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.
Winter and Springtime Festival Favorites
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 Blues Fest
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. 27- Feb. 6
Detroit Music Awards
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
Movement Electronic Music Festival
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.
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, 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.
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Big Ticket Concert Venues
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
Stadiums can be intimate, providing surprisingly cozy experiences for major artists. The Palace, where the Detroit Pistons play basketball, will welcome Neil Diamond (June 2) and Bruno Mars (Aug. 12) this year. When Ford Field isn’t playing home field to the Detroit Lions, big names often take to the stadium. Past acts include Taylor Swift, Kid Rock and Tim McGraw, so you can expect similar top draws in 2017.
Saint Andrew’s Hall and The Fillmore
Where do the brightest new bands in the world play when they come to Detroit? Saint Andrew’s and The Fillmore rank high on the list. Spoon plays The Fillmore on Aug. 1.
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Each tune played is an instant memory when heard on the hillside of this outdoor concert space that hosts pop through heavy metal headliners May-September.
Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill
Up close and intimate amphitheater.
The Fox Theatre
Incredible décor, unforgettable experience. See musical wonders from blues/rock star Joe Bonamassa (Nov. 24) to Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker (Dec. 17).
Best Night Clubs for Live Music
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.
Old school all the way, the round table booths and dim lighting harken back to an era when jazz was king of the underworld.
Wildwood Friendly Tavern
Sometimes the earthy, acoustic acts are just what the musical palate thirsts for, and most great songsmiths are drawn to the mellower mood of the solo act.
After you have your fill of fine seafood and sirloin, grab another martini and hunker down for some intimate entertainment. Open mic nights on Thursdays are popular at this restaurant/lounge that Novi locals have named their city’s best place for live music.
In a scene so rich, it’s hard to keep tabs on everything, but Dino’s Tuesday open mic nights bring out some of the area’s unknown pearls.
See more things to do in Detroit.
5The Palace of Auburn Hills, Championship Drive, Auburn Hills, MI, United States
6DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI, United States