It’s been half a century since the Motor City Five rumbled into the popular lexicon with its landmark debut album, Kick Out the Jams—recorded live in a very dark place and time: Devil’s Night and Halloween in Detroit, 1968. Prior to their first national release, the band had been kicking up dust for a few years—and had just been kicked up themselves while protesting the Vietnam War and Democratic National Convention here in Chicago. Kick Out the Jams truly put the MC5 on the map, though, and this bruising document of Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith’s meandering lead guitar interplay, the thundering rhythm section of Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson, and the glue that was frontman Rob Tyner is as urgent and topical now as it was then.
That’s why the time has come for Brother Wayne Kramer to decide whether he was going to be the problem, or whether he was going to be the solution. It probably only took him five seconds to decide that it was indeed time to move, so he will get down with it by testifying across Europe and North America this year alongside an all-star cast, billed as MC50. In addition to a new memoir, 2018 is going to be a busy year for Brother Wayne.
Joining Kramer on the road in performing Kick Out the Jams (and other delights) will be fellow shredder Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, Dug Pinnick from King’s X on bass, and this time around, frontman Marcus Durant from Zen Guerrilla will glue it all together. Original MC5 drummer Dennis Thompson is the only other surviving member, and will join the band on select dates.
Speaking of dates, none have been announced yet, but the band will get its collective toe wet playing European festivals, before heading back to America in early September, culminating in what should be a pretty amazing bash at the Fillmore in Detroit on October 27—nearly fifty years to the day from when the original band recorded the original album.
Additionally, Kramer is set to release his memoir. The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities will come out on August 14 via Da Capo Press, and covers a very complex life that’s likely filled with some fascinating anecdotes about Kramer’s stint in federal prison, battling drug addiction and sobriety, and becoming a father for the first time… at age 65. Plus, there’s that whole band thing.
Kick out the jams, Wayne and Kim and Brenda and Dug and Marcus (and sometimes Dennis)! We’ll be waiting to testify along with you.