WBGO Blog
  • Rhonda's Detroit Journal - Saturday 9.5.09

    September 6, 2009. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    Day 2 at the Detroit Jazz Festival and the weather once again was absolutely gorgeous. Bright sunshine and a nice breeze coming off of the Detroit River. If you’ve ever doubted that music has a healing power, go to the Detroit Jazz Festival and you will become a believer.

    The longer I’m here, the more I realize what a truly special event this is. As I strolled along the River Walk from the hotel to Hart Plaza, where most of the venues are located, I passed hundreds of smiling faces...jazz fans of all ages who were as eager as I was to hear what wonderful sounds would greet our ears on this glorious September day.

    People here are happy. Even in these depressed economic times, the people of Detroit let go of all their worries during the festival and rejoice in the music. When I arrived at the stage where Dee Dee Bridgewater was about to perform every seat was already occupied and the entire perimeter was packed with people waiting for Ms. Bridgewater. Dee Dee was her usual dynamic, soulful self. She sang, she swung, she scatted. She enchanted and entertained the crowd with her stories and wicked sense of humor. Some of the young members of the Michigan State University Jazz Orchestra were a little nervous about performing with Dee Dee, but they proved to be up to the task and earned Ms. Bridgewater’s praise.

    Hear highlights from Dee Dee’s concert on our Detroit Jazz Festival Special - Labor Day beginning at 2pm on 88.3FM in the New York City area and worldwide right here - wbgo.org. And check out the slide show of Dee Dee performing at the end of this post.

    The night before, I ran into Dee Dee at the Hank Jones concert. She was excited to be back home and re-unite with old friends. She grew up in nearby Flint, and on stage this afternoon, she described herself as a “Flintstone.” That line got a lot of applause from the audience. As for me, I almost started a riot when the first word that came out of my mouth while introducing the Michigan State University ensemble was “university” - as in University of Michigan, rather than "Michigan" for Michigan State. That slip of the tongue drew immediate boos from the crowd, quickly prompting me to correct myself. I'll never make that mistake again!

  • The WBGO Vacation Package Winner Is in Detroit

    September 5, 2009. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Erica Collins & Shanetta Dorsey
    Erica Collins & Shanetta Dorsey

    YAY!!!! Winner Shanetta Dorsey (right) and her friend Erica Collins are staying at the Marriott on a high floor  with a view of Canada. Just now they are on their way to the Charles H Wright Museum of African American History and may stop for something to eat at Good Girls Go to Paris (crepe house). Congratulations and it's great to meet you!

  • Rhonda's Detroit Journal - Friday 9.4.09

    September 5, 2009. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    It’s late Friday night, well, early Saturday morning and I’ve just returned from the opening concerts of the Detroit International Jazz Festival! When I first arrived in the Motor City on Monday there was no indication of the grand event that was soon to overtake the downtown area save for a small flashing marquee near our hotel. Within 24 hours the hard working crews began the process of putting up tents and vendor booths, laying cables, barricading streets, erecting stages and testing sound equipment.

    When I interviewed Festival Executive Director Terri Pontremoli yesterday, I asked her what distinguishes the Detroit Fest from other jazz festivals, and she told me it was the special vibe and the people. The fans who come to the Detroit Jazz Festival know and really appreciate the music. As Terri said, “They come to listen.” This is a sentiment I’ve heard echoed several times by long time DJF devotees. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the festival is showcasing Detroit’s rich jazz legacy and lineage…welcoming home such area natives as Dee Dee Bridgewater, Geri Allen, Bennie Maupin, Louis Hayes and Sheila Jordan.

    Keep reading for the details on the rest of the day and a concert photo of Hank Jones. Read more