By Josh Malerman.
Winter. The oft-feared triumvirate of colder months. It’s especially worrisome in the north, in cities such as Detroit where people imagine walls of white snow and ice that trap you inside. But, of course, a place like The D is the last place to fear winter. The city is not only ready for it, but a series of rich, exhilarating music festivals, concert halls and nightclubs of all styles and sizes declare the area’s decision to celebrate the season with a vengeance.
Detroit’s musical footprint may have been kicked into high gear by the Motown sound in the ’60s, but the city’s place on the musical map doesn’t stop there. For decades, the area has been generating a disproportionate number of famous and influential artists. Bob Seger passed an invisible torch to Kid Rock as techno was birthed, back when raves were all the rave. Eminem stormed the global scene and revealed Detroit was made of soul, electronic, hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll. Recently, Insane Clown Posse, the Dirtbombs, the Sights and many others remind the nation how loud this area can get.
Let’s face it, the Detroit music scene has never been as deep as it is right now. So come on, jump in and tune up your winter in The D.
Colder-weather music fests really crank up the heat in metro Detroit. And a few spring flings you won’t want to miss have also been added to the list.
Ferndale is just about the faddiest stretch of Woodward Avenue in metro Detroit. It’s positively in-style any season of the year, including winter. The Ferndale Blues Fest is proof. Another example of how much fun can be had when it’s freezing outside, this fest provokes many of the restaurants and storefronts along Woodward Avenue to convert themselves into rocking venues, hosting all manner of spirits, fare and, yes, the blues.
Jan. 25- Feb. 2
Ferndale, 48220 O
What began as a modest gathering of trashy bands, hip, fresh faces and a smattering of venues has exploded into the Blowout, one of the more important festivals of the year — certainly of the season. Nowadays, just about any space in Hamtramck is optioned as a potential stage, hosting hundreds of local bands and giving visitors a fantastic sense of the city’s multifarious music scene. Blowout is the closest thing Detroit has to Austin’s South by Southwest and, let’s just say it, it’s actually a whole lot more fun.
Hamtramck, 48212 DD
In a city with as much musical history as Detroit, a DMA is an exciting award to win. But, as is the case for all award shows, it’s not only about the winners. The captivating gala is a series of performances from some of the city’s most established names, as well as those climbing the local charts, a thing not to be taken lightly as Detroit has a way of producing songsmiths as glamorous and original as any city is wont to do.
The Fillmore Detroit
2115 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, 48201 DD
You’ve got rock. You’ve got soul and country and rap. You’ve got the blues, of course, and you’ve got jazz. You’ve even got easy listening. But Detroit has the extra-interesting distinction of being one of the birthplaces of electronic music. It’s huge here. And Movement, a three-day festival hosted in downtown’s Hart Plaza, is the glorious confetti-filled culmination of all that interest and adoration. National acts and local DJs perform for thousands. And the after-parties are as notable as the shows.
Detroit, 48226 DD
What with Motown, garage rock and whatever kind of music Insane Clown Posse plays, it’s easy to overlook the presence of country music in the city and its surrounding environs. But it’s a mistake to do so. The Hoedown, a three-day hootenanny hosted on the grounds surrounding Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), features local acts on the rise, national acts who’ve already figured out how to fill seats, and tons of fervent fans. The Hoedown rings in the beginning of summer with a big twang.
May 31-June 2
Grounds surrounding Comerica Park
Detroit, 48226 DD
Let’s just call this East Side staple a cornucopia of music, culture, food and fun. Lots of outdoor jazz jams, of course, but you can also expect the lineup to include subgenres of blues, rock and maybe even a gospel revue or two. And the acts range from local favorites to nationally recognized players. Art, organic food vendors, an outdoor bar and riverfront tours round out the fest. Be sure to stay after dark and watch vacant storefronts turn into late-night pop-up jazz joints. Not to be missed.
Jefferson Ave. at Marlborough St.
Detroit, 48215 DD
One of the hallmarks of a city with an indefatigable thirst for music is the number of terrific venues it boasts. There’s never a shortage of national talent comin’ to town, and Detroit delivers the stages to showcase each and every one of them.
The Palace of Auburn Hills and Ford Field
Palace of Auburn Hills
Saint Andrew’s Hall and The Fillmore
The Fillmore Detroit
Saint Andrew’s Hall
Joe Louis Arena
19 Steve Yzerman Drive
DTE Energy Music Theatre
7774 Pine Knob Road
The Fox Theatre
2211 Woodward Ave.
Music is as much a part of Detroit as the canals are of Venice. The natural result of this love affair is the sprouting of fresh clubs and cozy lounges all over the metro area to catch thrilling, hungry acts.
2030 Park Ave.
Wildwood Friendly Tavern
46712 Hayes Road
Twelve Oaks Mall
22740 Woodward Ave.
Josh Malerman is singer/songwriter/laid-back frontman of the Detroit band the High Strung, whose song The Luck You Got is the theme tune for the Showtime TV series Shameless.
“The lemurs [at the Detroit Zoo] are my favorite ... the way they jump and run and swing around ... and have you ever heard them scream, oh boy!” – Cathy H.
Book a dinner cruise or go for a late-night moonlight party aboard the Detroit Princess. The five-story riverboat is back in action for the season.
Fall is in full swing and that means Detroit Red Wings hockey at The Joe. No ticket? Cobo Joe's is a surefire hot spot on game days.
Watch Discover the D TV to learn all about the hidden gems and history that our city has to offer.