Revue Magazine, February 2018

Page 1

West Michigan’s Entertainment Guide for 30 Years

Âť February 2018


Beat the

Winter Blues Get outside, escape indoors and more

Hygge your home Winter festivals Beer month GR Spicy food

Also Inside: Pilsner taste-off, New Hotel Mertens review, Ani DiFranco, Mike Birbiglia

! g n i s o l C e r o t S MUSKEGON LOCATION ONLY

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GRANDVILLE 3125 28TH ST GRANDVILLE MI 49418 (616) 532-3473







Price is Right

Jake Owen

Tickets start at $25

Tickets start at $39

Group packages available FEB 16 & 17

JAN 26

Amsoil Championship Snocross Series

Theresa Caputo

Tickets start at $34

Tickets start at $25

Day and weekend passes available MAR 1 & 2

FEB 23 & 24

Saint Paddy's Day Bash

Dane Cook

Free Event: Live Performance at 9PM from STONE CLOVERS and a free Cornhole Tournament

Tickets start at $72

MAR 31

MAR 17

Charley Pride

Tickets on sale 2/10

APR 13

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REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


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F ift h T hird Ballpark • Com sto c k Pa r k , M i An outdoor celebration of Michigan beer, featuring over 1000 beers from more than 115 breweries. Dress for winter weather and let the hearty winter brews warm your soul. Snow, rain or shine. ADMISSION: Saturday tickets are expected to sell out very quickly, cost is $50. Friday tickets are $45 in advance; $50 at the gate, if available. TICKETS: Tickets are limited; advanced purchase encouraged. No refunds. Tickets available online only at Ticket purchase includes 15 beer tokens which are available as you enter the festival. Beer tokens are required for beer samples. Sample size is 3 ounces. Additional tokens available for purchase inside festival. BEER TOKEN POLICY: To comply with Michigan Liquor Control Commission rules, tokens must be exchanged for beer samples. Any attempt to obtain beer samples without the appropriate exchange of tokens is a violation of MLCC rules and may result in removal from the festival. Must be 21 and over. I.D. is required. For tickets, information and updates, visit

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Friday tickets still available at





6 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

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w/ Amazonica





w/ Sponge

Van Halen Tribute





w/ Black Map, Palaye Royale

w/ Sixteen Candles





The Exclusive Re-creation of Genesis

w/ Gracie and Rachel

w/ James Barker Band

* MARCH 9 MOTIONLESS IN WHITE w/ Every Time I Die, Chelsea Grin, Ice Nine Kills



MARCH 29 SYLVAN ESSO w/ Suzi Analogue


el Show con Adrian Uribe y Omar Chaparro

w/ Beach Slang




w/ Chelsea Wolfe







w/ Tee Grizzley


What’s Inside

February 2018 | Volume 30, Issue 2


What’s Going On

14 Biz Beat

SoundS 17

On Tour: Pop Evil


On Tour: Cheap Trick


On Tour: Ani DiFranco




Style Notes


Eclectic: Love Life Hacks


Comedy: Mike Birbiglia


Eclectic: Gaming

Revue Arts: 1A

Visual arts, classical and jazz music, theater, arts event previews and more. (See the center of this issue)

Feature: Winter Blues 30

Indoor Escapes


Outdoor Adventures


Winter Festivals and Events


Skiing and Snowboarding


38 50


Restaurant Guide


Dining Review: New Hotel Mertens


Where to Get Spicy Dishes


Beer: Pilsner Taste-off


Last Call: Citizen GR

Letter from the Editor


inter isn’t exactly the kindest season. In fact, it can be a bit rude, if not standoffish. But that doesn’t mean we have to let it bully us around. There are ways to fight back, or at least find shelter until our good friend spring comes to the rescue. This month, we want to help you beat winter with its own weapons: cold and

snow. Without the white stuff, snowshoeing would just be hiking, but harder, and snowboards would be planks that are too short to walk off. And there really is no other season to ice skate in the open

air. For every punishment winter doles out, it also grants a gift. As for the cold, winter is by far the best time to marinate in a hot tub, and the great outdoors acts as a natural fridge for your 12-packs, which frees up shelf space. Plus, it just makes us all a little bit stronger. On the other hand, it’s a great excuse to stay inside, bundle up and do absolutely nothing. We cover all this and more in our Winter Blues section, but that’s not all we have this month. Check out our expansive guide on tabletop gaming and arcades (also a good escape from the cold), our look at the spiciest food around West Michigan, and our local pilsner taste-off. Valentine’s Day is coming up too, so we went to Grand Rapids’ very own love expert, Dr. Megan Stubbs, for some tips

W est M ichig a n ’ s E nterta inment G uide

Editorial Publisher Brian Edwards Associate Publisher Rich Tupica / Editor Joe Boomgaard / Managing Editor Josh Veal / Copy Editor Claire Boomgaard Design Creative Director Kim Kibby / Contributing Writers Missy Black Eric Mitts Kelly Brown Samara Napolitan Dana Casadei Jane Simons Dwayne Hoover Elma Talundzic Nick Macksood Kayla Tucker Marla R. Miller Contributing Photographers Katy Batdorff

for couples and singles alike. Whether you decide to escape or embrace winter’s icy grasp, just remember, there’s only one, or two, or maybe three more months of this.

Advertising / 616.608.6170 / Kelli Belanger / Digital EditorS Kim Kibby, Josh Veal

’Til next time,

MinionS Dominique Tomlin, Jack Raymond

Find us online! Josh Veal, Managing Editor Website: Twitter: Facebook: Instagram:

Upc oming is sue s March: Cooking Issue

April: The Food Issue

You shouldn’t always have to go out for your favorite dish. We’re exploring where to find cooking classes, equipment and ingredients for the home. We’ll also look into cooking’s liquid cousin: homebrewing.

Slowly but surely, West Michigan has eked out a reputation as a burgeoning foodie scene. In this issue, we explore the top locally owned destinations for five-course meals, cheap eats and everything in between.

To AdvertisE: Call (616) 608-6170 or email Space reservation is the 15th of the month before publication.

10 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

Revue is published monthly by Revue Holding Company. 65 Monroe Center, Ste. 5, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 Office: 616.608.6170 / Fax: 616.608.6182 ©2018, Revue Holding Company. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part granted only by written permission of the publisher in accordance with our legal statement, fools.

On the cover: Hitting the slopes at Cannonsburg Ski Area is one of our ways to beat the winter blues. See story on page 30.

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


/// best bets

what’s Going on this month |  Compiled by Revue Staff

2/3 Ethnic Heritage Festival

Grand Rapids Public Museum 272 Pearl St. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. There’s no better way to celebrate the various cultures that have made their home in West Michigan than the annual Ethnic Heritage Festival. Music and dancing takes place throughout the event, and there’s plenty of world food featured, along with an International Beer Tasting from 1-4 p.m. It is a celebration, after all! The museum is also featuring two exhibitions that have a primary focus on culture and diversity.

2/5 NF - Perception Tour

20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 5, 8 p.m.

Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

Michigan-native NF has been making music since 2010. With his music being primarily rap and hip-hop, the artist is most well-known for his last two albums, Therapy Session and Perception. NF has been featured on songs with well-known artists such as TobyMac and Futuristic, and his songs have been played on several popular shows. Perception was his first chart-topping album, as well as the reason for this tour.

2/7 Marilyn Manson

20 Monroe Live 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 7, 7 p.m., $55 Forty-nine and freaky as ever, Marilyn Manson graces 20 Monroe this month with enough satanic imagery to secure

12 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

a couple lifetimes in hell. Judging by the lead single, KILL4ME, from last year’s Heaven Upside Down, Manson hasn’t lost touch with the industrial BDSM sleaze he popularized in the ’90s. New material aside, if he performed The Beautiful People 20 times over, that would be just fine too. Dust off those combat boots and smear on the eyeliner, goth’s number-one weirdo is coming to town.


Jammie Awards XIX

The Intersection 133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Feb. 9, 5:30-11:30 p.m., $5 suggested donation Celebrating West Michigan’s ever-evolving music scene, the Jammies features performances from staples and rookies alike, including Afro Zuma, Mark Lavengood, Lipstick Jodi and plenty more amazing talents from our state. The ceremony is technically free, but a suggested $5 donation goes a long way to support the awesome services WYCE provides. Why not consider a couple bucks extra? For 19 years, the Jammies have served as a vanguard for local music and offered an outlet for under-the-radar artists. Honor this year’s nominees with some beers and applause at The Intersection.

Kevin Hart: Irresponsible Tour

Wings Event Center 3600 Vanrick Dr., Kalamazoo Feb. 9, 7 p.m., $59+

Having made a name for himself in acting and comedy, Kevin Hart is practically a household name. Beginning his career by winning amateur comedy competitions, he quickly rose to fame and has starred in numerous films, including Ride Along, Get Hard, Central Intelligence and most recently, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. He hosted the 2016 MTV Movie Awards, wrote a book,

Marilyn Manson at 20 Monroe Live, Feb. 7 and is nearing the end of yet another comedy tour. What can’t Kevin Hart do?

Feb. 10, 11 a.m., $7

Luke Combs

Celebrate love a few days before Valentine’s Day with the Art, Love, and Chocolate Tour at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. This tour uses artwork throughout the galleries to explore concepts like passion, love and companionship. It concludes with a chocolate treat to complete the sweet visit.

DeltaPlex Arena 2500 Turner Ave., Grand Rapids Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., $25+ Somewhat new to the country scene, Luke Combs has definitely made an impression. With chart-topping hits like Hurricane and When It Rains It Pours, it’s no surprise Combs has already earned multiple CMT Awards nominations. Combs never holds back during his shows, and that’s sure to be the case when he visits Grand Rapids on his Don’t Tempt Me With a Good Time tour.


Art, Love, and Chocolate Tour

Grand Rapids Art Museum 101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids

2/13 Love and Paczki: Double Release

Brewery Vivant 925 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids Feb. 13, 3-11 p.m. If there’s a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Fat Tuesday and Paczki Day all at once, then we certainly haven’t seen it. Brewery Vivant is releasing two beers for this special day: Love Shadow and

Fat Paczki. Love Shadow is the brewery’s famous Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, and there will be two variants of this beer available on very limited draft, as well as in cans. Fat Paczki is made with prune juice and powdered sugar, for the perfect paczki flavor. Along with these brews, Vivant will have themed food specials and Mardi Gras party music.

2/16 Dancing With the

Local Stars 10-Year Celebration

Holiday Inn & Conference Center 939 3rd St., Muskegon Feb. 17, 6-10 p.m., $40 dancing-with-the-local-stars

Just like the real thing, but with an obvious catch — instead of ogling over Nick Lachey, this Muskegon fundraiser showcases local faces like Circuit Court Judge Annette

Smedley and Mercy Health Ob/Gyn Dr. Karissa Tryska. Despite the lack of starpower of say, a Frankie Muniz, these are talented, trained dancers. Better yet, in the nine years the Women’s Division Chamber of Commerce has held the event, $755,000 dollars of donations have gone to benefit food programs and pantries in the greater Muskegon area. Hors d’oeuvres are on the house, and there’s a cash bar too. Drag your boogie body out and support the cause.

over Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, the most notable performance being in Chicago’s Improv Olympic.

Prove your bar game skills at the Bar Olympics Winter Decathlon!

2/24 Bar Olympics Winter

2/25 Corgis on Ice


Van Andel Arena 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids Feb. 25, 4-7 p.m., $15

The Horse’s Mouth Tavern 402 W. Main St., Belding Feb. 24, 1 p.m., $25

Pop Scholars

The Corgi is both confusing and delightful to look at. Toss a bunch of them on ice to knock about like curling stones and you have yourself an afternoon of laughter. With or without your own Corgi in tow, head to Van Andel Arena to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins skate around with the stubby pups. Sponsored by Paws With A Cause, a portion of every ticket sale goes to support the company who helps pair people with disabilities to an assistance-dog.

Peter Wege Auditorium 1130 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids Feb. 16, 8 p.m., $10-12 Although this isn’t the first time Pop Scholars has performed at Wealthy Theatre, it’s sure to be a unique experience full of energy and guaranteed to create laughter — it is improv, after all. The four-man team is based out of Grand Rapids but has performed all

If you love a good competition, this event is for you. Compete in 10 indoor bar games for a chance to walk home with a gold, silver or bronze medal, along with a cash prize. These games include disk golf, darts, flip cup, quarter bounce, shuffleboard, corn hole, beer pong, 3 ball pool, giant Jenga, Find more events and ring hook. Instead in Revue Arts and of competing with othat! ers in individual events, par ticipants will be competing for a total score.

2/1–28 Funniest Person in Grand Rapids

great food

live music


Dr. Grins Comedy Club 20 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 1-28, $5 For years now, Dr. Grins has challenged West Michigan comedians to a battle of wits (or whatever it takes to make people

laugh) and 2018 is no different. Comedians from around the region come together at Grand Rapids’ biggest comedy club to duke it out, Last Comic Standing style. These shows take place once per week, starting in January and running until the final date on March 7. n

february SHOWS 2/1

The World Beat Quartet 2/3

An Dro 2/8

Olivia Mainville 2/10

Serita's Black Rose 2/15

Mary Rademacher

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining


Love and Paczki: Double Release, Brewery Vivant, Feb. 13


Mid-Life Crisis Band

Sunday Brunch 11am-4pm



T U E - W E D 1 1 AM - 1 0 PM T H U R - F R I 1 1 AM - 1 1 PM S A T 5 PM- 1 1 PM & S U N 1 1 AM- 4 PM


Kathy Lamar 2/24

Natchez Trace

136 East Fulton, Grand rapids | 616.235.7669 | onetrick.BIZ REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


/// news

west Michigan

biz beat

A Roundup of Openings, Closings and other Local Business News

ANNOUNCED: Creston Brewery (1504 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids) has finalized plans to begin moving upstairs. Once construction is completed, the second-floor space will serve as a banquet hall, seating more than 210 people and sporting a second bar with 20 taps. The owners hope to use the space for concerts, beer dinners, stand-up comedy, weddings, corporate events and more.

OPENED: Brass Ring Brewing (2404 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids) is now open, bringing craft beer to the Alger Heights neighborhood. The brewery offers a simple food menu, with sandwiches, soup, cheese boards and a variety of appetizers. The taplist kicked off with seven

Sapporo Ramen & Noodle Bar Photo: Josh Veal

beers, including the Golden Ticket, a juicy golden ale with Glacier and Cascade hops, and the SMASH VOJ, a refreshing single malt and single hop ale. After great success in East Lansing, Sapporo Ramen & Noodle Bar (5570 28th St. SE, Cascade) has come to West Michigan. The restaurant focuses on ramen of all kinds, from miso to udon, tonkotsu, mazeman and more. You’ll also find plenty of appetizers to work with, such as the Spicy Garlic Edamame, steamed or fried gyoza, and tempura chicken. At long last, Georgina’s Fusion Cuisine (724 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids) has arrived from Traverse City. The Asian and Latin restaurant has garnered a following up north for its unique and delicious menu, and the Grand Rapids location looks no different. Check out dishes

like the Bandeja Paisa, a Colombian dish with shrimp, chorizo, steak, beans, rice, jalapeno crema, peppers, onions and eggs. If the weight of the world has you feeling heavy, it might be time to try out phl t (1555 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids). The new Eastown experience provides three sensory deprivation tanks. There’s no light or sound, the water is the same temperature as your skin, and a half-ton of Epsom salt does away with gravity. Your senses are essentially taken offline as you just lie there and relax. The service claims that this reduces stress, decompresses joints and increases dopamine and serotonin.

CLOSED: Schuler Books (2820 Towne Centre Blvd., Lansing) is leaving Lansing after 15 years of business. According to co-owner Bill Fehsenfeld, business was good, but the taxes at the Eastwood Towne Center are quadruple what Schuler pays at its Okemos location. Additionally, the store would have been forced to decrease in size by nearly half, leaving no room for the cafe. n —Compiled by Josh Veal

If you have any closings, openings or other business news for REVUE, e-mail


Weekday Happy Hour M-F 3-6pm


Back by Popular Demand March 24th & 25th 4 Mile Showplace Presented by:

Dining | sights | Sounds Scene


E-Liquid and CBD Convention Live Music

18+ to Enter 600 Monroe Avenue NW | Grand Rapids, Michigan | Phone 616.458.3125

14 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

2 Day Event

$10 advanced

VIP Tickets

$15 at the door




FireK Casin


Feb. R JOB













Tickets available now at the FireKeepers Box Office, or 877.FKC.8777.

Must be 21 or older. Tickets based on availability. Schedule subject to change.

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REVUEWM.COM | February 20182:37| PM 15 1/17/18

THE NEW 2018 BMW G310R starting at $4,995

Dining | Sights | Sounds | Scene

616.530.6900 |

16 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

/// On Tour

Back With A Roar

Chart-topping GR rockers Pop Evil launch new tour, LP here in West Michigan

Pop Evil

|  by Eric Mitts


with the release of lead single Waking Lions, which showcased because we wanted to be rich, or we would’ve moved to L.A. a renewed fervor for the band’s heavier side and officially introa long time ago.” duced new drummer Hayley Cramer, who moved from London Make no mistake: Pop Evil has had its share of success. One to West Michigan to join the band last year. of the biggest active rock radio bands right now, the group has “In a way, it feels like it’s all about our identity,” Kakaty charted four No. 1 rock singles, with its hits Trenches, Deal With said. “It’s like you can’t have a band name like Pop and Evil The Devil, Torn To Pieces and Footsteps all topping the national without giving clear definitions on who you are. Our pop sound charts. is more vibe-y and melodic on this record. And obviously meloBut any hype or pressure surrounding that level of rock dies have been the true constant that has followed throughout stardom hasn’t phased Kakaty, who continues to hold his bluethe previous four albums, but we felt like with a word like Evil collar, West Michigan work ethic close to everything he does. in our name: ‘Where’s the Evil? Where’s the heavy?’ We’re very “Ever since I was young, one of my big things was I always much influenced by heavy metal and rock music, and I think wanted to get out of Michigan, just to realize one thing: I never you’re going to see that on this record.” wanted to leave,” he said. “It’s in our bloodline. Just working Eager to reconnect with its roots, Pop Evil returned to West for everything. I mean, Pop Evil, if you look at our success, Michigan to demo much of the music for the new LP before it’s never been given to us. … Coming from the cover band recording in Nashville last fall. Coming full circle, the band scene, we didn’t really have the experience that some of the will launch its massive nationwide tour right other bands had playing just original music here in GR on Feb. 15. constantly. So we took our lumps over the “Anytime we can bring some attention years, but I think that battle mentality we have Pop Evil back here to West Michigan is always a good here in West Michigan, like, ‘I don’t care who The Noise Presents – The thing,” Kakaty said. “But for us, we’re just likes us, we’re just going to keep doing it. I don’t Music Over Words Tour constantly about pushing and expanding the care who believes in us, or if they think that we Wsg. Palaye Royale, Black Map band and getting this music to other countries. can get out of Michigan at all. We’re going to 20 Monroe Live Of course, every time you come back home and keep pounding and prove it to ourselves first 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 15, 6:30 p.m. doors, 7:30 play with a new record, it’s always humbling... that we are worthy of being a worldwide band.’” p.m. show (But) dreams come true, and being able to Dead set on definitively proving them$23-45 play it for your family and friends and the city selves, the members of Pop Evil will return this, (844) 678-5483 that helped break you — it’s always a humbling month with their fifth studio LP. Due out Feb. 16, the self-titled LP roared to life late last year experience.” n

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene | Sounds | Sights | Dining

ith another NFL season c o m i n g t o a c l o s e , Pop Ev il frontman Leigh Kakaty couldn’t help but compare his band’s current state to that of the long-beleaguered Detroit Lions. “We know we’re not going to win a Super Bowl every year,” Kakaty said just days before the Lions failed to make the NFL playoffs. “And we know that the odds are against Pop Evil, not only because of the way we look, or the way we sound, but because of where we come from.” Formed back in 2001 outside of Muskegon, and rising from cover bars to mainstream radio stardom all right here in Grand Rapids, Kakaty said he knows Pop Evil doesn’t have the prestigious pedigree that rock bands from New York, or Los Angeles, or even Detroit have. But like his beloved Lions, he’s always taken that challenge to heart — working that much harder to make a name for himself and his band, even if they’re a little bit off the beaten rock path. “There’s this certain kind of stereotype to our band, that we’ve had to break so many different molds, that if we can just worry about one song at a time, one concert at a time, and make every show we play be as good as we can, then we’re OK,” Kakaty said. “There’s always one person that’s hearing us for the first time, and that’s good enough for us. We never really got into it for money or fame anyways. We got into it to jam — that’s why we never moved out of West Michigan. It certainly wasn’t

Photo: Clay Patrick McBride


/// On Tour Cheap Trick: Bassist Tom Petersson, Rick Nielson (guitar), Robin Zander (lead vocals/ rhythm guitar) and Rick Nielson’s son, drummer Daxx Nielson. Courtesy Photo

You own almost 600 guitars, a serious collection. Do you recall what Lennon played? He was playing a Veleno guitar, which is what Grand Funk and Marc Bolan played — but it wasn’t a great guitar. I told him, ‘You’re John Lennon, you should be playing something else.’ I gave him one of the guitars I brought with me that day. I got it back (from Yoko) three years later, after he was murdered. Does Cheap Trick collaborate on the newer songs? We all work on everybody’s songs. That’s not something we used to do. We try to make the best effort out of it. Sometimes something you don’t like turns out to be something. You have to work on them. The better stuff always comes to the top. Surrender and I Want You to Want Me, we had them but held them for a couple records because they weren’t finished yet.

Guitar Slinger Cheap Trick legend Rick Nielsen chats with Revue

Dining | Sights | Sounds | Scene

|  by Rich Tupica In the summer of 1980, Cheap Trick guitar virtuoso Rick Nielsen walked into a New York City recording studio to record I’m Losing You with John Lennon. A few months later, the Beatle was assassinated. Working alongside Lennon is just one of the many astonishing plaudits Nielsen has received in his long career that started in 1965 but took off in 1977 with the mainstream success of Cheap Trick’s self-titled debut. Today, younger musicians are standing in line to work with Nielsen, 69, and his Cheap Trick bandmates. The group’s singles I Want You to Want Me, Surrender and Dream Police — all penned by Nielsen — became the blueprint for both primitive power pop and over-the-top arena rock. Four decades later, the band hasn’t abandoned the guitar-driven pop majesty that earned the Illinois natives 40 Gold and Platinum records and a 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. Last year, the work horses dropped two records, We’re All Alright! and Christmas Christmas. We talked with Nielsen about his eventful past.

18 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

I heard you’ve played around 5,000 shows since Cheap Trick formed in 1974 — has that become tiresome these days? We said the 5,000 shows thing about 10 years ago. I don’t know what it is now. I love to play, so that part is fine. We’ve done that for years, now it’s just rough going through TSA and all that. The travel kind of beats you up, but we were beat up before we started, almost. We used to play six nights a week, three or four sets a night. The worst thing is you get up and look in the mirror — I feel like I’m 16 but look 116. You’ve collaborated with Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. How did that friendship start? He approached us. We knew him because Nirvana were Cheap Trick fans. Kurt Cobain said, ‘We’re like Cheap Trick except the guitars are louder.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, our guitars are pretty loud.’ They were fans of ours before we knew who they were. One day, Dave Grohl and (drummer) Taylor Hawkins showed up to our show wearing Cheap Trick shirts. What do you recall about recording with John Lennon on his Double Fantasy LP sessions? When John walked in and saw me, he was like, ‘Oh! It’s you.’ He knew who I was, but didn’t realize who I was until he saw me. My ongoing joke is he thought I was going to be Ricky Nelson. I told John I was going to take him guitar shopping.

When you wrote Surrender, do you recall where you were? I was in Rockford, Ill. in my second-floor apartment. The lyrics were inspired by my aunt. She was in the Women’s Army Corps in World War II. When you’re 18 or 19, you really haven’t done much except go to school. My love life was no big deal, so I wouldn’t have had many songs to write about that. Do you work on songwriting in or out of the studio? We all write stuff on our own and then work in the studio. We were just in last week and did 12 (tracks) in one day. Are they all good? Yeah. But will they make the record? Maybe three of them. What was it like working with the Beatles producer George Martin on Cheap Trick’s All Shook Up LP in 1980? We asked him and he agreed. It was really odd. We had George Martin and Geoff Emerick, both the guys who produced Sgt. Peppers, come to Madison, Wisc. in the middle of the winter to do a pre-production. Can you imagine that? Years later, we got George’s blessing to do Sgt. Peppers live. He gave me the original orchestra charts. I had him sign them twice. He gave me a book and signed it, ‘Rick, you’re a great musician, how come you’re so nice?’ n

Cheap Trick

Firekeepers Casino, 11177 E. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek Feb. 9, 8 p.m., $39+, 1-(800) 585-3737

/// On tour At The B.O.B. Grand Rapids, MI 616.356.2000

Ani DiFranco

PAT MCGyAN1-N3 Februar

Photo: GMD Three

Sing la Résistance Ani DiFranco continues her message of social change


February MAND 8-10

|  by Dwayne Hoover


me. I mean, I’ve not done anything criminal or wrong, or maybe even that I should be ashamed of, but I would be because I’m human, and I think the pain of that kind of life would make it impossible for me to pursue.” That doesn’t stop her from tackling social issues through her music, as is apparent in her latest album, Binary. The debut single from the record, Play God, directly confronts the issue of women’s reproductive rights, with a hard-hitting refrain that challenges the listener with the words, “You don’t get to play God, man, I do.” Yet even in such tumultuous times, DiFranco is cautiously optimistic. Even in the face of such enormous struggle, she sees brave people willing to stand up for what is right. “I am heartened by every new activated citizen I see and encounter, and all of the ways I see people making themselves accountable,” DiFranco said. “When in doubt, if you have insanity at the top then we have to organize ourselves down in the trenches, and I think there is a lot more of that going on. That can potentially have a real positive, lasting effect for us as citizens and as community leaders.” And it’s not just people in the spotlight who can make a difference. DiFranco believes

in the small, everyday actions that anybody can make to effect positive change. Part of it is unplugging from the constant barrage of negativity prevalent on 24-hour news networks and social media — and part of it is simply acting. “I would say turn off the device, look away and look around you,” DiFranco said. “That’s what helps me is to get involved with other people who are doing good shit, and try to help them. Try to help the person that is closest to you that is doing something positive in this world, and the effect on yourself, yet alone the world, I think is really liberating.” You can catch DiFranco’s performance at the end of this month at 20 Monroe Live, where she will be joined by the pop pianoviolin duo Gracie and Rachel. “Gracie and Rachel are opening up the show and they’re awesome,” DiFranco said. “They’re going to be doing some sitting in with me and my band, too. It’s going to be fun.” n

Ani DiFranco wsg. Gracie and Rachel

20 Monroe Live, 11 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Feb. 27, 7 p.m. $39.50-$135, (844) 678-5483


February 15-17


AN FebruaryUL2M2-2 4


Scene | Sounds | Sights | Dining

ni DiFr anco is no stranger to politics. A leader in the feminist movement, the singer-songwriter and poet isn’t afraid to dive deep, meeting social issues head-on not only through her music, but in activism. There was a time when she even considered taking a more active role, flirting with the idea of serving in public office. “This Trump as president business has us all thinking about it now,” DiFranco said. “Hey, wow, anybody can be president. It’s true! People have said it to me for a long time because I’ve been politically active for a long time.” But the idea was f leeting. Given the nature of our mudslinging political system, DiFranco is well aware she would spend more time fending off opponents than she would addressing legitimate issues. “I was just thinking about it last night actually, and I don’t think it would be possible in this climate of attack and ‘gotcha’ and takedown,” DiFranco said. “If I was running for some sort of office, someone would appoint themselves to be my personal attack artist, and I think it would make life untenable for

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


SON IN GRs R E P T S IE N N U F day Night

Style Notes

DO YOU HYGGE? Cozying up with Danish style


ygge (pronounced "hoo-ga") i s a n old Da n i sh c once p t that helps Danes get through the long, dark winter. It loosely translates as a sense of comfort, togetherness and well-being. If you suffer from the wintertime blues, this practice can put all that to rest. “Everyone can benefit from making their space cozier and warmer,” said Amber Brandt, chief architect of cozy at The Coziness Consultant. The business does interior design work with a major emphasis on contentment, comfort and connection. Her natural knack for fixing trouble spots or eye sores in homes has morphed into everyday hygge happiness.


Dining |Sights Sounds | Scene

According to Brandt, living a life that is aligned with personal values is key. “The bigger narrative for us is relationships,” Brandt said. Taking care of spaces in the home that are unwelcoming (such as an unfinished dining room) creates cohesion and coziness to live into those larger values. The wintertime can be an especially tough and lonely time, so stocking up on hygge essentials means riding out the cold months with a sunny attitude. Here’s a sample checklist of what you’ll need to find peace. n When it comes to clothing, stock up on flannel and fleece and anything soft like a teddy bear. Thick socks, shearling slippers, scarves, ultra-comfortable pajamas, a robe and mountains of sweaters allow you to be a walking warm fuzzy feeling. n Relax at home with warm drinks like tea (topped with a Stroopwafel perhaps), throw pillows and blankets, and tons of candles. For maximum hygge, there’s “always the larger theme of light,” Brandt said. “Utilize the fireplace and at dinnertime try candles in your home. A simple taper candle has a different level of elegance.

20 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

A cozy living room designed by Amber Brandt, aka The Coziness Consultant.

Courtesy photo

Danes usually own a designer lamp for that light aesthetic. Light shouldn’t be jarring, but soothing.” n We time over me time. Hygge is all about connection over the long, cold winter stretches and it makes sense. Plan a game night or a dinner club or any group activity that lets you hunker down yet remain social.



n Art of the Table: With a tagline like “gather around a tasteful spread,” what more can you say? Cheese, chocolate and even taper candles. It’s basically a onestop hygge shop.

Surrounding yourself with soothing, homey comforts is the main tenant of the hygge lifestyle. If cabin fever is closing in, you’re not alone. “I’m affected by what’s happening inside my home,” Brandt said. “If rooms are messy, I feel hectic in my head.” Seek hygge outside, finding ways to get out into the weather that are positive. Go snowshoeing on a wooded hike and forage — it’s very hygge to bring the outdoors inside. Twigs with buds or berries make a lovely winter centerpiece, pine cones or acorns can be turned into a fun garland or stacked neatly in a dish, and greenery feels elegant and earthy, according to Brandt. Appreciate the weather for what it is, connecting with that specific season. Don’t want to venture out? Curl up with a good book and hot cocoa and “do things that are soul feeding, that’ll improve your mood like a hot bath or leaving your Christmas tree up to still have the lights. Dial into those things,” Brandt said.

Brandt, the master of cozy, shared her local hygge hot spots to recharge your spirit. n Sidebar GR: Super dimly lit and tiny, with just a handful of tables and handcrafted cocktails. Feels tucked away.

n Rebel Reclaimed: We’re huge fans of our neighborhood's Chip and Dann and their curated selection. Candles, mittens, flannel, coffee mugs, planters, and more. n Lantern Coffee Bar and Lounge: Tasty drinks and the most cozy little basement seating area you ever did see. A little downtown haven. n The Sovengard: A Scandinavian, shareable menu that honors the seasons, inventive drinks and the kindest wait staff — plus extra points for a beer garden that's hidden from the street! The natural decor and wood make it feel upscale and chic, but super approachable and homey. n

by Missy Black

Sneak peak at our new

ARTISAN SERIES HYGGE STARTER KIT Here’s a prescription for Wild Sage and White Mint tea and time to reflect on life, $13 at Woosah Outfitters. Faux-fur lining equals real comfort. Slippers from KEEN to schlep around the house, $80 at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus. Bask in the glow of a night in with a candle companion in the scent White Birch and Bergamot — combining the best of winter with the promise of spring, prices vary at Wax Poetic Candle Bar. The sleep set to end all sleep sets! Comfortable tuxedo lounge pants and the Katie Tunic make it hard to change into anything else, $89. Try also the Ada Sweater — a long and lean open front cardigan in a soft, cashmere blend, $158, both at Duffield Lane.





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REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene | Sounds |Sights Dining



/// Eclectic

Love Life Hacks

West Michigan’s sexologist on beating the winter blues by Kelly Brown

If you’re starting to feel like your mood is falling as fast as the thermometer, you’re likely suffering from SAD — seasonal affective disorder. The days are shorter and the sun never shines. Suddenly, you’re feeling lonely with no motivation to get out of bed and fix it. And while this seasonal depression can make your work and social life difficult, it can wreak havoc on your intimate relationships. But the West Michigan-based sex and relationship expert Dr. Megan Stubbs has your cure to these winter blues. We talked with Stubbs about how to let love win, even in the coldest of seasons.

1. Fly Solo With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you might feel a twinge of loneliness in your stomach. Seeing your friends post on social media about enchanting dates with their significant others (or worse, getting engaged) can leave you green with envy. “Think of this as a time to celebrate you. When you see your friends posting all their happy love stories, know that you’re just seeing the highlight reel.” Instead of dwelling over your friends’ Instagram posts, pop on your best outfit and make a reservation for one. “Consider Valentine’s day a day to give love or express love,” Stubbs said. Take the time to express your gratitude toward a friend or a co-worker. Or snuggle up on the couch for a Netflix marathon with your best bud, which could be your dog or cat! Valentine’s Day isn’t just for significant others anymore.

Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

Revue’s tip If you’re alone, eating at the bar is a good way to go. Check out The Green Well or HopCat for a solid solo experience. Or grab some high-class wine from Martha’s Vineyard and enjoy at home.

2. Do It for Your Health “Sex is a natural antidepressant,” Stubbs said. After intimacy, most people tend to feel better, closer and even warmer. The surge of feel-good hormones in your brain will help counter the lack of serotonin — a neurotransmitter that affects happiness levels and is less present during seasons of low sunlight. That boost in serotonin can help your week at work feel less stressful. On top of that, swapping spit can boost your immunity. “Making out is swapping immunoglobulin A. When you kiss, you’re getting a boost in that,” Stubbs said.

22 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

This exchange of low-levels of germs can give your immune system a little boost. But it’s not exactly cure-all if you feel an oncoming cold. For an extra boost, head to a local health market like Fresh Thyme or Harvest Health Foods for nutritional supplements that can help with depression and immunity.

Dr. Megan Stubbs

Revue’s tip

plan and make time. You really do have to schedule time so that you’re both on the same page.”

3. Ignore the Number on the Scale

Revue’s tip Making a reservation helps set your schedule in stone. Restaurants like Luna and Terra make these appointments easy.

Throw your fitness resolutions out the window and ignore the extra weight you might’ve packed on around the holiday. A fuller figure shouldn’t stop you from hitting the sheets with your partner. “You’re so much more than a number on a scale,” Stubbs said. “If you’re not feeling confident in yourself, then take stock in your body. Look at what your body is doing for you. You shouldn’t aspire for a size. You should aspire to feel good in the skin that you’re in.”

5. Change It Up

Revue’s tip A great way to feel comfortable in your own skin is to hire a local photographer for a boudoir shoot. They’ll capture your true beauty.

4. Prioritize Winter (especially as we head into tax season … yikes) usually equals busy schedules. Busy schedules create stress and fatigue. After a hard week at work, it’s easy to go out for a couple of drinks and come home, flop into bed and kill the lights. Stubbs suggests blocking out time and space by syncing up Google Calendars and scheduling a time together. “You would never treat a business relationship like, ‘Well, we’ll see each other at the golf course sometime,’” she said. “No! You

“If you know your partner likes X, Y and Z, then it’s time to change things up and try Q , H and Y,” Stubbs said. If you want to get your partner up and moving, then you must keep things interesting. Especially during a season when all we want to do is hibernate. “Be willing to fail. If it turns out horrible, laugh it off and move on. This should be a safe place.” Taking control goes hand-in-hand with changing things up. If you want to have a more intimate relationship, then it’s time to step up. Especially if your partner feels like crashing on the couch after work. Revue’s tip There’s far more ways to change it up than just in the bedroom. Visit a new restaurant, go rock-climbing together, take a mini road-trip to Kalamazoo or vice versa — whatever it takes. n

Dr. Megan Stubbs is a full-time sexologist who writes for Playboy and has contributed to more than 50 publications as well as TV, radio and public speaking events.

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


by Eric Mitts


Dining |Sights Sounds | Scene


now n for his longfor m story t elling, self-deprecating confessionals and heartfelt humor, comedian Mike Birbiglia has kept a tight lid on his latest one-man show, simply titled The New One. Like many of his favorite movies from last year, including The Big Sick and Get Out, the 39-year-old comedian said he feels his show is best experienced with as little background knowledge as possible. “I always tell people the most generous gift I can give them when I see a great show or a movie as a comedian is just to say, ‘Watch this. Don’t read a review or watch a trailer,’” Birbiglia said. With two of his own comedy specials, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend and Thank God For Jokes, available for streaming anytime on Netflix, he added he doesn’t feel like he has to explain his style or his humor anymore. “If you like those (specials), then I’m sure you’ll like the new show,” Birbiglia said. “And if you don’t like those, it’s probably not for you either.” Performing for nearly two decades, Birbiglia has built a loyal following. From his early days touring the country on the comedy club circuit, to his long-standing contributions to National Public Radio’s This American Life, where he developed his knack for longer narrative arcs, he has honed his craft into something that connects with a growing number of fans. “I say this in Thank God For Jokes, I think of myself as something of a niche comedian,” he said. “I’m not mainstream, I’m not widely known, I’m not a household name, but what I do is very specific, and people who like it often really like it. And that’s great. I prefer it that way.” Since he’s returning to perform at Fountain Street Church — which he fondly remembers from his 2011 LaughFest performance — he did want to make sure people here in Grand Rapids knew one thing for certain: He does curse in the show. “I would say it’s not gratuitous in any way, but it’s definitely for adults,” Birbiglia said of The New One. “I feel like I have to

24 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

Mike Birbiglia

Photo: Brian Friedman

New … and Improved? Acclaimed comedian and filmmaker Mike Birbiglia returns to GR explain that for people because people are very sensitive to language, and I am too. I think about all the words of the show, and why they’re there. So there is some minimal cursing, but I don’t think unnecessarily.” Raised Catholic, Birbiglia isn’t one to normally curse in church. In fact, he’s not really a comedian who curses much at all. But in order to remain honest to himself, and his craft, he doesn’t want to set limits on where he can go with his comedy. Don’t worry though, his wife Jen Stein approves of the show. As does his brother Joe Birbiglia, and his longtime friends Judd Apatow, Ira Glass, John Mulaney and Pete Holmes, who all appear on his latest podcast, The Old Ones, which he launched on his website in conjunction with the show. Revisiting his old albums, the podcast explores how Birbiglia got to here and how his past continues to influence his future. “Ira Glass recently said to me on my podcast — he had this half-question: ‘What’s it like to have told this sleepwalking story,

Mike Birbiglia: The New One

Fountain Street Church 24 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 3, 7 p.m., $35,, (616) 459-8386

which there is no way you’ll ever have a better story than that?’” Birbiglia said. “‘Do you feel like there’s a degree to which you can have a story as good as the story you’ve already told? Do you get anxious about that? Do you worry that you’ll get known as the sleepwalking guy?’ And I think, ‘Yeah, I do.’ It’s a really outrageous story, and it provides a metaphor, and has got a lot of drama to it and a lot of comedy, and it’s really extreme. So basically, I have to get better at the craft of what I’m doing so I can tell my story in a more interesting way.” More recently, Birbiglia has ventured both in front of and behind the camera,

having adapted his one-man show, Sleepwalk With Me, into his directorial debut film, and appearing in hit TV series, including Orange Is The New Black, Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer. In 2016, he made his directorial follow-up with the hit indie film Don’t Think Twice, which drew inspiration from his experiences starting out in improv comedy nearly 20 years ago. Even though a lot has changed since then, especially with the immersion of social media into the comedy world, Birbiglia said he feels it’s still that direct interaction with fans, developing that sense of shared trust as performer and audience, that keeps things so exciting for him. “I feel like that’s sort of what’s special — and also dangerous — about live performance combined with social media,” he said. “People can quote you out of context if they choose to. As a performer, you walk onstage and take the risk, but I feel like ultimately it’s worth the risk.” n

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



EVERY DAY rotating daily drink specials









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Newly Engaged?

Revue’s Reviews Revue Arts has kicked off its review program of classical and jazz music, theater and dance performances all over West Michigan. All reviews are posted online at by the next day. Here are some snippets of what we’ve seen so far: “Cho’s combination of sensitivity and bravura is evocative of his predecessors and great Chopin interpreters, such as Artur Rubinstein and Vladamir Horowitz. Perhaps there is room for a tad more abandon in Cho’s playing, but Sunday’s concert indicated that the young pianist is on his way to earning a place among the greats.” —Samara Napolitan on Seong-Jin Cho at the Gilmore Keyboard Festival

CONSIDER A WEDDING RECEPTION AT THE DOUBLETREE Our All-Inclusive Reception packages include food, cocktails, set up and décor Call 616-957-0100 and ask for Karisa. | 4747 28th St SE, Grand Rapids

26 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

“The emotional fireworks and thought-provoking themes of To Kill a Mockingbird can tempt some directors to go to ill-advised ex-

tremes, but thankfully Espeland and his team opt for subtlety and tastefulness instead of Great American Novel razzle-dazzle.” —James Sanford on To Kill a Mockingbird at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre “Although the space was small and noise in the audience could easily be heard, the performers were engaging enough to hold everyone’s attention. The crowded apartment felt more like a big family gathering than a formal play.” —Kayla Tucker on The Vagina Monologues at the Fuse Box

Read them all at!

FebruarY 2018

Musical Myriad Imani Winds blazes new trails for the diverse world of wind quintets. SEE PAGE 12A. Story by Samara Napolitan. Photo by Matthew Murphy.



SEASONED VET Beverly Pepper at Meijer Gardens



CINEMA SOUNDS WMS presents Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies



ON THE EDGE Fringe Festival celebrates the unusual

Welcomed by:





AMERICAN MUSICAL in Broadway History!

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[BEST BETS] A Year with Frog and Toad Who remembers the classic illustrations by Arnold Lobel in his Frog and Toad books? Those children’s stories, written in the ’70s but still loved by many to this day, were turned into a musical by brothers Robert and Willie Reale. A Year with Frog and Toad follows the everlasting friends, cheerful Frog and grumpy Toad, through four seasons as they celebrate what makes them unique and special. This month, the play will be directed by Kathy Gibson and performed by theater students at Aquinas College. On Broadway, the show was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical. —Kayla Tucker


A Year with Frog and Toad Aquinas College Performing Arts Center 1703 Robinson Rd. SE, Grand Rapids Feb. 15-18, 8 p.m., $15, (616) 456-6656

A Raisin in the Sun MCT tackles the groundbreaking drama A Raisin in the Sun, which debuted on Broadway in 1959 and explores issues like black-white housing tensions during the era, trusting the wrong people, and class issues among blacks. The play by Lorraine Hansberry was inspired by her own struggles in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood as black families moved in and fought back against housing discrimination. As the play opens, three generations of the Youngers live in a dilapidated apartment on the city’s south side. Divergent dreams come into conflict, along with racial and class tensions as they struggle over what to do with insurance money after the death of the family patriarch. Mama Lena wants to move to a new home; Walter, a chauffeur, aspires to buy a liquor store; and Beneatha has big plans for medical school. The storyline serves as a timeless document of hope, inspiration and standing up for what is right. —Marla Miller


Igor Levit wins 2018 Gilmore Artist Award

A Raisin in the Sun Muskegon Civic Theatre Beardsley Theater, 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon Feb. 16–25, March 1–3, 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee 3 p.m., $20-$22,, (800) 585-3737


Russian-German pianist Igor Levit has been chosen to receive the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival’s 2018 Artist Award. Every four years, the Gilmore awards $300,000 to a career musician who shows promise, charisma and the highest level of skill. Levit is known for his strong views on politics and his willingness to voice them during concerts, such as on Nov. 9, 2016, when Levit criticized Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise of the far right in France and Germany. Naturally, this created some controversy. He’s also participated in some rather unique performances, such as a staging of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with Marina Abramovic, in which audience members sat in complete silence for half an hour before he played. The award comes with the opportunity to play multiple shows with the Gilmore, including at the festival this year.

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



Children, Culture, Community

Muskegon Museum of Art celebrates diversity with a variety of events this winter by Marla R. Miller

There’s no excuse to hibernate at home this winter: Muskegon Museum of Art has a cure for cabin fever; and an outlet for creativity with a variety of activities, exhibitions, special programs and even a poetry competition. This year, the museum’s annual children’s book illustrator exhibition highlights a Hispanic artist and Native American author. Thunder Boy, Jr.: Illustrations by Yuyi Morales runs through May 20 and includes illustrations and sketches by Yuyi Morales for Sherman Alexie’s children’s book. It’s a special exhibition created by the MMA, inspired by the recent Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian exhibit, and another way to represent and

Thunder Boy, Jr.: Illustrations by Yuyi Morales

Muskegon Museum of Art 296 W. Webster Ave, Muskegon Through May 20, (231) 720-2570


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

engage Muskegon’s diverse community, said Catherine Mott, curator of education. Using real life reflections and humor, Alexie’s Thunder Boy Jr. tells the story of a Native American boy who doesn’t like his name and wants to change it to one that is “normal.” A native of Mexico, Morales’ experiences and culture shine through in her work and influence her use of color, pattern and texture. “I loved her use of Native American touches to it, but it also reflected her heritage,” Mott said. “I visit with students in Muskegon Public Schools and they come in and see the exhibition, so it’s that connection that it’s a real person, that someone (Hispanic) is making these things.” Working with various school groups, Mott tries to plan exhibits and programming that students can relate to and be

inspired by to pursue their own artistic talents. Mott reached out to the publisher to use the digital illustrations from the 2016 release, so it’s not only current, but a good way to talk about what goes into creating illustrations for a book, Mott said. The exhibit includes some of her sketches to show the process of how it comes together. “It’s also a way to talk about how illustrators are working digitally,” she said. “Even though it’s digital, she scanned in textures of a piece of wood. You see it used throughout the book, how she uses texture and graphic design.” Morales herself has an inspiring story. Although she loved drawing as a child, she wasn’t a trained artist and studied physical education in Mexico, later working as a swim coach. She moved to America in 1994 with her husband and

Illustration from Thunder Boy, Jr., by Yuyi Morales. courtesy photo young son and felt isolated and alone without a job or friend, barely knowing English. That all changed when she discovered children’s picture books in a San Francisco area public library, learning English by also reading the books to her son. Inspired by the vivid colors and visual stories, Morales took up painting and enrolled in a class on writing for children. Morales since has written several original stories, including Viva Frida, which received the 2015 Pura Belpre Medal for illustration, as well as the 2015 Caldecott Award Honor.


Postcard Salon, Feb. 1-15 MMA’s popular Postcard Salon returns, celebrating the small-scale work of West Michigan artists from novice to professional. This annual exhibition offers a wide variety of media and themes to explore and has few rules aside from the size requirement. Postcard Salon started 12 years ago as a way to engage and challenge local artists and the community and reflects the museum’s commitment to support Michigan artists. Last year, more than 1,400 cards found a space on the Weiner Gallery wall, giving artists of all ages and skill a chance to display their work. It’s also a chance for art collectors or budget buyers to take home a piece of original art. While no submission is turned away, this year’s salon includes the first-ever juror awards. Four artists’ winning entries will win cash prizes. The two-week exhibition culminates with a Postcard Reception and Sale at 5:30-8 p.m. on Feb. 15. All art is priced at $30.

Southern Roots: The Paintings of Winfred Rembert, Thru March 18 MMA’s auditorium is expected to fill up Feb. 8 for a special program and insightful Q&A with artist Winfred Rembert, following a screening of a documentary based on his life. All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert details Rembert’s life, from working on a cotton farm to a prison chain gain after a near lynching during the Civil Rights movement, and his experiences growing up poor and black in the segregated south. Director Vivian Ducat will attend the screening, which starts at 7 p.m.

Rembert’s carved and dyed leather paintings are the focus of the MMA’s winter exhibition Southern Roots, which features more than 25 works and the debut of several new paintings.

Art Talks Back poetry competition, Thru March 29 For poets in the crowd, MMA’s Art Talks Back Poetry Competition invites all adult/ college-age writers in Michigan to create an ekphrastic (a vivid description of a work of art) poem based on one of 10 selected works from the museum’s permanent collection. Each year, the chosen work changes and reflects the collection’s diversity, from abstract paintings to contemporary glass, Mott said. The contest helps connect the literary and visual arts. “That’s the idea, getting to know the pieces a little more intimately, just sitting with it,” Mott said. “It brings in a different group of people who might not come in, people creating different stories and poems behind what they see.” Past entries have run the gamut from humorous to serious to imaginative backstories, and have even helped Mott view the collection differently. Competition guidelines, images of selected works, and entry forms are available at the museum gift shop or online at “We have everything online, but there’s something unique about actually seeing a work in person,” Mott added. Cash prizes, museum memberships and gift certificates are awarded to the winning poets, who read their work at an awards ceremony April 19. ■

2018 Art Talks Back art selection: Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941). Cobalt Blue Persian Set with Cadmium Red Lip Wraps (details), 1992, blown glass. Gift of the SPX Corporation, 2002.3an. Photo by Frederic A. Reinecke

Live entertainment, visual art, and music light shows. The best date night in downtown Kalamazoo. VISUAL EXPERIENCES| 5 PM |FREE LIVE MUSIC EXPERIENCES | 6 PM | FREE MUSIC LIGHT SHOWS | 7 PM | $3


FEBRUARY 2 Portraits and music by Dan Smith Author Deanna Scelzo of Winter In My “Hood” Louie in concert 6 & 7 PM

FRETBOARD FESTIVAL KICKOFF MARCH 2 with The Corn Fed Girls (Americana)


APRIL 6 Guest speaker & artist to be announced!

KALAMUSIC (Americana/Blues/Folk) MAY 4 Disfigured Reasons, oil paintings by Gabriele Mckenzie

MUSIC LIGHT SHOWS IN THE PLANETARIUM FEBRUARY 2 | 7 PM Led Zeppelin APRIL 6 - JUNE 1 | 7 PM Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon

FREE GENERAL ADMISSION Monday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Art Hop Fridays 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Sunday + Holidays 1 p.m.–5 p.m. Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Easter

The Kalamazoo Valley Museum is operated by Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is governed by its Board of Trustees

269.373.7990 | 800.772.3370

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



Portrait of a Life

Decades of Beverly Pepper’s personal sketches come to Meijer Gardens by Dana Casadei

When Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park received a gift from contemporary sculptor Beverly Pepper — consisting of nearly 900 works — Chief Curator and Vice President Joseph Becherer immediately started thinking about a future exhibition. “Things have been flowing all the way until relatively recently because we really wanted to present highlights,” Becherer said. “It’s more than 65 years of work.” The exhibition, Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper, is running from Feb. 2 through April and is comprised of 10 sections and more than 70 pieces. Eight sections are a chronological journey throughout her career, starting in the 1940s when she left America for Europe up to today. The last part of the exhibition will have a video of the 95-year-old in her Italian studio, where she still paints every day. The other sections of the exhibit are focused more on specific themes. One will be a sampling of her sketchbooks and Becherer said there are at least a dozen. The other will take a look at her interest in landscapes. Becherer said this exhibition is one that guests will enjoy even if they don’t know much about art. They just have to be interested in being told a good story. When putting it all together, Becherer wanted to make sure this exhibition did just that. “I wanted to tell the story of how her art changed, but I also wanted to help underscore the fact that as a woman in the 20th century, she was really a pioneer,” he said. Pepper has been a driving force in the art world for decades, with her career taking off in the wake of Abstract Ex-


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

pressionism during the 1960s, when she received critical acclaim from all around the world. Her work includes sculptures created in bronze, steel, cast iron and stone, along with site-specific installations, drawings and prints in galleries and museums. Her steel sculpture, Galileo’s Wedge, is currently in the Meijer Gardens. “I wanted to show the depth of having a lot of works by one artist,” Becherer said of the huge number of pieces. “It’s great to have one piece or two pieces by an artist, but when you have a whole body of work, that’s really, really a significant thing.” The exhibition is mainly drawings and prints, including many sketches of her major sculptural endeavors. Meijer Gardens landing this gift wasn’t pure luck — Becherer said the organization has had a long relationship with Pepper that started in the early 2000s. A

Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 2-April 29

few years ago, he even spent some time interviewing her about her life and building up transcripts. “I think that we all like to have longstanding relationships, and we like to have commitments from other individuals,” Becherer said. “Beverly got a commitment from Meijer Gardens and she also got a commitment from me as an academic, as a scholar, as a curator.” After all this, Pepper trusted him to tell

her story. Becherer said she liked the idea of the narrative. Unfortunately, she won’t be making the trip to Grand Rapids — she is 95 and lives halfway across the world — but she will definitely be there in spirit. “I wouldn’t say (the sketchbooks) are necessarily like reading a diary, but they are different than seeing something that’s framed and on the wall,” Becherer said. “You really feel the artist and their presence.” ■

Photo by Zacharov Photography.

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Photo courtesy of Nauming Woods and Loon Lake Photography.

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PREVIEW Only four new exhibits open this month, but they couldn’t be more different from one another. One focuses on reimagined interpretations of superheroes, while another celebrates a local gallery’s 30th anniversary. Meanwhile, Meijer Gardens is premiering 70 pieces from an extraordinary gift, and the last show has hundreds of tiny pieces. Don’t forget to check out the shows closing this month too. by Dana Casadei Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, (888) 957-1580

Drawn Into Form: Sixty Years of Drawings and Prints by Beverly Pepper Feb. 2-April 29 Contemporary sculptor Beverly Pepper, a pioneer in the visual arts world, recently donated more than 900 pieces to Meijer Gardens, including drawings, sketchbooks, prints and some models. Seventy pieces from that gift will be making their premiere at the exhibit, spanning across six decades of Pepper’s career.

Grand Rapids Art Museum 101 Monroe Center, Grand Rapids, (616) 831-1000

Andy Warhol’s American Icons Through Feb. 11

Carl Wilson: Her Purse Smelled Like Juicyfruit and Other Tales, Through Feb. 11 Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle, Through April

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, (269) 349-7775

Round & Round: The Circle at Center Stage, Through March 4 Rhythmic Vitality: Six Principles of Chinese Painting Through March 25

Dawoud Bey: Harlem, USA, and Harlem Redux Through April 11

My Hero: Contemporary Art & Superhero Action Feb. 3-May 13 More than 50 international works explore superhero imagery, along with reimagined interpretations of classic heroes. Using a variety of mediums — ranging from painting and mixed media to sculpture and video — My Hero will have you looking at your favorite superheroes in a very different light than what’s seen in comics, TV or at the movies. One piece may or may not include all the Avengers as cats.

LaFontsee Galleries 833 Lake Drive SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 451-9820

Kathy Mohl, Elysian Fields, at LaFontsee Galleries Collective show Collective

tions by Yuyi Morales

Feb. 9-April 6 LaFontsee Galleries has been around for 30 years and is in the mood to celebrate its big anniversary this month. Collective includes new pieces from all gallery artists, as well as a photographic timeline of the gallery’s history from 1987 to present. Get ready to party.

Through May 20

LowellArts! 223 W. Main St., Lowell, (616) 897-8545

Grand Valley Artists - In View at LowellArts Through Feb. 10

Muskegon Museum of Art 296 W. Webster. Ave., Muskegon, (231) 720-2570

Postcard Salon Feb. 1-15 Featuring hundreds of small-scale original works, this annual non-juried exhibit has pieces created by artists of all ages from around the region. Every piece is the size of a postcard, proving size doesn’t always matter, and they’ll each be available for purchase for $30 at a reception and sale on Feb. 15.

Saugatuck Center for the Arts 400 Culver St., Saugatuck, (269) 857-2399

Surface Tension: Beauty & Fragility in Lake Michigan, Through March 8

Corridor Series: CANVAS Through March 8

Southern Roots: The Art of Winfred Rembert Through March 18

Sarah Wagner: Vegetable Lamb of America Through March 18

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts 2 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, (616) 454-7000


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| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018


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REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



Sounds of the Silver Screen West Michigan Symphony highlights Hollywood’s greatest hits by Marla R. Miller

Whether it be the first time or a special occasion, the symphony and the cinema both make for excellent dates. And you can have it both ways when vocalists Diane Penning and Paul Langford join West Michigan Symphony for Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies, the weekend before Valentine’s Day. The symphony’s pops concert incorporates song, dance and some lighthearted audience interaction during this program developed by Langford, a singer, pianist and arranger, and Penning, a popular soprano from West Michigan. They’re returning to the Frauenthal stage after performing with WMS a few years ago, and this time they plan to sing a variety of treasured movie songs spanning from modern-day to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The program includes titles on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Best Songs From Movies, and features new arrangements by Langford, including Over the Rainbow, Luck Be a Lady, Beauty and the Beast, The Way We Were, and Love Is an Open Door. The concert covers songs people know and love, and it’s a fun, relaxed evening of symphonic music, Langford said. There is music from The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, Phantom of the Opera, Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, plus hit songs by Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story. “People may not know what movie it’s from, but they will recognize the song,” Langford said. “It’s jazz and swing and Broadway. We dance a little bit. I play piano and try to create an atmosphere of performing in someone’s living room. I invite


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

Vocalists Diane Penning and Paul Langford performing with Grand Rapids Symphony. photo: Terry Johnston people to relax and enjoy the show.” When he’s not singing, Langford, who lives north of Chicago, writes arrangements and orchestrations for choral publishers, churches, orchestras and choirs. “I wrote almost all of the arrangements, all but two or three of them,” he said. “It’s new material — it has a fresh sound to it. Most (people) will be hearing these ar-

Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies

West Michigan Symphony Frauenthal Theater 425 W. Western Ave., Muskegon Feb. 9, 7:30 p.m., $25-$57, (231) 726-3231

rangements for the first time.” The Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies concert opens with an orchestral feature by John Williams, the Flying Theme from the 1982 blockbuster E.T., then moves into a Cole Porter Medley arranged by Langford. There are two other orchestra-only numbers: The Sea Hawk from the 1940 movie of the same name and a Tribute To Henry Mancini. Guest conductor Andrew Koehler, filling in for Music Director Scott Speck, suggested The Sea Hawk. “It fits really well with the rest of the program because a lot of these songs tend to come from that Golden Age of Hollywood,” Koehler said. “It’s one (where) the orchestra will get to flex its muscles — it demands a bit more from the orchestra.” Koehler, chair of the music department at Kalamazoo College, has an ongoing relationship with WMS and said, “They’re a really, really wonderful group.” The musicians, vocalists and Koehler prepare separately and all come together the

week before the concert to rehearse and fine-tune. Movie scores are relatable and easily recognizable, so it makes for a fun night onstage. “I think all of us, myself included, really love movie music,” Koehler said. “This is all music that really describes and is deeply tied to our experience at the movies. ... It’s music that utterly transforms those films.” Patrons will enjoy a diverse survey of music that gives Langford and Penning time in the spotlight. Langford sings numbers like Shadow of Your Smile, while Penning takes over on hits like Over the Rainbow. Then the two come together for several songs, including Poppins Fantasy, Cheek to Cheek, Beauty and the Beast, Love is an Open Door and more. “The symphony is spectacular,” Langford said. “If you walk in this room and hear this group, anyone would be a convert, and I think a pops concert is a good gateway.” ■




MARK YOUR 2018 CALENDAR SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18 | 4 pm 2017 Bronze Medalist Karisa Chiu, violin and the Kalamazoo Junior Symphony Orchestra

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214 E. Mansion Street | Marshall, MI | 269-781-0001

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REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



Imani Winds. photo: Matthew Murphy

Last year, you celebrated your 20th anniversary as an ensemble. How have you cultivated unity over the years? We definitely take pride in the compositions we choose to play and the high standards we have for ourselves. Our cultural heritage — mostly African-American — also means a lot to us. That connection among us has been a reason to stay with each other. Our clarinetist, Mark, is a Michigan native who joined us in 2015. While not the same ethnic background as Valerie, Toyin, Jeff and I, he is an absolute perfect fit with the powerful way we play to create sounds you don’t typically hear from these instruments, and also the intimacy they can create. Ultimately, we’re just a bunch of silly music nerds and a big family!

Musical Myriad Imani Winds blazes new trails for the diverse world of wind quintets by Samara Napolitan

With five distinct voices, wind quintet ensembles have a universe of timbres and techniques at their disposal. Grouping the flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon means a lack of homogeneous sound that offers tonal and technical possibility for composers. Yet, wind quintet repertoire by recognizable composers like Mozart, Brahms and Strauss is scarce. However, the New York-based Imani Winds never let the dearth of marketable literature by name-brand composers dampen its adventurous spirit. Comprised of flutist Valerie Coleman, oboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mark Dover, French horn player Jeff Scott and bassoonist Monica Ellis, the Grammy-nominated quintet has carved out its own path in the chamber music world for more than 20 years.


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

By performing culturally poignant programs, actively commissioning music by composers from diverse backgrounds, and offering inspirational outreach projects, Imani Winds has pushed boundaries and helped generate a new canon of wind quintet repertoire. Revue talked with Ellis to learn more about Imani Winds and the group’s plans for an upcoming residency at Western Michigan University (WMU). How does Imani Winds find freedom within the unique wind quintet structure, even with limited literature? There have been many wind quintets before us, but we were one of the first to think about how the wind quintet can come out of the shadows of other chamber music groups. For pretty much the full existence of the group, we have commissioned composers to write new music for us. We are very fortunate to have in-house composers Jeff Scott and Valerie Coleman, who both really know as players and can exploit in the best of ways our individual skills. What about work created outside your group? In recent years, we’ve gone to arrangements of larger, orchestral works that can sit well within five instruments. For example, we’ve performed arrangements of The Rite of Spring, Scheherazade and The Planets. You have to go after a lot of out-of-the-box styles and thinking. We think of our differences within the quintet as attributes, and an opportunity to create all kinds of colors and a palette of sounds.

You’re currently a resident ensemble at the University of Chicago, a two-year appointment. How do you approach residencies of different time frames and in different communities? We always create a curriculum that is specialized and caters to the needs of the institution through mutual conversation and idea sharing. With longer residencies like at the University of Chicago, we have the exciting opportunity to infiltrate the fabric of the school community. For a two- or three-day residency, like at WMU, we smash in a lot of activities into a small period of time. When it’s done well, you feel like you conquered the world. At WMU, we’ll conduct a master class as well as a chamber music master class in which students will get a chance to hear from all of us. We’ll do a reading session with composition students, which is a rare opportunity for them to write for wind quintet and have a group right there, ready to go with immediate feedback. What are some of the works you’ll present during your culminating concert at the Dalton Center Recital Hall? Jeff and Valerie are always the bookends for our programs. We’ll start with a fun, early jazz type of tune by Jeff, Startin’ Sumthin’. Then we’ll play a standard, yet underplayed quintet by John Harbison. It’s a fantastic masterwork, a multi-movement piece with interesting personalities for each. Next are the Ligeti bagatelles, which are very recognized. We’ll play one of our more recent commissions by an Indian-American woman, Reena Esmail, called The Light is the Same. To close, we’ll play one of Valerie’s pieces called Be Gone, a driving work celebrating music of an Eastern flavor. ■

Imani Winds Concert

Dalton Center Recital Hall Van De Giessen Rd. #3001, Kalamazoo Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m, $5-$12, (269) 387-2458

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Let’s Be Franke

Franke Center for the Arts to host blues festival in Marshall by Jane Simons

Beautifully maintained historic homes have always drawn tourists to Marshall, but the community is fast-becoming a destination for the blues. On Feb. 2-3, the community is hosting its eighth annual Ice, Wine, Beer and Blues Fest. The majority of the entertainment takes place at the Franke Center for the Arts and in the city’s downtown area, according to Patty Williams, the center’s executive director. The 270-seat Franke Center offers an intimate setting for audiences to enjoy the music while also sipping on a glass of beer or wine. As part of a major renovation in 2015, the 120-seat Downstage Club in the auditorium’s lower level was created to offer an even more up-close experience with performers, William said. “It’s more of a club feel with a bar down


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

there as well,” Williams said. “There’s not a bad seat in the house. We are kind of known as a blues venue and the blues shows sell out. I think people like that ‘live’ feel.” The Downstage Club will serve as the backdrop for a 5 p.m. performance on Feb. 3 by the Big Boss Band. The Jake Kershaw Band takes the main stage at 7 p.m., followed by the headliner, Harper and Midwest Kind. To complement the entertainment, a beer, wine and BBQ dinner is available for purchase. Kershaw, 17, is a Marshall native. When not performing, he is focused on finishing out his senior year at Marshall High School, where he plays in the school’s marching band. While Kershaw and other musicians who have performed at the Franke Center are aware of the venue, Williams said it remains a well-kept secret – something she and her four-person part-time staff are trying to change. “At every show, we ask for a show of hands to see who hasn’t been here before and a fair number of hands go up,” she said. “We have a limited budget, so we’re not able to do a lot of advertising. For us, it’s a matter of trying to reach people to let

them know that we’re a ‘go-to’ destination for live, quality entertainment.” The majority of patrons come from Battle Creek and Marshall, although people also come from Grand Rapids, northern Indiana and the Chicago and Detroit areas. The Franke Center was established after the building went through a series of occupants. Following a Methodist church’s move out of the structure in the 1970s, it became the Marshall Civic Center and its occupants included the Marshall Civic Players, the oldest amateur theatrical organization in Michigan. In 1998, the building was in need of major renovations, but a bond proposal to finance the work failed by a very close vote, causing city leaders

Ice, Wine, Beer & Blues

Franke Center for the Arts 214 E. Mansion St., Marshall Feb. 2-3, $26

to consider the demolition or sale of the building. A group of community members stepped in to form a nonprofit, enabling them to purchase the building and make the necessary improvements. In 2004, the Joyce and Lucy Franke Center for the Arts became a reality. Since that time, Williams said the center has undergone a major renovation project designed to increase its appeal to both performers and audiences. While the Franke Center is the focal point of the festival on Saturday, Marshall’s downtown area will take center stage on Friday with wine and beer tastings from 6-10 p.m. at downtown business locations. Individuals 21 and older can purchase a wristband for $25 to receive 10 wine/beer 2 oz. tastings and sample heavy appetizers. Joe Caron, a volunteer in charge of choosing the wine selections, said he is making sure that there is a good variety from different regions around the world along with some wines that people have not tried before. One-of-a-kind pottery goblets created by local artist Romelle Frey will be available for $10 each for those who want to sip their beer and wine in style against a backdrop of comic-book themed ice sculptures created under the steady hand of John Merucci. Williams said the festival offers a unique way to beat the winter blues while supporting the blues. “We encourage everyone to come out and give us a try,” she said. ■


Returning to Something New GVSU’s New Music Ensemble received national acclaim for new album by Samara Napolitan

Over the past 11 years, Grand Valley State University has quietly fostered a bonafide hub of contemporary music. Now, the New Music Ensemble has accomplished a new feat that reaffirms its legitimacy as an incubator of talent. In October 2017, the New Music Ensemble released a collection of electroacoustic works, RETURN. The album features music written by three program graduates: Adam Cuthbert, Matt Finch and Daniel Rhode. “(RETURN) was a project where we could feature talent that has come through our program and create a music project that was entirely homegrown,” said Bill Ryan, founder of the ensemble. The beauty contained in the album’s 15 calming, yet sophisticated tracks has not gone unnoticed. NPR’s First Listen gave RETURN an enthusiastic review soon after its release. Later, NPR included one of the album’s tracks, Glass Surface, in its 100 Best Songs of 2017. “Emerging from a reedy drone, a glistening shard of melody begins to reproduce — it sounds synthetic, but it’s actually a violin riff, tweaked via skillful processing,” Tom Huizenga wrote. “After a calm passage of lower-pitched waves, the theme returns and blossoms ecstatically.”

For his part, Ryan said the ensemble is thrilled with the attention, considering how much hard work went into the project. “The recognition is really satisfying,” he said. Founded by Ryan in 2006, the New Music Ensemble has commissioned more than 60 compositions. In 2014 and 2016, the group traveled to various national parks to perform music inspired by treasured lands. Glowing reviews followed their recordings of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and Terry Riley’s In C, two seminal works of minimalist music. The New York Times, Time Out Chicago, Washington Post and other publications recognized the recordings in year-end lists. For its fourth studio recording, Ryan intended to create a vehicle for his former composition students to explore and promote their craft. He also wanted to approach the album as a hybrid of electric and acoustic music to create lush landscapes of sound. “Sometimes with electronic music, it’s very clear when there’s a non-electronic instrument playing,” Ryan said. “I was more interested in a world where they fused. We tried to create a bit of mystery.” Ryan approached GVSU graduates Cuthbert, Finch and Rhode with his vision. All three pursue various professional activities in music, with a common thread of composing. Together, they founded slashshound, a record label and experimental music collective. “Bill Ryan was very supportive,” said Rhode of his experience as a GVSU com-

position student. “We had the freedom to explore electronic music, and also the opportunity to explore orchestral writing.” The process for creating RETURN started with the composers sending short sketches to Ryan, which the New Music Ensemble then rehearsed and recorded. After listening to the recordings, making tweaks, and sending back drafts to be recorded again, the composers ended up with a collection of material they could shape electronically in their studios. Grammy Award winner Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound — whose other clients include Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Adele — mastered the album. For his current students, Ryan hopes

working on RETURN instilled a sense of curiosity and broad interest in music. “We always play a diverse range of contemporary music, and incorporating electronics is a natural part of what we do,” Ryan said. For the three young composers, the success of RETURN has yielded new projects that are in the works. Rhode is looking forward to working on a new album with Todd Reynolds, trailblazer in digital looping and violinist of choice for Steve Reich, Meredith Monk and Bang on a Can. “Composition is usually a very personal, solitary process, so I am grateful for this experience,” Rhode said. ■

: FRIDAY • MARCH 2 • 7:30 PM

Frauenthal Theater • 425 W Western Ave • Muskegon


west michigan symphony SCOTT SPECK | MUSIC DIRECTOR

Explore Romantic music via the countries from which they originate. You’ll experience classical music’s Romantic era as it developed in Scandinavia, Spain, France, America, Bohemia and Russia. The concert closes with one of the most important cello concertos ever written, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, featuring Russian cellist Alexey Stadler. • 231.726.3231 $22-$54 • Student tickets $10

Ian Maksin & Gabriel Datcu world music Saturday, February 10, 7:30 pm Doors open at 7pm

Cellist Ian Maksin returns to The Block bringing guitarist Gabriel Datcu for a concert of jazz and world music. Maksin has gained international recognition for his beautiful tone and his own unique innovative style. Datcu is a versatile guitarist incorporating styles from Classical to jazz, Latin, funk, R&B, Motown, acoustic rock to current top 40s hits.

360 W. Western Ave 2nd Floor Muskegon, MI • 231.726.3231 $25-$35 • Student tickets $10

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


[classical MUSIC]

PREVIEW It might be getting chilly outside but it’s heating up inside lots of music venues this month. Grab your calendar, take a look at the list below, and enjoy some classical music and jazz. by Dana Casadei

Fontana Chamber Arts 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Ste. 200, Kalamazoo, (269) 382-7774

Wu Man and Shanghai Quartet Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m., $28+ Coming together to perform new works by contemporary Chinese composers are the acclaimed Shanghai Quartet and pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso Wu Man. Fun fact: The pipa has a 2,000-year history in China.

Grand Rapids Symphony 300 Ottawa Ave. NW Ste. 100, Grand Rapids, (616) 454-9451

The Planets Feb. 2-3, 8 p.m., $18+

Little Red Riding Hood Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m., $5

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Feb. 9-10, $41+ The GRS film concert series continues with 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. John Williams’ infamous score will be performed as the third movie in the Harry Potter series plays on the big screen, where Harry, Ron and Hermione attend their third year at Hogwarts and have to keep an eye out for Sirius Black, the convicted murderer who has recently escaped prison … and seems to be on the hunt to find Harry. Yes, this is the one with the werewolf.

The Classical Coffee Concert Feb. 16, 10 a.m., $16

Classical Concert: Beethoven, Haydn & Mozart Feb. 16, 8 p.m., $26+

Penny University: Ralph, as in ‘Rafe’ Feb. 17, 1 p.m., FREE

Celebration of Soul


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

Feb. 24, 6 p.m.

Symphony with Soul Feb. 24, 8 p.m., $18+

Hope College Great Performance Series Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, 221 Columbia Ave., Holland, (616) 395-7222

Parker Quartet Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m., $22 The Grammy Award-winning quartet is performing string quartets by Felix Mendelssohn and Beethoven at Hope College. The quartet was formed in 2002 and has won numerous awards since its inception, including the Grand Prix and Mozart Prize at France’s Bordeaux International String Quartet Competition, and Chamber Music America’s prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award. The members are also currently artists-in-residence at Harvard University.

Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra 359 Kalamazoo Mall Ste. 100, Kalamazoo, (269) 349-7759

Joshua Bell with Sam Haywood at University Musical Society

Gregory Porter Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m., $40+ Declared “America’s Next Great Jazz Singer” by both ESQUIRE and NPR Music, this Grammy Award-winning artist is returning to the SCMC stage. The soulful jazz singer-songwriter won the 2017 Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album with his 2017 release Take Me to the Alley, where he teamed up with producer Kamau Kenyatta for the fourth time. Kenyatta’s partnership with Porter goes all the way back to the ’90s when Porter was a student at San Diego State University — where he arrived on a full football scholarship before a shoulder injury diverted him into a music career. The more you know.

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., $45+

John Proulx Tchaikovsky Discovers America Feb. 11., 3 p.m., $5 If you’ve ever wanted to hear about Tchaikovsky’s life, this show is for you. The performance tells the true story of the composer’s life — from his life in Russia to his arrival in New York for the grand opening of Carnegie Hall in 1891 and his famous trip to Niagara Falls. The touching story will feature Classical Kids LIVE! and be conducted by Daniel Brier.

St. & Cecilia Music Center Haydn Beethoven

Feb. 24 24,Ransom 8 p.m., $12+ Ave. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 459-2224

Judy Collins Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m., $45+

Estonian National Symphony Orchestra Feb. 3, 8 p.m., $14+

Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake Feb. 4, 4 p.m., $40+

Joshua Bell and Sam Haywood Feb. 10, 8 p.m., $17+

West Michigan Jazz Society P.O. Box 150307, Grand Rapids,, (616) 490-9506

Carl Cafagna and the Creole Kitchen at the Knickerbocker Feb. 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m., $10

Feb. 25, 2 p.m., $20+

University Musical Society 881 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, (734) 764-2538

West Michigan Symphony Orchestra 360 W. Western Ave. #200, Muskegon, (231) 726-3231

Gabriel Kahane Feb. 2, 8 p.m., $30+ The singer-songwriter and composer will present 8980: Book of Travelers, a solo piano performance written (by Kahane) in response to a nearly 9,000-mile railway journey through the U.S. that he began the morning after the 2016 presidential election. His music draws from his two-week adventure — where he had no internet or a phone — and dining car conversations he had with dozens of strangers.

Hollywood’s Greatest Melodies Feb, 9, 7:30 p.m., $23+ The WMS will be joined once again by Diane Penning and Paul Langford. The duo is performing selections from the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Best Songs From Movies. Some songs include Over the Rainbow, Beauty and the Beast and Love is an Open Door.

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



by Kayla Tucker

A few chosen actors in Grand Rapids will take part in a series of one-person performances of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at Actors’ Theatre this month. The catch: They don’t get to see the script until opening night. Because of the nature of the show, Actors’ Theatre Executive Director Kyle Los couldn’t say as much about the plot as he could about the experience that the actors and audience go through together. “It’s a healthy experience for us as performers and the audience,” Los said. “As much as it’s the author, Nassim, telling his story and his experience, it’s also kind of a love story to the uniqueness that is theater, because it’s a living, breathing experience.” Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour wrote White Rabbit, Red Rabbit in 2010, with the first performance taking place in 2011. It has been performed all over the world and has been translated into nearly 30 languages. “And one of the unique things about this piece is that the reason it’s been done this way and used this form, is because the author … refused to be a part of the military, (so) he’s not allowed to leave the country,” Los said. “And so he thought, ‘Well, if I can’t leave the country, then my script is going to leave without me and going to go do its thing.’” Los said the show’s main theme is about obedience — to an idea, a person, object or place — and that theme resonates on many levels beyond the script. “The actor needs to be obedient to the script, because they’ve never experienced it before,” Los said. “They don’t have time to alter it or think about it — they are experiencing it at that moment for the first time, and the audience is as well.” Every night of performances will be different, with a fresh actor taking the stage. “It’s never truly exactly the same,” Los said. “And I think this emphasizes that unique thing that is completely different from anything we see onscreen.” The actors are excited to brave the unknown with this special performance.


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

Going In Blind

Unrehearsed performances tell a ‘love story to the uniqueness that is theater’ “Theater is dangerous,” said Randy Wyatt, local playwright, director and professor at Aquinas College. “It’s discovery. Being able to be in the moment of discovery and

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids Spectrum Theater 160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 14-24, 8 p.m., $20

Performers: Feb. 14: Jon Clausen Feb. 15: Laura Walczak Feb. 16: Amy McFadden Feb. 17: Greg Rogers Feb. 21: Jolene Frankey Feb. 22: Joe Anderson Feb. 23: Todd Lewis Feb. 24: Randy Wyatt

have the audience be right there with you is pretty thrilling.” Wyatt has the unique position of being the last one to perform, and he said it’s difficult to go in not knowing anything about the script or the author at all. “Everyone else can come see me discover this piece moment by moment and have the chance to see it before me,” said Wyatt, who performs Feb. 24. “So that’s quite an inversion of the usual mechanics behind a performance.” Amy McFadden, performing Feb. 16, said she will focus more on telling the story and less on the quality of her performance. “I am, more than ever, simply a delivery system for Nassim’s story,” McFadden said. “It’s almost as if anyone in the theater that night could be handed the script to read — we’re all in it together, for the first and only time.” The stage will be in the rehearsal room of Spectrum Theater, a smaller, more vulnerable place for the performer. “That rehearsal space is like our special, safe place,” Los said, adding, “It needs to be a safe space to fail.” The performer will be introduced by someone, and then have the stage to

themselves, along with a stand, the manuscript and a water bottle. Someone will be taking notes on the performance and audience reaction, which will ultimately get sent back to the author and publishers for feedback. Joe Anderson, performing Feb. 22, has years of improv experience and said he’s excited for the challenge. “Something about improv and doing it so long and with so many people and in so many different places has encouraged me to embrace the unknown,” Anderson said. “When I go onstage on my night and they drop this script into my hands that I’ve never seen and have literally no idea about, I’m going to be okay. Lots of things might and could happen, but this is what I love doing, and I’m going to be okay.” Los is excited to be able to offer a wholesome, raw experience for both the actors and the audience. “It’s just healthy to be with a group of people and listening to stories, laughing and thinking as a community,” Los said. “This allows us to be in a small space, sharing a story, which is one of the most basic forms of human interaction and communication.” ■


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February 1 March 4

A Tony Award winning play by Harvey Fierstein A Drag singer struggles to cope with the loss of his life partner, while he tries to be an effective parent to his adopted teenage son and deal with his mother’s intolerance and disrespect.

o be Jewish ’t have itsh Theatre n o d u Yo njoy Jew to e

GRCC’s Spectrum Theater - 160 Fountain NE March 1, 3, 8 & 10 @ 8 p.m. March 4 & 11 @ 3 p.m. Tickets: 616-234-3946 or Online:

Changing the forecast for live theatre. A festival highlighting live, local theatre. All events take place at the Dog Story Theater, 7 Jefferson SE. For a full schedule and tickets, visit

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



Fringe Benefits

The Lake Effect Fringe Festival shines a spotlight on the unconventional by Kayla Tucker

Throughout the month of February, the annual Lake Effect Fringe Festival showcases up-andcoming theater groups in the Grand Rapids area. From improv to Shakespeare, all of the performances take place at Dog Story Theater. “It’s a chance for people to see all compressed into one month the really wide variety of theater that’s going on in Grand Rapids,” said Katherine Mayberry, executive director of the Pigeon Shakespeare Company and LEFF committee member. The festival started in 2013 to highlight the local “fringe” theater groups in the area, the groups that weren’t as mainstream or well-known. Dog Story seemed like the perfect space to make that happen. “There are a number of groups that regularly rent and produce shows in that space,” Mayberry said. “Our idea was to get all of those groups that were using that space together to kind of cross-promote and combine audiences and generate some more media attention.” Mary Beth Quillin is a performer with GEM Theatrics and is also a member of the festival committee. She said that the performances are well-received on both sides — actors and audience. “Performing for LEFF audiences is always a joy — most are really open to the idea of a new experience and that they aren’t going to see something that would be produced on a bigger stage in Grand Rapids,” Quillin said. “We feel that helping smaller production companies, local playwrights, actors and directors find a place to have their voices heard in the community is important and the LEFF provides an outlet for that.” Festival attendees can choose from a wide variety of performances. Mayberry said this ranges from Shakespeare and classic plays to new plays by local playwrights, 10-minute plays and 24-hour projects, in which a play is written, rehearsed and performed within 24 hours. Over the past five years, the festival has grown and added new troupes to its lineup.


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

“Grand Rapids has a very vibrant theater community. ... I think the LEFF gives audiences a chance to experience the new voices and see a few of the diamonds in the rough and experimental pieces that aren’t being seen in the large venues.”

Additionally, there is more crossover with audiences, which works out well for the performers. “It’s a really great way to discover some theater you haven’t seen before because almost every night of that month there’s going to be something going on, so it’s all in one period of time, in one space,” Mayberry said. Among a handful of performances, GEM Theatrics will produce a show the company hasn’t yet staged with a Grand Rapids audience, 2 Across: A Comedy of Crosswords and Romance, written by Jerry Mayer. “Mayer was a TV writer who wrote for such comedies as M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All In The Family, and

Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company this script features his character-driven style and the verbal banter for which his TV scripts were known,” Quillin said. “We have been lucky to be invited to perform for several weekends across the state in a little venue — The Snug Theatre in Marine City — for the past five years, and being able to try out a new script at the LEFF has proven invaluable for us as performers and producers.” Quillin also highlighted a few other performances, including the locally written 10-minute plays by The Hole in the Wall Theatre Company, a performance of Kimmy Snyder and Declan Maher’s Chaos & Entropy by The Brutal Sea, and the continuation of Comedy Outlet Mondays throughout the month. “There’s so much theater going on in Grand Rapids,” Mayberry said. “It’s amazing for the size of city it is, the level of participation in theater and the creation of all different styles of performance.” Local artists will not only get a chance to shine at LEFF, but receive valuable feedback on their work as they continue to

courtesy photo

practice their craft. “Theater is by definition a collaborative art form and the audience plays a part in that collaboration,” Quillin said. “Grand Rapids has a very vibrant theater community with lots of organizations producing all levels of work. I think the LEFF gives audiences a chance to experience the new voices and see a few of the diamonds in the rough and experimental pieces that aren’t being seen in the large venues.” ■

Lake Effect Fringe Festival

Dog Story Theater 7 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids Feb.1-March 4, $14 per show,, (616) 425-9234

SchulerBooks&Music 35 years as your local, independent bookstore!

Read Arts reviews every week Revue Arts critics regularly review classical and jazz music, theater and dance performances all over West Michigan. All reviews are posted online the next day.

Read them at

February 2018

The Michigan Poet presents: Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Benefit MON 02/05 7PM

The literary journal, The Michigan Poet, organized a poetry contest to benefit the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters, a literary non-profit based here in Grand Rapids. The contest culminates at this event with a poetry reading by the contest winner, Karen Carcia and the contest’s guest judge Robert Fanning. Please join us for this special reading!

WEDS 02/07 7PM

Dr. Luis A. Tomatis Book Launch Party

MON 02/12 7PM

Join us for the release party for Tea at Four, by honored Grand Rapids heart surgeon Dr. Luis A. Tomatis.

Talk and Signing with Thisbe Nissen and Jay Baron Nicorvo Join us for a dual author event with acclaimed Michigan literary couple Thisbe Nissen and her husband Jay Baron Nicorvo! Thisbe Nissen is celebrating the release of her newest novel, Our Lady of the Prairie, a sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises—and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself.

Local Author Night THURS 02/22 7PM

Join us for a panel presentation featuring accomplished authors from the state of Michigan! Featured authors include Tom Conlan, author of the lyrical memoir My Journey Begins Where the Road Ends; Scott Devon, author of the extraordinary novel The Second Death; Cheryl Edwards-Cannon, author of Taking Care of Miss Bee Bee, a memoir told in vignettes; and Hilary Harper, author of the memoir Almost Home.

Visit for a complete list of events. All events are subject to change.

2660 28th Street SE 616.942.2561

A rrivAl from S weden the m uSic of ABBA Saturday, March 3 | 8pm | Miller Auditorium Daniel Brier, Conductor & Arrival from Sweden

“There was not a single minute in which someone wasn’t dancing in the aisles ... and for large stretches, the entire audience was on their feet.” 4 out of 5 stars - ‘Smashing’ Cy Ashley Webb – Starkinsider, San Francisco, USA

TICKETS or 269.387.2300 REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |



preview February is chock full of musicals for everyone. There are two about actual musicians, Carole King and The Estefans, and then the touring production of Fifty Shades of Shakespeare also returns this month. We also have part one of a brilliant play about the AIDS crisis, another about some ladies who pose nude for charity, and much more. by Dana Casadei Actors’ Theatre, Grand Rapids 160 Fountain St. NE, Grand Rapids, (616) 234-3946

If/Then Feb. 1-10, $28 Elizabeth has just moved to New York, a city with infinite possibilities, to rebuild her life. When her carefully designed plans collide with fate, Elizabeth’s story is split in two, and the musical then follows both stories simultaneously. If/Then was created by the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning creators of Next to Normal, so you know you’re in for a moving story with an amazing score.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit Feb. 14-24, $20

Bare Backstage Productions, (269) 929-6781

Fifty Shades of Shakespeare Feb. 10-25, $15+ Bare Backstage Productions is bringing back Fifty Shades of Shakespeare to a variety of venues across West Michigan this month. Created by Jess Shoemaker and (re)discover theatre in Chicago, Fifty Shades features 10 of Shakespeare’s steamiest love scenes stripped down to four actors, with the audience deciding which actor plays which role for the evening. The production relies on improv and audience participation as well.

Broadway Grand Rapids 122 Lyon St. NW, Grand Rapids, (616) 235-6285

Beautiful, the Carole King Musical Feb. 13-28, $50+


| REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

If you’ve ever watched Gilmore Girls, you probably know the opening theme song, Where You Lead. This musical follows the woman who sings and wrote that song — hint, her name is right in the show’s title — long before she was connected to the WB show. The Tony Award-winning musical tells King’s story of stardom, from her years as part of the hit songwriting team with her husband, Gerry Goffin, to her incredibly successful solo career.

Farmers Alley Theatre 221 Farmers Alley, Kalamazoo, (269) 343-2727

The Christians Feb. 9-18, $25+ Backed by a live choir, this Lucas Hnath play takes viewers to church, literally. Ten years ago, Pastor Paul’s modest church was a storefront. Now it’s turned into one of those glitzy megachurches, housing thousands, with a coffee shop in the lobby. Fancy. This won’t be an ordinary day at church though, because he’s about to give a sermon that will shake the foundation of everything he’s built and cause a divide among his congregation.

Festival Playhouse, Kalamazoo College 1200 Academy St., Kalamazoo, (269) 337-7333

Senior Performance Series Feb. 15-18, $5

Gilmore Theatre/ WMU Theatre 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, (269) 387-3227

Lucky Stiff Through Feb. 11, $20

Chicago at Miller Auditorium

Angels In America: Millennium Approaches

Theatre Kalamazoo New Play Festival

Feb. 9-18, $20 Millennium Approaches is the standalone first part of this saga from Tony Kushner. Taking place in 1980s New York City, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play looks at the AIDS epidemic during the Reagan era, examining sexuality, love, death, religion and the meaning of community. And yes, there is an angel in it.

Feb. 9-10, free

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre 30 N. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, (616) 222-6650

My Fair Lady Feb. 23-March 18, $18+ It’s a classic story: An English professor who teaches phonetics makes a bet that he can transform a Cockney flower girl into a lady. That’s the gist of this Broadway musical, which includes songs like Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, With a Little Bit of Luck and I Could Have Danced All Night.

Kalamazoo Civic Theatre 329 S. Park St., Kalamazoo, (269) 343-1313

Calendar Girls, Feb. 9-24, $25 No Way Out, Feb. 16-25, $10 Miller Auditorium 2200 Auditorium Dr., Kalamazoo,, (269) 387-2300

The Sound of Music, Feb. 9-11. $32+ CHICAGO, Feb. 28, $32+ New Vic Theatre

Holland Civic Theater 50 W. 9th St., Holland, (616) 396-2021

134 E. Vine St., Kalamazoo, (269) 381-3328

Romeo & Juliet, Feb. 23-March 17, $25

Jake’s Women Feb. 1-17, $18 In this Neil Simon play, Jake is a novelist who seems to have a lot more luck writing fiction than dealing with the women in his life. As his second marriage is on the verge of collapse, he takes a look at the relationships he has with the women in his life, including a dead first wife, a bossy sister and a prospective third wife.

Judy K. Jolliffe Theatre 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, Suite 205, Kalamazoo

Wharton Center 750 E. Shaw Lane, East Lansing, (517) 432-2000

On Your Feet! Feb. 13-18, $43+ This joke has probably been made dozens, if not hundreds of times, but you really will be on your feet by the end of this musical. With music by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, On Your Feet! takes a look at the couples’ lives. Viewers are taken behind the music and inside the real-life story of the record-breaking and groundbreaking couple.

Theatre Kalamazoo is a nonprofit collaboration between the live theatre organizations in Kalamazoo, Michigan. We take great pride in promoting the diversity and richness of theatre in Kalamazoo and foster a spirit of cooperation and support among this strong and talented community.




w/ Joy Again


Fri. 8pm | Ladies Literary Club | $17






thru Feb. 11 thru Feb. 11


Feb. 9 – Feb. 11 Feb. 9 – Feb. 18







Feb. 9 – Feb. 18 Feb. 9 – Feb. 24

Feb. 3

Feb. 16 – Feb. 25

Feb. 23 – Feb. 24




w/ Birds of Chicago

Feb. 23 – Mar. 17

Wed. 8pm | Ladies Literary Club | $25



w/ Mainland

Wed. 8pm | Ladies Literary Club | $20












Fri. 8pm | Calvin Chapel | $15

Upcoming Concerts: Julien Baker, April 11 Phoebe Bridgers, April 17 Oh Wonder, May 8 Tickets on sale now! @calvinsao



REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |




Deborah Cox is not scheduled to perform at the Saturday matinee and Sunday evening performances.


Grand Rapids engagement is welcomed by Bank of America; Crowe Horwath LLP; The Gilmore Collection; Hylant; Lacks Enterprises, Inc.; and Miller Johnson.

.DTL )KU( DRAUGYDOB EHT © S R E T N Y W E D yb d e n g i s e D

MARCH 6-11 | DeVos Performance Hall | ON SALE NOW!

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1134 WEALTHY STREET 6 1 6 . 3 0 1 . 1 9 1 1 w w w. h y p e r - o p t i k . c o m REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


/// eclectic

Klassic Arcade


Get Your Game On

Revue unboxes all the best places in West Michigan to venture into the world of gaming

Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

by Eric Mitts

Let’s face it, gaming culture isn’t what it used to be. In all its forms, gaming has become as fully integrated into our activities as any other form of art or entertainment. From mobile gaming phenomenons like Candy Crush to massive esport tournaments, it’s blown up in the most unexpected ways. In fact, Western Michigan University recently announced it will invest $500,000 in developing an esports arena and plans to have its own club team. Tabletop gaming has also made a huge resurgence, having expanded well beyond Monopoly and becoming a social platform for many eager gamers to engage in a different way, disconnected from digital screens. When Brian Lenz founded West Michigan Tabletop Gamers in 2011, the social club only had about a dozen members. It now has more than 1,200. “I think the steady growth of interest in the hobby board gaming industry has been truly amazing, and I really don’t envision it slowing down,” Lenz said. “It does help when most of us are stuck indoors quite often due to the weather. So why not game it up?” It’s true — with the cold winter months upon us, now’s the best time to check out West Michigan’s locally owned game shops, arcades, lounges and more.

28 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

From The Past… Klassic Arcade 2.0 206 S. State St., Gobles

One of the biggest collections of retro gaming cabinets in West Michigan, the Klassic Arcade has all the old favorites from the 1960s through ’90s. More than 40 iconic titles like Donkey Kong, Rampage, Asteroids and Frogger line the walls, as does an impressive range of 30-plus vintage pinball machines collected by Klassic Arcade owner Kevin Ketchum. “People will drive 45 miles or farther to get to us,” Ketchum said. “When I’m in another town and I mention I’m from Gobles, they ask me if I ever heard of the Klassic Arcade.” Since opening in 2003, the arcade has since relocated and expanded its collection, and now offers a flat $5 play-all-day fee where kids can discover how gaming began, and

adults can recapture that perfect joystick nostalgia. “Most kids only know about Xboxes and PlayStations, (but) when they get to the Klassic Arcade and can compete with their friends in a public location, it is much different than being in their bedrooms playing,” Ketchum said.

…To The Future! NOVA Virtual Reality

806 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo Once the stuff of pure science f iction, virtual reality is quickly becoming, well, reality. High-end VR, like that offered at Kalamazoo’s NOVA Virtual Reality, is arguably the cutting edge of technology’s new frontier. “The first NOVA experience is always a bit intense for first timers,” co-owner Bill

The Griffins Rest

Brieger said. “Whether it’s young kids or an older adult, it can be difficult to give them any instructions once the headset goes on, because customers tend to be so overwhelmed by the newness of what they’re seeing. There is a lot of awe and delight as people quickly gain the sense of how immersive and transportive this technology can be.”

Drinks + Games = Ultimate Fun Stella’s Lounge 53 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

One Well Brewing 4213 Portage St., Kalamazoo Craft Beer Cellar 404 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Owned by Brieger and Ryan Edgar, NOVA has multiple rooms where groups of gamers can share their experience inside a top-tier Vive system. “There’s a very heavy social component. With a TV monitor in every room, other players are able to see and hear everything that the person using the headset sees,” Brieger said. “This allows for a lot of laughing or shared empathy as a player experiences strange or even scary games. Oftentimes, we’ll hear one room laughing uproariously for many minutes, while another room might let out regular collective screams.”

More Video Arcades & Lounges: Byte Club Gaming

31 W. Lowell St., Pentwater

Glitch Gaming Lounge 300 E. Centre Ave., Portage

Founded in 2011, the group very quickly outgrew its original space and moved to the large Plainfield location in less than a year. “We currently can fit nearly 54 gamers in the front of our store and have six eightfoot tables for miniature gaming in the back of our store, as well as our podbay, which is probably our most unique feature,” said Jerry Smith. “The BattleTech pods are 26-year-old machines. You are a 30-foot-tall robot armed with machine guns, lasers and missiles, and when you get into the machine, you are sitting inside the cockpit controlling your giant robot. The 12 machines are all interlinked, so you are literally battling the 11 other opponents.” Smith describes Big Kidz Games as the perfect blend of a social club in a retail store, in part because of the store’s policy to allow anyone to come in, sit down and play a new game for free at any time. Big Kidz currently sells a large line of board games, living card games, collectible card games and miniatures. The store also hosts several gaming events almost every day of the week. “The great part is there is always room for new players to come in and join these events,” Smith said. “They make sure everyone feels welcome.”

The Tabletop Renaissance

The Griffin’s Rest

Big Kidz Games

Extending the table of gaming out to the lakeshore, Kiel Reid, co-owner of The Griffin’s Rest, saw an opportunity. “Muskegon didn’t really have a place where people who are passionate about games could congregate,” Reid said. “Games are a great way to bridge gaps between strangers

3661 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids At the forefront of the tabletop gaming resurgence in West Michigan is Big Kidz Games, which really stands out because of its size.

1121 3rd St., Muskegon

and give younger people a way to socialize face-to-face.” The Griffin’s Rest dedicates its entire second floor to group play for that very reason. The store hosts regular tutorials, weekly Family Game Nights, and other popular gaming events. “At the end of the day, anything we sell at The Griffin’s Rest, you can find cheaper online,” Reid said. “That’s just a fact of retail sales in this day and age. It’s why creating a superior experience is so pivotal to how we plan to grow our community. We want you to walk out and be proud that you are a gamer. If we as gaming stores just try and be retail stores, it’s only a matter of time before we are a thing of the past.”

More Tabletop Vendors: Vault of Midnight

95 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids

Odyssey Games

5023 W. Main St., Kalamazoo

Out of the Box

114 E. Main Ave., Zeeland

The Gamers Wharf

2976 28th St. SW, Grandville n

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining

The Pyramid Scheme 68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Vault of Midnigh t


Beat the Winter Blues

special feature


s months go on, the beautiful white blanket of snow

fat wheels and conquer the snowy trails. Snowshoes, camping,

laid down in December seems to turn to a grey

hot tubs, sledding ­it’s all great in the winter.

shroud, and the heart begins to pine for summer. This is when the winter blues set in.

However, there are plenty of ways to not just make the most

of winter, but take advantage of it. Skiers yearn for this time of year, for instance, and some bikers can’t wait to pop on their

Of course, you don’t have to love exercise to have fun this time of year. West Michigan also offers plenty of chances to drink, play games and take in some ice sculpting outside in these chilly months. We cover all that and more in the pages ahead.

The Great Indoors Where to escape from the winds of winter

While it’s tempting to hide under the covers and marathon Netflix until spring arrives, we’ve wrangled up a list of places that’ll take your mind off the sub-zero temperatures. From hot tub escapes to sunless tanning, yoga, and arts and crafts, this list might just help you shake your mid-winter slump, all without having to be outside. by Elma Talundzic

The Oasis Hot Tub Gardens 5041 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park, (616) 784-2020 4600 W. KL Ave., Kalamazoo, (269) 372-2020

Grand City Tanning 3095 Broadmoor Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 288-4999

Salon 297 Hair & Day Spa 4915 South Harvey St., Muskegon, (231) 799-8130 Aveda’s 297 is home to Oasis Signature Body Spa, Voila Nail Spa, Vivid Color Lounge, Glam Beauty Bar and Salon 297. These five personal care boutiques are dedicated to giving visitors a relaxing and memorable experience, all under one roof. Start your relaxing getaway with a custom massage at the Oasis Signature Body Spa, where you’ll melt away stress and muscle pain with soothing aromas, massage and custom facials. Then grab a fresh cut and color at Salon 297 and Vivid Color Lounge, followed by a mani/pedi at Voila Nail Spa and a makeup application or skin treatment at Glam Beauty Bar. Paired with its expert technicians and high-quality products and equipment, 297 gives you countless opportunities to pamper and express yourself.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 24, 8-9 a.m., $6.50/14.50, (616) 957-1580 The gardens at Frederik Meijer bring a little warmth in the dreary cold months. While the snow has settled outside, the greenery is always blooming inside. Wander through the arid and Victorian gardens or through the carnivorous plant house for some tranquility. Then step into the Tropical Conservatory, with more than 500 species of plants from five continents. For a moment, the ice and snow of winter will be but a distant nightmare.

The Mud Room 1971 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids (616) 259-7269, Sometimes the best way to lift your spirits is by getting creative and messy with an art project. The Mud Room has an array of artsy activities to choose from, including pottery painting, glass fusing, clay and pottery wheels, canvas and wood signs. The projects won’t just be pretty to look at — all Mud Room products are non-toxic and safe to use with food, so they have both form and function. You don’t have to be the next Picasso to join in on the fun. Stop by anytime during open studio hours or sign up for one of the events online. n

Casey Brower, Danielle Sabourin, Thea Risak and Rachel Roach at Oasis Hot Tub Gardens. PHOTO: katy Batdorff REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining

Warm up your bones in some soothing 100-degree water at Oasis Hot Tub Gardens. The magical spa welcomes guests to relax in one of its many themed rooms. With more than 10 countries to “visit,” you’re sure to find your ideal escape. Try out the Aleutian room, an outdoor tub with an Alaskan log cabin aesthetic where you’ll watch the flickering fireplace while snowflakes fall around you. Or opt for a more tropical escape with the Borneo Rainforest room, which features a large waterfall. If you really want to escape the cold, grab an indoor room, complete with aquarium and garden. Bring along a group of friends that need a good unwind or make it a date with your someone special. Each room is secluded with its own entry and dressing room. The only link to the outside world is an intercom to request changes in water temperature. Water purity is also important to Oasis, so you can rest easy — the water is constantly filtered and recirculates every eight to 12 minutes.

Get that flawless summer glow in the middle of winter with help from Grand City Tanning. It’s the first spray tanning salon in West Michigan whose goal is to “ditch the bed” and give guests that sun-kissed look without exposing their skin to potentially harsh and damaging rays. All appointments include a color consultation by certified tanning stylists who will custom design your spray tan. GCT’s solution doesn’t stain, and all tanning products are gluten- and paraben-free and 100-percent vegan.


special feature

Adventure Awaits

Revue’s guide to heading outdoors in the dead of winter by Kelly Brown


easonal depression is REAL. And unfortunately for us in West Michigan, far north of the equator, that depression is in full swing. With shorter days and less sun, it can be hard to find the energy to get outside and explore. Suddenly, Netflix becomes our only comfort in this winter wasteland. But wait — adventuring in the winter can be so rewarding! What if, instead of bonding over our shared misery, we started to look at winter through a different lens? Winter, though it seems to last forever, is around for only a handful of months. The beauty of freshly fallen snow on the trees and a frozen lake is something you can only experience this time of year. Jon Holmes of Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus gave us the rundown on winter activities that require little to no experience or training. And believe us, Jon Holmes is winter’s number one fan. “I absolutely love winter,” he said. “Nine months of cold beats nine months of warm in my world! My attraction to winter is that it is so much more peaceful than being outdoors in the summer. No bugs and far fewer people. If folks look, they’ll see the places they play in the summer are wonderful places in the winter too.”

Hiking Hiking, generally thought of as a summer activity, is a great way to enjoy the beauty of winter without investing heavily in equipment. “Some investment in reliable footwear and clothing is required,” Holmes said. “Reliable means they’ll keep you warm and dry regardless of the conditions. There’s no substitution for decent boots and socks.” If you’ve lived in Michigan long enough, you’ve likely invested good money in a solid pair of boots that have lasted you years. And if you ever dreamed of walking on snow as a kid, now is the time to do

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it. Snowshoes are easy to use and require little investment. “Hiking the lakeshore is made considerably easier with snowshoes,” Holmes said. “Lake-effect snow accumulates in the dunes and requires flotation assistance. The crampons found on all snowshoes grip incredibly well in this icy environment.” Snowshoes allow you to travel across snow-covered ground without sinking or struggling. Flat terrain snowshoes are best for beginners and are designed for easy walking on flat to rolling terrain. Rolling terrain snowshoes are best for hikers and backpackers and are designed for rolling to steep terrain. These snowshoes feature

more aggressive crampons and beefier bindings. Both hiking and snowshoeing require proper base layers and outdoor apparel. You likely have the right gear in your closet already. “Base layers that remove sweat from the skin, covered by a midlayer of fleece or down all worn under a wind and waterproof shell allow you to stay warm and adjust layers based on activity,” Holmes said. “Generally, for any activity when you’re moving, avoid heavy insulated jackets as they get too warm. Don’t forget proper headgear (think GoreTex), gloves and solid boots.

Local Sporting Stores Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus 1200 E. Paris Ave. SE, Grand Rapids Great Lakes Outpost 4174 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park Earth’s Edge 705 S. Beacon Blvd., Grand Haven Lee’s Adventure Sports 311 W. Kilgore Rd., Portage

Camping You heard that right — camping doesn’t belong to just the summer season anymore. “Michigan is a great state for winter camping because we can use much of our summer season gear year-round. We don’t have the high winds and exposure issues found in the mountains,” Holmes said. Our favorite perk of camping in the snow is that you can haul all of your gear on a sled instead of your back. This allows you to pack plenty of warm equipment without having to worry about the extra weight. Top tip: Pack all of your clothes in plastic storage totes as they keep every-

thing nice and dry and are easier to pack and unpack. Hauling that sled is made even easier if you invest in a good pair of snowshoes too. Check to make sure your current tent is a three-season version with a strong rain fly before you plan your next camping trip. It’s surprising how much heat will stay inside the tent with the rain fly/tent combination. Pro winter campers suggest packing a tarp to use as a doormat before entering your tent or as coverage when you’re cooking, in case it snows. If you’re serious about winter camping, invest in a zero-degree bag. Otherwise, double up the bags you have. Fleece liners also help to insulate the inside of your bag and improve the temperature rating. Lastly, don’t forget a headlamp. It gets dark early in the winter so a headlamp and small backup flashlight are a must for wandering the campground after 6 p.m.

Running and Fat Biking Michigan is home to many running and fat bike enthusiasts. Your local sports shop is bound to have one expert who can give you the rundown on these summer activities gone rogue. As always, consider your gear when running and biking in the winter. “Face masks, balaclavas, gloves and proper mittens make any type of high-aerobic activity more comfortable,” Holmed said. With the growth of fat biking in the winter, especially for commuting to work, the gear industry has exploded with innovative products to keep you safe and warm. Bar Mitts were created to protect your hands without loss of brake or shifter grip. A slim helmet will keep your noggin safe while providing extra warmth. Wolvhammer creates top of the line cycling boots perfect for fat bikes. “A 100-gram boot/shoe is for the more active outdoor enthusiast that don’t require a lot of warmth, but 200-gram is the sweet spot. If you’re looking at 400-gram boots, you’re likely going ice fishing,” Holmed said. If you’re training for your next 5K or marathon through the winter, consider traction aids that slide over any shoe or boot to decrease slipping and keep you moving. n

Jon Holmes of Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus PHOTO: katy Batdorff

special feature

Outdoor Escapades Where to party, race and ride in the open air

For most of us, it can be difficult to find motivation to journey outside for some adventure amid the cold February air. But with so many exciting activities happening locally, there is sure to be something that inspires you to get out from under your blankets, even if it means bundling up in an extra layer or two. And the promise of beer, ice sculptures and cardboard sleds certainly can’t hurt. by Dominique Tomlin

Ice Breaker 2018 South Haven Feb. 2-4, free

Dining | sights | Sounds Scene

It may be a cold winter, but South Haven is bringing in the heat with its 25th annual Ice Breaker Festival. The three-day event includes events for all ages, such as ice sculpture viewing, a chili cook-off and the second ever cardboard sled race. If that isn’t enticing enough, there will also be a pub slide, the city’s version of a bar crawl, for anyone ages 21 and older.

Snow Bikes & Brews Arctic Cruise - RBC to CSBrew Rockford Brewing Company 12 E Bridge St., Rockford Feb. 3, 11 a.m., free

If you enjoy bikes and brews, this event is perfect for you. Bring your fat tire bike and some warm clothes, and meet up at Rockford Brewing Company for brunch and

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beverages before heading to the White Pine Trail and making your way to Cedar Springs Brewing Company. It’s a 7.7-mile trek and all bikers will receive $1 off draft pours from both brewing companies. This is a group ride, not a race, so bikers are encouraged to enjoy the scenic view and celebrate with the biking community.

World Of Winter Festival

Downtown Grand Rapids Feb. 9-16 While this may be Grand Rapids’ first-ever World of Winter, many of the festival’s events are not new to downtown. This means another year of walking tours and Valent-ICE sculptures, as well as some new events like Paint the Park and Ice Bar: Winter Games at the Downtown Market. Since Valentine’s Day falls during the festival, some of its happenings will celebrate the love in the air. Many

Ice carving demo by Ice Guru Randy Finch at World of Winter Festival

options are free or low-cost, and all are welcome to join the party.

Valentine’s Dash 5K Run

Kentwood Library 4950 Breton Rd. SE, Kentwood Feb. 10, 11 a.m., $30+ kentwood/valentinesdash Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating love, so come celebrate your love of running at the Valentine’s Dash 5K Run. There will be awards for not only the fastest runners, but also the best dressed. The people in the best Valentine-themed costumes will be chosen by fellow runners to receive prizes. There will be Valentine Candy stations, as well as an after party with music, snacks and more.

Frederik Meijer Gardens Winter Family Day

tunity to watch ice sculpting in real time. And don’t worry, there will be plenty of hot chocolate to keep you warm outside.

Founders Fifth Annual Firkin Freezeout Founder’s Brewing Co. 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Feb. 27, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

If you plan to muster up the courage to go out in the freezing cold, the best way is with some firkins (a.k.a. cask ales) to keep you warm. Founders Brewing Co. is hosting its fifth annual Firkin Freezeout, featuring live ice carvings, special food offerings and more than 40 craft firkins. The earlier you get there the better, as the first 12 firkins tapped will be voted on by guests, followed by a winner’s ceremony at 5 p.m.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Feb. 10, 1-4 p.m., free with admission If you want to spend time with the family doing outdoor activities while learning about nature, look no further. Meijer Gardens will have plenty of crafts, such as eco-friendly mosaics and painting in the snow, along with an oppor-

Cardboard sled race at South Haven Ice Breaker

Winter Beer Festival Fifth Third Ballpark 4500 West River Rd. NE, Comstock Park Feb. 23-24, $45+

The 13th annual Winter Beer Festival involves everything the name entails: beer, music and festivities. The festival features more than 125 Michigan breweries and brewpubs, with each guest receiving 15 tasting tokens. Tokens may be exchanged for a 3-oz. sample of one of around 1,000 different craft beers, although some specialty beers require two tokens per sample. The festival also includes ice sculpture demonstrations, fire pits to keep you warm, live music that will be announced closer to the event, and food selections available for purchase. n

Slopes, Skis & Snowboards Cannonsburg Ski Area


Bittersweet Ski Resort 600 River Rd., Otsego $36-46 days, $30-33 nights Rentals $24-27

Home to 20 runs, Bittersweet offers a variety of trails to try your skis on. This hill near Kalamazoo is 350 feet tall and fun for all ages, with slopes for beginners and experts alike. You’ll even find a Wonder Carpet, which beginners can step on to be transported up the hill without a lift. Or, if you’re experienced, mix it up with the terrain park’s rails and ramps. True ski pros can join a team and race every Tuesday night.

Cannonsburg Ski Area 6800 Cannonsburg Rd. NE, Belmont $30-37 days, $22-30 nights Rentals $20-25

Established in 1965, Cannonsburg has become the go-to ski and snowboard spot for the Greater Grand Rapids area. More than 20 runs are laid out across two hills, including multiple learning centers for beginners, a large tubing hill and five of the best freestyle terrain parks around. You’ll also find multiple large cross-country ski hills and a big, warm cabin featuring Summit Sports, which offers some of the best winter attire out there.

Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl 600 Y Dr., Grand Haven $20 day and night Rentals $12-18

What once was farmland in the 1800s and then a boot camp for the Coast Guard during World War 2 is now an up-and-coming nonprofit ski lodge. Mulligan’s longest run is 1,300 feet, featuring six slopes connected

with five rope tows, which means your arms are sure to get buff. And with the help of volunteers and fundraising, Mulligan’s has been able to keep prices low.

Timber Ridge Ski Area 07500 23 1/2 St., Gobles $23-30 days, $21-30 nights Rentals $13-20

Timber Ridge opened to the public in 1961, selling lift tickets for 50 cents or a six-pack of beer. Since then, the hill has expanded to 16 runs, including a tubing hill, even garnering visits from professional snowboarders and skiers. Check out the 2018 Winterfest, with cardboard sled races, dummy racing, tug of war and more. n

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene Sounds | Sights | Dining

hen the first snow hits, skiers and snowboarders get the itch to hit the slopes again. It’s one of the absolute best ways to make winter something to look forward to, rather than dread. The fresh air whipping past, the powdery snow beneath you, trees and hills all around — there’s nothing like it. And West Michigan has plenty of topnotch slopes, especially for beginners. Here’s a guide on hills to ski and snowboard, all of which offer lessons and rentals for those looking to find their footing before going all-in on a set of equipment. by K ar a Toay


















VENTURE UP NORTH E xplore Northern Michigan’s Winter Wonderland. Then Explore Our Extensive Tap List & Kitchen Menu! Whether Hitting The Slopes, The Trails, Snowmobiling, Or Pounding The Sidewalks Shopping For Holiday Sales, Beards Brewery Is The Perfect End To Any Winter Day! Beards Brewery / 215 E. Lake St. / Petoskey, MI /


Brauhaus, Restaurant, Biergarten Look for Kusterer Bier on Tap in West Michigan!

Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

Winner at Great American Beer Festival®, London World Beer Awards, L.A. International Beer Competition! Named "Best Brewery in West Michigan" - Revue Magazine, 2017 / WZZM13, 2016.



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Restaurant listings arranged by region

Grand Rapids Angel’s Thai Café 136 Monroe Center NW. 616-454-9801 THAI. This downtown restaurant makes your order fresh, fast, and hot. You can order your entree with your choice of meat and spice level, or create your own. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Thai Steak and Yum Talay. Anna’s House Multiple locations BREAKFAST/LUNCH. Anna’s House recently went through a dramatic makeover, going from an already-beloved breakfast hot spot and neighborhood staple to an ever-growing concept with five locations across West Michigan. Why all the success? The menu is unique, but accessible. The interior design is refreshing, and the service is great. » SERVING: Breakfast, Lunch OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Inventive breakfast specials. Bistro Bella Vita 44 Grandville Ave. SW. 616-222-4600 ITALIAN. One of Grand Rapids’ best dining experiences, featuring Mediterranean-inspired country cuisine, a swanky yet comfortable downtown atmopshere and personable service. BBV’s culinary team creates authentic, housemade recipes made with locally grown produce, fresh seafood and rotisserie roasted meats. Specialty gluten-free menu, and can prepare custom dishes for lactose intolerant, vegetarian, and vegan diets. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Mediterranean Country Cuisine and Martinis.

Butcher’s Union 438 Bridge St. NW 616-551-1323 AMERICAN. Butcher’s has its fortes — meat and whiskey — but it’s not exactly niche. Expertly-crafted cocktails (made with every kind of spirit) are here at a refreshingly affordable price, along

with a high-end food menu for carnivores and vegheads alike. The historic building sets the mood, giving off an “old fancy-bar in London” vibe. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Meat, whiskey, cocktails.

Thai cuisine, but also made to accommodate health conscious and special diets. Not too strong, not too weak, like harmony and melody. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Peanut Curry Noodles.

Brewery Vivant 925 Cherry St. SE. 616-719-1604 FRENCH/BELGIAN. Housed in a refurbished funeral chapel, this brewery won Best Ambiance in Revue’s Best of the West with its stained glass windows and European beer hall setup. Along with farmhouse style beers, the LEED-certified BV is known for its French-Belgian cuisine, from duck nachos to roasted bone marrow. » SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: The Burger (2nd place Best of the West).

Founders Brewing Company 235 Grandville SW. 616-776-1195 BREWPUB. A beerlover’s paradise with a national reputation for flavorful, award-winning beers. Likewise, the brewpub’s menu consists mainly of flavorful handcrafted deli sandwiches that can stand up and complement the beers (or vice versa). » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Award-winning beer, handcrafted sandwiches.

Chapbook Café 2660 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids. 616-942-0595. CAFE. Take a break from browsing the shelves at Schuler Books with a homemade selection of soups, sandwiches and quiches. Soups are prepared in-house daily and served with fresh baked bread to accompany a small-but-elegant sandwich menu. Try a quiche or traditional Italian Panini grilled on fresh ciabatta bread, or for a quick bite, grab a bagel or scone from the dessert case. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days GO THERE FOR: Homemade soups and sandwiches CitySen Lounge 83 Monroe Center St. NW. 616-608-1720 AMERICAN. CitySen Lounge, located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, is a bar with a big-city feel, offering exciting options for lunch, dinner and breakfast on the weekends. The focus is on fresh ingredients and a full bar with local brews, wine and creative cocktails. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner (Breakfast on weekends). OPEN: Open 7 days GO THERE FOR: Daily happy hour The Cottage Bar 18 Lagrave Ave. SE. 616-454-9088 AMERICAN. The Cottage Bar is the oldest operating restaurant and bar in downtown Grand Rapids. Come in for the Cottage Burger, smothered with green olives, bacon, lettuce, tomato, hickory mayonnaise and Swiss and American cheeses. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Closed Sundays GO THERE FOR: The Cottage Burger. Erb Thai 950 Wealthy St. SE #1A. (616) 356-2573. Additional locations at 4160 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Suite B, and 820 Michigan St. NE. THAI. Food rooted in traditional

G.R.P.D. (Grand Rapids Pizza and Delivery) 340 State St. SE. 616-454-9204 ITALIAN. The current location opened in 2004 as the first established pizzeria in Heritage Hill A common meeting spot for local folks, business professionals and college students, a place where one could gather for a quick meal or a reflective lunch. It offers both hand-tossed pizza and Chicago-style stuffed pizza, as well as pasta, sandwiches, salads, and wings. Online ordering, too. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Pizza. Grand Woods Lounge 77 Grandville Ave. SW. 616-451-4300 AMERICAN. The restaurant’s interior exudes a warm, casual ambiance reminiscent of the great eateries of the Pacific Northwest; the outdoor porch features two outdoor bars and a fireplace. Menu stocked with affordable appetizers great for sharing, plus salads, sandwiches, and entrées. Lots of domestics and microbrews, plus an array of martinis including the “Woodstini,” a tasty mix of Stoli Orange Vodka, mandarin oranges and raspberries. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Cocktails. Graydon’s Crossing 1223 Plainfield NE. 616-726-8260 TAVERN. An authentic take on the English Pub, with a huge selection of beers on tap and a menu that includes classic English dishes like Fish & Chips, Shepherd’s Pie and Irish Stew, as well as Indian specialties like Tandoori Chicken and Tikka Masala. A great casual atmosphere for drinking and dining. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Beer and authentic pub food. Harmony Brewing Company 1551 Lake Dr. SE (616) 233-0063 BREWPUB. Harmony features 12 craft-brewed beers in addition to signature

root beer for the kiddos. Named one of the top-five brewpub menus in West Michigan by yours truly, Harmony offers 10” rustic wood-fired pizzas and great soups and sandwiches. Check out their new location, Harmony Hall, at 401 Stocking Ave. NW. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Pizza and brews. Lindo Mexico Restaurante Mexicano 1742 28th St. SW. 616-261-2280 MEXICAN. One of the less-discussed Mexican eateries is also one of the most popular, especially on the weekends. The atmosphere? Very communal, occasionally with excellent live music. The food? Full of flavor on the cheap. The service? Always friendly, always helpful. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner OPEN: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Unique margaritas made fresh. Marie Catrib’s 1001 Lake Dr. 616-454-4020 ECLECTIC. The East Hills eatery makes everything from scratch with local ingredients, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Get there early for lunch, as there is almost always a wait. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Salads, soups and sandwiches. One Trick Pony 136 E. Fulton. 616-235-7669 AMERICAN. One Trick Pony unveiled a new menu last April with the tagline “Fresh, Local Fare with a Beat.” The restaurant is a part of FarmLink and supports local growers and remains focused on sustainability. Connected to the Cottage Bar, the menu spans pizza, salads, homemade soups, smoked prime rib and more. Pair the food with live music, which OTP features weekly. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Eclectic pizzas. The Pita House 1450 Wealthy SE, 3730 28th Street, 4533 Ivanrest SW (Grandville). 616-454-1171 MEDITERRANEAN. Gyros so big you can club someone with them, the smoothest hummus in town and other Mediterranean fare, including kibbe, kafta and falafel. Additional locations on 28th Street and Kalamazoo SE. Sandwiches are made to order with fresh vegetables and ingredients. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Fresh pita wraps. Reserve Wine & Food 201 Monroe Ave. NW (616) 855-9463 ECLECTIC. With 102 wines available by the glass and more than 300 by the bottle, paired with an ever-changing food menu influenced by West Michigan grown foods, Reserve promises diners a

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining

The B.O.B. 20 Monroe Ave. NW. (616) 356-2000 ECLECTIC. If you’re not sure what kind of dining you want, you can just head into The B.O.B., where you can choose from one of its several venues. Go into Gilly’s, where you can dine on seafood or B.O.B.’s Brewery, the restaurant’s in-house brewery. You can dress down for some pizza at Bobarino’s or dress it up for a steak at Judson’s Steakhouse. For after dinner, take in a show at Dr. Grins or enjoy live music at H.O.M.E. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Beer and numerous dining options.

REVUE’s dining listings are compiled by staff and minions. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of restaurants in the region. For an expanded list, be on the lookout for new and improved dining changes on our website, The listings are not intended to be reviews of West Michigan restaurants, although we will inject some opinions into the listings based on staff experiences and personal preferences. To submit or to correct information in a dining listing, e-mail


by Nick Macksood


Dining Review:

Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

New Hotel Mertens T

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her e’s a n ew F r ench r e s tau r a n t i n t h e heart of Grand Rapids and frankly, it’s about time. Most western cooking dances around — if not completely bows in supplication to — classic French cookery and technique, but it is understandable, however, that a region so laden with Dutch heritage could dodge a brasserie for so long. The French and the Dutch go together like red wine and Heineken. The slow-moving, languorous production that is a French dinner rarely agrees with a country so focused on flipping tables and fried fast food. Wherever your European allegiances lie (and I think I’ve revealed mine), New Hotel Mertens, led by Anthony Tangorra, has designed a brasserie in the hotel lobby of, well, the former New Hotel Mertens. The historic hotel, which opened in 1914 at the very same address, enjoyed a healthy run of success until the 1960s, when it shuttered after the downtown sector of Grand Rapids began to decline. Later, the building was purchased and renovated by Rockford Construction, playing the host to various offices until the restaurant moved in. And what a beautiful use of space Mertens is. Mosaic-tile f looring is used throughout, and the columns remain only partially finished so as to reveal the “artwork” left on the concrete during the building’s darker days. The restaurant is a casual space, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a small case of patisseries and a gorgeous antique espresso machine. God only knows what designs Tangorra and company have planned for their rooftop expansion, slated to begin as early as this year. But no matter. There’s enough food and drink on the menu to keep you occupied until then. Start with a Génépey and Tonic — a Swiss G&T, more or less — popular in the Alps where skiers often tuck them away after a session on the slopes. The cocktail menu is stuffed full of classic drinks resurrected from the original 1914 menu, while the wine list ranges from a humble house Bordeaux

to a 2014 Mouton-Rothschild. There’s even a very drinkable selection of Michigan wines, with rotating two-ounce pours to accompany different courses. Personally, I wanted to eat my way through the entire board. The dinner menu must be what St. Peter orders for lunch — or it’s as close as I’m going to get to heaven, anyway. Bless them, there are four different kinds of fat served in the hors d’oeuvres section,, between the pâté de campagne, rillettes, seared foie gras and roasted bone marrow. Plus, the broth the mussels bathe in deserves to be sold by the glass. The mains are quite stark in their simplicity. What the French can do with a cut of steak, a pat of butter and a potato is beyond magical. The difficulty New Hotel had to overcome, I imagine, was the carte blanche to work with initially. Within a country spilling over with regional specialties, what makes the cut? Iconic dishes like omelettes aux fines herbes, quiche Lorraine, a nice flat-iron steak frites and seared salmon are good introductions unto the more “unpronounceables” like choucroute. I had the coq au vin. It’s a peasant dish, traditionally: chicken, mushrooms, onion, wine. If you’ve got a bottle of red at home, the whole deal probably runs $5 a serving. This one was $19.50 and I’d have happily paid twice that. The chicken was superlative. The skin was brown and crisp, and the meat itself surrendered from the bone when I reached for my fork. The red wine sauce was thick enough to drag along a potato, with a hint of sweetness and roast garlic. Unbelievable. My mussels, foie gras and coq au vin were comprised of maybe a dozen ingredients, total. It was philosophy on white china, both simple and complex; humble, yet luxurious. But in between the room itself, the white tablecloth service and the attention to detail, dinner at New Hotel is an event more than it is simply food. I believe we’re the only species to ever offer hospitality. The French have mastered it, and New Hotel Mertens is well on the way to securing its place downtown. Again. n

New Hotel Mertens, 35 Oakes St. SW, Grand Rapids, (616) 551-1713,

Beer City WAS missing the bourbon! Featuring 120+ different whiskies and bourbon, quality spirits, beer and wine. Served with comfy classic dishes by friends.

608 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, Mich | 616-608-5766 | open Tuesday-Thursday 3-10pm, Fridays & Saturdays 3-12am REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


by Josh Veal


To Hell and Back

Scorching hot dishes in West Michigan For some of us, getting through a meal without any pain is just too boring. What’s the point of plopping down $14 for dinner if it doesn’t make you feel anything? Now, most spice fanatics opt for Indian or Thai if they really want to dive deep. Spots like Curry Kitchen and Thai Chef will gladly crank the heat up to 11 for you. But if you’re looking to expand your spice horizons, West Michigan has plenty more to offer. We’ve rounded up some of the most blazing hot dishes around that don’t sacrifice flavor for suffering.

The Heater, $14.99

The Mitten Brewing Co. 527 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids In terms of pure spice per slice, there really is no beating The Heater. Start with a local product, Scoville Farms’ Everidae Sweet Habanero Sauce, then load on andouille sausage, jalapenos, banana peppers, green peppers and Colby Jack cheese. Even with all that, the heat level isn’t insufferable, which means you still get to enjoy plenty of flavor and likely even taste your beer afterward.

Devil Dancer, $9.75

Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

Founders Brewing Co. 235 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids Challenging the Devil to a fiddle contest is one thing, but dancing with him takes it to the next level. In that spirit, Founders has thrown all the fire it can on one sandwich, with roasted chicken, Muenster and Pepper Jack cheeses, jalapenos, banana peppers, red onions, chipotle mayo, and the most hellish of all: chipotle peppers. You’ll find no solace in the Devil’s arms.

Fire Dragon Roll, $12.50 Rockwell Republic 45 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids

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Sushi isn’t exactly known for bringing the heat, but Rockwell’s Fire Dragon is here to change that, while still letting the fish shine. The roll starts off mild, with panko-crusted shrimp, cucumber, avocado and ahi, but then throws sriracha mayo, sriracha, jalapenos and eel sauce into the mix. You’re probably not going to run home crying, but this roll may very well be the most biting in West Michigan.

Rajin’ Cajun Burger, $8.95 Rocky’s Bar and Grill 633 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

It’s a true crime that Rocky’s food is so underrated. Then again, I shouldn’t complain — it keeps some of the best bar cuisine around incredibly cheap. The Rajin’ Cajun piles on spice and flavor at once, with a cajun-seasoned beef burger, cheddar cheese, chipotle mayo, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and habanero-garlic sauce. If you need something to control the burn, slaw and a pickle come on the side.

Potato/Vegan/Chicken Wings, $7.95-$11 Stella’s Lounge 53 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Wings are about the sauce, above all else. If the flavor isn’t there, the rest doesn’t matter. That’s why Stella’s is able to make potato and vegan wings work just as

The Heater pizza from The Mitten Brewing Co.

well as its chicken wings, and why the whiskey bar only needs four sauces to choose from: buffalo hot, mild, golden BBQ and sweet chili. They’re all robust, gooey and well-spiced.

Other Spicy Specialties

Spicy Burger, $13

Spicy Italian Sausage

Bell’s Eccentric Cafe 355 E. Kalamazoo Ave., Kalamazoo Bell’s offers no mercy with its Spicy Burger. Aside from the bun and beef itself, there’s not a mild topping in sight: jalapeno relish, chipotle mayo, ghost-pepper jack cheese and The Brinery hot sauce, which is made with five kinds of peppers. Escape briefly from the heat with a Bell’s Lager, or lean into it with something hoppy like a Two Hearted.

Maniac Dog, $3.25

Mad Dogz 3916 W. River Dr. NE, Comstock Park Years ago, Mad Dogz offered a hot dog smothered in ghost sauce. It made the bike ride home … difficult. The explosive level of heat may be why it didn’t last, but the Maniac Dog is not a bad replacement. Banana peppers, chili, jalapenos, Frank’s Red Hot sauce and onion all join forces to take your mouth by storm on this spicy pup. After that, cool off with the Yo-Yo, topped with bacon, ranch, sour cream, lettuce, tomato and crispy fried onions. n

Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Sausage made with fennel, red pepper, garlic, pecorino romano cheese, red wine. Topped with fried bell peppers, onion, mozzarella, oregano.

Chihuahua Dog Blue Dog Tavern, 638 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids Chorizo jalapeno, red pepper, onion, Cholula hot sauce.

Spicy Nashville Fried Chicken Rockford Brewing Co., 12 E. Bridge St. NE, Rockford Pickled jalapeno slaw and Smaug aioli (the hottest sauce RBC has) on a potato bun.

Spicy Pork Ando Asian Kitchen, 415 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids Thinly sliced marinated pork shoulder, onion, carrot, scallion, kimchi, zucchini, cabbage. Served with a bowl of steamed rice.


unique experience. Cocktails and craft beers add depth to the primarily wine-centered menu. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner OPEN ON: Closed on Sunday GO THERE FOR: Wine and food pairings, charcuterie, happy hour. Rockwell-Republic 45 S. Division Ave. 616-551-3563 ECLECTIC. Menu offerings range from sushi to burgers and everything in between. The craft cocktail menu runs the gamut from classics like the Manhattan to more modern concoctions and the beer and wine menus are nicely curated. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Specialty cocktails, broad menu, lively atmosphere. The Sovengard 443 Bridge St. NW 616-214-7207 NEW NORDIC. There’s really nothing like The Sovengard. The menu changes with the seasons, but the quality doesn’t. Expect innovative, beautiful dishes in the Scandinavian tradition. It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for. The West Side restaurant also boasts an excellent taplist, perfect for sipping in the biergarten. » SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Something special. Wolfgang’s Restaurant 1530 Wealthy St. SE. 616-454-5776 BREAKFAST. The bustling Eastown breakfast spot is home to some of the heartiest breakfast dishes and funniest menu descriptions. Courteous staff never fails to offer a cup of coffee to go after we’ve finished breakfast. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Breakfast all day.

Kalamazoo/Battle Creek Arcadia Brewing Co. 701 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo. 269-276-0458 BREWPUB. You’ll find some of the usual suspects on the brewpub’s menu, including some of the best barbecue in the region. But you’ll also find some delightful surprises on the menu, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Handcrafted ales and barbecue.

Fieldstone Grille 3970 W. Centre St., Portage. 269-321-8480 AMERICAN. Lodge-retreat atmosphere overlooking the Moors Golf Club natural wetlands. The “field-to-plate” menu features burgers, pizzas, steaks and some eclectic items like quail. Try the FSG chips, a combination of potato, beet and sweet potato chips. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Blue Burger, Almond Crusted Walleye, FSG Chips.

Olde Peninsula 200 E. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo 269-343-2739 BREWPUB. Downtown brewpub serves up the expected (e.g., steaks, ribs), the authentic (e.g., London Broil) and some pleasant surprises (e.g., extensive vegetarian offerings, Italian food). Offers a range of beers brewed on the premises and served on tap, plus a full bar. Check out the seasonal porters on tap right now, including the Vanilla Porter (5.5% ABV) and Stout Chocula (5.25% ABV). » SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Beer-B-Que Ribs, London Broil.

Union Cabaret & Grille 125 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo. 269-384-6756 AMERICAN. A partnership with WMU, Union features eclectic food and cocktails, plus live jazz music performed by WMU faculty and students. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Closed Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Portabella Fries, Bloody Maries with infused vodkas.

Fricano’s Pizza Tavern 1400 Fulton Ave., Grand Haven. 616-842-8640 ITALIAN. Claims to be the first pizzeria in Michigan, but customers care less about its longevity than the amazingly crispy thin crust and simple ingredients atop its much-lauded pies. Four other locations around West MI, including Comstock Park, Muskegon, Holland and Kalamazoo. » SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Pizza.

Phil’s Bar & Grille 215 Butler St., Saugatuck. 269-857-1555 AMERICAN. This cozy (some would say “small”) bar and grille in downtown Saugatuck is one of those unassuming spots you might easily overlook, though locals in Saugatuck will tell you about their love affair with Phil’s. Eclectic menu is all over the place, but in a good way, and the staff is super-friendly. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Portabella Mushroom Fries.

Kirby House 2 Washington, Grand Haven. 616-846-3299 AMERICAN. Formerly a historic hotel, The Kirby House retains its oldworld charm while providing all the pleasantries of new world fare, with a diverse but primarily American-influenced menu. Check out the new island bar with 5 HDTVs and walk to Lake Michigan right after. The Kirby House also hosts The Grill Room and a pizzeria (complete with pool tables) called K2. The lower level has also been renovated to include a wine cellar and a premier nightclub, Dark. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Nightlife.

Salt of the Earth 114 East Main St., Fennville. 269-561-7258 AMERICAN. Salt of the Earth is a farm-to-table-inspired restaurant, bar, and bakery located in the heart of SW Michigan farm country in Fennville. Focuses on fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients whenever possible. Also serves up live music on weekends. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: House made rustic cuisine.

New Holland Brewing Company 66 E. 8th St., Holland. 616-355-6422 BREWPUB. One of West MI’s premier microbreweries serves up better than average pub grub, including savory sandwiches chock full of Michigan ingredients, plus a seasonal entree menu. Also try their artisan spirits. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Mad Hatter IPA, Dragon’s Milk.

Saugatuck Brewing Company 2948 Blue Star Highway. 269-857-7222 BREWPUB. Enjoy a traditional Irish-style pub that features quality beer, wine, food and service. Try one of 12 unique brews that are served in the pub and bottled and distributed throughout the Midwest. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Beer in a family friendly pub environment.

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Lakeshore 8th Street Grille 20 W. 8th St., Holland. 616-392-5888 AMERICAN. This eclectic grille offers a mix of draft and bottled craft beers and a variety of pub classics and new, American beerinspired dishes. Happy hour includes half-off appetizers and $1 off drafts. » SERVING: Lunch, Dinner OPEN ON: 7 days. GO THERE FOR: 28 taps of craft beer. CityVu Bistro 61 E 7th Street, Holland. 616-796-2114 AMERICAN. A distinctive rooftop dining experience in downtown Holland with fresh gourmet flatbreads and an array of seasonal entrees. The contemporary-yet-casual atmosphere, full bar and unique menus make it the ideal spot for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days GO THERE FOR: Flatbreads. Everyday People Cafe 11 Center St., Douglas. 269-857-4240 AMERICAN. REVUE Publisher Brian Edwards calls Everyday People Café his favorite restaurant along the lakeshore. The atmosphere is casual and upbeat, the staff knows its stuff about wine and food, and the seasonal menu is filled with meticulously prepared, eclectic comfort food like Butternut Squash Risotto, Braised Lamb Shank and Ahi Tuna. A great wine list and tremendous desserts. » SERVING: Brunch (Weekends) Lunch Dinner OPEN: Thurs.–Sun. during winter. GO THERE FOR: Gorgonzola Pork Chop, Greek Salad with Grandma Gigi’s Dressing (Edwards).

Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining

Central City Taphouse 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall. (269) 492-0100 TAPHOUSE. If Central City doesn’t have the kind of beer you want on tap, you’ll probably find it with the 75+ bottles. OH, you say you’re not a beer drinker? Well, Central City offers 20 wine ‘taps’ and a full bar. If you’re not the drinking type, that’s cool too. There are a number of food options to pick from, including a raw menu, a pizza menu and the all-day menu, which features burgers, soups and entrees. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Diverse beverage selection.

Food Dance 401 E. Michigan Ave. 269-382-1888 AMERICAN. Food Dance is committed to building a thriving and sustainable local food system, supporting artisans who practice craft food processes. It’s about the connection with people and places the food comes from. Offering private dining space, catering and delivery, while an on-site market offers humanely raised meats, artisan cheeses, fresh bread and pastries. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Fresh Local Foods.

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


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S p ec i a l a dv e rti s i n g s ec ti o n

B e e r C i t y/ B e e r m o n t h G R

LEFT: Winter Beer Fest at Fifth Third Ballpark Photo: Marty Dunham, Michigan Brewers Guild. RIGHT: Grand Rapids Society of Brewers Revue File photo

Beer City USA:

How Grand Rapids embraced its title to become a destination for craft beer When the online polls closed and the votes were tallied in May 2012, the final count surprised many craft beer enthusiasts: Asheville, NC: 17,849 votes Grand Rapids, MI: 17,849 votes While most people hate ties, Grand Rapids embraced one — and built its reputation as a craft beer powerhouse. When Grand Rapids tied Asheville, North Carolina in a 2012 online poll to determine the best beer city in the country, lots of local beer enthusiasts cheered. A few raised an eyebrow. Created in 2009 by author and homebrewer Charlie Papazian, the Beer City USA poll was a non-scientific poll

on a Huffpost-type website that crowdsourced content to generate readers and clicks. The Beer City poll allowed — and even encouraged — communities to rally around their local craft-beer scene and vote for it to win the largely ceremonial title. Some dismissed it as a popularity contest. Media around the country soon began publishing the results of the poll, raising questions about how this little city — known more for furniture and conservative politics — tied with one of the communities with a long-standing reputation as a craft-beer powerhouse. Asheville earned its props with a variety of unique and funky craft breweries and a beer culture that matched, but it had also lured several larger craft brewers from the western U.S. to set up operations there. Before 2012, only two cities had won the readers’ poll in previous years: Asheville and Portland, Oregon. After its initial tie in 2012, Grand Rapids ramped up community support for the 2013 poll, winning the vote in a landslide. Asheville actually finished third, behind Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, showcasing to beer enthusiasts the strength of West Michigan’s growing craft beer market. In 2014, poll creator Papazian shelved the survey, saying it had served its purpose. While Grand Rapids would not have

the opportunity for a three-peat in the annual poll, it could rightfully hang onto the claim that it was still the rightful holder of the Beer City USA title. Some beer enthusiasts still roll their eyes today when the Beer City USA moniker gets mentioned. Even so, the most cynical among them acknowledge that the title and buzz it generated for West Michigan was the small shove Grand Rapids and the surrounding region needed to become one of the most important players in the craft beer industry. By the early 2010s, Grand Rapids had reached a teetering point with craft beer. The popularity of bold, quality small-batch beer production had just begun taking off nationwide and local mainstays like Founders and Brewery Vivant were beginning to grow in popularity. Yet, the city lacked the unifying force behind the craft beer movement that characterizes life here today. These days, the residents of Grand Rapids are deeply proud of the Beer City USA moniker and tout the title as a badge of honor. The award proved to be a galvanizing force, creating an entire craft beverage ecosystem throughout the city. Garage-bound homebrewers, middle-aged professionals looking to make a career change, restaurateurs and former financiers all threw their collective weight behind the craft brewing movement. Now, the spirit of craft beer has pushed beyond the taprooms and brew houses of Grand Rapids, spawning an entire cottage industry of businesses supporting craft beer. Specialized craft beer marketing services and photographers like Steph Harding have devoted the majority of their time to cataloguing the growth of craft beer throughout West Michigan. Two West Michigan law firms, Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone PLC, and Warner, Norcross & Judd LLP have both launched dedicated practices geared toward the craft beer industry in recent years. (Continued)

REVUEWM.COM | February 2018 |


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Beer City USA, continued Even small manufacturing companies have entered into the industry, making various components for homebrewers and craft-beer production. This doesn’t even begin to take into account the numerous artisans who craft the tables, chairs, bar tops and other furniture to fill the tap rooms of craft breweries and beer bars, the proliferation of homebrewers in the area, and countless other businesses that have sprung up in service of beer. The craft beer movement in Grand Rapids help spur a more widespread dedication to craft. As craft breweries rapidly gained popularity, an entire wave of distilleries, cideries and meaderies followed in its wake. As the popularity of craft brewing in Grand Rapids spread, so too did the breweries. Once primarily cloistered in the downtown area, craft brewers are now often the tip of the spear when it comes to neighborhood revitalization. Opening in the summer of 2016, Creston Brewery anchored a large portion of the revitalization of the Creston neighborhood. Likewise, The Mitten Brewing Co. was one of the first new businesses to open up along Leonard Street on the city’s iconic West Side neighborhood. Taprooms have also flourished in the city. Both 7 Monks and Craft Beer Cellar opened up their doors in early 2017 to an outpouring of positive press and thirsty visitors. The momentum created by the craft-beer boom in Grand Rapids also spilled over into nearby communities. Breweries including Cedar Springs Brewing Company, Rockford Brewing Company and the lakeshore’s Grand Armory have

pushed the geographic boundaries of Beer City USA far outside the city limits, creating an entire region devoted to craft beer. To get a sense of the craft beer movement’s growth over the past five years, look at the numbers: When Grand Rapids claimed the undisputed title as Beer City USA in 2013, the city contained 17 breweries. Now, there are approximately 37 breweries and brewpubs in the immediate city and 80 throughout West Michigan. Statewide, Michigan craft breweries produced enough beer in 2016 to provide every drinking-age adult with 3.7 gallons of suds and have contributed nearly $2.1 billion in economic impact. Experts predict these figures will continue to rise as new craft breweries enter the market. As much as craft brewers and stakeholders have worked to grow the craft beer industry within Grand Rapids, they’ve worked equally as hard to promote the region outside the state. State and local tourism agencies have adopted the Beer City USA title and used it to generate a national buzz about Grand Rapids and the surrounding region. Craft beer lovers travel from far and wide to attend annual events such as the Winter Beer Festival, Founders Fest, and Beer Month GR, hosted by Experience GR. The events have consistently drawn large crowds to the area to celebrate all things beer. Grand Rapids’ status as a craft beer destination has also been bolstered by the notoriety generated by some of the national heavyweights that call the city and surrounding region home. Once on the verge of bankruptcy, Founders Brewing Company now ranks among the top ten largest craft breweries in the nation in production. Founders’ beer, produced here in

Grand Rapids, is consistently found on store shelves across the globe. The Grand Rapids-based brewery recently built a second production facility on the city’s South side and has expanded its taproom on Grandville Avenue numerous times after moving there in 2007. Other local craft breweries have partnered with iconic names in the industry to help export their craft beer far outside the region. In 2015, Comstock Park-based Perrin Brewing Company was acquired by the owners of Oskar Blues, a longstanding craft brewery based in Colorado. A year later, New Holland Brewing Company inked a partnership with Pabst Brewing Company to expand its distribution and sales throughout the country. Before the Beer City USA title, Grand Rapids had a growing downtown focused mostly around the Van Andel Arena and the Amway Grand Hotel. During working hours, it resembled a somewhat bustling city, but quickly emptied out in the evenings as people flocked home to the bedroom communities surrounding the area. Now, it’s commonplace to see people packed into breweries, restaurants and other establishments far into the evening. The whole atmosphere of the city has shifted toward that of growth, and taking in the views while walking the streets reflect that. It would be presumptuous to assume that craft beer ushered in all the growth Grand Rapids has experienced in the past few years. But, it would be equally inaccurate to say it hasn’t helped. Instead of a place on the map, Grand Rapids has turned into a hotspot, attracting people, businesses and national attention to its borders. And, maybe not-so-coincidentally, the city is also more steeped in craft beer than ever before. n

Delicious Deals Here are just a few of the menu specials happening during Beer Month GR, Feb. 15-March 15. For more information on participating locations, visit

BREWERY VIVANT 925 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids (616) 719-1604, The Launch: On Feb. 15, Brewery Vivant launches Beer Month with the #TreeBeer project, in collaboration with Friends of GR Parks. Vivant brewed a farmhouse IPA with juniper berries and augmented those pine notes by dry hopping with Michigan-grown Chinook hops. Full Calendar: From there, Brewery Vivant hosts a series of events, including: A tasting at Siciliano’s on Feb. 16, a limited-ticket Beer & Dessert pairing at the Pub, with pastry chef Katy Waltz on Feb. 18, Beer Month Beer Dinner at JW Marriot on Feb. 21 and the Brewer’s Big Breakfast at the Pub on Feb. 24 and

Juicy IPA release on Feb. 26. And that is only a small taste of the shindigs. Visit for the full schedule.


the cause with each Big Sid Barley Wine purchased during the month, which runs concurrent with Beer Month GR. For more information, visit

Brewery Vivant Beer & Dessert pairing with pastry chef Katy Waltz, Feb. 18.


95 N Main, Cedar Springs (616) 696-2337,

404 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids (616) 350-9170, grandrapids.

Tree Beer: Cedar Springs Brewing Company is proud to be one of the 19 participants in Tree Beer Month, a program formed in 2013 by the Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. The mission: Raise funds through specially-brewed beverages, like tree-inspired beers, ciders and specialty cocktails. Since its genesis, 100 trees have been planted in GR parks. Cedar Springs is donating to

Tap Takeovers: To celebrate the first week of Beer Month GR, the Craft Beer Cellar hosts a series of free brewery tastings and tap takeovers, more so than usual, Feb. 15-23. Customers can chat with brewery personnel, taste their line of beers and score swag. Breweries already on the schedule include: Cheboygan, Saugatuck, Austin

Brothers, Atwater, Dark Horse, Pigeon Hill, and others. Brewery tastings are typically Weekdays 6-8 p.m. and Saturdays 3-5 p.m. at its Heartside neighborhood storefront and bar. Visit for the full calendar.

Anniversary Party: Celebrate the Craft Beer Cellar’s one-year anniversary Feb. 17. The party, which starts at 5 p.m., will feature freshly tapped kegs of rare brew. While you’re there, sit at the bar with 20 taps, or peruse the bottle shop of packaged beer, featuring 800 craft brands.

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Beer Month GR:

A month-long celebration showcasing the beverage and craftspeople who put Grand Rapids on the map as Beer City USA


erhaps one of the best ways to gauge Grand Rapids’ ascent to Beer City USA is to examine the annual Beer Month event, hosted by Experience GR. The event began as a week-long shindig in 2016 and has since grown into a month-long affair, encompassing everything from Founders Brewing Company’s KBS week to the full-scale Winter Beer Festival featuring craft brewers from across the state. Beginning Feb. 15, craft-beer lovers can choose from a plethora of events to indulge their craft beer cravings. The annual Cool Brew. Hot Eats. event underpins the entire month with more than 50 breweries, brew pubs and restaurants featuring craft beer and food pairings. Beyond food pairings, local chefs and brewmasters will step it up a notch with beer-infused dishes, as well — a delicious proposition given Grand Rapids was also recently voted the Best Food City in Michigan by Thrillist. Stay tuned for a full list of of participating locations and menus. Outside of stuffing your mug with delicious beer-themed foods, Beer Month GR offers plenty of opportunities to mingle at large gatherings with like-minded beer-loving

Greyline Brewing Company

Delicious Deals CRESTON BREWERY 1504 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids (616) 805-4523, Pork Belly Enchiladas: Beer Braised MI Pork belly, brown basmati rice and cheddar jack in El Milagro flour tortillas with pickled onion, toasted almonds and braising jus. $11 Pair with Quimby (brown ale) Fried Chicken: Confit chicken thigh, fried in a smoked paprika corn flour breading. Ser ved over f ingerling mashed potatoes with Dijon cream sauce and crispy kale. $13 Pair with Clickety Clack (hefeweizen) Vegetable Sandwich: Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini, Yellow squash, goat cheese and arugula, served on house made Focaccia bread with sundried tomatoolive tapenade and fingerling potato salad. $11 Pair with Fox Deluxe (House IPA)

HARMONY BREWING COMPANY 1551 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids (616) 233-0063, The Other Chicken Pot Pie: Harmony’s take on the classic, with Erste Lagerbraised pulled chicken, roasted carrots, beer-soaked shaved potatoes and fontina cheese on a white-sauce base. Finished after the oven with a sweetpea puree and fresh rosemary. Stouted Caramelized Onion Dip: Caramelized sweet-onion dip made with Harmony’s Black Perle Stout. Comes served with chips and crudités. Beer Balls: No-bake chocolatey pretzel balls made with our Winter Warmer. A delicious, sweet and malty finish to your meal. A quick message from Harmony owner Heather Van Dyke-Titus: For Beer Month, Harmony has teamed

folks. The 13th Annual Winter Beer Festival, hosted by the Michigan Brewers Guild, fills the parking lot of the Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park with more than 100 Michigan breweries and brewpubs slinging 1,000 different beers across their bars. This year’s Winter Beer Festival begins Friday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. and runs until Saturday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. Later in the month, Founders Brewing Company hosts its acclaimed KBS Week 2018, which runs from March 5-10. For those blueblooded beer hounds chasing the elusive Kentucky Breakfast Stout, the event offers one of the rare chances to obtain the coveted brew and celebrate Grand Rapids largest brewery. If your love of beer simply isn’t enough to convince you to brave the cold, or other obligations are getting in your way, a number of Grand Rapids beer destinations will offer a rotating list of interesting, rare or otherwise wacky beers throughout celebratory month. Whether you’re tucked into a nook at your favorite haunt eating a beer-inspired dish, breaking the ice off your mustache to down a warming stout at the Winter Beer Festival or vying for some of that coveted KBS, Beer Month GR 2018 gives you plenty of reasons to pop a top and drink up.

with the Edelweiss Club GR, the local German culture club that hosts the annual Oktoberfest West Michigan at John Ball Zoo. Together, we’re presenting a Fasching event, it’s the German version of MardiGras. There will be music, costumes, food, drinks and good times. In the end, a king and queen of Fasching will be crowned.

ROCKFORD BREWING COMPANY 12 E. Bridge St. NE, Rockford (616) 951-4677, New Release: In celebration of Beer Month, on Feb. 20, Rockford Brewing Company releases its first sour beer of a four-part series. The Rockford staff is thrilled to announce this anticipated project as each beer was inspired by a theme close to the brewery’s heart. More det ail s w ill be announced throughout February. Beer Month Specials : RBC Style Moules Frites, $14: PEI Mussels, house-made bacon, lemon, RBC’s Weisse beer broth. Served with RBC fries and sauce gribiche.

RBC Style Moules Frites, Rockford Brewing Company

The second dish: Encocado de Pescado (Ecuadorian Coconut Seafood Stew), $19.50: Includes ECA Farms Michigan shrimp, smoked salmon, PEI mussels, potatoes, Spicy Coconut-RBC Carriage House Broth, cilantro, limes and a side of rice

The Brew: Two Plums Up, a Tree-Beer Month brew, is Rockford’s Beer Month special. For every pint of the plumdouble-dark ale sold, Rockford donates $1 to the planting of trees at Brewer’s Grove.

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February 15 - March 15, 2018 Cool Brews. Hot Eats. Restaurant Specials Winter Beer Festival • Tap Takeovers Brewsader® Beer Passport Rewards And Much More!

Details at

by Joe Boomgaard


Bottle Shop & Bar n Downtow


eR e B t s e LaRG ion seLect now serving hot dogs! over 800 Beers 20 Drafts Growler Fills Weekly events Free tastings Happy Hour: M-F, 12-6 pm

Dining Sights | Sounds | Scene

Free 30-minute parking across the street

404 IonIa ave. SW (616) 350.9170

48 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018

YELLOW BEER? Michigan brewers go back to basics — with a modern twist


hile I’v e been # ble ssed to try many great beers over the last couple of years in pursuit of journalism, one that I can’t wait to try again is not a crazy barrel-aged pastry stout or hopped-up hazy IPA. Rather, it’s the Slow Pour Pils from Bierstadt Lagerhaus in Denver. The beer lives up to its name, taking several minutes to deliver from a special, traditional-style tap that allows the head to peak over the top of the glass. The process accentuates the beer’s soft and nuanced flavors and results in a delightful quaff — the kind that will make you seriously consider driving more than 1,100 miles to get. What can I say: Pilsners speak to me because they’re both easy drinking and complex beers if you want them to be. Maybe that’s why I purchase Pilsner Urquell, a true Czech pilsner first introduced in 1842, nearly every time I see it with a fresh date stamp (or on draft). It’s the O.G.. standard bearer for the style, even if the kegs and cans that make it stateside don’t live up to the fresh experience at the brewery. Luckily, Michigan craft breweries have also started to embrace pilsners and lagers in growing numbers. At Revue, we decided to try several new or refreshed offerings, and those we missed in a 2016 taste-off.



Euchre Pils

American Lager

Arbor Brewing Co., Ypsilanti 5.5% ABV

Ellison Brewery and Spirits, East Lansing 4.5% ABV

Arbor very recently switched to cans, and the result with this beer was markedly improved from when Revue last tried a bottle of it in 2016. (The product was assuredly fresher this time, too.) It pours clear with solid head retention. Delicious bready aromas give way to a smooth flavor, with just the right amount of hop bitterness. A refreshing, solid offering. Score: 84.5

OK, so it’s not a pilsner, but this is a highly crushable lager. Not much on the aroma front, but the smooth taste, effervescent carbonation and overall poundability makes this a great choice for day drinking, or maintaining a buzz. Score: 78

Euchre Pils, Arbor Brewing Co.

God Save The Pils Arcadia Brewing Co., Kalamazoo 4.8% ABV Pours with a slight haze and thick head. A totally acceptable (and traditional) level of buttered corn notes (a.k.a. DMS) present in the aroma and flavor. This feels the most European of the bunch, with stronger grainy and yeasty flavors present. Score:

This dry-hopped pilsner perhaps leans more to the India Pale Lager style in taste than a traditional pils, but that’s OK. It features great lemon and citrus notes in the nose and at first sip that mellow out, adding to its drinkability. Score: 74.75



Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven

Happy Guy

Rail District

North Pier Brewing Co., Benton Harbor 6.1% ABV

Griffin Claw Brewing Co., Birmingham n

Now On Tap!

Session IPA made with one single hop variety. Mild with citrus aroma.

BEER BRIEFS n Speaking of crushable pilsners, Creston Brewery this month will release cans of Pilz at

the taproom, located at 1504 Plainfield Ave. NE in Grand Rapids, the company’s first-ever can release. Pilz is a Michigan-centric take on the style, brewed with Michigan-grown Zuper Saazer hops and locally sourced pilsner malt. It quickly became a favorite among Revue staffers last summer and fall. We’re glad to see it back.


n The Great American Beer Fest award-winning Rockford Brewing Co. is finally pulling back

the curtain on a secret project at a special event on Feb. 20. The brewery will release the first beer in its four-part Wild Sour Ale series at the taproom, located at 12 E. Bridge St. NE in Rockford. While few details were available at the time this edition went to press, we do know the beer features special packaging. Stay tuned for more. n Oprah’s favorite West Michigan microbrewery has started packaging one of its popular

mainstay beers in cans. The Mitten Brewing Co., located at 527 Leonard St. NW in Grand Rapids, is now offering six-packs of Country Strong IPA, a 7.2-percent ABV American IPA featuring Simcoe and Centennial hops. A sixer will set you back $10.99 at the taproom, and look for the beer to show up soon at retailers. (For the curious minds: Oprah pounded “a few” of Mitten’s golden ale know as The Stretch, according to sources in the know.)

Quick sips: n All Day Erry Day: Sales of All Day IPA make up about 60 percent of the volume at Grand

n Paint It Black: Sales for Comstock Park-based Perrin Brewing Co. grew 20 percent in

Michigan alone in 2017, and soared 22 percent in IRI data across the Great Lakes region, the brewery’s parent company, CANArchy Craft Brewery Collective, reported in January. n Razzle Dazzle: Bell’s Brewery will release Sparkleberry Ale in 16-ounce cans for the first

time ever starting in June. The raspberry Belgian-style tripel ale has long been released during Kalamazoo Pride in support of OutFront Kalamazoo, a resource center for the LGBTQ community in Southwest Michigan.


Scene | Sounds | Sights Dining

Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co., according to a report in Brewbound. Additionally, off-premise sales of All Day at multi-outlet retailers and convenience stores skyrocketed to $48.3 million last year, up from just $2.5 million in 2013, analyst IRI reported.


Last Call by Nick Macksood / photo by Katy Batdorff

South Paw Punch

Citizen, 2115 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids Punch? More like a haymaker. Citizen GR is the first rum-centric bar to set up shop in town, so why not let this month’s featured drink showcase three different kinds. It’s a hulking, boozy, actually flaming centerpiece of the table, so bring company. We couldn’t finish it, so we passed it down the bar to Kevin Douglas, a regular. Said Douglas, “Man, I got court in the morning.” Attorney problems...


2 oz. Plantation dark rum 2 oz. J.M. white rum 2 oz. Wray & Nephew white overproof rum 4 oz. pineapple juice 2 oz. orgeat 1 oz. lime juice 1 oz. grenadine 4 oz. ginger beer lime wheels, pineapple florets, edible flowers, for garnish Pour all three rums, pineapple and lime juices, orgeat and grenadine into an iced mixer. Shake well, then strain into an iced punch bowl. Top with ginger beer, then garnish with lime wheels, pineapple florets and flowers.

 See how it's made: Check out for an exclusive video tutorial.

50 | REVUEWM.COM | February 2018



F r i d a y thursday college night 8pm >>>> Close


$2 Tequila Shots $3 Well Drinks

$5 Mac and Cheese JOHN BELTRAN 90’S FEB 9 DJ starts @ 9pm $15 Woody Buckets FEB 2ND







Ladi es Night



f r e e d i g i ta l j u k e b ox a f t e r INDUSTRY NIGHT. IN THE BIZ?




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