Night Train & Friends: Concert of Colors

Our friend Dominique of Midwest Guest has been an ardent supporter of The Night Train for pretty much always. Although she is mostly a travel writer, it is great when she writes her “Where I Live” features about Metro Detroit. Last month she did some investigative historical snooping around Belle Isle bridges which we loved.

Concert of Colors happened over a month ago, but Dominique’s photos capture a lot of spirit. Enjoy it before Labor Day weekend sneaks into town and takes your summer away!

I love Detroit’s annual Concert of Colors diversity and world music festival, and I appreciate how the multi-day festival also puts the spotlight some of the best of metro Detroit’s incredibly deep talent pool.

Many of the most heart-felt performances each year come from some of the strongest voices from decades past, including some who are finally enjoying some of the success that eluded them earlier in their careers.

Here are some highlights from the July 2011 Concert of Colors:

Multi-Grammy Award winning producer Don Was works with some of the biggest names in the music business like Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, and Elton John, but he loves bringing an eclectic group of Detroit acts into the spotlight with the hometown All-Star Revue he produces each year for the Concert of Colors. Was strongly believes in music as an inspirational and unifying force, and he told me that the night of the Revue was his favorite night of each year when I interviewed him before last year’s festival.

Martha Reeves was one of Motown’s signature voices during the 1960s, and the soundtrack of that decade featured Martha Reeves and the Vandellas hits like “Quicksand”, “Heat Wave” and “Dancing in the Street”. Reeves closed out this year’s All-Star Revue, celebrating her 70th birthday with a strong performance of “Dancing in the Street”.

We saw Mitch Ryder perform a great version of Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” during Was’ first All-Star Revue in 2008. Ryder returned to the stage at The Max with a killer version of “Little Latin Lupe Lu” during this year’s Revue.

Melvin Davis performed during the Revue and is one of those Motown talents who never really gained the widespread recognition and sales he really deserved during the 1960s and 1970s. By 1984, Davis was working at the post office, although he continued to write, record, and release music. He recently retired from the post office and regularly performs both here and in Europe.

We first saw Bettye LaVette at Detroit’s 2006 Festival of the Arts, and we were excited to see her headline Sunday’s Concert of Colors bill. LaVette is another Detroit artist who started in the early 1960s, enjoying some critical acclaim, but never gaining the accompanying success on the record charts. Many of her recordings were ignored, or worse yet, left unreleased for many years. In 2004, LaVette won the W.C. Handy Award for “Comeback Blues Album of the Year”, which led to an amazing career resurgence in recent years.

Don Was


Martha Reeves


Mitch Ryder


Melvin Davis


Bettye LaVette


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