Culture Calendar: Top Events in Metro Detroit in April 2023

The host of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET offers a curated list of this month’s art and entertainment. Plus, score details on big events happening all April long.
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Fountain of Tears (Ainadamar) will be at the Detroit Opera House three days this month. // Photograph by James Glossop

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. Plus, save the dates for comedy shows, film screenings, performances, and more.

Performing Arts: Fountain of Tears at Detroit Opera

My picks for this month’s Culture Calendar focus on downtown Detroit’s density — all three events are within walking distance of one another. It’s also a preview of how lively the city will be this spring and into summer.

First up is a trip to Detroit Opera, where I’ve raved about the work of Artistic Director Yuval Sharon (he was featured in our January Hour Detroiters issue). This month, he’ll bring to town Fountain of Tears (Ainadamar) — a new production making its premiere at Detroit Opera.

It’s an opera with musical flashes of flamenco and rumba, telling the story of Spanish poet and national icon Federico García Lorca, who was executed during the Spanish Civil War for unknown reasons (some say it was because of his politics; some say it was because he was gay). This is not the stuffy night at the opera you may be picturing. It’s a glimpse into its future right in your own backyard.

You have three chances to see Fountain of Tears (Ainadamar) performed by Detroit Opera, with shows on April 8, 14, and 16. Visit detroitopera.org.

Live Comedy: One of the best comedians in the country takes the mic at the Fox Theatre

Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video comedy specials have ushered in a new comedy boom, with more people watching at home but also more willing to check out live stand-up for the first time. And when one of the best in the art form comes through Detroit, you’ll want to be there.

Nate Bargatze doesn’t need to be loud or controversial to get your attention. He’s a clean comic whose knack for relatable storytelling pulls you in without his having to be brash. His breakout specials on Netflix — The Tennessee Kid and The Greatest Average American — exploded his fan base, bringing him to larger theaters and even arenas.

He dropped his latest special, Hello World, on Prime Video in January, but even if you’ve seen all three already, his tour stop at the Fox Theatre on April 30 will comprise all new material presented for the first time to Detroit audiences. This will be the best way to laugh your way out of April and into next month.

Nate Bargatze will perform at the Fox Theatre on April 30. For tickets, go to 313presents.com.

Live Music: The best night to see live jazz in downtown Detroit — shhhhh!

I’m already regretting sharing this with you, but the best nights to see live jazz in Detroit are the relatively sleepy Wednesday nights at Cliff Bell’s, the historic jazz bar and restaurant tucked away on Park Avenue. It’s midweek, so you’re skipping the crowds (you don’t have to worry so much about dressing up, either, but you do what you want — it has very “come as you are” Detroit vibes).

You’ll enjoy a rotating cast of performers led by Noah Jackson, the Detroit bassist, cellist, and composer who also books the national acts that play on Cliff Bell’s intimate stage. You may not know their names and faces, but it’s always a who’s who of the city’s world-renowned jazz scene. And it’s really geared toward welcoming those musicians to the stage — they pay no cover when they bring their instrument. You’ll have to pay $20, but it’s worth every penny.

You’ll feel like Detroit’s jazz scene is playing just for you and your date — just don’t tell everybody else, OK? (If you can’t make Wednesdays, try Thursdays — the opening night of whoever is playing that weekend.)

Noah Jackson’s Full Circle performs every Wednesday at Cliff Bell’s at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. cliffbells.com.

On My Playlist: Ann Arbor folk musician Misty Lyn & the Big Beautiful returns with Narrows

Misty Lyn Bergeron has been part of the Michigan music industry for years and is a musical staple, a particularly bright shining star in Ann Arbor’s folk scene. She and the band kicked off this year with a new album called Narrows. It’s a perfect fit if you’re already a fan of Margo Price, Plains, or Brandi Carlile.

If you’re wondering where to start, standout tracks “Daniel” and “Keep on the Light” will turn you into a fan. Keep your eyes out for upcoming local dates, too. The live show is always worth the price of admission.

To purchase music and watch live performances, go to mistylyn.com.

More Metro Detroit Events for April 2023

Photograph courtesy of Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Mlima’s Tale

Catch the Michigan premiere of this ground- breaking stage production by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage. It tells the story of Mlima, a majestic African elephant who is killed by poachers for his tusks. In the afterlife, Mlima’s soul follows his tusks along their journey through Africa’s animal trade, posing a haunting, thought- provoking social commentary. March 31-April 23. $22. Theatre Nova, 410 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor; theatrenova.org.

Motor City Blues Festival

The 15th annual festival at Detroit’s Fox Theatre touts a stacked lineup of rhythm and blues legends, such as Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Calvin Richardson and “’Cause I Love You” crooner Lenny Williams. Other artists include Pokey Bear, King George, Ronnie Bell, Chick Rodgers, and Nellie “Tiger” Travis. April 1. $59+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Tom Rush

The New Hampshire-based folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist will celebrate his 60-year music career with an intimate performance at The Ark in Ann Arbor. Although he boasts more than a dozen studio albums, he may be best known for his live performance of Steven Walters’ “The Remember Song,” which has racked up more than 7 million views on YouTube. April 5. $32. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; theark.org.

Home Opener Festival

Start celebrating the Tigers’ 2023 season and home opener early (at 9 a.m.; the game versus the Red Sox starts at 1 p.m.) just steps from Comerica Park. This outdoor party with heated tents has 15 DJs (including Hour Detroiter DJ Myint, the Tigers’ official DJ), bands, entertainment, beer tents, full bars, food trucks, games, and more. Proceeds benefit Angel’s Share. April 6. $20+. Madison Avenue Festival Grounds, Detroit; detroithomeopener.com.

Bert Kreischer

Comedian, actor, and podcast host Bert Kreischer initially found fame when his stand-up routine appeared in the compilation National Lampoon Live: New Faces, Volume 2. Since then, he’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Conan, released two Netflix specials, and created three podcasts. Among these is The Bill Bert Podcast, which he co-hosts with fellow comedian Bill Burr. April 7. $34+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Cranbrook Academy of Art Graduate Degree Exhibition

Explore works from Cranbrook Academy of Art’s 2023 class of architects, designers, and fine artists at this annual display. The graduating students have spent two years developing the pieces, which will remain on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum through mid-May. April 9-May 14, $10. Cranbrook Art Museum, 39221 Woodward Ave.,  Bloomfield Hills; cranbrookartmuesum.org.

Light & Color

View works by artists from around the country as they compete for $650 in cash awards at this juried pastel art exhibition. Pieces must be created using at least 80 percent pastels — including hard, soft, dry, and pencil mediums. A reception and award presentation ceremony will take place on Saturday, April 22. April 11-May 6. No cost. Northville Art House, 215 W. Cady St., Northville; northvillearthouse.org.

Silent Movie Weekend

Showings of the classic silent films Show People, Two Tars, and The Finishing Touch will be accompanied by a live organ performance during one special weekend commemorating the Redford Theatre’s 95th anniversary. All three films were released in 1928 — the same year the historic local theater first opened its doors to the public. April 14. $10. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.

Hot Chocolate Run

Runners can choose from 5K, 10K, and 15K circuits in this race at Detroit’s William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor. A big mug of hot chocolate awaits participants at the finish line, along with fondue, music, and offerings from vendors. Proceeds from the race will benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which specializes in treatment for childhood cancers and other serious pediatric diseases. April 15. $47+. William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, 1900 Atwater St., Detroit; hotchocolate15k.com.

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles

Enjoy theatrical performances of the iconic band’s most beloved works, including selections from Abbey Road and the group’s famous 1969 rooftop concert, at this spectacular tribute show. Beatles fans will delight as the gestures, costumes, and personalities of the original Fab Four enhance the band’s faithful, note-for-note performances. LED technology, high-definition screens, and multimedia content give the show a 21st-century spin. April 15. $25+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.

Caroline Polachek

The indie darling and former Chairlift vocalist will stop at Royal Oak Music Theatre in support of her new album, Desire, I Want to Turn into You. Released in February, the alt-pop record includes singles “Welcome to my Island,”“Bunny Is a Rider,” and “Billions.” Electronic musician George Clanton will open the show. $35+. Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak; royaloakmusictheatre.com.

An Evening with David Sedaris

The acclaimed best-selling author, comedian, and National Public Radio contributor will promote his newest book, Happy-Go-Lucky, with a North American tour this spring. Fans will enjoy an intimate evening of new readings and fresh stories, followed by a Q&A session and book signing. April 19. $58+. Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; broadwayindetroit.com.

Detroit Opera Resident Artist Spring Concert

Hear dazzling operatic performances by Detroit Opera’s talented cast of resident artists at this concert at Grosse Pointe Farms’ historic War Memorial. The spring program features vocalists Melanie Spector, Elizabeth Polese, Gabrielle Barkidjija, Leo Williams, and Ben Reisinger, along with pianist Nathalie Doucet. April 20. $20+. The War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms; detroitopera.org.

Three Stooges Festival

The Redford Theatre will screen six of the Three Stooges’ classic shorts, including Sock-a-Bye Baby, Three Pests in a Mess, and Malice in the Palace. The beloved three-man comedy troupe released 190 short films over the course of its 48-year career, all of which feature its signature combination of slapstick and physical-farce comedy. Two showings are available. April 21-22. $5. Redford Theatre, 17360 Lahser Road, Detroit; redfordtheatre.com.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet

Founded in 1994 by Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, this New York City-based dance company is known for its diverse, multicultural cast of dancers as well as its blend of classical and contemporary dance styles. Roughly 20 of the world’s most talented and highly trained dancers will dazzle audiences when the troupe stops at Detroit’s Music Hall for a performance this month. April 23. $30+. Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, 350 Madison St., Detroit; musichall.org.


This story is part of the April 2023 issue of Hour Detroit. Read more in our Digital Edition.