• Robert Jones

Common Chords Debuts New Program, "Detroit: 20 Minutes Apart"

With the help of an AXD Grant from the Kresge Foundation Robert Jones and Matt Watroba will be premiering a new program called "Detroit: 20 Minutes Apart", A Musical Discussion About Neighborhoods, Race and Friendship".

Veteran Detroit artists Robert Jones and Matt Watroba premier a multi-media production covering their thirty-year musical partnership and observations on race, neighborhood and friendship. The production serves as the centerpiece of their nonprofit music education and cultural diversity program Common Chords. “Detroit: Twenty Minutes Apart” takes place on Thursday, February 20 at 7 p.m. in the Theater at Marygrove, 8425 W. McNichols Rd, Detroit, MI. The event is part of the Institute for Detroit Studies series at the Center for Detroit Arts & Culture at Marygrove focusing on relevant issues the city’s residents. The concert is free and open to the public.

Growing up twenty minutes from each other, Robert and Matt experienced very different lives with conflicting attitudes about race and place. Robert’s family lived on the city’s near east side while Matt’s resided in suburban Plymouth. They established a friendship at Detroit’s public radio station WDET FM in the 1980s while sharing the Saturday line-up with Robert hosting “Blues From the Lowlands” and Matt “Folks Like Us.” With a mutual recognition of the shared origins of blues and folk, they established a musical partnership that has taken them throughout the U.S. and garnered wide recognition and numerous awards for their efforts in preserving traditional American music. Their longtime story of friendship is told through the songs and stories of “Detroit: Twenty Minutes Apart,” and serves as a testimonial to the common values that go into cultural diversity.

A short discussion follows the performance for audience members who wish to contribute their perspectives on the themes of race, neighborhood and friendship. Opportunities to form a discussion group facilitated by Common Chords will be also be explored.

The production of “Detroit: Twenty Minutes Apart” is made possible by a Kresge Foundation AXD Grant intended to support an artistic statement on neighborhoods by Kresge Fellows. Robert Jones was recognized as a Kresge Fellow in 2018. Common Chords is a partner of the Center for Detroit Arts & Culture at Marygrove and is housed on the campus. Additional information on the performance is available at:, or by calling 313.686-2750.

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