Detroit’s Concert of Colors to include MC5 tribute

click to enlarge The late MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. - Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

The late MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer.

The 33rd annual Concert of Colors is set to return to Detroit this July, and this year’s cultural festival will include a tribute to the MC5, the acclaimed rock band from Lincoln Park that helped define the counterculture era.

This was the year that the MC5 effectively ended for good. While various versions of the band have performed over the years, all of its founding members have now died. Guitarist Wayne Kramer died in February at age 75, while drummer Dennis Thompson died on May 8, also at 75. (Singer Rob Tyner died in 1991 at 46, guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith died in 1994 at 46, and bassist Michael Davis died in 2012 at 68.)

An MC5 live musical tribute at the Concert of Colors is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 19 at the Detroit Historical Museum. It will be hosted by WDET’s Ann Delisi, along with journalist Peter Werbe, and band photographer Leni Sinclair, with Don Was and Tino Gross slated to perform.

Was, who performs at the festival each year with local artists as part of his All Star Detroit Revue, says the theme of this year’s festival is peace.

“Concert of Colors originally began as a way to bridge cultural differences in Detroit through music and art,” Was said in a statement. “Considering the chaos of the world today, we need to laser in on that so it was easily unanimous to choose the theme of ‘Peace, Love and Understanding.’ It’s what the planet will always need.”

click to enlarge Wayne Kramer in 2018. - Jim Louvau

Jim Louvau

Wayne Kramer in 2018.

MC5 is notable for being the only band to perform as part of the protests against the Vietnam War at the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention, so in this way Was is carrying the band’s legacy.

The Concert of Colors is set for Tuesday, July 16-Sunday, July 21 in and around Detroit. Other festival highlights include performances by the U.K. act Transglobal Underground, Afro Cuban ensemble Big Palladium 3, and a Caribbean costume parade at noon on Saturday, July 20 at the DIA.

The event is family friendly and free to attend. A full lineup and schedule of events is available at

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