Detroit has always had the magic – the perfect storm of performers and musicians which consistently creates a world-beating sound. From the Blues and Gospel to Funk and Hip Hop, Detroit has been the place the world listens to.
Not too long ago, Detroit Michigan was the beating heart of industrial America, Henry Ford created the first modern manufacturing lines in the city and during the glory years, many millions of cars and trucks rolled off these lines bringing prosperity to the city. As well as the automotive force, there was a cultural revolution with the birth of many musical genres – not least the influential Motown Sound and more recently, Techno. Whatever may happen to industry, the music continues to roll on unabated.
Detroit has always been a melting pot for music. The first mass migration of African-Americans brought many thousands to the city and they brought with them their music, the rich tones of gospel and work music forming into the Blues, most famously led by John Lee Hooker and filling clubs such as the famous Koppin Theatre in the early 20th century.
During the 60’s, the Blues evolved into what became Motown. The proliferation of local Detroit record companies which had built the popularity of the Blues had a new name with Tamla Records. Started with a loan of just $800, it was soon to become the world famous Motown records in the US and Tamla Motown across Europe.
The Motown sound moved the music of Detroit towards more of a universal ‘pop’ sound, employing the call-and-response singing style from Gospel, with rich horns and strings playing simple, catchy rhythms and sophisticated melodies. However, more than just fancy studio work and pounding bass lines, it was almost a spiritual experience. As Smokey Robinson was quoted saying:
“People were coming from Germany, France, Italy, Mobile, Alabama. From New York, Chicago, California. From everywhere. Just to record in Detroit. They figured it was in the air, that if they came to Detroit and recorded on the freeway, they’d get the Motown sound. Listen, the Motown sound to me is not an audible sound. It’s spiritual, and it comes from the people that make it happen…”
The Detroit tradition of world-beating new genres continues to thrive, proven by the latest sound from ‘the D’ – Slight Return. Mark Kassa’s group raises the heart of Motor City from strength to strength, bringing together the blend of music which Detroit has
been so well-known for. Spiritually descended from Hendrix and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the founders of Anthem Funk continue to shake the city right through searing guitar breaks, Run DMC-influenced vocal rhythms and syncopated power rock grooves.
Led by Mark Kassa on lead vocals and guitar, Slight Return has been called “…the funkiest band on the Detroit scene…” Mark is a voting member of the Grammy Awards and boasts a track record which includes writing and recording with some of the greats, including George Clinton, Andy Vargas from Santana and the legendary drummer Dennis Chambers.
Mark is supported by a band of well-known pros from the Detroit music scene – drummer Ronnie Karmo, Tony Mitchell on percussion and vocals, and Mike Schneider on bass and background vocals – together creating a new sound built on the rich heritage forged in the heart of Motor City – now brought to the UK with the launch of their new single ‘Welcome to the D’ hitting the UK charts this summer.