The Charivari Detroit Music Festival returns for its fourth year August 4 through 6 at West Riverfront Park in Detroit. One of its organizers, Theresa Hill, also happened to be one of Moodymann and Chosen By The Funk's guests of honor for Deep Purple, our Prince tribute event at First Avenue earlier this year. We connected with Hill, who is also a radio show co-host and event promoter, to discuss both her trip to Minneapolis for the Prince weekend and Charivari Detroit.
Your trip to Minneapolis back in April was quite the adventure, can you describe how it went down?
Back in early March, I received a message from Traci [Washington – Moodymann’s agent] that said Kenny [Dixon Jr. aka Moodymann] is planning a surprise trip and wants to know if you’re available to go. That’s all they said, there were no details. I said, sure, ok! Towards the end of March, they sent me the dates and told me which dates I’d need to take off work. I didn’t think much about it, I put my vacation form in, and then I started looking at the dates and realized oh my God, that’s the weekend of Prince’s passing, I wonder if we’re going to go to Minneapolis? They were very tight lipped, and I didn’t ask because that’s how they roll and it was a surprise and figured I’ll just go along for the ride.
Then, a couple days before we were to depart, I saw your story that mentioned Kenny spinning at First Avenue, so my thought was oh, he’s going to surprise us, take us to First Avenue, we get to go to the club where Prince filmed Purple Rain and hang out with him, and I thought that was great. I was pumped from that! Then Traci sent me a message with the flight itinerary and saw that it was Minneapolis so I knew my hunch was right. Then we get there, and we stop at the hotel and Traci says be ready at 4 o' clock. I’m thinking what kind of party are we going to that we have to be there at 4 in the afternoon?
So we get in the car and start driving. We were sightseeing, Kenny was not with us at that time, I didn’t know where we were going. Then we passed a sign that said Chanhassen and I knew Prince’s home was there. I figured oh, maybe we’re going to drive by Paisley Park. We get right in front of the property, Traci rolls the window down, Kenny walks up and said ‘Here are your passes to Paisley Park for the weekend’ and we (myself, Tracy Bragg, and Karen Ferguson, he brought all three of us) completely lost it! We cried, we screamed, oh my God, it was something!
It may be hard to pick, but what were the highlights of the weekend for you?
Just being inside of Paisley Park, knowing that Prince actually worked, lived, slept here, it was just amazing. Even when we went to First Avenue, because loving Prince like I do, I’ve seen [Purple Rain] so many times and I’ve seen First Avenue on film, so to actually have an opportunity to party there, to go into the parking garage where Prince would come in, that was mind blowing to me! I had a ball! That party was so live! You were such a gracious host, we just had a wonderful time from beginning to end! I did not come down off that high for months after I got back from that trip!
What can you tell me about Charivari Detroit?
The festival is four years old now, and we are the festival of Detroit. There are other festivals here, but we are the Detroit festival. We are the largest Detroit-based DJ line-up of any festival here, period. People attend our festival because they want to hear Detroit-based DJs, and I’m not disparaging any DJs that are flown in because I love them as well, but we have so much talent here in Detroit, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to be heard, and that’s what we did and what we’re doing.
Have you been involved with the festival from the first one?
Yes, I have been a founding member of the festival since day 1. The year before the festival began, there was a picnic with music put on by some of the festival’s organizers. I used to do an event called House On The River, and we had a stage and DJs playing all day, so I kind of knew you needed some structure. Structure to keep the DJs on time, there’s just some pieces you have to put together. So I called Steve [Dunbar, one of Charivari Detroit’s founding members] and said hey, why don’t you let me MC, to keep everything on schedule and that way you don’t have to stand up on stage, worrying about this and he said sure, that sounds great! After that I became a part of the team that started the festival.
What has the reception been like to Charivari Detroit?
Oh my God! This thing grew legs so quickly! I compare it to having a baby, so we gave birth four years ago, and now the baby is running around! People have been so excited, because they want to hear the Detroit Sound! We have people flying in from everywhere, from overseas, I mean it’s just been mind-blowing to us! Our goal was just to give our DJs an opportunity to play at home. We get in our cars and go to work from 9-5, they’re on planes flying for hours to go to work. They miss birthdays, wedding anniversaries, holidays, because guess what? They’re working! We just wanted to create an opportunity where they could be at home, their family and friends could come, in addition to their fans, their home base, to see them do what they do for the whole world. I call Detroit music the sound that’s heard around the world!
You’re going to be at a new venue this year, what are some changes that attendees can look forward to?
The new venue is West Riverfront Park, right behind the main post office in Downtown Detroit. 1801 West Jefferson Avenue. It’s a better view of the river for one, we are right on the water, it’s just beautiful! It’s more spacious, we have a larger footprint so we’ll be able to really create some nice elements to put into the festival so that it will continue to be friends, family, and fun. You’ll have people there from babies in strollers to 80 year olds, it’s just that wide of a span, and everyone enjoys the music, it’s just amazing to me! We have a lady here named Grandma Techno, she comes to every single festival. Just to see all these different ethnicities and see everyone getting along, there’s never any violence because people are having a great time, and it’s all because of the music; our love of the music.
Is there anything else you'd like to add about Chariviari Detroit?
If people would like more information, they can always log onto our website. We want people to come and enjoy what we enjoy here at a home, because it’s a blessing to be able to give you the sound that’s heard around the world!