Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies
Of course Detroit is known for Motown, electronic music, and Jack White. But it also has a legacy in country music.
In Detroit Country Music, (University of Michigan Press, $25) Craig Maki and Keith Cady share their 20 years of collecting records and images and conducting interviews with some largely forgotten stars. There’s Chief Redbird, the York Brothers, Joyce Singo, and more.
What made country such a popular genre in Detroit? While much has been made of African-American migration north, the manufacturing boom also brought a bevy of southern whites to town. And with them came their music.
The authors uncover some great anecdotes — like when Hamtramck Mayor Walter Kanar tried to get a court order to ban the playing of the York Brothers’ hit “Hamtramck Mama” in 1940. It backfired and they sold 300,000 copies in metro Detroit alone. It appears their follow-up song, “Highland Park Girl,” didn’t chart quite as well. — Steve Wilke
Original Six Dynasties: Detroit Red Wings
Now that the Detroit Red Wings have shifted to the NHL’s Eastern Conference, they get to play more games in their own time zone — and renew old rivalries against storied teams like the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins. So the timing of longtime hockey writer and Windsor Star sports columnist Bob Duff’s new book couldn’t be better.
Original Six Dynasties (Biblioasis, $29.95, Canadian) looks at Detroit’s golden age of hockey, including more than 280 previously unpublished photos of well-known stars as well as journeymen like Hank Bassen, Metro Prystai, and Parker MacDonald.
The Wings were referred to as the New York Yankees of hockey. But Wings GM Jack Adams summed up the attitude of what is now Hockeytown: “The Yankees,” he said, “are the Red Wings of baseball.” — Steve Wilke
Eyes Closed Tight
Talk about having to live up to a name. Peter Leonard — son of the late Elmore “Dutch” Leonard — is also a crime novelist. Eyes Closed Tight (The Story Plant; March 2014, paperback, $13.95) is his first book since his father died this past August. The younger Leonard is no stranger to publishing. Previous novels — Quiver, Trust Me, Voices of the Dead, and All He Saw Was the Girl — have gained him his own degree of fame.
In Eyes Closed Tight, a retired Detroit cop named O’Clair is running a small Florida motel when the past comes back to haunt him. One morning, while cleaning up after some partying college kids, he discovers a dead woman. The murder — and then a second one — evokes a case he investigated years before. Reluctantly, he goes back to Detroit — in winter, no less.
Leonard certainly has the Detroit part down. There’s dinner at the Capital Grille, the old Forte bar, and mentions of the Rattlesnake Club and Mercury Bar. O’Clair visits a retired cop in Harper Woods. There are stops in Receiving Hospital, Harry’s, and Honest John’s. And in a timely note, O’Clair’s background includes being on the last MSU team to win the Rose Bowl in 1988 (before this year’s victory, that is).
The book is a quick romp through the streets of Detroit and Pompano Beach, Fla. And here’s a bit of news: The younger Leonard may be working to complete his father’s unfinished last novel. — Steve Wilke
Pack an Extra Pair of Underpants: Leadership Inside Out
So what does underwear have to do with effective leadership? According to Michelle Pallas, author of Pack an Extra Pair of Underpants: Leadership Inside Out, everything.
A colleague called, seeking advice because she had to fly to the West Coast to save a troubled relationship with a client, who was threatening litigation. Pallas combed through her lecture and mentor notes compiled during her years of working in the IT industry to coach her friend out of this jam. After scratching off “Manage to the best case, plan for the worst case. (Too late for that.)” and “The door to change opens from within,” Pallas told her, “Listen to his story.” Before hanging up, she told her to “pack an extra pair of underpants, because if this guy doesn’t throw you out, you’ll be spending more nights than you planned.”
Pack an Extra Pair of Underpants is Pallas’ code for “show you care.” She uses her experiences growing up in a post-riot Detroit and rising through the ranks at Kmart and Coopers & Lybrand before launching her own consulting firm to convey leadership messages. The book reads more like a motivational memoir rather than a dry business tome. It is complemented by a workbook that guides readers through the 7 Acts of Leadership (buy both for $18.87 at michellepallas.com).
Pallas writes with passion, humor, and authority. It’s an informative read for those who seek to become leaders in the digital age, and an inspirational tale of finding a way to succeed and lead, despite the challenges of estranged family, workplace terminations, and a health crisis. — Dorothy Hernandez