Thursday, September 22, 2011

2nd Annual Weko Beach Brewers Festival


Are you ready to TOAST THE COAST?  It’s no secret that Michigan is home to great breweries and picturesque beaches.  Combining the best of both worlds, the Bridgman Area Economic Growth Alliance invites you to a relaxing fall day on a pristine beach to savor award-winning Michigan craft beers that are as spectacular as its harvest sunsets.  Live music will enhance the scene as you raise your beer mug and ‘toast the coast’ on Saturday, October 1st from 3 pm to 9 pm, under a Big-Top Tent overlooking beautiful Weko Beach in Bridgman, just over an hour outside outside Chicago!   

The Weko Beach Brewers Festival is a showcase event to sample (tastes or by the mug) over 30 wonderful locally-produced craft beers from Southwest Michigan.  Wrap this into a day filled with sun and sand, tasty cuisine from local restaurants, live music, a dazzling sunset and you have one fantastic fall festival! 


BREWERIES
Michigan’s craft brewery scene is booming!  Contrary to the state’s high unemployment rate, breweries, microbreweries and brew pubs from Southwest Michigan to Detroit to Bellaire and Bay City are adding jobs, increasing production and investing in expansions and renovations totaling more than $70 million (according to the Michigan Brewers Guild).  Many breweries are returning, and some new, for this year’s Brewer’s Fest, including: Arbor, Arcadia, Atwater, Bells, Founders, Greenbush, The Livery, New Holland, North Peak, Odd Side, Old Hat, Round Barn and Shorts. 

MUSIC
The all-day music at Brewer’s Fest is a crowd-pleaser for sure.  This year’s bands include: Mr. Blotto (7 pm), Top Secret Band (4:45 pm) and Alligator Blackbird (3 pm). 

ADMISSION
Admission to the festival is $20 in advance or $25 at the door and includes a souvenir beer mug.  Advance tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com. *Ages 13-20 get in for $10 (no drink tickets included) while kids ages 12 and under are FREE.

PARKING / DIRECTIONS
Parking and shuttle buses will be available at designated nearby lots in Bridgman.  No coolers allowed.  Rain or shine event. 

**Weko Beach is located at Exit 16 off I-94, then north on Red Arrow Highway.  Look for parking signage along Red Arrow in Bridgman.  The event is only a short hour and 30 minute drive from Chicago or Grand Rapids, just an hour from South Bend or Kalamazoo and three hours from Detroit or Indianapolis.  Southwest Michigan is the perfect ‘day trip’ destination from many Midwest cities or extend your stay, make a family vacation out of it and check out at the many vacation rentals, hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts in the area.

CONTACT INFO
For information on participating breweries, check the websitewekobeachbrewersfest.com or call 269.925.6301 or email inquiries tojody@trafficpr.net.
Images taken from the Weko Beach Brewers Festival Facebook page.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bell's Brewery

Do me a favor and before you read this article, go outside to the closest place where there’s more than three strangers hanging out. Ask them if any of them have heard of Bell’s Beer. Come back into your house (or your office, or wherever you’re reading this) and report how many strangers have heard of Bell’s beer.

Or just imagine you’re doing that, and make up a fake comment: this is the internet, and I won’t judge you.

As you probably just found out, pretended you found out, or already knew because you’re an epic genius, pretty much everyone in Michigan knows what Bell’s Beer is. It should come as no surprise that their Two Hearted IPA is the best selling (and top rated) American style IPA brewed in Michigan. It should not be shocking that Oberon performs the same feats in the American Pale Wheat category. Bell’s is a big deal. It is not an exaggeration to claim that they started the Michigan craft beer market.

Larry Bell started the Kalamazoo Brewing Company in 1983 as a home brew supply shop. Two years later, armed with a 15 gallon soup kettle, Bell’s Brewery, Inc began selling its own beer. In 1986, Bell sold a scant 135 barrels of beer, all of which Bell and his staff hand bottled and delivered to market. The tiny company fought significant headwinds against the bloated macro market, carving out a niche for local craft beer the benefits of which everyone – from smaller brewers to startups to beer drinkers – enjoys today.

Fast forward to 2003: the capacity at the Bell’s brewing facility (now known as the Eccentric Café) had been outgrown. Bells built a new brewery in Comstock, on 40 acres of land that would allow for plenty of future expansion. Since then, the enthusiastic drinkers of Bells beer have required that the brewery expand its brewing capacity three times – and they are currently working on their fourth major expansion in under a decade. Twenty percent annual growth will do that to a company. If you’re interested in a more in depth history of Bell’s, check out their web site and the wiki page; both have some good information. I'll just end by saying they brewed 180,000 barrels of beer in 2010, with no intentions of slowing down.

And now it is a large place.


Laura Bell, marketing director for Bell’s brewing, was gracious enough to take the Michigan Beer Blog on a tour of their primary (and relatively private) brewing facility located in Comstock. The sleepy little business park is home to where almost every single Bell’s beer you drink is born.

This brewery is no joke. You wonder what the difference is between a small batch brewer operating with the capacity of a home brew setup and the largest brewer in the state? In terms of sheer output, Bell’s has more in common with a macro facility like Miller than it does with some of its local Michigan contemporaries, with an enormous kettle, lauter tun, and mash tun, their stainless steel spotlessly polished and gleaming in the natural sunlight.








They have what seems like acres of fermenters. Pictured above is their older 200 bbl fermenters, which make me look like a tiny person. Below, take a look at the massive farm of 400 bbl fermenters, stretching down an enormous facility that continues to grow as Bell’s beer continues to gain in popularity. You helped create this, fellow craft beer enthusiast, and you sustain it every time you order a Bell's beer.




And just to tease you a bit: here is a picture of the last of Bell’s Black Note beer, a rare and heady mixture of their Double Cream stout and their Expedition stout. Side note: Bell’s eschews the philosophy of having “beer release days.” You will not see the equivalent of a Dark Lord day for Bell’s, nor will you see a release party for the Black Note like you may for Kentucky Breakfast Stout or other highly sought after beers. Bell’s philosophy differs, and they want you to be surprised on that fortunate weekend when you walk into your favorite beer cellar and find a surprise waiting for you on the shelf.

(Yes, I realize that there are dozens of release parties for Oberon every spring. Slightly different situation.)

Continuing on the tour, in case you have not grasped the scope of the brewery, let me remind you that the pictures shown thus far have been only of the brewing room and the fermenting room. We have several huge rooms to go. Take a look at their bottling system, which looks like it’s right out of the opening sequence of Laverne and Shirley. The bottling system can clean, fill, label, and package 11 cases per minute of beer. Take a look at them filling orders for Bell’s Octoberfest:


 Additionally, Bell’s runs a bit of a hobby by offering mini kegs. These are not a large part of their business, but rather something they just, as Laura says, “like to do. For fun.”


Finally, Laura showed us the storage facility. Typically I don’t really spend a lot of time on the “giant room we store beer for the short amount of time it takes the distributor to pick it up,” but I want to point out one of the really cool things Bell’s does both for the environment and for its employees. See those lights up there?  The bright ones in the picture below? That is natural light. Bell’s invested in a mylar light system, which is essentially a highly efficient and powerful skylight system that allows the sun to be reflected and harnessed to act as a lighting system for buildings. Laura said these work even on cloudy days. And while there is an existing fluorescent lighting system in place as a backup, even that system functions on a specialized computer system that reads how much natural light is available and adjusts the other lights accordingly. It’s quite a setup, and as someone with a history of Seasonally Affective Disorder in my family, it’s heartening to see companies offering natural light to their employees.

Additionally, Bell’s makes many efforts to pump money back into the Michigan economy. While I don’t have figures on how much Bell’s adds to the state or city economy, I do know they employ nearly150 people with the intention of more than doubling that figure in the coming years as their newest expansion comes online. Bell’s is a regular sponsor in many, many events, from amateur sports teams to dozens of beer dinners statewide to the March of Dimes and the Children’s Leukemia Foundation. So, in case you needed another reason besides the delicious taste of their beer, feel safe knowing that Bell’s is a responsible member of the Michigan community.

There's a reason why one of the oldest breweries in Michigan is also one of the most successful. Bell's serves as a great example (and target!) for many aspiring entrepreneurs in Michigan, from established an growing brewers to home brewers with a dream. Thanks to Larry Bell for helping to create and shape the Michigan craft beer market we all enjoy, and to Laura Bell for providing the tour. 




Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nicie Spicie Beer Bread

This beer bread recipe is extreme extremely easy.  In fact, you probably already have most of the ingredients on hand.  The best part is that there's absolutely no rising time required.  You just mix up all of the ingredients and then bake it.  That's it!


No Nicie Spicie on hand?  Feel free to play around with any other beers you may have in the refrigerator.  This recipe will work with just about anything you might have.

What you'll need...

2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon chili powder (next time I think I'll add a little more)
12 ounces Short's Nicie Spicie
1/4 cup olive oil



Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. You'll need to lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch bread pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the bread flour, whole wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, and chili powder.  In a small bowl, whisk together the beer and olive oil.  Using the paddle attachment, stir on low speed and slowly pour in the beer/oil mixture.


Once combined, remove from bowl and knead with your hands until well incorporated. The dough should be somewhat sticky, not too dry. If it is too dry, consider adding a bit of water -- 1 tablespoon at a time. If it's too wet, add a bit of flour. You want an elastic ball.  Put dough into bread pan and flatten just a bit to fill the pan.


Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.


Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then turn over onto a wire rack. 

Goes great with Bell's Octoberfest Soup!



*Inspiration for this recipe provided by (never home)maker.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bell's Octoberfest Soup


Just two words — Ozapft is!, meaning simply, “It’s tapped!” Once spoken, the world’s most famous beer bash, the Oktoberfest, can begin.  This year, the beginning of that epic German tradition will begin on September 17, and there are many different reasons to celebrate. Some people simply appreciate the rich and storied traditions of this 177-year-old affair.  Some use it as an excuse to dress up in their finest traditional Bavarian clothing while singing Ein Prosit at the top of their lungs or competing in a friendly liter stein holding competition.  Others (most) use it as an excuse to get ragingly drunk in public and blame it on the festival, as if lederhosen grants some sort of immunity against alcoholism.

For the majority of us that celebrate the latter, fear not.  With this recipe, you can have a delicious meal while still sneaking a little beer in there.  Even though it's still over a week away, Oktoberfest beers have been lining the store shelves for weeks (the beer community are a very progressive people), so you can get a head start on the Oktoberfest festivities right away!


For this recipe, you will need:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1 ½ pounds sausage*
2 medium onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 large), peeled, quartered lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound potatoes, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 12 ounce bottles of Bell's Octoberfest
2 15 ounce cans of chicken broth
2 15 ounce cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach
*I used 4 fresh bratwursts – 2 habanero flavored and 2 serrano cheddar flavored from a local butcher.  Any type of sausage/bratwurst/kielbasa/chorizo will work here. I just like something spicy because it plays so well off of the sweet potatoes.

Cut sausage crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook until brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels to drain.

If there is a lot of oil in the pan, you can drain some off, otherwise leave the oil in the pan.  Add onions and garlic to pot and cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.


Add all potatoes and cook until beginning to soften, stirring often, about 12 minutes.


Add beer and broth; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.


Using potato masher, mash some of potatoes in pot. Add browned sausage and drained beans to soup. Stir in spinach and simmer just until wilted, about 5 minutes.


Season with salt and pepper. Divide among bowls and serve.

Goes great with Nicie Spicie Beer Bread!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Weekend Beer Events - September 8-11

The fall beer festival season is officially upon us, and it all starts this weekend with the UP Fall Beer Festival.  If you don't have your tickets yet, there is still time to purchase them.  This is a great opportunity to sample 164 different beers in beautiful Marquette, MI, so don't miss out!


If you aren't going to the festival this Saturday, you may want to head to Bell's, because they have not one or two, but seven events going on at their Eccentric Cafe downtown and at their production facility.  If that still doesn't tickle your fancy, here are some other great events going on:

Thursday, September 8:
ABC Brewpub Beer Tasting: Best of Michigan
Time: 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: $25 in advance and $30 on tasting day
Venue: Arbor Brewing Co.
Address: 114 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor
Details: "Come and join our celebration of Michigan’s awesome beer scene. We’ll select 25-30 of our favorite Michigan brews, pair them with an appetizer buffet, provide style and tasting notes, and top off the night with a door prize drawing. Advance tickets recommended as tastings often sell out in advance. Call 734-213-1393 to order tickets over the phone."

Brew For The River -- Blue Tractor
Time: 4:00 pm
Cost: Proceeds will benefit the Huron River Watershed Council
Venue: Grizzly Peak
Address: 205 E. Washington, Ann Arbor
Details: "The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) and five of Michigan’s most famous microbreweries will celebrate the Huron River with special public events on Thursdays, August 11 through September 8, 2011. Wolverine (8/11), Jolly Pumpkin (8/18), Grizzly Peak (8/25), Arbor Brewing (9/1) and Blue Tractor (9/8) will participate. Each brewer has something special planned for their night and will donate a portion of their proceeds to HRWC. Attend all five events for a chance to win 10 months of beer or a priority spot for Jolly Pumpkin’s limited beer releases. Winners will be announced at Blue Tractor on September 8 and must be present to win. Visit http://www.hrwc.org/events/brew-for-the-river/, or contact Margaret Smith at HRWC, msmith@hrwc.org, (734) 769-5123 ext 605 to learn more, including how to get a Brews for the River passport to win prizes.

Beer is around 90 percent water, and it takes good quality water to brew good beer. Here in Ann Arbor brewers get their water from the Huron River, the cleanest in Southeast Michigan. HRWC works to protect our source of safe, clean water every day. Everyone is invited to raise their glass to support water quality, water conservation, and HRWC’s good work for the river since 1965.

Blue Tractor -- http://www.bluetractor.net/. Brewer Tim Schmidt will be brewing a Huron River Celebration brew that will be a small batch beer specifically for our event. 50% of the proceeds of that beer will go to HRWC along with 10% of all growler and Mug Club Membership sales."


Friday, September 9:

Hopps of Fun Beer & Wine Festival
Time: 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm 
Venue:  Mackinaw Crossings
Address: 248 South Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI
Details: "On September 9th & 10th, 2011 Mackinaw Crossings will host “Historic Depot Happy Hour Hopps of Fun".  This unique event will feature as extensive sampling of 50+ award winning Michigan micro brewed beers and over 40 wines from Michigan’s four internationally recognized wine regions. Plenty of food, wine, beer, entertainment and fun!"

Founders Tasting Featuring Canadian Breakfast Stout
Time:  6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
Cost: $15 - One Night Only Special Pricing on All Founder’s Beers with Ticket Purchase!
Venue: Plum Market
Address:  Plum Market at Orchard Lake and Maple Rd (15 Mile) in West Bloomfield
Details: "Plum Market is holding a full line Founders tasting featuring Breakfast Stout in their wine bar/café in the front of the store.  All current Founders items will be available for sampling and purchase both to drink on premise or to take home.  Beau Loncharte will be in town from the brewery with giveaways and all the knowledge you could want about Founders beers. Get details on the next highly anticipated, limited release…Canadian Breakfast Stout!  Coming soon in 750ml bottles!"

Bell’s beer tasting at The Den in Kalamazoo
Time: 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm 
Venue:  The Den
Address:  2917 Howard Street, Kalamazoo
Details: "Join Bell’s Brewery at The Den in Kalamazoo!  They will be pouring Two Hearted Ale, Porter, Oarsman Ale and Octoberfest Beer."

Bell’s Tap Take Over in Marquette

Time: 4:00 pm to 2:00 am 
Cost: No cover
Venue: Upfront & Company
Address: 102 E. Main St., Marquette, MI
Details: "Join Bell’s Brewery at Upfront & Company in Marquette for a complete bar takeover!! You will get a chance to try rare/specialty drafts."

New Holland Brewing Co. Backyard Beer-B-Q
Time:  5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Cost:  No cover charge
Venue:  New Holland Brewing Co.
Address:  66 East 8th St., Holland, MI
Details: "Our Backyard Beer-B-Q Series 2011 has begun! Every Friday we’ll be grillin’ on our back patio starting at 5pm. Each week we’ll have a different recipe using a New Holland beer. Grab your favorite NHB brew and rock out to the classics by your buds. Dragon Wagon goes on at 10pm"


Saturday, September 10:

Michigan Brewers Guild U.P. Fall Beer Fest
Time:  1:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Cost:  Tickets are $30 in advance/$35 at the gate
Venue: Mattson Lower Harbor Park
Address:  Marquette, MI
Details:  See link above for all other information.

Bell's Homebrew Expo and Competition, Brewery Tours, Hot Dog Eating Contest, and Beer Garden Closer
Time: All day, starting at 11:00 am
Venue: Eccentric Cafe and the production facility
Address: Eccentric Cafe: 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave, Kalamazoo, MI / Production facility: 8938 Krum Ave., Galesburg, MI
Details: In addition to the music and hot dog eating contest, we are also hosting free brewery tours at
both locations plus a homebrew expo and competition. And if you wear Bell's
apparel at the Eccentric Cafe on Sat. you also get a $1 off your pint. See the link above for all event information

Hopps of Fun Beer & Wine Festival
Time: 1:00 pm to 11:00 pm 
Venue:  Mackinaw Crossings
Address: 248 South Huron Ave, Mackinaw City, MI
Details: "On September 9th & 10th, 2011 Mackinaw Crossings will host “Historic Depot Happy Hour Hopps of Fun".  This unique event will feature as extensive sampling of 50+ award winning Michigan micro brewed beers and over 40 wines from Michigan’s four internationally recognized wine regions. Plenty of food, wine, beer, entertainment and fun!"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Weekend Beer Events - September 1-4

Many of us think of Labor Day as the traditional end of summer, which means saying goodbye to long sunny days and getting back to school or work. But don't let that get you down. At least you can send summer off with one last weekend of great Michigan events. Seth and I will be spending Labor Day over in the thumb, so unfortunately we won't see any of you out at these events, but we hope you all have a safe and relaxing holiday weekend, filled with lots of great Michigan beer!


Thursday, September 1:

Time: 4:00 pm 
Cost: Proceeds will benefit the Huron River Watershed Council
Venue: Arbor Brewing Co.
Address: 114 E. Washington, Ann Arbor
Details: "The Huron River Watershed Council (HRWC) and five of Michigan’s most famous microbreweries will celebrate the Huron River with special public events on Thursdays, August 11 through September 8, 2011. Wolverine (8/11), Jolly Pumpkin (8/18), Grizzly Peak (8/25), Arbor Brewing (9/1) and Blue Tractor (9/8) will participate. Each brewer has something special planned for their night and will donate a portion of their proceeds to HRWC. Attend all five events for a chance to win 10 months of beer or a priority spot for Jolly Pumpkin’s limited beer releases. Winners will be announced at Blue Tractor on September 8 and must be present to win. Visit http://www.hrwc.org/events/brew-for-the-river/, or contact Margaret Smith at HRWC, msmith@hrwc.org, (734) 769-5123 ext 605 to learn more, including how to get a Brews for the River passport to win prizes.

Beer is around 90 percent water, and it takes good quality water to brew good beer. Here in Ann Arbor brewers get their water from the Huron River, the cleanest in Southeast Michigan. HRWC works to protect our source of safe, clean water every day. Everyone is invited to raise their glass to support water quality, water conservation, and HRWC’s good work for the river since 1965.

http://www.arborbrewing.com/. From 4p.m. to 7 p.m.  ABC will celebrate the completion of their Green Brewery Project.  Matt and Rene of ABC will talk about the green impact of the project followed by a brief talk by Laura Rubin, ED of HRWC.  Enjoy the special Blackberry Blonde beer only at this event."

Time:  8:00 pm to 2:00 am
Cost:  Varies depending on the beer
Venue:  Fort Street Brewery
Address:  1660 Fort St., Lincoln Park, MI
Details:  A new cask is tapped every Thursday.  For more information, call 313-389-9620

Friday, September 2:

Time:  5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Cost:  No cover charge
Venue:  New Holland Brewing Co. 
Address:  66 East 8th St., Holland, MI
Details: "Our Backyard Beer-B-Q Series 2011 has begun! Every Friday we’ll be grillin’ on our back patio starting at 5pm. Each week we’ll have a different recipe using a New Holland beer. Grab your favorite NHB brew and rock out to the classics by your buds."

Saturday, September 3:

Time: 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm, with an after party 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Cost: $10 
Venue: Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa 
Address: 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville, MI 
Details: “Michigan’s agricultural diversity, the second most diverse in the United States, offers a culinary experience that Crystal Mountain will once again celebrate  overLabor Day Weekend with the Taste of Michigan, September 3.

Now in its second year, Taste of Michigan is set at the base of the Crystal Mountain slopes from 4-8pm. The zero-waste event, using only washable or recyclable glasses, plates and utensils, offers authentic flavors from the region from tart cherries to crisp cucumbers, delicate white wines to hardy craft beers.

Admission to Taste of Michigan is $10 with food and beverage tokens $1 each which can also be purchased online. The Pure Michigan Labor Days package from $99 includes two nights’ lodging as well as admission and 10 tokens to Taste of Michigan. Book online atcrystalmountain.com or phone 800.968.7686, ext. 5100.

Following Taste of Michigan there will be an After Party with live entertainment (8-11pm) while others may choose to watch the Float-in Movie in the Park at Water’s Edge (9pm). A family golf scramble, ice cream social, chairlift rides and the Big Splash Pool Party headline Sunday’s festivities. The holiday weekend concludes with the Pure Michigan Labor Day 5K on Monday (8am) and 2-for-1 specials for paintball, alpine slide, mountain bike rental and the Vertical Edge Climbing Wall.”

Time: 10:00 am
Cost: $24.99 
Venue: Tour starts in the parking lot of Traffic Jam and Snug Restaurant
Address: 511 W. Canfield St., Detroit, MI
Details: “Learn about Detroit’s brewing history from your own two wheels. Motor City Bike and Brew Tours presents a guided bike tour of Detroit breweries. Discover why the Motor City is a great bike and beer city!

Let our tour guides take you on a leisurely bike ride through Detroit’s brewing past and present. You will see former brewery sites in downtown Detroit and bike by the new generation of breweries to help you see that great beer is being produced today, right in the city. Come along and discover Detroit beer from the seat of your bike!

Ticket includes guided bike tour w/support staff, overview of past and present breweries, beer or soda at one brewery stop, lunch at a local pub and a drink voucher at a brewery after the tour.”


Sunday, August 28:

Time:  All day
Cost:  $50 per person
Venue:  Traverse City Tall Ship Co.
Address:  13390 S.W. Bay Shore Dr., Traverse City, MI 49684
Details:  "Join us on Sunday evenings aboard the tall ship Manitou (mid-June through Labor Day) for a sampling of superb local beer from Short’s Brewing Company , paired with Traverse City’s own Crusted Creations pizza.  For more information please call 231-941-2000 or 800-678-0383. "

Time:  7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Cost:  No cover
Venue:  HopCat
Address:  25 Ionia SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Details:  "Every Sunday night West Michigan's jazz artists and jazz fans will have a place to relax and hang and get together for an 'old skool' jam session at HopCat in downtown Grand Rapids. After the first set, competent musicians and serious jazz students will be invited to join the trio hosted by drummer Randy Marsh. There may be an occasional Organissimo sighting when Jim Alfredson is home off the road."



In true Jerry Springer style, I'm going to leave you with one "Final Thought": Even though I've lived in Michigan my entire life, sometimes I forget we have places like this:
Port Austin, MI

And this:

Point Aux Barques Lighthouse, Port Austin, MI

In Michigan. It really is a great place to live.

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend, everyone!  We'll see you after we get back from Port Austin!

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