Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along premiers

Rob Bliss & Jeff Barrett, creators of the fantastic Grand Rapids lip dub video premiered their Pure Michigan Statewide Sing-along at halftime of the Lions game on Sunday. It was filmed in 50 Michigan cities in 7 days. It’s a pretty cool travelogue of the Great Lakes State in under 4 minutes.

Check out the finished video below and also don’t miss the behind the scenes blog from

A great weekend for beer in the Great Lakes State!

We got an email from the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival asking us to remind folks about this weekend’s festivities. A quick check revealed several opportunities to raise a glass to the Great Beer State on tap.

This Friday & Saturday (August 24 & 25) the 4th annual Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival returns to the beautiful grounds of the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. It’s our front yard at Absolute Michigan and an incredible place for a summer festival. The crew at Porterhouse Productions brings together over 50 breweries, cideries & wineries from Michigan and elsewhere and backs that up with a top-notch slate of entertainment. Friday night is Pint Night (alcohol sales benefit Cherry T Ball & Goodwill Inn) and a concert with country music stars Dierks Bentley & Rachel Holder. Saturday  features all the breweries plus a great musical lineup that includes Absolute Michigan favorite The Ragbirds along with a full slate of entertainment that includes Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the Dirty Guv’nahs and more.

Gallery of photos right herehere and click for all the who, what & when of this big celebration.

If you can’t make it up to Traverse City, don’t despair. This week is also the first-ever Lansing Beer Week. There’s a Beer Tasting Cruise on Friday night and a Brewery Bus tour on Saturday. Click the link for all the details.

Beer Color Wheel

Beer Color Wheel by dblstripe

The good folks at New Belgium Brewing (makers of the “Fat Tire” ales) are also kicking off a tour of Michigan next weekand as a part of that, Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids is releasing the first of 2 collaborative brews called “Escoffier”.

The beer is named after the French master chef of the same name. It’s deep amber in color and uses one of Brewery Vivant’s house Belgian yeast strains, as well as wild yeast from New Belgium called Brettanomyces Bruxellensis.

“Michigan has already been a great partner with a broad network of breweries, distributors and beer lovers,” said Bryan Simpson, New Belgium’s spokesman. “Working with Brewery Vivant has been a great way to meet and work with local brewers while making something new and unique for both breweries.”

A release party is scheduled at Brewery Vivant on August 27, followed by a Michigan release of draft and signature 16-ounce cans.

All this interest in craft brewing is doing more than putting new, local beers on the shelf. The Rapidian has a great feature about how it’s feuling a boom in organic hop growing in Michigan.

Here’s another of our favorite Michigan acts, the now defunct Ella Riot / My Dear Disco performing last summer!

Weird Wednesday: Delos Marvin of Dimondale

lost-lansing-bannerThe last Wednesday of every month is a Weird Wednesday on Absolute Michigan. Today we journey to Lansing with Dave Votta of the Capital Area District Library. Dave is a librarian who researches regular Lost Lansing features. Click the banner to read many more great stories about the history of the Capital City!

by Dave Votta, CADL Local History Librarian

The Grand River has played a pivotal role in the history and development of the village of Dimondale since Isaac M. Dimond built the first dam and mills in the 1850s. The dam and his mills were mostly washed away by freshets. However, Mr. Dimond persevered and in 1856, the year of his second ill fated mill, he platted a village and named it Dimondale. He then summarily returned to New York where, according to Durant’s History of Ingham and Eaton Counties “his death soon after occurred.”

Despite onerous origins milling became a viable business in the village. By 1880 there were saw, steam, planning and grist mills. Mechanic and millinery shops thrived. There was a post office, hotel and several stores. In October of 1897 the Dimondale News began.

Amid this description of a bustling, picturesque village a shadowy figure emerges steeped in American Gothic. One Delos Marvin, a resident of Dimondale, is described in the State Republican newspaper of 1908 as living alone in a “strange little house close beside the Grand River.” He occupied his time not only is constant verbal communication with an unseen or heard good spirit companion, but fighting and eradicating evil spirits. The interior walls of his one room domicile were covered in punctured scrap metal. The pieces included tin, iron, stove pipes, washboards and more, all perforated with nail holes. Each hole stated Marvin “destroys an evil spirit.” He wore a necklace of small, round, tin pieces with holes to ward off all disease and regularly struck up a resounding cacophony, banging a horseshoe on a tin pan to call the good spirits to him.

His self-esteem does not appear to have suffered from being a bit of an outsider. He is quoted saying “he is the most wonderful person living, having single-handedly and alone destroyed nearly every spirit of darkness.”

From Federal Census records Delos Marvin was born about 1846. In 1860 he is listed living in DeWitt with his family. His father S.P. Marvin was a Probate Judge. The 1908 story recounts him living off a federal pension. Records indicate he may have served in the 3rd Regiment of the New York Light Artillery during the Civil War. His father was from New York.

The neighbors apparently were not too unnerved by Marvin’s antics. He was declared a “unique citizen” and that he “furnishes its [Dimondale] people with a great deal of harmless amusement with his quaint vagaries and wonderful flights of fancy.” The paper describes community support and his receiving “generous baskets of food from public suppers” and “many a glass of jelly and other dainties from the good housewives of the town.”

It is unclear when, but Marvin is reported to have at one time been a “well paid” newspaper reporter. His fate is equally murky. To date, the last known documentation places him in the Kent County Detention Hospital. In the 1920 Federal Census we find him there listed as a patient.

-Dave V., CADL Local History Librarian

Sources Consulted

State Republican (December 15, 1908)
History of Ingham and Eaton Counties by Samuel Durant
Past and Present of Eaton County by the Rev. Wolcott B. Williams
1860 U.S. Federal Census

1820 U.S. Federal Census
Civil War records M551 roll 8
Photograph from the Caterino Collection at the Capital Area District Libraries’ Special Collections

11/11/11: MSU Spartans vs North Carolina on US Navy aircraft carrier

“I can’t think of a better way to start my senior season”
~MSU Center Draymond Green

Michigan State vs. Hillsdale

Do you suppose that Tom Izzo uses lines like “I can’t offer you beaches and palm trees, but chances are you’ll be playing on aircraft carriers and on national television in March.”??

This Friday, November 11th at 7 PM on ESPN the Michigan State University Spartans men’s basketball team will face the North Carolina Tar Heels aboard the USS Carl Vinson (Wikipedia/Facebook) in what is being dubbed the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic Friday is also Veterans Day, and former Lakers MSU great Magic Johnson and James Worthy of UNC, both former Lakers will be on hand as honorary captains.  They’ll also have at least one VIP in the stands, President Barack Obama.

Home Post has a slideshow of the process of turning the deck of the USS Carl Vinson into a basketball court and ESPN has a pretty cool look at the science behind the challenges the players will face in an outside game on a ship. At the bottom of the post there’s a video with a look at the special uniforms the Spartans will be wearing that also provides a nice chance to meet a team that is largely unheralded and facing the pre-season #1 team in the nation. A great primer by David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press begins:

The night before Michigan State’s basketball season ended in March, athletic director Mark Hollis sat in a Tampa hotel, proudly disclosing plans for how this season would begin.

On his tablet, he swiped through artists’ renderings of how the USS Carl Vinson will look Friday night in San Diego Bay, with a temporary basketball arena on its flight deck, where the Spartans play top-ranked North Carolina in their Veterans Day opener, with President Barack Obama and thousands of military personnel dominating the invitation-only crowd.

Read on at the GR Press.

Photo credits

USS Carl Vinson PACIFIC OCEAN (June 3, 2011) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) is underway in the Pacific Ocean. Carl Vinson and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 are underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Nicolas C. Lopez/Released) 110603-N-GZ277-247

Michigan State vs. Hillsdale Freshman guard Branden Dawson stretches out for an uncontested dunk early in the game against Hillsdale Friday night at Breslin Center. Dawson netted 10 points for the Spartans in the 80-58 victory. Matt Hallowell/The State News

Lansing’s Common Ground Music Festival ~ July 11-17

Common Ground Festival by M.Hallowell
Common Ground Festival by M.Hallowell

Common Ground is an annual celebration along the banks of the Grand River in Adado Riverfront Park in downtown Lansing. Now in its 12th year, the festival draws over 80,000 people across 7 nights and has showcased over 300 artists including 36 Grammy Award winners and 21 Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductees.

The festival features an amazing slate of musical acts with a focus on top-level, national, contemporary music performers and some of the best regional musicians backed by state-of-the-art production. Add a variety of family entertainment and an assortment of food vendors and you can see why one of the Capital City’s summer highlights. Day passes are available and they also offer a 7-Day Pass that can be shared with family or friends from day to day. At (currently) 7 nights for $79 it’s a heck of a deal! Read on below the giveaway for featured performers, links to more information and a great video!

To enter to win a pair of passes to your choice of night at Common Ground and to be entered in every one of our Festival Summer giveaways, just join our email list using the form below!

All summer long Absolute Michigan will be partnering with some of Michigan's most amazing festivals & events to give our readers FREE tickets and a chance to enjoy the food, music and celebration that is part of summertime in the Great Lakes State!

Absolute Michigan will not share your email address with anyone. Period. Your inbox is safe with us. What we will share with you is a periodic but usually no more than weekly update, possibly including a special offer, potentially a prize or giveaway and definitely some great news about what is working and fun to do in the Great State called Michigan that we love!

Sammy Hagar by M.Hallowell
Sammy Hagar by M.Hallowell

Featured Performers

  • Monday, July 11: Trey Songz, Peter Rivera The Original Singer/Drummer Of Rare Earth
  • Tuesday, July 12: Rick Springfield, Burton Cummings, The Verve Pipe
  • Wednesday, July 13: Charlie Daniels Band, Aaron Lewis Of Staind, David Nail
  • Thursday, July 14: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackberry Smoke, Duke Tumatoe
  • Friday, July 15: Theory Of A Deadman, Black Stone Cherry
  • Saturday, July 16: LL Cool J
  • Sunday, July 17: Melissa Etheridge, Hot Chelle Rae, Locksley Sunday, Larry McCray

Common Ground on FacebookHead over to the Common Ground Green Room for some great photos from years past and a chance to listen to the musicians who’ll be at Common Ground in July!

Here’s an interview with Scott Keith, President and CEO of Lansing Entertainment and Public Facilities where he talks about Lugnuts games, Common Ground and summer fun in Lansing. Common Ground has some great Michigan acts including The Verve Pipe and Larry McCray. We’ll close with a cool video of Larry performing Soulshine in Saginaw!

Weird Wednesday: Two men reigned as Lansing Batman

lost-lansing-bannerOur latest Weird Wednesday feature comes from the Capital Area District Library and librarian Dave Votta who researches regular Lost Lansing features. Click the banner to read many more great stories about the history of the Capital City!

by Dave Votta, CADL Local History Librarian

When he plummeted to his death during an air show in Vincennes, France, the Lansing Batman was known world-wide as an aeronautical daredevil. Clement A. “Clem” Sohn was born December 7, 1910, in Fowler, Michigan. In 1929 he became of protoge of Art Davis and his flying circus, performing in air shows around the country.

Lansing's second Batman Charlie Zmuda

Lansing's second Batman Charlie Zmuda

Davis was a World War 1 pilot who became one of the most highly decorated stunt aviators and barnstormers of his time. His plane was christened the Spirit of East Lansing. The East Lansing Davis Airport is named in his honor.

Clem’s signature act developed in 1933-1934 when he and Davis created a bat like suit made of steel tubing and zephyr cloth. He would free fall, sometimes gliding over 30 miles, deploy the parachute approximately 1,000 feet up and drift to the ground. He held the world’s record for free fall, over 18,500 feet.

Accompanied by Davis, Sohn was invited to the 1937 Paris Air Show. They crossed the Atlantic by ship. Severe weather impeded swift passage to Paris. Because of the delay, it is reported he was unable to satisfactorily check his equipment. Clem jumped at 6,000 feet. It is unclear exactly went wrong. Some accounts cite his parachute may have been moistened from rain. Neither the primary or auxiliary chutes opened. He died instantly.

Sohn is buried in Fowler. At his funeral, planes circled overhead dropping flowers.

Upon his death, another took up the mantle. Charles F. “Charlie” Zmuda was the second Lansing or Michigan Batman. He too worked with Art Davis touring the world leaping from planes and glissading from several thousand feet. The above photograph is of Zmuda, probably in one of Sohn’s outfits.

Zmuda survived the perilous vocation. He succumbed to a heart attack at 44 in 1959, survived by his wife and three daughters. At the time of his death, he worked as a pilot for American Airlines.

Sources Consulted

Michigan History Magazine (September/October 1983)
Lansing, city on the Grand, 1836-1939 by James MacLean and Craig A. Whitford
Lansing State Journal (April 26, 1937)
Lansing State Journal (April 9, 1959)
Time Magazine (May 3, 1937)
History of Fowler MI
Photograph Courtesy of the  Capital Area District Library Special Collections

Lansing is The Next American City

Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q
Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q

Next American City partnered with IBM and its SmarterCities initiative to encourage citizens across the nation to share how their cities are addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. The prize for the city with the most posts to the SmarterCities Scan was a profile on their website, and Lansing, Michigan, blew the competition away. Their profile of Lansing by Ivy Hughes is a great read and shows why Lansing just might be Michigan’s most overlooked success story.

For years, various groups have been trying to change the Greater Lansing Region’s image as another Rustbelt city, but these efforts have really taken off in the last few years. Kiplinger recently ranked Lansing as one of the “10 Great Cities for Young Adults”; several Greater Lansing Region businesses have made Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies; Michigan State University (MSU) was chosen as the home base for a the $500 million Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) and is ranked only second to MIT in nuclear physics; and, in 2009, MSU made Entrepreneur magazine’s list of “Top Colleges for Business.”

penthouse by TerryJohnston
penthouse by TerryJohnston

The author lists some of the factors that make Lansing worthy of this honor including Development, Culture, Ideas, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, saying:

Changing a city best suited for cars into a walkable, bikeable community is, at the very least, a challenge but several organizations are working to increase the number of bike lanes, walkways and shared use paths. The region’s bus system, CATA, is one of most effective transportation systems among communities similar in size to the Greater Lansing Region and is a major player in the effort to shift the ratio of cars to people on the street. Discussions regarding the incorporation of a light rail system into the region’s long-term transportation plan have just begun.

Sustainability is the driving force behind these transportation efforts and is the catalyst for the region’s vast community garden network and the inspiration for the city’s first urban garden — Urbandale farm. Many neighborhood organizations are working to increase the visibility and viability of sustainable eating in the region.

They close with:

…a big thank you to the groups continuing to make the Greater Lansing Region a place we all want to be. They are: #lovelansing, Capital Area Michigan Works!, Accelerate Lansing, YSG Lansing, Capital Gains Media, Keep Learning, LEAP, Grand River Connection, Mid-Michigan Tweet Ups, Prima Civitas, Impression 5, City of East Lansing, NOISE, MSU Catalyst, Walk and Bike Lansing; Greater Lansing Business Monthly; Help Make Mid-Michigan Walk and Bike Friendly!; Lansing Walking & Bicycling Task Force; Arts Council; Lansing Happy Hour Club; and a plethora of hardworking neighborhood associations.

Read more at Next American City and also check out the Lansing tag at Smarter Cities for some of the Capital City’s many assets! There are videos there highlighting all kinds of things about the Greater Lansing area such as the many festivals which draw over 1/2 million people a year to the region and this one from Greater Lansing. While it’s definitely idealized, it shows the amazing range of offerings the region holds.

Greater Lansing from Leap, Inc. on Vimeo.

Great Lakes Folk Festival: August 13 – 15, 2010

The roots, the rhythms and the richness of music, dance, arts and culture from across America and around the world come to downtown East Lansing for the Michigan State University Museum’s annual Great Lakes Folk Festival, Aug. 13 – 15.

The festival encourages cross-cultural understanding of our diverse society through the presentation of musicians, dancers, cooks, storytellers and craftspeople whose traditions are rooted in their communities.

The festival includes nearly 100 musicians or dancers in groups, who perform at least twice and sometimes as many as four times over the weekend. Also featured are traditional and other food vendors, craft vendors and many other individual artists/demonstrators. There are five performance stages (including one with a 2,400 sq. ft. dance floor), a children’s hands-on activity area, crafts demonstrations, and crafts marketplace. In addition there are special programs every year, which feature some aspect of traditional culture.


Photo credit: Patrick Power

Observes GLFF founding director Marsha MacDowell, “The folk festival is a unique celebration of the histories, traditions, and cultures of the many peoples of the world, and while we have a focus on Michigan and the Great Lakes, we also present artists from around the nation and world. This is one of the few venues in the country to regularly showcase award-winning state and national artists, including recipients of the Michigan Heritage Awards and the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship Awardees. ”

This award-winning event is one of the region’s premiere arts programs and a summer-time high note — and is expected to draw more than 90,000 visitors throughout the weekend to celebrate culture, tradition and community. GLFF was named the state’s top public humanities program by the Michigan Humanities Council and the event received an artistic excellence grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help produce this year’s activities.

Festival hours are: Friday, Aug. 13, 6 – 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 14, noon – 10:30 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 15, noon – 6 p.m. For more information, call the MSU Museum at (517) 432-GLFF (4533) or learn more at and on Facebook and Twitter.

Admission to the MSU Museum’s Great Lakes Folk Festival is free (donations are encouraged).

Get a feel for what the festival is like by checking out this flickr slideshow!
View Larger Map

Lansing ranks among great cities for young adults

Skyline: Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q
Skyline: Lansing, Michigan, USA by Mario.Q

Spotted in the Lansing State Journal today, Kiplinger magazine Lansing has been identified as one of 10 great cities for young adults. Ranking right along side the notable locations of Austin, TX, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, IL, Kansas City, MO, New York, NY, Portland, OR, Salt Lake City, UT and Washington, D.C.. The criteria used to identify the cities were 6 key questions.

  1. Will I find good work there?
  2. Who lives there?
  3. What colleges and universities does the city offer?
  4. How much is rent?
  5. How is the commute?
  6. Will I have fun there?


The “Love Lansing” contingent is growing, with a well-known financial group touting the Michigan city as one of the best places for young people.

Lansing has been named one of “10 great cities for young adults” by financial news organization Kiplinger.

They promote their town on Twitter with the keyword “#LoveLansing,” talk about it during networking events and defend their decision to live here to their peers in other cities.

And now, they have something to back it up.

Kiplinger’s made note of Lansing’s cheap rent well below the national average, a respectable bar and club scene, high-paying job opportunities in bio and Internet technologies and an average commute of only 20 minutes.

Michigan’s capital is a little-known hotbed for young professionals,” Kiplinger said. “Granted, this Great Lakes community can’t quite compare to the larger cities on our list in terms of job prospects or things to do. But it has a relatively low cost of living. And its youthful population, downtown renewal projects, and emerging technology sector make Lansing a stand-out in mid-sized cities.

Read the entire article here.

The Grand Rapids Press at also has an article on the ranking: Is Lansing the coolest city for young people in Michigan? Kiplinger says so

Stand for Michigan’s Land & Water on Thursday

Editor’s Note: Absolute Michigan has actively opposed the dangerous practice known as sulfide mining or acid mining since it was first proposed as we feel that Michigan’s water is a resource to vital to the lives and livelihoods of Michigan’s residents to jeopardize with this risky technology.

Yellow Dog by Luminous Light Huntress
Yellow Dog by Luminous Light Huntress

Stand for the Land is asking folks to show up (wearing blue) at the State Capitol this Thursday (June 3) at 11:30 AM for a peaceful rally as they deliver a petition to the Natural Resources Commission regarding Michigan’s first permitted sulfide mine. The event features speakers and Michigan musicians and you can get all the details on Facebook.

The mine is located on the Yellow Dog Plains north of Marquette, where this lovely little river flows. Acid mine drainage from sulfide mines has killed many of the rivers in the west, and there has yet to be a sulfide mine that hasn’t created acid mine drainage.

Have a look at what acid mining has done to Sudbury, and then see if the “jobs” argument holds water when you put the 100 or so mine jobs in one hand and Michigan’s countless tourism industry jobs in the other.