He has a radio program on WXOU out of Oakland University
Wild At Heart
It has been a busy week and I'm sitting here watching "Celebrity Apprentice" as Cyndi Lauper leads her team in a win over the guys as they have to make over an aspiring country musician (Cyndi's team - Emily West; Rocksolid led by wrestler Bill Goldberg - Luke Bryan). It is weird seeing Bret on the show as he was recently rushed to the hospital with an "excruciating" headache. I have really started to respect him after seeing him on the show, esp the love he has for his family so I hope he gets better soon. He was supposed to be coming here with Lynyrd Skynyrd this summer and I wonder if that will still happen. Get well Bret!
I went to a couple of completely different types of plays this week which I am excited to talk about. Starting with a controversial play, we have the newest Fisher Theatre production "Spring Awakening". Originally written in 1891 Germany by Frank Wedekind, it concerns a group of teenagers who are discovering the inner and outer tumult of sexuality. The original play was banned in Germany for almost a century because it dealt with many controversial issues such as masturbation, abortion, rape, bondage, child abuse and suicide. In the updating, the score was adapted into a rock musical with music by Duncan Sheik and a book and lyrics by Steven Sater. With everything the story tries to accomplish, the main focus is between 2 characters. First we have Wendla, a young girl who wonders where babies come from but her mother won't tell her. Next is Melchior who is headstrong, handsome, and charismatic and reads a lot as well as well have a atheistic leaning. Wendla and Melchoir become soulmates in a way and get involved in a relationship that is doomed from the start in a way that seems to have connections to "Romeo & Juliet". Parents and teachers in the play are well meaning but the strong presence of German standards keep them rigid in the thoughts and disciplines. Like the character of Moritz, Melchior's insecure best friend whose dreams of women haunt him to the point that he is too afraid to fall asleep. The teachers try to hold him back and in the end help light the fuse which leads to his suicide which signals the breaking down of the main duo's relationship. If you enjoy serious issue plays like "Rent", this is the type of musical for you. You need to be open to the hard life issues and brief nudity to enjoy this production. It is also non-traditional is that the actors do have microphones to rock out some of the numbers which I almost wish wasn't part of the production. I thought the first half of the production was a bit unshuffled but the show really comes together in the second half when they pay more focus to the relationship between Wendla and Melchoir and what Moritz's death means to their future. My grade is a B+.
A safer bet for more traditional fans is "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", currently playing at Meadowbrook Theatre, which is a song recorded by Neil Sedaka and is considered to be his signature song and was a huge number one hit for him. Of course it was one of the many songs loved by fans and this musical brings out a lot more of them including "King Of Clowns", "Calendar Girl", "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Next Door To An Angel". On the Honeymoon weekend for Marge, her fiancee left her at the altar and she was dragged to the Catskill retreat by her best friend Lois (the very energetic Andrea Mellos) to help forget him. The stage is set up like the stage of a resort where we hear singer Del Delmonaco performing. A telegram comes in informing us that Bandstand is sending a rep to hear him sing and if they like him, have him perform on the show. Lois gets Del to consider having her and Marge singing backup while also showing Marge some attention to make her feel better. We also have the comic relief jokemeister Harvey, the elderly widow owner Esther and the maintenance guy (Gabe). After Marge finds out Gabe is the real songwriting talent and that Del was only being nice to her because of his career, she plots with Lois to see Gabe gets the real opportunity to wow the Bandstand group. The show is along the lines of the Gem's "Marvelous Wonderettes" as being a fluffy piece geared towards an audience that love's the nostalgia for oldies music. What makes this a bit different is hearing some of the arrangements, esp hearing the girls sing some of the songs, and that makes it a bit more exciting than usual. The whole cast does a wonderful job performing the songs and making the most of the material. Shakespeare it's not, but it is a lot of fun so get tickets early. If the audience tonight was any indication, they might have a few sold out shows down the road so go to www.mbtheatre.com for more information. My grade is an A.
I also just finished reading "Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway" by Cherie Currie which is a memoir of her teen years revolving around her dysfunctional family life, her struggles with drugs and alcohol, sexual abuse and her days with The Runaways. While not at the level of wackiness as Motley Crue's "Dirt", this book gives a very unique perspective of a young female rock artist dealing with a male dominated industry. The book was the inspiration for the new movie "The Runaways" which after reading it, makes me understand why Joan is so predominant in the movie compared to the other girls. While she respected Sandy and had this love/hate thing with Lita, she seemed to form a very strong bond with Joan. And with the book being written by Cherie about her life, maybe the movie title can be misleading and lead to some false expectations. A lot of the things in the movie are taking, sometimes out of order, from the book. The book does a good job talking about the seriousness of some strong issues like Cherie's growing dependence on drugs, the tensions in the band due to Foley's focus on Cherie's image and their constant schedule with no real breaks, a couple of rapes that happened to Cherie and looking at the imperfections of her family life esp her father's alcoholism. There are some shining moments also like their tour of Japan, Cherie's first movie "Foxes" and finally giving up drugs and becoming an artist. I'm not much on these type of books but it kept me captivated from start to finish much like "Dirt". Maybe it's because I had just met Cherie (who autographed the book for me), but her story is a nice look at an industry I love. I have DJ'd for about 20 years on college radio and I do interview bands so to see the realism of what can happen between trying to get deals finalized, the real pressures of touring which as fans we think must be glamorous but often aren't and the stress it can have on one's life which causes you to do things you otherwise might not. If you love rock music or just a runaways fan, this is must reading but I also recommend it to those who deal with women's issues. My grade is a A-.
Speaking of music touring, here are some shows I'd like to recommend for the week:
Tuesday (4/27) ex-Dire Straits singer/guitarist Mark Knopfler @ Michigan Theatre, Japanese zaniness with Peelander-z w/Macrame Tiger @ Magic Stick, Angels & Airwaves @ Fillmore
Wednesday (4/28) The Apples In Stereo @ Pike Room, punk rock legends Public Image Ltd (PiL) @ Crofoot
Thursday (4/29) Owl City w/Lights @ Royal Oak Music Theatre (sorry sold out)
Friday (4/30) local band Blackberry Brandy and others @ Green Street Fair in Downtown Plymouth, "Great Smoke Out" w/local bands (Silverghost, The Hentchmen, Gardens and Dutch Pink) @ Magic Stick, local band Darling Imperial putting on an acoustic set @ Vernors Room, Ann Arbor's Down the Line @ the Ark
Saturday (5/01) The Verve Pipe play @ Green Street Fair in Downtown Plymouth, Regina Carter and a full line-up of jazz greats for the "Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour" @ Detroit Music Hall, Windsor's own rockers Ashes of Soma @ the Ritz
Sunday (5/02) the country styles of the Claire Lynch Band @ the Ark, Porcupine Tree @ The Fillmore, Tantric @ the Emerald
Band Of The Week: While looking for an artist of the week, I started playing this wonderful tune "(I'd Like The" Whole Wide World" by Wreckless Eric and figured I would have to spotlight him this week. He was one of the original Stiff Records artists along with Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Ian Dury which was known for catchy slogans as "If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck" and "When You Kill Time, You Murder Success". Wreckless Eric is known as a singer/songwriter but quickly became disheartened by Stiff Records attempts to team him with other writers and musicians. He dropped out of sight but continued to write songs and performing in underground bars. He is currently touring with his talented wife Amy Rigby (who used to be married to dB's drummer Will Rigby and was part of the Shams). See them when they come to town on June 24th at the Majestic Cafe.
Have a good week and for those who haven't returned your Census forms yet, I'll be seeing you personally.