“I’m so Detroit, I make it rise from the ashes”: Jack White & the Rebuild of Detroit

No one could ever accuse Jack White of forgetting his roots or turning his back on his home city, Detroit. Growing up as a drummer on the music scene in Detroit, White made it big when the White Stripes hit major success and has been putting out an ongoing train of insanely good music ever since, churning out tunes from The Raconteurs, Dead Weather and a few solo projects too.  While this success has taken him all over the world and he’s personally moved to Nashville, White still has loads of love for Motor City. Let us count the ways.

Divine Intervention

In 2009, Detroit’s Masonic Temple was on the verge of closure. Being the largest Masonic Temple in the world and located in Cass Corridor, it’s no doubt that this would be a huge shame.  Not only was it home to a gorgeous concert theatre, it was a pivotal part of Detroit’s history. With a huge amount of racked up taxes, closure seemed to be the only option.

Stage left, enter an anonymous donor who stepped up to pay $142,000 in taxes, therefore saving the Masonic Temple. Not long after, it was leaked that it was the one and only Jack White.  One of the theatres inside were named after Mr. White and not long after that, Jack White returned to the Masonic Temple and played a three hour, 38-song set, gig that has since gone down in history as Jack White’s longest show ever.

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Jack White at the Masonic Temple, July 2014 (longest show ever).                                      Photo Credit: jackwhite.com

Third Man Records

In 2001, Jack White founded Third Man Records in order to keep the rights of his White Stripes songs.  Since then, the label has expanded to include two record shops (one in Nashville and one in Detroit) and has put out releases from several  Detroit area acts like Black Milk, Craig Brown Band  and MC5.

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Third Man Pressing

Continuing his legacy, White recently hosted the grand opening of Third Man Pressing in Cass Corridor (attached to the Detroit location of Third Man Records).  Here he presses the the vinyl for artists on his label as well as anyone else who comes into the plant wanting their vinyl pressed. Everything inside pays homage to Detroit including the large mural at the back of the plant done by Cass Corridor artist, Robert Sestok.  Not only does the plant support Detroit’s music scene but it will also create approximately 50 working-wage jobs in Detroit.

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Photo Credit: Ryan Mueller

The Ashes

In 1805, Detroit burned to the ground. All buildings except one were destroyed but Detroit citizens stayed by the city, creating a human chain and passing buckets from the water to help ease the fire and make up for the lack of a professional fire department. When all was lost, citizens did not move on but rebuilt the city. Since then, Detroit has seen many hardships including the recession that hit the city particularly hard.  When visiting, it’s obvious to see the resilience and spirit of Detroit.  Jack white has respected that and is helping to rebuild it, hence his lyrics, “I’m so Detroit I make it rise from the ashes.”

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