A new live music series aims to showcase the musical “roots” of Detroit.
Known as The Detroit Sound, the quarterly roots music concert series debuts Jan. 27 at Aretha’s Jazz Café with singer-songwriters Jennifer Westwood, Jimmie Bones, John Bardy and Tino Gross.
“There are so many people here that I know who make music, and they never do shows together, and they’re from different parts of the city. We have fantastic music here as good as any other music city, and we need to champion that,” said Westwood, who curates The Detroit Sound with WhistlePig Music Group producer-engineer-mixer Bunky Hunt.
“It’s like, ‘Well, what is the Detroit sound?’ Some people just think it’s garage rock, some people just think it’s Motown, but really what’s happening right now? It’s a lot of things, and it doesn’t necessarily need to be one thing, but for our intents and purposes, it’s going to be more roots-based.”
To amplify those roots sounds, Westwood and Hunt selected a lineup artists and musicians who advocate Detroit’s independent rock, country and blues music scene. They also assembled the all-star Motown-Shoals house band of guitarist Dylan Dunbar, bassist Chuck Bartels, drummer David Below and keyboardist Bones.
“They’re all uniquely Detroit, and these are people who are carving their own path. They’re not listening to the people who run the tech media giants … they’re sticking to their art. These guys all fall in that category,” Hunt said.
“We’ve also got this great house band. These are guys that both play in Jennifer [Westwood’s] band and support me in the studio as well. I kinda use them as my wrecking crew. It’s gonna truly be a Detroit experience, and that’s what we’re gunning for.”
Westwood and Hunt started planning The Detroit Sound after meeting last year. The two had been recording new material for Westwood’s next release and decided to expand their partnership to include live music curation.
“Bunky really speaks the same language as me and has the same kind of work ethic. He’s so ambitious and just has a good heart,” Westwood said.
“I was like, ‘We’ve got to do this here. This is what makes sense.’ Getting to know him inspired me to do something locally, and his enthusiasm is just fantastic.”
Full of newfound enthusiasm, Westwood and Hunt opted to host the inaugural Detroit Sound show at Aretha’s Jazz Café after Westwood performed there with the Kate Hinote Trio in October.
“The feedback from people who’ve attended shows there … they love the room because it really sets the tone for a show. The lights go down and the stage lights are up … it’s just got a great vibe,” said Westwood, who also performs with husband Dunbar in The Handsome Devils.
“You get music-loving people in there, and it’s just a moment that everybody gets to share. I think it’s inspiring for the performers, too, and then you have that great beautiful marquee right there.”
The duo also partnered with several sponsors, including Rocket Printing, Oak House Deli, Guitar Hi-Fi, Three Chord Bourbon, and WhistlePig Records, to gain additional support for The Detroit Sound.
With support on their side, Westwood and Hunt now have a sold-out show on their hands. Different ticket pricing tiers and a successful promotional campaign helped the two start their new live music series on the right note.
“You want people to experience the same kind of reward that you get from watching these guys play and sing their songs,” Hunt said. “It’s exciting for us to expose people to that kind of experience.”
Outside of their live music series, Westwood and Hunt will continue to record new music. To date, they have compiled about three albums’ worth of material and plan to release something later this year.
“We’ll be doing sneak peeks and then releasing singles,” said Westwood, who last released two singles in 2021. “I really want to be able to take the time to do it right.”
The Detroit Sound featuring Jennifer Westwood, Jimmie Bones, John Bardy, Tino Gross and the Motown-Shoals house band
Friday, Jan. 27 | Doors 7 p.m. & Show 8 p.m.
Aretha’s Jazz Café (inside Music Hall), 350 Madison St. in Detroit
Tickets: Sold out