Mark Barber of Flint is one “shoprat” whose loyalty to the club was forged before the Zink brothers ever opened their doors. A mechanical contractor by trade, the 48-year-old helped Kevin and Craig get some of the Shop’s mechanical equipment up and running, and he’s been coming back for shows ever since. Mark says it’s all about the “vibe” and “energy” The Machine Shop puts out, adding, “From 1985 to 1996, I was part of the Los Angeles Sunset Strip scene and it was a really wild and happening time. Going to The Machine Shop and seeing the crowd jumping all over the place gives me that same feeling. It gets me excited about having a similar music scene right here in Flint!”
Soon after opening, The Machine Shop quickly established itself as a premiere stage for Flint’s wide variety of local bands. It’s unique hot rod and tattoo décor is an accurate representation of Flint’s indy-rock culture that blends punk, metal, rockabilly and even outlaw country. It wasn’t long before national acts such as Sponge, Mushroomhead and Monster Magnet took notice of this unique Flint club and began to grace its stage. This, Kevin Zink says, marks the beginning of The Machine Shop’s evolution into what it is today. “Our success has nothing to do with the building,” he explained. “It’s the enthusiasm of everyone who comes here and supports the bands. When something’s real, people feel it.” The Machine Shop continues to be a regular stop for many national acts touring ‘the Mitten.’
The Machine Shop’s continuing popularity amongst national bands is no surprise to Dusty Brill, who works as the club’s head of security and anywhere else he’s needed. “It’s hard being an opening act out on tour,” Dusty said. “There are many nights when young, up-and-coming bands don’t get paid enough to eat.” He explained how the Zink brothers make every band feel at home, often allowing the travelling musicians to stay at their homes, and always making sure they get fed. “It might seem like a small gesture,” Dusty added, “but it means the world to these bands.” Dusty would know about life on the road. Besides drumming for local band Ironsnake, he spent a year on tour as the drummer for Good Charlotte, best known for their hits “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Little Things.”
Everyone at the Shop is gearing up for an upcoming gig featuring national recording act, Buckcherry. While Kevin, Craig and the rest of The Machine Shop staff are looking forward to another night of standing-room-only rock ’n roll awesomeness, regular Mark Barber says he’s excited to see the band’s singer, Josh Todd, return to Flint. “We saw him here when he was with his solo band,” Mark said, “and admittedly, we were skeptical about how it would all sound. Halfway through the first song, he silenced all our doubts and put on a great show.” On October 7, Josh Todd and Buckcherry return to The Machine Shop to put on a show that Mark is certain will be “nothing short of amazing!”
From Grand Funk Railroad and Bob Seger to The Who’s Keith Moon driving a Rolls Royce into a hotel swimming pool, Flint has played a significant role in Michigan’s long and storied rock ’n roll tradition. Today, new generations of Genesee County musicians are working hard to place their names beside those greats who came before and continue to inspire. Thanks to The Machine Shop Concert Lounge, these aspiring Flinttown rockstars have a place to hone their craft and share the stage with some of the biggest performers of the day. In this and many other ways, the little music club on South Dort Highway will continue to be a significant part of Flint’s rock ’n roll future.
Photography by Mike Naddeo