February 2024 Culture Calendar

The host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET offers a curated list of this month’s art and entertainment.
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Ann Arbor-born singer Mayer Hawthorne appears at Detroit’s Majestic Theatre on Feb. 2. // Photograph courtesy of Mayer Hawthorne

Metro Detroit is always so full of events and other fun things to do that it can be tough keeping track of it all. To help you plan your weekend itineraries, we’ve asked Ryan Patrick Hooper, the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET to share his top February happenings in the area.

Film

For the film fanatic at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Brothers Fayard and Harold Nicholas appear in Stormy Weather, a 1943 film with an all-Black cast, one of many highlighted in Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898-1971 at the DIA.

Filmmakers like Jordan Peele (Nope), Ava DuVernay (Selma), and Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) have focused the cultural zeitgeist on Black directors in the past decade, but the role of Black filmmakers and actors in Hollywood and beyond is still an undertold tale. With a touring exhibition called Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898-1971, the Detroit Institute of Arts aims to help change that.

Regeneration (borrowed from the 1923 movie of the same name that featured an all-Black cast) follows Black creators from early film history through the Civil Rights Movement. Historical photographs, costumes, props, posters, and interactive elements are complemented by major artworks by contemporary artists like Kara Walker and Glenn Ligon.

The DIA is bringing this programming to life by turning the Detroit Film Theatre into an extended gallery of arts, playing a host of groundbreaking Black films, some with live musical accompaniment, in its historic theater throughout the exhibition’s run, which ends in June.

Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898–1971 is on display at the Detroit Institute of Arts Feb. 4 through June 23. For a list of films that the Detroit Film Theatre is screening during the exhibition, visit dia.org/ events/detroit-film-theatre.

Music

Worth the Drive: When the Caged Bird Sings in Ann Arbor

Composer Nkeiru Okoye first blew me away when she was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to write a suite of music about the city’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood. Now, Okoye is returning to Michigan with a new commission that brings together elements of theater, opera, and dance thanks to the University Musical Society and the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

When the Caged Bird Sings is part tribute to poet laureate Maya Angelou and draws inspiration from the Black church. It will be performed one night only at the Albert Kahn-designed Hill Auditorium, one of the most acoustically sound venues in the state.

Nkeiru Okoye’s When the Caged Bird Sings will be performed on Saturday, Feb. 10, at Hill Auditorium. Tickets and more information are available via its website, ums.org.

Comedy

A reason to laugh on Valentine’s Day

Local comic Bill Bushart will perform a Valentine’s Day set at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle. // Photograph courtesy of Bill Bushart

Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak is a major date spot. The historic hub for chuckles will lean into this identity on Feb. 14 with Bill Bushart’s Valentine Special, featuring comedians Cam Rowe, Ann Duke, and Matt Conn.

I wanted to bring special attention to this one because it is a perfect Valentine’s Day idea for couples new and old, but also because Bill Bushart is a hilarious Detroit comic (the self-proclaimed king of blue comedy around these parts) who has done a lot to bring up the next generation of comics through the classes he teaches at the Comedy Castle.

If you can’t make it out to Bill Bushart’s showcase, comedians Jay Jurden (Feb. 15-17), Nathan Macintosh (Feb. 22-24), and Katherine Blanford (Feb. 25) round out a solid month of comedy in Royal Oak.

Bill Bushart’s Valentine Special is on Wednesday, Feb. 14. For a full list of events at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, go to comedycastle.com.

On My Playlist

Concerts return to Detroit ahead of spring

I don’t want to get your hopes up, but one of the ways I can tell spring isn’t too far away is by the bounty of live concerts returning to metro Detroit like snowbirds making their way back from Florida. I’ll start with hometown talent Mayer Hawthorne (Feb. 2 at the Majestic Theatre), whose excellent new album For All Time has been on repeat for me. Toss in Jon Batiste (Feb. 26 at The Fillmore), and we’re onto something. Batiste is the former bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and just a couple of years ago, his album We Are won the Grammy for album of the year. On the indie side of things, I’m counting down the days until Blonde Redhead (Feb. 29 at El Club) takes the stage in Detroit. The long-running avant-indie rock band returned from their decade-long hiatus with one of the best records of last year, Sit Down for Dinner.

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET, Detroit’s NPR station (weekdays from noon to 2 p.m.).


This story is from the February 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.