We Are Building Home on Detroit’s West Side

After seven years of grassroots activism preserving Detroit’s musical legacies, we have purchased a home where we can carry on our mission. We are creating a music research archive and reopening a live music club on Detroit’s West Side. We finally own #5021Tireman aka The Blue Bird Inn.

Now a new journey begins.

The Historic Blue Bird Inn was a launchpad for sonic and social rebellion during the Civil Rights movement in Detroit. Hundreds of jazz musicians stood and performed on The Blue Bird Inn Stage from the late 1950s until the club’s closing earlier this century. These musicians, including national leaders in modern music like Miles Davis and John Coltrane explored rhythm, melody, and improvisation on a platform that foregrounded Detroit’s commitment to serious listening. Local musicians, such as drummer Roy Brooks and saxophonist Wendell Harrison, who both attended nearby Northwestern High School, apprenticed at The Blue Bird, learning the “Detroit way” to communicate with audiences and fellow musicians. Detroit Sound Conservancy salvaged the Stage from the then blighted and abandoned club, rebuilt it, and then activated it with Detroit-area high school vocalists. The stage made its debut as a modular and mobile programming experience at 2017’s Saint-Étienne UNESCO-inspired Biennale in France. Since that time, the Stage has been exhibited in Detroit, Toronto, and now Ann Arbor.

We are now planning the reinstallation of the Stage within its original home on Detroit’s West Side, ready for new life, sounds, and audiences.

You can read more of work with the Blue Bird Inn Stage here.

To learn more contact us at info@detroitsound.org or call direct at 313-444-8242

UPDATES

Spring 2019

Lock Cutting Ceremony #5021Tireman from Detroit Sound Conservancy on Vimeo.

Winter 2019

In February we learned that the Blue Bird was put on a dangerous buildings list in October 2017 and has been slated for demolition. We have notified a number of people in the City of this situation and our working as best we can to complete the purchase of the property so we can actively get the building off that demo list. However, there is little we can do until the Detroit Building Authority gets back to us on our purchase agreement. You can read more about the situation via this article in Crain’s Detroit Business.

On February 26th, our purchase agreement was approved unanimously by City Council. We do not yet own the property but this is a big step.

On February 21st, our purchase agreement was voted out of P.E.D. (Planning and Economic Development) Committee.

On January 3rd, we submitted our purchase agreement and made a deposit on the Blue Bird Inn!

Fall 2018

DetroitSound5: Reimagining the Blue Bird Inn from Detroit Sound Conservancy on Vimeo.

We held DetroitSound5 in November.

And:

We are excited to announce our new #KIPDetroit community engagement intern Rukiya Colvin. Colvin is a Masters Student in Urban Planning with a focus on community and housing development at Wayne State University. She will be hosted by Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castaneda-Lopez at her office in Detroit District 6 and sponsored by The Kresge Foundation. Among other initiatives, Rukiya will be gathering data for an historical musical asset map of sites within a roughly 2-mile radius of the Blue Bird.

Summer 2018

As of June 2018, the building at 5021 Tireman has entered building purgatory. It has been foreclosed on and we have put an application in with the Detroit Land Bank, and now we wait. Sometimes people just need to see that a building is empty so that they will leave it alone so we are going to leave this hole for now. The damage has been done. The building is a shell. We will continue to monitor and hope for a speedy process to ownership. In the meantime, we are attending local meetings and engaging our potential future neighbors.

Spring 2018

We are very grateful to The Kresge Foundation for believing in our sonic vision for The Blue Bird neighborhood and community. The planning begins now thanks to their support. With this grant we will conduct community engagement and initial design for the redevelopment of the Blue Bird Inn, an iconic jazz club on Detroit’s west side, into a neighborhood hub for music performance and community connection. Our hope is that future performances will elevate the legacy of the club, on Tireman near Beechwood, which closed in the early 2000s.

About our supporter: The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. For more information visit kresge.org.

Updated 29 April 2019