Shadowbox Live Presents "Louder Than Love" (Grande Ballroom documentary) Sunday, July 20, 7 pm / Bonus Content by Mike Parks & Ricki C.

First the details, below that some great MC5 readin' from Ricki C. & Mike Parks. 


Shadowbox Live (503 S. Front Street, phone 416-7625) will present Louder Than Love, the acclaimed documentary about Detroit’s legendary Grande Ballroom this Sunday, July 20th, at 7 pm.  The Grande (pronounced Gran-DEE) was Detroit’s version of the Fillmore East and West, Chicago’s Kinetic Playground or the Boston Tea Party, the great rock & roll ballrooms of the 1960’s.  Produced & directed by filmmaker Tony D’Annunzio, Louder Than Love won Best Documentary Award at the Las Vegas Film Festival, Best Independent Standout Award at Hell's Half Mile Movie & Music Festival, and has had 16 consecutive sold-out screenings. 

Shadowbox Live plans to provide a true Grande Ballroom experience with the award-winning film interlaced with authentic light shows, original poster art and artists.

Legendary MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer will join Shadowbox house band Bill Who? as they kick out the jams on tunes by not only The MC5, but also Led Zeppelin, The Who and more.

Some of the greatest bands in the world got their start or made their name at the Grande Ballroom in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Louder Than Love is the greatest untold story in rock & roll history as revealed by the musicians, artists and people who lived it.


Schedule of Events:

4:00pm – Doors Open to the Backstage Bistro.  There will be a gallery and sale showcasing authentic rock art and photography

6:30pm – Doors Open to Shadowbox Live

7:00pm – Louder Than Love Begins


For ticket prices and more information on Louder Than Love, Sunday July 20th, please visit



The MC5 and The Grande Ballroom by Mike Parks 


The MC5/Grande Ballroom symbiotic relationship: linked together forever. 

Detroit and Ann Arbor in the late 1960’s were violent, high-voltage and dangerous.  The MC5 was the response, referred to as “The fathers of metal & punk,” but they were in a category by themselves. 

My involvement in the 5’s story happened by accident: a fork in the road.  To celebrate my expulsion the last day of my senior year of high school, my hitchhiking partner and fellow musician Phil Stokes and I decided to go to Chicago to a Spooky Tooth and Bo Diddley concert.  En route we were tossed off the Ohio turnpike by a patrolman who suggested we go to Detroit where we might find satisfaction. 

That night we ended up on the doorstep of the Grande Ballroom, where the MC5 were playing.  This was a pivotal moment.  After the show we met the sole member of the road crew who offered us a road gig and a floor to sleep on at the MC5’s Hill Street house.  We accepted and turned one night into a summer of electrifying shows. 

Fred “Sonic” Smith and Wayne Kramer were two of rockdom’s best dual guitarists – tight and damaging.  Rob Tyner was a fearless front-man.  The rhythm section of Dennis Thompson and Michael Davis: NUCLEAR.  Each live show outperformed the last, and obliterated the politics and bad management that surrounded them. 

The MC5 was like no other band. 

A True Testimonial.  - Mike Parks / July 17th, 2014


THE MC5 IN 1968 by Ricki C.


“I was 16 in 1968 the first time I heard The MC5
Rock & roll was, at that point, the only thing keeping me alive”

Ricki C. / “If All My Heroes Are Losers” / © 2000


I first heard of The MC5 sometime in 1968.  I can’t remember exactly how, it was just part of that Teenage Jungle Telegraph that existed back in those days.  There was no real Rock Press to speak of back then, Rolling Stone had just started publishing, and you could only buy it in head shops on campus, not in every Meijers and Kroger’s.  There was certainly no internet or YouTube.  If you wanted to see a band you had to GET IN YOUR CAR, DRIVE TO A VENUE AND PAY MONEY TO WATCH THEM.  (How very quaint.)  And there were no Smartphones, Spotify and Rhapsody: if you wanted to hear a band you had to go downtown to Marco Records or Lazarus and BUY A SLAB OF VINYL.  (Grandpa, what was vinyl?)

Anyway my rock & roll best friend Dave Blackburn and I somehow discovered The MC5 (I’m betting by some connection to The Who) and became Instant Raving Fans.  We were lower-middle class West Side boys – although attending a rather genteel Catholic high school, I must admit – who had mortal blows delivered to our beloved jagged-edge Power Rock & Roll by the Summer Of Love bands in 1967.  I mean, I’m sure Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead meant well, but let’s face facts, they were hardly delivering the likes of “My Generation” or “Get Off My Cloud.”  (And indeed, it was during soundcheck at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom that The MC5 – who were opening that night for rather lightweight Boston folk-rockers The Beacon Street Union – first issued the timeless invocation “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers.”)

Dave & I and our West Side compadres were hippies for about 20 minutes, but even as early as ’68 we were looking for something a little wilder and a lot louder & harder, ya know?  And The MC5 and all the other Detroit bands fit that bill to a tee.  Plus they were only one state over from Ohio, so they played the Midwest like the local bands that they were.  (I saw the Bob Seger System at the Sugar Shack on 4th Street more times than I can count.)  

And then in February 1969 the first MC5 album – Kick Out The Jams – was released and OUR FUCKING BRAINS EXPLODED!  Really, I can’t overestimate to you the effect that album had on our teenage psyches.  From the very first moments of Brother J.C. Crawford’s intro straight through to the last outer-space noises of “Starship” this record is one for the ages.  (Is it the Greatest Live Rock & Roll Record of All Time?  It was until the expanded version of The Who’s “Live At Leeds” was released in the CD era.  And some nights at my house even now, 45 years later, the original vinyl edition of “Kick Out The Jams” still kicks Pete & the boys’ asses.)

Okay, okay, okay, I promised I’d keep this at 500 words, we’re rapidly headed for 900 and I could go on like this all night, so let me just say this: The MC5 were one of the five greatest bands EVER on this planet.  They kicked out a truly fearsome noise, they had killer stage outfits and they did unison dance steps, like a punk/metal Temptations or Four Tops (they were from Motown after all).  In some ways they were like James Brown backed by The Who, and what more could you ask for in a rock & roll band?  The MC5 never made it big because they were just too loud, too smart, too uncompromising, too political, just flat-out too bad-ass to play The Great American Entertainment Game and become Big Stars.  (It’s widely held that The MC5 were the target/inspiration for The Beatles couplet:  “And if you go carryin’ pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow” in the song “Revolution.”  For a West Side boy like me, those whiny limey bastards putting down my Midwest crew was just too hard to stomach.)  (sidenote – It was only five years from The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show to The MC5 at the Grande, five years from “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to “Kick Out The Jams.”  Where have we gone in the last five years in what is today laughingly referred to as rock & roll: from Mumford & Sons to Imagine Dragons?  God help us.)

The MC5 were, in many ways, their own worst enemies: they refused to play by the rules, refused to keep their mouths shut, made their fair share of bad decisions, managed to alienate both the Straight AND the Hip Worlds (The Velvet Underground in particular) and eventually tumbled down into Street Drug Hell.  Does any of that make me love them less?  No, it just makes me respect them more: because we were all lower middle-class boys and we were all supposed to be in this together.  Kick out the jams, motherfuckers.

(ps. The MC5 is not in The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.  And that is why I do not go there.) – Ricki C. / July 15th, 2014.