DETROIT--Obviously inspired by the incandescent pairing of James Brown and the Grand Ol’ Opry several months ago, punk doyenne (and Detroit resident) Patti Smith created her own twisted tandem here in the Motor City May 17th and 18th, when she stood up for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Patti, along with boyfriend and former MC5-er, Fred “Sonic” Smith, did a pair of benefit concerts to raise money for the DSO. The Smith twins, who said they were moved to help the symphony after watching conductor Antol Dorati lead the DSO through a string of nationally televised Beethoven performances on PBS, reportedly raised more than $6,000 for the classical music cause.
The benefit shows, at the University of Michigan, Dearborn campus, and the Punch & Judy Theatre in Grosse Pointe, were, no surprise, headlined by the Patti Smith Group and Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. But Detroit new wave groups such as the Algebra Mothers, the Mutants, and Flirt also filled out the bill along with a local jazz group and a string quartet.
Cramming six bands into one show made for ridiculously short sets. Especially at the Punch & Judy, where rock’n’roll turned into a pumpkin at midnight in order to make way for the cretinous excesses of the Rocky Horror Show’s weekly screening.
But Patti did wind up her half hour or so with a wild and thoroughly woolly rendition of the Who’s “My Generation.” Too bad the DSO didn’t get the joke.
“I asked her about the spitting and kicking,” remarked
Steven Davis, symphony PR staffer, who had heard that pretty
Patricia engages in such Rotten behavior, “and she told me she
did those things, but only for her manager’s benefit. She said
she really considered herself a musician, and that she was
learning to play the flute.”
Copyright © Carrie Grant 1979