Last night, at around 9pm, I found myself taking the quick fifteen minute trip from Houghton to Calumet. Chris Bathgate’s “Salt Year”, a pack of maverick 100s, and the abandoned mining buildings kept my company. I was on my way to meet with Dr. Rob Gorski from New York, who recently purchased a 90-acre island off the coast of the Keweenaw, and a sense of worry washed over me. I think native yoopers always get worried when someone from the city decides to start meddling with their turf. But, he wanted to grab a beer at Schute’s. At least he has good taste, right?
I’m only five steps into the building and I catch eyes with a man and woman at the bar.
The next two hours seemed to go down faster than the beers in our hands as I listened to Rob talk about Rabbit Island, its geography, everything it took to get him here, his fascination with subdivision and the island’s complete lack of it, and his vision for the islands future. It didn’t take long for my northerner instincts to realize Rob has them too, and that, ultimately, we all want the best for the Keweenaw.
So what is Rob doing? Well, right now, at this moment as I type, he’s out on the island looking, planning, deciding. He intends to have anything that is built done so in a way that it can be undone without scarring the land in a day. Preservation rings loudly through the island’s beautiful and inspiring waves, forests, and wildlife, and Rob wants to harness all of those things to create a space for artists to go and experience the raw beauty of undivided, uninhabited, and (near entirely) undeveloped land.
So why do we care? Because it’s awesome. Rob has his head in the right place, and he’s doing something that could really help drive and inspire local creation. If everything goes according to plan, I will be heading out to the island a couple of times during the next few weeks shooting video of their construction process, Rob talking about the island, and hopefully even musicians performing out there.
-Steven Michael Holmes, www.mostlymidwest.com
**Update: Steven did end up making it out to the island along with several musicians who had just played Graham Parson's Farm Block Festival. The spontaneous quintet of guitar, fiddle, voice and percussion recorded a few tracks and some videos a la Vincent Moon on the rocks beside the lake as the sun got low. (Some photos: * * * * *) I can’t wait to see the video spots after Steven edits them and there is a 100% chance one of the audio recordings will be on the Rabbit Island Mixtape which is due out in the next few weeks featuring what else: northern Michigan music.