Brian McCollum is the music writer and columnist at the Detroit Free Press. Brian talks with Christy McDonald about the changing arts and culture scene and some of the innovative ways that live music may emerge during the COVID-19 crisis. He will be appearing regularly as part of the new partnership between Detroit Public TV and the Detroit Free Press. Read his article in the Detroit Free Press on how Detroit’s arts community is finding unity and shared mission amid the pandemic.

He also talks about “Everybody vs. COVID-19,” a two-day online festival that will present a cavalcade of homegrown music stars and other celebrities to help amplify the City of Detroit’s COVID-19 and 2020 census messaging campaigns. Read more at the Detroit Free Press.


Read full transcript

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press I think at the end of the day, it’s safe to say that nothing replaces the experience of a live communal gathering with lots of people and that the emotion of the moment of a real-life concert,.

Christy McDonald Yeah, you know, when you wonder will we ever be in those spaces again? And what will that look like? So, you were talking about what was the last big concert in Detroit?

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press Not just one of the last big concerts in Detroit, but possibly the last major stadium show in the United States.

Christy McDonald There you go. Garth Brooks.

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press  Or before the world turned upside down. And now I show you something as well that might send a little shiver up your spine. This was the scene inside that stadium that night.

Christy McDonald That’s Ford Field. Amazing, amazing.

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press it’s going to be a long time before we see that sort of scenario again.

Christy McDonald Does this like the disruption that is going to have to spawn something totally different in the music industry?

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press We’re starting to see some promoters in Europe are experimenting with drive-in concerts. Literally people in their vehicles pulling up all the old outdoor movie cinemas. There’s one thing that’s been missing with these online events. They’ve mostly been solo performances just by virtue of the social distancing. You’re not seeing a lot of bands and whatnot. Yeah, you’ll probably see some innovative stuff like. Maybe an outdoor show where there’s a performer up on a stage and X number of people can spread out blankets this far apart in a park. In fact, I would bet stuff outdoors will be the first thing we might see coming back on the scene.

Christy McDonald So, you are working on a story on adventure in the city of Detroit is putting on a virtual event.

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press Yeah, there is. It’s been coming together for quite a while now, actually. And this is through the mayor’s office, actually, who’s been spearheading this in partnership with some of the other arts institutions and foundations in town. They’re calling it Everybody vs. COVID, which is inspired by the Detroit versus everybody. It’ll feature 40 something, artists, performers, celebrities doing a mix of performances and P.S.As.

Christy McDonald Detroit Public Television and the Detroit Free Press are kind of teaming up now to pool our resources to cover arts and culture, really, and expand it, because I think so many people are hungering for a lot of the things that brought them joy in the arts and be able to gather with people.

Brian McCollum, Music Writer and Critic, Detroit Free Press You know, a lot of times the best art is forged out of turbulent times and difficult personal circumstances and all the rest of it. And certainly nowhere less than in Detroit over the decades even. You know, the volume of great world changing music that’s come out of these places never ceases to amaze. And I think a lot of it has to do with Detroit’s uniquely gritty environment and all the rest of that stuff. And sure, I think we are undoubtedly going to see some great art emerge out of this time. And, you know, once we have a chance to look back on it all and take stock, there’s nothing great about what’s going on right now, but the fruits of it will be interesting to see.