Khalid

Love through the Ages

Christina is a dear friend of mine and she just sent me a text message saying:

I just asked a boy to prom and he said ‘YES’

In case you don’t already know me, I am not a 15 year old high school student and neither is Christina. However, there is going to be a prom for adults in Lansing on May 19th and every one is abuzz about who they are taking and how they are going to ask them. I am using every ounce of energy not to share some really good ideas people have.

As for Christina, it is a beautiful coincidence that the prom on May 19th is exactly 10 years and 1 day after her high school prom. To this day, she wished that she had the guts to ask her high school sweetheart (now husband) to prom when she was in high school. In a flurry of excitement she was giddy to ask him now that they are married, regardless of the fact that it is 10 years later. Just wait till you see what she will be wearing!

 

 

Let me back up a little bit and give you a little background on “Love through the Ages: A Prom for Adults“. Continue reading

Lisa

Cat Like Reflexes

I never dreamed that I would be a morning person. Juggling an obnoxious schedule forced me to broaden my day to fit in everything that I had to do, resulting in early morning start times. I choose to walk my dog Henslee in the wee hours of the morning (some would consider it to still be nighttime) because it feels like the only consistent part of the day and is critical to both of our well beings.

Sir Henslee

It became my favorite time and ritual of the day. My arch-nemesis is still my alarm clock but I find that my most honest, creative and interesting thoughts happen when I am well rested with the freedom to day dream. As the day goes on, I develop narcoleptic tendencies making problem solving more difficult and easier to procrastinate. Without traffic and congestion, Henslee can sniff and play in the park without bothering anybody and and the city feels very simple, calm and completely mine. Continue reading

Ken

Starfarm: A Lansing Staple for a Decade

In most of life’s venues, dressing up in solid-color Adidas jump suits, donning a pair of cheesy sunglasses and rocking out to 80s music is completely unacceptable behavior. Unless, of course, you’re actually in the 80s.

But you’re not.

You’re in the 10s… or something like that.

Starfarm at their most serious.

If you’re in central Michigan, however, there is one caveat to the rule. You could just be enjoying one of the region’s most popular tickets, Starfarm. Decked out in fabulously hideous clothing from a period in style most would rather be forgotten, the musical group performs the hits that won’t ever be. I myself have been known to hit the dance floor while screaming the chorus of many a Journey song expertly rendered by the local group.

For more than a decade, the core group of instrumentalists has built quite the following in mid-Michigan. Dana Mirate (drums), Sean Mirate (keyboards), Ryan Tarrant (bass) and “Slammin’ Danny” (guitar) have been together since 2001. And though the role of lead singer has had its instabilities, the group has hit solid ground through the vibrant vocals of Whitney Spotts for the past three years.

Having been members of the Lansing community for so long – all currently live in the greater Lansing area and most have been residents for more than 10 years – Starfarm has seen many changes in the city throughout the years.

If you ask Dana Mirate about the changes in the music scene specifically, he’ll quickly launch into a comparison of the past decade to the early 90s when he first arrived in East Lansing. As a music major at MSU, Dana was involved in the music scene from the word go.

“Everywhere you went, there were a lot of bars and clubs where you could play,” he recalls. “More people were writing original music and you could actually play that at bars. You could be an all-original band and play just one cover.”

Dana from Starfarm, who was gracious enough to sit and chat before a show at The Green Door.

Ryan Tarrant, though, is quick to point out that most all of Starfarm’s members still work on original music on the side, writing and recording songs. They just lament the loss of many quality establishments willing to push original bands.

But if you are looking for some original acts, they suggest checking out Mac’s Bar on East Michigan Avenue. They also identify The Green Door, Rick’s American Café, Lou & Harry’s Sports Bar, Dublin Square, Harper’s and The Exchange as decent places to catch live music in the area. Both agree that none of those, however, have a good house sound system or a good sound technician that really knows the space and how to make a band sounds good.

Which is why Dana makes me promise to mention Starfarm’s sound guy, John Miller, who is, “worth his weight in gold.”

For them, it’s something that Lansing is still in need of, even though they see a lot of positive changes happening downtown.

“The downtown has gone through a lot of changes,” says Ryan. “There didn’t used to be anything down there just six or seven years ago. When the Capital closed down, when the state workers weren’t there, they just rolled up the sidewalks and every single thing was closed. But now you can go down there and there are cool places to eat, there’s a lot of different bars to go to and you can get a lot of different vibes. “

Ryan of Starfarm fame, who was also nice enough to sit and chat before a show. And also nice enough to get me a beer.

“I like it,” adds Dana.

Take, for example, the outdoor Octoberfest music festival that downtown bars banded together to put on last Fall. Starfarm was ready to rock out Washington Street in a giant block party, if only Mother Nature had cooperated. The skies would not stop pouring rain and the temperatures dropped, making it unlikely to pull off the show.

“It was a shame,” says Dana. “It could have been very cool.”

One event that they did manage to pull off this year, however, was a rocking 80s party fundraiser for REACH Art Studio Center, put on by the Capital Area Women’s Lifestyle Magazine. You may remember hearing about it from our own Anika Fassia, who attended with some friends who came to town from Chicago to see what Lansing was all about.

“They go all-out decorating it,” Dana says, noting that it was the second time Starfarm had played the fundraiser and that they already had been booked for next year. “It’s top notch. I’d recommend it. It includes food, all these great party favors, candy from the 80s. You mingle with some pretty important people and, I think it’s cool.”

“And it’s fun,” chimes in Ryan, repeating the mantra of this very blog. “There’s a lot of really cool people, a lot of young professionals, who want to come out and have a good time for a charity.”

After talking to the pair for some time, it becomes obvious that, yes, Lansing has a long way to go. It’s tough to make a living as a musician in the area, getting paid little to nothing for years of tuition, practice and investments into equipment. Working a day job while being gone every single weekend performing is difficult, especially for those in the band with kids.

But there is still plenty to celebrate and use as a springboard into the future.

Starfarm at their finest.

“There’s some great stuff that you can see for free even sometimes like at the Wharton Center,” agrees Ryan.

“I remember once when Branford Marsalis was at the Creole Gallery down here and they just went out and did a show,” continues Ryan. “One of the top jazz musicians in the entire country just kind of on the down-low went in and did a show. You’re just walking down the street and you’re like, ‘Is that Marsalis playing here? That’s pretty cool’”

“Rodney Whitaker teaches jazz at MSU and is one of the most sought after bass players for jazz,” says Dana, chiming in. “And he brings in these cats. He brings in Wynton Marsalis and Branford Marsalis. And that’s here. You won’t see that in Iowa. You’ll see it in Chicago, but you’ll pay a lot of money.

“I’ll tell you right now, every city you go to sucks to the people who are there all the time. There’s a level of suckiness in every single city; but it’s what you make of it. It’s about the community and the effort you put into it.”

Anika

Loving, Living and Leaving Lansing: Week 2

 

What’s better than living and loving in Lansing?!?!

Nothing.

But visiting Lansing to see why we all love it so much comes close.

I tell everyone to come visit me in Lansing. Friends from all over the country. Just to see if one day, somehow, they will decide to make the trek to the mid-mitten, assuming I was worth it–even if the only thing they knew about Lansing was that it is the capital of Michigan.

I was about to leave Lansing without ever having the chance to share the benefits of living in a small city to some of my big city friends. And then it happened.

As I come to week 2 of my reflections, I’d like to tell you how sharing my love for Lansing was one of my favorite moments…..

My fellow social workers, my favorite couple and my dearest friends, Seva G. and Pita Pocket arrived in REO Town at the stroke of midnight from the windy city of Chicago. Now you may think, that’s not that far–but hey, I was thrilled.

I wanted to show them a day in the life of Anika in Lansing. Or rather, a weekend in the life of Anika in Lansing. I wasn’t worried about entertaining them, something is always happening in Lansing and I was sure fun times were upon us. Because I am fun. And Lansing is great.

SaturDAY: My friends may not consider themselves regular yoga practitioners, but I knew Just B Yoga would be a welcoming and safe place for them to explore their practice. And just as I had imagined, Belinda facilitated an environment that was warm and compassionate. Allowing them to be in their space amidst the beautiful community we have here in Lansing.  Continue reading

Lisa

You Made What from Flaxseed?

Awhile back, I attended Michigan State University where I had a friend with whom I shared many classes. It took a few years post-college for Facebook to reunite us, and some time after that to physically run into each other, but we did just that at a Grand River Connection networking event. Grand River Connection is actually a really great way to get involved in Lansing and meet other young professionals, however, this time, I had an alterior motive. Held in Old Town at the beautiful old building that is home to MessageMakers, Terry Terry did a beautiful job reinvesting in this historical Lansing location over many years, and until this point, I had never been inside. Deciding to feed my inner architecture loving graphic designer geek, I ran into Adriane, who was feeding her inner architecture real estate loving geek.

MessageMakers - Old Town

I learned that Adriane and her husband were near neighbors on Lansing’s Westside, adding to the list of amazing and talented people I know all making homes near mine. Later that summer, she started a book club and filled it with a random group of clever and fun women who brought their clever and fun friends, resulting in a wine club with a book problem. Continue reading