TRAVERSE CITY —
Frog & the Beeftones are making the leap north.
The Lansing-based band will bring their blues-influenced classic rock to Ivan's in Schuss Village at Shanty Creek today and Saturday, Jan. 26. The shows, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., will be their first in northern Michigan since drummer Art "The Hammer" Phelps joined the band in 2006.
Led by guitarist Steve "Frog" Forgey, the 'Tones have been rocking the mid-Michigan area since 1985. Now they play about 165 shows a year for audiences everywhere from the Lansing Lugnuts' Olds Park and The Green Door Blues Bar & Grill, to WKAR-TV's "BackStage Pass" and the Capitol Area Blues Society.
They've also played gigs with national acts like Molly Hatchet, Blue Oyster Cult, Rare Earth, Larry McCray, Stonewall Jackson, Edgar Winter and Mitch Ryder at clubs, county fairs and festivals around the Midwest.
"We don't do it for a living, we do it for fun," said Phelps, 60, who grew up playing in garage and basement bands, then took a two-decade hiatus for family pursuits. "I'm actually having more fun now at my age than I did in my 20s and 30s."
The seasoned band — "We have 200 years of playing," Phelps said — is known for its tight sound, high energy and musical proficiency, and its diverse set list, including "Satisfy My Soul," "Tell Mama" and the classic "Unchain My Heart." But the main draw is front man Forgey, whose lightning-fast fingers — rumored never to miss a note or produce a muddy sound — defy his unconventional stance.
"He's phenomenal," said Phelps, of Portland, Mich., the only band member to have been raised in Lansing. "He plays left handed but he plays the right-handed guitar. He just turns it over and plays it.
"It's amazing to watch his fingering, that he can find those notes and that his brain can make that connection."
Robert Farmer, of the Midwest booking agency Rose-Robert, recently started working with the band and said he expects Frog and cohorts to become one of his most-booked blues bands.
"Frog & the Beeftones have been kicking up the Great Lakes area live music scene for years," Farmer said in an email. "I have heard of 'em, but just this summer saw them. WOW and WOW again! (They're) worthy of every booking we can get them."
Forgey, keyboardist Kurt "Coop" Hasselschwert and bassist Mike Jessup grew up in Jackson, where they went to school together. They have played on and off together since. Meanwhile Phelps, who had gotten tired of the weekend grind in smoky bars, stopped playing except in church and to teach.
"I took 20 years off until we raised our kids and took care of our parents," he said. "Finally my wife decided I needed to have more fun."
At the suggestion of a Los Angeles friend, who knew Forgey from his work as an appraiser at Lansing music store Elderly Instruments, the couple went to see Frog & the Beeftones play.
"I was blown away by their set list," Phelps said. "They did everything from Merle Haggard to ZZ Topp. I said, 'Man, I could do that,' even though I wasn't looking for a band." Before long, he was sitting in on Thursday jam sessions hosted by Forgey at the Unicorn Tavern in Lansing's Old Town.
"I figured I'd get my itch scratched and be a happy camper and go home," Phelps said. "I did that for a year. In 2006 Frog called me and offered me a job with the band."
Now that he's past his youth and the hope of making it big, the drummer said he's enjoying making music more than ever.
"Those kind of dreams are well past me now, but who knows?" he said. "Look at Keith Richards, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney."
TRAVERSE CITY —
Frog & the Beeftones are making the leap north.
Community in Brief: 04/23/2014
Students stage "The Wizard of Oz"; Film series closes; Women's History Project discusses memoir; and more.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 04/22/2014
Reading by poet Fleda Brown; TCAPS Day Camp registration; program on smart phone apps; and more.Continued ...
Historical Photo of the Week: 04/21/2014
Historical photo for 04/21/2014: Can you name this woman?Continued ...
Historical photo update for 04/14/2014 image
Historical photo update for the 4/14/14 image: The gentleman is Claire Wilder.Continued ...
News From 100 Years Ago: 04/21/2014
SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT DEBATE was held at the Woman’s Club on Friday.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 04/21/2014
St. Vincent de Paul Spring Fling; program on ancient tree archive; benefit for My Sister's House; and more.Continued ...
- Sunday, April 20, 2014
Botanic Garden prepares to open new Visitor Center
The first daffodils and crocus had yet to poke up their leaves at The Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park as volunteer Denise Butterfield passed out logo vests to volunteers at the new Visitor Center.Continued ...
30 years of NMC art students' work in show
Retired college art professor Paul Welch spins in a slow circle, locking eyes with the dozens of memories that surround him.Continued ...
Garret Leiva: 44 is the new 24, right?
Forty-four years ago this week the gift of birth was swiftly followed by a gloved-hand slap across my backside.Continued ...
Best Sellers: 04/20/2014
Best-selling books across northwest Michigan and the nation:Continued ...
‘Book Spine’ poems range from fun to thoughtful
Brilliant Books’ April “Book Spine Poetry” contest calls for entrants to grab some books, arrange each spine and respective title in a creative order to their liking, then snap and email a photo.Continued ...
Books in Brief: 04/20/2014
Author signings; Brownell at Expo.Continued ...
Lifelines: 30 years of poetry lessons still pay off
A high school girl recently told me that she worked so hard on her poem in fourth grade during my writing workshop, she cried.Continued ...
Community in Brief: 04/20/2014
Newcomers Club meeting; antique auto buffs; Lacrosse Club pasta dinner fundraiser; and more.Continued ...
- Saturday, April 19, 2014
Community in Brief 04/19/2014
Advanced care discussion; Leelanau Montesorri Public School Academy open house; Easter dinner in Grayling; and more.Continued ...
- Education News 04/19/2014
TRAVERSE CITY -- Bored with the elliptical trudge? Juggle fire. Circus workouts add zest to a workout regime, spice to an evening and allow people to scratch things like "learn to juggle" or "walk on hands" off their bucket lists. Indulging a circusContinued ...
Body & Soul Newsmakers 04/19/2014
People in the news.Continued ...
Blood Drives 04/19/2014
Where to give blood in the region.Continued ...
Body & Soul in Brief 04/19/2014
Easter vigil service; Parkinson's disease support group; Grand Valley State University advising services; and more.Continued ...
- Friday, April 18, 2014
Arts & Entertainment in Brief 04/18/2014
Fairy Garden fun; environmental documentary; benefit for ISLAND; New Opera Project premiere; and more.Continued ...
Community in Brief 04/18/2014
Gathering for women named Linda; Wings of Wonder program; Small Plates on the Leelanau Wine Trail; and more.Continued ...
Night Life 04/18/2014
Entertainment in the region.Continued ...
- Thursday, April 17, 2014
Mobile food trucks continue to expand lineup
The Little Fleet should consider a name change as they steam toward their second summer in business. Maybe The Armada is more apropos.Continued ...
Foodie with Family: Bring an end to slow cooker mush
Slow-cookers get a bum rap for turning out bland, homogenous, texturally-challenged food. Why do people have this misconception?Continued ...
- Community in Brief: 04/23/2014