After three years, Don Was has his Detroit All-Star Revue for the annual Concert of Colors down to a casual science.
“I won’t say we’re cavalier, but there’s an informality that permeates everything from the planning to the show itself,” says the Oak Park-raised Was (né Fagenson), who co-founded the band Was (Not Was) in Detroit and, after moving to Los Angeles, became a Grammy Award-winning producer for Bonnie Raitt, the Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Willie Nelson and many more.
“Basically we sit down, draw up a list of people we’d love to have on the show and see who we can get. The idea is it’s a world music festival, and this portion of the festival highlights the indigenous music of Detroit — and that’s a broad spectrum this year.”
Like it’s two predecessors, Was’ Revue — which takes place at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, July 17 — mixes upstarts such as the Satin Peaches and Doop & the Inside Outlaws with heritage artists such as Alberta Adams, SRC’s Gary Quackenbush, Motown alumni Kim Weston and Dennis Coffey, and the Sun Messengers as part of the group’s 30th anniversary celebration. Marshall Crenshaw joined the show when Was contacted him looking for another artist’s phone number, while Jimmy Ruffin joined the mix after he contacted Was about producing an album for him.
Was will play bass in the house band, along with onetime Was (Not Was) keyboardist and Eminem collaborator Luis Resto, Brian “Roscoe” White on guitar and Terry “Thunder” Hughley on drums. The Revue will be filmed and archived on the Don Was Cavalcade of Recorded Music at www.mydamnchannel.com.
“In the end, I just want it to be a fun night for everybody,” says Was, who recently worked on new albums for Lucinda Williams and Italian singer-songwriter Zucchero. “It’s really become my favorite night of the year. We bring this broad cross-section of people together ... and there’s this great energy, and the audience is receptive to all of it. No one has ever bombed at the Detroit All-Star Revue.
“There’s just a great vibe to this thing — that’s really what it’s all about. I really look forward to it.”
The 18th Annual Concert of Colors takes place Friday, July 16, at the Detroit Institute of Arts, 5200 Woodward Ave., and Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Performers include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mavis Staples, Muruga & the Rainforest Band, Bill Miller, Calvin Cooke and more. All performances are free. The full schedule and other festival information are available at www.concertofcolors.com.
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