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Blowout balloons in 17th year

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Detroit's Metro Times has a basic goal for its 17th annual Blowout music festival

"The thinking was solely that it was time to make the biggest blowout ever," says Jim Cohen, Metro Times advertising director and Blowout spokesman.

That's no modest proposition, of course.

Blowout has been a hit event since it debuted during March of 1998 in Hamtramck and has become one of the annual highlights of the metro area entertainment schedule. But organizers haven't been afraid to tinker with what already works, adding a fourth-night launch party in Detroit several years ago, and adding a second weekend in Ferndale last year.

But after the 2013 Blowout drew a modest 3,500 over its seven nights, according to Cohen, it was time to make even more changes for this year's edition.

Size apparently matters. "We felt we needed to involve as many bands as possible and as many bands that wanted to be in it," Cohen explains, "which means you need to involve as many really good venues as you can, and the communities have to be right." So while this year's Blowout has shrunk is back to four days -- starting Wednesday, April 30, at in Detroit's Majestic Theatre complex -- it's also grown to three communities, with a lineup of more than 300 acts, coordinated by Ferndale-based Pulp Detroit, playing in seven venues in Ferndale, 10 in Hamtramck and seven in Detroit.

Blowout this year will also feature out-of-town national headliners Motion City Soundtrack from Minneapolis and Chicago's Local H, along with Detroit-based touring acts Electric Six and the Detroit Cobras and proto-punk rockers Death, which was formed in Detroit during the early 70s and is now based in Vermont and was the subject of the 2013 documentary "A Band Called Death."

"We want people who may have heard of these famous bands to get involved and draw more people into (Blowout) who might not go to it," Cohen explains. "The spirit of Blowout is discovering new music, so if they go see a band that's famous and on their way hit five other (bands) they had no plans on seeing -- and then tell their friends about it -- that's what this is all about."

Blowout will, of course, feature the usual dozens of Detroit-area groups both fledgling and well-known, including Amy Gore & Her Valentines, American Mars, Carjack, Kaleido, Duende!, Jamaican Queens, the Hard Lessons, Lord Scrummage and many others. Specially curated nights, meanwhile, include the all-star Honky Tonk Saturday Night on May 3 at the New Way in Ferndale and the Funky D label's lineup of the Howling Diablos, the Royal Blackbirds, Horse Cave Trio and Woven Tangles the same night at the New Dodge in Hamtramck.

And on Thursday night, May 1, the Detroitthealbum.com show will feature 40 local musicians divided into 10 bands which have each written new songs that will be recorded on-the-spot at the Loving Touch in Ferndale and available for download shortly after the festival.

Blowout wristbands are $25 for all five days and are available at the venues or via www.mtblowout.com. There will not be shuttles in the individual communities, but Detroit's Uber service will offer one free ride, up to $30 value, to anyone with a wristband.

A full Blowout schedule and other Details are available at the festival web site.

Web Site: www.mtblowout.com

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