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Blowout festival gets off to spirited start

for Journal Register Newspapers

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DETROIT -- A pep talk from one of rock 'n' roll's most notorious figures got the 15th annual Metro Times Blowout off to a characteristically rowdy start on Wednesday night (Feb. 29) at the Magic Stick.

Eight days removed from bladder cancer recall surgery, producer, songwriter and raconteur Kim Fowley -- best known as the svengali of the Runaways but with credits that include Kiss, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Hollywood Argyles and more -- performed an unplugged-style set with an all-star troupe he dubbed the Psychedelic Dogs. The troupe -- which included guitarists Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry) and John Nash (Electric 6), bassist Troy Gregory (the Witches, the Dirtbombs) and percussionist Ben Blackwell (the Dirtbombs) -- played an almost free-form half-hour of songs they had written earlier in the day, including "Generation Mad" and "Death," which Fowley introduced by announcing that "my next long-term project is death."

The 72-year-old Fowley, supporting himself with a cane, was cheerfully defiant and, despite his maladies, clearly pleased to be back in Detroit -- which he called "my favorite...rock 'n' roll city in the world" -- and advising those watching the show to "stay here and enjoy what you have" before playing "Detroit is Electric."

It will be a busy stay in town for Fowley; he plans to continue writing and recording with the Psychedelic Dogs (he recorded here in 1997 with Smith and Gregory), and the group will play again, this time a fully electric show with the Canyons of Your Mind horn section on Saturday night (March 3) at the Polish National Alliance Hall in Hamtramck. Fowley is also promoting a new film, "Sunset Strip," that debut March 15 at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, and he's also publishing a poetry book, "Lord of Garbage."

Wednesday's opening night blowout bash also featured the first two appearances -- with the bands Belle Ghoul and Walking Beat (playing its first show ever) -- by Jesse Smith, the piano-playing daughter of Patti Smith and the late MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith. Born and raised in St. Clair Shores, Smith splits her time these days between Detroit and New York, and she'll be playing with other groups -- including Kenny Tudrick, Esquire and Skinny Wrists -- throughout the Blowout.

Down in the Majestic's Garden Bowl, Flaschclash was joined by Motor City Horns leader and trombonist John Rutherford, while Hounds Below packed fans into the bowling alley's bar area for a spirited set of its newly recorded songs.

Blowout moves to Hamtramck Thursday to Sunday (March 1-3). Tickets are $25 and cover the entire festival. For a full schedule and other details, visit www.blowout.metrotimes.com.

Web Site: www.blowout.metrotimes.com

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