Brew Pubs, Wineries and Serendipitous Gigs

Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. Octoberfest PosterI’ve been fortunate over the last several months in that I’ve had some very good gigs more or less fall in my lap, without any active solicitation on my part. Of course, it does speak well to the contacts I’ve made, not just since I picked up the guitars and harps again over the last two years, but in a few cases, from decades past. More about that in a paragraph or so, but this is a dual-themed blog entry. (Click on images to enlarge.)

One of the things I like to do with my songs whenever I get the opportunity is to give a shout-out to my favorite wineries and breweries, especially those that are right here in Michigan. I’ve been blogging about wine since 1997, and I’ve worked in the industry off and on since 1999, so I’m pretty familiar with the subject matter, but I also started taking a serious interest in the craft brew industry about six or seven years ago. I was managing the wine department at a prominent area gourmet food market at the time, and I had a specialty beer rep by the name of Jon Piepenbrok who made a point of bringing me samples to expand my horizons and introduce me to new things. It stuck with me, and I soon came to realize that great beers and ales are every bit as much fun as great wine, maybe even more so, in that they lack an associated “snob factor.”

Fast forward to a few nights ago, when I got a message from Jon, who is “Minister of Beerformation” at the Kuhnhenn Brewing Co., in Warren, MI. He asked if I was doing anything this Saturday (tomorrow) night, and would I like to take part in Kuhnhenn’s Oktoberfest Celebration. It only took a few quick back-and-forths to schedule me for the 6-8 PM slot, followed by Detroit’s outlaw country rock band, The Orbitsuns. I wonder if Jon knows that I mention one of Kuhnhenn’s best brews, their great DRIPA Double Rice IPA, in one of my latest original songs, “I’m a Hop Head?!” Whatever the case, he’ll hear it soon enough, so this should be tons o’ fun, and I’m really looking forward to it.

Gears + Beers FlyerGiven my industry involvement and connections, I really like the idea of playing beer and wine-related events, especially at brew pubs and wineries. I have five such events scheduled for the month of October. Besides the Kuhnhenn’s Oktoberfest event, I’m also playing back at Left Foot Charley Winery in Traverse City (Fri, Oct 18, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM), and the Gears + Beers Party, (Saturday, October 19, 4-6 PM) at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa’s Bell’s Beer Weekend, opening for The Fauxgrass Quartet. I’m returning to my home town of Bay City, MI for the Beer Tasting Presented by Ideal Party Store & The Diamond Ballroom (Tue, Oct 22, 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM),and I’ll be performing at Sandhill Crane Vineyards Thirsty Thursdays series (Thu, Oct 24, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM). (I have some other fun gigs scheduled for October, too; you can check them all out here.)

Finally, returning to the original subject broached here, the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa gig came about through one of those decades-old connections. Back in the late’70s, I hosted a long-running open mic “Hoot Night” at the Midland, MI Holiday Inn. At that time, there was a congenial fellow working at the front desk that I got to know named Mark Fisher. Mark and I lost track of each other until this summer, when he found me on Facebook, friended me and shortly thereafter, offered me the opportunity to play a couple of gigs at the resort, where he is now Director of Hotel Operations. Mark is also a performing musician, so he knows what this crazy business is all about. It would never have occurred to me to try to get a gig at GTR, but thanks a 30-plus-year friendship/connection, not to mention Mark’s generosity, I came up with two gigs (the first was in August) at a great venue in one of my very favorite regions, not only in Michigan, but anywhere.

Not bad. Not bad at all!



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"In the best traditions of folk music, George’s songs evoke personal experiences and historical events, and George certainly has had some experiences, let me tell you. But the experiences of which he sings so truthfully here, while almost mundane when taken literally, are made to seem so much more meaningful, so much more heartfelt in his hands and within his voice. These arrangements are as near to the folk tradition as one could hope, are exactly all that’s necessary for each song, and when accompaniment and backing vocals are used, they feature David Mosher on several traditional instruments, as well as Bill Arnold on dobro, providing simple support to George’s already ample foundations." —Michael O'Brien, Open Mike


And George Heritier from Oak Park shared his clever songwriting, cool and entertaining lyrics and hot guitar/harmonica riffs. He got the best round of applause for the whole festival! I am a huge fan of acoustic blues and folk music and George is one of the best I have heard. I would make it a point to go see him ANY time he plays, it will be well worth the effort! —John P. Bayerl, PhD - SeMi