It’s always great when you meet someone and immediately sense that you’ve been through a lot of similar experiences, even before a lot of that conversation comes out on the table. Maybe it’s a story about this concert you saw, or that odd job you had, or (more likely) something that happened that just made you laugh your ass off. It’s the kind of stuff that happens much more often when you’re younger, perhaps because you were more frequently in situations where it was easy to be open and honest. Maybe it was naive to do so, but you weren’t focused on being guarded.
Now if you’re sharing a table at a club or hanging outside the same building waiting to be let in, it’s more likely that you’ll do the nod’n'smile or toss off a safe line of small talk. Because if someone started to engage you in an actual conversation, your first thought would be “what does this person want from me?”. And I hate that it’s come to that, but it can be a sick world out there.
In the summer of 2009 I jumped in my car and drove ten hours just to see Jim McCarty play guitar and Johnny Bee play drums. I didn’t know a soul who would be at the club but I didn’t care, I was on a mission to see two of my musical heroes. I got there early and would up sitting with three other people at a table about ten feet from the stage, and something got us past the polite nods and smiles. We started talking a bit, then buying beers, and although a good portion of the night was spent staring at the magic happening on the stage with mouths agape, we connected in the moment. And it wasn’t a long, deep conversation with Sue and Linda and The Dude, but enough to know that if we had grown up in the same town, yeah, we definitely would have hung out.
Sue and I have emailed back and forth on occasion since, and it was she who first tipped me off about the Assembly Line Concert in Detroit last year. This annual event not only aims to hold the longest continuous music festival in history and feature a tremendous amount of local music, but it also seeks to bring awareness and foot traffic to Detroit businesses and to grass-roots organizations trying to rebuild one of America’s greatest cities.
It started with one man’s offer of a free cup of coffee for anyone who would pledge that their next car would be a car made in Detroit, and it mushroomed into this manic challenge to have the longest continuous concert in the Guinness Book of World Records (which they did with 288 straight hours in 2009…only to be overtaken by Atlanta in 2010.)
Shortly after the event was over last year, Sue sent me a commemorative t-shirt since I was there in spirit, which was just beyond cool. And I just got an email from her tonight telling me it’s on again, warts and all, “…some good, some bad and some downright ugly; but always entertaining.” So how could I not pass the word? I don’t expect anyone to stay up for fifteen-plus days glued to the monitor, but check in once in a while, and if you are so inclined, drop a coin in the slot and back a great cause.
The ALC started tonight and runs through April 3rd; here’s the lineup.
And here’s the streaming concert.
Sue tells me that Atlanta is going down. Don’t ever doubt Detroit.