Western UnionThe recent holiday provided the opportunity to spend a “delightful weekend in the country.” While the air was fresh, the water clean and the mountains majestic, I also made time for a few dark, ill conceived and cavernous buildings full of the discards of others, redolent of moth balls, faded memories and neglect. I could feel treasure beneath the dust.

It is always exciting when I find something I have never seen before. This week I discovered “Hip-Pocket Records.” The concept is simple, essentially a flexi-disc, like the ones they used to put in magazines, but really small, about four inches in diameter. They look like toys but actually work on a standard record player and the sound isn’t bad. Others have done a lot more research on the subject and you can read about the discs here.Western Union flexi-disc

As I continued reading Rock n Roll Graffiti I learned it deals with music emanating from the less storied Northern Michigan area. I really enjoyed the blog. It is both regional and specific. What a great way to learn about the contributions of artists outside the large metropolitan areas.

This also reminded me of time I spent in Lansing, Michigan while on assignment to interview Governor Jennifer Granholm. (After interviewing her I seriously considered starting a petition to amend the Constitution in order to allow Canadians to run for the office of president. She rawks!)

After a long hard day of interviewing all the governors I could find in Lansing, I decided to slake my thirst and set out in search of a friendly neighborhood establishment. Lucky for me there were many places that fit the bill. I chose one close to my hotel in order to minimize the risk of walking under the influence. The atmosphere was pleasant, the service most courteous and the drinks superb.

After a while a band began setting up. I’m always glad to see real live musicians as opposed to prefab, homogenized, over-produced music to accompany my cocktail hour(s). The band was awesome playing covers and a few originals mixed in. It was Michigan rock born and bred.

Toward the end of the set the lead singer asked if anyone would like to make a request. An attractive and vivacious young lady raised her hand and requested, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

By the look of dismay on the lead singer’s face I knew something was amiss. I quickly realized that considering our location and the type of cover songs they were playing this was a Northern rock and roll band with a decidedly Upper Peninsula edge, no southern comforts here.

After the briefest of pauses the lead singer smiled broadly and said they would be happy to perform the song for her if she would be so kind as to allow them a little poetic license. She politely agreed and they launched into the best version of Sweet Home Escanaba* I have ever heard. And another state capital was conquered with a minimum of marauding.

*He was also gracious enough to explain that Escanaba is a small town so remote it sits on the land mass above Wisconsin separated by Lake Michigan from Michigan proper.

UM

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