Reunion concert to honor Flint music scene pioneer

Ed Davis, The Flint Journal, Fri, December 24, 2010

Churchill's Food & Spirits in downtown Flint.

When Doug Earp opened Wyatt Earp Records in 1981 in Flint Township, he couldn’t have known the impact he and his store would have on the Flint music scene.Six years after Earp’s untimely death in 2004, Al Steele, Earp’s friend and business partner, is readying what will be the final Earpfest to celebrate Doug Earp’s life and legacy.

“I’m all for a yearly get-together of all the kids who grew up together and formed bands because of Doug,” Steele says, “but it’s time to look forward, so this is the last Earpfest.”

Steele says he started Earpfest to memorialize Earp in the best way possible: “Local bands getting together, some for the first time in years, to play the music and honor Doug.”

Steele said he wasn’t sure he wanted to do another Earpfest, and decided to issue a challenge on his Facebook page that if one of three bands would reunite, he would put on another Earpfest. Flint punk band Political Silence was one of those bands, and the only one to rise to the challenge.

Political Silence was active on the Flint music scene between 1985 and 1988, playing venues like Prospect Hall, the Ukrainian Hall and the Capitol Theatre. Steele put them on the list because “I hadn’t seen them play since the ’80s and they were the band that got me into the Flint music scene.”

Steele says he was surprised and excited to get a call from Ivan After5, the original bassist for Political Silence, who didn’t want to participate in a reunion, but gave his blessing to the other members to carry on and do a good show.

The other members include vocalist/guitarist John Mueller, guitarist (and brother) Gary Mueller and drummer Jeff Mintline. Filling in for Ivan After5 is bassist (and brother) Doug Mueller. According to John Mueller, this is the first time all three Mueller brothers have been in a band since 1983, when they were all briefly in Generic Society. John also adds that Doug hasn’t played his bass in 27 years, but the practices are all coming together.

“I didn’t want to do a half-baked show,” John says. “If we were going to do a reunion, with Ivan’s blessing, we had to really be able to do it right.”

The band has been practicing since mid-July and John is happy to report that it’s coming together really well.”

Political Silence played many of the same shows and stages as other Flint bands like hardcore punk legends Dissonance and the thrash-metal pioneers Repulsion.

Honoring Doug Earp and his impact on the Flint music scene is really why Political Silence decided to reunite.

“Doug was always supportive of Flint music,” John says. “If we had a show poster to hang, Doug would always let us put it up at Wyatt Earp. He bankrolled a lot of the hall shows and would always put local music cassettes out on the counter. In 1984, our Generic Society retrospective tape even outsold Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ for a week at Wyatt Earp.”

What Al Steele is most pleased about with the success of Earpfest is that he knows that Doug would be happy about the events.

“Doug always put music first and he was always willing to support the local music scene,” Steele says.