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Concert Reviews:
Detroit Super Session Lights Up Concert Of Colors

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2008

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DETROIT -- The annual Concert of Colors specializes in bringing music from around the world to town for one of the most eclectic music festivals on the planet.

But spotlight for the 16th installment of the event deservedly shined on some home town heroes.

Grammy Award-winning producer Don Was, the Oak Park-raised co-founder of the band Was (Not Was), came home on Sunday (July 20) to present the Detroit Super Session at the Max M. Fisher Music Center. The 90-minute revue waved the Detroit flag proudly, with 13 mostly memorable performances that surveyed 45 years of Motor City music, from early rock favorite Mitch Ryder and avant jazz saxophonist Faruq Z Bey to the literally fresh-faced exuberance of the Muldoons, whose sibling guitarists are 14 and 11 years old.

The Super Session was not without hitches -- most notably a woefully inadequate sound system and the absence of MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, who was flown into town from California and even rehearsed "Kick Out the Jams" but chose not to perform at the show for personal reasons. But what did take place on stage Sunday mitigated any possible disappointments.

The easygoing Was (ne Fagenson) enjoyed plenty of stage time himself during the evening, leading a house band that featured Was (Not Was) members Randy Jacobs on guitar and Luis Resto on keyboards and Sun Messengers drummer Terry Thunder. Sporting a Detroit Pistons jersey underneath his sports coat, the dreadlocked Was also guested on bass for the Muldoon's "Chubby Bunny" and the Detroit Cobras' version of Garnet Mimms' "As Long as I Have You." The late '70s punk group the Ramrods, meanwhile, reunited to perform "Walk on the Wire," with singer Mark Norton, who flew in from Colorado, giving Concert of Colors organizers a fit by jumping atop and dancing on a grand piano used by other acts.

And Dirtbombs frontman Mick Collins gave up on off-day between tour stops to cook through the soulful rocker "Stop" with the house band

Other highlights included Lola Morales' Latin-flavored "Enciemdeme," the R&B/rock group Black Merda's funky "Cynthy Ruth" and the Sisters Lucas flowing from "Thinking of You" into "Rollercoaster." The hip-hop group Black Bottom Collective struck a hearty groove on "L-O-V-E," while John Sinclair's spoken-world blues rave-up "The Screamers" was spiced by Jeff Grand's guitar solo. Was (Not Was) singer Donald Ray Mitchell sang a gentle, moving version of the group's "From the Head to the Heart," and Resto's solo spot, with Vinnie Dombroski (Sponge, Crude, the Orbitsuns) on drums, used Eminem's Academy Award-winning "Lose Yourself" (which Resto co-wrote) to lead into his own "Just So You Don't Die Alone."

Ryder closed the night with a rendition of Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," but by that time the real start of the Super Session was Detroit itself, whose rich musical history was ably captured and saluted by Was and his cohorts.

All of Sunday's Detroit Super Sessions were filmed and will be up soon on Was' Wasmpolitan Cavalcade of Recorded Music web site on My Damn Channel (www.mydamnchannel.com).

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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