Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Top Ten Stumpjackings from 2009

We sent out our final 2009 Stumpjack Scat newsletter at the end of December and it included the following Top Ten list of 2009. Several friends suggested we put it on the blog for more people to read since not everyone who checks the blog may get the newsletter too. That's a good idea, so here it is. (And if you want to get the newsletter just let us know and we'll add your email to the list.)

Top Ten Stumpjack Events of 2009
Here, in no particular order, are the Top Ten Stumpjack Events of 2009:

1) Pat DiNizio
The Smithereens were one of the big-name bands of the mid-1980s to early-1990s, earning consistent airplay on the strength of a dozen or so hit songs. The band is still going strong with a heavy touring schedule and continues to record and produce outstanding music (it borders on the criminal that The Smithereens are not yet in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame). Pat DiNizio is the leader of the band, and is one of the outstanding songwriters in modern music. He's one of the "elder statesmen," so to speak, of rock music.

On Friday, March 28, Pat DiNizio performed a solo concert at Stumpjack Coffee in Two Rivers. That's big stuff, not only for Stumpjack but for the city as well. Certainly Pat is the biggest name performer we've ever had at the Stump. I am writing at length about this event and our experience with Pat as part of a larger literary project I'm working on, but I will tell you now that it was one of the most passionate, intense, exhausting and satisfying musical experiences we've ever had at Stumpjack. We ran it as a ticketed, invitation-only event, with several dozen friends and Stumpers experiencing a really incredible performance by one of the most respected artists in music. It was a fantastic experience and is a milestone in the history and story of Stumpjack Coffee Company.

2) Pato Banton & The Now Generation

Saturday, April 25: Pato Banton and the Now Generation! The single most fun and joyous experience we've ever had at Stumpjack. How we were able to get Pato, an international reggae star who has performed all over the planet, with many of the biggest names in popular music, and has had hit songs (including #1) around the world, is a story of serendipity. The bulk of our thanks goes to our friend Don Raedke for initiating the project and setting all the wheels in motion for an event that we had very little time to prepare for. The place was packed, the electrical power was giving us fits, the cops came to warn us about the noise (and ended up rocking a little themselves), Pato and the band were more than fantastic, and everybody had an absolutely incredible, good time. We were still dancing and grooving a week later, I kid you not. And yes, you can bet that this is also a big part of the book project.

3) Stumpjumpers Picnic
Friday, July 10 was the date of what we hope will be a growing annual happening, the first Stumpjumpers Picnic. A gang of Stumpjumpers and Stumpers met at the reserved campground for an afternoon of food and beverage, bocci ball and camaraderie. It was a potluck picnic, where everyone brought something and Stumpjack providing steaks, beer and wine (with any luck we may be able to do an actual pig roast next year). The weather was great as we went into the evening, sitting around the fire and enjoying conversation.

4) Carson & Tina Kugler Art Exhibitions
Stumpjack displays a half dozen or so art exhibitions a year. This year was a little unusual in that we held two such displays by the same artists, Carson and Tina Kugler. At least a couple things made these exhibitions extra noteworthy. One, they sold very well. That's important, for the artist and for the space. Most shows sell some work, but the Kugler exhibitions sold better than any previous showings. Two, we solidified a few things that, in our minds, we need to be consistently aware of to do a better job in putting on successful showings. The opening receptions for these two shows were held on Friday, March 27 and Friday, November 6 and each exhibition ran for around two months.

5) Artisan Pizzas
Stumpjack has been at the forefront in introducing a few things to our area that may be popular on the coasts and in other, perhaps larger urban areas. Some things catch on with folks around here and show potential for growth, and some don't. One thing that does show some good potential for growth is the artisan pizza project we started in late spring, I think it was. We're very proud that many people have called our small, artisan pizzas the best pizza they've ever had (here's one gratifying testimonial). Excellent crusts individually prepared and shaped especially for Stumpjack by pastry chef extraordinaire, Jennifer Pasquill, are the foundation. Toppings are farmer's market fresh and often quite different from what you might expect to find on traditional pizza menus (with ingredients such as figs, prosciutto, salmon, capers, potatoes, walnuts, cranberries, almonds, BLT, and more...). Be prepared to see more of the artisan food movement in the coming years from other dining establishments. It is a growing trend in dining that is here to stay.

6) Electric Lunch
Electric Lunch was a fun series of summer and fall, Saturday noon-time gigs featuring the always interesting and aurally stimulating keyboard music of Greg Pagel. Greg is really an amazing musician whose music refuses to be categorized. He's also the accordion wielding half of the duo Pick & Squeeze, with his brother Andy. Sometimes Greg's performances were full house affairs while other times the audience consisted of just one or two appreciative listeners. It didn't matter whether the crowd was large or small, it was a great experience and one we hope to do again in 2010.

7) Pato Banton & Ethnic Fest Sept 18 & 19
As if Stumpjack wasn't blessed the first time Pato and band rocked the house, we were able to catch the magic again just a few months later when we were able to play host a second time to this incredible performer and spiritual man. Again, Pato and The Now Generation just blew everyone away during their Friday night performance at Stumpjack. But as grateful and joyful as was that event, we're even more proud and gratified that hundreds or thousands more people of this area got to see and hear Pato and the band as the headlining act of the annual Two Rivers Ethnic Fest on Saturday, September 19. This was, in many ways, a groundbreaking event for this area. Imagine it...an international, Grammy nominated reggae star performing in the center of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Pato opened a lot of eyes and hearts that day, with his message of peace and love, and with his music that forced you to move your body. This was a biggie for Stumpjack; it was because of his relationship with and the experience he had at Stumpjack that Pato agreed to book Ethnic Fest. We're mighty proud of that.
Check out this excellent video by Mark Matthews of Pato performing his beautiful "Life is a Miracle" at Stumpjack on September 18.

8) Kris Zastrow's Birthday Party

Stumpjack has held a few small birthday parties in the space before, but it was the birthday party celebration for our friend Kris Zastrow on November 28 that was the best so far. Everybody had a blast, with lots of great food and drinks, live music from Kurt Gunn (I think Kurt ended up doing at least three, maybe four encores). We need to do more birthday parties like that one.

9) Anniversary Party/Halloween Party

Saturday, October 24 was the third anniversary party for Stumpjack. We combined the anniversary party with our second Halloween costume party. A bunch of costumed Stumpers (a few who are shown above) enjoyed drinks, food, prizes, great music from Nick Weiland and band, and a big helping of silliness.

10) Survival
We survived 2009. It was a tough year for the shop financially, as we continued to feel the fallout of the global economic collapse and unemployment in our area hit double digits. Each month saw us juggling income against expenses while trying to gain some solid footing. Oftentimes it seemed as though for every yard we'd gain we'd get knocked back a yard in return. But we hung in there and kept battling, and we're still battling. Small business is not for the timid or weak of heart, that's for sure. But we made it through 2009 and so let's lift a coffee mug or beer glass to toast a more prosperous 2010 for us all.

*) Honorable Mention: Facebook
Facebook is something Stumpjack got into heavily this past year, and it's been a great way to stay connected with friends and customers, enabling us to let people know what specials are going on, any changes on hours, upcoming events, answer any questions, and to stay in touch. It's sure to be an even bigger part of what we do in 2010. So, again, if you aren't connected to Stumpjack via Facebook, please consider doing so. It's a great tool.

No comments: