March 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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Sun June — an indie pop band from Austin, Texas — will be performing at the Lager House in Detroit on March 29. // Photograph by Alex Winker

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 March happenings in the area.

Music

A Big Month at the DSO

There’s a lot of news out of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra lately, like a massive contract extension keeping Music Director Jader Bignamini here through 2031. That means increased stability for Orchestra Hall and the hardworking union musicians who bring it to life.

I also can’t wait for the release of the DSO’s performance of Wynton Marsalis’s Blues Symphony, due out on Penta tone this year (the first new album recording from the symphony in years). It’s a “scary good” performance, according to DSO President and CEO Erik Rönmark, whom I profiled for Hour Detroit back in 2022. And while that’s all great news for the future of our beloved Motor City symphony, there’s plenty you can go see in the present.

The month kicks off with the annual Classical Roots performance, which honors and celebrates African American composers, musicians, and educators and is fast approaching its 50th-anniversary mark (not this year but soon). On Friday and Saturday, March 1-2, new music from Shelley Washington and saxophonist Steven Banks comprises the marquee event.

Later in the month, the living legend Herbie Hancock takes Orchestra Hall (March 28). The man is 83 and still puts on an incredible show, so give him his flowers in person while you still can. I’ll throw an honorable mention to the pops programming at the DSO, with Red Carpet Film Scores arriving on March 8 and bringing to life your favorite movie scores from Academy Award-winning composers.

For tickets and more information, visit dso.org.

Costume Design

Last Chance for Afrofuturism at Wright Museum

I haven’t gone out of my way in a while to remind you about the “last chance” to see something at local museums. I’d be kicking myself, however, if I didn’t gently poke you and tell you to head over to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (when’s the last time you’ve been …?) to see Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design.

There’s been a rash of costume-centric exhibits touring the area in recent years, but none have come close to achieving the quality of presentation and cultural impact of this one. It’s a retrospective of sorts for Carter, whose career over the past three decades includes working as costume designer for directors from Spike Lee to Steven Spielberg. Her most recently recognizable work was seen in the Black Panther franchise, but her time in showbiz goes back to pictures like Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X.

In each effort, Carter manages to be a great costume designer who communicates politics, race, and story arc through her work. Seeing the detailing that goes into this work up close makes for a refreshing trip to the museum (and a fun reminder of how short the actors are who wore her wares), and it’s a great way to better acquaint yourself with this Oscar-winning wardrobe maven.

Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design wraps up on March 31 at The Wright (I’m digging this shortened name for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History). Visit thewright.org/exhibitions for more info.

Culture

A New Way to Tell a Critical Story at The Zekelman

As with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, there’s been a bevy of changes at The Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills. First off, the name. You may not know that, back in 2022, “Zekelman” was added to “The Holocaust Center,” the result of $25 million in gifts from the Zekelman family. (Their 2021 gift of $15 million was the lead gift to the center’s $100 million Comprehensive Campaign.) And now, another infusion of cash is bringing the critical storytelling that The Zekelman does up to date.

The Zekelman Holocaust Center began a multimillion-dollar renovation of its core exhibit in May of last year, in part thanks to funding from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. On Jan. 28, the center held a grand reopening of the exhibit, revealing new historical insights, new exhibit designs, and new technology. Under the leadership of Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, there’s been an urgency to make sure the stories of Holocaust survivors are increasingly accessible in new ways as the survivor population dwindles.

If you haven’t been since that high school field trip back in the day, now is the time to see the im-portant work that The Zekelman Holocaust Center is doing today and for future generations with this massive update; holocaustcenter.org.

On My Playlist

An Intimate Indie Rock Show at the Lager House

I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk about the concerts at the Lager House, so let me take this brief moment to say, “You should be eating brunch there” (it has the best corned beef hash in the city) and “You should be at the Sun June show on Friday, March 29.”

There aren’t a lot of bands doing the understated indie pop thing that I genuinely enjoy, but Sun June won me over with their excellent track “Everything I Had” and built on that foundation with their excellent 2023 album Bad Dream Jaguar.

They’ll be playing with Wild Pink, another must-see. This won’t be a mosh-pit affair. This is a chill-and-check-out-good-music at a great venue that I hope continues booking bands like Sun June, because I’m not sure they’d play Detroit otherwise; thelagerhouse.com.


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