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.
Prep Sports Scoreboard: 04/11/2014
A roundup of prep sports results from across northern Michigan:
GT Academy founder faces bank fraud, tax evasion charges
Grand Traverse Academy co-founder Steven Ingersoll faces federal charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and tax violations, accusations that publicly surfaced about a month after the school severed ties with his management company.Continued ...
Editorial: Recent BATA changes put accountability first
The Bay Area Transportation Authority is undergoing some needed accountability changes that should improve service to some while rewarding others for playing by the rules.Continued ...
TCL&P resists coal dock pressure
Traverse City Light & Power board members withstood heavy lobbying and allegations of closed-door maneuvering from influential local groups to place the $2.68 million coal dock property’s future in the hands of the city’s elected representatives.Continued ...
New zombie flick set in northern Michigan
Most days Brian Dawson is a mild-mannered veterinarian. Others he’s a flesh-eating zombie.Continued ...
Derrer to play at Syracuse
Dakota Derrer won’t have to be one of the boys anymore. But now she’ll have to resist the urge to hit like one.Continued ...
Career Kickstart kicks off today
Job seekers can get free professional clothing and lots of advice on resumes and interview skills at an event today at Northwestern Michigan College.Continued ...
High schools among most challenging in U.S., state
Local students have the opportunity to attend two of the most challenging high schools in the nation, based on the Washington Post’s annual rankings.Continued ...
School gets ATM
TBA Credit Union installed an automated teller machine at Traverse City West Senior High School.Continued ...
Letters to the Editor: 04/11/2014
Enabling the homeless.Continued ...
TBAYS set to celebrate silver anniversary
Fred Haines had a vision. He also had passion and determination. And on any given day in the spring or fall, if you gaze out at the expanse of soccer fields at the Keystone Road Soccer Complex and see hundreds of kids kicking balls around, you are able to see it all spring to life.Continued ...
NMC administrator off to China for student recruitment
A Northwestern Michigan College administrator is off on another trip to China with hopes of recruiting high school students from Beijing to enroll at NMC their senior year.Continued ...
The Record: 04/11/2014
Assumed names filed in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
Life after 'The Voice': Maloney out but not down following cut
Ryan Whyte Maloney is out but he isn’t down. The Traverse City native and “The Voice” contestant was cut from the show Tuesday after making it to the top 20 on Monday.Continued ...
Forum: TC can't get bed tax, visitors centers can
I am writing to comment on the March 29 Another View: “Local tax a local windfall” about Franklin County in New York state seeking state approval to impose a bed tax on hotels and motels in that county, and your Online Poll question asking readers whether such a tax is a good idea.Continued ...
Kalkaska's Will Noble headed to the next level
This season Will Noble took his game to another level. That’s allowed him to take his game to the next level.Continued ...
Building Permits: 04/11/2014
Building permits issued in Grand Traverse County:Continued ...
Saturday festival all about dirt and Earth
Mara Penfil likes dirt. She likes to remind people that leaves fall from trees and turn into dirt, mushrooms grow in dirt, all kinds of organisms make a home in dirt.Continued ...
Bums add Wrenn, Rossi to infield
The Traverse City Beach Bums added to an already fairly loaded infield by signing shortstop Taylor Wrenn and infielder Drew Rossi.Continued ...
Weekend in Brief: 04/11/2014
Celebration for Pete Seeger; OTP Studio Theatre stages police drama; Dirt Fest; and more.Continued ...
Prep Sports Roundup: Morgan, Cvengros pitch Glads to sweep
Gabby Morgan pitched a two-hit shutout as St. Francis blanked Benzie Central 10-0 in the opener of a non-league doubleheader Thursday. (Plus more)Continued ...
Movie Capsules: 04/11/2014
New this week — Draft Day: At the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to rebuild his team when he trades for the number one pick. He must decide what he’s willing to sacrifice on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with NFL dreams. Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references. (HOR)Continued ...
Forestry experts gear up to fight next deadly beetle
Michigan foresters fear the sight of a black beetle with white spots.Continued ...
Grand Rapids band feels 'at home' in TC
Members of Grand Rapids’ Sweet J Band consider Kilkenny’s Irish Public House in Traverse City their home away from home.Continued ...
Night Life Calendar: 04/11/2014
Entertainment in the region:Continued ...
- Prep Sports Scoreboard: 04/11/2014