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March 29, 1996 - Image 93

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-03-29

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Packing Up
His Bag


a policy that provides
DDA funds to busi-
nesses undergoing
exterior renovations.
Haberman is taking
advantage of the pro-
vision as he replaces
the Magic Bag's mar-
quee and repaints
the building.
But perhaps most
notably, Milgrom
took Deja Vu, a
seedy nude dancing
club, that was essen-
tially run out of town
by indignant citi-
zens, and turned it
into what Details
magazine last year
called one of the best
venues in the city.
It wasn't easy,
even if the citizenry
had won the battle
against the Deja Vu.
Milgrom had to fight
for a liquor license
shortly after opening
the refurbished club
in 1991, offering Steve Milgrom turned around a seedy club and ushered in a new era for Ferndale.
written assurances
to reluctant city offi-
There were so many great performances, Milgrom
cials that he would not allow any kind of nudity in the
said he'd be hard-put to name one that stands out in his
He pulled out most of the movie theater-style seats, mind.
`They're all so different and so great in their own right.
brought in tables, hung works by local artists and creat-
ed a bar area. In the meantime, he filled his roster with I look at the list and I'm amazed, even," he said.
Moving on is sad, he admitted, but he trusts Haber-
musicians like Max Roach, Jeff Buckley and Patti Smith;
bands like Everything But the Girl and the Blasters;
man will carry on his legacy.
"It's been a big part of my life for six years. Letting
plays, poetry readings and weekend-long blues and film
go is never easy."

On Tap At
The Magic Bag

The Magic Bag
hosted Mudpuppy's
recent CD-release
party. Mark "The
Paz Man" Pasman is
Mudpuppy's lead

April 13: Junior Wells and His Ten-Piece Band
April 14: Mr. Paulie's Fruit & Vegetable Comedy Troop
April 20: Teadross Avery & Blacknote (jazz)
May 3: Jimmy "Fast Fingers" Dawkins (blues)
May 4: Merl Saunders & The Rainforest Band
May 11: Sugar Blue (harmonica player)
May 18: Charles Brown (New Orleans blues/jazz pianist)
June 1: Roy Hargrove (jazz trumpeter)
June 29: Commander Cody
August 17: Bo Diddley





nything was liable to spring out of the bag of
Felix, the grinning, peripatetic cartoon cat. And
so it was with Steve A. Milgrom, who turned an
bandoned burlesque theater in Ferndale into
a premier showcase for mainstream and avant-garde mu-
sical, dramatic and cinematic events.
When he opened the Magic Bag six years ago — adopt-
ing Felix's bag for the theater's logo — Milgrom was mer-
rily continuing along a path most entrepreneurs would
shun, staking out unchartered territory in a place most
people thought of as a past-its-prime suburban outpost.
It was his second business in Ferndale and one of the
only live music venues in southeastern Oakland Coun-
He was 26 when he opened Sam's Jams, a record store
that gained the reputation of being the best, if not the
most eclectic, in town. Milgrom had also inadvertently
put Ferndale on the map.
When he closed Sam's in 1994, mainly for personal
reasons, the city had already begun to live up to the
tongue-in-cheek moniker he coined and everybody else
adopted, "Fashionable Ferndale." His second Sam's Jams,
in Livonia, didn't take off with the same gusto and he
shuttered it three years later.
Today, Milgrom is 43 and eager to move on. He recently
sold the 300-seat Magic Bag to protege Jeremy Haber-
man, who will take over the helm on April 1. Haberman,
23, plans to spruce up the place a bit with the help of the
ubiquitous designer Ron Rea but stay loyal to the aes-
thetic ideals of his predecessor.
"It's no longer a challenge for me," Milgrom said of his
decision to sell. "I want to do something bigger. There's
always more acts to book, more shows to present and pro-
duce, but after five years, I want to try something else."
He has no idea what he'll be doing, but he assumes it'll
be something music-related.
Milgrom, a Detroit native, can be credited not only for
exposing the public to music that generally bypasses De-
troit, but for paving the way for other businesses that
preferred the scrappiness of Ferndale over the ambi-
tiousness of Royal Oak. As a 3-year vice-chairman of Fer-
ndale's Downtown Development Authority, he initiated





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