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Friday, October 16, 2009

Wilco, Manoogian Mansion and a Tour de Ferndale


Tonight at 7:30pm Wilco will play a show at the Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor.  Price for the tickets is $30, which is not bad for an act like Wilco.  Their most recent album, Wilco (the album) on Nonesuch Records is out now and will probably be featured at their show tonight.  I have never been to a Wilco show, but I've heard they are sweet.

Wilco (the alternative rock band) is a result of the split of the popular alternative country band Uncle Tupelo.  Jay Farrar went his way forming Son Volt and other solo projects while the rest of the members led by Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco.  The term "wilco" refers to the voice procedure term "will comply."  Find more history of the band and their music here.

Manoogian Mansion

The Mayor of Detroit is supposed to live in the Manoogian Mansion in downtown Detroit.  But Mayor Dave Bing does not want to.  It costs $160,000/year to maintain the 4,000 sq. ft. mansion that was a gift to the city of Detroit in 1966 by the Manoogian family, founders of Masco.  I say if Bing doesn't want to live in it, the city should sell it to a brewpub or microbrewery to transform it into a restaurant/bar/brewpub a la McMenamins on the west coast.  Bing maintains a condo in Detroit so that he could run for mayor.

Tour De Ferndale

Ferndale has some popular night spots.  The WAB, The PostComo's, Dino's, they're all so crowded during the weekend.  But what about the other guys?  The bars that don't attract the young crowd on traditional bar nights.  I think those are the real champions of downtown Ferndale.  They are the heart and soul of any neighborhood.  They are legendary bars that can do without the glamor and glitz that the others relish in.  They have a history that you can't make up, and they have a cozy feel to them.  They make the neighborhood what it is. 

Tony's Sports BarThanks to Brett Callwood's review on metromix for the pic

My brother and I started our night off at Tony's.  A small sports bar with a strong baseball theme on Woodward Ave. north of 9 mile.  We sat down at old worn out bar that looked like it had seen some things next to some older gentlemen who were there for the Phillies vs. Dodgers playoff game. When we ordered our drafts (miller lite for me of course) they came in oversized pint-and-a-half glasses.  There was a simple piece of paper advertising the world famous chili for $3.50.  It seemed that most of the patrons had just finished either softball practice or a game and were there for a couple beers.  The total capacity of the place said 78.

Go to fullsize image

After Tony's we walked in the freezing cold down to the New Way bar, also on Woodward but closer to 9 mile.  When we walked in the place was dark and there were only 3 people there.  One was the owner, one was the bartender, one was just a lady who said she was old enough to be our mom (she didn't look that old).  It seemed like a good place to see live music.  On the way out I picked up an add for the band Bazooka Jones that is playing there Saturday night starting at 10pm. We decided to have just one beer there (cash only, no tabs).  They were also watching the Phillies vs. Dodgers game.

Danny's Irish Pub, Ferndale, MI

The last stop on our Tour was the best.  We walked further south on Woodward, just north of 9 mile to Danny's Irish Pub.  There we picked up a game of darts (no points cricket) with a younger looking guy that seemed to be a regular.  The crowd here was younger but the feel was still neighborhood bar, cozy and dimly lit, and you probably wouldn't want to touch the floor with your bare feet.  The juke box was also a pleasant surprise, featuring albums from Iggy Pop, The MC5, The Jam and Operation Ivy.  There was an old guy at the bar in suspenders that looked like he didn't know where he was.  I am not sure if he could talk.

After losing $1 in darts and then winning $3 in darts we decided it was time to go.  It was still a work night for one of us.  But I was glad that we decided to leave the house on this Thursday night to plunge ourselves into the neighborhood bar scene in Ferndale.  They are not fancy, you won't find hot young coeds slurping vodka cranberry and it won't be crowded.  But you will find a community that loves to go out for some beer drinking, dart throwing and good times.

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