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220 5 deTro The 221 ıT rocks ’60s KICK OUT THE JAMS 222 ı t’s been more than ten years since Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, and Dennis Thompson took the stage together in Detroit at Rob Tyner’s memorial concert at the State Theatre, and more than thirty years since they lurched their way through their final performance as members of the MC5 at the Grande Ballroom on New Year’s Eve 1972. Thirty years is a long time in anyone’s life, especially when most of those years are spent mired in frustration, poverty, and despair. But once in a while a small miracle occurs, and all of a sudden everything is right back on the beam and the future opens up on a brand-new note and everybody who’s managed to survive is right back on center stage where they belong. So, when Davis, Kramer, and Thompson return to Detroit “in celebration of the MC5” at the Majestic Theatre on June 10, the disaster years will melt away and they’ll begin to enjoy a new day in the sun, bringing the noise from the glory years and illuminating the dismal present with the power of the music created by the MC5.It’s an amazing thing, but when you hear it and see it, you’ll know what all the shouting was about. MC5 singer Rob Tyner and guitarist Fred “Sonic”Smith have left us,of course,and it’s difficult to imagine the 5’s music absent them. But the essence of the MC5 was in its songs and the highenergy methodology the band developed to deliver them, and those are the core elements brought back to life by the DKT/MC5 celebration band. (DKT stands for Davis, Kramer, and Thompson.) “We’ve gone to great lengths with all the promoters to make it clear that it’s not an MC5 reunion,” Kramer says. “It would be wrong to call it that, because Fred Smith and Rob Tyner have passed on. They can no longer be with us, but we’re still here, and these shows are a celebration of the music of the DKT/MC5 The Truest Possible Testimonial John Sinclair The MC5. © Leni Sinclair Collection. 223 John Sınclaır MC5 and the work of Fred Smith and Rob Tyner. It would be an insult to their memory and to the fans to pretend that this is an MC5 reunion.” While it’s impossible for anyone to take their place, Royal Oak native Marshall Crenshaw will fill in on second guitar,and singers Mark Arm (formerly of Mudhoney) and Evan Dando (formerly of the Lemonheads) will share the lead vocal duties. But it’s Davis, Kramer, and Thompson who know how it’s supposed to go, and they haven’t lost a step since the days of yore. Kicking out the jams is still the order of the day, and they’ll be up there doing it without reservation. “I don’t feel like we’re from the deep, dark past,” Davis says with a chuckle. “What we’re bringing to the stage is just as urgent and relevant as it ever was, and not out of step with 2004. We might’ve recorded this stuff last year—and, in fact, we did!” “The MC5 was hard-chargin’ and all out. There were no reservations,” Kramer reminds us. “The MC5 was visceral—all sweat and muscle and the whole concept of high energy. It’s a real thing. It’s not just a theory. It’s a way of life and a way to play music. It’s wonderful to share it.” Yet the spirit of celebration is tempered by a simmering conflict.The Detroit show and the band’s subsequent world tour are unfolding in the midst of a protracted battle over distribution of MC5: A True Testimonial,a critically acclaimed documentary about the band. Lawyers are involved. In the interest of full disclosure,as we say in the journalism racket,a caveat is in order. While this writer may be seen wearing several hats during the unfolding of the MC5 story, I’m here today principally as a professional journalist attempting to negotiate the twists and turns of a fascinating tale and tell it the best I can. I first met the MC5 in August 1966, the day after I was released from the Detroit House of Corrections after a six-month sentence for possession of marijuana. They played at the...


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MARC Record
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