Detroit’s mu­si­cal re­bel­lion theme of re­vue led by Don Was

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - NEWS | ENTERTAINMENT -

When days of deadly rioting broke out in Detroit a half-cen­tury ago, Don Was lived on the city’s out­skirts, about to turn 16. He’d al­ready been turned on to the power of protest mu­sic, but the un­rest that en­veloped 25 city blocks and claimed 43 lives was an­other turn­ing point al­to­gether.

“I just re­mem­ber that as a mo­ment where you could no longer ig­nore the in­jus­tice and the anger that was be­hind that,’’ said 64-year-old Was, a vet­eran mu­si­cian, pro­ducer and pres­i­dent of Blue Note Records.

Was brings those re­al­i­ties into lead­ing the 10th Detroit All-Star Re­vue on July 15 at Or­ches­tra Hall. The con­cert is part of the 25th Con­cert of Col­ors — a free, multi-day fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing the mu­si­cal and eth­nic diversity of the city. This year’s re­vue sets out to com­mem­o­rate Detroit’s his­tory of mu­si­cal re­bel­lion on the eve of the riot’s 50th an­niver­sary. For about a week in July 1967, city was con­vulsed in vi­o­lence that be­gan when po­lice ar­rested black pa­trons at an af­ter-hours bar.

The re­vue in­cludes alumni of Mo­town Records and serves as a re­union for Was’ band, Was (Not Was). He said the theme of re­bel­lion is “re­ally broad.’’

“In the most gen­eral sense, it rep­re­sents any kind of dis­sent from the sta­tus quo, from con­ven­tion,’’ he said by phone from his home in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia. “It’s an at­tempt to im­prove your own life or the lives of many peo­ple . ... Wher­ever there is a cul­ture of re­bel­lion, there is great mu­sic to go along with it.’’

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