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Cosmic Slop Festival returns to spotlight Black rock artists


Deekah Wyatt

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Detroit Rock City is recognized around the world for some of the meanest, nastiest, hard grinding rock music to have ever been played. Names like Kid Rock, Jack White and Bob Seger may first come to mind, but the Cosmic Slop Festival hopes to bring a new image of rock music to the Motor City.

The Cosmic Slop Festival is “the only intentionally diverse, the only intentionally multi-racial, multicultural celebration of rock music and rock culture,” says Deekah Wyatt, festival organizer and performer.

The festival will take place Aug. 24 at noon at The Artist Village in the Brightmoor neighborhood. It will include three stages of local rock musicians, with food and craft vendors. Tickets are $10.

Performers include Detroit rock acts Blackmail, Nadir Omowale, Steffanie Christ’ian, Deekah Wyatt and The Rock City Soul, Coko Buttafli and Atoms N Ease, along with New York City bands Rain of Kings and Blak Wav.

Wyatt is a ferocious stage performer, a guitarist and singer who displays her passion for rock music with every show. As a Black woman, she has found a small but active subculture in Detroit of people of color with a love of rock music, which typically only attracts white audiences to the shows.

“In this town, people are looking for something different,” says Wyatt. “I think there are many people here accustomed to more than one genre of music.”

This will be the festival’s third year, the second consecutive year at the Artist Village. The event has grown each year, and Wyatt expects over a thousand attendees to come  throughout the day.

“The festival is for girls and for guys who have felt like they were weird because they didn’t want to listen to the same rotation that you hear on mainstream radio,” she says.

Detroit’s reputation for developing Black rock artists has grown with the recent release of the film “A Band Called Death” about the influential punk rock group in the 1970s, a group whose music is still being discovered today.

The Cosmic Slop Festival is named after the classic Funkadelic album released in 1973, a group that expanded the minds of many musicians by experimenting with different sounds and styles. Funkadelic’s creativity and freedom of expression is a guiding inspiration for the festival organizers and performers.

“In doing this festival, I realize that rock music is the only genre that is openly accepting of any other genre of music,” says Wyatt. “You can go to a rock show and you can hear jazz, funk, R&B, rap; you can hear some of everything.”

Steffanie Christi’an is a singer who has defied music industry expectations by continuing to make rock music. She performs annually with the Black Women Rock concert in Detroit and will take the stage delivering songs from her upcoming EP release.

She dismisses curious reactions to her music style by acknowledging that Black artists were the first to develop rock music styles, which were popularized by white artists like Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

“Much of the past several decades of rock music may have one believing that Black artists don’t have much of a place in rock music,” says Christi’an. “(It’s) an idea that is ridiculous given that rock music came from blues and gospel.”

A preview of performances at the Cosmic Slop Festival will take place Aug. 16 at the African World Festival held at the Charles H. Wright Museum from 5-10 p.m. Rocket McFlyy, Blackmail, Christi’an, Wyatt and Omowale will all perform at the preview.

During the week following The Cosmic Slop Festival, The Phoenix Cafe on John R Road in Hazel Park will host The Cosmic Slop Fest Aftermath Aug. 25-31, with artist workshops and performances of all music genres.

For Wyatt, the most meaningful part of the festival is connecting with other fans of rock music that often feel like outcasts in the Black community for their taste in music.

“There was one girl who I met at my day job,” Wyatt recalls. “She said, ‘I’ve always been a weirdo, always been an outcast. And then when the hipsters showed up, they started calling me a Black hipster, but I’m me. I’m just a chick who likes to rock and my skin is brown.’

“She and I ended up standing there crying,” says Wyatt, holding back fresh tears while remembering the moment.

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