Billboard charting American pianist, Steinway Artist, composer, and author Robin Spielberg will perform at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on Friday, September 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Spielberg is one of America's preeminent living female composers. She began her career as one of the founding members of the Atlantic Theater Company and has since flourished with a wide ranging discography including arrangements of American standards, original piece for piano and ensembles, holiday recordings, and more. She brings her talents as a performer, storyteller and mental wellness advocate to the Dogwood for a sure to be memorable performance.
A workshop,”Overcoming Performance Anxiety” is also planned for September 29 at 4:00 p.m. for students preparing for auditions or competitions, and is based on the Atlantic Theater Company acting technique. The workshop for young people is free, but pre-registration is required.
A prolific composer, Spielberg has 24 recordings to her credit and appears on more than 40 compilations around the world. She is in the top 1% of artists played on Pandora Radio and has 160,000 monthly listeners of Spotify. Her popular Tedx Talk on music and wellness has had over 400,000 views and inspired a tour of lectures and workshops in schools, hospitals, community centers and performing arts centers nationwide.
Tickets are $17.50 for the evening performance and registrations for the workshop “Overcoming Performance Anxiety” are available online at
at the Dogwood Box Office...
or at NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont.
The Dogwood Center Box Office is open Tuesday - Friday, 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. For information, phone 231.924.8885.
The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Labor Day weekend? What? No way. The final of the Big Three of Summer has descended upon us and we all know come Tuesday we won’t be able to go anywhere without catching a whiff of Pumpkin Spice. Last week LSC Lil and I were at Northern Trails for a bite and they had Octoberfest on tap. In August!
Well, we’re not going to mourn summer while there’s still a smidge of the season remaining so Revel On fellow Near Northians.
And by the way, Smugglers at North Shore is gearing up for their September 20th opening when lakeside dining returns to Hess after a 5 year sabbatical.
And people are pumped.
Now, back to this weeks picks
One of our sponsors, CBD Store of Michigan in downtown Fremont is having a Blue Moon Event to commemorate the full bodied lunar vision arriving Thursday.. The store has put on a variety of doings over the years and this one sounds like something way worth checking out. This Thursday’s full moon is expected to be one of the biggest and brightest of the year thus Co-owner Rod Glupker felt a celebration was in order. From 3-6pm stop in and take part in Have A Free Beer With Rod featuring (of course) Blue Moon beer, though he assures me there will be other brands to choose from.
Then from 7-9 there will be a Cacao Ceremony with Sadie. We’re not sure what this all involves other than drinking ceremonial Cacao in a group setting in hopes of gaining some insight and introspection while connecting with others. At least that’s what it said when we did our internet research.
And if you’re looking to resupply your CBD products Rod says it’s the store’s biggest sale and only happens once in a …you got it… blue moon. .
We’re stopping by for the free beer because Rod is truly one of those guys one would enjoy having a beer with.
The annual Logging Fest is due to arrive in downtown Newaygo this weekend for three days of celebration and if you haven’t hit a Pow-wow yet this year head to the Oceana Fairgrounds where Saturday and Sunday the 30th Annual “Honoring Our Elders” Hart Pow-Wow will see traditional Drumming, Singing, Dancing, Food & Arts and Crafts.
And This Week’s Music
On Wednesday Kev & Racquel make a return to the Northern Trails deck from 6-9pm.
Riverstop Cafe’s Thursday night featured performer is Jack Leave who is well known and well liked around these parts. Music from 6-9pm.
Friday is always Open Mike night at Flying Bear Books & Creperie 6-9pm. The music brings you in, the crepes bring you back.
We haven't heard who’s playing Saturday at the Driftwood but Sunday 3-7pm brings NXT to the best deck dining view in the Near North and possibly the Universe.
There it is. If you know of something going on and want folks to know about it, send us the skinny and we’ll give it a shout.
Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
By Charles Chandler
I really, really like movies and the big “Summer Blockbusters” in particular. This summer we had three to choose from. Oppenheimer is behind us and now we are off to the AMC Classic 8 theater in Ludington to see my favorite action movie -- the much-anticipated Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. I will skip Barbie. I had two daughters and have done the time. As I recall one bedroom had pink wallpaper and pink trim.
Our treat for this road trip was a stop at Bortell’s Fisheries located at 5510 South Lakeshore Drive, Ludington, Michigan. This 125-year-old iconic fish joint is located between Pentwater and Ludington and a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. In my opinion, Bortell’s has the best lightly coated fried fish and seafood in Michigan. It is take-out and cash or check only, and there’s always a line of varying length. Once you try this place, you will understand why. Standing impatiently in line, you meet good folks from all over Michigan and many seasonals who make Bortell’s a key part of their summer vacation.
Oh Indiana, how your adoring fans have missed you! How long have we waited for you, your hat, coat, and bullwhip, plus all the nonstop action? Scoff you may but we are not a bunch of swooning “Swifties.” We are serious movie fans. For your information, People magazine just published a Special Edition with Indiana Jones on the front cover with this headline, “Harrison Ford - America’s Greatest Movie Hero.”
Indeed, we have waited five years for this Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny movie. It is certainly a must-see movie that exceeded all MY unrealistic expectations. It reproduces the over-the-top non-stop adventure, reminding us why we fell in love with Indiana Jones in the first place. It is a retrospective of the other Indiana movies and, to our nostalgic delight, contains all the essential elements -- our charismatic lead, spellbinding storyline and nonstop action. We have all the best -- Nazis, damsels with questionable motives in distress, a street waif, intrigue, nail-biting danger, ancient artifacts with power to change time, fights on top of a moving train, chases on horseback, crazy clown cars and vintage airplanes, and vermin filled caves with all sorts of booby traps, and even a meeting with the great Archimedes himself.
The quest for the Dial of Destiny is not just action pieces. It is also a travel log of spectacular landscapes and stunning locations. The detail in the historical periods that ranged from the 1969, 1944 WWII and a front row seat to the siege of Syracuse by the Roman Republic in 213–212 BC. The scene where Indiana meets Archimedes is worth the price of the tickets.
This movie lets us see more of the human side of our beloved Indiana. We get to see him worn down by work and worry and the loss of way too much. We senior fans understand and can certainly identify with “America’s Greatest Movie Hero.” To stop gushing for a moment, Director James Mangold is good but no Steven Spielberg. This is the age of digital makeovers so the CGI is a bit clunky in this movie. However, the great composer and conductor John Williams magically pulls it altogether with his familiar themes.
The last scene is a tad awkward and will bring a few sniffles from true Indiana Jones fans. The buzz on the street is that this is the LAST Indiana Jones movie. After all, the resilient Harrison Ford is 80. Where did it all go? Please consider heading to the theater for this great summertime blockbuster. You will be entertained.
Idlewild welcomes Growing Up X Author
By Dale Twing
The Idlewild Event Center was packed Thursday night to discuss the book, Growing Up X with author Ilyasah Shabazz, who is a nationally known speaker, author and activist. The event, sponsored by Fremont Area Community Foundation and Lake County Community Foundation, was attended by more than 110 guests.
There was way too much to describe the fullness of the discussion, so these are only a few highlights. She describes how her mother Dr. Betty Shabazz dealt with the horrible assassination of her husband in front of her and how she raised six daughters on her own after this traumatic event, the oldest being six. Not only did she love and provide for them, she made sure they had self-worth and did everything she could to give them a complete rounded education.
Ilyasah emphasized that her father was committed to try and expose and eradicate all injustice, not just the prejudice that people of color endured. She emphasized the need for an understanding and commitment to be open and willing to see and help with the needs around us. This includes a true commitment to a sense of community and civility to those around us, and to be an example for change.
There was also a good discussion of how connected her famous father and family are to Michigan and the Woodland Park and Bitely area, with many cousins still here and working hard to build community.
Ms. Shabazz's message of self determination was well received, and she spent an extra hour visiting with attendees and signing books. She will return to Idlewild on Friday to spend time speaking with children about her other book, Malcolm Little.
Also Author, Birds, Tarot, Polish Fest, Crepes and more.
We at N3 World Headquarters and Floral Forest (N3WH&FF) are pretty pumped about the week ahead. There is a boatload of music around and about and some fun stuff designed to pique the interest of the citizenry. Let’s get started.
Growing Up X Author To Speak In Idlewild
If you feel like taking a pleasant little drive north on Thursday head to the Mid Michigan Idlewilders Event Center (19 Joy Street Idlewild) for what will be an impactful (and free) evening of entertainment.
Dr. Ilyasha Shabazz is an award winning author, educator and producer. She is also the daughter of Malcolm X the human rights activist who was assassinated in 1965.
Her book “Growing Up X” (highly recommended) reminds us that she is also the daughter of Dr. Betty Shabazz an indefatigable woman of strength and perseverance. From the book:
“from that day at the Audubon when she heard the shots and threw her body on [ours, she] never stopped shielding her children.”
Thursday 6-7:30pm and thanks to the Fremont Area Community Foundation for making this happen.
Cartomancy at FBB
Thursday August 24th from 4-6pm Flying Bear Books & Creperie is hosting local artist Susie Rodriquez who will be doing personal Tarot Card readings from 4-5pm followed by a Tarot Card Class from 5-6pm. Tickets are $30/person for full experience. Tickets: can be purchased at the store or via link https://www.eventbrite.com/.../tarot-card-reading-and…
Calling All Birders!
Saturday at 9am there will be a Birding field trip at the Muskegon Wastewater led by Steve Minard. Essentials: Meet at the main entrance to the Muskegon Wastewater, now signed as the Muskegon County Resource Recovery Center on the east side of Maple Island Rd. at 9:00 AM. (For those familiar, this is where we meet for bluebird box cleaning in March.) Bring your binoculars. A spotting scope, a drink and snacks will be helpful. This trip is planned for the morning.
There is no cost to participate; birders of all ages are welcome.
Love those ethnic Festivals?
Calder Plaza is channeling their Polish Pride this weekend so if you have a pierogi itch that needs scratching or have been hankering for some golabki and kapusta, head for downtown GR. And for Polka lovers here’s the lineup.
Friday. Noon-4pm: Virgil Baker’s Just For Fun Band
6pm-10pm(Close): Tony Blaconcyk and New Phaze Band
Sat: Noon-4pm: Bruce Packard Band
6pm-close: Gerry Kaminski’s Polka Network and alternating with Jimmy K and Ethnic Sounds
Sun: Noon -5pm. Trent Urbyte and Polka Riot
Speaking of Music…
The Faulkners return to the Northern Trails deck this Wednesday from 6-9pm and it’s likely to be a warm day so a cold beverage and a little deck music sounds like a good plan.
Also on Wednesday one of our favorite haunts, the Cedar Springs Brewery, is sponsoring Alex Meixner who will play at the Cedar Springs Amphitheater (downtown at Maple St and White Pine Trail) from 7-9pm.
Meixner (aka the Jimi Hendrix of the accordion) will forever change your perception as to the limits of accordion music. Take it from the N3WH staff, this is a show you will be talking about for a long time… but only if you go.
See you there.
If you have the day off Thursday or need to be in our Metro Friend to the south for some reason make plans to go to Rosa Parks Circle for a free lunchtime concert from 12-1:30pm.
Why, you ask?
Because this week the music will come from The Crane Wives. If you know them no explanation is necessary. If you don’t know them and you make it down to RPC Thursday for a listen, you’ll likely be making plans to see them again. Great music.
Oh, and one of the food trucks that day is El Caribe, a must if you embrace Caribbean food.
Thursday from 6-9pm the music series at the Riverstop Cafe in downtown Newaygo continues with Genna & Jesse making their first appearance here as part of an international tour to showcase their new album “Say Ok”. This sounds like a really intriguing night of music with a pair of gifted vocalists weaving lyrical stories like a pair of wandering troubadours. Highly recommend. Here’s their website.
Friday is Open Mike Night at Flying Bear Books in downtown Newaygo from 6-9pm hosted by Sandra Bernard, one of my favorite local songstresses. Bonus here is the close proximity to the wonderful crepes put out by the Johnson’s. Seriously good eats.
The Guinness Brothers Band is back at the Driftwood for a weekend of high energy entertainment. Love to hear Annette Powell's voice echoing across the pond. Saturday 4-8pm and Sunday 3-7pm. Good show, good eats and a really fine view.
Saturday starting at 8pm, In Silent Outrage will be playing the Brew Works patio in Fremont. This three piece band delivers a heavy dose of rock and roll covering tunes that range from Seger to Megadeth while mixing in some original pieces. The cover tunes might surprise listeners since the band likes to put a personal stamp on all their songs. Worth a visit to BW where, by the way, the flatbreads are a hit with the N3WH&FF staff. And while you’re there tell them to bring back Alaskan Amber (a beer not a server from Fairbanks).
There you are fellow denizens of this bipeninsular paradise.
By Charles Chandler
I love movies. Well, most of them except the really violent ones like the John Wick sequence and those horror/slasher types. You can have those. I usually like the big “Summer Blockbusters” and this summer we have three to choose from -- Oppenheimer, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and Barbie. Curious minds would like to know -- what is a “blockbuster” anyway? There are two definitions:
Pre-Covid, we watched our fair share of movies on the big screens but during prime Covid periods, we didn’t go to the theaters. This summer we returned with a trip to the AMC Classic 8 theater near Ludington. For transparency, we bribed ourselves with rewards that included a menu of boats, breweries, beaches, the S.S. Badger, lighthouses, and world-famous ice cream joints. All that plus a movie, who could resist?
Oppenheimer is mostly about the complicated life of theoretical physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer. The plot begins with his early life where he pursues his graduate degrees at various European universities, studying under elite professors. During this pursuit, we see his flawed personality and genius develop. He achieves his PhD and returns to America where he begins researching and teaching quantum physics at the University of California, Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. In California he meets members of labor unions and the Communist party. These associations will later prove to be damaging to his career and reputation.
During World War II, Oppenheimer’s genius was recognized by the U.S. Military war planners who were desperate to develop an atomic bomb before the Nazis. The U.S. Military and various political and security agencies momentarily overlook his prickly personality and sketchy association with the American Communist Party. They seek him out and ask him to head up the clandestine nuclear weapons laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Complex and morally conflicted, Mr. Oppenheimer gathers a team of other scientists and similarly flawed individuals and confronts the challenges of building the first atomic bomb. It is at Los Alamos, New Mexico where the chain-smoking, enigmatic J. Robert Oppenheimer became the “father of the atomic bomb” when his team ignited “Trinity”. The first detonation of a nuclear weapon that was heard around the world and changed all our lives forever.
Again, and in my opinion Oppenheimer is a brilliant slow-moving but intense three-hour epic written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It is based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.
The Irish born actor Cillian Murphy plays J. Robert Oppenheimer and lets us follow the man, his genius, and moral complications throughout his career. Matt Damon plays General Leslie Groves Jr., military head of the Manhattan Project. Robert Downey Jr. is the Judas Iscariot who despises and betrays Oppenheimer. DC Comics Iron Man shows us his depth as an actor as the perfectly cast vindictive, scheming Lewis Strauss, a senior member of the Atomic Energy Commission. You also get a look at the tragic treatment of J. Robert Oppenheimer after that moment. To his credit, Oppenheimer was quite aware of his responsibility and the consequences of building the atomic bomb. He argued but failed to convince his colleges and the U.S. Government to go no further down that dangerous path.
You heard the Oscar Nominations here first: Oppenheimer will be nominated for Best Picture; Christopher Nolan for Best Director; Cillian Murphy for Best Leading Actor; and Robert Downey Jr. for Best Supporting Actor. After this sobering movie and trip down memory lane, we implemented the reward and I chose a giant root beer float from the House of Flavors ice cream emporium in Ludington.
Going a bit beyond excellent entertainment, I suggest that Oppenheimer is a historically significant movie and recommend that anyone born after 1950 see this movie because it is about a seminal moment in our time. What this movie did not show was what followed the Los Alamos bomb -- the disregard of Oppenheimer’s warning and the reckless and cavalier sprint the world powers made down that dangerous path.
The world's first nuclear explosion occurred at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, quickly followed by a second atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9. Our history states these two events led to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese. According to reliable sources there were at least four active Russian spies working on the Manhattan Project. Initially, only the United States possessed atomic weapons but in 1949 the Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb, and the arms race began. By the 1950s both the United States and Soviet Union were engaged in a cold war and had enough nuclear power to obliterate each other. Both sides developed the ability to launch a devastating attack even after sustaining a first strike from the other side. “This policy became known as Mutual Assured Destruction: both sides knew that any attack upon the other would be devastating to themselves, thus in theory restraining them from attacking the other.”
In 1952, the United States tested a new and more powerful weapon: the hydrogen bomb. The consequences of this arms race, nuclear proliferation and the radiation and fallout from above ground testing are still in our environment and our bodies.
“These tests in Nevada and the South Pacific produced ionizing radiation, which kills or sickens those exposed, contaminates the environment, and has long-term health consequences, including cancer and genetic damage.
This widespread use of atmospheric testing has caused grave long-term consequences. Physicians project that some 2.4 million people worldwide will eventually die from cancers due to atmospheric nuclear tests conducted between 1945 and 1980.”
See this report, “Estimated Exposure from Fallout Nevada Nuclear Weapons Testing and Thyroid Doses Report (cancer.gov).”
For additional movies about the Nuclear Arms Race, try Fail Safe and Dr. Strange Love or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Having served in the USAF Strategic Air Command during the Hot War in Vietnam and the Cold War with Russia, I found both movies to represent the terror and insanity of those times. For additional sleepless nights listen to this program.
If you do, then you will know how close we may be at any given moment to causing destruction on a global scale.
Native plant gardeners, preservationists & other native plant “experts and nerds” are invited to network, share and learn about native plants and habitats at the “Meet & Greet” to be held on August 31 at 5:30 p.m. It will take place at Waters Edge Golf Course, 1100 Ramshorn, Fremont, 49412.
The event is free. Guests will pay for their own food or beverages during the gathering. Registration is required to assure a seat. To register email the Newaygo County Environmental Coalition (NCEC): firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to NCEC2 Facebook Page and register under “Events”; or call NCEC at 231-519-3419.
“The purpose of this get together is to meet others who share an interest or passion for native plants and bio-diverse habitats,” explains Ken Hoganson of Big Bluestem Farm. “We can learn from each other, share resources, and create a network of healthy habitat advocates to help each other and our environment.”
A featured guest speaker will be Stuart Goldman from the Michigan Nature Association, who manages the restoration of our local Nature Sanctuaries in Newaygo County. Stuart will discuss the importance of native habitat restoration, what it takes to keep them healthy, and how community members can volunteer for essential sanctuary workdays this fall.
“The sanctuary workdays are a great way to learn about the unique and threatened prairie habitats in Newaygo County,” states Stuart. “We depend on the local community to take ownership of these special places, and to help keep them healthy.”
Other guest speakers will be Rod Kroll, a local community member with an expertise in the insect world and the important role they play in the pollination of our native plants; Ken Hoganson, owner of Big Bluestem Farm, a native plant farm near Bitely; and Sally Wagoner of the Newaygo County Environmental Coalition who will discuss how our local organizations are supporting our environment through preservation, restoration and recreation.
“We also want to share information about the Homegrown National Parks movement,” added Sally Wagoner. “This is a grass-roots call to action to regenerate biodiverse ecosystems one yard at a time. It is for homeowners to be part of creating a connected network of native habitat oases that can support our pollinators, insects and wildlife as they attempt to live and thrive in a world that currently disconnects their food and habitat sources.”
More information about the event can be found on the Newaygo County Environmental Coalition website calendar: www.nc-ec.org. NCEC is a non-profit organization which endeavors to be the Environmental Resource Hub of Newaygo County.
“We are really looking forward to this first time meet & greet ‘native plant nerds’ event,” added Ms. Wagoner. “It will take our shared concern and efforts to beautify our yards and landscapes with native plants to help our pollinators and our environment thrive.”
By Ken De Laat
It’s mid August. MID AUGUST!
I know! How can it be?
Wasn't it just last week we were gearing up for the 4th? Now here we are on the downward slide to September already. Agreed, these days summer extends into September due to the climate change those of us who trust science blame.
But hey, there is still 'music to play, places to go people to see' as the Bye Bye Birdie song advised us.
Here you go.
Gina & Jordan return to the Riverstop Cafe Thursday from 6:30-9pm. The RStop music series has given the citizens of Near North a truly fine option for pre weekend entertainment and are much appreciated for doing so.
We don't know what Extreme Music Bingo is but it’s not your grandmother's bingo, of that you can be assured. If your curiosity is piqued the Croton Township campground is hosting EMB on Friday from 7-10pm and no you don’t have to be staying there to play.
The CTC has a lot of cool stuff going on including music on Saturday featuring Jason Eller with Robin (no no the Batman Robin) from7-10pm Saturday.
Saturday is Rodeo on the Pond over in Morley starting at 4pm. This is a Full Sanctioned Rodeo with Bareback, Saddle Bronc, Bull Riding, Tie Down, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, Break Away Roping.
And while we are not sure what most of that is, rodeo fans certainly do.
Adults $15, Children $10, Under 6 are free
The Driftwood has 3 days of tunes beginning Friday with the Faulkners 6-9pm, then coming back on Saturday with Dwood faves Big Cadillac playing 4-8pm and topping off a tuneful weekend with Innuendo on Sunday from 3-7.
And if you're looking to take a drive the Danish Festival is putting out some serious Scandinavian celebration in Greenville through Sunday.
There you go Near Northians. Grab some fun and always remember the words of Commander Cody who said in song,
“Too much fun, that's news to me
Too much fun, there must be
A whole lotta things that I never done
But I ain't never had too much fun”
Michigan Irish Music Festival Coming in September
Photos by Lil De Laat
Muskegon, MICH. – The Michigan Irish Music Festival, presented by Family Financial Credit Union will be held September 14-17th 2023, at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.
Tickets available for sale at www.michiganirish.org.
Save $5 or more on single day tickets or 4-day passes when you buy tickets online.
Michigan Irish Music Festival is rich in culture, celebrating both life in Ireland and here in the states as Irish Americans. Through various art forms on multiple stages and areas of the festival grounds, there are abundant opportunities for fun, education, and interaction.
Don’t miss all of the dynamic storytelling, ranging from children’s stories and songs to personal accounts of life in Belfast in the 1950s-1980s to classic fairy tales with a twist. Discover the incredible history of the Book of Kells, a centuries-old manuscript that survived the test of time. Learn about actor Buster Keaton’s summer vacations in Muskegon, as well as his connection to Irish heritage. Join Enda Reilly for a reflection on poet WB Yeats: The Waters to the Wild. Hear John Kennedy of Kennedy’s Kitchen share about his family’s emigration through Irish music, story, and song. Explore the ancient landforms and monuments of Ireland with Slide’s Mick Broderick’s presentation, Slide Around Ireland. This immersive presentation will take you on a journey through thousands of years of Irish history and culture, showcasing some of the most impressive landmarks and natural wonders that have stood the test of time.
For the musically inclined, Bodhran or Tin Penny Whistle lessons are available. Learn to speak some Irish / Gaelic phrases during an interactive session with Colm Keegan. History buffs can join Liz Gould’s workshop to learn about heraldry and create a personal “Coat of Arms”. Epicurious folks should check out the presentations from Baker College Culinary Institute of Michigan and Wonderland’s Distillery for delicious food demonstrations and craft cocktail class!
As always, the cultural stages will be alive with music and dancing, featuring groups from around the Midwest. Ardan Academy of Dance and Steph’s Steps will highlight traditional Irish Dance including Ceili, hard shoe, softshoe, and a blend of Irish and clogging styles. The Michigan Feis Parade of Champions is another not-to-be-missed celebration of Irish heritage. Music from Mona Shores Fiddlers and Chelsea House Orchestra (CHO) will highlight the incredible talent of local high schoolers. The Mona Shores Fiddlers are an extra curricular ensemble established in 1996 which performs throughout West Michigan under the direction of Kelly De Rose. Hailing from Chelsea, Michigan, on the east side of the state, CHO is comprised of about two dozen string, wind, and percussion musicians playing music derived from Celtic and other folk music sources. This group shares an energetic and eclectic experience with their audience!
For those interested in a life in Ireland, a pop-up consulate will be available for opportunities to meet with consular officers and ask questions about obtaining Irish citizenship through descent, Irish passports, and other related topics. Be sure to catch the exciting exhibition from the Ward Music Archives, Come Back to Erin: Irish Travel Posters of the 20th Century. Join the Michigan Irish American Society to celebrate influential Michiganders of Irish descent at the induction of the 2023 Michigan Irish Hall of Fame Honorees.
Story and Photos by Charles Chandler
In late July we head out of Fremont on South Warner Ave. to our favorite U-Pick blueberry patch. The purpose of this little jaunt is complicated. One is to replenish our stock of berries as they are additions to summer salads, blueberry pancakes and that winter essential, warm McCann’s Irish Oatmeal. Another is to stroll down memory lane recalling the summer tortures of having to pick whatever was ready in our grandfather’s truck farm.
The most soul satisfying part of this outing is to just for a moment enjoy the company of my fellow humans. It is my opinion that we are at our absolute best when we are picking blueberries. I don’t know what it is about berry picking but it certainly soothes the beasts. I have never heard a single curse word, angry exchange or a raised voice from a parent or picker. I’ve often thought Congress or the Supreme Court should hold their sessions in blueberry patches.
Another joy of U-Pick patches is that they always appear to be family friendly. On my last outing, while walking back to the weigh- up shed, I passed a bevy of small girls in lovely long dresses and crisp bonnets. They had small buckets, a water jug and were there to work, moving quickly and quietly with purpose in their steps. This brought on a small ripple of nostalgia because the women in my family all wore sun bonnets and long sleeves when working on the family farm. In our favorite patch there are always several young families with numerous children of all ages, and a couple of resolute seniors picking among the rows. From what I hear the main purpose of these seniors is to overpraise the contribution to the family pails by these young pickers.
Our Newaygo County favorite is a mature farm with tall robust bushes. You normally can’t see your fellow pickers unless you are side by side, but you can hear them. The tall thick bushes give you a sense of privacy but trust me, I’ve overheard some amazing conversations plus frequent humming, whistling, and singing. The females appear to be the most vocal of our berry picking species. They seem quite content chatting with other females, while holding day school for beginner pickers tumbling around their legs. From the conservations, these newbies seem to eat more berries than they put in the family bucket. These wee folks are so charming because in the patch, they get to use their “outside” voice. Do they ever turn the volume up and throw away the knob? You can hear adorable giggles and some humorous stuff from these little guys. The other day I was picking near a young mom and her friend. She had one small guy on the ground, one in a stroller and one in a chest sling, picking and chatting away with her friend dressed like Martha Stewart. On the other side of me was a lovely Hispanic mom with a teenage daughter, picking away and talking softly in Spanish.
Generally during an outing, you will hear something really funny or totally unexpected. The other day I heard this woman state quite loudly that she had to go. Then a male voice a couple rows over says, “Oh, please don’t go.” Then others joined in and all across the patch you could hear the echo, “Oh, please don’t go.” A bit later I heard this guy a few rows ahead of me talking to some unseen person. He had this smooth baritone voice with a little country color in his accent. I thought he could be a country and western singer. In a minute he ran into someone else they knew and the new someone proclaimed, “Well, hello there.” The baritone picker, without a pause, launched into a few verses of Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away. You remember that one with the famous verse, “Well, hello there. It’s been a long, long time.” I knew he was a singer.
My most perfect moment happened a couple of years back. I was out in the patch early. It was still cool; the berry bushes had a little dew on them, and it was quiet with very few pickers around. Around an hour later this woman with a beautiful clear voice began a full-on operatic presentation of what could have been some famous aria. To this day who she was or what she was singing is still a mystery. Maybe an angel? It was a gift for those pickers that heard that beautiful rendition. For me it was a transcendent moment. As I said, picking blueberries brings out the best in humankind.
If you need to restock your freezer, now is the time. Or, if you are stressed out from managing your out-of-school crew or those visiting relatives, then gather them up and head to the nearest blueberry patch. General admission is about $1.50 a pound for beautiful healthy blueberries and a short, but wonderful, distracting experience.
Cheap, at twice the price.
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