Detroit X Detroit allows bands to cover others

Steven Sonoras
Special to The Detroit News

It’s a testament to the scope of the Motor City’s musical legacy that after six years, Detroit X Detroit’s lineup still manages to surprise. Each year the cover show features more than a dozen local bands giving props to Detroit rock heroes big and small, and this year will be the first time anyone has tackled Sufjan Stevens, The Gories or Mexican Knives.

“There are so many great artists that have ties to Detroit, and we still haven’t made our way through covering them all,” says event founder and organizer Melissa Rowe, adding that such big acts as Smokey Robinson and The Romantics have yet to grace the bill.

Saturday’s event moves from the former home at the now-defunct Magic Stick to The Loving Touch in Ferndale. Fifteen area bands will step into the shoes of such crowd pleasers as Madonna and The Temptations, or cult heroes like Rodriguez or active regional bands like The High Strung.

Most of the participating bands want to keep their approaches to covering their respective artists under wraps, but Rowe promises a night full of surprises ranging from faithful impersonations to sonic reinventions.

“You have some people that really go with the theatrics of their set,” she says. “The Vatican played in our second year as Alice Cooper, and they came with outfits, and their hair done, and makeup, and just an incredible on-stage presence. And Jen David and Flint Eastwood both covered Eminem in different years, and each of them put a different spin on it, which is cool, too.”

Go Tiger Go singer and guitarist Paul Corsi says he didn’t have to think twice before deciding to cover indie rockers My Pal Val.

“I know a lot of people do bands that are maybe more popular or more recognizable, but I thought doing one that people know more on a local level would make it a little more exciting,” says Corsi. “It almost makes it more of a community event to do somebody that people know.”

Detroit X Detroit not only pays tribute to the Motor City’s musical legacy, it also helps ensure a future for local talent. Proceeds help fund a special scholarship at Rochester’s School of Rock, which offers music education for the next generation of Detroit rock stars.

The performers from School of Rock opened last year’s Detroit X Detroit with a blistering set of Ted Nugent covers. Ryan Meadows, whose former band, Nina & The Buffalo Riders, opened last year’s event as The Bob Seger System, was so moved by their youthful energy that he signed on to volunteer at School of Rock.

“They were so infectious to watch and be around,” he says. “You could tell that they weren’t jaded; they just loved to jam. It was like a shot of adrenaline for me: A musical defibrillator. It’s impossible to not want to be a part of a positive communal vibe that focused solely on good jams.”

Meadows recently invited School of Rock alum Katelynn Corll to play drums in his new band, Wolf and the Crane, which also features members of The Infatuations and Jibs Brown and the Jambros. The eight piece group, complete with a horn section, will make their live debut at Detroit X Detroit doing an impression of R&B legend Wilson Pickett.

“To be honest, these tunes are so recognizable that it would be a sin to try and reinvent them,” he says. “The goal for us is to give the audience a great time. Wilson Pickett and the Stax players created songs that are so sexy, with so much groove, that it’s impossible not to dance and sing along.

“It ain’t broke, so we didn’t fix it.”

Steven Sonoras is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

Detroit X Detroit

8 p.m. Sat.

The Loving Touch

22634 Woodward, Ferndale

Tickets $10

(248) 820-5596