Road Trip: Green Bay

Justin and I planned a trip to visit Alex and Linda in Green Bay this weekend. Instead of leaving last night (Thursday) as we had planned… we decided to make an early morning trek.

Showers at 5:30 AM help me to wake up, but nothing like coffee will. Quick stop at the neighborhood Starbucks for an eye-opener.

I didn’t snap too many photos on the way up. But the name of this company had me rolling, and so of course I had to capture it. Looking at it now… the name still cracks my shit up.

A quick 3 and a half hours later, we pull up to Alex and Linda’s lovely home.

Chilling out on the couch with Johanna.

Baby play area – a quick view from the couch.

The living room gets some fantastic light. In fact, I daresay the entire house has a great glow to it during the daytime. Very cozy and a great feel.

Here’s something interesting that happened.

OK. Alex and Linda run Kavarna – a fantastic vegetarian coffee house in Green Bay. Part of our trip up this weekend happened to overlap with a fun event at the shop: Ukelele Night. Not the first, but the second!

And, as things would have it, Alex also was slated to get a new ukelele on the day we arrived. He told us that he had a custom order in, and a friend named Ben was working on the final touches today.

After hanging out at the house for a bit – Alex got the call: his instrument was ready. And so… we all four packed into his car, and headed to the String Instrument Workshop to check it out.

On walking in, we got to go straight into the back – into the workshop area. Ben wasn’t around, but Alex saw his custom uke sitting on the worktable… and immediately gave it a whirl.

While we were there, we got to meet Larry – the proprieter of the workshop, and also Ben’s father. He got to hold Johanna while Alex was strumming.

As we listened to Alex play, I couldn’t help but take a few shots of the workarea. Larry mentioned something about the place being “messy,” but I personally love seeing things this way. With all the tools and materials scattered about, I always think of all the work and productivity that must have preceeded.

Another shot of the workshop area.

Check out the scroll on that bass!

This image sort of sums up the feeling I had, being there in the workshop. Music and creativity… tools and productivity.

A better shot of the custom Uke.

Back in the main shop area, we all hang out with Larry for a while and… well, talk shop.

The front of the store – this is Larry’s work area I believe.

Lots and lots of violins. Tempted as I was ot pick one up, it’s been so very long since I played. I felt pretty rusty, and opted to take photos instead.

I think these used to be library index drawers. Awesome. :)

More ukelele’s, being prepped for display this evening.

A rack of bows, near the front of the shop.

Larry mentioned a recent trip he was on, and how he liked to go geocaching. It’s something I’ve heard about for years now, and have always been tempted to try… but have never done.

I’ve gone so far as to look up various GPS devices, but never took it beyond a whimsical thought. Might have to give this a whirl.

Larry was really excited to share his experiences, and told us a good deal about how caches work (and how they vary in difficulty). He was showing me how he tracks some of his caches in his palm pilot, and how he uses a “paperless” method.

While we were up front, Ben came back to the shop. He started playing a bit with the ukelele, and I asked to take a photo. He is, after all, the instrument’s maker.

A cool little effect, on the door leading into the workshop area.

Afterwards, we headed down the street to Kavarna for some coffee and a great lunch. Justin and Alex split a quesadilla and the black bean burger… I had a scrumptious egg salad sandwich.

Man. If you’re ever in the area – stop by for a bite to eat. They haven’t won three Golden Fork awards (three years running) for nothin’, you know.

Back in the car, and back to the house. I took this photo mostly because Justin was playing around with the car ukelele.

That’s right. Alex has a specific uke for in the car. I think that Linda usually drives, which leaves Alex’s hands free to strum.

While back at the house, I crashed pretty hard for about an hour. I put my head down, and it was pretty instantaneous.

But – around 6PM, we all got our shoes on and headed to Kavarna to help get ready for Ukelele Night!

I snapped this photo of Alex and Justin, because it reminded me of another moment with the two of them… about three years ago. T
he photo is on this page, when we’re walking around downtown Morris.

Alex, setting up the stage.

I noticed one of the headlining acts (a guy by the name of Lil’ Rev). As people were filing in and I was just standing around… I decided to get the obligatory photo shot.

Man, oh man. At first, I thought “hey, this was just some guy who came in to play.” After hearing him perform, I was totally impressed (and went so far as to buy two of his CD’s).

Next to his table was a bunch of custom ukeleles, by Todd Korup.

Here’s a shot of Todd with one of his electric creations (with the base made out of an old coffee tin). I don’t have a website for him yet, but once I do I’ll put it up on here.

Johannaa, counterside and waving.

Baby and Mommy, in the calm before the storm.

At another table nearby, Ben brought in a few ukeleles to show off his wares (Alex’s is in the middle).

This was one of my early favorites of the evening: Dale Anderson’s rendition of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.” He was using two mics – a regular one, as well as a custom jobbie that was made from half of a old-style telephone handle.

I had a hard time keeping track of everyone who performed (as I was busy taking photos, but not writing stuff down). This is Aaron Baer, I believe.

Quick shot of the crowd.

Quick view of the cafe itself (there are tables all along the way, to the back on the left).

Michael Draney, who did a few fun pieces. One of the ones that Justin liked a great deal was his rendition of a song by R. Crumb, called “Fine Artiste Blues.”

A quick shot from outside, looking in streetside.

I thought I knew who these guys were, but I can’t seem to find the info now. That, and I’m scrambling to get this entry in, before I have to go in to work. I’ll have to ask Alex for the info, and update this later.

At a random point in the evening, Linda came over to me while I was sitting in the audience. Out of nowhere, she hands me a beer.

It was a little slice of heaven. A great surprise, and totally made my evening. :)

Lil’ Rev
takes the stage, and pretty much takes over for the last hour or so.

While I was listening, almost every song of his brought a smile to my lips. I had a blast just sitting, taking photos, and enjoying all the music. As I was standing there… I realized just how silly I’ve been these past few weeks, stressing out over work stuff, letting my worry of time get the best of me.

I remembered, too, how much I like documenting things. How much I like this blog. It’s less about recording events, and really more about sharing the stuff I encounter – and how much fun there is in the world, when you actually take the time to stop and have that fun.

Tonight was a total blast. I can’t say enough good things about Lil’ Rev. Below, I hope you can get a sense of what the evening was like… and a glimpse of just how entertaining he was. The second video, my favorite song of the evening – “The Sunny Side of the Street”, cuts out at the end, sadly.

I know he’s touring around a bit more, and should even be in Chicago in the coming months. I’ll post something up here if he gets near.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Nice! Thanks for posting a link to his official site.

    avoision Reply

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