Tag Archives: Detroit

Latest exhibit at Lawrence Street has ‘Some Strings Attached”

Stephanie Sokol for Digital First Media

Alice Frank combined her favorite artistic elements — watercolors, fired enamel on metal and stitching — to create unique pieces in her latest exhibit “Some Strings Attached.”

“These works are my own recipe — I have never seen anything like it,”

One of Frank's works, Willy B. Threadbear.

One of Frank’s works, Willy B. Threadbear.

Frank says. “I tried to experiment and see if I could add all the ingredients I enjoy into my paintings, and I am really pleased with my results.”

With this exhibit, she wanted to make something fun and interesting for both herself and observers. Working on multiple pieces at once, she created her works by firing metal as much as 20 or 30 times to achieve certain colors, then working it together with watercolor and stitching.

In addition, this exhibit also showcases fired enamel tabletop sculptures, and fun projects like her homemade string teddy bears with clever names such as Willy B. Threadbear and Vera Threadbear.

This work is unique artistically, and her goal with it is to bring people happiness.

“When people look at my art, I want them to smile,” Frank says. “I think smiling can never be overdone. I want people to feel that the pieces they’re looking at and viewing are things they want to look at a little more.”

Frank said the works in this collection just came to her. Describing her art as “whimsical,” she says inspiration can be triggered by something simple she notices in everyday life, or from the influence of others.

While teaching in Michigan, New York and New Jersey, as well as at Seoul National University in Korea for a year, she has seen different ways of life by visiting new places, and been exposed to different ideas in the art of her students.

“Going to a new place for travel or work, I’m always looking around to see what’s there,” Frank says. “The colors and the light are different. Depending where I am, I might carry my sketch notebook. It could be the way light is shining on a building, or how some dishes in a cafeteria are lined up in a way that they become shapes in my mind. It’s kind of an abstract, difficult thing to explain. I also get a big kick out of watching kids create.”

For Frank, creating art is rewarding and relaxing. She says time flies when she’s working on a piece.

She tries to create her pieces in a way that makes people take a second look, adding details that will be found when someone is paying attention and really taking in the art.

After 25 years exhibiting at the Ann Arbor Art Fairs and other high-end art shows, fighting the elements of Michigan weather, Frank says she now prefers to take her art to smaller, indoor venues.

Recently, she’s shown at the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield with the Michigan Watercolor Society, at Michigan Fine Arts Competition in Bloomfield Hills and OUR TOWN Art show in Birmingham, to name a few.

She has also put her art on display at other places in six to 10 exhibits a year around Michigan and also making home visits to help people decide on the right painting to purchase.

“Art should be a feeling you have in your mind and heart. It should make you feel good about it, whatever it is,” Frank says. “Whether it’s a funny thing or a serious thing, it has to speak to you. I don’t put anything in my shows that doesn’t speak to me, so when it speaks to other people, that gives me a really good feeling.”

“Some Strings Attached” runs Nov. 4-28 at Lawrence Street Gallery, 22620 Woodward Ave., in Ferndale. The opening reception takes place 6-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6, and the mid-month reception is 6-9 p.m. Nov. 20.


Detroit contestant competes on ‘The Price is Right’

Stephanie Sokol  for The Pit

Daytime Emmy Award-winning game show THE PRICE IS RIGHT, hosted by Drew Carey, daytime's #1-rated series and the longest-running game show in television history, celebrates its milestone 8,000th episode, Monday, April 7 (11:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET; 10:00-11:00 AM, PT) on the CBS Television Network.  Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Daytime Emmy Award-winning game show THE PRICE IS RIGHT, hosted by Drew Carey, daytime’s #1-rated series and the longest-running game show in television history. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

Detroit resident Dave Mitchell got a pleasant surprise on a recent trip to Los Angeles. He was in the audience of ‘The Price is Right’ with his 83-year-old mother, when he was called onstage to compete.

“It was fantastic, something I never would have thought I would be a part of,”  Mitchell said. “Getting called onstage with Drew was outstanding. My mom watches the show religiously and we always wanted to get on there. I never dreamed we would actually get on the show, and me being onstage — you’ve got to be kidding. It was breathtaking; my heart was pumping and rushing the hype on the show was unbelievable.”
A former program director from a non profit agency in Detroit, Mitchell said this was a great way to kick off retirement. Everyday at 11 a.m., he tunes in to “The Price is Right.” While visiting his brothers in L.A., himself, his wife, his mother, brother and sister decided to go see it in person.
A big fan of the show, Mitchell said it was a totally different than watching from home— it’s an indescribable experience. This was his first time being on a game show, and while he was a little nervous, David kept his cool, spun the wheel and had a great time.
“(The Price is Right should) keep doing what they’re doing bc the show is awesome,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of excitement and the people were so nice. It’s a process— we were there all day — but it was well worth it. Anybody going out there should make one of their stops at the price is right.”
The episode airs Tuesday, May 13 (11:00 AM-12:00 PM ET10:00-11:00 AM PT) on CBS.

Pixies kick off North American tour after release of 2 EPs

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

The Pixies surprised fans with the release of EPs 1 and 2 in September and January, the first new music from the band after a 20-year recording hiatus.

FROM LEFT: Joey Santiago, Black Francis, David Lovering. Photo/PIXIES

FROM LEFT: Joey Santiago, Black Francis, David Lovering. Photo/PIXIES

“As a magician, I won’t reveal any secrets, but as EP 1 suggested, there might be an EP 2, and EP 2 suggests a possible EP 3. So I’ll just leave it there,” Drummer David Lovering said.

Formed in 1986 in Boston, Mass., Lovering, vocalist Black (Charles) Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago and bassist Kim Deal were the original members of the indie and alternative-rock group.

After years apart, the Pixies began a reunion tour in 2004. What was intended to be one year turned into seven, and eventually the demand from fans led to yet another tour, which went until 2012.

During those years on the road, the Pixies discussed making more music.

“Our management decided, ‘why don’t we just go with an EP rather than just have one big album?’ Our EPs were big surprises as well, and as a magician, I like surprises,” Lovering said. “So I think we discovered a fun way where we were able to do it all ourselves.”

Pixies chose the EP route because they had many songs written and were not on a label, in addition to the reduction of demand for physical album copies. Lovering said the group has been going more digital, and likes hearing from fans via their website.

When it came time to record in June 2013, there was a bump in the road as Deal left the band.  Pixies didn’t let that stand in their way though.

“I think (Kim leaving) had impact as where the three guys, Charles, Joe and I worked a lot harder,” Lovering said.

“We bonded a little more, and Joe and I decided to pick up more vocals,

David Lovering, drummer for the Pixies. Photo/PIXIES

David Lovering, drummer for the Pixies. Photo/PIXIES

because we were lacking Kim. Since we were lacking her vocals, we did double duty on that, just to fulfill the Pixie theme. That was about the only change that I see—a lot more work, and more vocals.”

Writing songs for the album was a Pixies collaboration. Francis did most of the writing, throwing ideas off of other members. The manager told them to produce what they would want their music to sound like, and having not recorded in a long time, they just went with what felt right, according to Lovering.

The group is now on their North American tour, performing works off their older and current albums, with new bassist, Paz Lenchantin. Lovering said they got back into the swing of performing, and after about five shows, are having fun with it.

As far as the new material goes, Lovering said it’s very different, but so were all of the Pixies’ other albums.At shows, he enjoys playing old stuff, including music from Santa Rosa and other earlier albums, as much as songs off the new EPs. Among his favorites are “Indie Cindy,” “Magdelina,” “Vamos” and “The Navajo Know.”

“Indie Cindy is very fun to play because it’s very complicated, and I like complicated, hard things,” Lovering said. “Magdelina’s a nice, groovy new one to play. As far as old material, Vamos is fun, The Navajo Know is fun, I think most of the songs that are really rock are the ones I enjoy playing most.”

Pixies will perform at the Fillmore in Detroit Feb. 8. For Lovering, a favorite part of touring is the food, so he looks forward to stopping at Greektown for a taste of Detroit.

“I think with our new bassist, the rhythm section is kick-ass,” Lovering said. “But Paz is so good, she’s making me play better. Because of that, the rhythm section is very powerful, and we’re sounding better than ever. The vocals are good as well. I think we’re sounding the best that we’ve sounded.”


Southfield resident Malaya Watson sang “Ain’t No Way” for her American Idol Season 13 audition. Watson will advance to the next round. Photo/FOX

Southfield resident Malaya Watson sang “Ain’t No Way” for her American Idol Season 13 audition. Watson will advance to the next round. Photo/FOX

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

It may have been her first time competing, but Michigan musician Malaya Watson, who will advance to the next round of American Idol Season XIII after her performance of “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin on Wednesday night’s episode, said her audition went well.

“At the time it was nerve-wrecking, but it was pretty cool,” Watson said. “I’m very happy with how it went.”

A resident of Southfield, Watson, 16, started singing at age three. In middle school she got more serious with music, and in high school, she realized it was her passion.

“Music really helped me through hard times,” Watson said. “It gives me hope and gets me going—music just helps me through life.”

Watson plays piano, tuba, sousaphone, drums and guitar, and sang in her school’s opera choir, in addition to performing as a vocalist with the Mosaic Youth Theater in Detroit.

To get her solo singing some exposure, Watson began uploading her own songs and covers to her Youtubechannel. Using social media to share her music gained her worldwide exposure, she said.

While she sings a variety of music genres, including pop and classical songs, many works she covered are by one of her favorite artists, Aretha Franklin. Growing up near Detroit and spending time downtown in Hart Plaza, Watson has a love for many music styles made famous in the city, including Motown.

“The music I make—the soul, Motown, funk and stuff—that’s the music I like, and (living near Detroit) really impacted my music style and my musicality,” Watson said.

Songwriting is a process for Watson, who writes songs about whatever is on her mind. She draws inspiration from her own life when making music.

“Usually when I write my own songs, its more of an experience,” Watson said. “You know how some people just write songs to write a song? I usually write songs about of how I feel, or what happened.”

American Idol is a chance to for Watson to give people enjoyment through her singing. Music inspires her, and she said she wants her audience to feel the same way.

Through Idol, Watson said her goal is to use music to succeed, so she can give back to others.

“When I was younger, people would tell me, ‘well you can’t do that.’ Basically, I just want to show people that you can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it,” Watson said.

Indie pick of the week: Derek Atkinson

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

With strong vocals and instrumentation, Derek Atkinson’s music is a grungy blend of reggae and alternative rock, a sound he describes as “Sublime meets Johnny Cash.”

“It’s usually pretty hard to describe my sound, and I hear the same from a lot of people, because it blends so many different musical elements and ideas at once,” Derek said. “I’ve always listened to and experimented with lots of different sounds and styles, and I feel my writing reflects that. I try to keep things upbeat, positive, and constantly moving.”

Derek Atkinson’s sound is a reggae-rock infused “Sublime meets Johnny Cash.” Photo/Derek Atkinson

Derek Atkinson’s sound is a reggae-rock infused “Sublime meets Johnny Cash.” Photo/Derek Atkinson

Born in Chelsea, Mich., music was a big part of Derek’s life growing up. His father played guitar, mother played organ and he and his siblings were exposed to various percussion instruments. He has moved many times throughout the state, to places including Romulus and his current home in Warren.

“Growing up I thought everyone had a music room in their house,” Derek said. “My brother would teach me easy little melodies and riffs on guitar and by the time I was 7 or 8, I had my own.”

Throughout high school, Derek took guitar, piano, drum and vocal lessons, but credits much of his learning to studying the works of other musicians and 8-hour practice sessions after school. During that time, he learned different guitars, bass, drums, banjo, ukulele, percussion and keyboard instruments, eventually taking his performance to the streets.

Today, music remains a big part of Derek’s life. While he works during the day making websites, graphics and doing marketing, Derek puts a lot of time into his music career. He said he shares his music with others to make them feel good.

One of his songs, “Overtime,” was written about a past job, where he worked 50 hours a week, struggling to get by. He knew this was something others could relate to, and shared his sorrow with lyrics “when lunch time comes I punch the clock and hit the door, for an hour off the floor, making it 15 minutes more.”

Another track, “Carried Away,” looks at Derek’s love and passion for music and getting lost in a song. The video features him playing and him singing in the car, one of his “favorite places to get ‘Carried Away’ in music.”

“I’m always inspired by what’s going on around me and I’ve found that the more open and honest I am when I write, the better the songs turn out,” Derek said. “My lyrics are usually about what I’m actually doing or thinking about at the time, usually about music, love, nature, or peaceful existence. I also like using double entendre, plays on words, and saying many things with the least amount of words possible.”

Creative Commons has helped Derek get his music out there to an audience he said may have not otherwise heard it. Recently, Derek has put together his new live band,The Ohmbres. He currently performs in the Detroit area, but will be expanding his tour to Toledo and Chicago in the future.


For more of Derek, visit his website http://derekbatkinson.com/

Follow him on Twitter: @DerekBAtkinson

Detroit native Porcelain Black teases album with live video series

Porcelain Black grew up in Detroit, and will be releasing a series of five live videos with personal intros. Photo courtesy of Porcelain Black

Porcelain Black grew up in Detroit, and will be releasing a series of five live videos with personal intros. Photo courtesy of Porcelain Black

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press

Fans of Detroit native and musician Porcelain Black should know who is behind the music they listen to.

Alaina Marie Beaton, known more commonly by her stage name, began releasing a series of five live performance videos with personal narrative intros on her Youtube channel “PorcelainBlackMusic” last week.

“Coming from Detroit, it’s a very real place,” Black said. “I live in L.A., and it’s just so fake and different. I just feel it’s good for people to know your story and learn about you, to connect with you on more of a person-to-person level, not just like, ‘Look at my fancy videos, look at what I’m doing’ — people can relate to you more and know that you’ve been through things as well.”

The live performances were filmed during a private show at SIR in Hollywood two months ago.

Black said she spent a lot of time figuring out exactly what she wanted to discuss in the intros, and will film the rest in L.A., with each video having a different story.

The first, “Mama Forgive Me,” begins with clips of Detroit, as Black talks about growing up in the city.

She will also add personal intros to “Rich Boy,”  “Pretty Little Psycho,” “How Do You Love Someone” and “One Woman Army,” from her upcoming album “Mannequin Factory,” released through 2101 Records.

While Black sees Marilyn Manson as a musical and visual performance muse, she said Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails is her favorite artist. She considers Reznor a musical genius, though her father got her into music in the first place.

“My biggest inspiration growing up for music was my dad,” Black said. “He would put on Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, AC/DC, Nirvana, and would be like, ‘Who’s playing guitar? Who’s singing?’ He just schooled me on rock ’n’ roll.”

Breaking into the music industry came easy, but the journey that followed required a lot of work. Black was signed immediately when she was 18 and living in L.A. for one week, but she described the next phase as an “uphill battle.”

The industry was tough, and she says she had to be true to herself as an artist, be bold and have respect for her art, though it took a long time from when she was signed to finally releasing this album.

“Everybody’s journey is so different and so crazy,” Black said. “Stay true to your art and what you want to do. Don’t get pigeonholed and don’t get swayed into doing something that you don’t feel proud of and happy about at the end of the day. The industry’s definitely a f—– up place and it’s not easy at all. Only the strongest survive and that’s the way it is — it’s a lot of heartbreak.”

The sound she creates mesh dance music with grunge for a genre she describes as “industrial pop,” with a gritty, strong guitar sound.

“(I wanted to create) good music people like — that touches them. Music that can help people, empower them and make them feel strong,” Black said. “I just really hope (the fans) like it. There are so many musicians out there. I hope people see what I’m doing and that it inspires them to do what they want to do artistically and live out their dreams.”


Motor City Tap Fest hopes to have crowds moving their feet in Detroit this week

Stephanie Sokol for The Oakland Press

Dancers of all levels can shuffle over to Wayne State University’s campus for the sixth annual Motor City Tap Fest, hosted by Clarkston native Denise Caston, Aug. 15-17.

Denise Caston hosts Motor City Tap festival. Courtesy Photo.

Denise Caston hosts Motor City Tap festival. Courtesy Photo.

“We have classes for just about anybody,” Caston said. “The saying is, ‘if you can walk, you can tap dance’ — if you can make your way to Detroit for the tap fest, there’s something there for you.”

A former Radio City Rockette, Caston started Motor City Tap Fest in 2008 with her friend and fellow tap dancer Jennifer Miller from Rochester. Both are alumna of Oakland University’s dance program, and were reunited when Miller found Caston’s dance company flier and called for a class.

Though both have toured internationally, the dancers said Detroit is home and they want to bring the tap crowd here.

“Tap festivals happen all over the world, everywhere from Taiwan to Australia, Stockholm and Barcelona,” Caston said. “Motor City Tap Fest has definitely put Detroit on the map as a destination for tap dancers. I’ve had tap dancers come from Europe and around the continental U.S. and Canada. It feels really great to bring all these people down to the heart of Detroit (who) might not otherwise come down and experience it.

FYI: Motor City Tap Fest is Aug. 15-17 at the Wayne State University Campus at 42 W. Warren Ave. Tappy Hour takes place at Motor City Wine at 608 Woodward Ave, Detroit. The Masters of Tap Concert takes place at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. For more information on the camps, visit www.motorcitytapfest.com; to purchase tickets to the show, visit the Tap Fest website or www.dso.org.

Tappy Hour at Motor City Wine kicks off on the first day of the event,

Photo Courtesy of Motor City Tap Fest. Photo/Motor City Tap Festival

Photo Courtesy of Motor City Tap Fest. Photo/Motor City Tap Festival

providing an opportunity for adults to have a cocktail and learn some dance moves from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Motor City Tap fest is a nonprofit organization with need-based scholarships available to cover camp tuition.

This year’s festival features three days of master classes with nationally renowned tap artists, Caston said. Each day commences with a free stretch class. Dance lessons range from beginner to advanced levels for dancers of all ages, including improvisation courses and tap lessons.

On the final day, students who participate in all master classes by honoree Bob Sheerer will perform in the Masters of Tap Concert at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Orchestra Hall.

The students will be joined onstage by tap faculty comprising dancers from around the world, with music performed by Skeeto Valdez’s The Mighty Funhouse Band.

“Tap dancing always brings joy to others,” Miller said. “I’ve never seen anyone watch a tap dance and be angry or frustrated. Anytime I see anyone watch tap dancing, it always brings a smile to their face.”