Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dream Cruise


Things are heating up downtown Detroit with the coming Jazzfest. Before any comment about that, first a belated story about the recent Woodward Dream Cruise.

I was working on the fourth floor of a downtown building one Thursday afternoon as pre-Dream Cruise activities began on the street below my window. Classic cars were on display, along with some live classic-looking "models" from the Motor City casino. I and a co-worker-- Mr. Jones-- took a fast break to check out the models of both varieties.

The event was being staged by the casino, owned by the all-powerful Ilitch family which also owns the Red Wings and Tigers sports teams as well as the Little Caesar's pizza empire. A stage was set up at which various musical acts-- some from the casino-- began to play.

Back upstairs in the office, I listened to the changing music. At one point the music became louder. A rock band of some kind, playing to about a dozen people. (The organizers of the event must've counted on an audience from the nearby Tigers game at Comerica Park-- but no one of the forty thousand suburban visitors stopped by after-- all presumably anxious to flee Detroit.)

The rock band was pretty good. After a time I realized they were great. They were playing magnificently, with tremendous energy.

The songs sounded familiar to me. Could it be-- ? Naw! No way would they be here at this tacky event playing for a handful of people. But their signature song began-- an awesome extended live version of "Get Ready."

The band was Rare Earth, who'd been known for their live sets as far back as the 1960's. They were legendary as the first and best white act signed by the Motown label. They lived up to their reputation.

When I left for the evening I joined the tiny crowd in front of the stage, as the band kicked into their finale, "I Just Want to Celebrate." Then they were finished and left the stage, as if they'd played to a stadium of people, like dinosaurs come back in a time machine. Timeless sounds and energy. Amazing.