You’ll probably be surprised to learn that Detroit was a hotbed of country music once upon a time. Maybe it shouldn’t be, though, when you realize that the great music migration from the American South to southeastern Michigan triggered by the booming auto industry included not just black people, who brought jazz and blues, but white folk too, who brought old-timey and mountain music. The urban industrial landscape of Detroit caused mountain music to warp a little bit, with electric guitars and a harder but still country sound. Given that regional music scenes were more important in the days of and following the Depression and World War II, a whole lot of Detroit music was enjoyed by a whole lot of Detroiters. It turns out some of the biggest players and venues in the scene were near my old Detroit neighborhood, near Chrysler’s Jefferson Avenue assembly plant.
A new book titled Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies describes the scene of the 1930s through the 1960s. There are names and photos, interviews and material from some people who were in the scene back in the day. It seems fascinating. Detroit’s Metro Times devoted its cover story this week to an interview with one of the authors, photos, and an excerpt. It’s all fascinating to me, and I’m looking forward to getting the book and reading it through.