He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
Monday, July 20, 2009
I can't believe I'm going to start off this blog with a Michael Jackson conversation but I frequently look at the music charts that Billboard puts out on a weekly basis and thought it was interesting to note that 10 of the top 50 songs on the European singles chart this week belong to the King Of Pop, including reissues of Man In The Mirror, Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Dirty Diana and Black & White. He also holds 8 of the top 10 albums (4 more in top 50) with only the Black Eyed Peas (#4) and Lady Gaga (#10) competing. The new greatest hits collection Stripped Remixes debuts at #95 on the US Billboard 200. I still find it amazing the hold that Michael has on the music world at large. Do you wonder how big Michael could have been if he didn't become so weird it the mid-90's and just focused on music instead of everything else?
Speaking of notable deaths briefly again with the passing of Walter Cronkite, I thought I should bring up a few lesser known people who passed away this week that don't get the mentions in the press. Famed voice actor Dallas McKennon should get some mention due to what he meant for generations of kids as the voice behind such famed characters as Gumby, Archie Andrews and Buzz Buzzard in the Woody Woodpecker cartoons. He also did voices for a ton of Disney movies including Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and Mary Poppins to name a few. He also provided the voices for many Disney Attractions such as the famous Big Thunder Mountain Railroad safety spiel, Ben Franklin's voice in Epcot's American Adventure and the voice of Zeke in the Country Bear Jamboree. For music fans, Gordon Waller died of a heart attack at the age of 64. He is one half of the famed duo Peter & Gordon who had a number of hits with such songs as “A World Without Love”, “ I Go To Pieces” & “Lady Godiva”.
To move on to happier topics, I had the pleasure to have a brief tour of the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant which is a part of Detroit automotive history. The plant is the first building that was built and owned by the Ford Motor Company.
During 1907, two things happened in this building. First, Ford set the world's record for car production when they assembled 110 cars in 10 hours and set the groundwork for the moving assembly line. Second, in a room at the northwest corner of the third floor, Henry Ford and a small team of dedicated engineers developed the Model T which helped establish Ford as the biggest car manufacturer in the world and this was where the first 12,000 Model T's were made before they moved to the new headquarters in Highland Park.
Henry Ford spent the time to listen to his customers and had his dealerships report back to him what the American public wanted in their cars. He then took the info about what they liked and disliked about the Model N and fashioned the Model T which was an affordable car that went on to change the way American's traveled. I talked with Jerry Mitchell of the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex who was fundamental to preserving the building which I believe is the only remaining historic factory in Detroit. The building is very unassuming with it's rusted hinges and peeling paint but you can feel the history while walking through the building and they have a number of cars from private owners which are on display throughout the building. My favorite part of the tour was the third floor where they have a bunch of Model T's that show the diversity of the car. Henry Ford wanted his car to help the avaerage farmer and we can see cars that were adapted into tractor's, snowmobiles, fire trucks and race cars. They even liked their speed back then in the 20's. Even though it was abandoned by Ford, the building maintained a long history of automotive significance as the home of Studebaker for a number of years as well as being owned by 3M Corporation to built parts and the Cadillac Overall Company which made uniforms for their staff. Today, you can go on tours between 10AM-4PM every 1st and 3rd Saturday through October or you can schedule your own tour during the week by calling 313-872-8759.
If you love cars or Detroit's history, this is a building you need to check out. You can get more info at www.tplex.org . I will be playing the interview with Jerry on my Sat morning radio show on WXOU soon so keep track of my schedule on www.myspace.com/wildatheart_13 for when that will air.
I had a great time this past week at the various concerts I went to including Tom Jones, a wonderful Green Day show (I still prefer the music of other punk bands but their live show is incredible from bring fans onstage to sing and play guitar on songs to the pyrotechnics), the wonderful blues artist Vieux Farka Toure who rocked the Concert Of Colors and the hits of Orchestra (ELO). The highlight for me though was the talk and performance at the Henry Ford with the one and only star of country and rock-n-roll Wanda Jackson.
During the interview before her performance she talked about her time with Elvis who she states was “a truly southern gentleman” and was impressed that he would take the time to give her suggestions to move vocally into rock-n-roll and to share records he loved while visiting her at her house (of course she makes sure to mention that her parents were in the house at the time). Her dad toured with her and didn't mind her an Elvis (who dated for a year after giving her his ring) taking her out for a hamburger or to see a picture show. Ah yes, the simpler times. She got the Elvis tour when her father, who was a barber and knew nothing about touring, read Billboard and found the name of Bob Kneale who he called and was luckily looking for a female artist to tour with this new up and coming talent (Elvis). Wanda said they always tried to get one female on a tour at the time. After, she broke up with Elvis, she kept his advice and recorded rockabilly for a number of years but eventually gave it up because the radio stations would play her country songs but not her rock songs. She says she has no regrets but it is a shame because she had such a great voice for those types of songs. While she admits to not knowing enough of today's female singers to give her opinions on their talent, she did give advice to an aspiring female singer, Jessica, in the audience. She simply asked “Can you rock? That's all you need to know.” which seems so simple but so true. She also recommended knowing how to play guitar for a better understanding of music and saying she stopped for a bit when she though the guitar was covering up her best assets. Gotta love the chick. Hopefully she will come around again since while she is older, her voice is still strong as ever.
Also, don't forget to check out the Rock Star, Cars and Guitars exhibit at the Henry Ford. My favorite cars are the purple 1953 Buick Skylark owned by James Hetfield of Metalica, the 1965 Porsche Cabriolet Super 356c owned by Janis Joplin and painted in psychedelic designs and the 1963 Buick Riviera owned by Jimmie Vaughn with it's paint job that changes from green to gold depending on the light. My favorite guitars are the 1963 Merle Travis Model played by Merle Travis, the “Axe” played by Gene Simmons of KISS and the “Messenger” played by Mark Farmer of Grand Funk fame. It's a nice exhibit so check it out.
Don't forget the the Detroit Historical Museum has free admission during July and I found out this does include the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. On July 26th, between 1-4PM, the Detroit Historical Society is throwing a birthday party for Detroit which will be 308 years old. Their will be Native American dancing and people can trace their family tree. Most importantly, their will be cake! What is a party without cake?
Julie Powell will be at the Border's bookstore in Birmingham at 7PM on July 21st. She is the author of the book “Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen” which was recently made in the movie 'Julie and Julia' starring my babe Amy Adams along with Meryl Streep. The book is about Julie and her needing something to break the monotony of her life. She decides to take her mother's beat-up copy of Julia Child's 1961 classic, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," and cooks all 524 recipes in the span of just one year. I will be interviewing her tomorrow so look for next week's blog for some quotes and my radio show at WXOU 88.3FM (www.wxou.org) for when I will air the interview.
Here is an overview on upcoming concerts which took my eye starting with Tuesday (7/21). The Wilco show at the Royal Oak Music Theatre is sold out but you can still get tickets to see the garage rock band the Datsuns & Silverghost @ Majestic Cafe or see musical history for the 3rd Hippiefest @ Pine Knob w/Mountain, the Turtles, the Rascals & Badfinger. On Wednesday (7/22) there is alt country singer Neko Case w/Jason Lytle (of Grandaddy) @ the Crofoot, classic rockers Marshall Tucker Band w/Georgia Satellites and Atlanta Rhythm Section @ Pine Knob, local jazz great Dennis Coffey @ Northern Lights Lounge and Nadir's Distorted Soul @ Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak. Thursday (7/23) –see jazz/R&B great Al Jarreau @ Phoenix Plaza Amphitheater, folk star Gordon Lightfoot @ Meadowbrook Theatre, Motown legend Smokey Robinson (sans Miracles) @ Pine Knob or local fav I Crime @ PJ's Lager House. This Friday (7/24) has the new Jack White band, the Dead Weather @ the Fillmore, rockers Def Leppard w/Cheap Trick @ Pine Knob, blues guy Tinsley Ellis @ Callahan's and the Rationals CD release party @ Magic Bag w/Howling Diablos. Saturday (7/25) has the Veils w/Foreign Born @ Pike Room (lead singer Finn Andrews of the Veils is the son of XTC founding member Barry Andrews), a night of classic soul with the O'Jays, Delfonics, Jerry Butler and others @ Fox Theatre or R&B singer Keith Sweat w/Avant @ Freedom Hill. You know, I could find nothing to recommend for Sunday but Monday (7/27) has Jackson Browne @ Meadowbrook Theatre.
That seems to be all right now. Tune in next week for movie reviews for the new Japanese film “Departures” and the war film “Hurt Locker”. See you next week.
Lastly, remember Sugar Ray who hit the charts with the song "Fly" as well as "Every Morning" and "Someday". They are playing the Emerald Theatre on July 28th and the first person to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org will be hooked up with a pair of tickets.