And just like that, another Dark Horse 4 Elf Party is in the books. The 2019 party did not disappoint, Elves, Beer, Exotic Food, Music, Dancing!
4 Elf Party 2019
As friends and Dark Horse supporters, showing up and being present for this year’s 4 Elf Party 2019 was especially important.
Unfortunately, the State of Michigan Liquor Commission was also present, and the beer sale didn’t go as planned. It was unfortunate for many. However, the party was spectacular nonetheless.
Stories of 4 Elf Past
Chuck loves sharing 4 Elf stories. A few are “Pre-B” stories. (You know stuff that happened before he met me.) Almost like clockwork, when talking about 4 Elf he’ll say, “Do you remember when we got our first taste of Scotty Karata?” I’ll shake my head, “No, honey, that was Pre-B.” He’ll continue, “It was my very first 4 Elf Party, it was barely a party. Most of it was in the pub and a little bit in the bottling area. Scotty Karate was playing in a tiny tent. We were blown away by the wild and woolly dude who was sort of a one-man band playing some crazy bluegrassy music. He had us bouncing around like fools.”
(A taste of Scotty during the 2015 Summer Beer Festival.)
Switching gears, Chuck says, “That was the same year the crew in the RV from Indiana wanted me to come home with them. Then there was the year the drunk dude was carrying around a bbq’ed alligator head.” “Now what a minute,” I say, “I remember the alligator head.”
The 4 Elf stories could go on and on. It would be easy to write a dissertation on just 4 Elf stories. One chapter devoted to holiday classics.
This Year’s 4 Elf Story
The cancellation of the beer sale didn’t deter us. We arrived at 3 pm, ready to enjoy the company of our Dark Horse friends, drink a few beers, taste exotic food, listen to music, and dance. We called Go Dad (Marshall, Michigan’s only taxi service) for a ride and were relieved to hear his voice answer the phone. “I’m at Dark Horse now, I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” he said enthusiastically. Last year’s 4 Elf Party started with us getting the keys to go Dad’s van from his daughter, finding the van, putting gas in it, and delivering it to his friend across town who was driving for him. (For all the funny details, check out our post from 2018!)
True to his word, Go Dad arrived. He was thrilled to see Chuck in his Santa suit as we piled into his van. We were thrilled to see Go Dad, alive and well!
The 4 Elf Party wouldn’t be complete without exotic food. This year’s spread included: goat, frog-leg muffins, venison, bone marrow boats, red Cheetos (hoping they were clams), and several other things.
Based on these smiles, I’d say the food was good.
There were a few new choices on the board, including “Cease and Desist” which I liked. Another favorite was the “Chocolate Chipotle Pepper Plead the 5th”. Both were damn good.
While the beer and crazy food offerings at the Dark Horse 4 Elf party usually take center stage, I think this year the key element was the music. It was off the hook with a little something for everyone. Featuring bluegrass infused folk, hot rocking blues, soul, and a big splash of 80’s pop, the music was sweet, savory, and sassy. The sound system was dialed into perfection and bands were right on time.
It has taken me years to finally hear a live performance by Escaping Pavement. It is funny how you hear about a band, yet somehow keep missing hearing them live. When I read that Escaping Pavement would be at this year’s 4 Elf party 2019, I was ecstatic.
Escaping Pavement is Emily Burns (guitar) and Aaron Markovitz (mandolin). From the first notes, I knew we were in for a treat. As with most folk and bluegrass, the magic is in the voice and the stories. Escaping Pavement radiate with magical voices telling stories of the white pines calling and the struggles to make ends meet. Emily and Aaron’s vibrant voices were equally enchanting whether solo or joined in harmony. While most of their set featured their original songs from ‘Road Warrior’ and ‘The Night Owl’, they did a few unique covers. I very much enjoyed their cover of “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones. We may not have been losing ourselves in the wilderness, yet we did achieve a bit of that solace through their music at 4 Elf.
The Fat Animals
If you have frequented Dark Horse Brewing events, then you have probably seen Alvin Lautzenheiser playing guitar. If you need a visual, he is the ginger-haired demon typically tearing up a Gibson SG. Alvin’s latest musical endeavor is with The Fat Animals. I know that Alvin loves blues heavy rock, so getting a chance to hear the Fat Animals live was high on my list.
The Fat Animals include Don Daniel (vocals), Phil Wiswell (guitar), Colin McKernan (drums), Shawn Kelly (bass), and as mentioned Alvin Lautzenheiser (guitar). I was pleasantly surprised that the Fat Animals are more than a blues band or Allman Brothers tribute. They play an intoxicating mix of soul and put a funky spin on some classic rock in addition to putting the dual lead guitars to work on some badass Allman Brothers tunes. Their cover of “A Man’s World” ached with goodness. They threw me for a big old curve when they played Sting’s “Heavy Cloud No Rain”. Mixed into this delicious layer cake of music were some originals. I really dug the delta blues feel of “Long Time”. Keep your eyes peeled for the Fat Animals playing in your town.
Chuck spent the 80’s listening to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Yet, the 80’s pop rocking dance party from Starfarm had him bopping and singing at the top of his lungs. Images of skinny ties and Members Only jackets flashed through my mind as Starfarm played all the hits that I remember as a kid.
In case you were curious, Starfarm is Whitney Spotts (vocals), Dana Mirate (drums), Sean Mirate (keyboards), Dan Malnar (guitar), and Ryan Tarrant (bass). Outfitted in classic Adidas track suits in a rainbow of colors, they drew us all up close for songs from Madonna, The Go-Go’s, The Bangles, The Cars and more. I’ve seen a few cover bands in my day, but none that nailed it song after song like Starfarm. You could close your eyes and imagine that Cyndi Lauper was at 4 Elf singing “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. Starfarm amped up the fun at 4 Elf and gave us a reason to sing, dance, and shout out with our friends and family.
It could have been the high octane beers, but I’m betting it was the music. By the time the Star Farm took the stage, the dance floor was packed!
If you wore an elf costume, you got in for free. That was more than enough incentive. The tent was packed with elves! Or their version of an elf. Interpretations varied.
We have a few more pictures from the 4 Elf Party 2019. Enjoy the images. Contact us regarding any use.
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