Back for mo’ Mo Town: Annual concert celebrates legendary label’s 60th anniversary

Rev. Bobby Lewis and “Maestro” Eustace Johnson will be in town to lead a performance

The Reverend Bobby Lewis leads a gospel singing workshop at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Reverend Bobby Lewis leads a gospel singing workshop at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Motor City’s music is coming to the capital city.

The annual Motown for Our Town concert is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1 at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center, and again the Rev. Bobby Lewis and “Maestro” Eustace Johnson of Harlem, New York, will be in town to lead a performance featuring music from the legendary Motown record label.

“It’s an exhilarating and uplifting and anointing time not just for us but the community,” said Sherry Patterson, president for the Black Awareness Association of Juneau. “This is one of the highlights of my year.”

The Juneau Arts & Humanities Council produces the event in conjunction with the BAA, and the concert doubles as a celebration of Black History Month.

[Family makes metal together]

While they’re in town, Lewis and Johnson will also be leading gospel workshops throughout the week that culminate in a pair of Sunday gospel concerts at 2 and 5:30 p.m. at the JACC. Patterson said this is either the duo’s seventh or eighth year leading the gospel events in Juneau.

Motown for Our Town is a direct descendant of those events.

“The idea for Motown came up, and we thought we’d try it, and it caught on fire, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Patterson said. “I believe what they bring here, Juneau doesn’t have. The black community is very small here, and they just have a dynamic that is unlike anything else that goes on here.”

“We just don’t have the flavor here because of the small African-American community that we have,” she said. “And when these guys come, it’s like, ‘Wow.’”

[Young artist puts Tlingit twist on hip-hop]

This year’s Motown for Our Town concert will be a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Motown and will feature a wide range of selections.

“We’ve done the traditional Motown sounds — the Temptations, the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson,” Patterson said.

Patterson, who has performed with both the gospel choir and Motown team, acknowledged it can be daunting to cover some of the best vocalists in popular music history, but the Motown for Our Town performers are up to the task.

“We do the best we can, and Eustace is an incredible pianist and Pastor Bobby is an incredible vocalist, and we bring in Dr. Jaunelle Celaire, Professor of Voice at Fairbanks,” Patterson said.

The guests are backed by local musicians, who Patterson also said do great work.

“We have an incredible music scene here,” Patterson said.

Know & Go

What: Motown for Our Town

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, March 1

Where: Juneau Arts & Culture Center, 350 Whittier St.

Admission: General admission is $30, table seats are $75. Tickets can be purchased online through Jahc.org.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 19

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Rep. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, speaks in favor of House Bill 143 on Friday. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House approves relaxed environmental rules for ‘advanced recycling’

Applies to facilities using high heat or chemicals to turn plastic garbage into raw materials.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon (right) discusses the Juneau School District’s financial crisis with school board Vice President Emil Mackey (right) and City Attorney Robert Palmer during a meeting Thursday night at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Meetings to comment on Assembly’s proposed $9.6M of help to school district scheduled next two Mondays

Plan includes $4.1 million no-interest loan, picking up “shared costs” this year and next.

A crowd overflows the library at Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Thursday night as school board members meet to select a consolidation option to help resolve the Juneau School District’s budget crisis. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders approve putting grades 9-12 at JDHS, 7-8 and HomeBRIDGE at TMHS

Elementary schools will be K-6; Marie Drake, Floyd Dryden to close this fall if plan gets final OK.

Members of the Alaska House of Representatives celebrate the passage of a sweeping education bill on Thursday. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
House passes $680 BSA increase, with other education provisions

Bill now returns to Senate, which must pass it unchanged before it can head to the governor’s desk.

House Minority Leader Calvin Schrage, I-Anchorage, speaks during Thursday night’s floor debate on an education bill. (Screenshot from akl.tv livestream)
House approves $680 BSA increase, extra support for charter schools in education bill

Bill passes by 38-2 vote, Senate expected to concur with changes after days of negotiations.

Musicians perform Sunday, Feb. 18, 2024, at Devil’s Club Brewing. The event was among the first three allowed under a newly amended state law. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Three Alaska alcohol manufacturers sue state over rule limiting live music and entertainment

Plaintiffs say limit of four events annually at breweries and distilleries violates First Amendment.

A previously unidentified Eastern North Pacific right whale surfaces in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska in September 2023. The discovery of this whale was hailed by scientists studying the critically endangered population. Members of the public are being asked to choose a name for the animal through an online contest that will use bracketed competition. (Photo by Bernardo Alps/NOAA Fisheries, International Whaling Commission and WildSea Inc.)
Agency asks public to name, get to know member of highly endangered Alaska whale population

NOAA wants people online to name Eastern North Pacific right whale spotted in September.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 21, 1994. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Feb. 25

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Most Read