Written by John Face
Photos by John Face
June 8, 2022
When Ben Wade and Dr. Charles Moreau opened their brewery in downtown Albion MI 4 years ago, they had many ideas of what they wanted to do. Good beer, food, service, and they also envisioned a place for people to come and enjoy each other and different types of entertainment. The Albion Malleable Brewing Company (The Malleable) located at 420 South Superior Street has been that and more.
On Saturday June 11 they will host the first Black Squirrel Blue Grass and Americana Music Festival which will be in downtown Albion located on Superior Street from Erie Street to Elm Street and on Ash Street. The Malleable will be the center point of the festival and to say Wade is excited is an understatement. Click on the event flyer to watch a YouTube video of who will be performing.
“The idea for the festival came about by a cancellation”, Wade said. “Chain Station, a Denver based band with national appeal, had a cancellation and called us up. They did a Tuesday night show here and packed this place. The customers loved them” he said. He asked if they would come back, and the bands reply was call us.
Well of course Ben did not forget the “call us”. He reached out to the management of Chain Station and told them if they were touring in the Midwest this year let him know and he would build a concert festival around the date.
Needless to say, June 11 worked for the band and Ben. Next job was getting other bands, he started by inviting some top talent to start the day for Chain Station who is the headliner. He is excited to see some of the best Bluegrass and Americana bands around coming to Albion.
Ben has worked hard to set up everything. He said huge thanks go out to the City of Albion for working with him to get proper permits to shut down M-99, the state highway which runs through the downtown area. Also, for their help in securing other needed permits and bringing in some picnic tables.
“Of course,” he said, “our sponsors are the reason we can do this for no charge to attendees”. He thanks Walk the Beat – Albion, Decker Manufacturing of Albion, Northfield Instruments of Marshall and of course The Malleable. He also wanted to thank Team 1 Plastics as well as Depth Media who produced the video linked above.
Northfield Instruments has created a one-of-a-kind Mandolin that can be won via a raffle sponsored by Walk the Beat – Albion. Tickets are on sale now at the Brewery and Saturday as well for $10.00 each. This beautiful Mandolin has a retail price of $3000.00. Ben was happy to tell me that Northfield Instruments has put together Mandolin players that will have jam sessions in the beer garden between sets of the bands. “So, there will be continuous music” he said.
Ben noted that the “Malleable will have their expanded beer garden on Ash Street beside the brewery. This is the only alcohol allowed outdoors and can only be consumed in the designated area on Ash Street or the brewery’s patio. You can visit our neighbors up the street at Courtyard by Marriott, Charlies, or Cascarelli’s for wine or cocktails, but those must be consumed at the respective locations. No packaged liquor is allowed at the event”.
Other questions asked were “facilities”. He said that “our restrooms are open to all, but they will have porta Johns available across the street from the Malleable beside the bank in the alley, this is convenient and very near the main stage”.
There will be limited seating at tables downtown. “We encourage you to bring your own chairs, and sunscreen,“ he said. Another nice feature is the Malleable will have a tent out front where you can place a carryout order off of their full menu. There will be additional food vendors on Superior Street including Rust Belt Ramen and Sticky Fingers BBQ. Other options up the street from the nearby Foundry Bakehouse, Courtyard by Marriott, Charlies, Cascarelli’s, and Lopez Taco House.
Before I let him off the hook, I had to ask about the festival name, Black Squirrel. He chuckled and told me that the black squirrel is the unofficial mascot for the city so it made sense, he was going for unique.
Schedule for June 11, 2022; All times below are approximate
9:00 A.M. Superior Street will be shut down with detours in place
12 noon The Wallens from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Vendors 12 noon until ?
2:00 P.M. The Water Street Wranglers from Kalamazoo
4:00 P.M. Linen Ray from Nashville
6:00 P.M. The Mark Lavengood Band from Michigan
8:00 P.M. Chain Station from Denver
Remember to bring your own chairs.
Again, click on the event poster above to see a little of each band playing