We made it on Thursday, the 19th, to a county fairgrounds on the edge of Ann Arbor. While perhaps not quite as scenic as some of the state parks we had camped in so far, it had all the amenities (electricity, water, a dump station, and a shower house) and was sort of midway between the two gigs I had in Michigan. We then learned that there was a dog show scheduled on the fairgrounds for the weekend: Irish and Gordon setters. Rufus was over-joyed at the prospect of meeting so many new doggies.
My gig on Friday, the 21st of September, was at the Good Beans Café, in Flint.
I cannot say enough good things about Good Beans. The performance space is a nice, intimate sitting space, with a lovely, open stage, a really fine sound system, and some excellent acoustics made even more welcoming with a healthy dose of local art mounted on the walls. Ken, the owner, is a kind and generous host, with a keen interest in promoting musicians, as well as the arts for the town , and the town of Flint itself.
Ken informed us that the Café is located in a part of Flint known as “Carriagetown”. It is a neighbourhood nestled in between a university, two other colleges, and a hospital, and was described as a “walk to work”neighbourhood, where GM workers used to literally walk from their homes to work at the auto plant in town. All of this is a history that was rather colourfully detailed by Michael Moore in his documentary, “Roger and Me”. I asked Ken what folks in town thought of Mr. Moore. He told me that it was a pretty mixed bag. While there were some who fiercely defended him and his movie, there were others who felt he had sort of kicked Flint while it was down.
“It didn’t make it any easier in trying to sell people on the virtues of Flint,” remarked Ken.
In the Café, there was a pile of fliers advertising a house for sale. Built in the late 1890’s, some 2900 square feet, with five bedrooms and two bathrooms (some flattering pictures on the flier), the seller was asking $55,000. Ken told us he had a four-bedroom house he was trying to sell for only $10,000 and still couldn’t find any takers.
Earlier that day, I was reading an article in TIME magazine about all the grand projects Google was launching. I would like to invite Google to consider building a plant for R and D in Flint. Honestly, while it is true that there are parts of the town that look like a war zone, it is a place that is ripe for a renaissance. And Pony and I both thought it was a town that deserves a new life of some sort.
I played my heart out at the Good Beans Café. We sold a couple of CD’s, made some extra money on tips, and left hoping that we will find our way back here again, someday.