Phoenix Café spotlights zombie culture at Z-Show

Live music and never-before-seen art at macabre event March 29

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published March 21, 2013

 Steven Gamburd, of Oak Park, shows Lewandowski a comic book he created for the zombie-themed event. The book, titled “Dub Face: Zombie Edition,” will be on sale at the Z-Show. The two men are co-curators of the gallery at the Phoenix Café, which completed major renovations last month.

Steven Gamburd, of Oak Park, shows Lewandowski a comic book he created for the zombie-themed event. The book, titled “Dub Face: Zombie Edition,” will be on sale at the Z-Show. The two men are co-curators of the gallery at the Phoenix Café, which completed major renovations last month.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

HAZEL PARK — In horror fandom, there is a whole subculture with a soft spot for carnivorous cadavers.

So, rather than wait for Hazel Park’s Zombie Walk, the Phoenix Café is looking to celebrate them now, with a night full of music and art dedicated to the undead.

All ages are welcome to the first ever Z-Show on March 29, opening at 7 p.m. with live music at 9 p.m. Parental discretion is advised, however, due to the sometimes-graphic nature of the subject matter.

Attendees are also free to dress up as zombies. Expect to see some members of Zombie Walk Detroit in their full gruesome getups.

The cover fee for anyone attending the concert portion is $5. It all takes place within the newly renovated confines of the Phoenix Café, 24918 John R, making it an excellent opportunity to see the many changes made to the venue opened in the summer of 2009.

Renovations started last year, with everything shut down in mid-December and reopened in mid-February.

The seating area was de-cluttered, with café-style tables and chairs replacing the bulk of the old furniture. Office walls were torn down to free up more space. A new counter was built for the café, and everything got a fresh coat of paint.

Carpet in the live performance area was replaced with painted skid-proof flooring, the wiring and sound system was upgraded, and the acoustics of the room were  improved. Everything is more modern and accommodating than it was before. 

“It sounds great in there now,” said Steven Gamburd, co-curator of the Phoenix Café, and one of the contributors to the Z-Show’s gallery.

A couple of local bands will put the performance area to good use that night.

CHAW brings an eclectic blend of funk, rock and storytelling to the stage, with lead singer Mike Anton weaving lyrics as they come to him, and the band following along.

The other band is Zombie Jesus and the Chocolate Sunshine Band, which Gamburd describes as “rock, but not hard rock — more melodic, somewhat easy-going, if not easy listening; not New Age stuff, but not coarse or rough, either.”

And then there’s the art, all zombie-themed, and all of it new, having been made specifically for the Z-Show.

Brian “Weirdartist” Lewandowski, the café’s co-curator alongside Gamburd, is one of the artists whose work is in the gallery. He’s bringing framed stained-glass mosaics.

One of them is titled “They’re coming to get you, Barbara,” and pays tribute to the iconic horror film, “Night of the Living Dead.” The stained-glass mosaic depicts a hand coming out of the ground with a blood-red moon behind it, and an image from the movie in the background, depicting Barbara and her brother watching in horror.

Another piece Lewandowski is working on is a life-sized stained-glass mosaic of a wooden crate with a zombie’s hands and face emerging from the green bile inside.

“It’s the biggest piece I’ve done yet,” Lewandowski said. “I’m imagining it’s going to weigh around 50 or 60 pounds.”

Gamburd, meanwhile, is bringing his watercolor works to the Z-Show, as well as a zombie-themed comic book, written and illustrated in an ink-wash style, featuring his characters in a horrific scenario.

“I’m all about making it flow like a movie, and the powers the comic form has can describe much more than you can in a movie,” Gamburd said.

“Intrinsic” Joe Sawyer is another artist in the show. Lewandowski described Sawyer’s work as a bit surreal but very detail-oriented, with many figures in each scene.

“Knowing his style and how detailed he gets, I can see why he might be a little worried about things being a bit too graphic,” Lewandowski said.

Then there’s painter Liz Lola, also known as OctopiArts, an artist originally from Las Vegas who fittingly uses desert-like colors and a washed-out, sun-bleached look.

Rounding out the gallery lineup is Marcus Concernicus, one of the members of CHAW, who does more stylized comic-like art, and has experience drawing zombies as the man behind the label artwork for B. Nectar, including their drink, Zombie Killer. 

It’s possible that members of Zombie Jesus and the Chocolate Sunshine Band will also contribute art pieces. All pieces will be hanging from chains on the walls.

The whole concept for the Z-Show was Sawyer’s suggestion back in December.

“I don’t know where he got the idea — it just popped into his head: ‘Let’s do a zombie show,’” recalled Lewandowski. “It was a spur-of-the-moment idea. One thing led to another, and here we are.”

The Phoenix Café now serves coffee from Chazzano, at Nine Mile in Ferndale, as well as tea, pop and bottled water. No alcoholic beverages are allowed at the Z-Show.

The event will also feature zombie face-painting by Lola, and photo opportunities against a backdrop by local artist Mark Maness.

“If you’re going to go to an art show, might as well have zombies and bands and get your face painted,” Lewandowski said with a laugh. “There’s a lot to do, and you don’t have to be in it just for the art or just for the bands. It’s just a great event.”

The Z-Show will take place at the Phoenix Café, 24918 John R, on Friday, March 29. The opening reception is at 7 p.m. Live music starts at 9 p.m., with a $5 cover fee. For more information, call the Phoenix Café at (248) 667-8817.