Craig Maki talks ‘Detroit Country Music’ on Stateside

by Phillip Witteveen on June 30, 2014

On Michigan Public Radio, Detroit Country Music co-author Craig Maki recently exhibited Detroit’s lesser-known country and bluegrass roots. Stemming from Appalachia to the West, intranational immigration to Southeast Michigan brought with it the blues-infused soul of  “the end of the 19th century cowboy experience.” Lured to Detroit “not only at the invitation of the automakers, but also family members would call their cousins or their in-laws to come up and join them,” a migrated, country culture made a kind of tensile contact with our more Northern sensibilities. Artists like the York Brothers re-imagined a Michigan of “Hamtramck Mama,” a single which was banned by that eponymous city’s mayor, and thus, in almost far too predictable a fashion, was promoted to hit single sensation status overnight.

This is one of only many artists profiled in Maki’s book, Detroit Country Music, and only one of many music phenomena in the cultural crucible of Detroit at this time. It was this melting pot that caught Maki’s interest. “Investigating it,” he says, “I started tracking down some of the fellas, and turned out they had some fascinating stories, about their careers and music in Detroit, and how Detroit was, back in the 1940’s and 50’s.”

To hear more, and more specifically about this period of music history, you can listen to the full interview on MPR’s Stateside.

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