Legendary Blue Bird Inn Stage Restored, Goes To France For Exhibition

Jake Neher/WDET

Carleton S. Gholz

In its heyday The Blue Bird Inn was one of the iconic jazz clubs in Detroit.

Located on the city’s west side, jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and countless others played on the inn’s stage.

Over the years, the venue and stage fell into disrepair.

Within the past five years the stage has been removed and rebuilt by the Detroit Sound Conservancy and will be used as a “modular and mobile programming experience.”

The stage is currently on exhibit at the 2017 Biennale Internationale Design Festival in Saint-Etienne, France.

The executive director of the Detroit Sound Conservancy, Carleton S. Gholz, spoke with Detroit Today Host Stephen Henderson about the organization’s work preserving Detroit’s rich musical heritage and the famous Blue Bird Inn stage.

The Blue Bird’s been part of our process from (the beginning),” says Gholz. “About a year or so ago, we knew the roof was coming in. We had made a deal with an earlier owner to pull the stage out and preserve it, and now it’s going to do new things.”

Detroit Sound Conservancy

Preserving the Blue Bird stage is part of a larger movement to preserve parts of Detroit’s west side.

We haven’t given up on the building or the neighborhood at all. Tireman is a very important west-side street…and it deserves to be honored and protected,” Gholz says.

While the Blue Bird fits into the larger context of Detroit’s west side, the stage is particularly stunning.

Roofs can be replaced. The stage was unique enough, though, that was going to be difficult (to replace),” says Gholz.

As the design festival in France wraps up, the stage will be packed up and shipped back to the United States. Gholz sees more travel and programming for the stage as the conservancy continues to advocate for Detroit’s musical history.

[Click here to see a WDET video featuring the Blue Bird Inn as part of five sites significant to black music in Detroit]

(The stage) is going to do stuff in Detroit. And then it’s going to travel again,” says Gholz.

We want it to go to festivals. We want it to go to other places in the country. It needs to do some work before it can come home and be a permanent part of either the Sound Conservancy’s future permanent space or a renewed Tireman world.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Detroit Sound Conservancy

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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