Locals Only - Todd Osborn Lists His Favorite Spots in Detroit and Ann Arbor
Perhaps known best by his Ghostly-affiliated Osborne handle, Todd Osborn has long been a fixture of electronic music in Michigan, following a number of musical muses over the years to form a catalog that is as deep as it is diverse. Most recently, Osborn has delivered the Michigan Dream EP for FaltyDL's fast-growing Blueberry label, a four-track record that covers a wide range of sonic territory reaching "from hip-hop to jacking vocal house, from druggy techno to braindance." In light of his new release, we've tapped Osborn to give us a taste of the Michigan experience, enlisting the veteran producer (and former record store owner) to take us through his favorite spots in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and his current hometown of Ysplanti for a list that includes a bar whose best-selling drink bears Osborn's own name as well as an apologetic conceit that Detroit's live music scene has had better days.
20 N. Washington St., Ypsilanti
Opened by Bee Roll (and I have to give a shout out to her husband, producer/musician Jim Roll), Beezy's is the best place to eat in Ypsilanti. Amazingly fresh and delicious food, they have something for everyone. Whenever out-of-towners come to Michigan, they invariably get taken to a well-known joint like Zingerman's or Slow's, but I always take my friends to Beezy's. I'd eat there more often but they're usually closing around 4 p.m.—right as I'm waking up. Tip: If you order a "BBQ Bacon Chicken Salad Sandwich," say it five times as fast as you can without screwing up, and you'll get some sort of discount on it.
Bar: The Last Word
301 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor
The closest bar to me that's worth going to is The Last Word, a place my pals Robben Schultz and Giancarlo Aversa opened a couple of years ago. They make some of the best cocktails around and to top it off, they brought in another friend of mine, Scott MacInnis, to do a ton of amazing appetizers. In the interest of full disclosure, I have to say that it also doesn't hurt that their best-selling drink is named after me: The Osborn.
It's sad to say, but right now there really isn't a good place for music in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. Nearly any decent show right now is just a one-off at a random bar. Even most of the after-hours spots are gone now after police crackdowns started a year or so ago. If I really had to name a place, I'd just pick The Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, only because they have a long history and I sometimes get to sneak my son in to see rock shows, like Ty Segall, there.
Record Store: Hello Records
1459 Bagley St., Detroit
I almost never go to record stores nowadays. I still collect and love records, but lately I end up just trading rare records with other people instead of digging at stores. That said, whenever someone from out of town wants to hit a record store, I always take them to Hello. It's not a gigantic place, but everything they have is quality. Owner Wade Kergan has continued the aesthetic I enjoyed about (the now-defunct) May's Records and Encore Records (back when Peter Dale ran it). They still find the most amazing old tunes, whether it's hip-hop, soul, psych, electro, techno, whatever. I've taken some seriously jaded collectors there and they always walk out with a stack of records that they're amazed to have found. Same goes for me—I can't helping buying stuff there because the prices are so great and the selection is always top notch. Another tip: Be sure to check their Instagram account, which regularly posts original content in the form of photos from Detroit's musical history.
Unique Location: The Ugly Mug
317 W. Cross St., Ypsilanti
This is the place in Michigan for coffee. I first visited them when my friends Zak Rye and Miro Lomeli were managing/roasting there. It turned out to be the only place in the area that roasted their own coffee and pulled espresso exactly how I love it. Ever since, I've helped in any way I can: I've built digital timers for the grinders, modded equipment, etc. Zak has gone on to open Gaslight in Chicago, and the current Ugly Mug manager, Eric Mullins, has ramped up the quality and consistency more than ever (plus, he and I now do secret B-movie nights there). They are constantly supporting local musicians, showing local artists, and fundraising for things like WCBN and 826michigan. They've recently done a special coffee roast exclusively for Ghostly International too.