Jake Frysinger Tackles St. Ambrose Cellars

One of the great benefits of our little corner of paradise – beyond the sprawling lake shore, dune forests, fertile farmland, and stunning beauty – is that the elements attract seekers and makers. Our talented artisans and performers draw inspiration from the seasons, and from a life that is not spent waiting in traffic or thwarted by concrete and steel. This allows for an easy connection to the grounding energy from land and lakes, and for some, a way to make a living expressing their creativity.

Everyone who feels the pull to migrate here from other lives has a story of how they found their ZIP code in our beloved Benzie, and each is rich with what sustains them in their artistry. Ask around and you too will find interesting facts about these creative souls.

Our Friday night performer, Jake Frysinger, grew up summering here and then as an adult, made the choice to build a life here with his wife and son. Here’s his story:

On becoming a performer:

“My dad taught me to play the guitar when I was pretty young. I think I was probably around 8 when I started. He said if I practiced everyday for 15 minutes before school for like 6 months or something he would buy me my own guitar. So I stuck with it, and he bought me an electric guitar and a little amp at a pawn shop. I’ve been hooked ever since.”

On making a living:

 

“I’ve had quite a few different jobs over the years. I spent 5 years at the University of Michigan getting a teaching degree, but I’ve mainly worked in bars and restaurants since 2002. Although I did work at a landscaping job for a year and as a librarian at the Interlochen Center for the Arts for several years also. I’m currently the Sous Chef at the Manitou Restaurant on M-22 between Frankfort and Empire.”

On discovering music:

 

“I played at a school talent show when I was in 5th grade. A buddy of mine named Jeremy Shive played the drums, so we got together and played some old blues song I can’t even remember the name of. But I remember everybody in the audience going nuts when we got done playing. Maybe I’ve exaggerated the audiences’ reaction 25 years later, but that’s how I like to remember it! From that point on I knew I really enjoyed performing.”

What attracts you to the type of music you perform?

 

“I listen to a lot of different types of music. My dad had all kinds of records in the house growing up. I enjoyed everything from Johnny Cash to Thelonius Monk. The kind of music I enjoy playing has also changed quite a bit over the years. When I first started it was all blues music. Then I went through a Led Zepplin 1970s rock phase, which transitioned into a heavy metal head banging phase. Then it was reggae, and now I mostly do singer-songwriter type of stuff. I’ve written quite a few songs and recorded an album with a band called Big Pretty and the Red Rockets when I lived in North Carolina. That was a pretty eclectic collection of songs. But now when I play, it’s mostly at bars and restaurants so I do quite a few covers also.”

 

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Most exciting thing you’ve gone through as a musician:

 

“When I played with Big Pretty and the Red Rockets in North Carolina, we won a battle of the bands at a venue in Raleigh called Kings. The prize for winning was that we got to open for The Drive-By Truckers and Dave Matthews at a show in Raleigh. It was really exciting, but the group split up shortly after that.”

On keeping music fresh:

 

“Sometimes that can be a bit challenging. But when you play 2 to 3 hour shows, you can’t avoid overlap and playing some of the same songs you play at other shows. Each show has a different group of people in attendance though, so I tell myself that it’s new to them. I’m also fortunate to have a great group of supportive friends and family that come to many of my shows, and that always makes it fun for me.”

Do you play for yourself or the audience – and what about an audience helps you find your groove?

 

“Both really. It definitely varies from show to show though. Sometimes if I’m in a certain mood, I might just play whatever I feel like. But most of the time I try and play whatever fits the mood or feeling of the venue and the people there. If it’s a rowdy crowd I try and play more up beat stuff. If the crowd feels a little more chill, I try and tone it down to fit that mood. I’m definitely comfortable in both situations though.”

What’s the worst heckling you’ve ever had?

 

“I can honestly say I don’t remember anything too terrible. I may have just blocked those things out of my mind though.”

What makes you want to be a performer?

 

“I just really enjoy it. It’s kind of a form of escapism for me, and maybe a little meditative.”

Are you an artist in other forms?

 

“Definitely not! I wish I was though! My wife is an amazing visual artist in terms of drawing, painting, etc. Some of the stuff she does looks so effortless when she’s doing it, but she produces some incredibly beautiful work. My 5 year old son has already surpassed my drawing skills!”

What’s your favorite St. Ambrose beverage and/or Sleeping Bear Farms product?

 

“I love all of the draft meads! And the Royal Reserve still mead is amazing! And we’ve always got a jar of Sleeping Bear raw honey around the house.”

So come on in to our tasting room this Friday, April 22, from 6-9 pm and listen to the songs and stories of a treasured local singer/songwriter and bask in the glow of one of the many talented musicians our little piece of heaven boasts as a resident. His voice is both powerful and gentle and his humor and humility are quite disarming for a former Wolverine lineman!

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