Our last post left us in Cincinnati. When had woke we got our things together and headed for Hazel Park, Michigan which is right outside of Detroit. This was to be our first time playing in or around Detroit as well as Michigan as a whole. The first time Swamp Rats had set foot in the state all together. We were excited and curious on how it was going to go. We played at a place called The Phoenix Cafe. Prior to the tour starting we were looking for local acts that could possibly jump on with us. We reached out to Cash O'Riley who was more than happy to do the show with us. This was to be his first time playing this venue so none of us knew what to expect other than it was to be a door deal and they allowed for all ages shows.
When we arrived to our destination the front door which was right on the street had a sign that said to go to the back. We thought it was strange but we obliged either way. We drove around back, parked and went in. The Phoenix Cafe was lined from front to back with various works of art from local artists. Which was something we haven't seen in such a capacity. Each section of wall was a different artist or similar theme of art. We can't express how cool we thought it was for a place to have so much local artwork lining the walls. We also discovered that the reason why the front door was blocked off is because there is a stage blocking it with as many amps and speakers as any moderately sized music store. It was pretty amazing. They also didn't serve alcohol which is why they were able to host all ages shows. This seemed to be Hazel Parks artist haven among the ruins of the Motor City.
They had planned on having a kind of open mic that night before the show as a way to help not only get people in the door but to also have some openers as well. The owners were cool as hell too. They told us about all the acts they have and that they also played in various bands from time to time. The first thing we were asked is if we had a place to stay. As usual we didn't and expressed just that. As luck would have it the owners of the Phoenix Cafe also owned a building next door in which they were in the process of preparing so that traveling acts had a worry free place to lay their heads. We couldn't believe the hospitality. If you're reading this and travel as a musician I recommend trying to set something up here at least on a week day. The owners of this place are working hard to keep an artist/musician community alive and well in what seems to be a city in decline.
Like I had mentioned before we agreed to a door deal with this place and we ended up making what seemed like more money than expected based on on many people walked through the door. All in all the night we very well for us. We finally met Cash and he was extremely talented and as nice as could be. We all chatted for what seemed like hours after the show. As the night went on and we grew more exhausted from our travels we took a spot in the building next door and went to sleep. We had a long drive from Detroit, MI to Rochester, NY the next day and need to wake up early to arrive on time.
FYI: The drive from Detroit to Rochester is shorter if you go through Canada. From all our research on the matter we found that you are able to enter Canada without a passport if you are traveling there for essentially a day trip. If I remember correctly it was up to a week or two. But you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. without a passport due to the current administration and their stricter laws and guidelines concerning immigration. All of didn't have passports on us at the time so we decided not to risk it. Food for thought.