Summer Guide 2011
Published: June 15, 2011
June 23-26: Detroit River Days
Festival season kick-starts in Detroit with the return of Detroit River Days, now in its fifth year. Showcasing the Detroit Riverwalk, the fest features food, frolic and music taking place from the new Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority Terminal just west of the RenCen all the way to Milliken State Park. Highlights include the return of the tall ships, Jet Ski demos, riverboat tours, bike tours, Coast Guard search and rescue demos, sand sculptures and more. Taking to the stage are touring acts such as Macy Gray and Chaka Khan, and local faves including the Muggs, the Hounds Below and the Howling Diablos. Kids' stuff, square dance performances, a 5K run and other activities are also on the agenda; see riverdays.com for more info. As in previous years, a $3 admission fee will benefit the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy; and unlike previous years, the fest will not take place the day of the annual fireworks, which will light up the sky above the river on Monday, June 27.
July 1-4: Stars and Stripes Festival
Also returning for its fifth year, Macomb County's Stars and Stripes Festival offers a glut of free activities to celebrate America's birthday. Carnival rides, fun for the kiddies, laser shows, BMX shows, art displays, Friday night fireworks and more take place alongside four days of free concerts. Headliners include Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley (!) (10:30 p.m. Friday), Smash Mouth (10:30 p.m. Saturday) and Rick Springfield (10:30 p.m. Sunday). Still spindly '70s glamsters Sweet ("Fox on the Run"), Soul Asylum and Tonic also perform, while locals including Ty Stone, Doop & the Inside Outlaws, the Muggs, Robin Horlock, Hush, the Sights, 60 Second Crush, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, plus many more round out the lineup. Stars and Stripes takes place in downtown Mount Clemens; starsandstripesfest.com for info.
July 2-3: Jazzin' on Jefferson
With the demise of Cityfest, which took over from Tastefest, there should be more attention to this smaller but spirited community gathering on Detroit's far east, near the border with the Pointes. Jefferson gets closed off between Chalmers and Alter for food and music. Hour-long tours are conducted to show off the business district (and such historic locations as the Vanity Ballroom), the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood, and the marina and little-known canal district. Headliners are Johnnie Bassett and the Blues Insurgents (7:30 p.m. Saturday) and Planet D Nonet with special guest Thornetta Davis (7:30 p.m. Sunday). Perry Hughes with Gerard Gibbs and Gene Dunlap, the Vincent Chandler Quintet, Deon Yates and others round out the noon-9 p.m. daily action. See jazzinonjefferson.com.
July 8-10: APBA Gold Cup Boat Races
What gives this event prestige is that American Power Boat Association Gold Cup is the oldest active trophy in all of motorsports. What makes it a true thrill is the speed. Lots of it. And it's not just the hydroplanes, which can go as fast as 200 miles per hour. This year there are also offshore boats — as big as 44 feet long, with engines capable of delivering up to 3,700 horsepower — that will be showing off their stuff on the Detroit River. For the nostalgic types, there'll be an exhibition of vintage race boats, offering a glimpse at the sport's early years. Adding to all the excitement will be the Navy's West Coast Super Hornet Demo Team, which will be putting on a display of the supersonic FA-18 fighter plane. The fun starts with practice and qualifying on Friday, July 8. Races will be held July 9-10. General admission tickets covering all three days are $15. Cost for reserved seating varies. Henderson and Memorial Annex Parks (off Jefferson); 586-774-0980; www.gold-cup.com.
July 9: Pink Martini
It's a special kind of nostalgia at work with this band, a longing for a scene that never exactly was, but should've been: Parisian cafés where world musics fused much more than they really did in the 1920s. Bohemian sambas, flashes of flamenco and cha-cha, Edith Piaf crossed with Celia Cruz — not campy, but Hollywood's soft-focus glamour is at work, no small part of it focused on alluring lead singer China Forbes. Part of Ann Arbor's Summer Fest at 8 p.m. at Hill Auditorium, 825 N. University, Ann Arbor; 734-764-2538; annarborsummerfest.org.
July 9: Criterium Detroit City
This inaugural event brings USACycling-sanctioned bike racing to the heart of downtown Detroit, introducing the city and its bustling biking community to the chills and thrills of a criterium race. The short, closed-circuit course gives spectators the opportunity to view the entire race and to get up close to riders hurtling by at speeds as fast as 38 mph — the organizers describe it as NASCAR meets the Tour de France. The event features racers of all ages battling it out in beginner, professional, children's and relay categories, as well as an outdoor marketplace of locally made goods for cycling fans to peruse in between races. The crit will start and finish in front of the Boll Family YMCA, 1401 Broadway, Detroit; a post-race bar crawl led by Inside Detroit starts at 8 p.m. For info, visit criteriumdetroitcity.com.
July 9: Omar Suleyman and Ara Topouzian
He supposedly has recorded 500 cassettes and discs in his native Syria, as he and his collaborators worked from playing local weddings to being a national star. But his stateside reputation dates from four years ago with the first of his Sublime Frequency discs and has grown with YouTube videos, tours and an endorsement from Bjork (with whom he's recorded a disc for summer release). For All Things Considered's "You Must Hear This" series a couple years ago, Bjork wrote: "Some people call what he plays Syrian techno. I think what's refreshing about Omar Souleyman is the party — it's fun. It's really alive and very urgent. And he's not above using synths, electronics, drum machines and YouTube. He's really eager to make something that's vibrant today." Armenian-American musician Ara Topouzian opens, performing not-always-traditional music on an array of traditional instruments. At 8 p.m. at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-6622; $9; all ages.
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