Aug. 1 2012 12:00 AM

After a last-minute cancellation last year, Michigan Rock N Brew organizers try again

WEB_Rock_N_Brew_Guys_002.jpgAs Ted Wilson sits in his East Michigan
Avenue office wrapping up a late-evening meeting about the Michigan Rock
‘N Brew Festival he’s organizing, the DIY promotional method he’s
implementing proves its worth, at least in some capacity.  

A patron from the Green Door, located next door, ventures over in front of Capital City
Creative Productions, the office Wilson shares with the fest’s
co-founder Greg Day, and other entrepreneurs. The bar goer lights a
smoke and stares at a bright orange Rock N Brew poster prominently
hanging in the windows of the office; he takes in the laundry list of
bands and Michigan brews at the fest. As far as Wilson is concerned,
that’s another success for this first-year festival. 

“One reason a lot of people know what
we’re doing is that we’ve been fliering at every event we can possibly
be at in Lansing,” Wilson said. “We’re at Thirsty Thursday events
passing out fliers to people. (On) busy bar nights, we’re out there
working the crowd.”

Wilson, who also owns Replay
Entertainment Exchange and Michigan Shirt Works, said he and his cohorts
venture out to places most wouldn’t even consider to promote the fest,
which is scheduled to feature 26 live bands and 11 beers from seven
Michigan-based breweries. 

“The Showboat Rock Festival in Chesaning,
we were up there,” he said. “It seems silly to go north of Owosso to
promote it, but we met people there in Chesaning who said, ‘Yeah, we
already have our tickets, we’re going.’ Every place we can be and talk
to people, we’re there. That’s the best advertising: You hand the flier
to them and say, ‘This is who we are; this is what we’re doing.’ People
get it right away.”

But will this grassroots approach be
enough to draw at least 2,000 people? That’s the number of festivalgoers
Wilson said the event needs to bring in in order to break even.

While this is technically Rock N Brew's
inaugural year, this wasn’t the CCCP’s first stab at setting it up. The
first Michigan Rock N Brew was set to happen in Leroy Township (between
Williamston and Webberville) in June 2011. But four days before
showtime, the plug was suddenly pulled on the concert. 

A blog post on,
dated June 21, 2011, cited this as the cause: “Unfortunately, the 1st
annual Michigan Rock and Brew festival has been postponed. This is due
to the personal politics of the Leroy Township Supervisor and Board
Members and their vendetta against the property owner hosting the

Fast-forward one year and Michigan Rock N
Brew has relocated to Adado Riverfront Park, the same location as
Common Ground Music Festival. The fest is slated to feature headliners
like ‘90s alt-rock sensations Toadies and Helmet, along with rising
blues guitarist Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown. Other acts include The
Hard Lessons, Dirty Americans, Delilah DeWylde and The Muggs — 26 rock
bands in all.

“We’re pretty sure we’re going to succeed
just fine,” Wilson said. “If we do succeed, in September we’ll start
working on next year’s fest in Lansing and also work on expanding into
Grand Rapids next year.” 

Is the Michigan Rock N Brew a sure thing this year? 

“Definitely,” said Zak Taylor, the fest’s
coordinator. “We have all our licensing set up with the city, we have a
lot of food and non-food vendors. Everything is on pace and on time.
It’s all going to go just exactly as planned.”

When planning the fest, Taylor said the Lansing-based organizers wanted to keep everything as home-grown as possible.

“It’s all locally owned, we’re all
Lansing residents,” Taylor said. “All of our vendors are Lansing vendors
and we’re highlighting exclusively Michigan microbrews.”

Taylor also said they’re hoping to reach
the 20- to 30-something demographic, a group he said other area music
festivals are not targeting.

“We want a fest the younger generation
can identify with,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a rich history of festivals
here in Lansing, but I think that we’re missing a component for that
younger generation. 

“We want to reach out to people like us,
people that are not submitting to the brain drain and taking their
talent and their efforts and going to other places,” he added. “We want
to bring about that change you’ve seen in places like Ann Arbor and
Grand Rapids. That is what really differentiates us, the whole attitude
about what we’re trying to do and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Aside from supporting youthful beer
enthusiasts and rock n roll fans, Wilson said the fest is also heavily
concentrated on highlighting the Michigan beer industry. 

“We are Michigan’s first stand-alone
music festival to serve nothing but Michigan microbrew beer, which is
why it’s gotten so much notoriety,” Wilson said. “It’s a big deal. We’re
the great beer state and there’s no reason for us not to support all of
that Michigan-made beer. 

“Plus, there’s just no excuse to not have
it here in the capital city,” Wilson added. “In the wheel of all the
big cities in Michigan, Lansing is the center spoke. It’s so close to a
lot of places.” 

Michigan Rock N Brew Festival

Noon-10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5 

Adado Riverfront Park, Lansing

$25 day pass; $45 weekend pass; other ticket packages available

Scheduled bands: Toadies, Helmet, Tyler
Bryant & the Shakedown, The Hard Lessons, Delilah DeWylde, Dirty
Americans, The Muggs, Bear Lake, Juliets, Left Lane Cruiser, UME,
Billiards Music, Seven Birds One Stone, Life Size Ghost, Funktion,
Macpodz, The Skies Revolt, Jeecy & The Jungle, Six and Sevens,
Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle, Stikyft, Flashing Blue Lights

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