“But there’s a full moon rising, let’s go dancing in the light
We know where the music’s playing Let’s go out and feel the night”
-Neil Young, Harvest Moon
Ok so maybe more of a waning moon than a full one but still, Friday night in Sparta you can dance ‘neath the stars. Of course this is our peninsular paradise so seeing the stars might be iffy but they are definitely there.
The Sparta Flat River Big Band will be providing the musical backdrop for the Swing Dance at Rogers Park beginning at 6pm.
The 5th annual Burning Foot Beer Festival is tomorrow at Pere Marquette Beach and we’re told there will be Brewaygo representation.
Tunes, brews, beach,,, sounds like summer is holding on. Advance tickets only.
Speaking of the folks from Newaygo Brewing Co, Acoustic Lunch is back at the Brewery so for a kickback Saturday join Ben Kolk and friends from 12-4pm for some fine folk-inspired tunesmanship.
The Artisan’s Market in Montague is held on the fourth Saturday of the month at the Farmers Market.
This is the fourth Saturday.
Cool stuff, cool town (love the soda fountain in the drug store) and afterwards there is an outstanding ice cream place we recently stumbled across between the grocery store and the campground.
Big Rapids is having a Summer Fest from 11a-6p Saturday downtown with street performers games, and other goings on.
Stolen Horses will be playing the Driftwood Deck Saturday and Sunday.
Rock on peninsular partners.
Inferno Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
Many years ago I read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. I also saw the movie. Both I enjoyed immensely. So when a new pile of books showed up at my house thanks to my mom cleaning out more of her library from home, I kept Inferno, also by Brown, at the top of the pile to read.
Slowly but surely I have been plugging away at it. The book is 463 pages long, so it was no small endeavor. And summer time always means full days of sunshine, fresh air and activity, so when I lay down to read before falling asleep, it isn’t often more than just a few pages before I find my eyelids sinking.
Thankfully Inferno was entertaining from beginning to end. The main character of The DaVinci Code, Robert Langdon, is the protagonist in this book as well. There is no mention (at least that I remember) of his adventures in the other book, this one having been published a full decade after the other.
Langdon wakes up in a hospital bed in Florence, Italy, with zero recollection as to why he is there, how he got there, or what the injury to his head came from. He does have slight flashes of a woman with silver-grey hair who warns him “Seek, and ye shall find”, though Langdon has no idea what the vision means or why he sees her.
Quickly his world becomes even stranger as the hospital room is attacked by an unknown woman and he flees with the help of Sienna Brooks, one of the doctors who was attending to him that night. In the fast paced series of events to come in the next hours, Langdon comes to realize he is in the middle of a scheme by a scientist to destroy the world with a plague and that Langdon himself is one of the only people who might have the knowledge and power to stop him.
Throughout the novel, Brown weaves in imagery of the famous scenery from the countries where the action takes place. He describes real life events, art, sculptures, buildings and streets from these iconic locations, adding details to the book that help the reader feel as if she is traveling there herself.
Dan Brown provides a fantastic storyline in Inferno that weaves reality with fiction and delights the reader with suspense and beautifully written words. Inferno is a great read. Hopefully the remainder of the boxes of books my mom dropped off are just as entertaining.
Occidental Gypsy plays an exhilarating blend of gypsy swing, jazz and world music that enraptures the listener with a complex acoustic sound, burnished by smooth vocals reminiscent of the first era of swing. Join us on Saturday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Black Box for a great night of music!
Hailing from New England, Occidental Gypsy plays a dynamic, multi-genre mix of original vocal and instrumental pieces. Well known as capable heirs and nouveau pioneers of the music of Django Reinhardt, Occidental Gypsy was featured at the 2015 DjangoFest in Mill Valley, California. The band has sold out legendary venues such as Nighttown in Cleveland, as well as offering workshops and shows at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, The Ark in Ann Arbor, The Triple Door in Seattle and many other notable spots.
The band has shared the stage with greats like Rikki Lee Jones, Jorma Kaukenen, Stanley Jordan, Joe Sample, Tony Rice, and David Bromberg. Band members have also participated in side projects that have brought them around the world alongside legends, like the 24 year old Eli Bishop who has played with Wynton Marsalis, and regularly performs at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The band features Eli Bishop, a Nashville prodigy who recently won 1st Place in the Mississippi Fiddle Championships. Bishop stuns crowds with his lightning-fast and emotional violin. Lead guitarist and composer Brett Feldman drives the sound with masterful gypsy swing guitar. Jeremy Frantz — a protégé of legendary jazz guitarist Joe Negri— brings his sultry, “retro” vocals and expert jazz guitar to the front line, and serves as an exquisite counterpoint to the down-and-dirty driving sound brought by Brett. Percussionist Jon Chapman and bassist Jeff Feldman fill out the band’s rich sound and keep crowds moving with beats and complex rhythms that make their audience keep coming back for more.
Occidental Gypsy’s sound is appealing to a wide spectrum of people, and their shows consistently attract enthusiastic audiences at colleges, arts centers, festivals, concert halls and clubs.
The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Black Box. Tickets are $15 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Still time to grab some tickets to the Thursday night performance at the Dogwood Center starting at 7:30pm. as Bob Milne provides a salute to Ragtime music taking the venerable Steinway out for a spin on the Main Stage.
Mr. Milne has tickled the ivories of the Dogwood’s prized piano before and his show brings the ragtime era to life in a most pleasing manner.
And if you are wondering what the smell issues in the Holton/Brunswick/Fremont area are about and plan on heading for the olfactory oriented meeting with the EGLE folks it’s at Holton Fire Barn tonight (Tursday) beginning at 7pm and there is likely to be a good crowd on hand so put on your kind and patient hats and ask the questions that need to be asked.
Friday this week's version of those wonderful park parties in Muskegon will be featuring the Hurricane Reggae Band as the featured music. Hackley Park 5-9pm
Speaking of environmental kind of stuff, do you have concerns about the state of old Mom Earth? Want to help but unsure of where to go or what you can do?
Well, lucky you.
The Newaygo County Environmental Forum will be held at Loomis Lodge this Saturday (August 17th) from 11:30-3:30pm. Here you will find a boatload of information on ways to help our beleaguered environment and in particular, how you can help locally with groups aimed at assisting in current efforts while developing new initiatives.
Speakers, panel discussion, raffle prizes, and did we mention it is FREE? One of our favorite words.
Looking to take a drive? The Danish Festival is this weekend so head for Greenville to enjoy one of the area’s oldest ethnic fests.
Music here and there:
Woody’s Backwoods Express Saturday 7pm-Woodland Park
Driftwood Guinness Brothers Saturday 5-9pm Sunday 3-7pm-Croton
Want to wander a bit this weekend? Itching to take a bit of a drive but also looking to take in some fun stuff to do? Here’s a trio of activities just a pleasant sauter afar and some local tunes designed to make Saturday afternoons what they should be,
Head a bit south if you want to drink in a little Hibernian merrymaking as the Sparta Celtic Fest kicks off its 10th year Friday at 5pm with music, dance, kids activities vendors and more.The two day ceiliúradh can get you ready for the mammoth Michigan Irish Music Festival in Muskegon that arrives in September to envelop Heritage Park.
This is loads of fun with great entertainment and Rogers Park makes for a splendid venue. Weather looks to be nice as well.
A bit farther down the road in our metro neighbor to the south the Hispanic Festival arrives at Calder Plaza Friday for three days of music, food, dance and revelry to celebrate the rich Hispanic culture of our region.
Haven’t been to the Muskegon Farmers Market on a Saturday yet?
This is the weekend. It’s Kids Day from 9am -noon with loads of activities for the young-uns.
As a bonus we’re beginning to see more and more of Michigan’s bounty hitting the tables so you can pick up those home grown veggies and fruit while taking in the fun.
The Noon to 4pm musical respite the folks at Newaygo Brewing Co have been offering on Saturdays continues its melodic run as Coty Bouchard brings his compelling vocals to Acoustic Lunch Good times and good tunes.. Downtown Newaygo.
World renowned “Boogie Woogie” ragtime pianist Bob Milne will be performing on the Dogwood Center main stage on Thursday, August 15, at 7:30 p.m.
Milne, from Lapeer, Michigan, has been recorded by the Library of Congress, played at Bill Gates’ private club in Palm Springs, and for the past president George Bush. He also has performed in venues around the world including Japan, Ireland and Kenya.
Bob’s enthusiasm is contagious; he loves to share his knowledge, and is excited about keeping ragtime music alive. He is regarded as an American Treasure and as a recording artist he has produced 13 solo piano recordings to date which cover his wide range of playing styles, from the sweet and melodic to the highly rhythmic and hard-driving. He has composed over 40 piano rags, a ragtime waltz with variations, a trumpet concerto, a flute suite and a violin suite. The Library of Congress has collected memorabilia and made a film of a day in his life to be stored for posterity as part of the American Music Project.
This main stage concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.00 for adults, $5 children 18 and under. Tickets are available online at www.dogwoodcenter.com, 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.
By Tim McGrath
We all have them, of course. These little nuggets that whisper our name, seducing us into thinking: “You know, this is a great idea, and by doggies I’m going to do it!” Or, they could come as a tragic consequence of group-think. You know what I’m talking about. How many times have we joined right in when someone in the group says: “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to: (fill in the blank)?” When looked at in the light of day, or after the hangover wears off, however, we cringe at the absurdity of these little gems.
Trouble is, our sense of pride waves off any negative self talk: no Debbie Downers here. We throw all caution to the wind, chuck common sense under the bus, and plow ahead with our Big Idea sure of glory, honor, fame, riches, or winning over the girl (or boy) no matter how harebrained the scheme might be. Yup, we all have them. Here’s one of mine that even after all these years still makes my toes curl.
Spoiler alert: I was trying to get fame AND the girl.
In the good old days when black & white TV ruled the airwaves, I sat entranced by the entertainers of the day on The Ted Mack Amateur Hour and The Ed Sullivan Show. The man playing a weird, whiny version of The Yellow Rose of Texas on a handsaw, or the one guy who could actually make songs using a bicycle pump by sticking the hose end in his mouth while operating the pump with his other hand. It sounded like a more sophisticated version of the armpit farts we all thought were the height of hilarity. But, the ones that really got me were the ventriloquists. They could do something to make goofy looking dummies or puppets seem to come alive. Mom said they “threw their voice”. I had to do this.
Imagine the possibilities! I’d sit forever dreaming up all the wise cracks I’d pull off in class that appeared to come from the coat closet or somebody’s desk. All the kids would laugh, and I’d just sit back with a smug little grin while Mr. Thomas, our teacher, would blow a gasket trying to figure out who the offender was. Or I’d pretend to sound like God scolding Gary Hudson in Sunday School for being a jerk. But, the best would be impressing Debbie Phillips. I could see it now. I’d create these clever little voices saying equally clever things that would pop up out of her desk, or History book, or Dream Date lunch pail. I could get her to laugh right out loud. Then, she’d look around trying to figure out where it had come from. Finally, I’d sneak her a little note confessing it was me, and she’d turn to look at me with new found wonder and a gleaming smile beaming from her perfect teeth. She’d scribble something back on the note. Unfolding it, the words I’d longed for: “meet me by monkey bars…you know which ones.” Then, a big heart with DB inside. I repeat, I had to do this.
Hours were spent in front of the mirror, then pestering mom with the same question over and over (and over): “Can you see my lips move?” I’d ask through clenched teeth. “Go play,” was something I got used to hearing. This was not working.
But, like a beacon on a dark night, I saw something in the back of my latest Sgt. Rock comic. An ad promising me I could “delight and fool my friends” by throwing my voice. I could not believe it; finally, finally I had found the key. All I had to do was send thirty-five cents to The Johnson-Smith Novelty Company in Detroit for their latest catalog. My envelope was in the mail next day.
Several agonizing weeks passed, when, at last, the ripped and battered envelope came. Inside was the promised catalog of wonderful tricks and contraptions sure to inspire and delight kids of all ages.
This catalog was amazing. Stinkbombs, X-ray Specs (you can really see somebody’s skeleton with these babies on), gas powered rockets (yes, gasoline – this was the ‘60’s), gum that turned your mouth bloody, AND, what I’d been searching for: a kit to learn to throw your voice. I was in business.
Gathering the required one dollar and ninety-eight cents, I quickly filled out the order form, stuck it in the mail and waited. And waited. And waited.
After about two years passed, one Saturday morning mom called: ”Honey, something just came in the mail for you!” Tearing it from her hands, I ran out to the secret backyard fort where all things important and possibly naughty were sorted out. Quickly tearing open the package a booklet and small black plastic disc with a piece of flimsy white rubber attached slid out. Eagerly, I read the booklet and realized how simple it was. All I had to do was put the plastic disc in my mouth and hiss the words I wanted – no lip movement involved. “Almost any voice can be achieved. But, for best results considerable practice will be involved” the booklet advised. Got it. Should be ready by Monday for my secret debut.
Monday afternoon math class. Mr. Thomas had assigned a page of multiplication and long division problems and reminded us we were to work on them by ourselves QUIETLY. He set the egg timer on his desk for thirty minutes, and then promptly fell asleep. We had just learned long division, and most were still stumped by remainders. Perfect. Stealthily reaching into my husky-sized jeans pocket I pulled out my new gadget. Slipping it into my mouth, I readied myself to “delight and fool my friends”. My intent was to throw my voice to the coat closet in the back of the room and say in my Elmer Fudd-type voice: “Hewp, hewp, hewp, I’m twapped in the coat cwoset!” That’d be enough for my first try.
Drawing in a deep breath I let out a series of rasping hisses that had absolutely no semblance of any human voice. Several kids started laughing looking about wondering where the sounds came from. I gave it another try, this time taking deeper breaths. Rasp, rasp, hiss, hiss. My quest for fame and winning over the girl trumped any good sense I had left. Raaassspppp, Hiiissss, I tried in vain. All eyes were on me now, including a wide-awake Mr. Thomas.
“McGrath, just what in the name of Samson are you doing?” Mr. Thomas scolded as he stared in disbelief. “See me after class!”
I got a hundred lines for that little job: “I will keep my big mouth shut in class.” To be signed by my mom and returned next day. Mom signed it, but made me write another hundred just because. The worst part of the whole thing, though, was when Debbie Phillips walked by desk, looked at me and said: “That was just about the stupidest thing anybody’s ever done. You really are an idiot!”
The ventriloquist kit ended up in my bottom dresser drawer right on top of my book about how to be a tap dancer.
Drew, Denise, Dave & Connie; Powwow, Pickup, Perch & Innuendo
Lots happening this weekend as we swing into the month of August (what happened to July?) a 5 weekend month culminating with the 3rd of the summer triumvirate of holidays known as Labor Day, a.k.a. ‘Summer’s over so get your stuff put away and plan a color tour before the white stuff comes”.
Drew Nelson is a storyteller. His music speaks to his travels and the people he has met along the way. The Folk/Americana artist will be at the Dogwood Friday at 7:30pm.
Tickets are $10.00 and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
For enthusiasts of all things ag, this is THE WEEK of the summer as activities abound at the fairgrounds in Fremont beginning Saturday and continuing through Friday.. Wednesday is kids day so gather up the fam and check out the fun.
Do you Powwow? If so you’re likely headed to White Cloud for the annual event taking place just west of the county seat. Here’s a little info from a previous article.
Want to help clean up our river? This is one of the coolest efforts around and these folks have got it down having de 7 previous events. Here’s the skinny.
Newaygo Brewery Acoustic Lunch series keeps bringing us some righteous mid-afternoon music each Saturday.
This week check out Dave and Connie of 17 Degrees South. These folks are a lock when it comes to putting on an entertaining show so saunter down to the Brewaygo headquarters and enjoy lunch and a show for just the price of lunch. Noon to 4pm.
“Just take those old records off the shelf….”
Innuendo does some good old time Rock & Roll and they are making a return trip to the Riverstop Saloon Friday night starting at 8pm. Fun place, good tunes.
The Driftwood will be decking it with the Thirsty Perch Blues Band on Saturday from 5-9p.m. and Denise Anderson Connection Sunday from 3-7 p.m.
4-Day Festival Returns Sept. 12-15
The Michigan Irish Music Festival observes its 20th anniversary this year, and what better way to celebrate than by hosting more bands than ever in the history of the event?
The festival returns to Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon Sept. 12-15 and features Irish and Celtic music on seven covered stages. The festival kicks off Thursday, Sept. 12 with its Pub Preview Party featuring food, beverages, and three bands in the pub tent only. The full festival begins Friday.
In addition to live music, the Celtic Kitchen and beverage stations serve authentic Irish food and drinks. The Tea Room has non-alcoholic choices and treats in a relaxed atmosphere. Other activities include the Irish Market and Irish Store, children’s activities, a cultural center, and a session tent. FEIS, an Irish dance competition, and the Highland Games are held on Saturday. Sunday, Catholic mass at 9 a.m. will be followed by a traditional Irish breakfast.
This year’s festival, expected to draw 40,000 patrons, will host a record 26 bands. Here’s a sneak peek at 10 of the bands on tap:
GAELIC STORM After two decades and more than 2,000 live shows, this multinational Celtic band returns to the festival for the first time in five years. Gaelic Storm attributes their continued success to a diversified fan base from several musical genres: country, bluegrass, Celtic, and rock. Gaelic Storm, which has gained a reputation as a genre-bending Irish rock band, has topped the Billboard World Chart six times, appearing at mainstream music festivals and headlining the largest Irish festivals across the country.
THE HIGH KINGS The band’s most recent release, “Decade-Best of The High Kings,” garnered rave reviews, and their recently completed U.S. tour sold out many of its venues. The High Kings’ unique contemporary style and arrangement to songs of yesteryear are sure to delight.
AOIFE SCOTT The singer and songwriter from Dublin was named the 2018 winner of the Best Irish Folk Act at the Irish Post Music Awards. Her music has a broad creative scope but is largely influenced by her own roots in folk and traditional Irish music.
ONE FOR THE FOXES This exciting and dynamic transatlantic trio presents a rousing blend of Irish and American folk music. They offer both traditional and newly composed music, presented in an energetic and engaging manner.
JIGJAM The award-winning quartet from Ireland blends the best of traditional Irish music with bluegrass and Americana in a new genre, which has been branded as “I-Grass” - Irish influenced bluegrass.
DOOLIN’ Doolin’ is one of the most innovative bands of the Irish music scene. Formed in Toulouse in 2005, the band comprises six accomplished and eclectic musicians. French in origin, this sextet brings a fresh approach to Irish music. Doolin’ combines instrumentals, vocals, and original compositions in a resolutely modern style. The arrangements at times taking their inspiration from pop-rock, folk, jazz, funk, and even rap.
PIGEON KINGS Pigeon Kings draws from Celtic and rock influences, but they’re not Celtic Rock. There are traditional elements, but they’re not a traditional band. With elements of Americana and Bluegrass, they have a sound and persona all their own. Pigeon Kings offers a high energy stage show backed by unique compositions, honest lyrics, and experienced showmanship.
THE DROWSY LADS Jack Baker of the Irish American News named The Drowsy Lads the “Best Irish American Band of 2018.” The Lads, out of Columbus, Ohio, have won over both casual music lovers and those steeped in hardcore traditional Irish music. They’re fond of creating their own spirited arrangements and offer occasional original compositions (even mixing in bluegrass and classical), but that never gets in the way of their obsession with the pure old Irish tunes, songs, wit, and friendship that has defined Irish music for centuries.
CONNLA After winning New Group of the Year (Chicago Irish American News) and Best New Group (Live Ireland Music Awards) in 2016, Connla has been quickly making an impact on the folk/traditional scene. More recently, Connla won Album of the Year for 2019 at both the ALSR Celtic Music Awards and the Livvies Awards. Songlines magazine named Connla their “must-see act” for their UK tour and proclaimed, “A band this young shouldn’t be this good.”
THE CONIFERS The five young musicians that make up The Conifers met while studying traditional music at the University of Limerick. They have since developed a lasting friendship, which is evident in their music. In 2018, The Conifers, whose music is energetic and lively with a wholesome sound, won first place in the prestigious Michigan Irish Music Initiative competition in Dundalk.
Advance tickets and passes for this year’s Michigan Irish Music Festival are available online (patrons save $5 per ticket online vs. the gate price). The festival offers an Early-In Free promotion on Friday only from 5 to 6 p.m., sponsored by Family Financial Credit Union. Other major sponsors of the festival include G&L, Van’s Car Wash and Budweiser. The Delta Hotels by Marriott and Shoreline Inn are host hotels for the festival. For complete festival information, and the announcement of additional bands, visit www.michiganirish.org.
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