Live Music

459. Lost River – January 19, 2020 – Detroit, MI

January2020LostRiver1 (2)January2020LostRiver3 (4)January2020LostRiver2 (3)January2020LostRiver4 (3)I don’t do Sunday-Funday extravaganzas nearly enough – as my visit to Lost River reminded me.

A friend and I sought libations at the tiki-themed bar on the East Side of Detroit after walking through the VERY cool, very-view-worthy Robolights Detroit exhibit at the MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit) one Sunday in mid-January.

Walking into Lost River felt like walking into another dimension. The bar had its own atmosphere, one that was dimly lit and strewn with faux flowers and vines, fishing nets, twinkle lights, and island-inspired memorabilia and artwork. This is the kind of place where it feels totally possible to forget the time of day, season, and geographical location.

One wall brandished a striking floral mural, and another held a projector screen showing Gilligan’s Island episodes and vintage cartoons. In front of that screen was a xylophone, on which musician Roland Remington played melodically trippy tunes. The tiny place was jam-packed full of ambiance.

Lost River’s drink menu also wasn’t short on ambiance. It features signature cocktails, an array of intriguing tropical beauties encased in all manner of fancy glassware and bedecked with accessories such as rubber duckies, fresh flowers, fruit and herb garnishes – even a skewer of mini marshmallows and a doll-sized firepit to toast them on for one drink (the Fiery Skeleton).

I seriously considered ordering the Morning Routine, a boozy take on cereal and milk (containing a generous portion of Fruity Pebbles), but opted instead for the Rum Barrel, a drink described on Lost River’s menu as containing Appleton Rare Blend, Plantation Xaymaca, and Angostura 5 Year Old rums, grapefruit and lime juices, grenadine, honey falernum, allspice, and bitters. It was tasty – fruity and refreshing!

Lost River doesn’t have its own food menu, but it often hosts pop-up restaurants. Gajiza Dumplins is a frequent food contributor, and we were fortunate to have them there on the night of our visit. My friend enjoyed some of their vegan dumplings, and I savored a bowl of khao soi. Gajiza Dumplings’ take on one of my favorite Thai dishes was excellent with its richly flavored coconut curry broth, chicken thigh meat, egg noodles, and garnishes of pickled cabbage, fried shallots, crunchy noodles, cilantro, chili paste, and a lime wedge. We shared the Tiki Tots, which were supreme comfort-food deliciousness: perfectly crispy, perfectly grease-saturated tater tots tossed in black garlic oil, peanuts, fried shallots, Parmesan cheese, and various spices, served with spicy mayo. Yum, yum, and YUM!

This evening at Lost River was a Sunday-Funday extravaganza I was not soon to forget: it seriously colored that following Monday – and the rest of my week – in rosy-hued, tropically-infused, xylophone-plinky vibes. Thank you, Lost River, for transporting me to an isle of carefree fun for a couple of hours!

15421 Mack Ave.

Detroit, MI 48224

(Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

www.lostrivertiki.com

445. Detroit Shipping Company / Coop Caribbean Fusion – November 10, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019DetroitShippingCo.1 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.3 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.5 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.4 (2)The Detroit Shipping Company is a container for a lot of things: art galleries, live music, event space, bars, a food hall. There’s a place that sells coffee and ice cream (-320º Coffee and Creamery), a space that holds pop-up shops, a podcast studio, and plenty of outdoor seating (ah, patio weather!), including on a rooftop deck.

The 10,000-square-foot complex located at 474 Peterboro Street gets its name from the fact that it’s been constructed from metal shipping containers, which have been painted a striking metallic blue hue.

I visited Detroit Shipping Company on a Sunday afternoon in November. I went solo, a status I admittedly regretted upon walking into the food hall on the first floor of the building.

The place had the kind of atmosphere that begged to be shared with someone: lively, convivial, celebratory. Groups of family and friends clustered at the long wooden tables in the food hall, eating, drinking, and having a ball. I wanted to be there eating, drinking, and having a ball with my friends! But I decided to make the best of my solo time on that day, reminding myself that I could always do a revisit with pals.

Detroit Shipping Company’s food hall reminded me of a mall food court – except much hipper and with much more compelling offerings. Communal tables presided in the center, and a full bar and stalls staffed by local restauranteurs ringed the perimeter. A guitarist serenaded patrons from a second-floor balcony.

When checking out the foodstuffs offered at Detroit Shipping Company prior to my visit, I was immediately intrigued by the choices. There was a taco joint (Brujo Tacos and Tapas), a place that offered Thai cuisine (Bangkok 96 Street Food), a stand serving Nepalese dumplings (Momo Cha). And there was the stall from which I decided to eat: Coop Caribbean Fusion.

I was attracted to the restaurant’s flavorful-sounding food, specifically the Motor City Chicken Sandwich and Caribbean Fries. Those become my lunch!

After ordering that sandwich and fries at the Coop counter, I was given a buzzer that lit up and vibrated when my meal was ready.

Greeted by the sight of the open-face fried chicken sandwich nestled on a bed of Texas toast and slathered in barbecue sauce, bacon, cilantro, coleslaw, and aioli and French fries loaded with queso fresco cheese, Caribbean seasonings, cilantro, and cilantro-infused aioli, I was excited to dig in.

The meal was a flavor explosion! The barbecue sauce on Coop’s Motor City Chicken Sandwich was rich and flavorful, as was the coleslaw; its crispy chicken was juicy and tasty. And with their creamy queso fresco and zesty seasonings, the Caribbean Fries were the show-stealer of the meal for me, fried to an ideal crispness and loaded as they were with those luxurious toppings. Mmm mmm and MMM!

I’d planned to end my visit to Detroit Shipping Company with some ice cream from -320º Coffee and Creamery, but I was so stuffed from that decadent lunch from Coop that I opted to forego it. A return to this receptacle for ample food, drink, creativity, and community is in order, anyway; Detroit Shipping Company is the kind of place that entreats one to visit again and again – whether solo or with friends.

474 Peterboro St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.detroitshippingcompany.com

www.coopdetroit.com

432. El Club – September 8, 2019 – Detroit, MI

September2019ElClub1 (2)September2019ElClub2 (4)September2019ElClub3 (2)September2019ElClub4 (3)El Club! The venue in Southwest Detroit is an all-ages club that hosts musical acts on a near nightly basis. It’s also where I saw Stef Chura and Ezra Furman perform on a Sunday night in September.

I’d been wanting to experience El Club since I read about it in Hour Detroit a year or two ago and was thrilled when I saw that one of my favorite contemporary musicians, Ezra Furman, was going to be performing there. I ordered tickets right away – and was even more psyched when I saw that closer to the show date, local artist Stef Chura and her band were added to the bill. I was familiar with her music and knew she would rock out!

I’m not familiar, in general, with the artists featured on El Club’s events calendar. I presume most of them are up-and-coming performers or those who appeal to more niche audiences. I’m admittedly not at all hip to the alt-music scene – though after my visit to El Club, I want to be!

The venue’s concert floor is relatively small, looking to accommodate no more than a couple hundred people – and that’s frankly part of its appeal. It’s what makes seeing a show at El Club exciting – you’re going to be right down there on the floor, in the action, a part of a live musical experience that is much more visceral, more alive, than being stuck up in the nosebleeds at some slickly produced yet lifeless stadium show.

The show I attended at El Club was billed as starting at 7 – but that ended up being when the doors opened for the night, which my friend and I discovered when we arrived at the club about 45 minutes early, the sole early birds in sight (LOL). Our early arrival did make parking simple; there’s a lot across the street from El Club where parking is free, so we parked there.

Killing time was easy, as beautiful Clark Park is only a few minutes’ walk away, and we sat on a hill there and watched people being led through square dances by a bluegrass band. It was a surprisingly moving experience, people of all ages and races coming together to joyfully perform these old-timey dance moves.

Back at El Club once the doors opened, I got a beer from the bar (which is a full bar serving beer, wine, and liquor), and my friend and I hung out on El Club’s picturesque patio with its garlands of lights and mural swirling with vibrant colors.

We were waiting not just for the show to start, but for the pizza to appear, because El Club serves slices of the pie. I was under the impression that El Club makes the pizza, but on that night, it arrived via outside delivery. Regardless, it was fresh and delicious.

Sometime after 8, we heard an explosion of music – the show was starting! Stef Chura and her band had boarded the stage; they played for about a half hour to 45 minutes, and they killed it!

Stef Chura’s voice mesmerized me; its got this alt-’90s vibe that I really dig, and I legit found myself thinking “I wanna be a cool rock star like her!” (Maybe in my next lifetime.)

After about a 20-minute break, Ezra Furman and his band hit the stage and also rocked out HARD. It was exciting to see a guy whose music I’ve admired for so long playing that music right in front of me. I actually found myself exclaiming a few times, “He looks the same as in his pictures!” (LOL – bless me with my obvious, fan-girling statement!)

As Ezra thanked us in the crowd for coming out on a Sunday night to support the arts, I felt a proclamation welling up inside of me: “I am going to CHANGE my life: I’m going to see live music more; I’m going to visit El Club all of the time!” I had drank the El Club Kool-Aid – and it felt good.

Flashing forward nearly a month: I haven’t been back to El Club since that night; I’ve let daily life with all of its routines and obligations pull me back into its orbit. But I’m still excited by the memory of my visit there and scan its newsletter every week, seeking the act that will make another magic moment out of my everyday life.

4114 W. Vernor Hwy.

Detroit, MI 48209

www.elclubdetroit.com

337. The Whisky Parlor – June 14, 2018 – Detroit, MI

June2018WhiskyParlor1 (3)June2018WhiskyParlor3 (2)

Thursday night is what The Whisky Parlor has dubbed Lazy Thursday: it showcases live jazz performances from 8 to 10 p.m. Having made it my mission to immerse myself in live music more frequently, I recruited friends to visit the downtown-Detroit-based bar one Thursday a few weeks ago, post dinner at Parc.

Located one floor above the Grand Trunk Pub, which holds a special place in my heart for having been Visit #100 for this blog, The Whisky Parlor exudes old-fashioned elegance.

I dug the dim, cozy environs with its rich red walls, cushy leather couches, hanging globes, and shelves of hard-bound books. A sepia-toned map of the world loomed from one wall and had us dreaming of far-away locales as we sipped our whisky drinks.

Those whisky drinks: they were deliciously nuanced in flavor – and strong (you get your money’s worth here!). I loved The Detroit cocktail with its Old Forester Bourbon, Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur, Campari, Dolin Rouge vermouth, bitters, black pepper, and what the menu refers to as “torched lemon” (not sure if that’s literally what it sounds like –  a lemon torched by fire being incorporated into the drink – but doesn’t it sound intriguing?). The black pepper was my favorite element of the drink; it wasn’t overpowering, but it was noticeable and provided a nice finish.

The identity of the other signature drink I ordered at The Whisky Parlor has unfortunately faded from my memory. I want to say it was The Great Dane with its Bastille whisky, lemon, Demerara sugar, and Amaro Montenegro, but I can’t be sure at this point. All I can remember is that it was citrusy, served to me sans ice, and quite potent. It was a cocktail that meant business!

While I choose to experience The Whisky Parlor’s offerings via its signature cocktails, the feature of its menu was of course the straight-up stuff: entry after entry of whiskeys, from bourbons to ryes to scotches, from American to Irish to a category labeled “Misc. International.” They ranged in price-point from accessible (Canadian Club, Jack Daniel’s) to upper-echelon ($70 per pour for the Middleton Very Rare 2016 Irish whisky). Beer, wine, hard cider, and other liquors were also on tap, as were a selection of delectable-sounding desserts.

And, of course, there was music on tap on the night of our visit. The songs played were – true to the Lazy Thursday moniker – laid-back and subdued: a man mellowly strummed acoustic guitar while a woman sang lightly. The duo’s style didn’t strike me as jazzy so much as easy-listening-esque – which was fine by me.

It was calming to sit there on a cozy couch in the half-darkness sipping a drink and taking in the soothing tunes. There is no way no one has ever taken a snooze at The Whisky Parlor, and I mean that in the best way; the place is ridiculously relaxing.

My takeaway from my time at The Whisky Parlor is that there is never not a good time of year for a lazy, low-key Thursday night – especially in summer, a season that for me is about slowing down and savoring.

608 Woodward Ave.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.whiskyparlor.com

332. Town Pump Tavern – June 2, 2018 – Detroit, MI

June2018TownPump3 (2)June2018TownPump2 (3)Downtown Detroit in the summer on a gorgeous-weather day – is there anything BETTER than that?

The Saturday before last, I was down in the D for a Tigers game, basking in the sun and watching our boys in blue and white pull off a victory. Awash in the celebratory post-game spirit, my friends and I popped in for a drink at Town Pump Tavern, a bar located on the ground floor of the Park Avenue House building.

I immediately fell in love with this grand-looking pub. From its creeping-ivy-covered exterior and entrance paved with richly varnished wood to its interior lined with more glossy wood paneling, stamped tin ceiling tiles, and a cozy library nook, it exudes an old-fashioned elegance that is also supremely inviting.

The welcoming, convivial vibes at the Town Pump Tavern that night were also due in part to it being packed with other ballgame attendees and weekend revelers. A man singing and strumming alternative and rock standards on his acoustic guitar added to the homey pub vibe. Live music is standard after Tigers and Lions home games, according to the Town Pump’s website, as are DJs spinning tunes after 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

Another regular specialty at the Town Pump Tavern that I’m loving the sound of is its eight-dollar burger-and-beer lunch special, available daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (except during what it denotes as “home ‘day’ ball game” days). With this deal, you get a half-pound burger and a Molson Canadian or Miller Lite beer – or a pop if you’d prefer it. Sounds like the perfect value meal to me – especially if I get to eat that burger and sip that beer while nestled within a cushy leather armchair in that library nook!

100 W. Montcalm St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.thetownpumptavern.com

331. Baker’s Keyboard Lounge – May 30, 2018 – Detroit, MI

May2018Bakers1 (2)May2018Bakers4 (3)May2018Bakers2 (2)Excellent live music and fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs on a Wednesday night? Sign me up, please!

When a friend called as I was getting ready for work last Wednesday morning to ask if I wanted to see a live jazz performance that night at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, I was surprisingly up for the challenge of being out late on a weeknight (summer brings it out of me).

I was itching to get in a Detroit visit to benefit my Blog Year Five challenge of visiting 50 new-to-me places in the city, which I’ve been quietly working away at since announcing it in my Blog Year Four review post.

As I write this, I’ve visited 12 new-to-me places in Detroit since the start of Blog Year Five on February 8, with Baker’s Keyboard Lounge being the 11th of those; to be on pace with the goal, I should’ve visited 17 by this point. Some catching up is in order!

It’s been fun to have an extra excuse to get down to the D more often via this challenge. The logistical aspect has been the trickiest hurdle thus far; since I don’t live or work in or adjacent to the city, getting down there generally involves some planning. My strategy thus far in working toward this 50-visits mark has been a combination of planning outings when it makes sense (because forcing something that’s meant to be fun is no fun) and letting them happen organically. And the invitation to Baker’s was definitely an instance where it happened organically.

So there I was, rolling up to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge shortly after nine p.m. on a weeknight, ready to soak in some live music and devour a delicious meal (I’d heard the food was great there). Bright white lights sparkled around the building’s marquee, radiating old-school glitz and glamour and igniting my excitement.

On Livernois Avenue near Eight Mile Road, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge perches just inside the city’s border, in close proximity to the suburbs of Hazel Park and Ferndale. Its website banner proudly declares it the “World’s Oldest Jazz Club”; in its About page, it states it has been in operation since 1933, has been hosting jazz acts since 1934, and has been deemed a historic site by the state of Michigan for being “Michigan’s jazz mecca and Detroit’s oldest jazz club in continuous operation.” How are those for creds?

Driving up to Baker’s on the night of my visit, I paid the parking attendant $3 for the privilege to park in its gated, monitored lot. The cover charge upon entrance to the building was $10.

The inside of the lounge was small, intimate, dimly lit aside from the bright lights of the stage. Photos of jazz greats hung on the walls, and flowers adorned the tables; the overall vibe was subdued elegance.

The performance was underway when we stepped inside. A band called OGD –  a trio playing keyboards, drums, and a bass guitar – was accompanied by a female singer named Sky Covington.

They were excellent. These were highly skilled musicians, effortlessly weaving the melodies of their instruments with the rich, arresting voice of this captivating singer with her powerful stage presence. Sky and the OGD were totally enchanting to listen to, and we listened reverently.

Or rather, I listened as reverently as I could while also being enthralled with my dinner, the meal featuring ridiculously tender, fall-off-the-bone, richly-sauced, INSANELY DELICIOUS barbecued ribs. Man, I need to get another helping of those ribs into my life!

At $17, this dish with its hefty helping of meaty goodness, two sides (I picked pinto-beans-and-rice and mac-and-cheese), and cornbread muffin was an absolute steal and the absolute culinary delight of my week – and very probably my year thus far. It was SO SO SO SO GOOD!

While we’re on the topic of consumable items offered at Baker’s, I feel it’s worth mentioning: alcoholic beverages can get pricey there; single-shot well drinks were $9 at the time of my visit. Considering the immense value I derived from that reasonably-priced barbecued-ribs meal, and coupling that with the fact that I only had one drink, I didn’t mind it so much, but I could see myself having sticker shock had I ordered several and been unaware of that. Knowledge is power!

And being witness to a finely-tuned musical performance by a gifted singer and musicians is power, too – a powerful experience, indeed. I often forget how great jazz is, that it’s rollicking, soothing, unruly, relatable all rolled into one and that I totally dig that. Thank you, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, for reminding me of that!

20510 Livernois Ave.

Detroit, MI 48221

www.theofficialbakerskeyboardlounge.com

327. Trinosophes – May 10, 2018 – Detroit, MI

May2018Trinosophes1 (2)May2018Trinosophes2 (2)I have a new coffee-shop obsession, people: Trinosophes in the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit!

What a gorgeous space this place is: light and airy, with long communal tables, book-crammed shelves, and vibrant greenery. I instantly fell in love with its ambiance.

I also fell in love with the fact that it’s located right off of Gratiot Avenue and has its own parking lot (free, easily accessible parking in Detroit is LIIIIFE!).

This affection for Trinosophes was pretty much predestined, given my long-held infatuation with independent coffee shops. Reveling in the chill, escape-the-world vibes of a good coffee shop while my bloodstream revels in caffeine is one of my favorite pastimes.

While I savored Trinosophes’ soothing, welcoming aura, I also savored two of its brews: a richly flavored cappuccino and a sumptuous cardamom latte. At the end of my two-hour sojourn there, I was vibrating with caffeine-induced energy and contentment.

A portion of that goodwill I felt during my visit to Trinosophes was due to the barista on staff who served me. She was friendly and approachable, as was the 20-something female patron who perched at the other end of the communal table I was working at. We chatted a bit between typing away on our computers.

It felt good to be out in the world on a Thursday morning, connecting with people, feeling part of a little community. I know I simply spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop – I wasn’t forging a friendship circle – but Trinosophes does embody that friendship-fostering spirit that makes you feel that you could meet the next important person in your life there.

Perhaps Trinosophes emits that community-cultivating vibe because it’s more than a coffee shop. It’s also a café, offering enticing breakfast and lunch dishes, including vegan and gluten-free options, plus a performance and exhibition space that regularly hosts music performances, art exhibits, and other creative events. It bills itself as a library, too, boasting the collections of several impactful Detroiters on those book-crammed shelves.

Leaving the coffee shop/café/library/performance space on this May morning, I felt the magic of the almost-summer season in the vivid green grass and budding trees surrounding it – and the elation that comes with discovering a new place I love.

I knew I’d be back to Trinosophes, that it’d been filed away into my local-coffee-shop rotation, further fueling my obsession with quality caffeinated beverages and quiet, creativity-inducing places.

1464 Gratiot Ave.

Detroit, MI 48207

www.trinosophes.com

288. Jefferson Street Pub – October 28, 2017 – Harrison Township, MI

Oct2017JeffersonStPub3 (3)Oct2017JeffersonStPub2 (2)Halloween, how I miss you already!

I love that spooky holiday – the dressing up, the decorations, the candy, the Halloween movie marathons (no matter how many times I watch those films, I find myself filled with a mix of terror and suspense and Really? You people haven’t learned yet that this guy never dies? Come on now!).

Despite having an extreme fondness for Halloween, I’ve admittedly been lazy about actively celebrating it the last couple of years. Case in point: I went out the Saturday prior to Halloween this year without dressing up; I couldn’t motivate myself to come up with a costume. True, I purposefully wore a dress that looked straight out of the ’70s and did my eye makeup all retro in case anyone asked me what I was, so I could riff and be like, “I’m a groovy girl from the era of lava lamps and Led Zeppelin!” But let’s face it: I was completely phoning it in, and no one thought I was dressed up like anything, so that didn’t count.

I was ruing my laziness when I got to Jefferson Street Pub in Harrison Township that night and saw it crawling with Halloween shenanigans. I resolved right then and there, OK, next year I am NOT phoning it in; next year I will welcome Halloween in costume! Because just look at all of these characters – they are a delight!

I was at Jefferson Street Pub to see my dad’s band, Rock Steady, play. My dad has been in bands pretty much my whole life; he sings and used to play guitar, and I don’t see his band play nearly enough. That would change, I’d decided, with this Halloween show. I would score good-daughter points, and the band would be dressed up like pirates – Ahoy to both!

I was so glad I went because I had a blast, not only because of the rockin’ music and bonding time with my dad but also because I dug Jefferson Street Pub pretty much immediately upon walking into it. The bar is relatively small and had a cozy, homey vibe on the night I was there, with twinkle lights festooned about and spooky decorations, of course. An area near the back of the bar acted as the band’s stage area, with room for dancing ghosts and ghouls to mingle.

The bar was full when my friend and I got there, but we were fortunate to find an abandoned table. We perched on our chairs, ordered our drinks, and watched the merry madness.

Shortly thereafter, the joint reached an elevated level of bustling when a busload of costumed revelers arrived. We learned that the Jefferson Street Pub was part of a Halloween pub-crawl circuit; a flier I saw in the bathroom gave the cost to participate as $10. Not a bad deal!

You should have seen the costumes on these people; these new arrivals were decked out. The one that enthralled me the most – in a creeped-out way – was the scary clown. You can see him in the photo above. Is he not one of the creepiest clowns EVER? He gives me the willies just looking at him still! I continuously amused myself that night by looking at him and laughing/shuddering at how creepy he was, to the point that he eventually noticed me, looked right at me, and faux-menacingly (I hope) pointed his butcher’s knife at me. Yikes!

Scary Clown was the runner-up in the crowd-voted costume contest that was held for that busload of bargoers; the winner was a goofy-looking, semi-pro-esque basketball player who brought his own ball to dribble in the bar (you can also see him in the photo above). His costume was fun and deserved the win, but it wasn’t as captivating, in my opinion, as that grotesque clown!

Being at Jefferson Street Pub reiterated for me that a) while going out at night and drinking has lost much of the luster I prescribed to it in my youth, it can still be a riot (when practiced responsibly, of course); b) dressing in costume when going out during Halloween weekend is CRITICAL! because if I don’t, I’ll regret it and c) I am never seeing the movie It. Also, d) seeing my dad’s band or other bands play is FUN! I love soaking up the good vibes that live music emanates. And lastly but not leastly, e) Jefferson Street Pub is a keeper! It’s down-to-earth, lively atmosphere and affordable prices hooked me. I’ll be looking for it to be involved in that Halloween pub crawl next year so I can board the school bus with the other partygoers!

36611 Jefferson Ave.

Harrison Twp., MI 48045

272. The Rec Bowl – September 13, 2017 – Mount Clemens, MI

20170913_18053520170913_193326 (2)The Rec Bowl is a bowling alley in Mount Clemens. But in the warm-weather months, it’s also a popular venue for live music, which I discovered firsthand during a Wednesday-night visit in mid-September.

My uncle and his girlfriend frequent The Rec Bowl regularly for its live music shows, which are held in an open-air bar area attached to the outside of the bowling alley. Cover was $5 on the night I was there, and man, did the people flock out! I’d heard that the place had a dedicated following, and it was true; people reserved tables to make sure they got spots to check out the night’s entertainment. Nearly every attendee appeared to be in the 60-plus age bracket (with the great majority looking to be solidly in their 70s), which delighted me, because come on – I want to be one of those octogenarians venturing out to see live music on a Wednesday night and twirling about on the dance floor! When I retire, I most certainly plan to double-down on exploring the Detroit area and the rest of the world, because if not then, when?

The band that night was the Dave Bennett Quartet, a jazz band led by a clarinet player named – you guessed it – Dave Bennett. Those guys were great; they played their hearts out, and the audience loved them, as did I. I am predisposed to enjoy jazz because my paternal grandfather was a jazz drummer and obsessed with it, and it reminds me of him. And also, I simply find jazz pleasant, an escape for my brain.

While my cranium was immersed in a cray-cray-ba-nay-nay roller-coaster ride of jazz notes, my tummy was tripping hard on my corned beef sandwich, that delightful amalgamation of red meat, Swiss cheese, and buttery toasted rye bread – MMMM. I noticed on the Rec Bowl’s website that it showcases a more extensive menu than the one that was offered to us on the patio; inside the building it appears to offer a more expanded variety of sandwiches, salads, and appetizers such as fried cauliflower, chili fries, and Nacho Supreme (three completely valid excuses right there to round up some friends and get in some bowling!).

It doesn’t look like The Rec Bowl will feature any more live music for the rest of the year; we’ll have to wait until next year to groove out. But the indoor bowling alley – plus the darts and billiards that are also offered – are available year-round and will likely prove to be a tempting option on those long winter nights when it’s dark at 5 p.m. and there’s a foot of snow on the ground (but let me not go there yet!).

40 Crocker Blvd.

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043

www.therecreationbowl.com

264. Watermark Bar & Grille – August 11, 2017 – Saint Clair Shores, MI

20170811_21022520170811_19063120170811_190715 As with several of the current restaurants on the Nautical Mile, the Watermark Bar & Grille has a legacy: it used to be the Beach Grill and then Tin Fish. You might think those ghosts of its hard-partying past would be hard to shake. But the Watermark seems determined to carve out its own identity, with modern nautical-themed decor, an extensive menu, and regular live music out on that gorgeous lakeside patio.

If being right on Lake St. Clair jamming to lively tunes brings out a propensity to be festive with the adult beverages (I mean, who could blame you, especially in these beautiful days of extended summer weather!), you only need to turn to the Watermark’s wide-ranging food menu to bring you back to center. It’s packed with a variety of hearty sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, signature hot dogs (such as The Southwestern, smothered in guacamole, jalapeños, cream cheese, and cilantro and wrapped in bacon – deluxe!), noodle dishes, Tex-Mex fare, and more upscale, surf- and turf-centric entrees such as filet and barramundi topped with crab meat and hollandaise sauce. I got the steak fajitas and enjoyed loading them up with grilled peppers and onions, Spanish rice, salsa, cheese, and guacamole.

Unlike some lakefront restaurants, the Watermark is open year-round. So even after the fair weather wanes, you can sit in its expansive dining room and gaze out onto the water, dreaming of the days post-thaw when you can hit that patio.

24420 Jefferson Ave.

St Clair Shores, MI 48080

www.watermarkbarandgrille.com