4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 7, 2005
Music Conference rocks the Motor City
Folk roots take center stage at
By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
Motown serves as a foundation for
the city's musical institution. Art-
ists such as Aretha Franklin and the
Supremes put the city on the map,
and arena-rock legends KISS even
adopted Detroit as their hometown,
adding Detroit Rock City to the list
of labels on the metropolis.
More recently, harboring acts like
hip-hop superstar Eminem, rock-
country king Kid Rock, blues pio-
neers the White Stripes and indie
electro-pop powerhouse +/- (Plus/
Minus), Detroit has continued it's
musical tradition but hasn't received
the respect from the industry it
deserves. Despite all of its musical
history, Detroit lies in the shadow of
New York and L.A.
However, the first-ever Motor City
Music Conference - also known as
MC2 - aspires to reclaim Detroit's
credibility while showcasing national
and international groups, said MC2
Director Dana Forrester.
"We intended initially to have 60
percent national and international
and 40 percent local, but really the
caliber of the Detroit acts was so
great that we ended up going with a
50-50 split," Forrester said.
Spanning five days and utiliz-
ing numerous Detroit venues such
as Cobo Arena, the State Theatre,
St. Andrews Hall and The Magic
Stick, MC2 will not only witness
worldwide acts like Snoop Dogg and
Aftermath artist The Game, but will
also give local and unsigned groups
"This conference is
by the industry
and fans ... it
will absolutely be
a Detroit event
- Dana Forrester
Director of Motor City
such as The Hard Lessons and Dime
& Jeremiah the opportunity to meet
with record executives and label
MC2 is also open to the public for
listening, learning and entertain-
ment. The conference will have art-
ist and producer panels - Dennis
Thompson from the group MC5, as
well as producer and keynote speak-
er Don Was will make appearances
- along with exhibits, showrooms
and concerts for the public.
According to Forrester, daytime
activities will include panel discus-
sions with producers, agents, publi-
cists and other members of the music
industry. Additionally, there will be
a trade show at the Cobo Expo Cen-
ter with music and lifestyle booths.
As night falls, there will be more
than 500 bands performing at many of
COUITESYOF IHE MOTORCIIY MUSICUIoJtCONERiECE
The rock group The Hard Lessons will be among the more than 500 bands that will perform at this year's Motor
City Music Conference.
Detroit's venues, ranging from Hockey-
town Cafe to Greektown Casino. The
bands are from all genres, ranging from
indie rock to blues to hip-hop.
Because of the use of so many
Detroit venues, MC2 is an enormous
undertaking for Detroit but will cre-
ate a worldwide awareness for the
city, its music and culture.
"This conference is almost
demanded by the industry and fans
... it will absolutely be a Detroit
event every year," she said.
"We're putting down for a million-
dollar conference on a shoestring,"
The conference will be as impor-
tant to small, unsigned groups as it
will be to Detroit and music fans. 40
to 60 independent artists will get the
opportunity to meet with an A&R
executive and discuss career paths
and possible record deals.
However, MC2 isn't focused solely
on unsigned bands and contemporary
artists. Aspects of Detroit's musical
history will be discussed at several
of the panels and shown in different
exhibits, giving insight into the con-
ference's placement in Detroit and
the current scene's influences.
"I think the way we're going to
touch on Detroit history (will be) on
the first day of our conference. We
are doing some legends of hip-hop
shows (and) there will be some old-
school hip-hop stuff," Forrester said
Specialevents are what set MC2
apart from other, similar conferenc-
es. Aside from the enormous artist
lineup, visual art will be exhibited
throughout the event. An artis-
tic guitar expose - followed by a
silent auction for the works - and
other exclusive projects will give
the conference a unique and genu-
The public audience, aside from
these special events, will also have
access to numerous activities and
showrooms. Labels will be display-
ing their catalogs in several different
areas for fans to peruse. The count-
less concerts are also a huge draw
from many people.
"Fans can see their favorite bands
like Moby and Trail of the Dead or
new bands that they might never
have heard of that are going to be the
next big thing," Forrester said.
Cobo Expo Center will be filled
with skateboard ramps and semi-pro
skaters for the fans. Ann Arbor's
own Lucky Monkey Tattoos will
have a full booth set up for those
wishing to get some body art. Also,
All Access Music and The Detroit
News is organizing free guitar and
drums lessons for the public.
"On the most basic level, you'll be
entertained. On a greater level, you'll
learn something," Forrester said.
She added that MC2 is an "unprec-
edented opportunity" for any group
and music lovers alike. It could
potentially be one of the greatest col-
lections of artists and music industry
bigwigs Detroit has ever seen.
If MC2 goes off with a minimal
number of glitches, it will surely be
a staple of Detroit events, and aside
from the auto show, could possibly
be the largest and most prestigious.
The Motor City Music Conference
will certainly allow Detroit reclaim
its throne in the music industry and
gain the respect and recognition it
By Megan Jacobs
Daily Arts Writer
When University alumni David Allen
Grier and Gilda Radner called Ann
Arbor their home, each graced the stage
of a certain still-standing local venue.
Though The Ark, snugly fit in the heart
of Main Street, is now mainly home to
classic folk acts, both the actor-come-
dian and Saturday Night Live alumnni
made their mark in the club.
The Ark, a small music venue, has
opened its doors to local and national
artists for the last 40 years and hosts
roughly 300 shows per year, with an
emphasis on folk roots and acoustic1
"A lot of people think that folk is
mainstream pop of the 1960s, and that's
really a small part of folk history," Ark
Marketing Director Colleen Murdock
said. The Ark strives to promote the
music that is self-taught, unstructured
and handed down from generation to
generation, as well as appeal to multiple
This year, groups performing at The
Ark have included Ellis Paul, the Blind
Boys of Alabama, the Glengarry Bhoys
and the University Jazz Ensemble. The
Ensemble will be performing tonight at
7 p.m. and tickets cost $15.
Acoustic trio Bela Fleck will be per-
forming April 13 as part of The Ark's
40th anniversary celebration.
Besides the unique sounds that are
produced at The Ark, the club is able to
provide another type of unusual experi-
ence - a meet and greet option after
most concerts. Though not all artists
agree, the majority are happy to oblige.
For music-lovers, this special experience
is exciting and rare; LSA sophomore
Dave Raven made the most of meeting
hippie legend Richie Havens last year.
"I brought my parents' Woodstock
T-shirt to the concert, and he actually
autographed it right in the middle after
the show," Raven said.
Artists have also been known to sign
CDs and ticket stubs, take pictures with
IF WE HADQA
WE'D PUY YOUA
"We want to
put on the best
show we can. It's
also a chance to
cultivate new acts
- Colleen Murdock
Marketing Director, The Ark
fans and chat with audience members.
Open Mic nights are popular, espe-
cially as fun, cheap dates - tickets are
$3 per person, or $2 for visitors with an
annual membership to The Ark.
Nearly 100 members of the Ann
Arbor community attend Open Mic
nights, the same forum that Grier and
Radner gained their collegiate comedic
For those interested in performing,
the process is simple. At 7:30 p.m.,
everyone who wishes to perform puts
his or her name or group act on a slip
and 15 acts are randomly chosen to per-
form that night. Any group not chosen
that week has the opportunity to put two
slips in for the next drawing.
And while Open Mic nights provide
a more regular form of listening and
viewing pleasure, the Ann Arbor Folk
Festival is The Ark's biggest annual
fundraiser. The two-day event is always
the last weekend in January. It is a
showcase for those The Ark considers
phenomenal performers, including rec-
ognized artists who help draw crowds as
well as some lesser-known performers.
"We want to put on the best show we
can," Murdock said. "It's also a chance
to cultivate new acts and audiences."
This year's successful festival head-
lined Keb' Mo' and the Indigo Girls,
and featured artists such as Jeremy Kit-
tel, the Kruger Brothers and Steppin' In
It. The festival tickets are $30 and $45.
The Ark aims to keep its ticket prices
as low as possible, although prices rise
if Hill Auditorium or the Michigan
Theatre are rented out as venues, or if
larger bands who demand more money
"Seeing an artist in a small space is
worth a somewhat higher ticket price in
itself," said Murdock. In the end, prices
are determined by how much the market
will bear and the artist fee.
Supporting The Ark by becoming
a member has perks, some of which
include advance ticket purchasing and
lower ticket prices. There are tiers of
membership, starting at $5 per semester
(based on the University schedule) and
going up to $500.
"Memberships are key because tic
sales only cover 75 percent of expense
Murdock said. Thus, The Ark deper
on its loyal concert-goers to help ft
the theater and keep ticket prices lov
Additionally, only members n
purchase alcohol at concession stan
although a member may sign in gue
to buy as well. The Ark is an all-
venue, offering soft drinks, baked go(
and popcorn at every show.
It may not be as big as the Michit
Theatre, or have the newly renova
polish of Hill Auditorium, but The/
has a long-standing tradition of acou
roots and folk favorites, making it
ideal destination for a musical night
The Blind Boys of Alabama performed at The Ark - located on Main Stri
Motor City Music Conference
MC2 will run April 20-24 at more than 40 venues throughout
the Detroit area. Passes can be purchased for $40, $60 and
$100. Day passes to the conference and trade show cost $15.
Includes more than 500 acts, from local to national and internation-
al. Big-ticket performers include Snoop Dogg, The Game and Moby.
There will be 40 to 60 independent musicians meeting with
A&R executives to discuss possible record deals.
Cobo Expo Center will house a skateboarding park, a trade
show, Lucky Monkey Tattoos of Ann Arbor and other entertain-
ment for conference-goers.
More information available at www.motorcitymusic.com.
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Artists performing at the Motor City Music Conference, such as Dime & Jeremi-
ah, will perform at venues such as Cobo Expo Center and The Magic Stick.