Brits and Brews

Music of the British invasion and beyond, a musical journey through tunes and time

Vinyl Tap, from left, Rick Bissonnette, Mark Werda, Rex Havoc and Chris Valenti, kick out British Invasion jams at the 2022 Brits and Brews benefit bash.(Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — Ready for a night of nostalgia, rock ‘n’ roll, and fun — all for a great cause? The stage will be set at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. in Marquette on April 20 for Brits and Brews-Music of the British Invasion and Beyond, a musical journey through tunes and time.

“This is the eighth installment in a series that I began in 2012,” said event organizer Dave Stensaas-Rockwood. “All of the shows have had music by British Invasion bands as the bedrock, and this is the fourth Brits and Brews event.”

The live music fundraiser is back this year with five local bands and open mic performances from 5 to 11 p.m.

The event has always centered around the British Invasion bands — those trailblazers who stormed the American music scene in the mid-1960s. This year the theme is British Innovation. You’ll still hear the classics — the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks — but this year there’s more. Expect some early heavy metal riffs slicing through the air, and a little punk rock rebellion on the set lists.

But these local groups aren’t just here to rock out; they’re here to make a difference. The cause? Feeding hungry kids in the Marquette Area Public Schools. All proceeds from the admission (suggested $10 donation) will go to JJ Packs, a grassroots group that sends a package of locally sourced and assembled nutritious food home with Marquette students. Serving kids who need extra food on weekends in all seven schools in the district, JJ Packs distributes about 210 packages each Friday at an annual cost of about $38,000. Its work makes a real difference in the lives of many kids and families in the community.

The Knockabouts, from left, Daniel Truckey, Barbara Rhyneer and Tim DeMarte, bring some acoustic folk vibes to the same concert. (Courtesy photo)

“No child in this country should go to bed or scho

ol hungry, and we can do something about it,” Stensaas-Rockwood said. “So we’ve set our sights on raising a substantial sum for JJ Packs — around $2,000 — to help feed kids in the MAPS school district that are facing hunger at home.”

For those who can’t be there in person, they can still help. The group welcomes online donations at https://jjpacks.org/.

For background on the event that’s become a Marquette tradition, rewind the tape. In 2012, it all started with a tribute to the legendary John Lennon.

The following year, the magic was repeated with John Lennon Night. In 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Fab Four’s 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the event paid homage to that seismic event under the name “Beatles Invasion.”

In 2015, the show morphed into Beatles and Brews, still an all-Beatles affair, but with a twist. Solo Beatle music shared the spotlight with songs from their other groups — the Traveling Wilburys, Wings and more. Finally, Brits and Brews, was born in 2018, with additional concerts in 2021 and 2022. In total, these seven events have generated $20,000 in proceeds for charities. At the heart of it all, like a steady bass line, has been JJ Packs, the main recipient since 2015.

Fast-forward to today. The event has become a highlight for Marquette music lovers. On April 20, they won’t just be raising a glass to the Beatles and celebrating 60-plus years of British rock, they’ll be showing that the spirit of the British Invasion lives on.

And it won’t just be in the songs but in the hearts of those who believe that music can change the world — one note at a time.


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