AND ROLL REVIVAL!
by Dennis Frawley
The Fifth Estate June 12 - 25, 1969
1st Rock and Roll Revival held Memorial Day weekend at the Fairgrounds
significantly began the summer's slew of pop festivals across the country.
The actual attendance is unknown but it must have drawn at least 25-30,000
together for the two days of rock and roll.
The set up of the festival was
not ideal since there was no place to slip away and get laid but you could
lie on a blanket on the sand between the grandstand and the stage and
hope that the wind didn't blow up a sand storm.
The Revival displayed to visiting
pop luminaries the significance of Detroit's rock and roll scene. Where
else in the country do rock and roll crowds turn up 16,000 strong to hear
local bands as occured here at Easter. It couldn't happen on either coast
The Rock and Roll Revival could
have been another "dust bowl festival" without the support of
the rock crowds of the community.
The cultural event displayed to
the unfamiliar the vital, visceral shock value found in much Midwestern
rock music. Nowhere are the musicians more outrageous or the music more
The Rock and Roll movement in
Detroit is led by a new, younger, more exciting crowd who are becoming
increasingly involved in the drama, excitement, and life of their music.
This was a rock and roll festival,
not a pop festival.
There was no Blood Sweat &
Tears playing 1950's big band jazz with inoffensive 60's watered-down
This was a raunchy rock festival headlined by MC5,
Johnny Winter, Chuck Berry, Dr. John, Sun Ra,
David Peel, the Stooges, Bonzo Dog, all who were
ideal for Detroit's rock community.
The concise boring fusion of rock
and Bach by the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble seemed painfully out of
place to the crazed rock fanatics of Detroit.
The glamorous urban decadent style
of British performers was to be captured by Terry Reid but the
English dandy didn't have enough bookings in the States and was forced
to cop out of his tour here.
The Revival began Friday afternoon
plagued by technical difficulties due to the sound man showing up three
hours late and poor stage management by Jeep Holland. This forced
the bands to run behind schedule and to cut their sets. Saturday overcame
the initial difficulties and turned into a vibrant, exciting day of music
Saturday was dampened by threatening
rain and drizzles which were temporarily halted at one time by a "fuck
the rain" chant led by the Amboy Dukes. It finally stopped
for the MC5 and Chuck Berry and then culminated with a torrential
downpour minutes after the festival closed.
"The Albino" - Johnny
Winter, gave the best performance of his career for the enlivened
crowd on Friday night. Even with lackluster sidemen, his albino blues
brought the crowd to its feet and even drew one admirer, unable to restrain
himself to the stage where he ambraced the "phantom of balck blues"
with a hug and kiss before being whisked off stage.
After winter brought the crowd
to its feet, the MC5 culminated the steady rise of energy with
one of their top performances kicking them out so hard that one psychedelic-induced
youth leaped on stage nude for what was termed by Wayne Kramer
a "testimony by skin."
Sun Ra's appearance was
one of the most significant musical contributions of the festival. Unfortunately
the Sun God's appearance Friday closed the show after much of the crowd
had left and on Saturday he arrived too late to play his futuristic space
music. his "crowding out" was one of the musical disappointments
of the festival.
The father of rock and roll Chuck
Berry closed the Revival and was again remarkable even though playing
with a bland local white pick up band.
Dr. John was mean and bad
in his first appearance here with his Cajun Rock and fit perfectly into
the context of the show.
The Stooges played on Friday
with Iggy's bumps and grinds comparable to burlesque stripping and his
contemptuous seductive riffs.
Lyman Woodard was one of
the most surprising bands heard. his professional soul-jazz-rock unit
was far more exciting than the popular Booker T and The MG's.
Of the unsigned bands, the Wilson
Mower Pursuit with their strong female vocalist Stoney are
just a step away from being ready to record.
The 3rd Power and The
Red, White, and Blues Band were also strong and ready to join the
crew of already signed bands from the area like Vanguard's Frost
- the smoothest professional pop band in the area, Mainstream's Amboy
Dukes, Capitol's SRC, Atco's Teegarden and Van Winkle,
Elektra's Stooges and Atlantic's MC5.
The Karma Award for Rock and Roll
purity in the event went to the Browsville Station who dusted off
the old charts to recreate "Rumble," originally done
by Link Wray and His Raymen, "Jailhouse Rock," "The
Walk" by Jimmy McCraklinand other 50's favorites.
Savage Grace displayed
a fine lead vocalist and good instrumentation but as is the case with
many undeveloped groups their material was rather trite with unimaginative
tunes like "Season Of The Witch" and "With A
Little Help From My Friends."
With the combination of local
and so-called name bands, the weekend became a Revival which brought back
the happy spirit of rock and roll with a crowd not forced to sit with
legs crossed listening politely to the alleged "super stars."
Detroit - the crotch of the nation
- is bringing back the spirit of rock to the music.
by DENNIS FRAWLEY
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