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Hear the sweet sound of success at Expressions Music Academy

The three-year-old Expressions Music Academy in Novi is taking its show to another road, this one a new studio and music lab in Troy.

The music school opened in 2010 and has built an enrollment of about 500 students in all sorts of music lessons, including show choir and and band. Growth happened so fast, with students from 6 to 66 coming for group and private lessons in voice and about a dozen instruments as well as other musical programs that owner Jessica Schatz expanded the Novi location into adjoining space after just two years. A year after that expansion there's such a demand from students across metro Detroit and Ann Arbor that she's adding the Troy location.

The new Expressions Music Academy will open in January at 4000 Livernois Road in Troy. The Novi academy is located at 43370 W. 10 Mile Road. The music lab is equipped with iPads and keyboards for music education programs.

"Our mission is to provide all students with the opportunity to enjoy a complete music education. While private lessons are the central focus of our educational approach, we also expose students to the big picture of music through additional programs such as Studio Class, early-childhood music classes, choral groups, an interactive music lab featuring iPads loaded with educational apps, access to our music library, a music appreciation program, and opportunities to participate in our mixed instrumental and vocal concerts and recitals," says Schatz, a pianist who once taught 30 students from a home school.

"Our students are inspired to master their own choice of instrument while we nurture in them a lifelong love for music in general. We truly believe in the power of a holistic approach to music education. We do not have a storefront or sell books or instruments. We are dedicated 100% to music education, and we are good at it."

Source: Jessica Schatz, founder and owner, Expressions Music Academy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Stayin Alive Novi revives nightclub scene

After months of renovations that involved a gigantic disco ball, '70s and '80s era decor, lava lamp tables and a massive LED dance floor, Stayin Alive Novi's owners are looking to be filled with dancers and fun-seekers on weekends and event planners and private parties other nights of the week.

The vision for Stayin Alive, which opened last week in the Fountain Walk of Novi at 44325 Twelve Mile Road, is to bring back disco -- and '80s and '90s music -- in a big, memorable space for all sorts of get-togethers.

The dance club, which also has a patio and serves signature disco ball drinks, the Saturday Night Fever and Super Freak, from a 50-foot-long bar with iconic '70s and '80s logos on the walls and TV screens, will seek out corporate planners, party hosts, bachelorettes and even divorcees looking for a loud and crazy night out.

Events are already booking, including time in the VIP Shag Room, and last week's opening weekend was packed.

Vladimir Mirkovich, J. Kyle Hagerty and Brian DJ Godfather Jeffries, all metro Detroiters, are teaming up on the venture with Lucky Strike Entertainment.

Source: Vladimir Mirkovich, managing member, Stayin Alive Novi LLC
Writer: Kim North Shine



Nightclub and private party space comin' to life at Stayin' Alive Novi

DJs, bartenders, security staff and servers are being lined up for a new nightclub and private party space that's opening in Novi in an era when dance clubs are borderline novel.

Stayin' Alive, billed as a '70s, '80s, '90s and more nightclub and a place "where real people have fun," is scheduled to open in mid-to-late August in the Fountain Walk of Novi, 44325 Twelve Mile Road, on top of the Lucky Strike Entertainment complex.

Renovations for Stayin' Alive a la John Travolta and the Bee Gees are turning the space that was formerly occupied by MBarGo into a weekend dance club with one of the biggest disco balls in the USA spinning over a huge lighted dance floor, say the owners and promoters, Vladimir Mirkovich, J. Kyle Hagerty and Brian DJ Godfather Jeffries, all metro Detroiters. They are teaming up with Lucky Strike Entertainment, a national chain of bowling lounges with 21 locations in the U.S.

The club wil include a rooftop bar, VIP room and be available for conferences, private parties, bachelorette and divorce parties.

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: J. Kyle Hagerty, developer, Stayin' Alive Novi

An artist's vision spawns the Maple Arcade in downtown Clawson

Two Floridians lured to Michigan by the University of Michigan and the special degree she could obtain there, have not only decided to stay in Michigan after falling in love with Clawson but have opened an art gallery that wants to show off the unexpected talents of Michigan artists.

Maple Arcade opened last week at 38 E. 14 Mile Road in downtown Clawson after months of frustrating renovations but high hopes that the cool and quality vibe of downtown Clawson will let their gallery join the success stories of Clawson establishments like Leon & Lulu and Noble Fish.

Maple Arcade owner Jeffrey Bowman and his wife, Emily, moved to Michigan from Florida two and a half years ago so that she could work on a master of science information degree at U-M. She works as an information architect at Organic Inc.

"We both really liked Ferndale..It's more of a younger type thing, more art, music," he said. "But we couldn't find the house with the yard we wanted. I didn't even know about Clawson…I thought it was Royal Oak. We found this awesome house..
And after they started exploring "we fell in love with the place instantly…We started to eat at the restaurants, got know the owners, got to know the mailman and instantly got to know like six neighbors," he recalled.

The weekend after they moved, during the citywide garage sale, they strolled around the block and saw the vacant spot that would become Maple Arcade, which takes its name from Maple (for their dog, not the street) and from the time when arcade was also a place that housed artwork.

"We live a few blocks from the downtown strip," Bowman said. When we saw this place, I was like, 'look at this cool little place. Wouldn't it be awesome for a store?' "

A few months later they bought it and began the renovations to make it a showcase for all kinds of art. He is a painter himself and has sold works around the country.

"What I'm trying to do here is open a gallery of Michigan based artists and give a more out of the box type of place, not your standard, the stuff you expect to see," he says. "A lot of people who come in here, their first thing is, "Ooooh." Thats the kind of thing you want…You want things that people haven't seen."

Currently artist Zack Green's work is on display.

His bigger plans as he makes more connections with artists are to attract visitors to a multidimensional gallery, where they participate in podcasts with artists, see artists at work.

"We'll have the freedom to shut the shop dow, change it up," he said. "We want this to be a different kind of experience that's about the great art we have here."

Writer: Kim North Shine
Source: Jeffrey Bowman, owner, Maple Arcade

Found Sound in Ferndale finds market for vinyl records in digital age

Found Sound, a new record store at 234 W. 9 Mile in downtown Ferndale, is finding nostalgia and a craving for the listening quality of vinyl and is attracting a loyal customer base.

The store, opened July 21 on 9 Mile near Woodward, is run by two record store veterans from Recordtime in Roseville.

They know of what they speak of when it comes to vinyl's rise, demise and resurrection. Found Sound stocks new and used records and special orders them. It will also host concerts twice a month and show music-related movies.

Ferndale was chosen as the business location for Found Sound because of "what you might call a counterculture, an art-based culture," says Found Sound manager Ray Hayosh.

"The first day was great. We had people waiting at the door, he says. "I saw this building and thought it is the best location in metro Detroit for a record store. Besides the culture here, we're close enough to the city to get the city traffic and close enough to upper suburbs to get their traffic."

He says the customers are a mix in age, interest and level of knowledge.

"There are enough collectors to make it a niche store, but we have a lot of people who just enjoy music. They're not obsessive fanatics, they're just casual listeners," he says.

And they're not necessarily mostly customers who knew and miss playing records.

"There's a big interest in vinyl with teens. Theres' a pretty big nostalgia factor to it..Even if only their parents listened to the records, they want to know more about it," he says. "For some it's the actual listening…People talk about a warmth to vinyl..The digital just has a very cold kind of feeling…with analog there's a much more inviting feeling. For some it's not the sound but the aesthetics of vinyl records. They can display them on a  shelf and share them with people."

The comeback of vinyl records has been helped by the availability of portable turntables and the business of independent labels that continued pressing records that major labels wanted only in digital format. Some bands, such as Pearl Jam, never stopped putting out vinyl records, he says.

"Now major labels are re-releasing everything under the sun," he says, "and there's a lot of stuff that's available in vinyl."

It may not be high-tech, he says, but it's still a fascinating thing how records play music.

"What's bizarre to me is the idea of a record needle reading a groove, he says. "It's crazy it's been over 100 years and it's still such an amazing thing."

Source: Ray Hayosh, manager, Found Sound
Writer: Kim North Shine

Dwtn Rochester music academy grows

Rochester Musician's Academy in downtown Rochester is expanding to keep up with local desire to strum guitar, beat a drum, play a piano, sing a song.

Some in the music education industry say TV shows like Glee, American Idol and the numerous, melodious Disney creations, are spurring the interest.

Rochester Musician's Academy, formerly J.C.'s Drum Store, moved to its 119 S. Main Street address about five years ago, and since then has added staff and students, up four instructors from one and adding more classes, lesson space and a studio. The remodel is expected to be completed in May.

The Academy calls itself the fastest growing music school in Oakland County and credits the growth to the fun classes it offers: Rock Band, Pee Wee Percussion, Steel Band Camp among them.

"We strive to be the most complete musical education in the greater Detroit area,"  onwer Joe Chila says on his website. "Our students come from as far away as Grosse Pointe on the east and Southfield on the west."

Source: Rochester Musician's Academy
Writer: Kim North Shine

Cigars, tapas could heat up downtown Ferndale this summer

The Ferndale City Council has approved a liquor license for a cigar and tapas bar in downtown Ferndale.

Secret Bar & Bistro could open sometime this summer at 319 W. 9 Mile, according to city records.

It's early in the process for the 3,500-square-foot renovation that will include a special ventilation system and feature a menu of top cigars and a variety of shareable edibles called tapas. There will also be live entertainment.

Secret is one of several restaurants expected to open this spring or summer in Ferndale. Renovations on the former Le Soups spot have yet to begin.

Source: Ferndale City Hall and Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Birmingham adds 15 new spots to shop, eat, hang

A mix of local and national retailers, restaurants and other businesses are making downtown Birmingham their address.

A recruiter hired by the city's Principal Shopping District has attracted some of the newcomers. The Principal Shopping District functions somewhat like a downtown development authority but does not capture taxes as traditional DDAs do or buy or purchase land. The PSD uses funds from a special assessment on commercial properties to operate. That includes marketing downtown Birmingham and hiring a recruiter to find national retailers.

One is Paper Source, a Chicago-based stationery and paper supply store that has 44 locations, with seven opening nationally this year. Paper Source is filling the space occupied by Sherman's Shoes at 115 West Maple.

About 15 businesses, from restaurants and candy stores to salons and clothing stores, have opened recently or are expected to open soon.

Look for Detroit Guitar, which is under construction at 243 W. Maple and will bring music lessons and music gear in funky surroundings to downtown in September.

What Crepe?, a Euro dining eatery, is moving into 167 Old North Woodward. Sanders, the ice cream and candy store, is relocating just down the street to 172 North Old Woodward. Shish Kabob and Subway are adding to eating options, as are three bistros: Townhouse, Bella Piatti and Churchills. Revive, a men's clothing store, is coming to 163 W. Maple, where Adventures in Toys once was. Salons, H202 and Nude, opened in May on Hamilton Row.

"We definitely have had an uptick in businesses coming in," says John Heiney, director of Birmingham's Principal Shopping District.
Last year there was a net increase of 15 businesses, including spas, a florist, a jeweler, home decorating stores and food establishments.

"We seem to be on a similar pace this year," he adds.

The recruiting effort is focusing on national retailers looking for boutique-size operations of 2,500 square feet or less, he says. Apparel stores are the main focus. City Manager Bob Bruner has been on the job since February and comes from Ferndale, which is known for a vibrant downtown.

"We hope the national retailers will join our excellent local retailers," Heiney says.

Source: John Heiney, director, Birmingham Principal Shopping District; Birmingham City Manager Bob Bruner
Writer: Kim North Shine

Nightlife builds in downtown Plymouth

Downtown Plymouth, known for its history, its ice festival, and boutique shopping, is making a name for itself as a designation for nighttime fun.

Tony Bruscato, director of the Plymouth Downtown Development Authority, says the city has hit the sweet mix of daytime vibrancy with boutiques, shops, restaurants, and soon-to-expand office space with nighttime action that's attracting 20-somethings on up.

The Detroit section of about.com listed Plymouth in its top 10 up and coming neighborhoods for nightlife destinations. Bruscato says it's here and now.

There's live music and a lengthy drink list at 336 Martini Bar, a DJ every Friday at Hermann's Olde Town Grille, the Penn Bar and Grill, Sean O'Callaghan's Pub, the Grape Expectations Wine Bar and more.

The city nighttime vibe gets to pumping even more when the Music in the Air concert series starts in Kellogg Park this weekend.

The concerts attract 3,000-4,000 people, Bruscato says.

"I think Plymouth is a good market. It's a good place to be right now," he says. "I think if you were looking for the cool downtowns Plymouth would certainly be one of those.  We've really turned into a town for nightlife. A younger clientele is coming in. Larger business offices are moving in. Young families are moving inWe've been very lucky."

Source: Tony Bruscato, director Plymouth Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine

Downtown Ferndale makes room for 11 new businesses

A small, empty storefront? Not in downtown Ferndale. Not for long, anyway.

The inner-ring suburb has had a banner summer, business-wise, with four new businesses opening, another seven coming, and several more in lease negotiations.

"Especially given the economy, it's showing that all the years of working to establish a stronger business base for the economy, getting all the wheels in motion, is helping us continue to grow despite a down economy," says Cristina Sheppard-Decius,
executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority. "We're in a position where we're still viable, there's still growth happening."

The new businesses include Rouge, a quirky nail and makeup salon; Visions of Canada, offering what it bills as the world's thinnest glasses; business and information technology consultants Ardent Cause; and Hybrid Moments, a used vinyl and clothing store.

A bakehouse and microcreamery, a painting shop, an espresso bar, and a vodka distillery are yet to come. The range of products and services "follows our mantra of being entrepreneurs and creative business owners," Sheppard-Decius says.

She said a good two-thirds of the people who patronize Ferndale businesses are from outside of the area, mostly those who live up and down the Woodward or I-696 corridors. "It's pulling in a very diverse economy of people," she says. "They're finding something unique."

Also, it's the smaller retail spaces that are going fast, sometimes being leased again within a couple of weeks. That's also a reflection of how small firms are flourishing: "There are a lot of creative minds out there," she says.

Source: Cristina Sheppard-Decius, executive director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kristin Lukowski

Interior work begins on downtown Royal Oak's Flute House

The exterior is "all but finalized" on Royal Oak's Flute House, says architect Keith Phillips, and the interior is now beginning to take shape.

Phillips, co-founder of Brighton-based The Think Shop Architects and the designer of the building, said work continues at the downtown high-end flute store. "Currently we are installing the digitally fabricated black Polyurea exterior cladding where the exterior vapor barrier is showing on the entry cube as well as the residence above," he says in an e-mail. "We are continuing to fit out the interior of the structure, with every day getting us a bit closer to our goal, yet we are still a ways off."

The two-story red-and-off-white building on South Main Street next to B&B Collision will serve as a high-end flute store and the residence of Ervin Monroe, the retired principal flutist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The retail portion will be on the ground floor, while Monroe's home will be on the second.

The building started out as home to Alegra Print & Imaging in the mid-20th century, and has since played host to a body shop and brick emporium. It will house a 5,000-square-foot retail shop on the ground floor. The residential space above measures out to 2,100 square feet.

Source: Keith Phillips, co-founder of The Think Shop Architects
Writer: Kristin Lukowski


New concert venue opens in downtown Ypsilanti

Downtown Ypsilanti is really asserting itself these days, and the opening of a new mid-sized concert venue called Savoy is only helping make that assertion.

Excerpt:

A new mid-size live music venue is taking the stage this weekend in downtown Ypsilanti when Savoy opens its doors in the space that was once Club Divine.

The new two floor, two stage venue can accommodate up to 700 people in a space so large even the organizers behind the bar struggle to define its size. It joins The Ark, Michigan Theater, and the Blind Pig (all located in downtown Ann Arbor) for mid-size venues in Washtenaw County.

"It's really filling a void in Washtenaw County for a mid-market venue," says Don Scheneder, talent buyer for Savoy. He adds that Savoy is more in line with the Blind Pig, which can only seat 400 people. It will also have a smaller second floor stage that will host events such as comedy performances.

Read the rest of the story here.

Flute House exterior in Royal Oak nearly done

The Flute House has assumed a striking shape in downtown Royal Oak now that work on its exterior is wrapping up.

The red-and-off-white building on South Main Street next to B&B Collision is cruising toward a June finish as work moves indoors.

"We're basically fabricating the interior right now," says Keith Phillips, co-founder of Brighton-based The Think Shop Architects and the designer of the building.

The Flute House at 913 S Main St. will serve as a high-end flute store and the residence of Ervin Monroe, the retired principal flutist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The retail portion will be on the ground floor of the two-story building, while Monroe's home will be on the second.

The building started out as home to Alegra Print & Imaging in the mid-20th Century, and has since played host to a body shop and brick emporium. The original building will house a 5,000-square-foot retail shop on the ground floor. The residential space above measures out to 2,100 square feet.

Source: Keith Phillips, co-founder of The Think Shop Architects
Writer: Jon Zemke

Spur Studios goes all Russell Industrial Center on Ypsilanti

Artists in Ypsilanti are about to get their own factory to churn out their work.

Excerpt:

More creative studio space is coming to Ypsilanti in the form of Spur Studios.

The project is transforming vacant office space attached to an old manufacturing facility near Eastern Michigan University, 800 Lowell St., into studio spaces for artists and small businesses. Think Russell Industrial Center in Detroit but on a smaller scale.

James Marks, founder and creative director of Ypsilanti-based VGKids, is spearheading the project. Spur Studios will turn 10,000 square feet of vacant office space into 30 studios. Those studios can be used by everyone from artists to musicians. The idea is to turn the long-vacant space into a cultural asset that attracts talent and innovative ideas.

"The demand has been really strong," Marks says. "We think it will be a model we can replicate."

Read the rest of the story here.

The Flute House restores building in downtown Royal Oak

Few people would guess a high-end flute store is the new next door neighbor for B&B Collision, a long-time staple in downtown Royal Oak, on South Main Street.

Ervin Monroe, the retired principal flutist for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, will open The Flute House by the end of the year at 913 S. Main St. The 2-story building will house the store on the ground floor and Monroe's home on the second.

"He sells high-end flutes by appointment only and sheet music out the back," says Keith Phillips, co-founder of Brighton-based The Think Shop Architects, designer of the building.

It started out as home to Alegra Print & Imaging in the mid-20th Century, and has since played host to a body shop and brick emporium. The original building will house 5,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The residential space above measures out to 2,100 square feet.

Construction has been going on for about a year. When finished, Phillips says it will have a progressive contemporary look sure to make heads turn and jaws drop.

"It's going to be bright red," says Phillips, who is also a professor at Lawrence Technological University. "It's going to snap some heads back when its done."

Source: Keith Phillips, co-founder of The Think Shop Architects
Writer: Jon Zemke
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