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Detroit artists bring flavor to MI Fest
14 September, 2011 - Aaron Foley
For its inaugural outing, MI Fest is banking heavy on musicians with strong Detroit connections. It's true that almost all of Michigan is represented in the outdoor camping festival, ranging from Flint's Mark Farner to Chelsea's Jeff Daniels. But the glut of the acts are Motor City strong. "The thing about the songwriters, when you really strip it down, it's a songwriting town," Jill Jack, lead singer of the folk band of the same name, told MLive. She'll be representing Detroit along with rising MC Black Milk, veterans Mitch Ryder, Alto Reed and the Romantics, and headliner Jack White with his Raconteurs -- though White's a Nashville guy these days. Jill Jack is a staple at most Detroit musical traditions, including the Downtown Hoedown and Detroit Music Awards, so being called to play MI Fest is no surprise for fans. What was surprising to the band was who else would be on the bill. "It's exciting because when they first asked me, they didn't have a lineup. And then a press release came out, and Jack White was there, and I was like 'yeah!' I'm glad I said yes," Jack said. Earlier this year, the band opened for one of Bob Seger's concerts at the Palace of Auburn Hills, and later joined him for some Canadian dates. "He said, 'I hope you have a passport, because we want you to come to Canada,'" Jack laughed. Though rooted in the Detroit scene for more than a decade, she says she and the band have never crossed paths with White. "There was a time when I would go out on the road, and people would be like 'Detroit who?' And on the other hand, many people link Detroit to Motown," she said. "I think the great thing about artists from Detroit are giving other artists a pull-up. We're just all making noise. We're fighters. We'll get in your face as much as you can." "I stand behind anybody from this area -- because I know how hard it is to get get going and break out of here, and still remain in this area. It was a lot of work for us to get started," Wally Palmar of the Romantics told MLive. How much the MI Fest will grow after this year remains to be seen, but Palmar hopes it can serve as a springboard for area artists. "When we were growing up, Detroit was Motown," Palmar said. "You could see different bands on TV, and for us, we were fortunate we were able to see Seger, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Amboy Dukes, the Rationals, MC5, the Stooges...We were exposed to that. That had a influence on us as we started. We knew with the persistence and the right chemistry, we were very determined to make it." "There's so much talent out here," he added. Other Michigan acts in the lineup include Hot Club of Detroit, the Howling Diablos, the Ben Daniels Band, the Juliets, the Ragbirds, the Rockets, Ty Stone and the Truth, Whitey Morgan and the 78s and the Thornbills.

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