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Cover Story

Rock 'n' roll high

Times are low and money's tight but Detroit will always be a fist-pumping musical force to be reckoned with

Photos: Doug Coombe
On the cover (clockwise from left): Ryan Allen, Julian Spradlin, Vince Mazolla, Loretta Lucas, Jeffrey Thomas, Fluent, Matt Smith, Aran Ruth, Leah Diehl, Aaron Diehl, Ben Collins, Mick Bassett, Alia Allen, Lizzie Wittman, Julie Lucas.
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Published 3/4/2009

Wow! Can you believe it's been 12 years of musical mayhem and brilliance? Once again, Hamtramck is converted into "Rock City Central," as Metro Times proudly presents the largest local music festival in the country ... and thanks to the diligent work of producer Eve Doster Knepp, Blowout 12 may be shaping up to be the best one yet. God knows, Detroit can certainly use it this year.

The economy may be in the toilet, our 401K plans and stock holdings are dwindling down to nothing ... but thank God, unlike those stocks and mutual funds, great music never loses its value, at least on an emotional level. And Blowout 12 at least promises plenty of that.

The various profiles on the following pages only touch the tip of the proverbial iceberg at this year's festival — although great musical acts, such as Matt Jones and Lies Unknown, do comprise one helluva powerful tip. But we don't have the space to cover many of this year's other highlights, including Saturday Looks Good To Me frontman Fred Thomas flying into town for a one-off with his new band, City Center; or the zany Gepetto Files presenting a puppet show with a decidedly Blowout/Metro Times theme (should we be afraid?); or Friendly Foes and rapper SMOKE making official the crazy impromptu jam session that started at last year's Blowout. And then there's WDET experimental fave, Alan Scheurman. Local blog-made star Deastro. A new band, the Plain Dealers, featuring former members of New Granada and Thunderbirds Are Now! And on and on it goes. The mind simply boggles at the local talent on display.

Accordingly, this year's Blowout cover — by the always-awesome Doug Coombe — gives a Detroit thrust to the whole, age-old "Rock 'n' Roll High School" concept, featuring, as a big musical metaphor, many local "superstars," both present and future, booked for this year's fest (even if they haven't been given editorial coverage here) and illustrating the eclectic mix one can find at Blowout. One thing's certain: There couldn't be a better teacher than Matthew Smith; check out the feature on rising teen sensations the Crooks, if you need further proof.

So enjoy yourself. It's your music festival, after all, Detroit. So make of it as you will. If, in the words of the ageless Ramones, you just wanna have some kicks and get some chicks, we're sure that can be accomplished as well.

P.S. And don't forget tonight's opening party at the Majestic Theatre complex, including appearances by Outrageous Cherry (featuring the aforementioned Mr. Smith), Electric Fire Babies, Silverghost and the Meatmen, among others. —Bill Holdship, Music Editor

Jonesin' for song
by Brian Smith
One Michigan dude every music fan should know about. Period.

Big Diehl pop
by Brett Callwood
Lightning Love's Leah Diehl on pop music, the scene, Stollsteimer and — whisper it — Lazersharkz

R.E.S.P.E.C.T
by William E. Ketchum III
Fluent's out to prove heavier ties between poetry and hip hop, and earn some respect along the way

The kids are alright
by Bill Holdship
The Crooks could be Detroit's 'next big thing' ... and they’re barely old enough to shave

Angelic upstarts
by Brian Smith
A handful of the young, loud and scientific!

Blowout Map and Schedule (pdf)
Reviews of the bands, entire event schedule and map.

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