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Local News / Entertainment

Sunday, 29 January, 2012 8:48 PM

Motown Winter Blast unveils new look, stellar musical acts and interactive family fun activities

Eighth annual metro Detroit event announces schedule of complete winter festivities and entertainment lineup

Graphic credit: Motown Winter Blast

The 2012 Motown Winter Blast will take place from Friday, Feb. 10 - Sunday, Feb. 12.



DETROIT -- Family fun and exciting entertainment return when the Motown Winter Blast presented by the Ambassador Bridge kicks off at Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, Friday, Feb. 10 – Sunday, Feb. 12. Festivalgoers will enjoy a lineup of favorite returning attractions and can expect a number of new activities as well. Making a welcome reappearance will be free snowshoeing, dogsledding, and snowmaking.

“The stage is set and we are ready to deliver a high-quality show to downtown Detroit,” said Jonathan Witz, event producer. “Today’s announcement speaks to the momentum behind this event. With so many community organizations and corporate citizens coming together to help put on the festival this year in spite of economic setbacks, we view our overall situation as nothing but a huge victory for the quality of life and a positive promotion for downtown Detroit and the region.”

A diverse array of exciting winter programming is on the schedule, including live entertainment and special interactive events. Supported by a mix of great food and family-centered activities, this year’s winter celebration will take place once again in and around Campus Martius Park. The event hours will remain the same as last year: Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.


For the first time since the festival’s inception, metro Detroiters had the opportunity to design the official 2012 Motown Winter Blast logo. The Motown Winter Blast Logo Design Contest, hosted by Marketing Associates, tapped into the community’s creative community to provide a new look and feel for the festival. A committee of Marketing Associates designers, along with the Motown Winter Blast committee named Amy Wolfe of Harper Woods the winner of the contest from a field of 78 entries.

Her design was released at a press announcement today and integrated into, festival signage and advertising.

Wolfe receives a grand prize, which includes an iPad 2, a gift certificate for the purchase of art supplies, and a VIP Motown Winter Blast package featuring a weekend stay at The Westin Book Cadillac, dinner at Hard Rock Café, and other items for a total value of $1,500.


Literacy is not only crucial to success, but a lot of fun, too! This year, the General Motors Foundation will present “Reading is a Blast” to story lovers of all ages. The program will feature a children’s book collection drive to complement existing festival charity initiatives and will also make reading a featured event on the Winter Blast family stage. An exciting list of celebrities will be on-hand to read throughout the weekend, including: Detroit First Lady Yvette Bing, City of Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee, former Detroit Pistons power forward Rick Mahorn, and University of Detroit Mercy men’s basketball head coach Ray McCallum, who will be accompanied by university mascot, Tommy.

“The lineup of books and storytelling at 'Reading is a Blast' promises to provide a weekend of fun and learning,” said Vivian Pickard, president, General Motors Foundation. “The GM Foundation helps to strengthen communities by fueling the imaginations and ambitions of today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. We are proud to be a part of the Motown Winter Blast and this program that takes young readers on an adventure of the mind.”


Detroit’s signature winter festival boasts value-conscious activities for children of all ages. Festival patrons can ice skate for free at the Campus Martius Park rink for the entire festival weekend courtesy of Charter One Bank. This is the only weekend all year long that visitors can skate for FREE. In addition, local professional and amateur figure skaters will be showcased as part of the Ice Skating Exhibitions. From synchronized ice-skating teams to up-and-coming couples and even speed skating demonstrations, four distinct ice skating clubs – including the legendary Detroit Skating Club – will perform and entertain the crowds at Campus Martius Park throughout the entire weekend.

Beautifully carved and lighted ice sculptures again will be on display in the Greektown Casino Ice Garden. Among the many unique sculptures will be a mini casino, complete with a slot machine, roulette wheel, Motown Winter Blast-themed bar and even a three-piece band. Also included in the garden will be a majestic twelve-foot tall ice castle that will enchant and delight as the fantastic frosted centerpiece. Additionally, visitors can snap photos with family and friends on one of two ornately carved ice chairs or an ice bench. Or, they can swing by the sculpture of an Eskimo family and pose in any of the four open faces for another set of memorable pictures.

Guests also will enjoy marshmallow roasting stations sponsored by Health Plan of Michigan. Positioned throughout the festival, the stations will provide a fresh supply of wood and a warm gathering place to roast reasonably priced marshmallow and s’mores packets for the entire family.THE SNOW MUST GO ON!
Snowmaking also returns to Winter Blast with special snow cannons that will add to the festive, winter environment. Donated by Shanty Creek Resorts, the cannons will supplement any natural snow to guarantee snowshoeing and snowy hills for children to enjoy, as well as a snow blizzard for visitors to walk through during the event.

One of the many snow-related activities available to visitors will be dogsledding. Sled racer and Michigan native Amanda Vogel will return with the Snomad Racing Sled Dogs to give festivalgoers the authentic winter experience. Originally from Bay City, Vogel has been training and racing sled dogs for nearly 10 years and is excited for the opportunity to make her fourth appearance at Detroit's Motown Winter Blast. The Snomad Racing Sled Dogs travel the U.S. and Canada to race other teams and to enjoy the various trails, towns, and terrain.


As part of its “Get Fit” campaign at Motown Winter Blast, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan once again will present free snowshoeing for the weekend. With free pairs of snowshoes available in a variety of sizes for children and adults, visitors will be able to get up, get moving and get fit in the festival’s winter wonderland of snow.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is excited to help Michiganians stay healthy and active this winter season by providing a family-focused physical activity to this year’s festival for the second consecutive year,” said Tricia A. Keith, Vice President, Corporate Secretary and Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “We are committed to building a healthier Michigan by supporting initiatives that get people moving and eating healthier.”


Even with chilly temperatures, there is no need to feel cold as guests can find heat every 150 feet with the Ambassador Bridge Comfort Zones. Comfort Zones include the Compuware Atrium, Three large heated tents and the First National Bank Building Lobby, home of the Fox Sports Lounge, which will feature comfortable seating, big screen televisions, beer samples, and a special appearance on Friday by the Fox Sports Girls.


Motown Winter Blast is pleased to bring back a real treat for festival attendees. The Quicken Loans Taste of Detroit will showcase the amazing array of culinary delights from around the metro area. Featured will be a wide variety of food and drinks from favorite restaurants, eateries and caterers to warm up and satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Establishments providing the delicious fare that festival patrons will enjoy include: Detroit Seafood Market, Hudson Café, Palm Palace, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Jackson’s Five Star Catering and others.


Motown Winter Blast is pleased to announce its best ever music lineup in the Ambassador Bridge Comfort Zones on three different stages—all at no cost to attend. The voices and beat of music from many genres, including country, rock, blues, pop, acoustic, Americana, funk and soul, will resonate from three stages located in the Compuware Lobby and throughout the festival in the Comfort Zones, which provide a warm and cozy environment for listening enjoyment. More than 40 local, high-caliber musical talent, new and repeat performers, will be featured on The Michigan Lottery Stage, The Flagstar Bank Stage and the The Walmart Stage, with headliners hitting their notes and catering to the various ages and musical tastes of the crowds expected at Winter Blast.

The Michigan Lottery Stage

The Michigan Lottery Stage will showcase a high quality, eclectic lineup of performers in blues, rock, country, soul, funk and Caribbean music. Among those performing will be the Bobby Murray Band and its legendary namesake front man. Murray spent 20 years as the guitarist for the late great Etta James and now entertains crowds with experience and talent for blues. Local sensation T $ Green’s Roadwork will make their Winter Blast debut with a penchant for funk and R&B so strong that it has been known to blow out generators at previous festival engagements. Also performing will be Torch with a Twist, whose family-friendly vaudeville act captures the spirit of entertainment days gone by in a uniquely charming way.

Headlining on Friday is Persuasion, one of the hottest party bands in Metroit Detroit, that always brings the house down with high-energy music in a wide range of styles, from Motown, disco and Top 40, to rock, funk and more; on Sataturday, Larry Lee, the 2006 Urban/Funk Musician of the Year, will take to the stage at 9:30 p.m. to rock the city and help the crowd get in touch with their funky side; and on Sunday, local blues and rock musician Laith Al-Saadi will take to the stage to close out the festival.

Flagstar Bank Stage

Festival patrons will enjoy pop, modern rock, acoustic, soul, indie, and Americana music by such performers as: Jeff Tuttle, a country artist who recently returned to the streets of the Motor City after a brief hiatus in Ireland and will entertain crowds from 3 – 4 p.m. on Friday; The Reefermen, Detroit’s finest cover band best known for rocking out Led Zeppelin, Jimi Henderix and the Rolling Stones, along with other infamous music acts, who will take to the stage from 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Saturday; and The Sights, a stand-out Detroit-based blue-eyed soul band whose raw energy will headline Saturday night starting at 9:30 p.m.

Outstanding local acts will light up Friday night. Three-piece blues-rock band The Muggs will take to the stage from 7:30 – 9 p.m. and pop rock crew Otto Vector headlining from 9:30 – 11 p.m. with a sound nurtured in the traditions of Motown, techno and legendary rock.

Sunday evening is not to be missed. Local bad boys Orbitsuns will raise the volume and the roof with their high-powered brand of outlaw country. Then, local pop and R&B artist HotSauce will blow off what’s left of the roof with to close out the festival.

The Walmart Stage

When the kids entertainment wraps up at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, the Walmart Stage inside Compuware will feature folk, rock, soul and world artists. Friday night will start with the world music stylings of musician Michelle Ramo and singer Heidi Hepler. Then, young up-and-coming singer Britney Stoney will turn heads with her stunning singing voice and soulful songs to match.

On Saturday, the stage will be filled with longtime veterans and festival favorites as Cliff Gracey plays from 8:15 – 9:30 p.m. and Frankie D’Angelo closes out the evening from 9:45 – 11:00 p.m.


All family fun and activities will unfold on the Walmart Stage at the festival. Kids of all ages will enjoy the high-energy comedy and magic of Chris Linn’s Cool Tricks & Funny Stuff as well as the classic hijinks of Rosco the Clown and a Punch and Judy puppet show. Ventriloquist Vikki Gasko-Green and her colorful cast of characters will take to the stage throughout the weekend and will have every member of the family laughing. Radio Disney will return for three hours on Saturday and Sunday, lineup of family fun and adventure in the form of science themed games and cool prize giveaways. Families will take part in an exclusive pre-premiere screening of Disney XD’s Lab Rats and one lucky family will take home an electronics and gadgets package sizeable enough to build their own bionic lab valued at $500.


For the third consecutive year, Motown Winter Blast will partner with Matrix Human Services and the Grosse Pointe Rotary in support of “Breaking the ICE on Poverty” program. Volunteers from each organization will help collect children’s books, nonperishable food items, or one dollar at the festival gates as part of a special Motown Winter Blast “admission fee.” All donated items will be used to support a major service project that will fight hunger in metro Detroit and continue the festival’s commitment to fostering literacy.


Sure to attract the 21 and older crowd after hours on Friday will be the Official Winter Blast After Party at Greektown Casino, the place to warm up after Winter Blast. Located a short walk from the Winter Blast at Monroe, Greektown Casino is Detroit's Winning Address and your spot for post Winter Blast fun. With more than 2,500 of the most exciting slots and video poker machines, action-packed table games and a live Poker Room, Greektown Casino in Detroit is 100,000 square feet of pure gaming thrills. Visitors will enjoy the Casino, watch the game at Shotz Sports Bar & Grill or dine at Bistro555. They also can stop by the Greektown Casino-Hotel booth inside the Taste of Detroit tent during Winter Blast to receive special invitations and coupons for food and drink specials.


Real Detroit Weekly and Greektown Casino-Hotel help festival patrons (21 and older) heat up Saturday evening with the official Winter Blast Bar Blast. The “Snow-Torius” pub crawl will feature a dozen of downtown Detroit’s most famous and infamous drinking establishments including The Centaur, The Town Pump Tavern, The Old Shillelagh, Delux Lounge, Big City Bar and Grill, Fishbone’s Rhythm Café, Dirty Trick, Bookies Bar and Gril, The Fountain Bistro, Pulse Lounge, Cheli’s Chili Bar, Asteria, and Shotz in Greektown Casino Hotel. Shuttle service will be provided to transport participating patrons from venue to venue by Bar Blast promoters. The cost of this event is $5.


With all of the excitement of Winter Blast festivities and after parties, why go home? Organizers are again offering festival patrons the opportunity to “Spend the Night in the City” at Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Detroit at special Winter Blast discounted weekend rates. In addition to the convenience of a mini-vacation downtown, the hotel indulges the senses with amenities such as contemporary rooms, flat screen TVs, guest room services, valet parking, indoor pool fitness center and spa. The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel is offering stays for $135, which includes complimentary overnight valet parking for one car. Guests only need to present the official Winter Blast program at check-in. Located just two blocks from all the Winter Blast excitement, the iconic Westin Book Cadillac provides a warm and refreshing retreat after a long day of festivities.

The return of Winter Blast is made possible with the generous support of many corporate citizens, including The Ambassador Bridge Company, Michigan Lottery, Detroit Downtown Development Association, General Motors Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, US Bank, Greektown Casino, Wayne County, Quicken Loans, Charter One Bank, Ilitch Holdings, Health Plan of Michigan, Marketing Associates, Walmart, Detroit Receiving Hospital, GalaxE.Solutions, MetroPCS, Brown Forman, Great Lakes Beverage, Pepsi, and more.

All weekend entertainment schedules and any additional information can be found online at Motown Winter Blast is produced by Jonathan Witz, president of Jonathan Witz & Associates.

Winter Blast is Detroit’s celebration of winter experiences, dining, music and family fun to be held in downtown Detroit’s Campus Martius from, Friday, February 10 - Sunday, February 12. The three-day festival will be open from (11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Sunday). Originally created as the backdrop for Super Bowl XL, the festival attracted more than 75,000 people last year. For additional public information, visit or call (313) 963-8418.

Related Story: 2011 Motown Winter Blast wraps up today at Detroit's Campus Martius Park






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Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.