The five original members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony will descend on Detroit this summer, performing together for their 20 year anniversary reunion. But it won't be at a standard arena: the group will be performing '90s hits like "Ghetto Cowboy" at Oakaloosa, a brand-new, all-day music festival that happens to be held at an 1840s-era army fort on the Detroit River.
Bone Thugs and mashup king Girl Talk are the headliners for the July 27 festival, which will bring 12 hours of nonstop music to Historic Fort Wayne. Festival-goers will hear the sounds from two stages set up near the river and the property's barracks. For many Detroiters, it will be their first time stepping across the moat and inside this relic of history.
(Scroll down to see all the artists announced for Oakaloosa so far.)
More artists will be announced as July approaches, but so far the lineup showcases some of the state's top talent, including Royce da 5'9, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas and Ro Spit.
Organizers envisioned a festival that thrived on inclusion, rather than hipster buzz or a curated genre of artists, explained Marketing Director Adrian Pittman, who has previously hosted the Future Midwest technology conferences.
"It's totally based on having fun and based on humanity and the weird edges and cool things that happen when people just randomly run into each other, these vectors," he said.
That means a pop-punk band, respected local MCs, DJs and even a teenage country star in the making will be sharing the stage. Organizers said the lineup reflects the diversity of Detroiters themselves.
"We carried that concept forward ... we want to bring people from all over the place to experience the family-friendly nature of it, to see local acts they haven't had an opportunity to experience before and to keep that lively energy up."
That lively energy and thumping beats will be, whether attendees know or not, channeled for good. Organizers are calling it Southeast Michigan's first fully-philanthropic music festival. It's organized by the Detroit Sports Zone, a 501(c)3 nonprofit begun by former Harlem Globetrotter Ernest “Wag” Wagner. The nonprofit has already teamed up with the Detroit Recreation Department to get more kids playing sports. A percentage of every dollar raised will also be sent back to fund preservation efforts at Fort Wayne.
The fort has never hosted an event of this magnitude before, which provides a welcome challenge that benefits the venue itself, Pittman said.
"It needs our support the way the [Detroit Institute of Arts] needed our support, the way that the Detroit Library needs our support," he said. "We have to support these institutions so they can, simply, continue to exist."
And what, or whom, is an Oakaloosa? Funny you ask ... When festival organizers were searching through old historical records at the fort for a name, they found an account of a soldier who had served at the base. His name had been misspelled "Oakaloosa," and Pittman said it stuck.
The story of the Oakaloosa name is a fitting analogy for the festival itself: rediscovering what's old and forgotten, and transforming it into something entirely new.
Tickets for the all-ages festival go on sale Tuesday at 8 a.m. on the official Oakaloosa website. The first 313 tickets will be sold at a discounted rate as a nod to Detroit's area code and occasional nickname.
Click through the slideshow to listen to videos from all the artists appearing at the 2013 Oakaloosa Music Festival in Detroit. Who do you want to see?
Bone Thugs N Harmony
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
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