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Archive for September 3rd, 2007

REOtown Music Festival

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

reotowncarnivalzipper.jpgFriday night, Brian and I went down to the REOtown festival in South Central Lansing. This area has been called REOtown for only a few years, and has really been coming into its own lately. The festival is relatively new, maybe three years now. We thought we’d check it out.

This area was once home of a Diamond REO truck factory, and many of the people who worked there lived very close by and walked to work. From what I have read it was a pretty good place to work, as factories go. The letters REO were the initials of Ransom E. Olds, founder of both Diamond REO and Oldsmobile. He lived walking distance from this area, though a little far for today’s walkers, in general.

reotownpirateride.jpgI once read a short history on Ransom E. Olds. It turns out that he grew up in a family that had a carriage-building business and they let him putter with the resources they had available.

He also distinctly did not like horses. He was driven to figure out some type of transportation that did not require getting along with those particular large animals. I find that somewhat amusing. I’m not particularly good with horses, either, or I was not when I tried (I was a loud and fast-moving teenager at the time, not the sort a horse would be instinctively drawn to). I never had to depend on horses to get me anywhere, though… thank goodness.

reotownelephantears.jpgBut I’m getting away from this weekend’s story. We found parking within a block of the event even though we headed down there after 9pm. It was only $5 on Friday to get into the area in front of the stage. They had local musicians on Friday, and only a part of a day’s worth of music. For the other days, there were full days of national acts planned and I believe the entry fee was $15 for those days (yes, it’s still on all day Monday).

reotowncarvedguyfeathered.jpgThe first thing we saw was two small tents set up for one guy who was carving tree trunks into different things. He had bears that were quite realistic, and a lot of mushrooms with gnomes as their stem.

I particularly liked this incredible table-like fantastic being, something like a modern version of any number of indigenous artforms… it reminds me of native works from Mexico and Alaska, maybe even Australia for starters. I love its intense look and the bright colors… and the faces on his torso. Later we saw a 50-something tattooed guy tooling around the carnival with a mushroom/gnome under his arm.

It was an older crowd for the most part. We are in our late 40’s and we were among the youngest, with the exception of a few mommies toting along kids for a fun evening of dance. reotowncadillacclub.jpgI liked the cultural mix there, with some local blues cats, a bunch of UAW folks (United Auto Workers, people working in factories for GM/Oldsmobile which has been a huge employer in Lansing for generations), a good representation of Lansing’s Mexican/hispanic population (some beautiful ladies in that crowd indeed), a bunch of biker folks with tattoos, leather and long chains to their keys, neighborhood people who live nearby and walked on down, and actually a few folks I know because we work together at Foster Community Center. Cool.

I took some great shots of the carnival area (the lights are wonderful, and my current camera does OK in half-light with a bit of motion). I also got some fun shots of folks dancing in front of the stage, and the interior of the Cadillac Club which is located just to the side of the main stage.

reotownsidewalk.jpgPhotos: Two shots of the carnival, first a long shot of the “Zipper” ride, and then a closeup of the pirate ship ride with a ferris wheel in the background. Next, the elephant ears booth which I would have expected near the carnival but it was closer to the music area. Then the cool carved table guy, an interior shot of the Cadillac Club (those cars sticking out are actually benches you can sit on… don’t miss the giant fish hanging from the ceiling), and two photos of outdoors.

reotownstage.jpgThe first outdoor photo is the sidewalk in front of the Cadillac Club (CC) with a local guy who came down on his bike, near CC customers at outdoor tables just to the side of the dance floor; and the final photo just to the right of that scene… dancers in front of the dance floor/bandstand. I think the band was the Old Town Blues Band at that time. Whoever it was really entertained well!