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January 26, 2012 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-01-26

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I I

4B - Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com *

EXPLORING YPSI
From Page 1B
and cassettes - an idea originally
proposed by Amber Fellows, one
of the members of the band Swim-
suit, a local super-group of sorts.
The caf6 hosts performers, and
beginning in February, will imple-
ment a weekly showcase of song-
writers, artists and filmmakers,
called Ypsi Facto. Teachout is also
looking forward to selling more
records with some contributions
from the warehouses of Plym-
outh's record store Cousins Vinyl
starting in early March.
The caf6, open for over a year
now, has been successful. As
Teachout bags glass bottles of
Faygo, cider and caramels for a
string of customers, he chuckles.
"You know, I haven't been to
Ann Arbor in months, except for
maybe a few visits with friends,"
he said. "When you live in Ypsi-
lanti, you eventually just sort of
forget it's even there."

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COURTESY OF MOSTLYMIDWEST.COM

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Ollie, a number of excep- a booking in Ann Arbor for the
restaurants and bars are band.
Ypsilanti's day- and night- Drinking from a mug of Red
me color. This growth of Snapper with his first name
shments is getting attention scrawled on the bottom, he men-
eakfast spots like Beezy's, tioned a new project.
shops like the Ugly Mug "I met with this guy who wants
ubs such as the Tap Room to start a horror film festival in
e Corner Brewery, where I Ypsi," he said. "He was asking for
ith one of Ypsilanti's most advice on how to do that, trying
itial and consistently name- to get it off the ground. There's
ed figures. a lot of people like that, and you
know, part of it is there's not a lot
Self-madein Ypsi of infrastructure in Ypsi, so when
you come here with a good idea,
k Maynard, the Ypsilanti you can just do it."
reneur, came up often in He added: "There's not a lot
sations with musicians and holding you back ... I think it's
ss owners. Maynard writes maybe the future of the United
lar blog highlighting local States in a way? Like people just
and dissecting the state's making things work because
al inanities, attracting any- there's not really an infrastruc-
from 600 to 1,000 visitors ture, just making their own things
Aside from that, he's helped happen."

Duringa Saturday-eveningvisit
to Dreamland, the theater showed
a short feature film recorded
entirely with marionettes, accom-
panied by a live-action short and a
puppet show about a robotic baby
Jesus. Marionettes built with
twisted features and mixed media
covered the walls. One of the
performers shot a water gun into
the audience as he gave birth to a
tiny, puppet Judas, and then a cell
phone rang loudly.
"I'm at the show. Yeah. THE
PUPPET SHOW. I'M AT THE
PUPPET SHOW!" a man nearly
shouts over the performance
before sitting back down.
After the film, which featured
warped representations of Mar-
tha Stewart's prison experience,
a horrifyingly life-like Sarah
Palin marionette and a gooey
soundtrack of Elvis and Bee Gees
covers by Ypsilanti's Charlie Slick,
Sandon, smiling, addressed the
cell phone disturbance.
"I see it as a fun thing. You
get used to strange people doing
strange things," he said. "It adds
to the fun of the whole show. I like
when people taunt or do weird
things."
The theater, which recently cel-
ebrated its 10th anniversary, hosts
its share of unconventional per-
formances, films and musical acts.
It's a compact space that Sandon
sees as another one of Ypsilanti's

creative assets.
"Here, you can have a weird
idea and be able to do it," he said.
"That's all you can ask of a space.
To have the freedom to do what
you want to do. I get a weird idea
or some inspiration and I know
that this is a place that I can test
it out."
There andback again
For a prolific musician like Ypsi-
lanti-born Fred Thomas, it's that
same sort of freedom that's guided
more than 20 years of musical out-
put. With a crib sheet too intimi-
dating to abridge, Thomas' music
defies easy categorization. Part of
the trouble comes from the fact
that he seems to have collaborated
with just about everyone in South-
east Michigan.
Known especially for his stint
with the band Saturday Looks
Good To Me, and more recently,
Swimsuit, Thomas has toured
the country, lived in Portland and
New York, and founded a now-
defunct label called Ypsilanti
Records. These days, he works as
an editor for Allmusic.com, while
living in Ypsilanti, where he puts
out cassettes for a new record
label called Lifelike, and continues
to write and record music.
"Nobody is the audience," he
said. "Everyone who I know is a
performer or a DJ or a show pro-

moter.
who's I
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he said.
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... nobody's just someone excited guest, Alexis Ford, gave
hanging out. The commu- detailed instructions to potential
ust so dense with creative visitors for an upcoming show at
that there's always some her Ypsilanti home. Sallant said
ings happening." it's a pretty typical thing in the
king with what sounds like community.
'cold, Thomas ended our "There's more house shows in
call with a hint at this cre- Ypsi than Ann Arbor," she said.
aturation. "I'm just about "And it's hard to get in the crowd
e a jam with my friends without the concert listings ... if
and Shelley, not sure what you don't know everybody, you're
g to sound like, what we're not gonna hear about it. So I try
do ... it could be anything," to be a community resource for
people that are interested in the
shows."
Just another day There are houses like the Plea-
suredome, where Ypsi's reputa-
Thomas, music is all Shel- tion for some of America's best
lant seems to do. She met ear-stabbing, soul-soothing noise
s through mutual friends music thrives. Shows in living
hrough Encore Records rooms, basements and cafes are
she works now), before all part of what makes Ypsilanti, to
ng with Ypsilanti Records Sallant, a pretty exceptional music
Thomas' stint in Portland, scene.
up mail orders. "There was this Talking Heads
n she's not working shifts cover band that played on the
Ann Arbor record store, roof of Dija Vu, the strip club, just
rganizing, promoting and across the street from Dream-
ng shows in both cities and land," she said. "The only way to
g her own label, Ginkgo getup there was twoladders. They
s, which has just put out had to get the gear up there just on
t 7-inch single, "The Path the two ladders, but the drummer
'for the group Bad Indians. was afraid of heights. So he was
mpiles a list of local shows playing on the ground, and the
month and you can hear rest of the band was playing two
redibly Midwestern accent floors up."
the Local Music Show on She added, "It looked like it was
,88.3FM. maybe going to rain. They played
allant's show last week, an anyway."

organize events like the Shadow
Art Fair - an "experiential" alter-
native to Ann Arbor's ArtFair - in
addition to a puppet talk-show at
the local Dreamland Theater and
a failed bike-powered movie fes-
tival (of which Mark claims "the
bikes were just too damn loud").
He's also a University of Michi-
gan grad, one of the creators of the
acclaimed Michigan zine "Crime-
wave USA" and a former member
of a short-lived noise band called
Prehensile Monkey-tailed Skink
- he recalls being unable to find

Dreamland Theater
Just under a mile away, Mark's
likeness hangs by strings in the
dim, vibrant walls of the Dream-
land Theater. Crafted by puppet
master and theater owner Naia
Venturi, the marionette was used
in a live talk show with the help
of Chris Sandon, a local artist and
founder of Dirty Bros. Quality
Productions, a collective of musi-
cians, filmmakers and visual art-
ists.

YPSI MUSIC SHELF'

ADAM GLANZMAN/Daily
Coffee shop The Ugly Mug adds color to Ypsi's culinary scene.
COVER BANDS-Theater) in Auburn Hills. When
COVER BANDS we did that, it was come out and
From Page 3B play like you're doing a concert.
Even though we do cover tunes,
we view ourselves as more of an
love to do it so much," Tippin original band doing covers or
said. remakes."
Aaron Wallace talked about For cover bands, there's
the happiness of playing at always a struggle between
weddings. artistic expression and mon-
"For the most part, when two etary gain. Still, Remix and The
families come together, they Vintage have found a healthy
are in a good mood, especially middle ground on which to
if they know each other, and it play. With each song, even if
seems like the air is kind of dif- it's another artist's work, they
ferent," he said. find an opportunity to create a
Lawrence added via e-mail, connection with the audience,
"It's a great feeling for us when to bring out a spirit in the song
someone comes up and thanks us that can't be found outside of a
for being a part of their wedding live performance.
and tells us they had a GREAT "Most musicians would tell
time!That's the payoff for us!" you the first love is to write
Tippin described a different and record your own music,"
type of atmosphere that The Tippin said. "Hearing your
Vintage enjoys. music recorded for the first
"We are most in our element time, that's always the ultimate
when we do concert performanc- thrill. But when you're playing
es. We won the Doug-FM Battle covers, you're basically a live
of the Cover Bands last year, and DJ, and to get a packed dance
we opened up for White Snake floor for covers is a big thrill
and Tesla at (DTE Energy Music too."

ALLISON KRUSKE/Daily ALLISON KRUSKE/Daily
Local artist Chris Sandon surveys the eclectic Dreamland Theater.

CHRISTINA
From Page 3B
generating songs that topped
charts and became the most
memorable tunes of a genera-
tion. Her voice and musical con-
tent had qualities exceeding the
maturity of an average 19-year-
old. Her demographic expand-
ed outside children and young
adults and her songs became
timeless to her younger fans as
they aged. Sorry, Britney, but
"E-mail My Heart" can only be
taken seriously for so long.
Unfortunately, calling Chris-
tina Aguilera one of the world's
greatest pop artists only holds
true when looking at her a decade
ago. Since then, she's added a
failed album, Bionic, and a singing
competition to her name, wast-
ing her immense talent. And her
song "Beautiful" holds a lot more
meaning now than it did in 2002.
It's better to just pretend she
retired after that year.
-GREGORY HICKS

S always thought I stopped lik-
ing Christina Aguilera because
she had become trashy. Seem-
ingly overnight, she reduced
her amount of clothing by a few
square feet, punched some extra
holes into her face and adopted
the skin color of a carrot. She
began going by Xtina and sang of
desires to sweat until her clothes
come off in songs like "Dirrty."
That was all it took for me to
lump Xtina in with Britney and
other tasteless pop stars and
completely forget about her.
But in returning to her '99
music videos, I realized I made
an error in judgment. Call her
Christina or Xtina, Aguilera has
always been a sexual figure in
the music industry. I wonder if
my parents ever thought it was
awkward when I'd blast "Genie
in a Bottle" from my boombox,
singing along to lyrics pertain-
ing to hormones and wanting to
be rubbed.
While songs like "What a Girl
Wants" and "Come On Over"

stayed in the puppy-love zone,
the dances that accompanied
them were sensual and under-
dressed. And then there's the
"Lady Marmalade" music video,
in which Christina pranced
around stage dressed quite liter-
ally as a whore.
I still stand by my original
reaction to Christina's image
when she acquired the Xtina
persona, and that reaction is, in a
word, ick. I'm not typically criti-
cal of appearance - I'm drawn
to artists with bizarre physical
images. I consider pop stars like
Katy Perry and Nikki Minaj to
be updated versions of Christina
in that they might get criticized
for being garish or vulgar, but
are praised by the masses despite
- and also because - of their
image.
But these modern singers
seem to have a more aesthetic
appeal than Christina. Yes, their
boobs are about to explode out
of their dresses, corsets and cat
suits, but there is something
artistic about that attire that was
lacking in Xtina's girl-next-door-

gone-stripper look.
However, I recently re-
watched Christina's music video
for "Beautiful" and instantly
hated myself for being such a
superficial bastard. I still think
she's wearing too much makeup
in the video, but after watching
it and listening to the damn song,
I've realized it doesn't matter
what I think of how Christina
looks. Where there is confidence,
there is beauty, so people like
myself can shut up and listen to
her sing already.
She's had an incredible voice
since her "Mickey Mouse Club"
days (YouTube it), and while her
image may have detracted from
my appreciation for the artist
- so much so that I never even
listened to post-2002 songs like
"Candyman" and "Ain't No Other
Man" - the fact remains that
Christina Aguilera has always
had an amazing voice.
Her sound is soulful, lucid and
full of passion, exceeding expec-
tations not only in the pop world
but in the entire music industry.
-KATIE STEEN

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