luther Vandross remake in honor of her mother who she recalls wearing out his tape. From there we received new material, “Something Great” and an infused reprise as she sang “I’m not scared anymore of being something great” with a bold confidence and a switch in her hips, which afterward she said she refrained from “dropping it like its hot” with children present.
Next was another remake, a symphonic and quaint rendition of Madonna’s “Material Girl”, something you wouldn’t expect from someone dressed like an R&B diva but it only proved a point that there is no box with Monica Blaire. The latter half of the show was full of holiday cheer as Monica sang Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmas Time Is Here” from A Charlie Brown Christmas, and “Someday at Christmas” by Stevie Wonder. She was accompanied by Brandon “Showtime” Bland on keys and LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson on the saxophone and both were a great accompaniment to a delightful evening of feel good music. However, Monica Blaire decided to take the time out to acknowledge the reason for the season and take us to church with an a capella rendition of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow”. Then for a bittersweet end, “Silent Night” was the excellent choice, as she sang to the audience, “You are love. You are peace. You are joy. You are all of these things.” And this may seem cliche’ but I’m sure everyone who left the auditorium that evening felt the exact same way about Monica Blaire.
LiLi: On your bio it reads: thoughts of a humanitarian, philosopher, writer, artist & rebel. Anti-religion, government-hating, extrovert with a kool-aid smile. (laughter)Flaco: (laughs) And there it is! There’s the smile!
LiLi: And there’s the smile! How long ago did you write that? Because I know sometimes we can write our bios and completely forget about it.
Flaco: About a year ago.
LiLi: So that still reigns, true?
LiLi: Yeah, I believe it! So when you call yourself a humanitarian and philosopher, in what aspect?
Flaco: I’m always giving. My brother, his name is Blue, says that’s my gift. I’m a very giving person; people lean on me- literally. And some people see it as people using me but I don’t because I think that’s what we are here for- to be used and to give. I’ve had all sorts of campaigns- some of them I didn’t follow through with but I still did what I felt was right. In ‘08 I had a peace campaign-you tube that- it’s funny and embarrassing but I raised money for awareness to racism and everything. Untitled Bottega just did a breast cancer thing. In October we did the walk and we’re trying to raise money- about two grand for that. I’ve done a lot of things as far as humanitarian stuff is concerned. I’ve been at soup kitchens. I always give to the poor. I love giving to St. Jude’s Hospital. What I have coming up soon is a thing called “Liquor Kills Quicker”. It’s not necessarily just against drunk driving, it’s about the abuse of alcohol in general and how it tears societies and families apart. It’s one of the most addictive things that we have here in the U.S. aside from MSG.
LiLi: (laughs) Aside from MSG! That’s true and very addicting! So, when you say ‘non-religion’, explain that for me.
Flaco: Religion is a doozy. It’s like a systematic belief of what spirituality is. I don’t see how anyone could systematically put something together that they don’t understand. Like, you can’t tell me more about spirituality than the next man can. We all reach a little glass ceiling there because it’s something beyond our knowledge. It’s something that we can’t see, touch, smell, whatever. Like, it’s naked to us- it’s something we can feel. So I don’t think you should have a certain system put together for that or make people feel bad about doing certain things or tell them they’re going to a very bad place if they do ‘this’. You shouldn’t do sadistic things like that.
LiLi: I agree.
Flaco: You know, just do good deeds and always have a good and pure heart. Love!
LiLi: Exactly…everything begins and ends with love. So, would you say that your artwork comes from a spiritual place?
Flaco: Well, yeah…my spirit! (laughs)
LiLi: Of course! (laughs)
Flaco: I’m not a politician, preacher or anything like that. I can’t take the whole world scope and put it into my artwork because I’m not all over the world. I’m just inside of me and how I feel at times. And I can only put down onto my canvas how I feel. Like, I got a painting of Jay-Z right there- I like Jay-z’s music a lot so I painted a picture of Jay-Z. And I show him in this painting like being consumed by all sorts of things. I think of how heavy the crown is and everything that comes with it. Even the things at the bottom trying to bring him down and how he kind of white-washes into existence just because I think the dude’s a legend. I got these other paintings that talk about being consumed with rage or being consumed with fear. Or being consumed with jealousy with that one right there. (points at painting shown below). All my artistry really doesn’t speak on a social standard of everything that’s going on but more-so how I feel about things and how I feel about me, you know?
LiLi: Wow! That’s what’s up! So the Bottega…I know this a space that you use for outreach. What I really like about this spot right here is that it is everything I’m trying to promote with my site. As far as uplifting one another, showing love to those who don’t really have a platform. They can’t make it in Ebony and Jet or they’re not on BET or whatever because they’re local for now, but they have a platform and that’s what I’m trying to give to artists such as yourself. And it’s the same thing here! This is the spot to come during that time of Mixtapes & Pancakes and the artists come out and it is such a homely feeling in here. What inspired you and your business partner to come together for this spot?
Flaco: We’re both creators and what we wanted to do is sort of like what you said but not necessarily to give a platform for the artists but to emancipate the artists. One of our trademark things here is boxes are for the dead- remain untitled. And that is the name of the place, The Untitled Bottega, because you as an artists should just be. You shouldn’t have to change or alter yourself to be something that the public wants you to be. You shouldn’t have to change or alter your artwork so everyone will like it. Just make it the way that you like it and people who like it, will like it and people who don’t like it, don’t. Everyone comes here just to be able to do that.
LiLi: I really, really, really like that! So it’s a monthly thing that you all do?
Flaco: That’s just for Mixtapes & Pancakes, actually that happens every other month. We have another thing called “Untitled Sessions” where its an actual open mic. We just have drinks, not necessarily a whole bunch of food and stuff going on but we have drinks flowing. Everyone comes out and enjoys themselves, hits the open mic and has that same homely feeling…it’s just no pancakes! (laughs)
Flaco: Yeah, it’s something that gets you through until the next Mixtapes & Pancakes or the next art show or whatever. We are always having something new happening in here- we are a very textured place.
LiLi: It is! It’s a lot of different personalities as far as this place right here. It’s not just set for one thing but it can do many, many things.
Flaco: It’s untitled!
LiLi: It’s untitled! Yeah…exactly! As far as artistry period, from painting, writing and spoken word, how long have you been doing it?
Flaco: Second grade. I’ve been drawing since I was in the second grade and writing since forever. At first it was just writing but then I found out about poetry and I started writing in that platform and I’m very well versed in both. It’s not often that you find people who can create in multiple avenues and I’m blessed to be one of those people.
LiLi: That’s what’s up! So have you ever thought about recording or publishing anything?
Flaco: Nah…I mean, as far as I’ll go with publishing, I’m working on a graphic novel right now. It’s a mixture of textured characters and probably as far as I’ll go with publishing. I did a comic book called “Undeathable” and that was fun. The whole thing was just poetry in motion.
LiLi: Ok! Well, I do appreciate you allowing me to take your time and inviting me to The Untitled Bottega! I look forward to coming back and purchasing some artwork as well!
Flaco: Most definitely and thank you for having me!
You can find out about upcoming events at The Untitled Bottega as well as what Flaco has coming up on his website, www.FlacoShalom.com!