Sunday, August 14, 2011

Marching Band Takes August ArtWalk By Storm

This month, we again participated in Flint’s downtown ArtWalk, this time with a street performance that started in the park on the corner of Saginaw Street and 2nd Street, and continued to the Carriage Factory and the Arrowhead Vets Club on Water Street, and Good Beans Cafe on Grand Traverse.

The performance attracted a new audience to the ArtWalk and drew visitors across the river to a deeply historic place in Flint—a former Chippewa reservation, where the first European settled, the first lumber mills were located, and the carriage industry was established. We wanted to reimagine this place for the future and make it happen now.

The bright red of the Northern football team's jersey and the beautiful faces of the cheerleaders radiated on the bright green lawn of the park in downtown Flint, with the Capitol Theater in the background.

The cheerleaders from Northern Marching Band took Saginaw Street by storm as they passed by the iconic Genesee Towers.

The brilliant resonance of the Northern Marching Band drummers moved the audience as they played alongside the Flint Symphony Orchestra in Riverbank Park.

The rush of the kids across the Flint River to Carriage Town, past the colorful lights illuminating the Carriage Factory, to meet the sounds of DJ Litz on Water Street brought a new energy to downtown Flint.

The Arrowhead Vets Club felt like a clubhouse for the whole city. As we continue to learn from producing these events and increase our organizational capacity, we hope our events and installations will continue to increase in scale, power and resonance, building on the energies of all of Flint's communities to create a truly monumental spectacle. Your support as always is hugely appreciated.

We also attended the massive event at the Urban League of Flint on Saturday that featured record producer Pharlon Randle's community hip hop production workshop, Bangtown Productions, along with the amazing dancers of Tapology, the Vertical Ambition dance group, and legendary rapper Rakim. Rakim blew us away.

In the mid-80s, Rakim revolutionized hip hop by introducing a new level of artistic expression and lyricism to rapping, revolting against the one-to-one reliance on rhyme and rhythm and throwing in off-beat breaks, big words that threw off and delayed the expected and predictable rhymes, and a seriousness of political purpose that paved the way for hip hop to become the international phenomenon it became. This is a legendary figure.

At one point Rakim paused to ask the audience to raise a finger in the air if they had lost a member of their family to violence. It seemed like every arm in the house was raised. He acknowledged all the people who brought their little kids to the event and said that's how we should be organizing all our events, so the kids can be a part. Rakim comes from the school of the roots of true hip hop.

We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for the extraordinary support of all of the performers and participants: Flint City Schools and Marty Embry of Athletics and Compliance for their instrumental support and participation, a huge thanks to Tom Glasscock of the Flint Symphony Orchestra for going out of the way to be a part of this event, Fred Jackson and George Finch, Northern High School Football coaches, Ken Muludrew, Northern High School Band Director, Michael Kelly of Mott Community College, Dillon Thorne of U of M Flint Club Sports, DJ Adam Liske, Jessica Back, Choreographer Jenee Price and the Praise Dancers, performers Amanda Shaw, artist Rebekkah Mikkelson, and the many dancers and performers whose participation in this event is making the city come alive. We continue to be blown away by the great civic culture of this place.

Deep thanks to Joel Rash of Local 432 and Red Ink Flint for his ongoing support and partnership, the Greater Flint Arts Council for their invaluable partnership and hosting of our participation in the ArtWalk, Desiree Duell and Eric Hinds for their countless tireless hours of work, Dan Osika for his continued assistance and support, Jon Cockeril for technical assistance, Erik Lawshe and the Farbman Group for permission to use the Carriage Factory, Keith Warner and the Arrowhead Vets Club for their kindness as hosts, Ken van Wagoner at Good Beans Café for his everlasting support for community events, Gerard Burnash and Chris Everson of the Downtown Development Authority for their essential assistance, Michael Kelly and Mott Community College for their essential help with logistics, and Genesee Regional Young Professionals, Flint Businesses After 5 Club, Bring Two To Flint, Buckham Gallery, and the City of Flint.