Last Wednesday brought the U.S. Social Forum to the Magic Stick . It was a night of progressive, socially minded entertainment. Detroit was on hand to cover the variety of acts that graced the stage. They ranged from stellar to moving to just plain weird. But it sure didn't get boring.
First up was a Detroit band called Cold Men Young . Their style could be described as hardcore hiphop in that it was delivered with a sort of fire and intensity similar to hardcore rap acts (i.e. NWA), but the lyrics diverged from the standard postering of rap to touch on subjects like failed relationships, love, and friendship.
Anthemic and memorable the band was like Run DMC with more energy, or like a more hip-hop themed Cypress Hill and drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd. The band was also a culturally diverse outfit, which was nice to see.
Pic : Cold Men Young, live @ the Magic Stick in Detroit
Of the acts of the evening, Cold Men Young was probably the most impressive. We strongly encourage you to check out and support these outstanding musicians whenever you can. Their music is the kind of stuff they *should* play on the radio.
After Cold Men Young, David Blair hit the stage.
Blair, a 36-year-old Detroit-based singer-songwriter and poet, hit the Magic Stick’s stage with a charisma that was true to the Detroit spirit. He was passionate with his poetry about human hardship and the success that rises from struggle, and played an acoustic set of both original cover songs.
Pic: David Blair, a poet/musician, jams out @ the Magic Stick in Detroit
Blair was a musician long before he wrote poetry. His interest in music started when he was a child singing in the Mount Cavalry Baptist Church in New Jersey. He grew up listening to artists like Chuck Berry and Hank Williams, but he’ll tell you that Queen and Stevie Wonder are the two artists that have influenced him the most.
He has been nominated for seven Detroit Music Awards, awarded The Metro Times’ Best Urban Folk Poet, Real Detroit Weekly’s Best Solo Artist and Seattle-based BENT Writing Institute Mentor Award. In addition, his band, The Boyfriends, recently released their album The Line on Repeatable Silence Records.
Poetry came into Blair’s life unexpectedly when he won the National Poetry Slam Team Championship in 2002. Since then, he has released his first book of poetry called “Moonwalking,” teaches poetry and music classes in Detroit Public Schools, a featured poet on the January 2005 HBO Def Poetry Jam, toured the United States and Europe and has performed with several famous acts such as Wilco, Cat Power, Michael Moore and his favorite, Stevie Wonder.
Some of his most notable covers that night were songs by Ben Harper and The Beatles. These are two huge artists to live up to, but Blair did them justice with his soulful, melodic vocals and expert-level skills on his 6-string. Blair truly is a talented and respectable artist with great love and passion for his trade.
Some time later a man stepped up on the stage waving a book. He provoked the crowd "People talk about crazy like its a bad thing. But crazy people never hurt anyone. I'm a little crazy."
Indeed that proved a rather apt assessment as this individual — John Trudell . He launched into a long and raving speech that appeared to vaguely have some sort of message about approaching life with energy and love.
Pic: John Trudell lets loose @ the Magic Stick in Detroit
However, the message was so confused under layer after layer of crushing overplayed metaphors that it was at times almost painful to follow. Some people, though, (perhaps the more intoxicated members of the crowd) were extremely enthusiastic about the performance.
Trudell filled us in about how the human mind is full of "toxic waste" and "if we can refined uranium we can refine human energy". Don't ask us what that means. Supposedly Trudell is an award winning poet. We wonder who, in their right mind would give him an award, if he spewed out this kind of nonsense stream back then.
While it was kinda scary to see some people taking Trudell's rant seriously, it was a somewhat amusing performance. Even if it did make our heads hurt a bit.
In the end the USSF social forum was a quirky and ecletic mix of content, that would be nice to see more of in Detroit. And it ultimately was working for some good causes, so it was hard to not love this event.