Guest Blog: Everything I Need to Know About America I Learned from Bret Michaels

Saturday night was yet another fine example of the wild weather that has rocked the American Midwest this summer. Greeted in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak by uprooted trees and failed traffic lights, it appeared unlikely that any festival would be taking place.

Fortunately Bret Michaels, a survivor of reality television and a brain aneurysm, is not afraid of thunder and lightning. The recent stage collapse tragedies in Belgium and Indiana were at the front of the minds of the audience and festival organizers. A cloud of uncertainty lingered over the anxious bandana-clad audience as time passed.

As we stood under our leaky umbrellas in the sideways rain I had to question whether or not it was worth risking pneumonia to see that guy who sang “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (my Poison repertoire admittedly limited to what I’d been exposed to at some eighties theme parties as an undergrad). I may have even sarcastically commented that if I were to die after being struck by lightning at a Bret Michaels show in Michigan, I must have done something really, really bad.

Then the hero emerged with a reminder that “Bret Michaels plays rock music for the people.” I had to laugh, but at the same time had to smile and acknowledge there was something admirable going on.

You see, the whole thing speaks to an enduring American spirit. We like to look smugly down on the Americans for so many things these days. Corrupt investment bankers, political paralysis, plummeting house prices, lax gun laws, quantitative easing and watery beer. (With all the rain it was particularly watery that night.)

Yet in defiance of high unemployment and their presumed state of hopelessness and despair, a tattooed and beard-braided bunch of hardy souls endured rain, wind and lightning to see their hero perform. Fortunately the lawyers must have sought shelter because a foreshortened show did go on under a natural pyrotechnical display, perhaps to prevent a riot, but more likely because the band had come to rock Royal Oak.

The MC made sure the message wasn’t lost on the crowd. Bret Michaels would risk electrocution to perform for the people. God apparently smiled upon the 5 song set, and the crowd left happy, soaked inside and out. America – every thorn has its rose.

For some pictures of the event, go here.

–Julia Wallace

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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