Music, Food and Fun Transform Vacant Lots Into Community-Driven Blues Festival

EAST SIDE: FREDERICK-ST. AUBIN

Almost hidden on Detroit’s east side, a weekly event brings people together to celebrate summer, fellowship with family and friends and listen to some great blues music. On Frederick Street off St. Aubin, Blues in the Park –often featuring live local talent—reverberates throughout the area with people gathered and having a great time.

Every Sunday vacant lots in the area are transformed into a community-driven festival of food, music and fun.

Albert “Pete” Barrow, a 78-year-old retired from General Motors worker, is the producer of the event and controls the main sound system, though music can be heard coming from various sectors.

“John’s Carpet House is a get together where I invite musicians to come and showcase their talents on a Sunday,” Barrow said. “We’ve been doing this for 23 years;  in this spot here for 15 years”.

Pete is the older brother of former Detroit mayoral candidate, Tom Barrow.

“I do this because I enjoy it and a lot of the musicians I know, so it’s like a get together with old Motown artists, Cadillac Records performers most of who are in their 60s and 70s,” said Barrow. “They meet each other and want to sit in and jam.”

Barrow has produced the festival for 23 years, including 15 years at the current location.

The Sunday bleus party attracts hundreds of patrons, from Detroit and the suburbs,  and gives local artists a home to showcase their talent and harkens back to an earlier period in Detroit.

“The history behind John’s Carpet House goes back to the days of after-hour joints,” Barrow said. “When John was alive he owned a house across the street where he would play music until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning in a shed he built next to the house. To control the acoustics in there, he lined the walls with carpet and so the name John’s Carpet House. We ended up here on Frederick Street because John had a garden here across from his house, so I bought the lots and here we are today”.

“This is the blues for anybody,” said Ann Stevens who comes out every week. “It’s lovely out here. It’s wonderful. I love the blues. The blues sends something through you. It puts the warmth back in you. It brings Detroit back”.

John’s Carpet House is supported by vendors and donations from attendees. The Black Dragons Bikers Club provides security so people can have a good time enjoying music, eating food from local vendors and celebrating Detroit.

Visitors come from as far as Denmark and Japan to check out the blues and hear good music.

Well-known and little-known artists have performed there. Barrow said legendary blues artist Bobby Rush is scheduled to perform there July 20.

John’s Carpet House begins around 4 p.m. every Sunday until dark, beginning in April (weather permitting) and continues through August.

To find out more about John’s Carpet House check it out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Johns-Carpet-House-459-59980817/.

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