Northern Soul is intrinsic to Detroit’s history, and Detroit’s sound. And it’s so much more than Motown.

On the podcast, I talk to Detroit music man and history buff Dan Austin about the importance of the genre, where to get started if you don’t know, and of course, the event. It’s one of my favorite episodes I’ve done lately, highlighting  a legacy that’s starting to fade with time.

“It’s a race against time, trying to track these folks down … J.J. Barnes, I met him because he was a security guard when I was working at the Free Press. And I walked in with some records one day, I had known J.J. for years … and he just asked, “you got any of my records there?” and it was one of those “holy cats! J.J., what’s your last name?” And he’s like “I’m J.J. Barnes.” You hold these records in such high esteem, and think that each one of them, a holy grail of just perfection. Many of these Detroit artists, they just still, live and walk among us. And sometimes we’re none the wiser.”

-Dan Austin

There’s also an event this Saturday night at the Marble Bar called the Motor City Soul Stomp, where a number of these records will be played. The event has been going on for a decade, but this is the first one truly back from the pandemic.

So check out the conversation with Dan on the podcast, and maybe see you on Saturday?

» How should we react to the words Stephen A. Smith said about Detroit? Me and Norris Howard discuss on the show as it’s been making the rounds from activists to artists to the city council president.

Maybe, as Detroiters, we should think about walking tall. I wasn’t going to get into this one — after an apology and explanation by Smith, I honestly just rolled my eyes and scrolled by — but a number of podcast listeners shared this one to me so we thought we’d weigh in.

👩‍🍳 News Bites

» The James Beard semifinalist list is out, and Metro Detroit has quite the showing. If you don’t know, the awards highlight some of the culinary best in America. A few of my comments in italics.

Outstanding Restaurateur: Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere - Baobab Fare - Detroit

So glad to see them on this list. If you’ve not been through their spot at Woodward and Grand Boulevard, it’s quite tasty. They’re opening a second location on Warren on the east side of Detroit.

Outstanding Restaurant: Selden Standard - Detroit

I just looked and they’ve been around about ten years. It’s great to see a spot that is now one of the venerable mainstays get an award nomination.

Emerging Chef: Rocky Coronado - Nepantla - Detroit

Best New Restaurant: Alpino - Detroit

Two of my friends have gone to this Corktown spot, I haven’t yet, I’m jealous.

Outstanding Bakery: Shatila Bakery - Dearborn

If you’ve never been to Shatila, it’s wild! In a good way! And tasty! When you pull up, you’ll know you’re there.

Outstanding Hospitality: AlTayeb Restaurant - Dearborn

Outstanding Wine and Other Beverages Program: Folk - Detroit; Spencer - Ann Arbor

Always enjoyed Folk. Another Corktown spot. I’ve not been to Spencer yet. I do need some good Ann Arbor suggestions, it’s been a minute since I’ve properly dined there. The other week I visited for the first time Literati Bookshop; and that was a lot of fun.

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)

  • Doug Hewitt - Freya in Detroit
  • Ji Hye Kim - Miss Kim in Ann Arbor
  • Dan Klenotic - Bellflower in Ypsilanti
  • Hajime Sato - Sozai in Clawson
  • John Yelinek - Ladder 4 Wine Bar in Detroit

Ladder 4 is excellent. Sure, there’s the beautiful interior in an old firehouse. But in warmer weather, I had a cocktail on the upstairs patio with a friend. There’s so many good ways to experience this place. I look forward to trying the others, I hear good things about Clawson lately.

» After more than 20 years, it’s the end of the line for Bacco Ristorante in Southfield. Owner Luciano DelSignore announced the closure, he says to allocate time for new projects. Bacco Ristorante, known for its elegant ambiance and authentic cuisine, will serve its final meals on March 23. DelSignore plans to continue operating his other places and is also working on a new venture. [Freep]

» Apartment Disco is temporarily closed due smoke damage. The recently opened second floor dance spot on Mack at the Grosse Pointe Park / Detroit border will be closed for “likely” a “few months.” There was a fire at the business next door. You also might have known the spot downstairs as Lost River before it recently stopped serving.

» Nationally popular destination gas station Sheetz is pushing the pause button on locations in Rochester Hills and Waterford Township. The project in Romulus, as far as I know, is moving forward. The reasons aren’t clear, but they have been running into some resistance in local communities, including a proposed location in Fraser being voted down by their planning commission. They plan to have new announcements soon, as the plan was to go into the Michigan market in a big way. [Oakland Press]

» Philippine fast casual chain Jollibee is open in Sterling Heights. If you like sweet spaghetti (yes, it’s a banana ketchup with hot dog bits), this might be for you. They also serve fried chicken they call “ChickenJoy.” There were lines around the block for Michigan’s first location on opening day. [Eater Detroit]

I’ve tried it before in downtown Chicago (pic above). Lots of people were smashing it when I visited. The chicken, to me, was better than the spaghetti which I’m guessing being so sweet and full of hot dogs is an acquired taste. I did appreciate their mascot, though.

» The Detroit Beer Exchange is no longer trading. It opened during a tough time during the pandemic in 2021, and it seemed to not completely catch on at Washington Boulevard and Grand River in downtown Detroit. There was also an arcade bar space downstairs and a pizza spot as part of the concept.

The Kalamazoo spot has been going strong for 13 years, so it kinda goes to show what works in one area may not work in another. Residential density is still a real challenge in downtown Detroit compared to other downtowns, so usually it’s the destination spots that draw in from all over the region. I think that’ll change in time, and has improved, but it’s still a challenge. I just hope that something else finds their way there. It’s right across the street from the popular Le Supreme and a totally revitalized Book Tower.

🏙 A listing with a view

» If you’re willing to part with $5,000 a month, you can have a sky view into Comerica Park anytime you want.

This listing in the David Broderick — yes, it’s the building with the whales that ads sometimes cover up — highlights a three-story penthouse with a loft and porch space. [Facebook Marketplace]

It’s 2,200 square feet, three bedrooms and three bathrooms. Pet-friendly, and lots of services in the building — plus a spiral staircase to a loft that’s perfect if you’re going to work from home, or entertain.

I’m sharing as I’ve seen a pretty big rise in people saying they want or have a pied-à-terre, or city pad for weekends and such. And, well, if you’re wealthy - what is $5k a month? But what do you think? What would you pay? (I eliminated the $1k option because there’s almost no universe where a decent three bedroom is $1,000 a month anymore near here).

We’re done for today. If this is your first time here, consider signing up for future notes for free:

And if you can spare it, consider buying me a coffee (or two) to keep things going:

Until next time — remember that you are somebody and I’ll see you around Detroit.


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