Appreciating Art from Detroit to Chicago

WGlasshouse —  June 26, 2013 — Leave a comment

IMG 20130622 010512 579It’s been quite an eventful week I have had, and reflecting has got me feeling like I need to capture the moment for personal and public service. It was a week full of appreciation for music, culture, and the humanity that creates it. Something about this time we are living in seems to have spiked the creative juices of society, and I am soaking it up like the summer sun.

My journey began last weekend in Chicago, where I saw some amazing artistry while I was enjoying a much needed mini-vacation. Saturday night was a night I will never forget. It was an event called The Freakeasy, it was a private roof top party thrown by the Chicago based group of “Burning Man” participants. A quote from their website explains: “The Freakeasy is a multi media immersive collaboration of various art and performance mediums based out of Chicago.” It was a vibe unlike I have ever witnessed. Underground yet inviting, incredibly artistic yet supremely unpretentious, this was my experience. The people were friendly and full of life. The art was amazing, from live sculpting to fire breathing, and even fully suspended interpretive dancing. The music was equally as inspiring. Chicago house, with a deepness that felt fresh but a groove that felt legendary. This gathering was also a birthday party for DJ Duke Shin, and his set was my favorite. It captured the essence of the night and it just felt perfect. He weaved the energy of the crowd into the speakers and omitted a vibration that cannot be described, only experienced. Huge thanks to The Freakeasy Chicago crew for a truly proper night. For more info on this inspiring group of artists visit their website here.

On to Sunday night in Chicago and one of my new favorite places in the world, Kingston Mines. At first I was apprehensive at the promise of live music until 4 am every night of the week, with a strict cover charge. But as soon as I walked in, that apprehension turned to appreciation, for the Blues. I know this is the Detroit Techno House, but there’s something to be retained and emulated about true live music, and how that can manifest itself in the digital world we fawn over presently… Most music created today is a shadow or a whisper of something that was already done, and that’s not a bad thing, it just is. It’s not to say that things aren’t original or genuine, but music has always been a comprehensive thing, and live music certainly was the foundation. That is why I feel this is relevant. Kingston Mines is a two sided bar (think TV lounge, with more wood) with different bands alternating sets on the separate stages. One band would end and the next would start in the opposite room, the entire space connected by a central bar. Genius, I tell you. The music was pure emotion and it struck me deeply. It really hit me seeing these Chicago born musicians giving their all on stage for about 50 people at 3 in the morning, on a Sunday night. The owners daughter even explained to me… “These people do this because it is their life and they love it, not for money because they don’t make a lot.” It reminded me of Detroit music, whether it be Jazz, Soul, Techno, House, or any form of art that takes a lot more than it gives back. It was inspiring and wonderful, Kingston mines is something I recommend to everyone who visits Chicago.

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I headed back to Detroit just in time for the weekly electronic music event I host at Grasshopper in Ferndale on Wednesday nights. Norm Talley and Bruce Bailey would provide the headlining talent, and myself and DTH editor Chris Macom would provide the opening set. This night was special because of the true Detroit vibe. Lots of seasoned veterans of the scene were out to show support for this show, and it was a beautiful thing. Bruce started off with some deepness that escalated to things that almost sounded like techno, and he did it flawlessly. Bruce is a treat to watch, such a professional. Norm did what Norm does, kill it! That’s all I can say, hopefully you were there to see it. If not, see the video at the end for a small taste.

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Friday would be a rare day off for Mr. Glasshouse, and I was determined not to let it go to waste. My goal was to see DJ Qbert, a legend of the scratch DJ community that any true turntablist should see before they die. This would be my first time, and it would continue my week of epic experiences. At the very beginning of his set he got on the mic and said “I’m just gonna scratch all night, if that’s cool with you…?” We all shook our heads with anticipation. What he did then was blow my mind for 2 solid hours. Some of the sounds didn’t even seem possible to make with a needle and a piece of vinyl, and the rhythm and timing he displayed was nothing short of spectacular. Sure, there were moments of humanity where he would actually lose the beat or skip the needle, but they were always followed up by a trick or a scratch sequence that would literally prompt the whole crowd to give an applause break in the middle of a beat. He even played B-boy Records for the break dancers that came out, and there were some sweet moves being dropped in a proper circle all night. It was one of the vibes you just felt lucky to be a part of. I managed to catch my favorite part of Qbert’s set on video, so please check that out below. It’s well worth the 2 minutes of life you will spend.

Sunday night would end my amazing week with a trip to Harmonie Park in Downtown Detroit, where the free 3-day electronic music festival “Tec-Troit” was happening. Terrence Parker was one of the standouts, and the small shaded-park setting was perfect for a classic TP set. He dropped Good Life and Spastik, Billie Jean, and Planet Rock. He scratched in some acapellas, and made the crowd come alive. Check out the video below from some of the freshness. Tec-Troit gets my vote for being a cool event with great music located in historic German Town of Detroit. If you ever have some time I strongly recommend stopping through Harmonie Park for a quick history lesson about the early settlers of Detroit. As I came to find out, many of the first settlers of the Motor City were German musicians and artists.

I would round out the night with a short trek to the Detroit River for the River Days Festival. The Riverfront was alive with people, and the family-friendly vibe of the festival was very welcoming. I am pleased to say that the Riverfront project is a development that has increased the stock of Detroit, and can only help to bring more business and culture back downtown. After seeing the beautiful artwork that was brought in for the festival I managed to catch the closing act of River Days, George Clinton and The P Funk All Stars. The band was amazing, and even though George has seen younger days, he still has a bright and magnetic energy that pleased the crowds of funk-loving Detroiters. They played the hits and reminded us of a time when innovative live music was still being invented, and electronic music was barely a toddler.

It was a week that involved live music, electronic music, 2 cities, and 1 feeling. That feeling was appreciation. It is times like these when the fan in me comes back out to appreciate things that inspire on a truly primal level. They inspire me to be a better artist myself, but even more so, they inspire me to appreciate the efforts of the human on their endless quest for expression. We are lucky if we ever have one artistic experience that perfectly relays an emotion we have felt, or a moment we have lived within. To have so many beautiful and genuine artists across the world, willing to pour out their hearts for our witness is a blessing in my book. This expression of life crosses all genres and art forms and it combines to make the world we live in a better place. So here’s a giant THANK-YOU, to the magical people of this world.

WGlasshouse

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Walter Glasshouse is a DJ, Writer and Promoter from Detroit, Michigan. Follow him on Twitter @DJGlasshouse and at www.facebook.com/walterglasshouse. He runs a monthly at the Grasshopper in Ferndale, and he loves showcasing Detroit's unique talent base. His DJ sets go all the way from house music to trip-hop, and it's all done with soul and turntablism. Walter also performs as an emcee under the name AudioLogical . He's a little busy, but he loves to write and share his love for music here.
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