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Don Was Revue at Concert of Colors, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s 11 and counting for Don Was and Detroit’s Concert of Colors.

For the past 10 years, the Grammy Award-winning Oak Park native (nee Fagenson) has provided an annual festival highlight with the Don Was All-Star Revue, showcasing established, heritage and up-and-coming musicians from the metro area. This year’s edition uses the 50th anniversary of the Detroit uprising as a springboard for “Music Of Rebellion,” with most of the Was (Not Was) band joined by thel ikes of John Sinclair, Motown veteran’s CArolyn Crawford and Dennis Coffey, Melvin Davis, Tino Gross, Harmonica Shaw, Corktown Popes, Chris Canas and more.

As per usual, the globe-trotting Was, 64, is fitting the Revue into myriad other projects, including the next Rolling Stones album (he’s been working with the group since 1994), finishing up the final album by the late Gregg Allman and producing a new set for jazz organ legend Dr. Lonnie Smith...

• Was says the years of producing the All-Star Revue have flown by for him. “It feels like it was six months ago or something,” he explains. “I’m really proud we’ve kept it going, and I think it gets better every year. The main thing is it’s a lot of fun and you can tell the audience is into it as well as everybody on stage. You’ve got all these musicians from different walks of life who probably read about each other and heard about each other but have never been in the same show before. It’s really cool to see them meet each other for the first time and see the styles collide.”

• The idea of rebellion for this year’s show is about more than just what happened in Detroit during 1967, Was says. “I think rebellions represents dissent against the status quo,” he explains. “It’s really about people looking to improve the quality of their lives for themselves and the people around them. It’s messy and soemtimes quite tragic, but it stems from someting noble. And wherever you find dissent you find a rich musical culture, which I think has a way of communicating the message in a deeper way.”

• Was is keeping most of the Revue song choices under wraps, but he says “all the songs are really from a period where I was a young man in Detroit and these were popular songs. It ranges from (Buffalo Springfield’s) ‘For What It’s Worth’ to (Public Enemy’s) ‘Fight The Power’ and everythign in between, the Tom Robinson Band’s ‘Power In The Darkness,’ Gregory Porter’s ‘1960 What?’ It’s not really Detroit-specific, but it’s all beautiful music.”

• Was says it’s “too early” to talk about the Rolling Stones album, the group’s first of new material since 2005, just yet. “We just had an album out in December (the covers set’Blue & Lonesome’), so there’s no real rush,” says Was, who was recently in New York to do some work on the follow-up. “It used to have to coincide with a two-year tour and there wer edeadlines and things like that, but it’s not like that anymore. The truth is we don’t know what it is yet. It’ll come when it’s ready.”

• Was also plays bass on two tracks for “Give More Love,” the upcoming (Sept. 15) album from Ringo Starr, who Was has also produced in the past. “I love him, man,” Was says. “He’s a beautiful guy. I Love palying with him. He’s probably the single most underrated drummer on Earth, even though he’s maybe the most well-known drummer on Earth. I don’t think people understand what a great fee he’s got; He swings, just a deep groove. As a bass player it’s so much fun to play with him. I’m always humbled to play with him. I still can’t believe I know this guy.”

If You Go

• Don Was All-Star Revue: Music Of Rebellion

• 8 p.m. Saturday, July 15.

• Concert of Colors at Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit.

• Admission is free.

• Call 313-576-5111 or visit concertofcolors.com.

Web Site: www.concertofcolors.com

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