From Edison to Ford, Detroit is the home of inventors. It should come as no surprise, then, that when it comes to music, there’s no place quite like Detroit’s sound. From Madonna to Aretha to Eminem and, yes, even Kid Rock, Detroit is the city music lovers dream about. Nashville may lay claim the title of Music City, but Detroit’s fusion of jazz, blues, rock, techno, rap and, of course, Motown make it the real winner in our eyes.
Here are a few ways to experience the sound of Detroit:
Know where to go
While Detroit’s sound is constantly evolving and growing, certain genres of music primarily stay in certain neighborhoods. A simple rule of thumb: For a true Motown sound, head downtown, but for jazz, rock, or blues, the West Side near St. Clair Shores is quickly becoming the preferred hangout for local artists.
Embrace the techno beat
You can thank three Detroit high school kids in the 70s for techno. While it took a little while to catch on, the city now offers a unique blend of electronic jams throughout the year with the ultimate concert taking place downtown every Memorial Day weekend. The three-day event is called the Movement, and offers a range of international and local underground artists. It’s weird. It’s fun. It’s totally Detroit.
Appreciate the history
Accidentally stumbling upon great acts or swanky jazz clubs is fun, but a visit to one of the local museums will help you appreciate their soulful roots even more. You can find Detroit’s first major recording studio at the Motown Historical Museum. Great for the whole family, the Motown Museum is a crash course on the history of Motown and how Detroit became such an essential part of it.
Make time for summer music festivals
Something about summer encourages all the local musicians in Detroit to come out of the woodwork and jam together. And everyone knows it’s no party like a Michigan party. The Warped Tour nearly always makes a pit stop at Ford Field and rap acts — international and local — come out, too, but it’s the summer closer that really takes the cake. As one of the biggest free concerts in America, the Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend literally takes over downtown Detroit, with over 100 preformances for all to enjoy.
Never turn down the opportunity for a jam night
Jam nights are Detroit’s way of introducing local artists to the scene and allowing them to play together in front of different crowds. Sometimes, jam nights can be a bust, but more often than not, you’ll find local legends like Jim McCarty and Big Al’ Grebovic making their way to the stage to play some of their favorite hits together.