United Sound's historic designation progresses
United Sound Systems, the Second Avenue recording studio where John Lee Hooker sang "Boogie, Chillen" in 1948 and where Jackie Wilson recorded his first record ever, is on its way to being officially designated a historic district, after Detroit City Council voted it up Tuesday.
United Sound was the go-to studio since the early 1930s for some of the most celebrated music of the 20th century, including that of jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane and Kenny Burrell, as well as the MC5, the Rationals, Little Willie John, Bob Seger and Aretha Franklin. Don Davis owned it in the 1970s when George Clinton and P-Funk almost lived there.
The studio has been in jeopardy because of a proposed new entrance ramp to I-94 the Michigan Department of Transportation is considering. MDOT has countered that it's willing to move United Sound, but supporters of the studio don't consider that a viable alternative and hope the historic designation will make it more difficult to tear it down.
Carleton Gholz of the Detroit Sound Conservancy says if the historic designation goes into effect, "Very tentatively, if all goes well, we'll be opening a nice little bottle of Champagne next Friday at United Sound."
Shut up and sing?
Saturday Night Live alum Ana Gasteyer performed in Detroit last week to close the second season of the Cabaret 313 series at the Marlene Boll Theatre inside the downtown YMCA. Wearing a sparkly gold dress that's seen better days, Gasteyer attempted jokes that were mediocre at best. Her singing, however, was electrifying and on point. Gasteyer belted out songs from her debut album, "I'm Hip," interspersed with attempts at humor that were met with scattered chuckles from the sold-out audience. At one point, she selected prominent Metro Detroit restaurateur Joe Vicari from the audience to flirt with. While Vicari was polite, the idea of being Gasteyer's boytoy for the night didn't seem to appeal to him, and the bit fell flat. Gasteyer's quartet of musicians (three of whom were local talent) was tight and her voice was incredible, but the show would be a lot more entertaining with less banter. Cabaret 313 is a very cool nonprofit dedicated to fostering the art of cabaret in the city of Detroit (cabaret313.org).
Honoring the Count
Some 20 specially selected Metro Detroiters enjoyed an Italian feast on Monday, when Jae Vitale Plawecki and Adam Drahushuk of Highland and Patrick Rugiero of Dearborn Heights hosted an intimate get-together honoring Conti Sebastiano Capponi. The informal gathering took place at Antonio's Cucina Italiana in Farmington Hills, one of the Rugiero family's four Italian eateries. "We're all supporters of the Kidney Foundation, and the Count has been so incredibly generous to us," Plawecki said, "so we wanted to honor and thank him for his generosity." The Count has donated auction items to the Kidney Foundation's annual gala, including a stay at his massive estate in Italy, Villa Calcinaia, valued at $12,000. This year's Kidney Ball is Dec. 5 at Motor City Casino Hotel.