Concert Review: Tribute to Fred Sonic Smith @ The Magic Stick

sonic 799430 Concert Review: Tribute to Fred Sonic Smith @ The Magic Stick detroit concerts  Kudos to everyone involved in staging the Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith memorial show at the Magic Stick last Friday night, which celebrated Smith’s life and music via the recent 10 year anniversary of his passing. Musical nods to Smith’s music with the MC5 were peppered throughout the evening: son Jackson teamed with Hiawatha and former Sonic’s Rendezvous Band bassist Gary Rasmussen to dole out an impressive take on “Shakin’ Street,” while the Sirens took a playful romp through “High School.” Jackson also sat in on the entire Skeemin’ NoGoods set, which showcased a grimy take on “The American Ruse” as well as some particularly impressive guitar dualing between Smith and NoGoods frontman John Speck. All in all, though, it seemed that the biggest crowd-pleasing performance of the evening was Carolyn Striho’s acoustic take on Fred and Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power,” performed with Jackson on rhythm guitar.

The Cyril Lords, Grande Nationals and Capital Cities also put on worthwhile performances to round out the evening. The biggest (and possibly best) ‘surprise’ of the show came before most folks had even filed through the door, when Jarrod Wolny took the stage at around 9:30 to front a re-assembled Grayling (consisting of Grayling fans John Speck, Jackson Smith and Joe Leone) for a quick set. Wolny looked surprisingly relaxed back in his frontman role, and the band sounded great considering it was the line-up’s first gig together. (For those not in the know, Grayling is quite possibly the best Detroit band that too many folks have never heard of, and I myself will go on the record as saying that Wolny is easily one of the best songwriters of my lifetime.) All in all, it was quite a nice night, with all the proceeds going to benefit the VH1 Save the Music foundation. 

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