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Local Music

Why can't Detroit cash in on music?

NPR raised the question. Do you have the answer?

MT photo: Kelly Lockwood
Hadituptoheres at Metro Times' Hamtramck Blowout.
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Published 4/29/2009

You might assume the music business is a big element in Detroit's economy, just as it is in other cities that have made an industry out of their local music scene. Memphis has Beale Street. In Austin, it's Sixth Street. In New Orleans and Nashville, it's just about everywhere.

All of these cities have made their music scene a major tourist draw. And not just for the big festivals, but week in and week out at clubs and small theaters. People gravitate to these places as destinations to hear great live music.

But that hasn't happened for Detroit, despite the decades of immensely popular music associated with the city ...

The feature includes interviews with, among others, Mary Ramirez of the Detroit Cobras and our own editor W. Kim Heron (though it appears he didn't tell anyone here that he was doing the damn piece; gee, Kim, I had to go to the site to see if they were streaming Dylan's new album they weren't, BTW to discover you were on NPR?)

At any rate, you can hear (or read) the piece by clicking here. Truth is, I've been wondering myself why the city has never capitalized on its music scene since I returned nearly two years ago. It's always seemed like a no-brainer to me (but then so does the legalization of pot). Seems like the most we have is the Motown Records Museum ... and the damn place has been closed "for a special event" (on a Saturday afternoon, no less) both times I've taken out-of-towners there to see it. They've always been thrilled to have their photo taken in front of Hitsville U.S.A. at least.

Anyway, as they used to say in the days of the Fairness Doctrine, "What's your opinion? We'd like to know."

Bill Holdship is music editor of Metro Times. Send comments to

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