Last year, we reported
how John's Carpet House, the free, outdoor blues party that overtakes a string of lots on the north side of Frederick between St. Aubin and Dubois each week in good weather, was being harassed by the city. As we covered in an interview with organizer Albert "Big Pete" Barrow last year, city officials were putting the squeeze on the weekly festival of music, dance, and sunshine, in another example of the city's one-size-fits-all treatment of inventive, unconventional forms of entertainment. Detroit had been ticketing Barrow, sending police to his house, and attempting to shut the Carpet House down.
Barrow told us: "It's a harassment thing. We don't have any problems out there. We clean up behind ourselves. I cut the grass out there. I even cut the grass across the street. I wanna say it's the mayor. We got all the council on our side. We got police officers who come out there and jam with us. Same thing with the fire department. We were told that they were given their orders, and those orders come all the way from [Police Chief James] Craig and the mayor. Every other week they've been sending me tickets in the mail. They said that I didn't have a vendor's permit; I'm not selling any food out there. They said I didn't have an event permit; I'm not having an event — I'm just having something in my own back yard. [It] just so happens I have a big back yard! And then they said something about a noise level; if you look in the area, there ain't nothing over there."
As recently as a month ago, though, Barrow and Carpet House supporters were celebrating a victory
. A posting on the Facebook page read: "On 3-3-2015 we were approved by city counsel to continue with our free summer jam, the only one with reservation was counsel man Tate, hope to see everyone this summer, Big Pete."
That joy has quickly faded as the city seems to have gone back on its word. On the Carpet House Facebook page, Barrow posted:
On april 1st 2015. we were ordered by the courts to pay a $550 fine for excessive noise, when there are only two houses in a four blk. area, not to mention the other tickets given to us. All of the tickets were illegal, for having a free jam session on our own property, The city admitted that they had nothing to cover what we do on pvt. property, but yet the police and licensing dept, issued us these tickets. … We intend to fight this in court, but we need your help … We have been having this free event for the past 20yrs. problems free, and cater to our seniors, and all blues lover.
The posting encouraged people to donate to the defense of the venue at www.johnscarpethouse.com
. We second the motion. And we'll be watching John's Carpet House, and the city, very carefully.