DETROIT: Rock City ?

30 Mar

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I’m not sure what it is about Detroiter’s, maybe it’s the hard working blue-collar mindset; all I know for sure is that when it comes to the weekends, we know how to have fun! What do you like? Broadway shows, professional sports, casino gambling, guided tours on foot, bike or bus, the symphony, ping-pong, art, concerts, movies, fine dining, taco trucks, grand architecture, festivals? You’re in luck, Detroit has all of that and more! Tonight we are set for a night on the town; dinner, concert and cocktails, sounds good doesn’t it? We will spend our entire evening in the Bricktown district, beginning with dinner at Sweetwater Tavern. Housed in a charming 1800’s orange-brick building, Sweetwater has been a local favorite for over 30 years. It’s almost 8 pm on a Friday night,the warmth feels good when we step inside; exposed brick walls, large arched windows and stained glass light fixtures give the room a cozy glow. Every seat at the bar is taken, lucky for us a booth remains empty, platters of chicken wings and ribs are being delivered to hungry patrons. We scan the menu, everything is homemade and it all sounds good. Deciding on a burger and Cajun Steak Bites we take turns between watching the Pistons on TV and checking out Detroit memorabilia that hangs on the walls. The food arrives; the burger is cooked just right, grilled onions and crispy bacon make a tasty combination, fries are served in a small deep-fry basket making a nice presentation. The steak bites are well-flavored, served with grilled pita bread and slaw, the mild pepper rings go great with the meat. We ate every last thing on the plate! A line was forming near the door, and our show was about to start; time to go.

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We cross the street and arrive at St. Andrews Hall, we are seeing Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. The brick and stone building was originally built by the St. Andrews Society of Detroit, the Society was made up of Scotchmen and Scottish descendants to provide relief for Scots in need. The handsome space was used for meetings, celebrations and entertaining.  St. Andrews Hall has been a music venue since 1980, hosting trend-setting bands such as New Order, REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Green Day.  In true concert fashion there are two warm-up bands before the headliner. There’s a short wait to get inside, the sound of music drifts out onto the street. We make our way in to the main floor ballroom, a crowd is beginning to form, people stand in small groups, drinks in hand, smiles on their faces. James Linck is on first, his music is dreamy and mellow, red and blue lighting drifts across the crowds. The Mexican Knives are up next, they are louder, more rockin’ and seem to pump up the crowd. We wander around, checking out the building, there is a second floor balcony that allows you a birds-eye view of the goings-on below, there is additional meeting space on this floor too. The Knives play their last number, the stage goes dark, instruments are interchanged preparing for the big show of the night. Female bartenders hustle behind the black Art Deco style bar, the wall behind is antique wood with pastel colored back lighting, the joint is jumpin’

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We find ourselves a spot with a good view away from the crowd, the anticipation grows as individual spotlights shine down onto the empty stage, stilted members of the Detroit Circus announce Jessica and the Deltas, the crowd cheers for the hometown star and the music begins. Jessica is a 25-year-old beauty who does it all; singing, songwriting, she even manages the band. The product of a Mexican mother and Cuban father, she  grew up above the family business, Mexicantown Bakery, on Vernor in Southwest Detroit (YUM!). Her music is a combination of influences; Latin, New Orleans, gypsy, producing a one-of-a-kind sound. Tonight she is performing with six other band members, sure there’s a guitar player or two, a drummer and a keyboard, throw in a Tuba and saxophone and you have the Deltas. Her music is powerful and happy, it consumes her; you hear it in her voice, see it in her dance, feel it in your soul, even sad songs feel upbeat and make you want to dance. The audience was filled with family and friends, a true homecoming for an up and coming artist returning from touring and recording an album. She transitions from song to song, applause, cheers and whistles filling the space between, everybody is having a great time. The hour she played flew by, I wasn’t still for a moment, my mood was light, I had been thoroughly entertained. 

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With a spring in our step we walked around the corner to Jacoby’s on Brush Street to wind down with a night-cap. This is another one of those places that has been around forever, well, actually since 1904. The interior is endearing; antique tin ceiling, lots of wood, through the generations it has retained a bit of old world charm. We take a seat at the bar, order cocktails and drink in the surroundings; regulars are easy to spot with their easy-going conversation with staff members. As we sip our beverages we feel relaxed, another week has ended, but the weekend fun has just begun.

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2 Responses to “DETROIT: Rock City ?”

  1. The Detroit Foodie March 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    We were at that concert as well…we snuck up to the balcony, lol.

    Great photos!

  2. Tereza April 1, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    I heard an interview with her on WDET a couple of weeks ago – super interesting story, and what an amazing voice!

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