Monday, August 2, 2010

The Livery - Benton Harbor Celebrates its 5th Anniversary with Hand-Forged MicroBrews & Pinetop Perkins

Festivities Planned for Friday, August 20 & Saturday, August 21

In celebration of its 5th Anniversary, The Livery in Benton Harbor is hosting a gathering August 20-21, focused on hand-forged microbrews, a summer-style picnic and plenty of musical pickin’s for all to enjoy.

The festivities kick off on Friday, August 20 at 8pm with Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith playing throughout the night. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 the day of the show and may be purchased online at, by calling 800-594-8499 or at the brewery itself (cash only).

The fun continues on Saturday, August 21 when a “no cover” gathering will be held from Noon to 6pm, with a summer-style picnic featuring local fruits & veggies, beer brats, burgers and more; “old school” vinyl music with DJ DannyBoy (the brewer at The Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti) and beer samplings include six barrel aged brews and the release of the “Anniversary Ale” – an Imperial Black IPA.

This “Anniversary Ale” will debut at the Great Taste of the Midwest in Madison, Wisconsin on August 14 and will then be available at the anniversary party in Benton Harbor. It will be well worth the wait! In February, Brewmaster Steve Berthel and fellow brewers Jared Williamson from New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany, Indiana and Josh Davies from Arcadia Ales in Battle Creek, Michigan got together on Steve’s birthday weekend to brew a batch for the 5th anniversary celebration – an incredible Imperial Black IPA, with about 11.5% abv and well over 125 IBUs.

One hundred years ago, the building known as the Palace Livery at 190 5th Street in Benton Harbor provided a vital service making it a gathering place for residents and travelers to Southwest Michigan. Five years ago, the former horse stable and carriage shop was been brought back to life as "The Livery" – one of Michigan's most exciting and unique microbreweries, featuring a diverse selection of beer styles, ciders and wines, an outdoor beer garden and a Cafe. All of the "Hand Forged Microbrews" are painstakingly created by brewmaster Steve Berthel on a 10 bbl. brewing system of his own design. Music and other live entertainment are regularly featured in The Upper Livery entertainment venue.

About Pinetop Perkins:
Pinetop Perkins is one of the last great Mississippi blues men still performing. He began playing blues around 1927 and is widely regarded as one of the best blues pianists. He’s created a style of playing that has influenced three generations of piano players and will continue to be the yardstick by which great blues pianists are measured.

Born Willie Perkins, in Belzoni, MS, in 1913, Pinetop started out playing guitar and piano at house parties and honky-tonks but dropped the guitar in the 1940s after sustaining a serious injury in his left arm. Perkins worked primarily in the Mississippi Delta throughout the thirties and forties, spending three years with Sonny Boy Williamson on the King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA, Helena, Arkansas. Pinetop also toured extensively with slide guitar player Robert Nighthawk and backed him on an early Chess session. After briefly working with B.B. King in Memphis, Perkins barnstormed the South with Earl Hooker during the early fifties. The pair completed a session for Sam Phillips’ famous Sun Records in 1953. It was at this session that he recorded his version of Pinetop Smith’s Boogie Woogie.

Still, with recent successes the exception, Pinetop is best known for holding down the piano chair in the great Muddy Waters Band for twelve years during the highest point of Muddy’s career. Replacing the late, great Otis Spann in 1969, Pinetop helped shape the Waters sound and anchored Muddy’s memorable combo throughout the seventies with his brilliant piano solos. In 1980, Pinetop and other Waters alumni decided to go out on their own and formed the Legendary Blues Band. Legendary recorded two records for Rounder and toured extensively.

Pinetop, who had been labeled a sideman throughout most of his career, eventually left Legendary to concentrate on a solo career. Within two years, he had his first domestic record as a frontman and had a most impressive touring schedule. Since going solo, Pinetop has been featured on many nationally syndicated news and music shows, and appeared in numerous movie productions, as well as television and radio ads. He has also headlined nearly every major showcase room in North America and most of the major festivals around the world.

It’s certainly ironic that Pinetop waited for his eighth decade to blossom as a headliner releasing 15 solo records in 15 years beginning in 1992. Born In the Delta (a multimedia enhanced CD), his Telarc debut, documented an amazing historical figure and had an abundance of entertainment value for a contemporary audience. On his 1998 release, Legends, Pinetop collaborated with master blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin. Together, they blended the traditional delta blues sound with modern electric blues rock, showcasing the spirit and energy of the music. Both CDs were nominated for Grammy’s –in 1997 and 2000 respectively. This was followed by a 2005 Grammy nomination for Ladies Man released by MC Records.

In 2005 he was also presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy’s. In 2000 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. He has been featured in the documentary Piano Blues directed by Clint Eastwood for the Martin Scorsese PBS series, The Blues. In addition, he continued to win the Blues Music Award for best blues piano every year until 2003 when he was retired from that award, which now bears his name--the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year.

Perkins will perform at The Livery with vocalist/harmonica player Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. Smith was also a member of Muddy Water's band and appears on all of the band's Grammy Award winning albums.

The Livery is one of some 70 licensed craft brewing operations in the state of Michigan – most of which are proud members of the Michigan Brewers Guild (

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