As I’ve written in the past, Detroit’s Creekside neighborhood, on Detroit’s far east side, is one of my favorites. There are beautiful Craftsman style homes facing brick paved streets and canals that wind their way through the neighborhood. There’s also a series of peaceful parks lining the Detroit River where fishermen and others go to relax. Each year the community closes East Jefferson Avenue near Alter Roar and the Jefferson East Business Association hosts a summer street festival called Jazzin’ on Jefferson. The two-day event, held this past weekend, features arts and crafts, a children’s area and a variety of free music featuring some of Detroit’s finest Blues and Jazz musicians.
Despite the 97-degree temperature and steamy, high humidity this past Saturday, I jumped on my bike and took a leisurely ride over to check out the evening’s headliner, bluesman Johnnie Bassett. Listening to the band while sharing a beer with some friends, I couldn’t help notice the high dark clouds forming in the west. Nothing threatening mind you, but it certainly looked as if rain was on the way.
While I was enjoying to the music, not paying much attention to the sky behind me, suddenly a strong gust of wind blew up Jefferson straight out of the west. Looking in that westerly direction as the intensity of the wind climbed, I could literally see a wall of water coming our way. It was a remarkable grayish blue sight heading straight for us. It reminded me of something right of The Wizard of Oz! Just before the curtain of rain hit, the many festival tents started flapping as if they were about to be ripped apart or blown away. The band immediately stopped playing and the musicians hustled off the stage to safety. The hundreds of people in attendance ran for cover just as the force of the hard-driving rain hit the festival site.
I ended up with others who swarmed into Marshall’s Bar, a neighborhood place I’ve passed hundreds of times but never have been in. It’s a small, narrow tavern with a friendly atmosphere. As expected, the place was jammed with what appeared to be regulars sitting at the bar and festival goers ducking the nasty weather that was blowing through the neighborhood. Shortly after, the lights flickered and went out, but it didn’t seem to matter, people kept right on drinking and talking as if it was a normal thing. The crowded place had a small upright piano near the back, and a patron pulled up a chair and played a few tunes to the delight of everyone back there. Even a cat wandered in through the open back door meowing madly and stole a few pats on the head. It was as if the festival moved inside to this small welcoming waterhole on Detroit’s east side. It was that kind of place.