Okee Dokee Artichokee

Train conductors? They can’t even drive yet…

We were trying to come up with something special to do for Meg’s birthday this year when Brooke happened to notice one of our favorite “family friendly” musical groups, The Okee Dokee Brothers, were coming to Kansas City.  The concert fell around Meg’s birthday, so close enough, right?

A bit of background: Brooke ran across their music 5 or 6 years ago and, though I can’t remember why exactly we listened in the first place (let alone how we discovered them…), my recollection mostly surrounds their fourth album, Can You Canoe?, which was inspired by their trip down the Mississippi River from St. Paul, MN to St. Louis, MO.  For Meg, it was a collection of creative and catchy tunes.  For Brooke and me, it was intelligently produced kids’ music that hearkened back to our own childhood experiences in this region, while also representing great bluegrass-style music.  That album went on to win the Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2013.  They have since come out with two other albums, one inspired by their hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail, and another around their trip to the Rocky Mountains.

Thus, after church this morning, we went ahead and hit the road for Crown Center, where we ended up at Fritz’s again.  I think we waited a good 45 minutes to get into that place last year before going to Legoland for Meg’s 6th birthday, but this time, the line was considerably shorter (read: non-existent).  We were in-and-out relatively quickly and moved on to the Kansas City Folk Festival.

Seating was limited…

The event itself was pretty well organized, taking place at the Westin hotel in most of its various conference rooms.  Each show took place “on the hour” and ran for 45 minutes, and 5 or 6 shows were going on simultaneously, allowing listeners to move between rooms and get a good sampling of musical styles.  A substantial number of the acts were Spanish language-focused, which was very interesting musically, though difficult to deal with lyrically.  Still, Meg seemed like she was “bobbing her head” quite a bit, even if she didn’t know what exactly was going on.

The Main Event!

The Okee Dokee Brothers went on at 2:00 and were great.  In the picture above, Meg and Calvin are sitting on the floor just in front of the stage, so they had a front row seat to all the action.

This room was packed with families.  The organizers probably should have seen this coming, though to be honest, how all these people had heard of The Okee Dokee Brothers is beyond me.  Still, Brooke and I had to hold up a wall on the side of the room, with Calvin running back and forth from where Meg was sitting and where we were standing.  We weren’t next to Meg at all during the music, but we could see her copying the motions and singing along, as she knew many of the songs already.  So far as concerts go, they did a good job mixing their older stuff with their newer stuff, so that helped out quite a bit, as we haven’t listened to their newest album as much as their older ones.

It ended up being a fun time!  Not a particularly cheap experience, as were were also funding our “attendance” to all of the other bands that were there, but ultimately, I think we all agreed it was worth the trip.  The music was great, the experience was something different from what Meg’s used to, and it was an excuse to get out of the house for a day.

Win/win for everyone. 🙂

1982: The Year That Was

As I was born in 1982, I don’t remember anything about it.  Thus, I thought it prudent to see what else happened that year, aside from my birth.  Apparently, quite a few things went down, as Wikipedia is helpful in pointing out.  The Wikipedia post mostly involves world events, if you’re curious, but I picked out a few of the more interesting ones to highlight here.  At least, more interesting to my generation.

A few interesting tidbits about 1982:

  • Average cost of a gallon of gas: $0.91
  • Price of a US Postage Stamp: $0.20
  • Average Price of a New Car: $7,983.00
  • Average Price of a New House: $82,200

Here’s a list of stuff that happened in 1982:

A Birthday Brewery Tour

The sampler at Six Row Brewing Company

Since moving back, Brooke and I have wanted to hit the wealth of new micro breweries that have sprung up in the St. Louis area in the past 2 years, most of which while were were in Iowa (figures…).  As our schedules tend to get busy rapidly, we hadn’t actually done this yet, but in my infinite wisdom, I suggested that a birthday-related excursion to hit some of the better-known breweries would be nice!  Thus, we recruited my Mom to stay at home with Meg while Dad kindly drove Brooke, Kristen, Jake and I to some “hoppin'” locations (see what I did there?) around the city.

The first stop (pictured above) was Six Row Brewing Company, just off of Forest Park Avenue close to Saint Louis University.  Generally speaking, I liked their beers quite a bit.  They also have more of a menu than the other breweries we went to, with sandwiches, soups and pizzas available.  After the sampler, I had a pint of their Centennial Rye, a beer that was quite a bit lighter than other ryes I’ve had in the past.  Quite tasty!  Overall, they had a strong mix of hoppy beers, wheaty beers, and others that can satisfy a wide variety of beer tastes.

Two samplers at Urban Chestnut.

Next, we made our way to Urban Chestnut Brewing Company, which is only a mile or less away from Six Row.  Brooke and I had actually been there before, but being so close to Six Row, I figured we’d be remiss not to check them out again.  Brooke really, really liked their Pilgrim 7 beer back in December, but we didn’t appear to get that one in our sampler.  Overall, I think I preferred this mix of beers to the last one Brooke and I tried, as it had a bit more variety in the beer styles.  In December, I seem to remember everything having more of a “heavy” character, which is fine for winter, but not so good for summer.  However, there were a few refreshing varieties in these samplers and was probably the favored brewery of Jake and Kristen.  Personally, as it is the namesake of the brewery, I thought all the beers were a bit too “nutty,” but you can get over it.  Of their beers, their “Old Tjikko” Spruce Ale was probably the most interesting.  Everyone else smelled a very heavy “tree” character, but I didn’t get much of that until I tasted it, and even then, I didn’t think it was that noticeable.  Apparently, my sense of smell is pretty terrible.  They had another one, “Thrales,” that isn’t listed on their website, but was a pretty spectacular (and alcoholic) Russian Imperial Stout.  It was shockingly smooth.  For something approaching 9%, it had a great flavor and was surprisingly easy to drink.  Worth a look!

The sampler at 4 Hands Brewing Company.

4 Hands Brewing Company was next on the list.  This one’s within walking distance (a bit far, but doable) of our old place in Soulard, so it’s pretty close to Busch Stadium.  Unlike the other breweries, 4 Hands doesn’t have a huge beer list available as they just launched at the end of December.  This was probably Kristen’s least favorite brewery because just about all the beers had a noticeable hop character…which, of course, is good so far as I’m concerned.  🙂

This is the first location where Dad had any beer, as well, so it’s probably a good thing he waited this long, as he tends to like hoppy beers, too.  I thought their Single-Speed Session, a Blonde Ale, was good, but Dad and I both got their Divided Sky Rye IPA.  Big and hoppy.  Mmmm…  Brooke had their Saison in Columbia last weekend at another bar, and it was still good here.  Sadly, while their website mentions a “Pyrus” saison for Fall and Winter that they didn’t have anymore of.  It’s made with “pear juice, whole white pepper corns, and the zest of fresh oranges,” so it definitely piqued her interest.  We’ll need to go back later in the year, I expect.

Four beers from The Civil Life.

Last, but not least, we went to The Civil Life Brewing Company, which is in an odd location about a mile or two from our house.  They also had sandwiches available, had a “back room” where some poetry reading was going on, and a nice upstairs seating area to get you away from the bar if you want to.  They were probably the most “industrial” of the locations, though from the outside, it looks pretty boring.  The beers were good, though to be honest, by the time you’re on your fourth stop of tasting all those previous beers, the flavors all start to run together a bit.  Also, I don’t really remember much about these four, and looking at their website, I’m not remembering much about which ones we actually got.  I just asked the bartender which four were their “best,” and I remember them being very good, but again, I can’t recall what they were.  If I had to guess, I’d say we had the American Pale, the Rye Pale, the British Bitter and the American Brown, but I could be wrong.

We need to go back there, though.  The beers pictured were 8 oz and were $2.50 each, so you can’t really argue with the pricing.  Especially for people like Brooke that may not want a whole pint of one beer style, it makes it pretty easy to get a good sampling without over-doing it.

A big thanks go to Mom and Dad for helping facilitate our little beer excursion!  I definitely had a lot of fun!  Next time we do this, we’ll probably keep it down to two breweries on a single trip, as four is, perhaps, a bit too much if you’re really wanting to appreciate the distinctions in beer varieties.

Oh well.  You live, you learn.  🙂