Thursday kicked off a great weekend for me. The venues I showcase on Gigspots.com are more than business partners; they are favorite places of mine. I took the opportunity to visit two of them while I was in the mountains prepping the family place for the spring and summer.
The Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA features a delicious food and drink menu daily and live music an average of twenty nights a month. Owner Steve Koch was way ahead of the microbrew trend when he opened in 1996 and his beers have won many awards. The food is all prepared fresh daily and much of it comes from local farms. The location helps Bullfrog attract some prominent national touring acts as they cruise I-80 between “big city” gigs. A unique weekly event at Bullfrog is the Sunday Brunch and Jazz workshop, noon to four. I don’t know what it is about Williamsport but they have a greater concentration of musicians per capita than anyplace I have been outside Memphis. Visit the Bullfrog and you will see a great town, eat some great food, enjoy delicious, provocative beers (if you like) and hear some very talented musicians.
On this trip I enjoyed a pulled-pork Cuban sandwich called the Rico and a Billtown Blonde. I filled my growler with Ruby Doomsday, a fine red ale. Can’t wait to go back!
Thursday evening found me over the mountains in Wilkes-Barre (actually Plains, PA) at The River Street Jazz Café. Executive chef and talent-booker Tom Moran is one of the most interesting and lively guys I know. The extensive menu varies from simple to sumptuous and the staff makes you feel like you own the place. As much as I love the food, it’s the music that keeps me going back. Mike Mizwinski (Miz) calls The Jazz his home base and I think he is one of the most talented people in music today.
It was Miz that drew me to the mountains last Thursday. His solo acoustic show that night began with Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks album, in its entirety. No notes, no lyrics, no help: and that was his first set! He followed that with an hour of his own material. Miz played 260 shows in 2011 and was named Tri State Indie Solo Artist of the Year. You don’t have to visit Wilkes-Barre to hear him play but wow, get out and see this guy!
I know. We have a ton of great restaurants and very talented musicians right here in Lancaster, PA. Why drive 2.5 hours into the mountains to eat and see a show? I say, why not? Not every getaway needs to be the beach. Hundreds of small towns just as unique, delicious and memorable are scattered across our Commonwealth. So share the wealth and hit the road. Maybe start by visiting visitPA.com for some ideas. And please share your ideas and locations for getaways with me here.