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The lineup for this summer’s Concert of Colors in mid-July was announced last night during a press conference/party at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. It looks to be another stellar blast, although I was personally pleased and surprised to see that four of the acts performing are sort of old friends of mine – Rickie Lee Jones, Don Was, David Was and Michelle Shocked (well, Michelle and I once went to a John Lee Hooker concert at the Hollywood Palace together, along with her b.f. Bart Bull and NYC writer/then SPIN editor Karen Schoemer

so that may not count as a "friendship" per se; she’s the only one of the bunch not programmed into my cell phone these days

.). Not bragging; just thought it was interesting that all four of those names should pop up when they announced the performers last night, which added to my excitement. And Brian Smith over here couldn’t be any happier about Ms. Jones’ appearance; he loves her. Besides, Rickie Lee’s The Sermon on Exposition Blvd. album last year was stunningly good in its hybrid of mystical Van Morrison meets the Velvet Underground while examining Christianity in this era of right-wing fundamentalism

so y’all should be excited as well.

The festival – in its 16th year – will once again feature four days of free performances at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, as well as at a few smaller stages. Anyhoo, here’s the official schedule:


Buffy Sainte-Marie joins the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and resident conductor Thomas Wilkins for the opening night performance at Orchestra Hall on Thursday, July 17th.

Friday, July 18th kicks off with gospel & soul legend Mavis Staples, as well as the Master Musicians of Jajouka featuring Bachir Attar; contemporary polka purveyors Brave Combo; and the Senegalese hip hop of Gokh Bi System, among others.

Saturday, July 19th features performances by the aforementioned groovy Ms. Rickie Lee Jones, the Machito Orchestra, Pharaoh’s Daughter, and Detroiters Soul Clique and Madame XD, , along with some of the best-loved performers from Sudan who draw music and dance to draw global attention to the plight of their nation in Sudan United for Peace.

Sunday, July 20th is the big finale with reggae superstars (and Clash faves) Toots & the Maytals (their first Detroit –area appearance was opening for the Who at Pontiac Silverdome in 1975), bluesy folk-rocker Ms. Shocked, zydeco master Terrance Simien, plus – perhaps as groovy as anything else on the bill -- a once-in-a-lifetime Detroit Super Session on the Orchestra Hall stage, led by Motown natives Don and David Was of Was (Not Was) and featuring John Sinclair, Lola Morales and members of Detroit bands including Black Bottom Collective, the Dirtbombs, Sisters Lucas, the Go, Black Merda, the Ramrods and the Detroit Cobras, among others. In other words, a lot of the same bands that can be found on the Detroit Road Trip section of Mr. Was’s wasmopolitan website. Not exactly sure how they're going to get 'em all onstage, though, during the course of 90 minutes!

Also included will be free public workshops conducted by Concert of Colors artists, as well as ethnic food booths, multi-cultural arts and crafts vendors, and the Meijer Children’s Tent activity area. A complete schedule and artist bios are available at Information is also available by calling 313.624.0215.

The Concert of Colors comprises three distinct settings at The Max: the Chrysler Main Stage in Orchestra Hall; the Comerica Diversity Stage in the intimate Music Box; and the Outdoor Rhythm Stage, an outdoor venue set up on Parsons Street, which is closed to traffic. Performances inside the air-conditioned center ensure the show goes on, no matter the heat or precipitation served up by a Michigan summer.

All performances are free and open to the public; however, those willing to pay for reserved prime Main Stage seating throughout the festival may opt to become a Concert of Colors “Groupie,” a limited opportunity that also includes private “meet the artist” receptions and a Groupie T-shirt. Individual Groupies pay $100; a Couple of Groupies is $150. Registration information is available at

Rickie Lee Jones: We love her...

Don & David (with Sweet Pea & Sir Harry):Preparing a Detroit Superjam!

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