Detroit Country Music book signing Jan. 19 at legendary Club Canton

Jan. 19, 2014, author signing for “Detroit Country Music” book at legendary Club Canton wsg Behind The Times.

Remember? Michigan Ave. Gardens? Most likely you won’t, but if you do, you will remember that it was the first bar in Canton to receive their beer and wine license after prohibition in 1932. If you remember the bar, you will also remember they had outside toilets, and chickens and goats that would roam through the building while you were having your favorite drink. You would also remember that entertainment was a thing back then that was not known, or at least to be paid for, so some of the local people would bring their fiddles and guitars and once in a while, someone would bring in their banjo and have a regular old barn dance. Well, after all, that’s what it was. The old Michigan Avenue Gardens was in fact an old BARN!  [1]

Behind The Times. From left: Rachel, Big Ben, Little Ben
BEHIND THE TIMES. From left: Rachel, Big Ben, Little Ben

So begins a feature on the Club Canton, also once known as the Canton Tavern, originally printed in the December 1980 edition of Country In The City News. Club Canton will be the setting of the next author book sale and signing for “Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies,” on Sunday, January 19, 2014, from 3 to 7 p.m.

Special guests include Behind The Times, Detroit-based old-time and bluegrass musical trio. After they perform a set of music, the floor will be opened to musicians in attendance. Club Canton has graciously offered to prepare a buffet for a nominal charge, as well.

Since 1932 (and legend has it, BEFORE 1932), Club Canton has witnessed the evolution of country music from folk and old-time fiddle dances to cowboy and western, rockabilly to bluegrass, and what’s now referred to as traditional and modern. Local disk jockey and bandleader Farris Wilder was a mainstay on the Club Canton stage from 1951 to 1963. Other famous entertainers who appeared within its welcoming walls include Charlie Louvin, Dottie West, Ernest Tubb, and Johnny Paycheck.

The 1980 article continues

It has changed from when [patrons] used to be bothered by chickens, goats, mules and other assorted farm animals. It has changed from the days when you and your friends could bring in your guitars, banjo’s, fiddles and the likes and hold your own barn dance, but the friendliness has not changed. The warmth of fellow men and women from the deep south meeting and getting married has not changed. The packed houses have not changed …

In 1957 Helm and Jean Hunt purchased the Canton Tavern and renamed it Club Canton. Their son and his wife continue the operation, 57 years later. Our event on January 19, 2014, is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with the legendary Club Canton!



  1. [Possibly Mary Clark] “Remember Michigan Avenue Gardens?” Country In The City News Country In The City, Inc. December 1980 (Vol. 4, No. 1) 14.

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