My eyes peer out from my pillows as the day's intentions begin to shine through the bedroom windows. We're in for an unexpectedly early dose of spring; a much needed reprieve from the frosty stranglehold that lingers in this town. The sunshine alone would be reason enough to celebrate, but today, it is just punctuation for the real festivities.

It's Parade Day. Detroit's St. Patrick's Day Parade. Her 51st. My first as a resident of the neighborhood.

Corktown. Detroit's oldest surviving neighborhood. It's a working class place - its roots still clearly visible - but it's also eclectic, entrepreneurial, and green in ways beyond the obvious theme of the day. In a few hours, its blocks will be brimming with life.

As our camera zips in from Chicago, we share a few pints and take in the spectacle. Butting up to remnants of old Tiger Stadium, we watch as five Deloreans (a most bizarre linkage between the Motor City and the Emerald Isle) make their way down the brick-paved stretch of Michigan Avenue.

The crew finally assembled, we march our personal parade down the sidewalk. The street is lined on both sides in a human barricade of green and orange. We stumble upon a clan of bagpipers and stand momentarily entranced by our private serenade.

We move along.

The old Michigan Central Depot looms over us. Unlike the old ballpark, its fate is not yet sealed. This architectural icon sits waiting. A developer? A dreamer? Or just the next batch of hipster spelunkers.

And we arrive.

We quickly wrestle the lads away from their annual gig at The Gaelic League and make a few strides towards a shuttered pawn shop. Guitar cases spring open, an accordion expands and banjo plucks trickle out. An instant air of authenticity floats over the beads, the painted faces and the beer goggles.

The Codgers, today a quartet, embody the character and creativity that makes Corktown unique. They are genuine, kind and substantive, and today, their songs a perfect antidote to the pseudo-regalia and bagpipe drone that surrounds us.

Winding their way through the streets of the neighborhood, the foursome, one after another, instruments in action, look like the Abbey Road album cover brought to life. We make a stop on Leverette, where a family - four generations of Irish ancestry - crowd on the wrap-around porch. After some playful banter, a request for "The Leaving of Liverpool" turns into a full-fledged sing-along and the highlight of the day.

"What an arbitrary parade day" Steve exclaims, and I couldn't agree more. At least in its most magical sense that is exactly what today was. Chance. Whim. Impulse. A neighborhood, a city, come to life.

A final cheers, a farewell, all the while knowing there's more to be had.

And, for that, we can all feel lucky.

- Andy Martin
From Irish immigrants in the 1840s to urban pioneers of the 21st century, this community has beckoned to the restless of spirit, the adventurous, and those who have sought to escape poverty and oppression to make a new life in America. While the city of Detroit has undergone tremendous change over the years, Corktown has never forgotten the solid working-class roots established by brave pioneers in the mid-19th century. Many of their shotgun homes are still occupied, and many commercial buildings have served the community for decades. Today the neighborhood is the scene of increasing residential and commercial development and has attracted attention throughout the region. No longer exclusively Irish, the community has also been important historically to the large German, Maltese, and Mexican populations of Detroit. Today it is a diverse and proud community of African Americans, Hispanics, working-class people of various national origins, and a growing population of young urban pioneers. It is still the sentimental heart of the Irish American community of metropolitan Detroit, and the Irish Plaza on Sixth Street honors the city's Irish pioneers and their 600,000 descendents living in the region.

- Taken from "Detroit's Corktown" by Armando Delicato & Julie Demery

Celebrating its 52nd year hosting the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, thousands of people align the streets of Corktown to commemorate the Irish and their lasting heritage. Last year, Single Barrel Detroit was lucky enough to capture some of the last remaining images of Tiger Stadium before major demolition began. Tiger Stadium (once Briggs Stadium and Navin Field before that) was located on the corner of Trumbull and Michigan Avenue since 1912. Though the stadium is no longer standing, its memory is preserved in the spirit of the community that still exists there today.
Power in a Union

[Download MP3]

The Boys of the Old Brigade

[Download MP3]

Star of the County Down/The Leaving of Liverpool

[Download MP3]

Dirty Old Town

[Download MP3]

South Australia

[Download MP3]