Detroit natives and proto-punk pioneers Death will be one of the bands to perform at the first Motor City Muscle festival taking place at Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in Detroit Aug. 17-19.

Detroit natives and proto-punk pioneers Death will be one of the bands to perform at the first Motor City Muscle festival taking place at Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in Detroit Aug. 17-19.

Photo provided by Madeline Buchel


Rock and muscle car festival to debut in Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published August 3, 2018

 Former Go-Go’s lead singer and solo artist Belinda Carlisle will be among the artists featured at the first Motor City Muscle festival

Former Go-Go’s lead singer and solo artist Belinda Carlisle will be among the artists featured at the first Motor City Muscle festival

Photo provided by Madeline Buchel

DETROIT — Cars and rock stars are coming to Detroit for a brand-new festival celebrating two of the city’s most beloved passions.

Known as Motor City Muscle, the festival will feature dozens of musical acts spread across seven stages in downtown Detroit. Interspersed with the music will be displays and car competitions.

“Motor City Muscle is a three-day, free festival celebrating rock and muscle cars,” said Madeline Buchel, the production and communications manager for the festival. “There will be seven stages in Hart Plaza and Campus Martius. This is the first year it has existed. We’re very excited to have a good kickoff and start a new Detroit festival. We have a contract with our partners for the next three years, so it will be coming back in future years.”

The festival is being produced by American Entertainment Technology and will take place from Friday, Aug. 17, to Sunday, Aug. 19. It was several years in development, but organizers say they think it will be here to stay now that the pieces are in place. 

“The event was concepted by Carol Marvel, who is the executive director of the festival,” said Phil Talbert, the executive producer and operations director of the festival. “She came up with it about eight years ago and went to different groups asking them to be partners, until eventually the Detroit Free Press and Gannet joined us. We think Detroit is known for two things mainly: being Detroit Rock City and as the home of the auto industry, and we wanted to celebrate both of those things.”

More than 120 bands will be featured at the festival, including Dead Kennedys, Sponge, Molly Hatchet, Ace Frehley, Death, Belinda Carlisle, Ice Age, Reverend Horton Heat, Warrior Soul and Michigan natives I See Stars.

“We wanted to have all genres of rock represented,” said Buchel. “The organizers wanted this to be an amazing Detroit party, and we wanted to highlight some bands that we think could be really fun and really important to the history of the city. Hopefully, people will come to experience one band and will maybe discover someone else they like.”

The festival organizers specifically wanted a wide variety of rock genres and styles represented.

“This is a great music festival with great cars as eye candy,” said Talbert. “We have great rock ’n’ roll that covers all genres. We have some young rock folk, we have Belinda Carlisle for the old heads, and something else to accommodate everyone else.”

Notably, there also will be an underground stage curated by Cary Loren, a founder of Detroit band Destroy All Monsters, with the area featuring underground bands, book signings and album showings.

“The muscle car component is called ‘muscle town,’” said Buchel. “You can register to join that for $150, and all the cars will be shown off on Woodward Avenue, and you will be judged by three automotive personalities, and prizes will include dining certificates, merchandise, hotel stays, backstage access to performers at the festivals.” 

Motor City Muscle was planned from the beginning as a free festival so the general public could enjoy the music, the cars and the downtown Detroit atmosphere. Special passes will be available for purchase for those who want some extra amenities.

The creators of Motor City Muscle think this new event will add something substantial to Detroit’s culture, and it could become a great tradition that celebrates the community.

“The reason we thought it would catch on is that it’s a free event and there hasn’t been a free rock or car event in downtown Detroit,” said Talbert. “We thought it was important to provide a free festival to highlight the city. It’s going to be a great weekend with great cars, great food and great music.”