I Love Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com A Great Pennsylvania Town with Shops, Theatre, History, Restaurants and Great People Mon, 07 Apr 2014 10:16:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.5.1 A Rock Star with a Big Heart, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/24/rock-star-skippack-medical-waste-c-j-santangelo/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/24/rock-star-skippack-medical-waste-c-j-santangelo/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 18:48:54 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9118 I Love Skippack |

At work:

C.J. Santangelo lives the Skippack variation of the rock star lifestyle, with a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids, tattoos covering both arms, a motorcycle, and a home with an awesome man cave complete with a full gym and rehearsal space for his band, the Hot Sauce Junkies. The first time I saw him, he was singing lead vocals with the Hot Sauce Junkies as part of Skippack’s 4th of July celebration in Palmer Park.

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I Love Skippack |

At work:

Ny friend & Skippack neighbor C.J. Santangelo

My friend & Skippack neighbor C.J. Santangelo

C.J. Santangelo lives the Skippack variation of the rock star lifestyle, with a beautiful wife and three beautiful kids, tattoos covering both arms, a motorcycle, and a home with an awesome man cave complete with a full gym and rehearsal space for his band, the Hot Sauce Junkies. The first time I saw him, he was singing lead vocals with the Hot Sauce Junkies as part of Skippack’s 4th of July celebration in Palmer Park.

When I was a kid, along with the rest of the crowd, I thought guys like Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, and Bruce Springsteen were the greatest. Now my ideal rock star is my friend and Skippack neighbor, C.J. Santangelo.

Why is C.J. my ideal of a rock star? Because I can meet up with him in Skippack Village, spend time, and learn from him. This evening, I meet C.J. at a Skippack bar. After a warm embrace, I order a Heineken Light, and we get to talking.

Living and Giving by his Own Rules

A rock star lives by his own rules. C.J. does one better: he gives by his own rules. He is the driving force behind several full-scale, community-wide, fundraising events. As a teenager he volunteered for the Leukemia Society, but now he is a rock-star-good-samaritan: operating outside the framework of an established charitable organization.

He gets support from a dedicated group of friends and family members he calls the A-Team. The goal is simple and personal: helping a neighbor in need, in many instances, a child or adult stricken with cancer.

C.J. performing with his band the Hot Sauce Junkies at Justin's Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday.

C.J. performing with his band the Hot Sauce Junkies outside Justin’s Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday.

“After the first time you experience making a difference in someone’s life, you realize nothing on this planet is more rewarding,” he says, “hands down.”

A Network of Superheroes

C.J. describes the A-Team: “We’re a network of helpers; of humble, determined humanitarians; of superheroes; we swoop down in the middle of night. People wonder how we can be so effective.”

Last year, C.J. and the A-Team raised funds to help pay medical expenses for Jennifer Romano, a young mother of three children from Norristown diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Their efforts included an event held at the LuLu Temple in Plymouth Meeting attended by more than 800 people, many of them small business owners.

“We fought really hard for Jennifer Romano,” C.J. says. “It was a tough battle from the get go, but I had faith and belief.

C.J. with the friends and family of Jennifer Romano, may her memory be a blessing. When Jennifer realized she would not win her battle against cancer, she wanted it kept secret from the young man who tried to help her.

C.J. with Jennifer Romano (to his immediate right) and friends and family. When Jennifer realized she would not win her battle against cancer, she wanted it kept secret from the young man who tried to help her. May her memory be a blessing.

“I met Jennifer. I hugged her. I felt her energy. I said to her ‘You are going to win this.’”

Two Goodbyes

When Jennifer Romano realized she wasn’t going to win, she told her family and friends she was going to hospice and might not make it to the holidays, and made them promise not to tell C.J. She didn’t want him to be hurt. He was performing with the Hot Sauce Junkies at Justin’s Carriage House during a Skippack First Friday when a friend and member of the A-Team revealed the truth to him.

“It floored me,” C.J. recalls.

C.J.’s own father died from cancer at age 58, when C.J. was 35 years old. He said to his C.J. on his deathbed, “Don’t give up the fight. This isn’t the war. This is only one battle.”

Even a Rock Star has Limits

C.J.’s rep as a rock-and-roller doing good works is growing in the local area. More and more, people seek out his help. The high-energy go-getter is facing his limits.

“A lot of people come to me with sad stories. Everyone has hardships and bad luck. I can’t help everybody. I have a business to run. It sucks to say ‘no.’”

A man's strength is his family: C.J. proudly stands next to a family portrait which hands in his office.

A man’s strength is his family: C.J. proudly stands next to a family portrait which hangs in his office.

However, don’t expect C.J. to slow down anytime soon: “I have fun,” he says. “I make new friends. I get a chance to perform with my band, give a speech to hundreds of people, and get my name in the newspaper. I can justify it to myself because I do it for a good reason.”

He adds, “Helping others can become addicting.”

Footing the Bill

When I meet a guy like C.J., living rockstar-style, on his own terms, the question that comes to mind is “how does he foot the bill?”

C.J. owns and runs S.H. Bio-Waste LTD, a medical waste company with eight full-time employees, four trucks on the road, and more than 1,500 customers. He started out working in his family business, Santangelo Hauling & Landfill (known as CBF Hauling in the Pittsburgh area), a trash collection service owned by his father, learning about hard work and life from the back of a trash truck.

In the late 1980s, a new law was passed requiring medical waste be separated from municipal waste. Hospitals, pharmacies, diagnostic labs, and doctor’s offices would need special trash disposal service. When C.J. graduated from Bishop Kenrick High School in 1989, his father’s firm launched a medical waste division, with the intent that C.J. would own and run it. However, this business remained dormant as C.J. helped his father manage the bigger and busier trash business.

At work:

At work: S & H Biowaste Ltd is a medical waste company with eight full-time employees, four trucks on the road, and more than 1,500 customers.

A turning point came when his father sold the trash business to a corporate buyer. C.J. became an employee, working as a manager for the new company. Before long, he realized the new company and new role weren’t right for him. Work had ceased to be fun.

“I had to make a decision: grow my medical waste company or sell it for close to nothing,” recalls C.J.  “It was the only thing left of our business that I could call mine. It felt wrong to give up on the medical waste project when I had never put my heart or my personal touch into it.”

C.J. began building his own business part-time, while still working for his corporate employer.

An even more unexpected change occurred: his mother left his father after 30 years of marriage and filed for divorce. Emotionally this would be a devastating blow for a young man who greatly admired his father. It also meant the family wealth would be tied up for years.

By this time, C.J. had married a lovely young woman named Michele. They had an infant daughter named Angelina. The new medical waste business wasn’t making any money. His corporate employer asked him to sign a non-compete agreement, forcing C.J. to play his hand. His lawyer told him not to sign. No matter what they gave in return, no matter how much they paid him, they could fire him at any time, and C.J. would be left without a means to make a living.

A Rock Star is Born

From left: C.J.'s daughter Angelina and his wife Michele.

From left: C.J.’s daughter Angelina and his wife Michele.

C.J. began selling full time for his own medical waste business: visiting medical practices and trying to convince the office manager to let him service their account. Before long, C.J. realized he was on to something good.

“I loved going to work every day, I loved knocking on doors and going into doctor’s offices, talking to the office manager, and convincing her I could dispose of their medical waste for a lower cost.

” ‘C’mon,’ I would say. ‘I am a young guy. I just got married. I have a new daughter. I’m not a salesman. I am the business owner. Give me a shot.’ I wouldn’t leave until the office manager said ‘yes.’ ”

Two years after his parents separated, C.J.’s father developed the cancer that would eventually end his life.

“Looking back,” says C.J., “This was my time of transition from being a dedicated son, and constantly looking for dad’s approval, to realizing that I now had a wife and a new baby. Did I want be his superhero or their superhero? It killed me emotionally but it drove me.”

This then was the crucible that made C.J. Santangelo a rock star.

Reflections from the Skippack Blogger

One observation about C.J.: His rock-and-roll self-confidence doesn’t block out his vision into the hearts and minds of others. I see this in his charitable endeavors and in our personal interactions, as our friendship develops.

In comparison, my world often seems filled with people focused tightly on their own achievements, their hearts rarely able to stretch beyond an invisible border defined by their families and their suburban homes. In the corporate world, where I eke out my living, everyone is guarded. C.J. wears his heart on his sleeve, literally in the form of a tattoo and figuratively: Once he accepts you as his friend, there’s no holding back.

An odd thought occurs to me. If I had a friend like C.J. when I was growing up, would I have learned from him? Would I have learned how to live with self-confidence, believe in myself, find a way of living that was true to who I was?

Or did I have to wait until I paid the price for not believing in myself?

C.J. would have no patience with this type of question. He would put his arm around my shoulders and say, “You got me now. So chin up, chest out champ.”

And so I end with this thought:

A rock star is an awesome being. The rock star’s insistence on living life on his own terms reminds us to believe in ourselves and pursue our own destiny.

For more info about C.J.’s band and his business:

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Seeking Serenity, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/18/day-spa-body-serene-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/02/18/day-spa-body-serene-skippack/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:09:41 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=9094 I Love Skippack |

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Of all the prizes that we humans seek in our journey on this planet -- wealth, fame, happiness, power -- none seems quite as desirable as serenity, or as difficult to obtain. Call it what you will, serenity, calm, inner peace: it seems to reside with the stars in heaven, but is less likely found in our homes, offices, automobiles, or daily lives.

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I Love Skippack |

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

The Body Serene Day Spa in winter.

The Body Serene Day Spa in winter.

The Body Serene is located in Skippack Village at 4007 Skippack Pike. Phone 610-584-7284.

Of all the prizes that we humans seek in our journey on this planet — wealth, fame, happiness, power — none seems quite as desirable as serenity, or as difficult to obtain. Call it what you will, serenity, calm, inner peace: it seems to reside with the stars in heaven, but is less likely found in our homes, offices, automobiles, or daily lives.

Always there is the unpaid bill, the pile of laundry, the stack of papers, the unwashed dish, the unfinished assignment. These are the more benign stressors we face. A crisis at home or work — sickness, layoff, debt, anger, separation, accusations, conflict — and we are knocked far off the path to serenity. And it is not always easy to find our way back.

A view inside The Body Serene.

A view inside The Body Serene.

The Temporary Escape

Fortunately, there are businesses and people dedicated to enabling us to escape at least temporarily this crazy world and grasp a moment of peace. For example, Skippack is home to a day spa named The Body Serene. The name implies both physical pleasure and mental repose. A state of being as much as a service.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the long winter was beginning to weigh too heavily on Mrs. Skippack Blogger and me. We faced another gray, cold Sunday afternoon. How could we brighten the day? I decided to treat Mrs. Skippack to a visit to The Body Serene, located in beautiful historic Skippack village.

Upon entering. Mrs. Blogger and I were greeted with a warm welcome by the friendly staff, offered a seat on a comfortable couch, along with a cup of tea and a light snack. The stress of daily living began to peel away.

The before picture: Mrs. Skippack Blogger before her makeover.

The before picture: Mrs. Skippack Blogger before her makeover.

Creating a Special Look

The Body Serene offers nail and skin care, massage therapy, cosmetics, waxing, a variety of special packages, and spa services for men. Debby chose a cosmetic application and lesson.

Her appointment was with Jennifer, an experienced and talented aesthetician. Jennifer used mineral-based Jane Iredale makeup to create Debby’s special look. This high quality line of makeup is suited for every type of skin including acne-prone, allergic, and sensitive skin types. Jennifer explained the application techniques step by step.

At the end of the session, Debby smiled from ear to ear, radiating happiness and looking beautiful. Her session at the Body Serene supplied the lift needed on a gray day in this long winter. It wasn’t hurried, wasn’t rushed, and not a mass produced event, but a special, personally-created moment in time.

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

After: A radiant Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Lessons Learned

“Why wait to be in a wedding or an invitation to a party to create that dazzling look,” Debby said to me as we gathered our belongings to leave, “when any ordinary day can be made special?”

Beauty comes from within. When you feel happy, you are beautiful. That is the secret of customer service at the Body Serene.

And what did the Skippack Blogger learn from the experience?

Mostly, I observed and took photographs. I was struck by the attentiveness of the staff and their commitment, not only to providing excellent service, but to creating an environment that lived up to the name of the establishment; an environment of serenity. I thought: Perhaps I can learn from their example; focus less on seeking serenity for myself, and more on giving serenity to others.

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A Table for Two, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/01/21/euro-delights-bakery-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2014/01/21/euro-delights-bakery-skippack/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 13:30:22 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8907 I Love Skippack |

Euro Delights

One of my favorite places in Skippack is a small table for two by the window at Euro Delights, a wonderful new bakery café in the heart of Skippack Village. I am sitting here now watching the rain fall from the window that looks out onto Skippack’s main street. Why a table for two? A table [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Euro Delights

Euro Delights Window

Looking out the window of my table for two at Euro Delghts

Euro Delights LLC, located at 4034 Skippack Pike, offers baked goods and more, made on premises from fresh ingredients daily. By special arrangement, Euro Delights serves intimate dinners for small and larger parties, where you and your guest or guests can enjoy a private, gourmet meal with an outrageously delicious dessert. Call 610-306-2224 for more information.

One of my favorite places in Skippack is a small table for two by the window at Euro Delights, a wonderful new bakery café in the heart of Skippack Village. I am sitting here now watching the rain fall from the window that looks out onto Skippack’s main street.

Why a table for two?

A table for one is a sad affair. “Dinner for one, please” is a lonely request. But a table for two is the beginning of human interaction, the beginning of hope, the beginning of friendship, the beginning of happiness. There are in this world grander tables by far, feasts where hundreds are seated and wine and delicacies flow like a river after a rainstorm; these tables I will never know, their grandeur is not for me in this lifetime. But I have known the happiness of a table for two.

To reach my table for two, I walk in the front door and turn left. In my line of sight as I enter is the display case. My eyes take in all the sensory delights — tiramisu, chocolate mocha ganache tortes, cannolis, cheesecake, German apple pie, cream puffs, Black Forest tortes, good ol’ American cupcakes and more — all baked fresh from basic ingredients. The menu features brunch or lunch, fantastic coffee and the delights from the display window.

Joe, about the time when Euro Delights was preparing to open in Skippack

Joe, about the time when Euro Delights was preparing to open in Skippack

I remember last year when I first saw the banner announcing the impending arrival of Euro Delights in Skippack. I received an email from the co-owner Joe and met him soon after while taking a walk down Skippack Pike with Mrs. Skippack Blogger.

Joe spent most of his conversation praising the culinary skills of his partner Anette, the executive to chef getting ready to run the kitchen at 4034 Skippack Pike. I got to know Joe first, working with him to announce the opening of Euro Delights on the I Love Skippack Facebook page.

“Wait until you taste her baking,” Joe must have said to me a hundred times.

Born in Finland and raised in Germany, Anette learned to bake watching her mom and worked in the kitchen of a five star restaurant. When she came to the United States, she pursued a career in retail management, ran a catering business on the side, and waited for the opportunity to open her own bakery café .

Anette is interested in all styles of cooking, which gives Euro Delights an international flair and an atmosphere of spontaneity, and gives the customer an amazing variety of food options considering its cozy scale.

Since opening, Euro Delights has only gotten better. Seasonal menus are being introduced, with new salads, soups and sandwiches offered according to the time of year. Thankfully, Euro Delights is now offering lattes, cappuccinos and iced coffee, providing the coffee shop environment Skippack has needed for years. I have been a fan since I came for a Skippack Sunday brunch and ordered the Finnish crepes.

Sweet temptation: Anette, with some recently cupcakes.

Sweet temptation: Anette, with some recently baked cupcakes.

The Magic Ingredient

As the Skippack Blogger, I am challenged to articulate the magic ingredient that makes our town special, that will convince someone to pull into a parking lot here rather than the massive lots beckoning from the King of Prussia and Philadelphia Outlet Malls. Right now, I best describe this magic ingredient as personal intimacy. Personal intimacy is often the missing ingredient in mass marketed comforts and experiences, but you can find it in Skippack, if you stick around long enough, in places like Euro Delights.

Speaking of magic, seven years ago, Mrs. Skippack Blogger took a chance and married me. Now it was to time celebrate the occasion, or seventh wedding anniversary. But how?

We could make a reservation at the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia, or go to the Plaza in New York or some other chic, fancy joint, but it didn’t seem right, neither for the path that the two of us are walking together in this life nor for what the occasion demanded; a sense of personal intimacy.

Then Anette and Joe made an offer; try an intimate dining experience at Euro Delights.  We decided to take them up on it. They closed the restaurant to all but Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger. Anette made a delicious dinner just for us and we were served graciously by a lovely young woman named Reva, in the beautiful café with the orange tablecloths and the walls painted an orange faux marble, at our table for two.

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger enjoying our table for two at Euro Delights on our seventh wedding anniversary.

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger enjoying our table for two at Euro Delights on our seventh wedding anniversary.

Debby and I reminisced about our time together and worked on building a dream or two for the future. The evening ended with an outrageously delicious tray of desserts: New York style cheesecake, Mocha Cake, and heart-shaped chocolate whoopee pies filled with chocolate mousse.

Now sitting here, looking out the window at Skippack, on a rainy winter day, my blog posts ends, oddly enough, with a prayer, a grace after meals if you will:

May all the lost souls in this world come to know the happiness of a table for two.

Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde wrote "I can resist everything except temptation." He might have been thinking of this chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Euro Delights in Skippack.

Victorian playwright Oscar Wilde wrote “I can resist everything except temptation.” He might have been thinking of this chocolate peanut butter cupcake from Euro Delights in Skippack.

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Guide to Beer Fest in Skippack Village http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/24/guide-to-the-skippack-beer-festival/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/24/guide-to-the-skippack-beer-festival/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:12:35 +0000 Joseph Mitsch http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8838 I Love Skippack |

Guest Blogger and friend promote beer fest in Skippack.

You’re Invited: Sample quality beers and spend time alongside quality people in an amazing village. The Skippack Beer Fest is a fresh, fun opportunity to enjoy Skippack’s scenic spots and casual, upbeat village vibe. More than 50 breweries will serve beer, most pouring for beer fest attendees on the patios of well-established Skippack restaurants. The [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Guest Blogger and friend promote beer fest in Skippack.

skippack-beer-fest-197x300

The First Annual Skippack Beer Fest will take place Sunday, October 27 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Ticket price is $45. This price includes a wristband and tasting cup with unlimited pours for the duration of the event. Purchase tickets here or on location the day of the event.

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Joseph Mitsch is the general manager of the Brasserie 73 and the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

You’re Invited: Sample quality beers and spend time alongside quality people in an amazing village. The Skippack Beer Fest is a fresh, fun opportunity to enjoy Skippack’s scenic spots and casual, upbeat village vibe.

More than 50 breweries will serve beer, most pouring for beer fest attendees on the patios of well-established Skippack restaurants. The event provides ample time for you to sample beers throughout town as well as taste delicacies from Skippack kitchens.

This beer festival will feature fantastic food, live music in two different locations (swing, blues, and rock), a great place to watch the Eagles on TV, and the friendly atmosphere of a very special small town.

Good people + good brews + great small town = Skippack Beer Fest

Good people + good brews + great small town = Skippack Beer Fest

Registration and Day-of-Event Ticket Sales

Registration and day-of-event ticket sales will be located in the outdoor area between Euro Delights  Bakery & Cafe (4034 Skippack Pike) and After 5 Gifts (4038 Skippack Pike).

Justin’s Carriage House

Swing into it: Starting on the back patio at Justin’s Carriage house, you will enjoy great swing music from the group A Swinging Affair and great blues covers from Tuesday’s Blues. Beers to be poured include favorites like Founder’s “Breakfast Stout” and Free Will’s “Oktoberfest” alongside Full Pint’s “Night of the living stout,” Boak’s “Two Blind Monks,” and Cricket Hill’s “Hopnotic.”

Brasserie 73 and Roadhouse Grille

A block away and across the street you will find the next beer fest location, Brasserie 73. The terrace patio, located in the heart of Skippack’s beautiful main street, will accommodate local breweries, such as Prism Brewing, Evil Genius, Boxcar, and Manayunk Brew Pub. Go inside Brasserie’s adjoining restaurant, the Roadhouse Grille, to watch the Eagles vs. Giants game on the large screen television and sample home brew beers.

Hotel Fiesole

This European-style hotel is the elegant but warm and welcoming heart of Skippack. Dogfish Head beer will be poured at Hotel Fiesole’s casual downstairs restaurant, the Bella Rossa. Beers from big name breweries like Weyerbacher and Stone will be served on the outside patio. Grab some beer then head inside to sample some appetizers from their brand new fall menu.

I like a "Skippack Vibe" with my beer

I like a “Skippack Vibe” with my beer

Basta Pasta

This Italian gem of a restaurant features a wrap around patio leading to Skippack’s lively outdoor Cabana Bar. Examples of beers you will find here include Troegs, Long Trail, and Anchor’s “California Lager.” Enjoy your beer while rocking out to music played by Dragonfly followed by The Flathead Band.

Parc Bistro

Parc Bistro offers an eclectic fine dining mix — French, country, Italian — in the cozy, charming atmosphere of a refurbished 19th century roadside inn. Two tents will be set up in the courtyard patio between the Parc Bistro and the barn that serves as a banquet hall. Quality brews that will be served at this location include Fegley’s, Left Hand, Flying Dog, and Southern Tier.

Enjoying the patio in the courtyard at the Parc Bistro

Enjoying the patio in the courtyard at the Parc Bistro

Stop to Shop

The Wooden Duck will host a reception with food and music to introduce everyone to the special experience of shopping in Skippack. All of Skippack’s shops are mom and pops (no corporate retail ownership) and each one is a unique and worthwhile shopping experience. For a sampling of our eclectic mix of shops, considering visiting New Wave Comics, the Southwest Trading post, and Miss Riddle’s Candy Shop, all of whom have been invaluable in supporting our beer fest.

And remember, on October 27, Skippack Village Becomes a Beer Garden.

Skippack Beer Fest Beer Guide

Note: name of the brewery is in italic type.

Parc Bistro

Saucony Creek: Captain Pumpkin’s Maple Mistress, Sessions IPA. Fegley’s: Rude Elf , Dopplebock Bourbon. Doylestown: Union St. IPA, 300 Amber. Smuttynose: Big “A” IPA, Homunculus Golden Ale. Left Hand: Ambidextrous #4, Wake Up Dead Imperial. Bell’s: Two Hearted Ale, Oarsman. Flying Dog: Gonzo Porter, Double Dog. Southern Tier: 2011 Back Burner, Unearthy IPA, Pumpking. Terrapin: Oak Aged Hoppy, Maggie’s Saison.

Hotel Fiesole

Weyerbacher: Winter Ale. Yunegling: Oktoberfest. Dogfish Head: Punkin, other beers to be determined. Stone: Ruination, Levitation. Old Dominion: Oak Barrel Stout, Double D. Heavy Seas: Small Craft. Lagunita’s: IPA. Hacker Pschorr: Oktoberfest. Spring House: Beer still to be determined. Firestone: Double Jack. Sam Adams: Oktoberfest. Great Lakes: Beer still to be determined.

Justin’s Carriage House

Boaks: Two Blind Monks, Double B W. Breckenridge: Vanilla Porter, Agave Wheat. Climax: Helles, Oktoberfest. Cricket Hill: East Coast Lager, Hopnotic IPA. Founders: All Day IPA, Breakfast Stout. Free Will: HopGeek, Oktoberfest. Full Pint: Chinookie IPA, Night of the Living Stout. Shawnee Craft: Session Porter, Pumpkin Saison. Tommy Knocker: Beer still to be determined.

Brasserie 73

Susquehanna: Hop 5, Golden Cold. Prism: Red Zone, Bitto Honey. Boxcar: Amber, Pumpkin. East Coast: Pilsner, Winter Rental. Starr Hill: Psycho Kilter, Saison. Evolution: Lot 3, Lucky 7. St. Killians: Kronenbourg Blanc, Grimbergen Double. Evil Genius: Forsaken. Manayunk: IPA, Session.

Basta Pasta

Troegs: Dremweaver, Javahead Stout. CraftBrew: Kona Wailua Ale, Redhook ESB. Long Trail: Imperial Pumpkin, Blackberry Wheat. Shock Top: Shandy, Pumpkin. McKenzie: Black Cherry Cider. Anchor: California Lager. Sierra Nevada: Celebration, Flip Side. New Holland: Mad Hatter, Dragon’s Milk. Lancaster: Winter Warmer, Oktoberfest.

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Rediscovering Rock, in Skippack http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/21/rediscovering-rock-in-skippack/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/10/21/rediscovering-rock-in-skippack/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:45:39 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8794 I Love Skippack |

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

When the Skippack Blogger was growing up in the suburbs, teenage boys listened to classic rock. Back then, we would never have called our rock “classic.” We called it hard rock, album rock, FM Rock or just plain rock. Alt Rock didn’t exist yet. I remember my excitement whenever I purchased a 33 rpm vinyl [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

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Catherine Offner, a classically-trained pianist, teacher, entrepreneur, Skippack business owner, keyboard player in a rock band, wife, mom, and a lovely young woman.

Catherine’s Music Studio, located on the 2nd floor at 4079 Skippack Pike, offers lessons in piano, voice, guitar, bass, ukelele, drums, violin, viola, fiddle and more. Lessons are tailored to the needs and learning styles of individual students. Contact piano instructor and owner Catherine Offner at 267-446-5886 or by email catoffner@me.com. For more info, visit the Catherine’s Music Studio website.

Catherine is also a member of Sheetrock, a classic and modern rock cover band. For more info, visit the band’s Facebook page.

When the Skippack Blogger was growing up in the suburbs, teenage boys listened to classic rock. Back then, we would never have called our rock “classic.” We called it hard rock, album rock, FM Rock or just plain rock. Alt Rock didn’t exist yet.

I remember my excitement whenever I purchased a 33 rpm vinyl rock album: Gazing at surrealistic cover art. Trying to avoid scratches. Reading liner notes with the intensity of a monk studying an ancient text.

I listened in as my older brother and his friends discussed the merits of musicians and groups: Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Cream, the Who, the Doors, Yes, the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Santana, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Bruce Springsteen, and other legends of rock. I took the opinions expressed by my brother and his friends seriously. Like them, I thumbed my nose at Top Ten and Bubble Gum music. I listened intently to wailing guitars and screaming vocals.

An image from my youth: I remember the cover's to vinyl rock album's, like this classic from Pink Floyd.

An image from my youth: I remember the covers to vinyl rock albums, like this classic from Pink Floyd.

Parting Company with Rock

All things tarnish with time. As years went by, I began to dislike the large crowds at stadium rock concerts; if I had a seat in the back, the rock star performing on stage looked small and remote. And the crowd and their antics began to seem silly. Rock, the music of rebellion against authority, I observed, was leading my peers down a path of conformity, submission to the tyranny of the crowd. I wanted to find my own way.

Rock and I began to part company. The soundtrack of my life began to be filled with mellower sounds, the softer but intricate flow of jazz. Soft music to which my parents would listen and which I would mock in my rock years suddenly started to sound damn good.

By the time I had entered college, rock had a serious challenger. Disco was in full force. Decades later I met a girl who grew up in New York at the height of the disco era. I married her. I thought the door to loud, blaring rock had closed forever.

The Rediscovery

The sign outside 4079 Skippack Pike: Catherine's Music Studio is on the second floor.

The sign outside 4079 Skippack Pike: Catherine’s Music Studio is on the second floor.

This is Skippack: If I stay attuned to the vibes that float through the air, there is always an adventure awaiting the Skippack Blogger.

Debby and I take walks in summer and fall evenings down our well-lit main street. We pass a two-story structure that looks like it was once a family’s home and is now home to two Skippack businesses. On the first floor is Good Golly Dolly, which sells vintage toys and antiques. I love this store, but that is another blog post for another time. Above it is Catherine’s Music Studio.

Some nights, we walk by and the lights upstairs are on. I may hear a sound from a wailing guitar, the familiar tune of a classic rock hit.

I know the owner of the music studio, Skippack music educator Catherine Offner. When she is not teaching kids the principles of harmony or finger positioning, she plays keyboards with a local classic rock cover band called Sheetrock. At night, the band rehearses inside her studio. I walk around the back, climb the stairs, sit on the leather sofa in her waiting room, and listen. I relax and get re-acquainted with rock.

Catherine with the other members of classic rock band Sheetrock.

Members of classic rock band Sheetrock. In the back, from left to right Sean Pinkerton, Kevin Higgins, Catherine Offner, Joe Korkus, Bart Reitter. In the front, Al Baumeister.

Something here enables me to enjoy the music especially well. There is no crowd, no smell of beer, no distractions. I can focus on the music. The sound is tight, loud, clean, rich at the bottom. Guitar riffs find there way to remote memory cells. I recall songs I haven’t listened to purposefully for years.

Each player brings a touch of individuality to create a rock group sound. Bass player Sean Pinkerton is steady, calm, and thoughtful. Rhythm guitar player Kevin Higgins seems laid back, content, comfortable in his own skin. Lead singer Al Baumeister brings it home, with vocal dynamics and exuberance that makes the party happen.

Here is a video of the band rehearsing:

There are 6 people in the band. The players have day jobs and are raising families. They fulfill their responsibilities by day and practice their passion by night.

“It brings me back to my youth,” explains the band’s drummer Joe Korkus. “I had stopped playing drums for about twenty years when these guys recruited me back. It’s a good way to break out of the normal, everyday routine and hang out with some good friends.”

Kevin Higgins, rhythm guitar

Kevin Higgins, rhythm guitar

Dads that Rock

Two band members have children taking lessons at Catherine’s Music Studio.

“Both my daughters take piano lessons here at the studio,” says rhythm guitar player Kevin Higgins. “They both really enjoy it. From a musical perspective, having a foundation in piano is the best way to start.”

“I wish I had picked up the guitar when I was younger,” adds lead guitar player Bart Reitter. “It’s such a passion for me now and so enjoyable. I want to expose my children to music lessons and give them the opportunity to get a solid musical foundation. I now realize how important this is.”

Reflections from the Skippack Blogger

Al "Boo" Baumeister, lead vocals

Al “Boo” Baumeister, lead vocals

I can relate to the guys in Sheetrock; like them, I pursue my passion at night, writing for my websites, while working during the day to earn a living. Listening to them play classic rock songs, so familiar from days long past, helps me to recall the young Skippack Blogger, at 16, 18, into my twenties; the youthful self that still exists inside this middle aged shell.

Rock music stokes the fire inside of me: it touches upon the force that keeps me going as decades steal upon me. The members of Sheetrock seem to draw upon that same youthful energy and channel it through electric guitars, drums, keyboards, and a voice mike.

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Bart Reitter, lead guitar; Joe Korkus, drums

The child is the father of the man wrote the great English poet William Wordsworth. The fire of adolescence and teenage years must drive us through decades of work and responsibility, and ignite our pastimes.

The Skippack Blogger’s Rock Motto: Keep the goofy young dude underneath the mask of adulthood alive for as long as you can. If he dies, it’s time for the retirement home, and then the long, dreamless sleep. And how to keep him alive? Feed him: feed him a diet of classic rock.

The lady on the keyboards: Catherine Offner is the teacher, the reassuring presence, my knowing and gentle guide back to the world of rock. Soft-spoken, articulate, trained in classical piano, a strong proponent of music education; Catherine knows much more about music than I ever will. If she finds value in rock music, then there must be more for me to learn as well.

Sean Pinkerton, bass guitar

Sean Pinkerton, bass guitar

Skippack’s Classic Rock Band

Facts about Sheetrock (the band, not the drywall material):
• Four band members live in Skippack.
• One band member is a Skippack business owner.
• Rehearsal takes place inside a Skippack business.
• One of the band’s first public gigs was at Skippack Days.

Add all this together and it makes Sheetrock a strong contender for the title of Skippack’s classic Rock band. I look forward to their next appearance at a First Friday or another one of Skippack’s other festivals. I want to see if I can lose myself in a crowd of people listening to hard rock (I won’t call it classic), like I did when I was a kid.

Lord help the Skippack Blogger. I am the middle aged fan of a rock group.

Catherine Offner,  owner and teacher at Catherine's Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

Catherine Offner, owner and teacher at Catherine’s Music Studio in Skippack, performing at the Water Tower in Oaks, PA.

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Riding for the Honor and Memory of a Young Life Cut Short http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/18/riding-for-the-honor-and-memory-of-a-young-life-cut-short/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/18/riding-for-the-honor-and-memory-of-a-young-life-cut-short/#comments Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:04:13 +0000 C.J. Santangelo http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8730 I Love Skippack |

Julianne Sillar

I had grown up working with my father in the sanitation industry. As a teenager, I would go into Center City, Philadelphia, at 4:30 am. Driving down alleyways, I would see people getting arrested and doing drugs. I remember watching as thieves ran from police. I moved to Skippack because of the safety of the [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Julianne Sillar

C.J. Santangelo is a business owner, Skippack resident. husband, father, and lead singer of the band Hot Sauce Junkies.

C.J. Santangelo is a business owner, Skippack resident. husband, father, and lead singer of the band Hot Sauce Junkies.

Sunday, September 22: Special Memorial Event for a Beloved Young Woman

Memorial Motorcycle Run for Julianne Siller; cars and trucks welcome, too

Meeting at noon at Trappe Tavern, motorcycle procession begins at 1:00 pm.

Procession follows a course that leads to Reed’s Blue Bell (re-opens for business on the same day) for food  by Matthew Dutton of Dutt’s BBQ, great music by the Hot Sauce Junkies (the lead singer is the author of this blog post), Chuck Colletti, and Starlite Entertainment DJs.

At about 1:30 or 1:45 pm, participants will proceed down the main street of Skippack Village (Route 73) including 10 fire trucks, John Deer tractors, police escort, and hundreds of bikes. Residents, Skippack business owners, and visitors: Please salute Julianne and our community as we ride by.

All donations will go towards establishing a bench and patio area and memorial along the Skippack/Perkiomen trail where Julianne’s friends and family can come and see that our community will never forget their daughter, sister, and friend.

Check out our Event page on Facebook and our Memorial Page for Julianne Siller on Facebook 

I plan to ride this bike in the memorial run for Julianne. I painted the frame purple because it was Julianne's favorite color.

I plan to ride this bike in the memorial run for Julianne. I painted the frame purple because it was Julianne’s favorite color.

I had grown up working with my father in the sanitation industry. As a teenager, I would go into Center City, Philadelphia, at 4:30 am. Driving down alleyways, I would see people getting arrested and doing drugs. I remember watching as thieves ran from police.

I moved to Skippack because of the safety of the area and strong community feeling. I was proud to raise my family in a town where the things I witnessed in Philadelphia didn’t happen: Not here, not in beautiful Skippack.

Then it happened. Here, in Skippack. A crime more savage and brutal than anything I witnessed in the worst neighborhood in Philadelphia.

A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

On the evening of Saturday, May 25, Memorial Day weekend, Julianne Siller was stabbed multiple times, leading to her death, along the Skippack Trail, adjacent to Palmer Park. She was 16 years old, the same age as my daughter Angelina, whom I adore beyond words. I had often taken my kids to walk and ride bicycles on the trail where Julianne was murdered.

During that memorial day weekend, after I heard the news, I would look at my daughter and my niece Niki, and their friends Sammy, Katlyn, and Nataly; so full of life, laughing, swimming, and playing volleyball. All I could think was two parents had the exact same joyful vision stolen from them for no reason. No reason that made sense. I went back to jog on the Skippack trail and saw the caution tape, the blood, the pictures, photos, and kids crying: it rocked me to the core.

That this happened in Skippack mattered to me. The more questions I asked, the more upset I became. The more I felt I had to do something.

Who Was Julianne Siller?

Julianne went to Spring Ford High School. She was a good student and had received a partial scholarship to Penn State. She worked two jobs to save up for college and a car. Her family tells me she was a wonderful daughter and sister. Family and friends say she had no drug or alcohol issues.

Julianne Sillar

Julianne Siller: May her memory be a blessing to her friends and family.

The young man who is charged with Julianne’s murder went to Perkiomen Valley High School and sat next to my daughter in one of his classes. Julianne met him through social media and hadn’t known him long. Once she realized he had major problems with depression and drugs, she tried to stay away from him.

According to people who knew Julianne, this young man continually threatened her and her friends. Shortly before the night of the murder, he had broken down and told Julianne he needed help. According to many of Julianne’s closest friends, she went to see him to try to keep him from harming himself. Her own kindness was used against her. As a father and a man, that rips me apart. I teach my kids to help others at every possible opportunity. What do I teach them now?

All the media has reported and all the public knows is what the alleged killer told police: Julianne was his girlfriend and they were arguing at the time of her death. Her friends and family don’t want this statement to be the last word on Julianne’s life. The reputation of their daughter, sister, and friend to the world at large should not be founded upon the words of the young man accused of her murder. It is not an accurate reflection of the sweet, hard-working, and family-minded girl they remember.

What Can We Do as a Community?

With so many young people connecting by social media, we need to provide better education to our children about the warning signs of dangerously irrational and violent behavior. We need to teach them how to distinguish between appropriate expression of emotions and signs an individual is losing control. We need to help them recognize situations that must be reported to a trusted authority; parents, teachers, school counselors or police, and to call 911 when confronted with a situation beyond their capabilities.

At home in Skippack with my son Sebastian

At home in Skippack with my son Sebastian: children need a safe place to grow.

We need to communicate to state legislators the importance of educating our children to the risks and warning signs of interpersonal violence. Not just younger children, but teenagers as well: They are at a vulnerable time in their lives; exploring their independence, coming to terms with their emotions, and seeking more grown-up relationships, but often lacking real-life experience and unprepared to make rational decisions, even when their safety is at stake. The emergence of social media has given them the freedom to interact with others in ways never before possible: it offers the potential for healthy friendships and great learning experiences, but also has added deadly new risks to the challenge of growing up.

God Bless Julianne’s parents, Gary and Jennifer Siller, and her brothers Dennis and Austin. I promised Gary as I shook his hand that Julianne will not be forgotten, her life will be discussed, and she will save lives in the future.

My Letter to a Special Girl

Dear Julianne: This motorcycle ride and this special day is for you. You will never be forgotten. I love you. From C.J.

Comments from the Skippack Blogger

Allow me to thank C.J. Santangelo and the participants in the Memorial Motorcycle Run for helping me become aware of the significance of this event. I believe everyone who loves Skippack should support the memorial events for Julianne on Sunday, September 22, however you can.

If an innocent young woman is murdered in our town and there is no outcry, then we are no different than Chicago, Detroit, LA or any other place where people have become hardened and accustomed to senseless acts of violence. We will have lost an important aspect of what makes Skippack special. September 22 is a day to show the world Skippack is a community of neighbors who care about one another.

May we soon see the day when senseless acts of violence are replaced by acts of love and kindness; in Skippack, in the United States, and all over the world. May we see it in our lifetime.

Rest in peace, sweet child. Peace.

Performing with my band the Hot Sauce Junkies during 4th of July celebrations in Skippack.

C.J. Santangelo performing with his band the Hot Sauce Junkies during 4th of July celebrations at Palmer Park in Skippack. To his right is guitarist Scott Logan. Photo by the Skippack Blogger. We love Skippack.

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Cabaret: When Neighbors Need Us, It’s Time to Sing http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/12/cabaret-playcrafters-skippack-broadway-alicia-landis/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/12/cabaret-playcrafters-skippack-broadway-alicia-landis/#comments Thu, 12 Sep 2013 16:31:41 +0000 Alicia Landis http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8676 I Love Skippack |

I love it here: Alicia Landis in Skippack

Life gives us all challenges, but hopefully none so harsh as the challenge now faced by Moyer family of Pennsburg, PA. Rachel Moyer, age 9, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in March. Rachel now spends most of her time in the hospital. Her parents are continually visiting as well as struggling to pay medical [...]

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I Love Skippack |

I love it here: Alicia Landis in Skippack

Special Performance: Broadway Though the Years, a cabaret to benefit 9 year-old Rachel Moyer, diagnosed with acute leukemia, and her family

When: Sunday, September 15, 7 pm

Where: Playcrafters of Skippack, 2011 Store Road

Tickets: $10. Tickets can be purchased at the door; cash or checks accepted. Additional donations are greatly appreciated.

Cast members: Aimee Miller, Alicia Landis, Amanda Geronikos, Brett Kahn, Michael Zweig, Mike Scibilia, Sam Frenkel, Tressa Scibilia, and Sean Burns

Alicia Landis

Alicia Landis

Life gives us all challenges, but hopefully none so harsh as the challenge now faced by Moyer family of Pennsburg, PA. Rachel Moyer, age 9, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in March.

Rachel now spends most of her time in the hospital. Her parents are continually visiting as well as struggling to pay medical bills. Rachel has five brothers and sisters who must learn to cope with dramatic changes in their routine and family life.

Things happen, even in our own community, for which words seem no longer adequate. When words fail us, it is time to take action.

From the Golf Course to Broadway

I work for Keller Williams Real Estate in Montgomeryville, PA. Every year, my company hosts a golf outing to support the Make a Wish foundation. This year, however, Dan Smith, one of the owners of Keller Williams in Montgomeryville, came up with the idea using the annual golf outing as an opportunity to raise funds for the Moyer family, whom we had first come to know as clients when they purchased their home. Dan’s idea won the support of our leadership committee.

Life is beautiful: Rachel Moyer, center, with her siblings.

Life is beautiful: Rachel Moyer, center, with her siblings.

I was pleased we were directing our efforts toward helping people in our own community. However, I felt limited in my ability to contribute, for the simple reason I don’t play golf.

I confess I’ve never even tried golf, but I suspect I would be awful. But were there other ways I could use my gifts and talents to help out?

The thought occurred to me that I could use my theatrical skills to help the Moyer family. Thus our cabaret, Broadway Though the Years, was born.

Theater is my passion. Around age 14, I started auditioning for shows and experienced the challenge and fun of performing on stage. Throughout high school and college, my interest and level of participation continued to grow. I started performing in community theater at Playcrafters of Skippack in their production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. For many years, Playcrafters of Skippack was the my home theater.

My brain began working in overdrive. I jumped on Facebook and messaged people I knew at Playcrafters of Skippack. The next thing I knew, I had secured the Barn Theater of Playcrafters as a venue for our cabaret. I started asking friends to help out. The response I received was overwhelming.

My experience reminded me how I am blessed by and continually in awe of the community in which we live. It is a beautiful to see people pull together and help out a family in need.

The Lights Go Down

I love it here: Alicia Landis in Skippack

I love it here: Alicia Landis in Skippack

Our cabaret will feature classic Broadway tunes from shows such as Guys and Dolls, Bye, Bye Birdie, Oklahoma and The Little Mermaid, which is better known as a Disney movie but has also been produced on Broadway. You’ll also hear some newer songs from more recent Broadway shows. There’ll be a 50/50 drawing (a type of raffle where the prize is divided between the winner and a charity), raffle baskets, and light refreshments.

So before I go on stage, let me consult my checklist. Do I have everything I need?

  • A fantastic show
  • An incredible cast
  • Raffle baskets
  • A wonderful piano player

 

Yep. Got ‘em all. Now all we need is you. Help us fill the theater and make this night a huge success for our community, for the great music of Broadway, so vital to American culture, and most of all for our neighbors: Rachel Moyer and her family. No business like show business.

Note from the Skippack Blogger: I saw Alicia last year at Playcrafters of Skippack in A Grand Night for Singing: The Music of Rogers and Hammerstein. I was impressed not only by her beautiful singing but also her ability to create the essence of a character from a Broadway show in just one song. Watch our video as an example. This is going to be a fantastic show. Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger plan to attend.

Local talent, the great American Broadway musical tradition, helping a child and her family: Doesn’t get much better.

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Skippack Beer Fest: Our Town Becomes a Beer Garden http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/09/first-skippack-beer-fest/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/09/first-skippack-beer-fest/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 05:00:59 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8626 I Love Skippack |

Joe Mitsch shows breweries which have signed up for the Skippack Beer Fest.

A New Event Requires Creative Genius With me tonight at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack are two worthy gentlemen: Brad DeForest, web designer, and social media consultant and my partner on this website and our latest project the new Best of Skippack Joe Mitsch, general manager at the Roadhouse Grille We are meeting to plan [...]

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I Love Skippack |

Joe Mitsch shows breweries which have signed up for the Skippack Beer Fest.

The Roadhouse Grille in Skippack

The Roadhouse Grille in Skippack: Where our story takes place

The First Annual Skippack Beer Fest will take place Sunday, October 27 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Ticket price is $45. This price includes a wristband and tasting cup with unlimited pours for the duration of the event. Purchase tickets here.

Click here for a guide to the Skippack Beer Fest.

kippack Beer Fest Brain Trust

The Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust: The Skippack Blogger in the Center: Joe to your left, Brad to your right

A New Event Requires Creative Genius

With me tonight at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack are two worthy gentlemen:

  • Brad DeForest, web designer, and social media consultant and my partner on this website and our latest project the new Best of Skippack
  • Joe Mitsch, general manager at the Roadhouse Grille

We are meeting to plan for a new Skippack event to be held on October 27, at the first annual Skippack Beer Fest, the latest to be added to an increasingly busy Skippack Calendar.

In honor of the event, Brad, Joe and I have officially formed a new civic organization, the Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust, whose mission is to conceive and implement creative and brilliant ways to help promote the Skippack Beer Fest on the I Love Skippack website and Facebook page.

Joe is showing us the variety of breweries which have already signed up to be represented at the Skippack Beer Fest: Yuengling, Dogfish Head, Manayunk Brewing Company, Evil Genius, Brooklyn Brewery, Prism Brewing Company (out of nearby North Wales), Thomas Creek, Avery Brewing, Fegley’s Brew Works, Doylestown Brewing Company, Stone, Smuttynose, Hofbräuhaus Munich, Heavy Seas, Flying Fish, and many more.

“Wow. You’ve got all those breweries signed up already. This is a serious deal,” observes Brad

Joe Mitsch shows breweries which have signed up for the Skippack Beer Fest.

Joe Mitsch proudly shows breweries which have signed up for the Skippack Beer Fest.

The word “serious” sends a signal to my brain cells that it’s time to get to the business of asking questions. I put down my glass of beer.

“Joe: Other nearby towns, like Lansdale and King of Prussia, also have a beer fest. What makes the Skippack Beer Fest unique?”

Question for Joe, member of Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust: Other nearby towns, like Lansdale and King of Prussia, also have a beer fest. What makes the Skippack Beer Fest unique?

“It’s half a mile long,” he answers.

“Well, how long are the others?” I ask, hoping I didn’t give away the fact that I have never actually been to a beer fest.

“Usually it’s just one big tent,” explains Brad.

“We’ll have multiple tents, starting around Justin’s Carriage House,” says Joe. “Tents will extend all the way to the Parc Bistro. Under each tent will be some of the brewers and some of the Skippack merchants. Vendors will be present as well.”

“There will be something for everyone,” Joe continues. “Beer drinkers can imbibe, shoppers can enjoy our great stores, and if you get hungry, stop in one of Skippack’s great restaurants. We’ll also have some great live bands.”

The Brain Trust Continues

“OK, so we’re going to have a beer fest that’s half a mile long and lets you enjoy the beautiful village of Skippack,” says Brad. “We gotta come up with a slogan that captures this idea.”

The Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust relaxes after debating a serious issue.

Teamwork: The Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust relaxes after resolving a challenging issue.

“How about this for a slogan,” I suggest, “The Skippack Beer Fest: Get Out from Under the Beer Tent.”

“I love it,” says Joe.

“Hey, I’ve got a couple more ideas,” says Brad, “How about this: ‘On October 27, Skippack Village becomes a beer garden.’”

“That’s great, we’ll use it.”

“Hey, says Brad, “I’ve got another one.” The dude is on a roll:

“Where would you rather enjoy a frosty brew: under a crowded tent or in a village garden?”

“Well,” I respond, “It’s a bit long, but we can work with it.”

“Man,” says Joe, “these are some great slogans. This is a great start.”

“Let’s toast to the Skippack Beer Fest Brain Trust,” I propose.

“Let’s toast to the Skippack Beer Fest,” answers Joe.

“Let’s toast to Skippack,” suggests Brad.

Here’s to Skippack, the town we love. And here’s to the joy of working on a new project with Brad and Joe. And here’s to friendship, which carries us through the work and routine of our lives. And to the beverage, made from malted cereal grain, flavored with hops, and brewed by slow fermentation, that we will celebrate in Skippack come October 27. On that day and everyday: May our small town always be just the right size to welcome guests and host our friends.

Click on the image below to access a Facebook post with an updated list of breweries which have signed up for the Skippack Beer Fest.

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First Friday in the Fall http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/03/first-friday-in-the-fall-september-october/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/09/03/first-friday-in-the-fall-september-october/#comments Tue, 03 Sep 2013 12:48:56 +0000 Myra Nethery http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8584 I Love Skippack |

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Myra Nethery has lived in the Skippack area for her entire life. She attends Perkiomen Valley High School and is nearing the end of her high school career. For her senior project, Myra is publishing her writing and videos on the I Love Skippack website. On First Friday, venders, performers, and spectators bring the main [...]

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I Love Skippack |

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Myra Nethery

Myra Nethery has lived in the Skippack area for her entire life. She attends Perkiomen Valley High School and is nearing the end of her high school career. For her senior project, Myra is publishing her writing and videos on the I Love Skippack website.

On First Friday, venders, performers, and spectators bring the main street of Skippack Village to life. I came to capture the event on video. When I arrived, it was a hot summer night with a high temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but that didn’t stop anyone from enjoying their Friday night. I began to walk down the streets with my camera in hand, watching the village start its monthly celebration.

Music on Every Corner

Poster advertising First Friday in Skippack

Poster advertising First Friday in Skippack

As I passed each street corner, I could hear a different musician singing and playing. A wide variety of musical styles such as blues, alternative, and current pop tunes filled the air. Some players appeared in their early teens; others were adults who had been playing for forty plus years. The varied sounds brought smiles to people passing by and to shoppers strolling in and out of stores.

In addition to musical entertainment, street performers showed a range of skills and tricks. First, I saw a juggler tossing plastic pins into the air. Next, I watched a clown perform silly but joyful tricks as he made balloon animals for young boys and girls. An Elvis impersonator serenaded his audience with catchy tunes as he showed off his best Elvis dance moves.

Several venders came to First Friday to promote unusual products and services. One man sold all-natural homemade honey. A caricature artist drew portraits of customers as they sat in a chair. One woman delicately painted beautiful henna tattoos onto the arms and legs of children and adults. Also, several adults and children crowded around an animal rescue exhibit and played with puppies available for adoption.

Lasting Impressions from my Home Town

Reviewing the footage I caught on my camera made me realize how unique the Skippack community really is. It is unbelievable how many talented people live within Skippack’s boundaries or come here to apply their skills and how much these people have to offer our community. First Friday made me realize that I live in a very special, unique area. I am proud to serve my community and I look forward to discovering what else Skippack has to offer.

First Friday was a fun, successful night with activities for all ages. A huge thank you goes out to Univest Bank for sponsoring and supporting First Fridays.

Now the summer has ended and I return to school. Two more First Fridays will be held September 6 and October 4, both starting at 5 pm and ending at 9 pm: two last opportunities to enjoy as Skippack Village comes alive. Hopefully, the weather will stay warm but without the intensity of the summer heat. I return to school with a better appreciation for the remarkable town in which I live.

The crowd enjoying the entertainment at a recent First Friday in Skippack.

The crowd enjoying the entertainment at a recent First Friday in Skippack.

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Waiter, Make Mine Jazz: Live Music at the Roadhouse Grille http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/08/06/live-jazz-music-skippack-roadhouse-grille/ http://www.iloveskippack.com/2013/08/06/live-jazz-music-skippack-roadhouse-grille/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 20:21:09 +0000 Michael Shaw http://www.iloveskippack.com/?p=8520 I Love Skippack |

I like jazz with my wine, at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

Roadhouse Grille, 4022 Skippack Pike, features live jazz Friday and Saturday nights from 6 pm to 9 pm. Performances are scheduled to continue through the end of summer into the fall. For information, phone 610-584-4231. When awareness of the hard work and compromise required to become a millionaire landed like a splash of cold water on [...]

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I Love Skippack |

I like jazz with my wine, at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

Jazz at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack Village

Jazz at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack Village

Roadhouse Grille, 4022 Skippack Pike, features live jazz Friday and Saturday nights from 6 pm to 9 pm. Performances are scheduled to continue through the end of summer into the fall. For information, phone 610-584-4231.

When awareness of the hard work and compromise required to become a millionaire landed like a splash of cold water on my dreams, I did the next best thing: move to Skippack. Here I can live like a millionaire without actually being one: the next best thing or is it the better thing?

And when do I feel most like a millionaire in Skippack?

This summer the answer has to be Saturday nights, when Mrs. Skippack Blogger puts on a fine outfit and we walk together for dinner and live jazz on the patio of the Roadside Grille or its neighbor eatery, Brasserie 73.

The Journey Begins

Walking towards our destination, we are welcomed by many. First, we are welcomed by the village itself. “Don’t worry,” the trees, charming buildings, and cheerful street signs seem to say to us, “the world will stay a beautiful place this evening.”

Photo of Joe Mitsch, general manager at the Roadhouse Grille

Joe Mitsch, general manager at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

When we arrive, a beautiful young woman whose name is Amber greets us with a smile that says, “hey, I recognize you,” and shows of to our table. What is more priceless than a smile?

Where’s Joe?

I look around, hoping to see Joe Mitsch, the general manager. An energetic and personable young man, Joe is working hard to make an evening at the Roadhouse a special experience for his customers. It seems that behind all our modern day enchantments is a young, ambitious man or woman, who labors with spreadsheets, cell phone and computer.

Joe appears and stops by our table to talk of events in the village and of plans, hopes, and dreams. Joe, you know how to make a small town blogger feel like a VIP.

Music, Maestro Please

But the icing on my Skippack cake is few feet from our table; a trio of jazz musicians who are playing a light but rhythmic version of a familiar tune; perhaps Autumn Leaves or The Girl from Ipanema.

Couple at table listening to jazz at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

Mr. and Mrs. Skippack Blogger listening to jazz this summer at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

The music elevates our experience from the commonplace indulgences of working affluence to the sublime pleasures of true wealth; for how can you put a price tag on all the ingredients that create this magic, from the thoughtfully-crafted compositions to the hours of practice demanded of the players to make it seem so smooth and effortless. It’s been a while now since we’ve heard jazz in Skippack and the Roadhouse has it this summer, every Friday and Saturday night.

The leader the trio is the drummer, Rich Santucci, a guy with a shaved head and expressive face, who keeps four separate rhythms in his arms and legs. Rich is 100% musician, master of his craft and servant of anyone willing to listen. He integrates funk, reggae, bossa nova, samba, and afro-cuban styles as well as jazz in the beats he plays with sticks or brushes. Rich brings a variety of musicians to fill out his trio, assuring that the sound is fresh from one evening to the next.

Rich knows Debby and I like jazz standards, so he plays them. There is no singer, but the tunes are familiar through many years of listening to recordings. The lyrics, the poetry of Tin Pan Alley, float through synapses in my brain cells, reviving memories and dreams. I take hold of Mrs. Skippack Blogger’s hand.

Hide your heart from sight
Lock your dreams at night
It could happen to you
Don’t count stars
Or you might stumble
Someone drops a sigh
And down you tumble

(It Could Happen to You, lyrics by Johnny Burke)

Trouble in the Lowlands

Rich Santucci playing at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

Rich Santucci playing at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

Rich Santucci went to high school in Lansdale. He lived in Denver, where he played once in the Red Rocks Amphitheater. By 2005, gigs started drying up. Rich took a Greyhound Bus to New Orleans. He was living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck. After Katrina, he returned to Philadelphia, landing his gig in Skippack when discovered playing at an area restaurant by Roadhouse owner Mark Ho Hyon.

Rich likes to tell the story of being in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and watching people’s possessions float away in the rushing water. Perhaps one day too this paradise I have found in Skippack will float away, and I’ll wake up somewhere else. I’ll open my eyes, look out my window, and see some ordinary suburb with rows of cookie cutter homes built around a post-modern shopping mall. But in the meantime I’ll take the sophisticated pleasures of our remarkable village.

“Michael, pay attention!” Ah, it’s the voice of Mrs. Skippack Blogger, waking me out of my reverie. Our server, a gracious young gentleman, is waiting patiently for me to order. What else can I say?

“Waiter, make mine jazz.”

I like jazz with my wine, at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

I like jazz with my wine, at the Roadhouse Grille in Skippack.

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