Michigan: America's High-Five

And so it’s begun:  the Great Lakes trek of our journey!  We crossed over into Michigan last Thursday and headed north for Ann Arbor.  We met up with Hallie’s longtime bestie and Ann Arbor resident, Bizzy Roach, and headed to the Blind Pig, renowned music venue and home to Iggy Pop’s very own start!  The Locavaux Crew was in for a different sort of evening as we waited through a few opening acts for the main attraction, local Ann Arbor pop punk group Hung Up.  We listened with… anticipation… to two local heavy metal/scream-o groups, Alaska and 1876, enjoying a different sound from the usual folk rock and jam-band sound we’ve become accustomed to.  Katie even head-banged in an attempt to blend into the crowd.  The crew was able to interview two members of Hung Up (the bassist was nowhere to be found and the drummer was suffering from a samurai sword induced finger injury) and learned of the burgeoning punk scene in Ann Arbor that emerged largely from the popular skate culture in the area.  The boys played a few songs for the crowd, riling up the audience members with some loud vocals, a heavy bass rhythm and some impressive hang banging of their own.  It was a new experience for the Locavaux Project, to say the least. After spending the night in an Ann Arbor senior citizen community center parking lot, we woke up early and headed out towards Grand Rapids where Chase planned to meet with up with some fellow Colgate-ers (shout out to Rico, Mia, and Nora!) and head to an electro festival, Electric Forest, in Rothbury, Michigan.  Having already enjoyed ourselves at Sasquatch! music festival earlier this summer, Hallie and I said our goodbyes (and well-wishes for survival) to the bus and hitched a ride with Mrs. Kohler up to Hallie’s northern hometown, Traverse City.  We spent the next few days basking in the glory that is a full-sized kitchen and access to fresh seafood and produce, touring around Traverse (while attempting to avoid the tourist crowds attending the annual Cherry Festival), tending to Locavaux administrative tasks and enjoying some delicious local beers from northern Michigan.  Here’s another beer tip:  if you’re ever in the area, try the Perrin’s Grapefruit IPA—it’s unreal!  On Saturday evening, Hallie, Mrs. Kohler and I headed north to the Kohler cabin located on beautiful Torch Lake and made plans to attend a Michigan-native band, Valentiger’s, performance at the nearby brewery, Short’s Brewing.  While enjoying some of Short’s more popular beers, the three of us enjoyed listening to the upbeat folk rock trio while mingling with other loyal fans and beer-lovers.  Valentiger’s fun, folk sound got people up and dancing, cheering, and singing out loud to some of their favorite classic covers and Valentiger’s own hits.

Chase joined back up with the rest of the Locavaux crew the next morning—the bus officially survived its first music festival!  Chase was eager to get back into the swing of filming and interviewing with bands (right after taking a quick nap to catch up on sleep post electro music festival).  That evening, the gang took an evening off from filming and enjoyed a home cooked meal with the Kohlers.  Hallie and I even visited the Cherry Festival carnival in Traverse, intrigued by the bright lights and classic carnie rides we had spied earlier on in the week.  Our final day in Traverse City was spent updating the blog and visiting Hallie’s favorite parts of Traverse, including the Old Mission light house at the end of the peninsula, and the small, cabin-filled summer retreat, Neahtawanta (where Chase used to vacation as a kid!).  Chase was excited to relive his childhood adventures and show Hallie and I where he spent many a summer biking around, playing with friends in Lake Michigan, and generally causing trouble.  That evening, the Locavaux crew was lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a small, local concert aboard the Traverse City catamaran, the Nauticat, and listen to an incredible nighttime performance by local bluegrass favorites, Billy Strings and Don Julen.  The two performers—Billy, a twenty-year-old guitar player and Don, a forty five-year-old mandolin player—blew away the crowd with their incredible finger picking skills and foot-tapping, blue grass tunes.  The Locavaux crew had an unforgettable time cruising around the bay, stargazing, and listening to some of the most talented guitar and mandolin players we’ve ever heard.


So thank you Traverse City for showing us all that northern Michigan’s local food, drink and music scene has to offer, and thank you to the Kohler family for playing host to the Locavaux crew!  We couldn’t have asked for a better host family.  Stay tuned for even more Great Lakes adventures with our next update on time spent in northern Wisconsin!