Ann Arbor Rock 'n' Roll Revival celebrates rich local music legacy
A multi-generational host of Ann Arbor musical royalty rang in the holiday cheer on Friday during a night of vintage, high-energy rock’n’roll at the Blind Pig.
It was a homecoming show in every sense of the phrase: 4 bands, spanning more than 4 decades, revisited their past catalogs, while fans from just as far back reconnected amid the strains of a common musical and cultural heritage.
An Ann Arbor Rock’n’Roll Revival, indeed.
Put together local legends like Deniz Tek, Scott Morgan and Hiawatha Bailey and the musical sparks are sure to fly. The trio, joined by Chris “Box” Taylor on bass and Al King on drums joined forces in a headlining celebration of Motor City — and Ann Arbor — rock ‘n’ roll that served as a reminder of a too-often overlooked page in Ann Arbor’s history.
Tek, the Ann Arbor native who moved to Australia to study medicine and ended up forming the seminal punk band Radio Birdman, remains a phenomenal guitar hero and on Friday, he stripped off mind-bending leads on his plexiglass guitar, while Morgan, still in full-throated, blue-eyed soul voice, revisited songs from the local canon, including gems from Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, the Stooges and Radio Birdman itself.
The band was clearly having fun despite persistent sound issues. But things really kicked into gear when Bailey, whose punk rock credentials date back to when he was a roadie for the MC5, joined the fray to belt out the Stooges’ nuggets, “Now I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Down in the Street.”
Prior to the headlining set, Morgan and his aptly-named IrRationals revisited the should-be hits he sang with the Rationals back in the 1960s. Morgan is a true rock icon and his soulful vocals haven’t lost a thing, 40-odd years after crooning “Respect” and “Barefootin’” as a teenage phenom. He was joined by a veritable who’s who of Detroit rock luminaries, including Outrageous Cherry’s Matthew Smith on guitar, producer Jim Diamond on bass, Dave Shettler on drums and Taylor on lead guitar.
Gorvette, a meeting of the musical minds between 1980s new-wave queen Nikki Corvette and garage rock guitarist Amy Gore were enjoyable during a set of amped-up, Ramones-meet-girl-group rave-ups, while Taylor’s Misfits-inspired band, Mazinga, set a suitably high-energy tone for what was a long and entirely enjoyable evening of something that seems to be lacking on the local music scene — loud, uncompromising rock’n’roll.
Will Stewart is a free-lance writer for AnnArbor.com.