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 events in the area.
Last chance to check the local scene at MOCAD
If there’s something I’ve noticed about local art institutions since the pandemic, it’s that they have all found ways to embrace Detroit artists more. That’s not to say they never did, or that they were bad at it before (maybe not always great at it), but it’s happening much more. This is certainly the case at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, where you’re running out of time to see five exhibitions that highlight the work of Detroit artists.
With The Artist’s Instruments, longtime graffiti artist Jason Revok brings his street skills to the white halls of the contemporary art museum on a massive, mesmerizing scale, holding onto his can of spray paint while also advancing the tools he uses to create.
Rashaun Rucker’s Relief from the Heat proves his photography is just as remarkable as his illustration, turning intimate photographs into the kind of massive fans you might see cooling off worshippers at a Baptist church.
At the age of 70, mixed-media artist Judy Bowman presents her strongest work yet (and her first solo museum exhibition) with Gratiot Griot, using textured paper to capture scenes from African American life in Detroit.
An excellent exhibition from Bree Gant (a video installation exploring movement and transit in Detroit) and a collaborative show from Halima Afi Cassells and Shanna Merola round out a riveting winter lineup. Exploring it might just be the perfect way to spend a cold afternoon in Detroit.
All the exhibitions listed above are on display at the MOCAD through March 26. mocadetroit.org.
Lalah Hathaway brings something for everyone to Sound Board
Hathaway is one of the rare touring artists who can bring something to the table for multiple generations of music lovers. The old heads can say they saw the daughter of soul legend Donny Hathaway.
Today’s generation can appreciate the way she blends influences from myriad genres, ranging from neo-soul to R&B, with a voice that transcends all eras entirely. Hathaway popped onto my radar with high-profile collaborations with jazz composer Robert Glasper. Her wealth of material that dates back to the ’90s means you’re going to hear familiar work and also discover something new.
It’s a Sunday night that you’ll want to dress up for and when you might want to call in sick to work the next day because you’re getting a room at the MotorCity Casino Hotel. Even if the rising cost of concert tickets has made you pickier about your purchases, you can rest assured, Lalah Hathaway will deliver on every penny you spend.
Lalah Hathaway will perform at Sound Board inside the MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, Feb. 19. Tickets are available at soundboarddetroit.com.
All-around “authentically Detroit” listening
This is the first podcast to be featured in Culture Calendar, and Authentically Detroit lands here for good reason. Hosted by the dynamic duo of Donna Givens Davidson and Orlando P. Bailey, Authentically Detroit offers up a weekly dose of wide-ranging conversations with special guests, covering everything from digital justice for city residents to how surveillance affects our lives, along with cultural takes, including a recent exploration of two Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History jazz exhibits closing this month.
Davidson and Bailey earn bonus points for bringing in Detroit teens to share their thoughts. It’s a fresh perspective that often feels left out in the city’s media landscape. With their podcast, Davidson and Bailey are bringing much-needed voices to the forefront of Detroit’s ear.
Authentically Detroit is available wherever you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
On My Playlist
Last fall, I had the pleasure of witnessing saxophonist Marcus Elliot and pianist Michael Malis perform at the studios of Detroit’s NPR station, WDET 101.9, and I’ve been obsessed with their collaborative album ever since.
The duo, who record as Balance, have been working together for nearly 20 years, so the compositions are tight. Their forays into jazz improv are almost impossible to tell apart from written parts. On their sophomore release, Conjure, each gave the other the space to shine on their respective compositions, putting together one of the best contemporary jazz records to come out of Detroit in quite some time.
It’s personal, intimate, and expansive all at the same time, a great primer on why the duo have been called two of the city’s most important jazz musicians.
Conjure is available for streaming and purchase via Balance’s Bandcamp page, which is often the best way to directly support local artists.
More Top Events in Southeast Michigan This February
Save the dates for comedy shows, film screenings, performances, and more.
This funny, family-friendly musical, which is based on the hit 1988 Tim Burton film of the same name, follows misfit teen Lydia Deetz as her world is turned upside down by a demon clad in stripes. Widely lauded for its catchy score, as well as for its gorgeously gothic set design, the production was nominated for an impressive eight Tony Awards following its Broadway debut in 2019. Jan. 1-Feb. 12. $29+. Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway St., Detroit; broadwayindetroit.com.
Angel Olsen and the Big Time Band
The art pop innovator and critical darling will stop at Detroit’s Majestic Theatre in support of her 2022 album Big Time. Inspired by post-pop acts of the ’80s, including The Cure, Cocteau Twins, and Siouxsie and the Banshees, Olsen has been praised for her dynamic vocal range and lyrics that touch on anxiety, relationships, and personal struggle. Nashville-based singer-songwriter Erin Rae will open the show. Feb. 1. $30+. Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; majesticdetroit.com.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, this singer-songwriter was named New Male Artist of the Year at the 2022 American Country Music Awards, following the release of his 2021 album Gold Chain Cowboy. Standout tracks include “Pretty Heart” and “To Be Loved by You,” both of which cracked the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Country contemporaries Catie Offerman and Corey Kent will also perform. Feb. 3. $49+. The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; livenation.com.
The former L.T.D. drummer and vocalist will embark on a North American tour in support of his 2018 solo album Worth It All. More than 40 years into his career as a solo artist, the singer-songwriter’s back catalog is flush with R&B gems, including ’80s hits “On the Wings of Love” and “Stay with Me Tonight.” Hear those classics and more when he stops at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board theater for an intimate performance this month. Feb. 3. $48+. Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; soundboarddetroit.com.
The Language Archive
Don’t miss the Michigan premiere of this quirky, romantic play by Julia Cho. It tells the story of George, a man obsessed with documenting dying languages, as he struggles to master basic communication in his daily life. Directed by Carla Milarch, the play utilizes humor and heart to explore the power — and pitfalls — of the spoken word. Feb. 3-26. $22. Theatre Nova, 410 W. Huron St., Ann Arbor; theatrenova.org.
Jagged Little Pill
Set to a soundtrack of Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning music, this contemporary musical follows members of a less-than-perfect American family as they navigate addiction, trauma, and tragedy. Boasting a staggering 15 Tony Award nominations and two wins, the production has been praised by critics for its deeply affecting storyline and thoughtful integration of Morissette’s iconic lyrics. Feb. 14-26. $39+. Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit; broadwayindetroit.com.
After catapulting to worldwide fame as a founding member of rock band Traffic, this England-born singer-songwriter and guitarist contributed to albums by some of the world’s most beloved rock artists, including The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix. Hear an eclectic mix of songs spanning the artist’s 50-plus-year career when he stops at the Sound Board theater this month. $32+. Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Blues in the Night
Writer Sheldon Epps employs the iconic stylings of greats like Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, and Bessie Smith to help tell the story of three women wronged by a cheating man. Set in 1938 Chicago, this dialogue-free musical revue features blues classics like “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues” and “When a Woman Loves a Man.” Feb. 15-March 12. $37+. Meadow Brook Theatre, 350 Estate Drive, Rochester; mbtheatre.com.
Touted as the world’s biggest burlesque show, this sensual revue headlined by “Queen of Burlesque” Dita Von Teese is the perfect Valentine’s Day treat. In addition to four successful world tours, Von Teese boasts appearances in countless films, TV shows, and music videos. Catch her recent cameo in the video for “Bejeweled,” a single from aylor Swift’s hit 2022 album Midnights. Feb. 16. $29+. The Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit; livenation.com.
Disney on Ice Presents Frozen and Encanto
Disney fans young and old will go wild for this magical double feature at Little Caesars Arena. World-class ice skating, aerial acrobatics, incredible costumes, and fan-favorite film tracks will transport audiences first to Arendelle, the wintry world of Frozen, before whisking them away to Encanto’s Colombian mountainscape. Expect special appearances by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and other classic Disney characters. Feb. 16-19. $20+. Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Valentine’s Soul Jam
Treat your valentine to performances by The Whispers, Heatwave, Bloodstone, and Russell Thompkins and the New Stylistics at this soulful R&B event. You’ll fall in love all over again as you enjoy live renditions of songs like The Whispers’ chart-topping 1987 “Rock Steady” or “You Make Me Feel Brand New,” the 1974 track that earned The Stylistics a Grammy Award nomination. Feb. 17. $64+. Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313presents.com.
Cupid’s Undie Run
This annual fun run supports those affected by neurofibromatosis, a tumor-causing genetic disorder that affects one in every 3,000 newborns. Strip down to your tighty-whities for the 1-mile(ish) jog, and then warm up with boozy drinks and dancing at an epic after-party. To date, the event has raised more than $21 million for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Participants may register individually or in teams. Feb. 18. $40+. Tin Roof, 47 E. Adams Ave., Detroit; cupids.org.
Best known for his portrayal of computer programmer Erlich Bachman in the HBO comedy series Silicon Valley, actor and comedian T.J. Miller will stop at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle for three days during his The Philosophy Circus Tour. In his 2017 HBO stand-up comedy special, Meticulously Ridiculous, the comic shared his irreverent observations on everyday life through improvisation and high-energy absurdism. Feb. 24-26. $30+. Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, 310 S. Troy St., Royal Oak; comedycastle.com.
The Ark’s 36th Annual Storytelling Festival
This annual festival highlights spoken-word greats like Steve Daut, Sheila Arnold, and Bill Harley, whose commentaries have appeared on NPR’s flagship news program, All Things Considered. Newly expanded, the 2023 event kicks off with the Liars’ Contest on Friday, in which six of the region’s best liars compete to fool the judges and win a $100 prize (plus bragging rights). A family-friendly edition of the show takes place on Sunday. Feb, 24-26. $10+. The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor; theark.org.
Black Bottom Jazz Showcase
In honor of Black History Month, Unlimited Sky Production presents the first annual Black Bottom Jazz Showcase. The event will feature three tributes on a single stage, for one night only: The Anita O’Day Tribute, male jazz revue Take 5, and the all-woman Satin Doll Revue. Attendees will be transported back in time by comedian Mike Bonner, who will host the event as legendary Detroit entertainer, entrepreneur, and promoter Sunnie Wilson. Dressing for the occasion is encouraged. Forty percent of the evening’s proceeds will go to Hug Detroit Community Services food pantry. Feb. 25. $45-$60. Bert’s Warehouse Theater, 2739 Russell St., Detroit; eventbrite.com.
Lyfe Jennings and Conya Doss
Two soul heavy hitters will share the stage for this co-headlined show at MotorCity Casino Hotel’s Sound Board theater. Known as the “queen of indie soul,” Doss’s eclectic body of work melds influences from R&B, soul, funk, and jazz. Singer, songwriter, and multi- instrumentalist Jennings is best known for his 2004 track “Must Be Nice,” which charted at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Feb. 26. $40+. Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit; soundboarddetroit.com.
Jesus Christ Superstar
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of this beloved rock opera based on the Christian Bible’s telling of the final weeks in Jesus’ life when it stops in Detroit for a six-day run. The iconic tracks that made the original famous, including “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Superstar,” are paired with modern theatrics and refreshed set pieces to create a compelling, updated production that’s sure to please fans both new and old. Feb. 28-March 5. $41. Fisher Theatre, 3011 W. Grand River Blvd., Detroit; broadwayindetroit.com.
This story is from the February 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.