Summer Guide 2011
Published: June 15, 2011
July 14-17: Concert of Colors
Don Was' first All-Star Revue seemed like a great idea that had just barely scratched the surface in terms of possible stars. Now back for its fourth installment, it's hard to imagine the Concert of Colors without it. This year Was brings in Martha Reeves, Brothers Groove, Ivan Kral, Black Irish, Jim McCarty and Wendell Harrison, among others, and presents such pairings as Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Cobras, and Melvin Davis and the United Sounds. Also on tap this year, headliner Bettye LaVette and such world music exemplars as Latin jazz master Orlando "Maraca" Valle, East Indian jazz-soul songstress Susheela Raman and Colombian folk-jazz fusion artist Pablo Mayor's Folklore Urbano Orchestra. Others to perform include Amp Fiddler, Immigrant Suns, Audra Kubat, Hamtramck World Music Ensemble, Will Sessions, Odu Afrobeat Orchestra, belly dancers, taiko drummers and on and on. Performances will be at Orchestra Hall, as for a number of years, but also now at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and Scarab Club. And it's all free! Man alive! See concertofcolors.com.
July 15-17: Jackson Hot Air Jubilee
No, the Hot Air Jubilee isn't a gathering of politicians. It is, however, an event that will bring more than 50 hot air balloons to the skies above Jackson. Especially beautiful are the balloon "night glows" that will take place Friday and Saturday evenings. In addition to the lofty bags of hot air (we promise, this isn't about politicians) there will be shows featuring arts and crafts, classic cars and wild animals. As if that's not enough fun, there'll also be antique military displays, aerial demos, live entertainment, plenty of food and much more at this free event. Ella Sharp Park, Jackson; 517-782-1515; hotairjubilee.com.
July 16: Scene Reunion Party
It was Detroit's answer to Soul Train, with Nat Morris as Don Cornelius and a crew of Detroiters putting on the dance moves and grooves. As a local show, it hardly had Soul Train's cachet to pull in celebs to chat and lip synch, but it wasn't without its star visitors. "We learned such dances like the shake, the prep, the jit, (various versions of) the Smurf. ... Lawwwwd, the Jheri curl juice lubricated the screen," reminisces former Detroiter Frederick Smith on his blog. What's billed as the first official reunion party is being held at Bert's Warehouse, 2739 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030; thescenedetroit.com.
July 17: Michigan Jazz Festival
Particularly poignant this year will be Ed Nuccilli's Plural Circle, performing without its founder conducting; the composer-arranger passed away earlier this year. The all-jazz, all-local festival is a daylong celebration of the local jazz scene with six stages running more or less throughout the day. Among the attractions: The Sean Dobbins Trio, George Benson Quartet, the Johnny Trudell Big Band, Dennis Tini Trio, Paul Keller's Michigan Jazz Suite and a series of solo piano performances, encompassing ragtime (Taslimah Bey), boogie-woogie (Bob Seeley) and players steeped in bop and beyond from Ellen Rowe to Charles Boles. At Schoolcraft Community College, 18600 Haggerty Rd., Livonia; michiganjazzfestival.homestead.com.
July 23: Midsummer Meltdown
Gathering over a dozen DJs from around the country (and world, for that matter), the Majestic and Magic Stick will be home to one helluva show this July. Burst Detroit is providing additional sound and lighting to the venues for a night of sweaty, in-your-face electronic music. Promised is a stellar light show, a pre-party barbecue, a slew of sexy go-go dancers and more than 60 subwoofers in addition to house speakers — that's right, more than 60 massive 18-inch monsters ready to melt your face and damage your ears. Featuring DJ Rozz and Chris Trip (Chicago and Milwaukee), Zoo Logic (Detroit), Dirty Talk (Minnesota and Colombia), Nice Lab (Detroit) and more. Earplugs advised. From 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. at the Majestic Theater and Magic Stick, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700; $20 before 10 p.m., $25 after; 18+.
July 28: Death Cab for Cutie
What began as a side-project for a group of wide-eyed college students has turned into one of indie rock's most successful stories. Since its debut in '98, Death Cab for Cutie has achieved relative mainstream success without losing its indie cred, gained new fans without alienating the longtime diehards, and grown and matured without losing the core of what made the band so popular in the first place — dreamy textures, catchy hooks and the heart-bursting sincerity of frontman Ben Gibbard. The group's recently released seventh disc, Codes and Keys, features a foray into keyboard-based electronics and a change from melancholia into a gently uplifting outlook. Death Cab performs in support of the release at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-471-6611; $30-$45.
July 29-31: Yale Bologna Fest
A friend of ours who lives in these parts jokes that, when you graduate from high school in Yale, chances are you'll either go into the service or apply at the bologna factory. The point being that, in Yale, bologna is the biggest thing in town. And their Bologna Fest is no baloney. Every year since 1989, the sleepy outstate downtown turns into a massive festival that can include everything from fireworks to outhouse races. The quirky bash draws thousands, and its highlight is the selection of the fest's Bologna King and Bologna Queen, who are then crowned and get to ride a parade float dedicated to "Bologna Royalty," courtesy of the Yale Chamber of Commerce. Expect family-friendly high jinks and, of course, food, including bologna. And where does the bologna come from? From C. Roy, Inc., a truly local operation that buys its stock from local farms. Main Street, downtown Yale; yalechamber.com.
> Email Megan O'Neil