Blues battle - Detroit man's concerts could be shut down

The city of Detroit has some folks singing the blues.

John's Carpet House on the east side puts on weekly concerts during the summer time. But officials say the large crowds aren't in tune with city code.

"Thornetta Davis you name 'em, Jackie Wilson's son and daughter have been out here," said Albert "Big Pete" Barrow. "Matter of fact, the daughter use to sing with her group right here."

Good music, big names and a huge following.

"Well if I have to average, I'd probably say maybe 400, maybe 500," Barrow said.

Albert 'Big Pete' Barrow says those things have come to sum up the blues jam sessions he and a friend started here at the corner of Frederick and St Aubin - which has been a staple on Detroit's east side for roughly 20 years."

"He has had people on buses come here," said Cynthia Davis, a regular. "We come out here and enjoy ourselves. It's no violence, it's one of the few places in detroit right now that doesn't have any violence for hours at a time on Sunday." 

But Barrow's back and forth with the city of Detroit has him singing the blues.

"There's no reason for the city to do what they're doing to us," he said. 

The city has ticketed him several times for a range of violations from excessive noise to not having a license for his amplifiers and speakers.

Barrow's jam sessions are set to start May 3, but the city is on the verge of shutting it down.

"I  think they feel uncomfortable because here's a person doing something that's free to the public, and there's no problem," Barrow said. 

The city of Detroit says there are several - at times Barrow barricades the streets without permits for road closures and does not have the right generators or enough porta johns.

Alexis Wiley, Mayor Mike Duggan's chief of staff says she's sure the jam sessions are "awesome," but Barrow has to follow the rules. She said that means getting the permits and licenses needed for events of this magnitude.

"Let me say this here," Barrow said. "We have port a potties, we have our own generator. We have everything the city wants us to have.

"We have our own generator, anything the city is asking for we have, but let me remind the city and all the audience: This is private property."

Barrow says he doesn't know how exactly much the licenses and permits would cost him, but this blues man is sure it would be a lot of green.

That's a tough pill to swallow considering the praise he's received from the city in years past.

"This is a certificate of appreciation from Detroit City Council," Barrow said. "Under Kwame Kilpatrick's administration, Joann Watson wrote a resolution saying we should be allowed to have this every year."

The mayor's office said Barrow's jam sessions have been unsanctioned and unregulated for years, but it is willing to work with him to get him in compliance.

Barrow is still formulating his next move, one which could be to raise money to pay for the permits.
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