In our last post, we got into the history of the Grande Ballroom, in Detroit. Today, we’re focusing on Kick up the Jams by MC. For Rhona, it’s not about the people in the space, it’s about the space itself. We love these photos of MC5 performing at the Grande Ballroom because they might provide a visual counterpart to the sound someone might imagine when they look at Rhona’s color coupler print, Grande Ballroom, Detroit, MI.
In the recent article “Photo exhibit an homage to legendary music venues” by Sam Gnerre, Rhona gives some great quotes that clarify how she views the spaces she photographs as imbued with sound. Here’s a short excerpt from the article that frames Bitner’s experience photographing the Grande:
“‘I’m photographing sound,’ she says, ‘and listening to the space, to what came before there.’
She visited Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on an overcast day in 2008 and found ground zero of the incendiary Detroit rock scene that spawned the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges and Ted Nugent to be in decrepit shape.
‘The sun came out for five minutes while I was there, and I was able to capture the shot,’ she says.
Attempts to preserve and restore the Grande, now owned by a church, have so far been unsuccessful.
[…] ‘I’m not nostalgic,” Bitner says. “I’m not wishing for a better time. I’m just trying to hear the sounds of the rooms as I find them.’”
We think the second verse and second chorus of the song speak to Rhona Bitner’s treatment of her photographs as sound pieces. See below for bolded and italicized lyrics that we think Rhona would be really into.
Yes I’m starting to sweat
You know my shirt’s all wet
What a feeling
In the sounds that abounds
And resounds and rebounds off the ceiling
You gotta have it baby
You can’t do without
When you get that feeling
You gotta sock ‘em out
put that mic in my hand
And let me kick out the jam
Yes kick out the jams
I want to kick ‘em out
Want more? Read up on the awesome history of MC5, or cruise over to founding band member Jarrod Dicker’s blog—Machine Gun Thompson—where you can find stories about their performances at the Grande and totally psychedelic concert posters.
Anyone have an experience they’d like to share about the Grande Ballroom? Let us know!