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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Celebration of Friendship Aimee Warren Fundraiser Jan 25 at Billy's

Restaurant and hospitality workers share a kinship not readily apparent in other professions. Their bond is a solid one forged over staff Christmas parties in January and service industry recognition nights at corner pubs.

This spirit of togetherness and caring goes on display Sunday January 25 at Billy’s Lounge when a fundraiser is held to help cover medical expenses for longtime bar employee Aimee Warren. Warren, on leave from her managerial position at Mulligan’s, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.

The afternoon will feature live music, a silent auction, and raffles. There is a $10 suggested donation at the door.

“Dennie Middleton is taking care of the entertainment,” event organizer Rick Dion said. “Dennie’s got three different acts he does. He’ll have various guests showing up at different times including some from Papa Vegas.”

“We’re open all day at Billy’s but we start this at 4:00. We’re also having a live auction for a couple of the bigger items.”

Dion says people have been dropping off goods at Billy’s all week. Among the items lined up for the raffle are a new iPad and a yet-to-be-determined amount of cash money to be auctioned off. Prizes so far include a drum head signed by Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, an autographed picture of Conway Twitty, and other music memorabilia.

“So far we’ve got gift cards from several different restaurants,” Dion said of the items donated. “Smitty’s Specialty Beverage is putting together a craft beer basket. Billy’s is doing liquor baskets with various liquor swag included.”

“I think we’ve had a pretty good response so far. Many people have called me out of the blue for this one.”

You might not recognize Warren’s name right off but chances are you’ve seen her working behind the bar somewhere in West Michigan during the past 30 years. Her employment resume reads like a Who’s Who of local dining and entertainment establishments: Tootsie Van Kelly’s, Shout!, The B.O.B, Billy’s Lounge, Elbow Room, Mulligan’s Pub. 

“We started planning this around Christmas,” Dion said. “Dennie picked a date that he could make work with his band mates. But it’s been a short process.”

Due to the tight window of time they’ve had to operate under, Dion says he’s hoping word of mouth will help get people in the door on Sunday. All that remains is delivery of the items and services to the donation location.

We all know how life often presents the unexpected challenge however Dion sounds like he’s taking this latest development in stride. 

“Never would I have guessed that something like this would come about,” he said. “It was completely unexpected. She’s a vibrant healthy person and all of a sudden this caught us off guard.”

Celebration of Friendship Aimee Warren Fundraiser, 4-9 pm, January 25, Billy’s Lounge, 1437 Wealthy St SE. $10 suggested donation. Bands scheduled to appear include American Heartbreakers, The Hype, Bimini Brothers, plus special guests. 

Donations can be made by contacting Rick Dion (616) 293-9352 (rickdion7@gmail.com) and Dennie Middleton (616) 260-8947 (denmid@comcast.net)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dan Tedesco Jan 8 at Founders Taproom

Singer/songwriter Dan Tedesco is one of the fortunate few to attend college based on musical talent--in a warm climate, no less. The Chicagoland native was the recipient of a scholarship to the music school at Arizona State University.

“I was given a scholarship to study jazz performance for guitar and that helped me make my decision initially to go in that direction,” Tedesco said during in a recent interview.

But after two years in Tempe he says the educational side of music was getting mechanical and a little too scientific

“That’s not a bad thing to explore,” Tedesco said of the rigors of advanced study. “But I felt like it was getting to the point where if I kept going down that road I might lose my original attachment to music.” 

Faced with delving deeper and deeper into the theoretical side of things, including melodies that were derived from mathematical sets, Tedesco switched study areas for fear of losing the organic accent.

“I graduated with a double minor in music and business,” Tedesco said. “I did that to get more of a well-rounded experience and knowledge before I was done.”  

Folk/rock musician Dan Tedesco looks to put his musical education in the spotlight when he appears January 8 at Founders Taproom.

Tedesco acknowledges one thing the music regiment at the college level taught him: the importance of overstepping your comfort zone.

“It’s a healthy thing to stretch your brain and push yourself in areas where you might not stumble on your own because that’s how you grow,” Tedesco said.

Sticking with the fundamental side of music has paid off for Tedesco. To date he's recorded 3 CDs including the 2014 release Death in the Valley. 

On Death in the Valley, Tedesco addresses the exploration of human habits and ditching of stagnant routines. Conceptual topics center on growth, endings, and renewal. He said the record examines how life leads to death but how death also leads to new life; good things are born out of the expiration of old ideas. The songs appear tailor made for the season.

“It’s never too late to try something new,” Tedesco said. “Challenge is the only way you grow. It’s important not be afraid of it.”

Above all some of these guys talk the good talk. What shakes out in the end is sometimes interesting. Tedesco, however, sounds like he’s walking the walk.

“It’s a hard thing to say goodbye to something you’re comfortable with because it’s going to be different in the morning,” Tedesco said. “That’s a scary thing but also very exciting and that is important to remember.” 

Dan Tedesco wsg Nicholas James & Bigfoot Buffalo, 9:30, Thursday, at Founders Taproom. Free