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Concert Reviews:
Ty Stone, Wayne Kramer and others highlight Don Was Revue at Concert of Colors

@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013

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DETROIT -- Confidence in a bottomless well of musical talent in and from Detroit has always been the guiding spirit behind Don Was' annual Detroit All-Star Revue show at the Concert of Colors. And the sixth edition of the concept on Sunday, July 7, at Orchestra Hall certainly supported Was' notion.

After focusing on jazz last year, Was returned to a diverse rock, blues and R&B lineup during this year's 14-act affair, which started off with a buoyant Motown song-and-dance act by the Mosaic Youth Theatre and touched on the ripping blues of guitarists Emanuel Young and Howard Glazer, the raw, punked-up rockabilly of Horse Cave Trio and modern rock craft of Hounds Below and the Handgrenades. Americana singer-songwriter Katie Grace took a bluesy turn with her "It's Hard Being a Woman in a World of Men," as did the Howling Diablos with a spirited "Car Wash" -- joined briefly by frontman Martin "Tino" Gross' four-year-old grandson Carter and the white-suited Rev. Robert Jones and his wife, Sister Berniece, on a down 'n' dirty rendering of Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move."

Ty Stone provided the night's most powerful performance, eschewing his own catalog of songs to absolutely slay Billy Vera & the Beaters' "At This Moment" with the Was-led house band. Drummer and bandleader Drew Schultz and his Funk Machine, meanwhile, paid tribute to Detroit soul history by bringing on legends Spyder Turner, Melvin Davis, James Jamerson Jr., McKinley Jackson and Ken Knox of Chairmen of the Board for "Crying in a Whisper" from Schultz's 2012 "Back to Class" album; Schultz and Jackson were also part of the ensemble backing onetime Motown singer Pat Lewis on her solo hit "No One to Love."

And the MC5's Wayne Kramer, who made a last-minute departure from the first Was Revue due to personal reasons, more than made good on Sunday, closing the show with a ferocious take on "Kick Out the Jams," joined by the house band and fellow guitarist Jeff Grand.

As the entire "cast" gathered on stage for a final bow, Was pronounced Sunday's Revue "the best show we've ever had" -- debatable, of course, but it certainly set another high bar for next year's edition.

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