After missing two years due to COVID-19, the Detroit All-Star Garage-Rock Punk Revue returns for its 4th year, and this time it has expanded into a two-day music festival. The two-day punk festival takes place on the outdoor stage at the Cadieux Cafe Aug. 19-20, 2022.
The All-Star Garage-Rock Punk Revue began in 2016 to celebrate the rich history of Detroit’s independent punk rock, from the late-1970s and 80s, but in its second year, the show began bringing in new bands currently making their mark on Detroit’s punk scene. Hosted by iconic radio DJ Michael Halloran, the former host of WDET’s Radios in Motion, the festival features a wide selection of bands from across four decades of Detroit punk, indie and garage rock music.
One Detroit’s Chris Jordan caught up with the show’s organizer, Smitt E. Smitty of the 1980s Detroit band Figures on a Beach, and his current projects Little Billy Lost and Smitt E. Smitty and the Feztones, as well as Halloran and musician Gary Reichel of Cinecyde, to discuss the show and how it captures the story of Detroit’s punk music history.
Chris Jordan, Editor, One Detroit: The Detroit All-Star Garage-Rock Punk Review, a celebration of the underground side of Detroit Music. After two years off due to COVID, the event is back and bigger than ever, as a weekend festival at the Cadieux Cafe. The event is organized by musician Smitt E. Smitty Of Detroit’s Figures on a Beach and will be hosted by radio icon and former WDET’s Radio’s in Motion host Michael Halloran.
Smitt E. Smitty, Musician, Smitt E. Smitty & The Feztones, Little Billy Lost Organizer, Detroit All-Star Garage Rock Punk Revue IV: There is no music scene that even comes close to what the Detroit music scene is. It’s like, you know, and I’ve been around the world and visited every city. Detroit, without any question, is the number one music scene on the planet.
Everybody else is fighting for second place. I am so lucky and fortunate to have been raised in Detroit during that late ’50s all through the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s. The Detroit scene was off the charts.
Michael Halloran, Radio Host, Musician in The Plugs, Host of Detroit All-Star Garage Rock Punk Revue IV: Detroit was always on the map because of its music scene, but the Detroit bands that were existing at the time were completely, radically different, I think, than what was happening in Cleveland with the Dead Boys in Chicago.
Gary Reichel, Musician, Cinecyde: Detroit has kind of a brand on it. Can be raw, hard, compelling rock and roll, over the top sometimes, and that punk rock scene was surely all of that, but it was even more.
Michael Halloran: I was listening to an interview that Berry Gordy gave when he was talking about why Motown songs sounded the way they did. And it’s because when he was working in the factories, there was something about the stamping, you know, the big machines that were doing all this work, that had a rhythm that got stuck in his head, which basically became that whole boxer beat four on the floor. You know, Pat, Pat and Pat, Pat.
Michael Halloran: Richie, our drummer in The Plugs, worked a gear and axle. So as the drummer and hearing, you know, calm, calm, you have this rhythmic thing. So when you form a band, you’re going to have a… A thing that is in your life that basically drives your soul. And with Richie, it was that factory-type thing. And I don’t want to say it’s industrial, but it was really just hard-hitting.
Smitt E. Smitty: Industry, blue collar, hard-working. It’s that kind of energy. And, I don’t know, just sort of the rock and roll ethic. The MC5 and The Stooges, anywhere but Michigan. And they’re not happening.
Michael Halloran: And that’s, in essence, why Radios in Motion was born. A lot of these bands from back in the day, I tried to play on the radio as much as possible. They were the people that were making Detroit cool and different. It was a point of pride with me that Detroit had not stopped when Motown moved.
Chris Jordan: It is this underground music history that will be celebrated on August 19th and 20th, on the outdoor stage at the Cadieux Café, with a lineup of bands spanning four decades of Detroit punk rock and indie music.
Smitt E. Smitty: The first one was really a celebration. I didn’t really have anything in mind other than getting a bunch of old school friends of mine from back in the punk days, late ’70s, ’80s. And the moment we decided we were going to do a second one, it was kind of like, okay, we did the one where we had mostly the old guard.
Now I really want to go after some of the new and young bands that are happening in the Detroit music scene.
Michael Halloran: You kind of realize that thread that started in the early Mutants, Coldcock, R.U.R., Cinecyde. We’re kind of like the beginning of a thread to me that we were able to attach ourselves on and then slowly move down. And then other bands came along, Vertical Pillows. But that thread just keeps going. Sometimes it gets super thin, sometimes it gets fattened up.
Gary Reichel: There was always, you know, somebody stepping up and going, Hey, I’ve got something to say, too. And I think Smitt E. and I know myself, we’re the mind. And it’s like, yeah, let’s hear what you have to say. Yes, yes, yes. More, more, more.
Smitt E. Smitty: There’s a total… hold on to your seat, a total of 21 bands.
Gary Reichel: It is eclectic. I mean, you’ve got folky influence like Audo Cuban or, you have on the other end The Amino Acids, which is kind of like this, this kind of compelling punk surf band. You’ve got The 3D Invisibles, you know, and then flipping over, you’ve got Nikki Corvette.
Smitt E. Smitty: It’s not an All-Star show if it doesn’t have Cinecyde. And of course, everyone knows Mary Cobra from The Detroit Cobras. And with the passing of Rachel Nagy, it was kind of like, Oh, jeez, you know, Mary, people love you. They want to see you perform, you know, what are you doing?
Smitt E. Smitty: And then she told me about her band, Gigi. And, Gigi, they may have only done like one, maybe two performances. So they’re brand new. And so she said, okay, Smitt E. if Gigi is going to do it, I want to see Sugar Tradition on this bill. I want to see Billy Swiss & His Operatives on this bill. I want to see Warhorses, The Outerleagues.
Gary Reichel: Smitt E.’s in a couple of the bands. He’s got Little Boy Lost.
Smitt E. Smitty: Smitt E. Smitty and The Feztones. That leans more into my like the art school guy starting a band. And I probably have more in common with Sparks and The B-52s and Devo because there is definitely an art element.
Michael Halloran: If you look at all of these, this list of bands, I think one of the most important things about it is the School of Rock in Farmington. To me, I want to see the new generation.
Michael Halloran: The Farmington Hills School of Rock Band will produce one member. We don’t know who it is. I don’t know who it is. Nobody knows who it is, who is going to go on and revolutionize the way music is done. And it’s the new Prince. It’s the new St. Vincent. Whatever it is, because that’s where it comes from, the youth of America.
Smitt E. Smitty: This is like Detroit’s finest. Whether they’ve been around forever or just, you know, popped up within the last year or two. If you don’t, even if you don’t know 90%, even if you don’t know 100% of the bands that are on the bill, it’s going to blow you away. I mean, this is like, oh, this came from Detroit?
Smitt E. Smitty: You know, this isn’t from L.A., this isn’t from London, this isn’t from New York? It’s like, no, this is all Detroit.
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