About 7pm I pick up Jeff and head downtown. You can't beat free parking at Greektown Casino, which we utilized before walking to Foran's Grand Trunk at Congress and Woodward. On the way we saw a Ford Explorer with Lamborghini doors, which seemed excessive. We had a drink there and got some food (I had the Turkey Ruben and Jeff had the corned beef topped Foran's burger, both highly recommended by rad-aholic). The bar is housed inside what used to be the ticket office for the Grand Trunk Railway, thus the name.
Foran's Irish Pub was rad!
The bar is long and skinny with friendly bartenders with lots of tattoos and tons of Red Wings fans. The discussion got around to other bars in Detroit and The Town Pump came up. It was still about 30 minutes before Willie was to come on so we decided trek uptown a bit to Montcolm and Park to make a visit.
The Town Pump was not quite as historic as we thought ( it was established in 1996), but they pour a good drink. We stayed there for one and were able to ask the owner about the history of the building. He told us it used to house a bar and stage where so-called "smoker shows" (where women would perform raunchy songs and poetry filled with innuendos) were held back in the day. I think at one point he also said it used to be a laundromat. The floors above the bar used to be a bunch of hotel rooms but have been transformed into 1-bed apartments that are rented out to mainly service industry workers.
Willie was going on but we decided he would play well into the night and so we stopped at The Centaur across the street from The Town Pump... same owner. The Centaur is more of an upscale martini bar type lounge with a loft housing what looked like a VIP area. We sampled the Centaur martini (awesome).
The owner had told us about the history of this building as well. It used to house a vertically situated toothpaste factory that produced Iodent (the invention of a chemist from Ann Arbor). It also had a store front that sold tires, overalls and of course the main attraction, toothpaste. After that is housed a "ghetto" party store selling "loosy" cigarettes (singles). According to the owner it was bad for business and eventually he decided to turn the bottom floor into The Centaur about 3 years ago.
After our tour of the theatre district bars we headed back to Hart Plaza to try and catch what we thought would be the last half of Willie's set. Unfortunately, security at the Hoedown was tight and even though Willie was still on stage they were not letting anyone else in. Convinced we were going to get in anyway, Jeff and I canvassed the perimeter of the grounds looking for the slightest opening but were met with security at every turn. Eventually we made our way over towards the back of the stage where we could see and hear Willie playing his final few songs, "I saw the Light" being one of them. After the show, we were able to catch a glimpse of Willie's front as he walked off stage and down to sign autographs and board his mural-sided tour bus. People from all over Detroit had gathered in anticipation that maybe Willie would sign something of theirs. I saw an old record, cowboy hats and even a guitar. But to our dismay Willie did not make it to the back of the bus to acknowledge us. He was hustled on the bus by security that looked like they were escorting the president on to Air Force One.
Willie, on the road again, heading down the whiskey river, to his next show.
On our voyage we did see at least one familiar face. Crazy hippy guy from the Corktown celebration was there and this time he brought a friend, Crazy pants guy. They were both their in all their glory sporting the most pins and buttons on two human beings with bell-bottoms I have ever seen. To cap it off we did stop back at Foran's after Willie. All in all it was an eventful evening, as all of our Detroit Sunday's have been.