There’s a bit of Detroit in us all and this March that’s something to be proud of as Detroit seeks to reclaim the Guinness World Record for Longest Concert by Multiple Artists. Detroit is no stranger to this feat, as we’ve held the record previously on three occasions (2009,2010,2011). These records were set in Downtown Ferndale at the famed AJ’s Music Café and he’s back to do it again, this time in the heart of the city at Detroit’s Eastern Market from March 9th – 25th.

Press & Online Resources
C & J Newspapers“Assembly Line Concert Reclaims Guinness World Record” – 1/10/12
Oakland Press“World-record Assembly Line concert plays on despite fire at AJ’s Music Café in Ferndale” – 3/22/11
Oakland Press“Granholm visits Assembly Line Concert” – 3/24/09
Pollstar“240-Hour Assembly Line Concert” –  3/23/09
Absolute Michigan“10 Day Assembly Line Concert on Behalf of Big Three” – 3/19/09


A customer came to AJ’s Cafe one morning asking him to “do something” because he was afraid he was going to lose his job. He was hoping we could bring some attention to the plight of our hometown industry, the domestic auto workers and the products that they build. That was in 2008, when the auto companies and its workforce faced off with congress that would determine their fate.

What happened next was nothing short of extraordinary. A whole lot of regular folks got together at AJ’s Cafe and played and sang for 288 non-stop hours, setting a Guinness World Record for the longest concert and grabbing the attention of the world. The first Assembly Line Concert was in the books! Midwest Living Magazine wrote “A little cafe has bailed out the auto industry, one cup of coffee at a time”. 

We need to continue our awareness of our great industry and the workers who are the reason we all have barber shops, department stores, schools, even little cafes. Join us for the 4th shift! We are all in this together!

World Record

The time to beat is 372 hours and 10 minutes. The Assembly Line Concert will attempt to break Las Vegas’ by 12 hours, equaling more than 384 hours of live music!

Detroit has held the Guinness World Record for Longest Concert by Multiple Artists on three previous occasions: 2009, 2010, 2011. These records were set in Downtown Ferndale at AJ’s Music Café.

Legacy Award

The Assembly Line Concert Legacy Award is presented in recognition of strong support for the local economy and the everyday, hardworking humans who become that community backbone and make it viable..

Past Honorees:
2009 – Assembly Line 1 – The City of Ferndale, Michigan
2010 – Assembly Line 2 – Cal Rapson VP (ret) UAW/GM
2011 – Assembly Line 3 – Jennifer Granholm, Governor State of Michigan

2017 – Assembly Line 4 – Melvin “Butch” Hollowell, Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit

In addition to being the City of Detroit’s top attorney, Butch has been a chief advocate for Detroit’s citizens through the historic bankruptcy hearings and restructuring.

Butch began his political career as a campaign manager for City Councilman Carl Levin. Under the Granholm administration, Mr. Hollowell fought to forge fair insurance practises and eliminate redlining serving as Michigan Insurance Advocate.

Notwithstanding an impressive list of professional accomplishments, Butch was an instrumental figure in AJ’s Cafe and participated in every record breaking concert. In addition to his many great musical performances including the father-son duo with his son Melvin, he spent countless hours behind the scenes helping to coordinate concerts and other events. He was the essence of a good neighbor and community organizer.

It is with immense pride and love that we award the 2017 Assembly Line Concert Legacy Award to Mr. Melvin Butch Hollowell

A Word From Our Founder

Welcome to Eastern Market and the Assembly Line Concert , our 4th Guinness World Record attempt for the longest non-stop concert and welcome, one and all, to Detroit.

To get to our 4th concert attempt, (we’ve won then been overtaken buy Statesville, N.C.; Atlanta, Ga. and Las Vegas Nv. since 2009.) We can take a trip back through 10 years to when we first opened the doors in a small suburban music cafe in Ferndale on of Detroit’s northern, 8 Mile border.

It was about this time in 2007 that the doors opened to AJ’s Cafe. It was only a week later that the town’s anchor store, Old Navy shuttered its doors on the corner of 9 Mile and Woodward, leaving a huge, boarded up building at the major intersection in town and just a few buildings down from ours. It was the beginning of what the country called the Great Recession or as we in Detroit had long called our “Depression.”

You see, here in Detroit, no one, no one ever wants to be bailed out. It was right here after all in Detroit, just over one hundred years ago that had a pretty good hand in creating the working class as we know it today, all across the globe.

We’ve learned, sometimes painfully, even tragically not to kick our wounded. We’ve learned that we must covet everyone here in this melting pot of humanity we call Detroit. Yes. make it no doubt, there’s a bit of Detroit in us all.

And, there’s a bit of us woven throughout this great, beautiful city as well. Home to large segments and cultural gifts from African, Middle Eastern,English,Irish, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian…on and on it goes and most came here originally in search of a better life from whence they came.

My family’s Irish roots, not surprisingly trace back to Ireland and the early years of the Potato Famine. We settled the northernmost parts of Upper Peninsula at Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula, just as the new state of Michigan was adopted into the union of United States.

Many in our large African community originally settled here as a safe stop on the Underground Railway that brought escaped slaves here to Detroit by the thousands providing freedom and bringing “we the people” one step closer towards equality for all.

And where would anyone want to go, including my family to find a better way of living than Detroit when Henry Ford announced the $5 a-day wage , far above the average of its day in 1913.

This single handedly transformed the marketplace into a “cross-trickle” not trickle-down economy because now people could make a sustainable wage that allowed for expendable income to even afford to buy what they built, and build what they buy, which was much more than a Model T. It was the ordinary joe’s and jane’s that became the stakeholder’s here who built this community paving a model of abundance in America that would last over a century.

This is the ongoing legacy of Detroit. In the 10 years since that little cafe opened, the economic crises that had been gnawing at Detroit for decades crossed over 8 Mile road and into suburbs and hamlets all across the country and a global economy was hit badly by the “housing crash.”

Now people in Waterford and Berkley,Wyandotte and hamlets and villages near and far were in homes that were overpriced and under water. We all felt the sting of knowing people having to leave their homes because they could not make good on the too high monthly payments. I was one of them. We all felt a bit of what Detroit has been all too aware of; hard times.

But, we learned to do what Detroiters do, which is to dust yourself off, pick yourself off and keep moving forward. Here we are 10 years later and look at our Detroit begin to shine once more.

One of those people who have been a stoic example of leadership through love is this year’s Legacy Award recipient, Melvin “Butch” Hollowell. An unwavering friend to this city whose family roots run deep in this town. Butch is currently the lead attorney for the city of Detroit, as Corporate Counsel. He’s a 3-time Assembly Line Concert performer alumni and has helped Detroit get its legal paperwork in order as it weathered bankruptcy negotiations as our main advocate. It would be an understatement to say that Butch is a “people’s lobbyist.”

String those guitars, tunes those cords, and have a seat. Listen to some extraordinary music by ordinary heroes who go to work every day. Grab a coffee, walk around and visit the shops and sheds at one of the world’s finest open air markets, Eastern Market in the heart of our rejuvenated downtown . More neighborhoods are becoming populated again as a new hope pulsates through our city. We are part of the great social experiment called the United States. You, Butch, all of us have a stake in that. How cool is that!

The motto of Detroit is “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus” which translated in Latin means: We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes.” Yes we do, yes we will.

Oh, that corner building that used to be the Old Navy in Ferndale is celebrating 5 years as a hip artesian space called The Rust Belt Market. Dust yourself off, pick yourself up, and if you can’t. We’ll have your back until you can.

There’s a Bit Of Detroit In Us All.

Warm regards,

AJ O’Neil – Founder