Ben Howard

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Ben Howard (born May 24, 1988) is an English singer-songwriter, born in London. He moved to Totnes Devon in his teens and is currently signed to Island Records and Communion Records.

Howard was raised by musical parents who exposed him to lots of their favorite records from singer-songwriter artists from the 1960s and 1970s, such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, which were a big influence on him.

After attending King Edward IV Community College and Torquay Boys’ Grammar School and then a short stint studying Journalism at University College Falmouth, Cornwall, Ben decided to focus on making music full time, making melodic rootsy folk music, with progressively darker lyrics.

He began to build up a reputation not just around Devon, but elsewhere in the UK as well. After a month of sold out dates across Europe and the UK Howard was eventually asked to sign to Island Records.

Because of the label’s history of UK folk singers, including Nick Drake and John Martyn, Ben decided to sign. With singles “Old Pine”, and “The Wolves” released already in 2011, he has recorded an album entitled Every Kingdom for the label, which was released on 6 October, 2011.

In 2012 Ben will launch his music in America with ‘Every Kingdom’ finding a release on April 3rd, with appearances at SXSW in Texas and a US tour already confirmed.

Ben Howard is confirmed to play at the 2012 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee

A Letter from Ben:

I was brought up in Totnes, South Devon.. neatly nestled between the moors and the sea.

I travel lots, surf when I can, probably drink too much, definitely think too much, and at 22 still make irrational choices. I like the outdoors and the Autumn. I’m happiest on the road or at home with friends.

Musically I started playing and writing as a kid and it’s maybe the one thing that’s never changed. Mum was a big listener to all the greats- the likes of John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, Donovan etc so that’s played a big part in my life (Dad was more of a Yes and Pink Floyd man). Our tape collection is pretty good:)

Much love from Devon,

Ben.

Read more about Ben @ awasht.com

Ben Howard on Facebook

Listen to Ben Howard on MySpace

Buy Every Kingdom on Amazon

LIONS CENTER DOMINIC RAIOLA TRAVELS LIKE A ROCKSTAR

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LIONS CENTER DOMINIC RAIOLA TRAVELS LIKE A ROCKSTAR – klamb21@gmail.com

Credit Detroit Lions

While front row tickets and backstage passes may satisfy the average rockers dream concert, Lions 6-foot-1 center Dominic Raiola took the phrase “living the dream” one step further and raised it with a “what’s up what’s up?”, boarding Kid Rock’s private jet on their way to his performance in St. Louis.

“It was the best show I’ve ever been to,” Raiola Said. “We flew to St. Louis and back, it was alright.”

Born in Honolulu, the Saint Louis High School prep star was undefeated in his final three years of high school before shipping off to the University of Nebraska.

“Eminem and Kid Rock are my favorite Detroit artists,” Raiola told Sportz Detroit Magazine. “I dig old school jams, Dr. Dre, Drake and Jay Z.”

In his first year as a cornhusker Raiola became the first freshman offensive lineman to start a game for the Cornhuskers since Rob Zatechka in 1991.

In 1999 he became the first sophomore center at Nebraska since Dave Rimington to participate in a postseason play and set a school record for knockdowns, which he broke again in 2000.

Raiola was recognized as a consensus first-team-All-American and won the Rimington Trophy in 2000, given to the best center in college football.

Given the opportunity to meet any artist, living or dead, the 2001 second round pick acknowledged one of the greats.

“I’d love to meet Frank Sinatra, but he’s no longer with us,” Raiola said.

Inspired by an eclectic of musical genres, the 2009 Detroit Lions Good Guy leaned towards the hip-hop scene for his ultimate collaboration.

“I’d love to see Drake and Kanye West,” Railoa said.

By Kevin Alan Lamb

Credit Eric Hampton

Kevin Alan Lamb joined the West Bloomfield High School varsity football team his junior year to avoid basketball conditioning. Despite no previous experience playing organized football, after one week of practice the 6-foot-7 230 pound junior was slotted to start both ways as a tight end and defensive end. Wear and tear of his throwing hand paired with little knowledge of what was going on made Lamb’s decision to hang up the cleats without ever playing a game an easy one.

Kristi Rauckis

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By Kristi Rauckis

I had the pleasure of meeting Kristi while Good Signing/eating at Little Tree in Royal Oak. Kristi is a senior in high school and continues to make the world a better place one piece of beautiful art at a time. Kristi is a Good Sign!

PISTONS CENTER BEN WALLACE SPECIALIZES IN THREE THINGS: BLOCKS, REBOUNDS AND HIP-HOP

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PISTONS CENTER BEN WALLACE HAS THREE SPECIALTIES: BLOCKS, REBOUNDS AND HIP-HOP –KLAMB21@GMAIL.COM

Big Ben Wallace has seen his role transform to a veteran leader in his return to Detroit/Mark Wasserman

For a seasoned veteran like Pistons center Ben “The Body” Wallace, the question isn’t which performing artist he’d like to meet, rather which he hasn’t.

“I think I already met them all,” Wallace said. “Jay Z, Lil Wayne, (Young) Jeezy, Scarface.”

Music plays a vital role in Wallace’s life, evident in the reason he finally made it to Comerica Park after nine years in Detroit.

“The best concert I went to recently was Jay-Z and Eminem. It was my first time going down to the baseball stadium,” the Virginia Union alum said.

The concert marked a historic night in both Comerica Park and hip-hop history as one of the most hyped concerts of all time lived up to its potential before nearly 45,000 screaming fans on September 2, 2010.

“Big Ben” Wallace recorded his 2,100 block versus Portland in January and became the third Piston (Laimbeer and Lanier) to record 7,000 rebounds at Indiana last year.

Growing up, the 15 year veteran kicked it to the Ghetto Boys, infamous for their track Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangstar, featured in the 1999 cult classic film, “Office Space”.

When the 6-foot-9 Wallace puts on his headphones to get hype before a game, you better believe he is listening to one two songs:

Never Snitch, (by) Ghetto Boys, or Renegade (by) Jay-Z and Eminem,” The Body told Sportz Detroit Magazine.

The four time Defensive Player of the year (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) witnessed his dream collaboration when two of his favorites joined forces on stage.

“2Pac and Scarface,” Wallace said with satisfaction.

A native of White Hall, Ala. Wallace is a four time All Star (2003-2006) and two time NBA Rebounding Champion (2002, 2003).

By Kevin Alan Lamb

2012 Great Lakes Mid Michigan Bike MS Ride

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#LOVE4MEEMERS

Having multiple sclerosis means that you may suddenly have blurry vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. Or that you may not always be able to walk, let alone ride a bike. The symptoms of MS are different, and devastating, for everyone – the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

#WHY I RIDE

I ride for my MEEMERS. That’s my nickname for my mom. Hence, the team name LOVE4MEEMERS. My mom’s a really lucky gal. She is always surrounded by people who love and care about her. She is the sweetest, most inspirational person I’ve ever met. In 1997 she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, however she has never let MS define her, she is my mom who happens to have MS. Sometimes when I find myself doing things I wonder…WHERE did I ever get these amazing qualities and I quickly am reminded. Everything I am and everything I do has a direct correlation to my mom. She is absolutely superb and I am motivated to do anything in my power to help fundraise to find a cure for MS…

#HOW I HELP

One of the ways I help make this happen is through campaigning for BIKE MS. I have participated in many other community events: WALK MS, BIKE MS and other fundraising events.

#HOW YOU CAN HELP

I hope you will join my team or if you are not a biker, make a donation no matter how big or small. Every bit helps and I believe we are on our way to a cure.  I cannot wait until the day when my mom and others alike can wake up in the morning and be able to walk again (painlessly), dance again, & hopefully for some to run again!!! Please join us in our efforts. It means SOOOO very much to the Wine Family. 🙂

#WHY YOU SHOULD SPONSOR ME

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected from the MS Bike Tour to not only support research for a cure tomorrow, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today. Because we can fight this disease by simply riding a bike, because we have chosen to help thousands of people through a contribution to the MS Bike Tour, we are now getting closer to the hour when no one will have to hear the words, “You have MS.”

#THANK YOU
As mentioned above there is currently no cure for MS. There is only medication that can offset the pain and numbness. Wouldn’t you like to be included in the efforts to fundraise & find a cure for the millions of people in the world who are being paralyzed from this illness? I know I do.  We appreciate every penny and every moment of your time spent reading about MS and educating yourself.

HOPING FOR A CURE,

Jaimee Wine

Team: LOVE4MEEMERS

248.770.7643 cell

Email: jaimeewine@gmail.com

Jaimee Wine Personal Page

Ill Cry If I Want To

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By Dan Hilbert

Im sitting at the airport about to get high

Not off drugs, on a plane, in the sky

Feeling good today, see a twinkle in my eye

Couldn’t be happier, about to explain why

Got overwhelmed last night with a feeling of love

My friends told me they were gonna miss me, kisses and hugs

No longer flying solo, lonesome dove

Attached at the hip with my new pal, like were love bugs

Its been an emotional rollercoaster these past couple years

Not trying to boast, but Im proud of all the tears

Walk into the rooms, everybody knows my name like its Cheers

The bar I go to now, they serve coffee and soda, not beers

I kneel down at night and ask God to give me what I need

Not gonna go hungry, my mouth he will feed

Its actually easy, don’t have to beg and plead

Growing every day, glad I planted the seed

28 years ago this morning at 7:58

February 2nd, 1984, remember the date

I came into this world right on time, not a second late

The path I went down, no coincidence, it was fate

When tears roll down my face today, they won’t be sadness but joy

Slowly transforming into a man, no longer a scared little boy

Ill let you in on a Secret, the Law of Attraction, there’s no chance

I hope it rains today, just so I can go outside and dance

I used to like New York City cuz they had the best dope

Now my intentions are to find the best hope

Don’t have a clue what the next few days will hold, but Im not scared

Im ready for this shit, been well prepared

Learning to love myself, so I may receive the love of another

Can’t wait to hold my baby for the first time sitting there with his mother

Looks like they’re boarding, time to get in line

Feeling GREAT, Just For Today, Im doing just fine

Bestselling author Mitch Albom, offers faith, love and unity in place of fear, dissonance and doubt

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By Kevin Alan Lamb

In the time since undertaking the magnanimous yet intimidating task of profiling one of, if not the greatest journalist of our time, numerous individuals have shockingly posited the question, “who is Mitch Albom?”

Like fireflies in the night-sky, any number of possible responses sprinted their way to the forefront of consciousness, all the while, disbelief perpetuated silence.

Mitch Albom, the New York Times bestselling-author: amassing sales upward of 14 million copies with one of the top-selling-memoirs of all time in Tuesdays with Morrie.

Mitch Albom, the sports journalist and regular on ESPN’s the Sports Reporters, responsible for co-writing BO: Life, Laughs, and the Lesson of a College Football Legend Bo Schembechler, also a New York Times bestseller.

Mitch Albom, philanthropist, responsible for the creation or increased awareness of eight charities, including S.A.Y. Detroit and the Dream Fund.

Mitch Albom, executive producer and screenwriter, with his latest release being “Have a Little Faith”, starring Laurence Fishburne, which chronicles the author’s life lessons gleaned from an aging rabbi and a redeemed pastor.

Mitch Albom, radio host, honoured on numerous occasions by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters as the top afternoon talk show host for his work on The Sunday Sports Albom, which is believed to be one of the first sports talk shows to ever air on FM radio.

Mitch Albom, musician and member of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a band of writers highlighted by Stephen King whose performances raise funds for various children’s literacy projects across the country.

And last, Mitch Albom, playwright, with the stage version of Tuesdays with Morrie opened Off Broadway at Minetta Lane Theatre.

But despite all of these identities often associated with making Mitch Albom the man and icon he is today, none of these individual endeavors that when standing alone, equate and even surpass the efforts of most careers, make him the living legend he is today.

Mitch Albom’s words have transcended paper to become a prolific provider of hope and faith, because his dreams were realized by embodying the diligence realizing dreams warrants.

“I am walking proof of that,” Albom told Sportz Detroit Magazine in response to the statement, “you do what you have to do in order to do the thing you love.”

He continued, “Take a look at my laundry list of jobs: factory worker, social worker, Pinkerton security guard, ice cream-scooper− all the while trying to write and make music. I never minded. I saw it as buying me my time. Thank god for caffeine.”

Like the myriad of artists from his generation and the next, Albom walked the fine-line-of-love and lunacy chasing his dream above and beyond the cosmos.

“I worked an eclectic set of jobs during the day and then I’d write until three in the morning. Twenty-four hours never seemed to be enough, but making ends meet is part of doing what you love,” Albom said.

“God makes us flexible, pliable, so we can fall over and not feel pain when we’re young. And when you’re 50, you know better, it’s the same way with careers.”

Nothing was given to the nationally syndicated native of Passaic, NJ, named best sports columnist in the nation a record 13 times by the Associated Press.

Albom’s ascension from freelance writer at SPORT MAGAZINE to the most decorated journalist of all-time is a direct result of his humble nature and hustle.

“I believed I had made it when I sold my first freelance piece to a newspaper in Queens. I aspired to see my name in print− it was so cool, I still remember thinking I couldn’t do any better. The thrill of it− I made 100 Xeroxes, I didn’t have a computer then; they cost a dime each. I remember thinking ‘this might be the only time I was ever published,’ I’ll never forget it,” Albom said while recollecting his beginnings.

In a time when far too many utilize god’s gifts strictly as a means of acquiring fame and fortune, Albomemploys his abilities to shed light in loom of darkness and provide means for those without them.

“We have an annual Christmas party at Booth Evangeline Salvation Army,” Albom said as the latest project for his charity, A Time to Help.

“It’s a huge event in its 14th year. In that time homeless children and their parents have come to rely on us. It’s the only Christmas party a lot of them will ever get. It lasts three or four hours, we really live it up.”

The middle of three children to Rhoda and Ira Albom, it could be argued that his tremendous good-will and giving nature stem from his passion to create and share music with the world.

Musicians are born with the ability to make order out of disorder, harmony in the place of dissonance, and ultimately, hope in those that are otherwise hopeless.

“Wow, well first I try to evoke perception and life lessons that line up with my faith that a person of any faith could agree with and believe. I avoid dirty words that might offend and focus on the hope and faith element. Hope and faith are very closely tied together,” Albom offered as the most immediate difference his faith has made in his writing.

Albom’s original dream was to become a musician. He played in a number of bands in high school and college, in addition to studying jazz piano under the renowned Charlier Banacos at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

After graduating in 1979, Albom traveled to Europe where he found work as a piano player and singer in taverna on the Island of Crete.

“Begrudgingly,” Albom described his parents’ support of his musical pursuit. “They didn’t want me to be a musician− they thought I’d make a good doctor or lawyer.”

While his mother recognized his passion for the creative, and encouraged him to be creative with his life’s work, his father was a traditional business man, who was less than thrilled at the idea of his pursuit of another uncertain “artsy profession,” in writing.

“Everyone doubts their talent and ability to make it as a writer. You will never meet a cocky young writer. Every day is spent hoping people will still want to read you and you never lose that insecurity,”Albom offered as advice to aspiring writers.

“You can’t write if you don’t read. Don’t just read what you like to write either. Through osmosis, find writers you like to emulate and find your own voice by listening to others. It’s the same with musicians.”

In 1983 Albom was hired full-time as a feature writer for The Fort Lauderdale News, almost 29 years later it’s safe to say he found his voice. His books have collectively sold over 28 million copies worldwide; have been published in forty-one territories and in forty-two languages around the globe; not to mention being made into Emmy Award-winning and critically-acclaimed television movies.

“I try to avoid writing from an orientation that’s just mine, at least in the first three books,” the sage said.

“It doesn’t matter what your background is if you can make sense of the humanistic and spiritualistic view of the world.”

Albom’s ability to permeate the soul of an individual amongst the masses makes him truly unique and awe-inspiring.

His philanthropic work reveals the inner-workings of man who continually chooses to make the world a better place by combatting the degree to which people mistreat one another.

Four years ago when Detroit hosted Super Bowl XL, Albom was disturbed by how the homeless were being treated to a “party” as a means to clean the streets of their occupancy, only to be herded back onto the streets come Monday morning.

As a result, Albom founded S.A.Y Detroit (Super All Year Detroit), an umbrella program that funds shelters and cares for the homeless.

Albom spent a night in a shelter to call attention to the issue, and as a result was able to raise over $350,000 in less than two weeks.

“The guy in front of me turned to me and said, ‘Aren’t you Mitch Albom? Well, what happened to you?’ That moment was really telling of a bigger story− ‘Why not me?’ That vaulted me more into the homeless issue than anything,” Albom said.

While the rest of the country sees Detroit for its corruption, desperation and despair, Albom continues to hold on hope and believe, like many proud-Detroiters, that the worst has come to pass and a once-great-city will rise again.

“I’ve had a chance to meet Mitch Albom and I think he’s a very personable and knowledgeable of the industry he’s in,” said 55-year-old president of G1NBC TV, Joe Malik, of Brighton.

“I know that he cares about what he writes and is a great example for people that want to get into the industry. I wish him many-more-years on the air.”

Malik had the opportunity to interview Albom during the rally to support Michigan’s Film Tax Credit in February.

In these times of economic downturn a man like Mitch Albom offers faith, love and unity in place of fear, doubt and dissonance.

No individual has made a greater commitment to the advocacy of this city, than Albom.

He is often perceived as a Detroit native because his words weigh heavy with their honesty and perpetual demand positive change in the interest of the community he has made a home in.

“Dreams have rocket-fuel and cannot wait. You’re tired by the time you’re 50− there’s a time and a place,” Albom said.

Despite an appointment book that rivals the president’s, Albom is committed to taking the necessary time to ensure his endeavors be treated with care.

“Mitch sat in my audition and he was really nice. He was on the set each day I was there and it seemed like he really cared about how the story was being told,” Arthur said of his experience on the set of “Have a Little Faith”, where he played Henry Covington’s son, played by Laurence Fishburne.

“He is a very humble guy and cares so much about the city of Detroit. I was thrilled to be part of such a wonderful and uplifting story.”

The Have Faith Haiti Mission is an extraordinary place of love and caring, dedicated to the safety, education, health and spiritual development of Haiti’s impoverished children and orphans.

The goal of the mission is to provide a safe, nurturing environment for Haitian children who aren’t fortunate enough to have one.

In the aftermath of the crippling earthquake in January of 2010, the mission experienced hardship before being taken over by Albom, and his A Hole in the Roof Foundation.

Inspired by his book, “Have a Little Faith”, the name changed to Have Faith Haiti Mission.

Students are taught in both French and English, with a goal of achieving at least a high school diploma.

Christian prayer and guidelines are a part of their daily life, as is a sense of giving back to the mission though work and responsibility.

Mark Mendelsohn, 54, of Birmingham, plays a critical role behind the scenes in the mission’s efforts.

“The kids are amazing. When we get out of the van they are eagerly anticipating our arrival and mob us,” Mendelsohn said with a brimming smile. “A majority of the young kids taken in last spring spoke no English, and there they were ‘Hi Mr. Mark’, I can remember the first things they learned, ‘How are you?’”.

The “Detroit Muscle Crew” set out on their first trip to Haiti a little over a month after the quake, three years ago.

“I’ve been back 14 times in two years, 15 after I leave tomorrow,” Mendelsohn said. “The best story was six weeks ago, the kids were playing when an older kid picked up a little kid and he said, ‘Let me go! Let me go!’ It was unbelievable… they were thinking in English, not Creole. It is amazing how quickly they learn.”

The Have Faith Haiti Mission volunteer was taken aback by the children’s contrasting appreciation to that of American children, including his nieces and nephews.

“I get more out of this than any of them, the kids are phenomenal. It’s not a knock on American kids, but they’re (Americans) more concerned with their PSPs and I Phones than anything I can offer,” Mendelsohn said. “They have different values.”

Despite people’s willingness to help in the form of donated goods, due to limited resources insofar as transportation, the Have Faith Haiti Mission can benefit most from monetary donations.

“I don’t like to be crass, but bottom line, we need money. We don’t have the facility to distribute truckloads of donations to Haiti,” the humanitarian said.

Roger Penske’s contribution in the form of the Penske company jet, to transport the Detroit Muscle Crew, four times annually, make the mission’s efforts possible.

“His generosity is unbelievable… He has enabled us to take these volunteers who have given up their time and money to help our efforts,” Mendelsohn said.

Visit HaveFaithhaiti.org and offer hope to children who previously knew none.

When asked who he would choose to tell the story of his life and what he has left behind, Albom paused with careful consideration, and responded:

“My two parents, my wife, my dear friend and radio producer Rosie, whom I’ve known since I was 12, and Morrie.”

Mitch Albom reminds us of the dreams we had as a child, yet seem to have let slip away in an effort to be the person the world often insisted upon us being.

His genuine and gentle nature towards those stricken with misfortune makes him vulnerable and thus tangible for readers throughout the world to identify with.

His unparalleled success despite humble beginnings inspires those who have too often been reminded of their origins and alleged potential.

Mitch Albom will be written about for decades to come because at the end of the day, he chose to make a difference: he chose to be different: he chose to care.

Write to Kevin and share your inspirational story. He loves people. He loves you!

Follow our blog and be inspired by GOOD

James Good Sign Lions

J DILLA “Rebirth Detroit”

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J Dilla’s mother, Ms. Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, recently announced that a new album of unreleased material from her son is in the works. The compilation, titled The Rebirth of Detroit, will featured new music from the late producer, as well as other local producers who were influenced by Dilla’s music.
 
According to Ms. Yancey, one of the goals for the project is to unite many of the musicians and… producers working in the Detroit hip-hop community.
 
“This will bring together artists that have drifted away from one another and haven’t been able to work with each other lately,” she says. “It’s a healing process for the city. For individuals, its going to bring back the love and the passion for the music and for what hip-hop has to offer.”
 
Musician Jonathon Taylor, who is the associate producer on the project, believes the album will uplift members in the hip-hop community who have been held back by divisiveness among rap crews and lack of opportunities to showcase their talent.
 
“The people who are part of the project will leave this project feeling better about themselves,” he says. “A lot of people have been wounded in the hip-hop community and this is going to give them a chance to shine over the most prolific producer in the history of Detroit hip-hop.”\
The Rebirth of Detroit is scheduled to be released in 2012
James Dewitt Yancey (February 7, 1974 – February 10, 2006),[1] better known by the stage names J Dilla and Jay Dee, was an American record producer who emerged from the mid-1990s underground hip hop scene in Detroit, Michigan.
 
According to his obituary at NPR.org, he “was one of the music industry’s most influential hip-hop artists, working for big-name acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, …Busta Rhymes and Common.
 
“Renowned producer Pete Rock placed J Dilla on his list of the top five producers of all time, while the editors of About.com ranked him #15 on their list of the Top 50 Hip-Hop Producers. Andy Kellman of Allmusic stated that—by 2004, after being active for well over a decade as a producer—J Dilla had accomplished enough to be considered “an all-time great.”
 
J Dilla made the “Elite 8” in the search for The Greatest Hip-Hop Producer of All Time by Vibe Also, The Source placed him on its list of the 20 greatest producers in the magazine’s twenty-year history.

Yancey’s career began slowly. He has now become highly regarded, most notably for the production of critically acclaimed albums by Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Common, Busta Rhymes, A Tribe Called Quest, The Pharcyde, and Erykah Badu. He was a member of Slum Village and produced their acclaimed debut album Fan-Tas-Tic (Vol. 1) and their follow-up Fantastic, Vol. 2.

In the early 2000s, Yancey’s career as a solo artist began to improve; A solo album Welcome 2 Detroit was followed by a collaborative album with California producer Madlib, Champion Sound, which catalyzed the careers of both artists. Just as his music was becoming increasingly popular, Yancey died in 2006 of the blood disease TTP.

Following J Dilla’s death, the hip hop community became centered upon his music and image. Many of the artists with whom Yancey worked performed or recorded tributes, and a large group of followers voiced their support for the late musician. Yancey’s music experienced a rebirth as the producer gained many times more listeners than he had during his life, partly due to media exposure. Though several posthumous albums have been released and others are planned, the amount of unreleased recordings by the producer remain somewhat undetermined.

J DILLA “Rebirth Detroit”

TALKING MUSIC WITH LIONS GUARD ROB SIMS

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TALKING MUSIC WITH LIONS GUARD ROB SIMS – KLAMB21@GMAIL.COM

Credit Detroit Lions

Given the opportunity to have any living artist perform on his birthday, the Lions imposing and gargantuan guard Rob Sims chooses one of Detroit’s own.

 “The Dramatics, oh yea,” Sims said. “And I Panicked if I had to choose one song,” from “Dramatically Yours”.

The Dramatics are a soul-music-vocal-group, formed in Detroit, in 1962. They are best known for their 1970s hit songs In the Rain and Whatcha See is Whatcha Get, both of which were #1 R&B and Top 10 Pop hits.

Rob Banks and The Dramatics were heavily influenced by Melvin Franklin and The Temptations.

Growing up, Sims favorite musician was rapper, entrepreneur and actor, James Todd Smith, better known as: “LL Cool J,” Sims told Sportz Detroit Magazine.

He is best known for romantic ballads such as I Need Love, Around the Way Girl and Hey Lover in addition to pioneering hip-hop titles I Can’t Live Without My Radio, I’m Bad and Mama Said Knock You Out.

LL has released thirteen studio albums and two greatest hits compilations, including 2008’s Exit 13, with Def Jam Recordings.

Detroit played host to a plethora of phenomenal shows in 2011, but when it was all said and done only one truly resonated with the Ohio State Buckeye.

“The Foreign Exchange at the Magic Stick, here in Detroit,” Sims said. “It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Off the chain.”

The Foreign Exchange is an R&B/electronica/hip-hop duo consisting of American rapper/singer Phonte Coleman and Dutch producer Nicolay. The duo formed before the two had even met each other in person– hence the name.

By Kevin Alan Lamb

FEAR THE FIST, Tigers pitcher Doug Fister sizzled onto the scene as a star in Detroit

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Photo Credit Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers

Photo Credit Mark Cunningham/Detroit Tigers

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s “Super-Fist!”

Since being traded from the Mariners before the midseason deadline, Doug Fister and his lanky 6-foot-8 frame were embraced by Detroit fans with clenched fists, inducing nothing short of what can be depicted as “Fist-mania.”

The 27-year-old native of Merced, Calif., was nothing short of brilliant, compiling an 8-1 record over 10 starts, with a minuscule 1.79 ERA, earning him the honor of American League Pitcher of the Month for September.

In a trade that sent Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez and Chance Ruffin to the Mariners, the Tigers acquired David Pauley and one of the game’s most underrated and genuinely nice rising stars.

“Doug is truly the nicest guy you’ll meet,” Chris Pedretti said, Fister’s family friend and Head Coach at Merced Junior College.

“He’ll do anything to help. We had a charity golf tournament last Saturday and he took over the raffle without even begin asked,” Pedredtti said.

Despite a towering mound presence, Fister did not rely on a plus fastball to pitch effectively, rather his ability to locate and change speeds in all counts.

“He was a tall, skinny kid. He didn’t overpower batters with his fastball. He was around 80-83 (MPH) his freshman year, and 85-86 (MPH) his sophomore year. He learned how to pitch, how to locate, and use his changeup,” Pedretti said.

As a child Fister threw a tennis ball against the garage door until his mom made him stop.

He moistened the ball so it would leave a mark that he could aim at and hit over and over again.

Despite its common application in real estate, the phrase “location, location, location” should be ingrained into all aspiring pitchers minds.

Something as simple as firing a tennis ball at a mark on the garage can go a long way to explain the tremendous emphasis the right hander puts on regimen and routine, no matter the magnitude of the occasion.

“I focused on keeping everything the same,” Fister said, on his approach leading into his first postseason start versus the Yankees.

“The same anticipation, the same excitement, I kept the same routine for the same game I’d pitched a thousand times before.”

His ability to attack hitters, and work quickly, make Mr. Fister a righteous reverie for position players from the Pacific to Lake Huron.

“The thing about Doug, he is a position player’s dream. He works quickly. He is a great athlete that holds runners and fields his position very well,” Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones said.

“He is a great kid.”

With less than three full seasons at the big league level under his belt, Fister has demonstrated poise that certainly hasn’t been hindered by the good fortune of pitching in the same rotation as three Cy Youngs: Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, and Justin Verlander.

“I was talking with my father last night about how special it has been for to pitch with three of the game’s best. Discovering what makes them tick. To see them shag BP (batting practice), their attitude, the way they carry themselves: chin held high, shoulders back. I take their characteristics and input them in my game,” the latest Detroit sensation said.

In just three short seasons Fister has been blessed with impeccable timing. In his first full season in Seattle, “The Kid,” Ken Griffey Jr. returned as the prodigal son in the twilight of his career. Like so many other baseball players of his generation, the conversation of the game’s greatest is for not, without Junior.

“I was lucky enough to be his teammate. He is the epitome of what it means to be a baseball player. He teaches everyone, young or old. He took me under his wing and said, ‘this is the way you play the game.’ One of the most memorable moments was when we lifted him up and carried him on our shoulders in Seattle before a standing ovation. You can’t ever reenact that,” Fister said.

In addition to pitching the 6-foot-8 righty played first base while at Merced Junior College. Both of his career hits came as a Mariner, a single and a double.

“Oh goodness, that’s tough to say,” Mr. Fister said as to who he’d rather face if he had one at bat, Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander.

“They both have some good stuff, but personally, I’d say Felix. We joked around about it a lot. It would be a good opportunity for a grudge match.”

Those close to Fister liken his success to an outstanding work ethic learned from his parents, Larry and Jan Fister. Larry is a fire captain that played football at Fresno State, where Fister transferred and in 2005 lead all Fresno State pitchers with 7 wins, and 77 strikeouts, in 93 2/3 innings pitched.

He majored in construction management.

Raised in a family that understands the value of diligence, it comes as little surprise that the 6-foot-8 righty’s favorite player growing up was none other than “Mr. Ironman” himself, Cal Ripken Jr.

Located just 80 miles southwest of Yosemite National Park, in the San Joaquin Valley of Northern California, Merced is known as the “Gateway to Yosemite.”

“It’s a beautiful drive, I recommend it to any of my Detroit fans who are visiting,” Fister said.

Fister has made his home in Merced along with A’s relief pitcher Brian Fuentes and Dusty Ryan, a catcher in the Mets organization.

“It’s phenomenal that these guys have made the decisions to live in their hometown. The fact that Doug, Brian, and Dusty have chose to live in Merced says a lot about this town,” Pedretti said.

“They’re regular guys. They workout with our team, it’s special.”

Regular guys you say? What is more regular than raking leaves?

“Doug is one of a kind,” Fuentes said.

“He has a great head on his shoulders. He has an unbelievable work ethic. He was a hot commodity coming out of high school, between basketball and baseball, but has always been humble and down to earth. I actually just saw him like 10 minutes ago at Lowes. He was getting supplies to rake leaves.”

Given the opportunity to challenge a single NBA player to a game one-on-one, Fister doesn’t want to fool around.

“Michael Jordan. It’s like growing up and watching Griffey, you want to know what it is to be on the same court as the best there is,” the fast-growing-Detroit-fan-favorite said.

The Tigers’ no. two in the rotation takes great pride in his hometown and is grateful for the everlasting support the people of Merced continue to offer.

“Everywhere I go: the grocery store, hardware store, I run into someone I know and they say, ‘hey, good job!’ It is a warm thing to know that the whole community is backing us. It doesn’t go unnoticed,” Fister said.

Although the Tigers stood atop the standings at the All Star break, a recent history of second half collapse instilled a brooding doubt amongst both media and fans in the D.

While it was not a household name, the announcement that Fister had been acquired went great lengths to relieve that doubt.

“I felt a whirlwind of emotions. I was unsure what to expect,” Fister said on his reaction of being traded to the Tigers.

“I will never forget that moment. They embraced us with open arms, it was the kind of welcoming we hoped for. With the reputation of this clubhouse we knew we wouldn’t be strangers, it made things easier.”

In just 13 appearances with the Tigers between the regular season and the playoffs, “Super-Fist” soared to a 9-and-2 record with a 2.36 ERA surpassing plateaus that a number of pitchers go careers without achieving.

Fister pitched at least seven innings and allowed two-or-fewer runs in 7 of the 10 starts he made for the Tigers during the regular season after making his debut with the team on August 3rd.

The only other American League pitcher to make seven such starts in that time was James Shields, of the Rays.

On September 5 Fister mowed down a career high 13 batters versus the Indians upping his previous of 9 strikeouts.

“Looking back, I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s about being a good teammate, taking care of the guys next to you, and trusting them enough to do the same. When you do that, winning will take care of itself,” Fister said.

“It’s about brotherhood. My numbers could have been better or worse, my focus was on my new family.”

In addition to the stellar play of both Delmon Young and Wilson Betemit, Fister’s downright filthy performance down the stretch for the Tigers helped boost the team to 95 wins and a 15 game lead over the Indians in the Central when it was all said and done.

His storybook season continued into the playoffs where he earned two victories, including a decisive-game-5 on the road at Yankee Stadium.

“There’s nothing quite like it,” Fister said on winning the Division Series versus the Yankees.

“Nobody can take moment away. Knowing, that group of guys will always have that celebration, is why we play the game.”

Perhaps then it is fate that Mr. Fister found himself traded to the Tigers, with the ball in his hands, when a city that needed a reminder of triumph a bit more than the rest, was against the odds.

“For Love of the Game,” he offered without hesitation as his favorite baseball movie.

“It’s really something. I say the same things to myself on the mound,” referring to Kevin Costner’s character Billy Chapel, also a starting pitcher for the Tigers.

“Now I’m in Detroit,” Fister said in awe.

It is only fitting in the aftermath of a season that produced a full-on-fisting of the American League that the cult-classic cheer, “Eat-em-up-Tigers, eat-em-up,” started by James Van Horn, a homeless man outside of Comerica Park, be taken one step further and transformed into, “Fist-em-up-Tigers, Fist-em-up!”

Kevin Alan Lamb is a 26-year-old resident of Royal Oak, MI. Kevin, a 6’7 RHP, led the state of MI in wins, 13, and strikeouts, 187, his sophomore year, leading West Bloomfield to the Class A State Semifinals. Kevin went on to pitch at High Point University, a division one member of the Big South in High Point, NC. Kevin also helped lead West Bloomfield to the basketball Class A State Semifinals, losing before 12,000 fans at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

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