fullfreight banjo benefit raises $3k for ypsi’s freighthouse

According to Ed Penet, last night’s Fullfreight banjo benefit for the Freighthouse raised $3030.53. It was an incredible event and Caleb Brokaw, the Flavor Flav of the band Black Jake and the Carnies, deserves a great deal of credit for dreaming it up and pulling it off. It makes me incredibly happy to see people here in our community, like Caleb, stepping up, getting involved, and creatively applying their skills to move this worthwhile project forward… And who knows what’s next… Maybe someone else, encouraged by Caleb’s example, will organize a bake sale for the Freighthouse, or start volunteering to work on grant applications. I don’t mean to downplay the significance of Caleb’s idea when I say this, but it was pretty simple idea. He knew he could rent the Brewery, and he knew that he could get his friends in bands to come out and pluck their banjos for a good cause. He didn’t know how much money might be raised, but thought that it would be worth the effort regardless. He set the wheels in motion, and, as everyone who was there knows, the results were pretty amazing. Just look how packed the place got.

So, here’s to you, Caleb. If Ypsi had another 99 like you, we’d have our damn Freighthouse.

Oh, I should also add that the Freighthouse volunteers did a great job shaking people down for cash, talking about the Freighthouse, and explaining what needed to be done. We owe them a great deal of thanks, as well as the members of all the bands that played. Thank you all for a job well done!

[The above image comes courtesy of John on Forrest. The rest of his photos can be found here. I was going to post Caleb’s photo, but then I thought that he might not like the attention…. Caleb, if you would like the attention, just let me know, and I’ll put this shot up on the front page.]

update: Caleb left a good note in the comments section last night. You should read it. Here’s a clip:

…I know we live in a passionate town with various competing visions, but, so many folk care about this place that I’m beginning to believe you could have a “piss in a pumpkin contest” (TM) and deplete the region’s gourds. Be forewarned, if no one else steps forward, it’ll be “Fullfreight Fiddle” next, followed by mandolin, harmonica, harpsicord, jug, saw, spoons, self mutilation, trombone, autoharp and so on, all the way down the evolutionary music chain to ukulele.

It was a very nice night in Ypsi. No more so for anyone than the band of organizers (cheap plug). We got to hear music we love, were given a free beer from the CB, helped a cause close to home, and stumbled home smiling widely. Like EgP said, thanks where thanks is due, to Ypsilanti.

I couldn’t of planned a better weekend if I’d planned it. Thanks Ypsi…

OK, so who’s up for a “piss in a pumpkin” (TM) contest?

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12 Comments

  1. Posted April 7, 2008 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Caleb seems like the low-key type to me.

  2. Posted April 7, 2008 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    According to that crowd picture, there are at least 99 more like Caleb. …maybe not quite as enthusiastic, I suppose.

  3. egpenet
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    Glad I stayed up to be #2, anyway, to thank Caleb and Black Jake & The Carnies … and all the local musicians and their guests for a rolliking evening.

    You know, after a couple hours into this, for me, it wasn’t the money. So many people kept pouring in, popping in fives, tens and twenties … but they were have such a fabulous time. As I intro’d the Carnie’s … all I could say was “Thankyou Ypsilanti!”

    Mark’s points are well said … and later this evening (Sunday) I was getting carryout at Cafe Luwak, who is contributing 15% of his sales this weekend to the FOYF … and he said the same thing as Mark … all it takes in Ypsi is an idea and one or two people to make it happen. Time and time again, that is proven true.

    BTW, the Luwak coupons are good for a limited period, so get into Depot Town and have a wonderful meal or a treat or a coffee, and know that 15% will go to the FOYF.

    I told Mark I’d keep the site informed about any grant successes (and failures) and also about how any monies are spent on all of the big and little things that need doing.

    The FOYF site is up, but NOT yet fully functional … foyf.org

    We’ll be adding a PayPal, but more importantly we’ll post our priority projects, budgets and planned expenditures as we go, so it will alll be transparent.

    FYI … the new Board has gone back and reconciled all bank statements and other transactions to the penny!

    We have our fingers crossed on the General Mills/Hamburger Helper Grant and a State Grant. And we have had great support from Dingell’s office on available Federal grants and other funding. Private/Corporate giving is also a target … and we are working with members of the MYC Railroad Club and other associated corporate funders.

    Any questions, contact me via this thread, via Mark, or via email: egpenet@comcast.net
    … don’t hesitate. I’ll try and be as clear as I can … or I’ll find out.

    Thank you again Ypsilanti! We had a great time!

    Thanks, Caleb!

  4. Kaylub
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    It is to my great shame that I admit that if I’d had the foresight to book 99 banjos instead of 9, the Freighthouse would be open tomorrow.

    The event took a little time and noodling, sure, but we’ve played enough shows to know the crowd had far less to do with the performers (fabulous folks, who deserve extended thanks, among others, Bob Lucas who came with family has played the Grand Ole Opry and written songs for Alison Krauss … geez they were among the many good) than the love of the community and Freighthouse.

    Seeing folks past eighty enjoying something with folks under two and all ages in between made it almost like the Freighthouse was open again … I know, I shouldn’t be living in the past … I gush, but I do, very much, love this town.

    Speaking of community, Community Records provided, from my view, the most generous service in sound and effort. The benefits would be far less if we’d hired out what they gave in kind. If you don’t know what else they offer for us and ours, please click above.

    I’m personally overwhelmed by the $3,000. I know it’s a drop in the FOYF bucket, but typically, for me, I’d set my expectations low and hoped for $500.

    The whole thing was pretty simple. At some point, the band was like, “We should do an all banjo show … it should be a benefit … then, in relative unison … for the Freighthouse.” After that, it took some e-mailing and such, but was relatively easy to pull together. This is all to say, if the banjo can, so can just about anything. Yes, I’m throwing down the gauntlet to quilters…

    I know we live in a passionate town with various competing visions, but, so many folk care about this place that I’m beginning to believe you could have a “piss in a pumpkin contest” (TM) and deplete the region’s gourds. Be forewarned, if no one else steps forward, it’ll be “Fullfreight Fiddle” next, followed by mandolin, harmonica, harpsicord, jug, saw, spoons, self mutilation, trombone, autoharp and so on, all the way down the evolutionary music chain to ukulele.

    It was a very nice night in Ypsi. No more so for anyone than the band of organizers (cheap plug). We got to hear music we love, were given a free beer from the CB, helped a cause close to home, and stumbled home smiling widely. Like EgP said, thanks where thanks is due, to Ypsilanti.

    I couldn’t of planned a better weekend if I’d planned it. Thanks Ypsi.

    See you all at Sidetrack on May 13 for some glug and chug.

  5. Pete
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    I feel bad that I couldn’t make it but am very pleased to hear how successful the night was. I can see the momentum gaining traction, especially if we won the hamburger helper grant. I have a pretty good feeling that the sidetrack fundraiser will turn out well, I’ll be trying to make it there. Kudos to everyone who is arranging this stuff; I don’t have much disposable income but one way or another it’ll go to the freighthouse.

  6. Dim
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Are we supposed to fill the pumpkin, or are we going for distance?

  7. General Zod
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    First to put out the candle inside wins. The pumpkins will be placed 3 feet away at eye level.

  8. egpenet
    Posted April 7, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Aim through the carved teeth.

  9. Bob Higgins
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Bob Jenkins was my bowling partner for better than 15 years. He lost three fingers in a sheet metal press but he had exquisite control with the remaining two: the thumb and pointer. After the accident they moved him up to foreman out at Willow Run.

    One day he called me up and asked for some advice. He was in charge of a new crew of a dozen “natives” from the British West Indies. They weren’t really natives but rather descendants of slaves that never made it to the mainland. These young men had worked on a boat bringing sugar cane up to the States. They were docked in Detroit when their boat was sold, and they were cut loose on the spot. Willow Run was retiring some tooling at the time and hired the whole crew to take it apart, paint it with tar so it didn’t rust, and lay it out in the field next to the factory.

    The crew worked hard out in the hot sun and Bob really made friends with them. He even learned to sing lead in some of their work songs. As the summer went on, he noticed that the men were losing their spark. They all lived in a little house way out on Geddes Road and weren’t mixing with the locals at all. They were homesick.

    When he called, I was running a summer psychology symposium attended by mostly German and Austrian academics. English wasn’t as widely spoken in Europe as it is now, so we brought over a team of translators all of whom were just-graduated young women from a language school in Germany. They were excited to be in the US and I felt bad that they had to work so much that they didn’t have the energy to even go out at night, let alone see some of the sights around Michigan.

    Bob and I decided that a little R&R was due for our respective visitors. Harvey Staebler (another ace bowler) opened up the freighthouse–which had been closed for a year or so–for us on a Sunday evening for our get-together. Andy McKenzie played the fiddle, my wife played the accordion, and Bob brought along a drum set that he no longer played due to the condition of his hand. And of course we each had our respective charges.

    At first the two groups didn’t mingle, but then one of the natives dismantled Bob’s drum set and passed out each piece to a different person to play with their hands. A few of the girls were game to play along and, after a few bottles of rum appeared out of nowhere, we had quite a party going. I’d never heard rhythms like the two guys on the bass drum and floor tom beat out; big heavy beats with Andy’s thin violin barely cutting through.

    The party was such a success that we did it again the next Sunday and three more after that. By then the once buttoned-up German girls could flail like possessed voodoo queens and the natives could dance jigs and waltzes.

    There was a rumor that one of the girls was pregnant when they headed back to Germany. I probably should’ve investigated, but I didn’t. The islanders finished the tooling work and were let go. Bob said they got on a boat based out of Novia Scotia and eventually settled there, bringing up family from the Carribean.

    I think that that was the last time anyone danced at the freighthouse before it was boarded up and became a furniture warehouse for a good many years.

  10. egpenet
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful story!

  11. Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Piss in a Pumpkin: You fellas are showing your male chauvinist tendencies. Is this contest only open to men, or do you have something in mind to accommodate the urinary tract anatomy of women?

  12. egpenet
    Posted April 8, 2008 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Third time is a charm … JOF …

    My idea is based on the old 1950’s expression … “Fill’er up” … while the guys go for accuracy … the gals can go for quantity.

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