Capitol City Rocks to the Rhythm of the Blues

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

Many people equate the city of Lansing with government and the state capitol dome dominating a staid Lansing scene. But hang on to your preconceptions when the 20-year-old Michigan BluesFest bursts in action next weekend, Friday and Saturday September 19 and 20.

It’s a two-day, free, music festival featuring national, regional, and local acts. People come from across Michigan and neighboring states to a quaint part of Lansing, Old Town. This village of Lansing, established in the mid-19th century, is worth a visit all by itself for its Victorian charm. As Lansing’s original downtown, it now hosts lovely art galleries and trendy eateries. Make sure you stop at the Old Town General Store for locally produced groceries and specialty items. Friends also recommend Meat Southern BBQ & Carnivore Cuisine for some tasty barbeque.

Next weekend, the Festival will offer a wide variety of talents from Bull Halsey ‘romp and stomp’ jump blues to Sharrie Williams known as Princess of The Rockin’ Gospel Blues to local favorites Big Boss Blues and everything in between. In a unique twist, each artist plays an original composition, something that hasn’t been played to the public before. The music starts on three stages at 5 p.m. on Friday and 2:30 on Saturday. On Saturday there is a special KidzBeat, offering activities for the younger members of the family. You can grab delicious food from Festival vendors with Polish to Thai to Mediterranean and Mexican flavors. My daughter always heads to the crepe stand, while my husbands likes the Elephant Ears and Philly cheese steaks sandwiches at the Buckhorn Express. If you are over 21, you can visit the Turnaround Lounge for $5 and purchase adult beverages to sip while you are enjoying the music from their patios. While there are some chairs provided, we usually bring our own.

The Michigan BluesFest started twenty years ago, in 1994, under the name OctoberFest. In 2002, the festival was transformed into the Old Town BluesFest. Local fans return every year and the audience continues to grow.

If you want to make a weekend of it, try one of two local bed and breakfast inns. You know I like this kind of lodgings for their uniqueness and yummy breakfasts. The Cozy Koi Bed and Breakfast can be found close to the Capitol. They get excellent reviews for their friendly and welcoming atmosphere. With seven uniquely decorated guestrooms, you can find one that appeals to your taste. The property was named for its Koi pond located in a lovely yard with gardens, gazebo, and gold fishpond. Another choice is the small four-suite Rosewood Inn Bed and Breakfast in a lovingly restored 1870’s Italianate mansion for your overnight pleasure. They’ve got all the modern bells and whistles with private baths, television, and wireless Internet access in a classy period house with wide porches and a charming cupola.

If you are in near the Capitol and haven’t had quite enough to eat or drink yet, try Kelly’s Downtown, a fixture since 1985 and one of Lansing’s oldest bars. Their eclectic menu offers my favorite, a wet burrito to burgers and chicken Parmesan. It’s a very homey spot for a bite and one of their thirteen draft beers.

Prepare to lose yourself in a wonderful weekend of music in our state capitol.