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Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE

Detroit, Michigan, United States | INDIE
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"The Right Kind of People"

The wholesome souls of the motley and mystic Pinkeye Orchestra, climbed the stairs of Corktown Tavern, in the shadow of now-lifeless Tiger Stadium, flicking away one last cigarette in the muggy mid-summer's air, ascending to a makeshift recording set up (on the 2nd floor) where the baker's dozen of them settled in for a stormy sprawling musical avalanche helmed by a gray-haired shamanistic poet.

Thus, a reckless release of communal euphoric calamity ensued; an ode to the history of this city's art and activism, spurred by a chance meeting between Jeff Howitt, a humble hobo, rock n roll classicist, and working-class musician with a huge heart and immeasurable affability with Detroit's renowned mystic, activist, leader, musician, poet, John Sinclair.

Their recorded efforts, Tearing Down The Shrine of Truth and Beauty, an exploration in musical spiritualism and an exorcising ceremony, was just one of many events that the long-haired, fuzzy chinned Howitt, with his local label Loco Gnosis, its all encompassing-cast band Pinkeye and his main band, the more traditional blues-rock of Duende, were invited to play this month, in helping to celebrate the lineage of Detroit art and music. The group recently performed for Sinclair's 67th birthday party (where he was named poet-in-residence at the Bo-House). A few weeks ago, the Duende quintet performed for the 44th Anniversary of the Detroit Artist Workshop, a tribute to the Sinclair-co-founded artist collective.

"Playing [the anniversary show] was close to my heart," said Howitt. "It was a beautiful feeling. These people are the remnants and progenitors of a cultural foundation whose values and attitudes have consistently been the starting point for any mother fucker who has tried to kick out any jams of whatever variety from this town…this is our birthright, our lineage. And, to be immediately participating and creating in a living lineage is more than inspiring…"

Tomorrow, psyche/blues/goth/country quintet, Duende, joins Gary Rasmussen's (from The Up) current band Smokin' Moses at the Crofoot, with Scott Morgan's (Sonic's Rendezvous Band) current group Powertrane. Then, Saturday, at the Park Bar, commemorates Pinkeye's recording with Sinclair, releasing the live album and performing with the Motorcity Midwives and Loco Gnosis label allies Wildcatting.

Wildcatting, it must be noted, will be presenting their tribute to 40 years of Jams-Kickin by performing an all-MC5 set (listen to them live on Detroit Today, Friday, between 11am and noon).

Meanwhile, Duende also releases a "stacked version" of their original debut On The Steps, which collects new recordings, with old, unreleased tracks, meant to "show who has been with us and contributed to Duende over the last two years," said Howitt.

Duende currently features the tight rhythm duo of Laura Willem on drums and Jason Worden on bass, with the flavorful expressions of ("Jelly Roll") Joel McCune on guitar. As guitarist Johnny Miller plans to depart, the band plans to forge on, setting to record a new full length this winter in New York with Matt Verta-Ray (during a showcase tour with Wildcatting/Oscillating Fan Club).

"Approaching Duende, initially, as a recording project allowed for the cast (including Hotwalls' Ryan Milligan, Bored Housewives Lance T. Sanders, Jorge Cortez and briefly, Carjack) to generate itself for their accompaniment to be much different than what they might do themselves in their own band(s)," said Howitt. He adds, admiringly, Duende is "…a roots bands but roots like Woody Guthrie backed up by Sonic Youth."

Delving deep into the origins of Duende, (a word which describes the middle ground between the dark and the light, good and evil, etc), Howitt covered all instruments:

Guitar: "Jorge (Cortez) and I loved Chuck Berry and would watch watch live performances and try and retain some of that regal sense of bacchanalia. I used to drive other more groomed players nuts with my shuffles. Jorge knew his stuff but was also into the whole Disco Rock thing we have in Detroit so we did droning and snaking well even though for me it came more from the Monk's or Velvet Underground.

Drums: "Laura for the most part was learning her instrument as we went along," said Jeff, noting that with only about a dozen rehearsals before the band took off in late 06, she'd already developed "more accuracy and presence than people who practice themselves away from what they like and never join or can stay in a band. For her, it is the associated experience, not just the exercise."

Bass: "Jason and I have only been in bands since I got back and didn't realize until a couple months ago that we met through a local mystical friend…(bassist) Ryan Milligan (from the Hotwalls) has so much gumption as a singer it is hard to expect other newer members to do all his parts. Which was really evident on the original sessions. It would be hard to not see him continuing to record with us."

more Guitar: "We've always hired from the inside. Johnny Miller really identified with
what we reached for and hit sometimes. He brought a lot to the stage and did shows with him bowing stand up bass and Jason cello. He could play something that Zappa would have spit his coffee out at but had such a strong traditional sense."

Returning to Pinkeye, Duende, and Rock n Roll history…44 years of the Detroit Artist workshop and 40 years of Kick Out the Jams…it's hard to resist hinting at the passing of a torch…the inheritance of the lineage, continuing on with remnants of the past…in the hands of classic-rock enthusiasts like Duende.

As John Sinclair put it, about the local collective to which Duende (and Pinkeye) are focal points: "They're there for the music and they're playing out of love and curiosity and they're comfortable in their skins and, well, it's immediately apparent that they're my kind of people."

Crofoot 10 / 30; Park Bar 11 / 1; Berkley Front 11 / 14

- Real Detroit Weekly 10/29/08

"The Pyschedelic Sojourn of DUENDE!"

From RealDetroitWeekly.com
By Jeff Milo
Feb 28, 2007

"A certain uncertainty" quipped guitarist L.T. Sanders of what he brought to the sonic swell of Duende, a rootsy, psychedelic rock band brandishing a layered, driving Americana rock sound that shakes hips as much as twists minds.

A "diverse cast" fatefully formed on a summer-solstice jam with "each member involved a leader of their own project," making Duende! an amalgamation of long-time musicians (with the exception of intensely dedicated novice drummer Laura Willem) lead by guitarist Jeffery "Odidlee" Scott, veteran musical hep cat and writer who had numerous songs with which he assembled his allies to experiment. "It's more us responding to each other than trying to have 'a sound,'" Odidlee said. "It's discordance rooted in Americana."

"Like Wilco took some DMT," said Sanders (also of Bored Housewives). The current line-up also includes Jorge Krautner (of the Brothers Cortez) who brings "dynamic flash and fireworks" and Jayson Worden (of Red China and Raccoon) who brings "raw dissonance."

More a collective or loose family of many other musicians including Ryan Milligen (of The Hotwalls), the name means the moment one chooses between the light and the dark "and sometimes stays in-between," Jeff explained, with a sound recalling the disorienting beauty of the Velvet Underground, the shuffle of Chuck Berry and the alluring insanity of Captain Beefheart.

Odidlee is also the founder of LocoGnosis records, which will look forward to a slew of releases later this year, including perhaps an autumn debut of Duende! material.

The meaning of duende, Odidlee said, "implies the surrender necessary to live the ecstasy in performance of music." | RDW

March 2 • The Old Miami;
March 3 • The Elbow Room - Real Detroit Weekly

"mr.wright's pick of the week"

No matter how you cut 'em, this slightly psychedelic, boot-stomp, hip-shake, Pabst slammer band bleeds Detroit. When I think of Duende!, I think of a Tarantino soundtrack for a film he hasn't yet made. Dark at times, but with a groovy garage savvy.

March 29th at the Belmont - Real Detroit Weekly March28-April 3,2007

"Dissonant Hallucinogenic Mania:The Curare Festival"

DUENDE!'s "wandering tribal narratives" at the CURARE FESTIVAL Real Detroit Weekly


Jeff Milo

Dissonant Hallucinogenic Mania:
The Curare Festival

There's often brilliance in what seems, on the surface, to be insanity. Trying to decipher the primal, spooky, hallucinogenic sounds of Red China and Pinkeye can be futile … your mind will unravel and by the end of your attempt at analysis you'll probably end up in a corner, on the floor, in a room you don't recognize, trying to butter toast with your earlobe and wondering if you've been over-watering the driveway.

Stretching the senses can be painful … which is what happens when listening to the music featured at the Curare Festival — thrown together fatefully by Red China's head ditty-bop-rambler, Mike Ross — a collection of avant-garde musicians melting the drywall genre barriers and reveling in noise experimentation over primordial, rampant rhythms. These bands, including Matthew Smith's funkadelic THTX and LocoGnosis' psych-drug-rock Duende, can galvanize the soul with their detached, manic compositions and wandering tribal narratives.

"I think those sounds have always been bubbling just below the surface of rock 'n' roll music in general," Ross said. "The buzz, the atmospherics … what does a guitar sound like? Never mind the guitar player! One approach to finding new ways to make music is to take those sounds and put them at the forefront. All of these bands do have structure, you just have to dig a little deeper into the sound to find it."

The festival started from Mike's simple responsibility to book a Pinkeye show at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit, having no real ambitions at anything grand and even feeling a bit skeptical that it would come together.Then … "responses started pouring in and all the bands were so good that I couldn't say no," Ross explained. The event developed a theme of "a gathering of somewhat 'epic' bands that hold a certain degree of intensity. Complementary, yet diverse."

Pinkeye is a smorgasbord of some of the most creative, eccentric musicians from various experimental outfits including: Jeff Howitt (theremin, Duende), Laura Willem (keyboards, Duende), Brandon Moss (drums, Wildcatting), Ray Thompson (sax, Oscillating Fan Club), Asako Chihaya (percussion, Raccoon), Paul MacLeod (guitar, the Looms), Frank Stephens (drums, Red China), Jason Worden (bass, Kindle,Red China) … and who knows who else might jump in!

The band formed when Red China was denied consecutive visits to the Summer Smash festival and was almost just a "one-off thing." As the story goes, some (or all?) attending practice contracted pink eye, thus the name. "With up to a dozen people playing at once, the sound can shift from anything like a 747 to a field of chirping, buzzing insects," Ross said. "The idea so far has been to take one song and play the hell out of it. Last time we did John Coltrane's 'Love Supreme' for 45 minutes; this time we're going for something a little tighter and more psychedelic." Other bands include: XD Wei, a fusion of Chinese classical music with Detroit rock 'n' roll, and Mother Whale, a mysterious duo.

The festival is named after a South American dart poison. "I think music is best experienced when it starts flowing through your bloodstream and seeps into your body ... and leaves you kind of stunned," Ross said. "And I think all of these bands can have that poison dart effect." | RDW

CURARE FESTIVAL@the CAID(Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit)Saturday APRIL 28th 2007

- Real Detroit Weekly April 25th 2007

"Blue Moon in June:The sound that abounds and resounds and rebounds"

"We're opening ourselves up and trying to be freaks that are approachable," says Duende singer/guitarist Jeff Howitt, co-organizer of The Blue Moon In June festival at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit.

"An approachable freakshow," adds the other trouble-starter, Oscillating Fan Club guitarist Ray Thompson, with a smile, grooving on the current path of our conversation on this oh-so-random, oh-so-sunny Friday afternoon in front of Professional Guitars in Ferndale, where Ray works.

On an extended smoke break, I stand between the two as trucks roar past the Nine Mile and Woodward intersection; Jeff the taller, broad-shouldered intrepid-musical-spiritualist and Ray the frazzle-haired, modest music-phile song-crafter and one-half of one of the most angularly talented guitar sections in the city, his counter part being Fan Club guitarist Pierce Reynolds who stands off to the side with a cigarette.

Ruminating warmly on the ever-growing-stronger solidarity between the current landscape of local bands, Ray and Jeff recount their festival's desire not only to celebrate that, but also celebrate summer's arrival and to raise money for the Greening of Detroit, a partnership to improve forestation of the city's neighborhoods.

Dig this line-up: Zoos of Berlin, Siddhartha, The Questions, The Decks, Wildcatting, The Misteriosos, Ancourage, Dutch Pink, The Bored Housewives, Pinkeye, Woodman, DJs R-O-Z, Lo-Fi-Bri and Hi-Fi Jay, The Oscillating Fan Club and Duende. One night … the C.A.I.D., starting roughly around 5 p.m. and going until whenever.

As we continue to ruminate on the festival, comparisons to John Sinclair's '67 Belle Isle Love-in are drawn: "That, of course, ended in a riot …" Jeff says. "We're not hopin' for a riot, but I'll go for breakin' up a fist-fight." The twinkle in his eye indicates his joke and he adds, "It's the rock 'n' roll embassy; it's a safe place to be tonight — a wild-ass-crazy place to be tonight."

"Yeah," Ray chimes in, "I don't think it's completely philanthropic either, I think it's kind of selfish because I really want to hear all these bands, also."

"It's responding to each other," Jeff adds, "Instead of competing with each other, it will be like a volleying of energy." He mimics Atlas with his arms, "Here's the bundle of energy, and it'll just pass from band to band."

Refreshingly, Ray and Jeff are embracing a new trend amongst local bands: communal events — something Questions guitarist/singer Drew Bardo knows much about, having recently organized a war protest show at the Magic Stick.

"This dilapidated jungle of concrete and industrial red-brick neon factory dust is extremely fertile territory for those with over active imaginations," Drew writes in an email later that day. "To be a person born and raised here, there is a sense of gratitude for the laborious insights and cruel lessons this city has to offer. Without its violence, without its brutality, without its impurity, my poetry, my writing, has no balance of muse. That is why I feel it necessary to try and create a balance with the savage for the people of the community. We are really in control of the future perception of what our mystical times will bestow upon the generations of poor children who will have to clean up this human disaster. The least I can do is bring the creative souls, the historians, together for a cognizant brain storm of spirit cleansing."

"It's emphasizing not the music, but the culture," says Jeff, back at the store. "This is who we are and this is who we bring and this is where we hang out and we're going to do something for it." Like Drew, Jeff, as chief of Loco Gnosis productions, has also dabbled in large-scale-musical-community festivals, one particular being a ten-plus band affair at the Masonic to kick off 2006, as well as Loco Gnosis.

In doing research for this article, I disappointingly found that there were no real juicy stories or myths of good ol' lunar madness connected to the Blue Moon ... like, maybe some crazed, rabid farmers charging through their cornfields like wigged out werewolves? Of course, there was whatever those mischievous ancient pagans might have been doing under blue moons ...

"Yeah, we'll be sacrificing some goats," Ray assures nonchalantly.

"Goats!" Pierce emotes enthusiastically.

No, outside of it being the second full-moon in one-month's time, I didn't dig up much lore ... however, the truth of the matter is that we here in the States won't see a blue moon on June 30th. "The calendar was for the Eastern Hempishere," says Jeff, smiling. "So some hippie's gonna be like, 'Actually, it's not the blue moon.'"

This is a show, having the potential for the hurried, breathless madness of some angular aesthetic freakshow that's guaranteed 40-50 people simply from scheduled band-personnel. Its sounds, aside from the cheerfully shouted greets and warms laughs of friendship and the usual dizzied murmur of intoxication, will include, (if you can weather the adjectives) surfy, bossonova-loving, danceable-indie-rock (the Oscillating Fan Club), hazy, hypnotic, feedback-heavy, Stone-informed blues-rock (Duende), stratospheric, instrumental avant-garde dissertations that may sound like metal, but also like Kraut-rock (Wildcatting) and dark, electro-pop with beats from an Apple laptop (Troy/Stepsisters.) One must marvel at the labels in the music journalist's arsenal — but it's detrimental to the message of the Blue Moon in the end, for this is not a show but a true celebration: for the city, for camaraderie, for the Greening of Detroit and for you.

Blue Moon is a Loco Gnosis production, working with the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Committee toward progressing proposals with The Greening of Detroit (www.greeningofdetroit.com) toward establishing a permanent performance stage in Scripps Park, beyond playing shows for notoriety (as well as free music in the summertime), but also "to strengthen Detroit's mighty spirit," Jeff states. "There are no headliners, just a sonic engine howling forth into the Detroit night … also, it is 40 years since the Summer of Love, and as the tale goes, it never came to Detroit, hence our '60s with Seger, MC5 and the Stooges."

"We got teeth, Jack," Pierce concludes. | RDW

Blue Moon In June Festival • June 30 • CAID, 5 p.m.
More info: myspace.com/bluemooninjune or locognosis.com

- Real Detroit Weekly June 26, 2007

"Group Therapy"

Local collective-label Loco Gnosis vows to "bring you 50 Detroit bands that will kick your ass"

Jeff Howitt spent nearly a decade outside of Michigan — traveling with the Renaissance Fair, living in Phoenix, essentially becoming, to use his own word, a "hobo." Sometime in 2005, he caught wind of what some of his old friends were up to back in Detroit, and the thought struck him: He had to get back to the city before he missed out on anything else. Detroit didn't realize just how much he was missed, though, until his return. Since he's been back, he's helmed three wildly successful music festivals, started a psychedelic desert-wind Americana band, launched a label-production company and essentially pulled together a seemingly disparate batch of local bands that had no idea that, together, they were about to become part of a movement and a new chapter — the significance of which remains to be seen — in Detroit rock 'n' roll history.

That label-production company-collective, Loco Gnosis, is about to add two more titles to its ever-increasing catalogue — an EP by psychedelic surf-popsters the Oscillating Fan Club, and the debut long-player by the joyously heavy and enthusiastic Wildcatting. (Full disclosure: My own bands, Pink Eye and Red China, have been involved with Loco Gnosis.)

On Aug. 10, Wildcatting and the Oscillating Fan Club celebrate their dual CD releases with a local show. Howitt's aforementioned band of space rangers, Duende!, along with Mas! and I Crime will also be on the bill.

It's interesting how an artist's output is often directly representative of an artists's personality. Sit down with label head Howitt, Wildcatting's Brandon Moss, and Oscillating Fan Club's Ray Thompson, and it's readily apparent how their personalities dovetail neatly with their respective projects. Howitt often waxes philosophical, and, as someone who's thought long and hard, he's reached the conclusion that what's important is where they are and what they're doing now. Thompson speaks in sly asides and observances, both practical and dryly ironic, while Moss spills over with positive exuberance and a youthful charm tempered with a kind of worldly intelligence.

Sitting down for beers and a chat with the three guys, I knew the conversation would cover lots of ground. Once they got riffing, the topics ranged from music to pain thresholds to early Mesopotamian brain surgery and cultural imperialism, from urban decay, Iggy and Bowie, of course, back to ... MySpace. (But these days all conversations end up at — or on — MySpace, don't they?)

Metro Times: So, let's talk about Loco Gnosis, and this show on Aug. 10.

Howitt: Well, every time we play or put on a show, it's mainly about sharing the glory. You know, everybody's a badass. And if you throw a party, you get all the badass people together. And then the whole "We're the best band on the bill tonight" attitude becomes worthless. It's like, "Get in line, dude!" When everybody's throwing down together, there are no headliners.

Moss: Right. You've got this conglomeration of everyone and it's really loose — people starting other bands, playing on each other's albums. ... It doesn't feel competitive anymore. Playing with bands now, it feels like you can't wait till they're on your team.

Thompson: It's probably always been that way, somewhere, but right now, it's something we're all involved in. There's still competition, but it's friendly competition. We're all such fans of each other's music.

MT: So it's like a collective in a way, but much wider than that? There are always more people, more bands being reined in?

Howitt: Yeah. Like on an umbrella, it's just one of the 12 prongs with people doing crazy cool stuff together. You just hold up your end, and you do what's relevant and put it out there. Every band, too, is really diverse. I mean, there are some Tom Waits-type things. Or garage things, but that's a bit of a latent term. ... I mean, "garage rock" — that's like 20 years after the fact. All this time later, you put perspective on it. You say, "Detroit garage rock" and it's like a reset button. That's at least how I saw that. When you need to go that primitive, you just know that things have gotten too washed-out and standardized and out-of-hand. When you have to hit the reset button, the garage rock button, then everybody starts over again. There are like 20 different styles among us. If you wrote down 20 bands among all of us who hang out together, every single band is different. That's part of what makes it cool 'cause it's like, it still is a little competitive, but it's also like, "I wanna throw down for my buddies, I don't wanna sit there and milk it. I wanna throw down and give you a kickass show." It's the joy of being part of such a diverse, powerful thing.

Thompson: In New York, in the late '70s, you had all these bands — Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Television ... None of them were really anything alike, but there was definitely an inextricable link there. Maybe it's just the bond of time and place, and being part of the same exciting thing.

(At this point, the Defying the Law Bike Club rides by the window of the Emory on Woodward Avenue.)

Moss: See? This is what I'm talking about — the spirit! We're in one of the worst economic times ever, and it's only getting worse. But people are just like "Fuck it! I'm gonna have fun one way or another!" And it's not via going out and buying shit. It's being achieved by creating things.

Howitt: Right. And using what you have and realizing what you have, instead of chasing the carrot or keeping up with the Joneses. It's sorta like, "This is what I have, and I can do what I want today" as opposed to "I don't have what I want. I gotta get my flat-screen TV or I'm not gonna be happy."

MT: Well, that's always kinda been the Detroit ethic, right? You find weird shit in funky thrift stores or whatever, and then it's like, "Hey, we can use this! We can use what's already here to make something entirely new."

Moss: That's totally what it is. We're kind of in a shell of a city — a former arsenal of democracy that's now just dying slowly. ... When you have this almost destructive ethic, there's a lot you can make from it. That's why I think we're all flourishing so much, and that's what's so human about it. What's more human than creating and being with other humans, doing things? The whole community spirit, the whole zeitgeist ... everyone seems to be psyched about how things are going right now. And it only builds upon itself. But it won't last forever, so you don't wanna sit around and analyze it too much. You just wanna roll with it.

Howitt: Right, we don't need to mythologize it while it unfolds. 'Cause if you're eulogizing it, well, guess what?

MT: It's dead.

Thompson: So how many records has Loco Gnosis put out this year?

Howitt: I think six. And documenting this scene is what's important. Because things go on and all of a sudden, it's gonna be 10, 20 years later and people are gonna discover these records. Or we're gonna listen back to them and be like. "Look what we were into!" Loco Gnosis is not just a label; it's like an archive, you know? I want that stuff to be there, just the way this stuff needs to be out. At www.locognosis.com, on our homepage, you can find downloads and electronic press kits that include two songs, photos and a little bio. So, anytime someone wants a press kit, just go to that page and it's all there.

Thompson: And if we can do well with these Detroit showcases, we can then start booking our bands in other cities. Like, once a month, we could have a little Detroit show in a different city.

Howitt: I had this friend e-mail me, and he was like, "Do you think the city's ever gonna be able to come back?" And I responded that, everybody's doing something. It's wild. There are so many kickass bands right now. Seriously. I would like to take Detroit town-to-town — sorta like "OK, you pick 50 bands. Then I'll bring you 50 Detroit bands that will kick your ass!"

Friday, Aug. 10, at the Bohemian National Home, 3009 Tillman St., Detroit; 313-737-6606.

Mike Ross is a freelance writer. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.
- the Metro Times 8/08/07

""hey esse, Don't You Know They're Loco..Gnosis?""

Jeff Howitt — founder of Loco Gnosis Records, and lead singer of Detroit rock weirdos Duende! — is crazy. Or maybe crazy isn't the right word. Perhaps "passionate" is a better fit. Either way, the sporadic, stream-of-consciousness style answers he gave to our questions about him, his label, and his involvement in the Blue Moon In June showcase — taking place Saturday, June 28 at the CAID, and featuring 13 of Detroit's best bands — would suggest that the man has nothing but pure love running through his veins. Below are excerpts from said conversation with Howitt, as well as his amazing knack for describing each band performing at Blue Moon In June. If you can decipher the code, you'll be excited about every one of 'em. — Ryan Allen

Is Loco Gnosis a record label? A promotions company? A group of crazy fringe musicians getting together to help one another out? What's the scoop?

"What are we doing?" That is the million dollar (Okay, hundred dollar) question just for ourselves. We actually are more into barter. We exchange. We are a workshop. Everyone involved has brought something to the round table, from graphic design to video editing to just having a camera or being able to play in more than one band even in one night or just knowing a guy. The culture of song is the reflections of the people, and we support anybody who is in service to the muse. A traditional label of old? No. The intent is to have [the music] able to be heard possibly by generations of people digging for music beyond fad or career.

How long have you been at this in general? How did you go from being a musician in a band to wanting to do something more…to wanting to create more of a community?

When I was 19, I self published a crappy book of poems, after taking an oath of sorts from Robert Frost. He told his family to let him be for 20 years so he could dedicate himself to the study of poetry. In that 20th year he read at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy. My goals are definitely not that lofty, but the thought of selfless dedication to self education with no outside certification or needing permission inspired me very much. I have always been drawn more towards the gears and pulleys of how things work. We did a book called "Satori" in 1993, which was stories, poems, and drawings; it was just handed out among friends. When I left Michigan for Phoenix in 1999, we pitched a "Wang Dang Doodle" — which was thematically based off the blues song where you invite "Pistol Toting Pete" and "Fast Talking Fannie"…all the badasses and have a party. In Phoenix, the bar scene was pretty lame. But on first Fridays, art galleries would book all these crazy bands, break dancers, fire performers and have it out. I worked with a collective there called Cat in Cog and we did a lot of shows with props and fake blood. Great fun.

What is the inspiration for putting on Blue Moon in June?

Ray [Thompson] from Oscillating [Fan Club] had the name, the venue ,and the thought of it to honor Detroit. When we started getting it together, we came across a lot of talk of it having been 40 years since the riots, and it took shape as an expression of solidarity between the city and the arts. A John Sinclair or Pun Plamondon shouldn't be forgotten. They weren't criminals; they were responding in a time where human rights were up for debate. Their work has stood and should be studied. When Sinclair got arrested, John Lennon came and protested. We didn't have Flower Power; we had White Panthers. Maybe Blue Moon In June can become such a institution for people in years to come.

In short, one sentence descriptions, give us your feelings about this year's Blue Moon in June lineup, and the reason why people should be excited about these bands, if they've never heard them before:

Pinkeye: "A magic 8 ball that knows what is best for you."

Deastro: "Carl Jung said UFO's are reflections of future…"

Woodman: "Papa Staples REVISITED."

Oscillating Fan Club: "If Edward Scissorhands had a band…"

Duende!: "They kicked Anton Newcomb's ass in Philadelphia."

Silverghost: "Glorious transcendence of the garage boom!"

Wildcatting: "Mystical unveiling of the peers of the peerless band."

Dutch Pink: "Arcane orations and rare heirloomed arrangements."

Stare Into The Sun: "The controls have already been set for the heart."

Red China: "Diplomats of the broken republic or kids left alone after the bomb went off."

Mick Bassett and the Marthas: "Get ready for the new Yankee Doodle Dandy."

Drew Bardo: "Virtuous and learned agent of chaos."

Satori Circus: "Moon shadow of the revolution."

Overall, what's your feeling on the Detroit music scene? Where do you fit in? What bands, besides the ones you put out, do you find yourself gravitating towards? What gets you excited, man?

I see it as much more diverse than it ever has been. This is Detroit, so certain things will stay in place — like soul and energy. The sheer number of bands just blows my mind, really. Everybody is in a band. What Duende! is playing isn't hot right now with all the keyboard and drum machine bands which I love but seeing like the Readies lets me know we are rooted in something that if it isn't brewing it is lasting or cyclical. What gets me excited, though, is if you are into what you are doing. Soul and energy captivates and convinces me. - DETOUR 7/09/08

"The Remnants of Truth and Beauty"

The Detroit Artist Workshop held rap sessions every Sunday through the mid-60s around the campus of Wayne State University. They celebrated the sharing and collaborating of their untamable creation. In November, 1964, this network of poets, musicians, writers and social activists — or what the fenced-in squares expelled as “beatniks” — forged a strong organic union of support, that worked against the idea of the "starving artist" — establishing their own means of production and distribution for a new, freer art, inspired by jazz and poetry.

That tradition continues today through Detroit label, Loco Gnosis, (headed by Jeff Howitt, singer/guitarist of psychedelic roots rockers Duende), a unique collective of bands spanning rock, psyche, surf, punk and the plainly indefinable; all sharing a reverence for what came before, (namely the DAW). This week, Loco Gnosis and DAW revive the “rap session” event.

May Days will be a celebration of artists’ communities (May 1-2) at The BoHouse (3009 Tillman) near old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. The festival features jazz, poetry, art installations and 30 local bands performing over the two nights, with performances from John Sinclair, James Semark, Pinkeye, Duende, The Friendly Foes, Gardens, Carjack, The Oscillating Fan Club, Bars of Gold and Red China. Artwork by Leni Sinclair, Gary Grimshaw, Carl Lundgren, Robin Veresh, Glen Allen, Chris Kennington, Alaina Carlson and more.

“We consider it very important to reveal or assess lineage in the arts at every turn,” said Howitt. “Like Burrough’s said, ‘Build a shelf that will last a thousand years!’”

John Sinclair, poet and activist, marveled at the artists on the Loco Gnosis roster. “Fast forward 40 years and here I am again,” Sinclair wrote in liner notes of his Pinkeye collaborated live album, “in the same neighborhood with exactly the same sort of people I’d grown up with at the (Detroit Artist’s) Workshop and doing the exact same thing!”

As predecessor to Howitt and his tribal gang of scruffy sound splattering outlaws, Sinclair will read poetry with various Loco Gnosis musicians as The Pinkeye Orchestra. DAW co-founder James Semark hosts a jazz program on the second floor, featuring Duende drummer Laura Willem running through a few Coltrane classics. “We thought ... what jazz did for the expansion of rock’n’roll and just music in general that it be represented ... a haven for our cultural elders in Detroit,” Howitt said.

Vintage merchandise/art installations from Gary Grimshaw (famous for his concert poster designs), and others will also be upstairs, with more art on the main floor by Oscillating Fan Club drummer Robin Veresh and longtime Howitt ally Glen Allen.

For Howitt, this represents the near-culmination of a Robert Frost-inspired “20 Year Promise” to himself (made 18 years ago). to drown himself in culture. “In this last cycle everything has happened so fast,” said Howitt, “but things didn’t stabilize until I recruited who would become Duende. The band will release their second full-length, Remnant of a Remnant this July. Artwork for the forthcoming LP will be on display at the May Day festival. - REAL DETROIT WEEKLY 4/28/09

"Summit Stand"

“We are the mountain,” said Duende singer/guitarist Jeff Howitt, founder of Loco Gnosis. “So, it doesn’t matter where you are on the mountain, we all have a moment at the top before we come down and go back.”

Duende, just one of a handful of avant-psych-rock bands on Loco Gnosis, will have their summit stand on August 28 at the CAID, when they celebrate the release of their second full-length, Remnant of a Remnant.

Born from a fateful basement jam in 2006, which included drummer Laura Willem, members have come and gone, finally whittling the band down to a four piece in 2008, with bassist Jason Worden and lead guitarist Joel McCune. Howitt and McCune go way back, nearing ten years, since they met in Phoenix, bonding over McCune’s prior psych band, The Hypnotwists. The duo’s jam sessions galvanized Howitt’s songwriting from that point forward, thus birthing Duende’s ballads.

The label includes Wildcatting and Oscillating Fan Club and also holds friendly ties (on levels ranging from thick-as-thieves to just-drinking-buddies) with locals like Oblisk, Silverghost, Dutch Pink and the Detroit Artist Workshop. "[We’re] only in our third year,” Howitt says, shrugging as he stresses "only" and speaks of a five-year plan in which still, so much is possible. “We can try to create a dream-space, a place where we can make fantastic things happen. (But), just because something hasn’t happened (yet) doesn’t mean it isn’t gestating. We’re trying to make it sustainable.”

This philosophy guided their recent East Coast tour, where they returned to old friendly venues, traded shows and shared amps—all part of the van-journeyed game. “It’s about establishing a peer group, sharing ideas and resources. What might have started as maybe a sun with planets moving around, has turned into more of a constellation,” Howitt says.

Duende, as one aspect, epitomizes the tight-locked-arms of a gang, with this lineup bonding over two years, four tours and nearing one hundred shows. “This band is like eight or nine people,” he says this, referencing guest contributions to Remnant as well as past members. “We’re always about sharing the credit. We’re fans. We want to play with the people we’re inspired by, we want to learn from them.”

After cycling through all the people Howitt has collaborated with, through other bands, through Loco Gnosis ensemble-jam-orchestra Pinkeye, through live recordings with jazz/poet/provocateur-legend John Sinclair, he smiles, shrugs and says, “If I know you, generally I’m gonna know you for long time.”

Remnant was recorded in January, in Manhattan. over the course of a week’s long tour, in the span of three strung out days in the studio with engineer Matt Verta-Ray. The tracks were laid down, with contributors Ray Thompson and Dustin Leslie, at the N.Y. Hed Studios. Back home, Dave Feeny at Tempermill mastered it.

The album title references the belief of Hopi Indians regarding the gradual and inevitable deluding or deterioration of the white race. The album, ringing and reeling with the band’s characteristic molding of western twang rock, southern gothic blues and spaced out psychedelia (with anything in between), is also lyrically rapt with myth, tied to a white witch from the four corner states, as well as a reverence for Detroit lore and counterculture, be it its musical past or its embattled souls from the mid to late '60s, through the Civil Rights movement. - REAL DETROIT WEEKLY August 25th 2009


DUENDE! (LGP-023) November 3, 2007 Loco Gnosis
Xiao Dong Wei plays erhu (Chinese fiddle) and Original White Panther Gary Rasmussen guests on bass and twelve string guitar. They also have recorded a version of Rasmussen’s first band the UP’s Just Like An Aborigine mixed with Together for a tribute to Detroit/Ann Arbor music from the late 1960’s with Kevin Sharp and Dark Greene Entertainment.
The recording was book-ended with a live event that was just held at the Crofoot Ballroom in Pontiac, MI on October 30, 2008:
“The long and loud night of rock'n'roll proved to be as eclectic as it was electric. MC5's influence was affably apparent, from the stripped-down sound of DUENDE!..,” – Travis Wright/SPIN October 31, 2008

ON THE STEPS… (LGP-030) November 1, 2008 Loco Gnosis
"Partly B-sides, partly retrospective, Steps is also a "stacked" re-release of local literate-goth-rock, Duende's '07 debut, complete with new material. It's a percolation of Bo Diddley's rhythm, Chuck Berry's swagger, Hendrix's astronomic devastations and the grit of the Stones, all refracted through beat trips through the desert's grainy romance and back through to Detroit's grimy melancholic inspiration. Think White Light/White Heat recorded in the '50s at Sun Studios with plenty of bud, Zen and R.L. Burnside hovering near the boards.” **** (four stars) - Jeff Milo/REAL DETROIT WEEKLY November 4, 2008

REMNANT OF A REMNANT (LGP-032/LGR-002) August 28th, 2009 Loco Gnosis
Recorded and Engineered by Matt Verta-Ray and mixed with DUENDE! at N.Y. HED in Manhattan January 31st-February 2nd, 2009. It was mastered by Dave Feeny at Tempermill Studios in Ferndale, MI. The vinyl was produced at Archer Record Pressing in Detroit, MI. Dustin Leslie guests on keyboard, organ, upright piano and guitar. Ray Thompson on Baritone Saxophone.
"Somewhere between Detroit and Phoenix, between the soul and outer space, between the city and the desert, exists the exploded, non-linear, wobbly and wild psychedelic world of Duende — a cross of roots Americana, hard-driving blues rock, and psychedelic-folk (both of the swooning, lava-lamp Brit-pop variety and of the coarse/haunting noise-experimentation variety). Flavorful and blunt, Remnant of a Remnant is the local quartet’s second full-length and certainly their most crisp (in sound) and palatable (in recording); singer/guitarist Jeff Howitt’s yowls and blurts boom right up front over Laura Willem’s hollow pounding rhythms (both find a nice balance of that gruff and tumbly garage style mixed with a freewheeling jazz sensibility); meanwhile bassist Jason Worden brings in a darker groove, a bit smokier and growling, and the fervent noodling of Joel McCune pivot and spiral upward, with pedal jitters and psychedelic howls sliding into bristling hard-rocking riffage. It may take a few listens to get acclimated to what Duende’s laying down — though thick with modesty and charisma, they’re still unapologetically avant-garde in their noisy, ramshackle charge, asking the listener to dig on the twangy vibe right alongside the moan of a theremin." Jeff Milo/REAL DETROIT WEEKLY August 25, 2009

WAY IN IS OUT June 9th, 2010 Loco Gnosis
"Possibly Duende's most realized compositions yet collected — these songs are staggeringly well dressed with a delicious and chilling atmosphere, from wheezing organs to piano chimes and juke joint guitar clangs. "Way In Is Out" feels like a one-two punchy hoedown march. Their Hank Williams interpretation, "Alone and Cruel," is the record's jewel, rousing a spooky nocturnal waltz. The album is full of quavering vocals, drums and bass guitar topped off with a breezy accordion (from its engineer, Dave Feeney) and plodding piano (from Dutch Pink's Dustin Leslie). Way In Way Out's lyrics weigh as heady as Buddhist philosophy, from implications of fortune telling to the lonely spirits of Detroit, all shambled down into "Boss Radio's" freewheeling "big boom boom thump." Those dizzying guitars and minimalist hollow drums of "Boss" pair nicely with the spook-church sanctity of the furling organs. While the bass bends and booms with restraint on those blues shufflers it still manages to explode for supplemental garage rocky/girl-group backbeats ("Stop and Think it Over"). Not only that but the vocals are touched by the bravado of late-'60s rockers that freely lean into more sing-speak spells, flush with a spurring theatricality." Jeff Milo/REAL DETROIT WEEKLY July 7th 2010

FLORENCE TO THE MAD MAN August 27th Loco Gnosis
"Not so much outlaw country, more like outsider, or even Outer Limits ... see, Detroit quartet Duende singe the traditional twang of Western ballads with a psychedelic haze. Is it fierce and dazzling? Yes. Is it murky with a surf-rock ready rhythm? Yup. Do we hear UFO-like quavers of a theremin and the ridin'-the-rails wheeze of a harmonica? Of course.
Indeed, the album's a bit all over the place: "No Town's" swift and spacey hard hooks go up and at 'em, while reine



DUENDE! made their cowboy shirted live debut in November of 2006 and have wrote and gigged steadily since originally assembling for a recording session after a fateful Summer Solstice jam when a thunderstorm blacked out the neighborhood but the band played on.

The ensemble (though loose at first), has maintained it's core of Jeffery Howitt, whose vocal style has always held a touch of Tyrannosaurus Rex-era Bolan and post motor cycle accident Dylan; Laura "the Boom" Willem drumming like Mo Tucker twisting Charlie Watts wrist. Former Hypno-Twist guitarist "Jelly Roll" Joel McCune, a finger picking purveyor of Sonic-Americana joined the band just in time for DUENDE! to mark their first year performing live. Multi-instrumentalist Scott Sanford joined the band in June of 2010 and plays bass and guitar.

..with established roots artists like Magnolia Electric Co., The Sadies (with and without X's John Doe), the Watson Twins, the Supersuckers, Greg Ginn (Black Flag), Jack Oblivion (The Oblivions), Joe Buck Yourself (Legendary Shack Shakers, Hank III), Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Heavy Trash and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion; as well as with touring indie bands like the Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, He's My Brother, She's My Sister, The DoDos, Hoots & Hellmouth, The Strange Boys, Darker My Love; and along side local legends including Motown's first psychedelic son guitarist Dennis Coffey, pre-Garage Boom architect Dan Kroha, UP! and Sonic Rendezvous Band bassist Gary Rasmussen and supporting iconic poet and activist John Sinclair.

The Band went into the studio this past June with Dave Feeny at Tempermill Studios in Ferndale, MI. The first single will be a collaboration with Hip-Hop duo Passalacqua for a single to be released on Bellyache Records this September.
In the Spring The Band will also release a tour only cassette on Checker's Records when they tour down to Texas and back in March.
No release date is set for the full length or who will be releasing it is expected by years end.