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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Natalie York at Mother's

I look around and up at the building scaling before me.  I am not new to the area, but I’ve never been here before.  The sign reads, The Original Mother’s.  This was the place.  My ID is checked at the door, after shuffling through an embarrassing hoard of receipts in my wallet, making small talk with the bouncer. 


I head down a cascade of stairs into a dark basement.  Two couples play beer pong in the corner.  The White Sox vs Cleveland Indians game plays on one of the televisions behind the bar.  I’m a Cubs fan. 

Nobody else besides a bartender and a few other employees are around.  Am I in the right place?  I make a detour to the restroom; make a predictable check of my hair and makeup, and head back up the stairs to the bouncer.  He informs me I am early for that evening’s performance.  There are a couple of bands on the lineup, but I am there to see Natalie York.

I head back down to the bar, order a Blue Moon and pretend to care that the White Sox are playing.  Don’t judge me.  It’s something to watch while my phone sits on a borrowed charger behind the bar.  I move into a PBR just in time, as the grown cluster of people are invited into the “backroom”, performance area. 

The stage is much smaller than I envisioned, but I am surprised at the size of the room, large enough for a second bar.  There is a band already performing when I enter the space, St. Maurice.  There fast-rock sound doesn’t match up for me as an opening to York’s soulful-folk vibe, but it’s quite impressive.

It’s York’s turn to take the stage.  We make eye contact as she sets up with her band, so I give her a friendly wave, like I expected her to know my face.  She waves back and makes her way over to where I am sitting.  As she does, I admire her outfit.  She looks country chic in a red dress, sprinkled with a floral print, white knit tights, and the finishing touch, color coordinated cowboy boots. 

She is sweet as pie, apologizing for the late start.  I point to my drink and tell her it’s no problem at all.  She excuses herself back to the stage to finish sound check before her set begins. 

There is a full band on the platform stage, including a keyboard, bass, guitar, drums, and York’s own acoustic guitar.  The band begins to play and York takes her place at the mic.  A Washington DC native, Brooklyn transplant, York packs a surprising punch of soul!  Her performance is filled with life and undeniable talent.


After the show, York and I find a corner of the bar to sit and chat.  She compliments me on my nail polish and I carry on about my choice of color.  Like old friends catching up, York is as alluring in conversation as she is on stage. 







Halfstack: You just released your second album, Promises.  Can you tell us about that?

Natalie York:  It was released on January 28th.  We had so much support for this project! Family and friends and people I haven’t seen in years, being incredibly supportive was one kind of amazing.

HS: This is your last show of your recent tour, “The Promises Tour”.  What has that been like?

NY: We have been on the tour for about two and a half weeks.  We started in Philly and then we did four days in Virginia.  We traveled to North Carolina, and then Knoxville, Nashville, Indianappolis.  I am probably forgetting a few...but that was a majority of the stops.  It was really fun!

HS:  What is your favorite song from Promises?

NY:  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  I think a few of them turned out pretty nice!  Lickety-Split and This Place (the thing is) are both great.

HS: Who are your biggest musical inspirations?

NY: I grew up listening to a lot of soul music, so some of my favorites include, Ottis Redding, Rey LaMontagne, Brandi Carlile.  They are all good!

HS:  What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working on your music or touring?

NY:  Eat.  We all like to eat.  That’s a big one.         

HS:  What’s next on your agenda after the tour?

NY:  We are heading back to Brooklyn and then we have a few New York shows set up in June.  I think that we’ll make plans to go out on the road again in the fall.  Hopefully. 


For more information on upcoming performances, check out www.natalieyork.com/shows

- Perry Fish
Events Blogger & Photographer 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rising Star Jake London debuts first album: Runaway Heart

It is no secret that sex sells. We've all heard tirelessly for years - the more attractive you are, the farther you'll go in life. Whether you agree with that notion or not, it is certainly evident within society. No disrespect to the Britney Spears' and Paris Hilton's of the world, but how did they seriously manage to claw their way to the top on very little merit?

The music industry is no stranger to forging talentless, pretty faces all over the media in an effort to make a buck [or two]. But hey, can you honestly blame them? If millions of people thought you had zero talent yet continued to pay money to see your beautiful face on stage... would you fight it?

Despite the cringe worthy tunes that are given the title of popular music these days, every once in awhile a new face emerges on the scene that takes us back to the old days when you could turn on the radio and hear a swift and fluid voice erupt from the speakers. A passion that brings a little bit of nostalgia into modern day. And while those moments may be fleeting, it makes those instances extra special when we're lucky enough to stumble upon them.

Lucky me, I happened to come across a fresh new face that not only took me back to the good'ole days when music actually inspired, but one that exudes sex appeal. Who knew you really could find both? It was my lucky day!


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Jake London is a charming and charismatic, indie musician from Portland, Oregon who is now living in Southern California. With a fluid and seductive sound, the deepness of his voice carries a smooth and magnetic tone that immediately draws you in. A self-taught guitarist, London's Folk- Acoustic Rock sound carries undertones of Country and Bluegrass for a mellow, yet blithesome rhythm that emits relaxation and a desire to sway along to the beat.

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I had the pleasure of checking out his debut album, "Runaway Heart" [which drops on April 29th] and was pleased to discover that song after song, his lyrics are emotionally relatable and engaging with melodies that are clean, catchy and memorable. It's not often [in the world of music today] to encounter an album in which each song is alluring, and all 10 tracks on London's album, did just that. I've since found myself, on more than one occasion, singing the words to "A Hundred Days;" a slow and passionately versed ballad that not only pulls at the heartstrings, but has quickly become a favorite of mine. His already released and upbeat single "Somewhere Down the Road," reigning in at a close second.

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And if you aren't already intrigued by the man behind Jake London, this ruggedly handsome and sexy young man not only sings with a fervor that is easily translated through his words, he also writes and composes all of his own music. A talent and skill many thought died long ago with the birth of main stream pop culture. 


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Jake London is a rising star and it's only a matter of time before he hits the big stage! To all you music enthusiasts out there with an appreciation for raw talent.... A pretty face doesn't equate to having no skill. Jake London is living proof that the whole package really does exist - talent, good looks and charisma! Download Jake London's debut single "Somewhere Down the Road" on iTunes today and pre-order the full album by clicking HERE.  I promise you won't be disappointed. 

Here's a sneak peek of London's "Runaway Heart."




*Tune into the Summer issue of Halfstack Magazine for a full length feature and interview with Jake London! It goes live on June 17th!*

To learn more about Jake London, follow him on social media.... Instagram, Facebook, Twitter... www.jakelondonmusic.com

- Sophia Sanchez
Director of Operations and Editor

Pour Your Heart Out

What could make an evening of delicious food, custom cocktails, and delightful company that much sweeter?  When it is all for a good cause.  Planning events with soul is the expertise of Stephanie Schertz and Jess Syburg, founders of the wedding and event coordinating company, The Eventful Life, so it’s no surprise that their partnership with Lydia Home for their latest fundraising event was nothing short of amazing.



 Nellcote, at 833 W. Randolph St., provided the romantic ambiance for the evening’s event on Thursday, April 10th.  Rows of crystal chandeliers adorned the ceiling, illuminating the golden wallpaper that decked the room.

With more than 400,000 children currently in the foster care system, hope can be hard to find.  Lydia Home Association is a Christ-honoring organization whose mission is to strengthen families to care for children, and care for children when families cannot.

As the Vice Presidents of Events on the Lydia Home auxiliary board, Schertz and Syburg use their powers for good.  More than 80 tickets were sold for the Pour Your Heart Out event.   Lydia Co-President, Erica Dorantes said she enjoyed the evening and hopes that all of the other guests did as well.   Nellcote was a great venue, perfect for this event,” said Dorantes.  “The drinks were amazing, thanks to Gallo and Half Acre who also donated.”

Lydia supporters and Chicago socialites alike mingled and connected throughout the evening.  Another beautiful success by The Eventful Life team and one big step for Chicago’s children. 







- Perry Fish Events Blogger and Photographer

Monday, April 21, 2014

Why You Should Try the 10-Day Detox Diet

Do you feel lousy? Are you fatigued? Bloated? Anxious? Do you have aches and pains? Or skin irritation? You might be suffering from FLC Syndrome; humorously patented by Dr. Mark Hyman meaning, Feel Like Crap. Many of us suffer from one if not many of these symptoms and have sort of accepted feeling bad as normal, but Dr. Hyman insists we can feel better.

Photo rights belonging to Dr. Mark Hyman


“Most of us do not realize that what we’re eating not only makes us fat but it makes us sick. When you get rid of the junk and you eat real food, you can take back your brain chemistry, your hormones, you activate your fat burning genes; and you get rid of a whole list of health problems that are connected to the very reason that you’re over weight.” – Dr. Hyman

New York Times bestselling book, the 10-Day Detox Diet is not an empty promise of impossible results. Instead, its goal is to reboot our entire bodies and loosen the grip on our unwavering eating habits- loosing weight just happens to be a welcomed side effect. The book consists of detailed meal plans, grocery lists and recipes among many additional features. The diet essentially eliminates all processed foods and invites you to eat real food: vegetables, fruits and animal proteins. The prescribed diet is quite simply put: extremely healthy eating. Once you've rid your body of toxins, you slowly begin introducing food items you previously cut out. Your bodies reaction is an indicator of which foods to avoid to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. 

One reason why I'm personally a huge advocate for this book is through my own experience. My diet is strikingly similar to the 10-Day Detox, however I maintain it for months at a time. [I am not suggesting you do the same.] After several months of forgoing cheese and then finally reintroducing it to my body, I became extremely ill. I developed cystic acne, suffered from bloating and severe stomach cramps. I've since learned that contrary to my taste buds, the rest of my body does not appreciate dairy. 


Our cravings, which leave us feeling unbearably guilty, are due to the fact that we’re addicts. “We as a society consume 152lbs of sugar and 146lbs of flour a year. Almost a pound of sugar and flour a year per man, woman and child,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, attesting also that these substances are highly addictive. In fact, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. Furthermore, he points out that the food industry is more than aware. High levels of sugar are lurking in products we consume, even presumably healthy items like pasta sauce. We’ve been hijacked, according to Dr. Hyman and therefore it’s important to acknowledge that our health issues are not completely our fault. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take responsibility to atone the problem. 

Photo rights belonging to Ian Grey


Dr. Hyman aims to correct the root of our chronic illness (anxiety, high blood pressure, fatigue, IBS, obesity, etc.) and he believes that process begins with the food we eat. He states, “Food is the biggest cause of disease and also the biggest cure.” Hyman is one of the few doctors who strive to cure ailments naturally and at the epicenter not by merely signing a prescription.

Before you write this off as some fad diet know that Dr. Hyman is not just any ol’ doctor either. His extensive background has earned himself a seat on the Board of Directors of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine; he’s Chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine; and even participated in the White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness among many, many more accomplishments. His list of charitable work— including volunteering for Partners in Health, where he currently helps to rebuild the health care system in Haiti— is worthy of a separate blog post.

In 10 days you can organically discover how food effects your body. Dr. Hyman is confident that you will feel substantially better; increased energy and eradicated health issues. If absolutely nothing else, you'll likely shed a few pounds of unwanted fat. 

Get your 10-Day Detox Diet book here.

Samantha Kirkpatrick
Lifestyle & Fitness Blogger

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Living Fabulously: Catching up with Sabrina Victoria

Like so many other things in life, as humans, we are always looking for short cuts.  Let's face it.  We live in a fast paced world.  And the quicker and more efficiently we can accomplish our day-to-day tasks, the happier we seem to be.  Our health and level of fitness is absolutely no different.

It is no secret that we are, and presumably will always be, our own worst critics.  I'll be honest and use myself as an example here.  I not only want, but need [for my own happiness] flatter abs, stronger arms, healthier skin and a firmer bottom.  I know I'm not alone.  People everywhere want to be a better version of themselves.  And just as in our every day tasks, we do our best to create short cuts through dieting and fasting and 15 minute-daily workouts in the effort to achieve the kind of bodies we deem satisfactory.  I'm guilty of it.  Can you admit that to yourself as well?

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sabrina Victoria this past week for a quick chat on health, fitness and wellness.  For those of you unfamiliar, Sabrina is not only a fabulous and devoted mommy, she's also the established YouTube personality behind Living Fabulously, a yoga extraordinaire and an overall fitness guru.

In this interview Sabrina helps tackle the notion behind why you should simply trash the word "diet" from your vocabulary and how being healthy is more than just eating the right foods and exercising; it's a mindset.  We can't take short cuts when it comes to being healthy!  Listen in is as Sabrina helps provide some useful tips on how you can take control of your life today to start Living Fabulously!




Listen and subscribe via  iTunes.


Sabrina Victoria will also be making a special appearance at the Halfstack Magazine Health Expo at Crossfit 630 in Naperville, IL on May 3rd. She'll be on site to talk shop about fitness, nutrition and her latest project titled "Empowering Women."


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The Expo will be two hours packed with useful health and fitness industry related news, shopping of health and fitness related products along with tons and tons of swag and raffles.... get your tickets today by clicking HERE!

To learn more about Sabrina Victoria follow her on YouTube and on at www.pureaspriation.net



- Sophia Sanchez
Director of Operations & Editor

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chicago Public Library Foundation's Night in the Stacks

Ever wonder what it's like to be in the library after hours? On April 4, 2014, 350 Chicagoans got to see just how fabulous the library can be after the lights go out at the inaugural Night in the Stacks event. Hosted by the Chicago Public Library Foundation Junior Board, the event was a sold out success that allowed guests to have a drink and boogie with some of their favorite literary characters while promoting the advancement of important library initiatives in its programs, technology, and collections.







The festivities began promptly at 7 p.m., when guests were escorted up to the stunning Winter Garden on the top floor of the Harold Washington Library. The lofty room was made to resemble a lounge with high-top tables and cozy nooks with comfy chairs and couches for the young professionals to relax after the long work week. Not much relaxing was going on at this fun event though, as soon as the cocktails started flowing and the DJ started spinning, guests flocked to the dance floor and stayed there all night.

Beloved literary characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Eloise, Huckleberry Finn, Holly Golightly, Katniss Everdeen and Frankenstein mingled with guests. Guests were encouraged to take photos with the characters to share on social media outlets. Another opportunity for guests to get a little silly was the event's photo booth, which was stocked with plenty of fun props for guests to pose with.

In addition to some popular book characters, there were also a few authors on hand to partake in the festivities. Carousing with the guests were authors Rachel Bertsche, Charles Blackstone, Wesley Chu, Sam Park and Marcus Sakey. Perhaps the most celebrated guests of the night, however, were the Chicago Public librarians who were in attendance. Their commitment to library programs and progress was honored throughout the night.
DJ Konsept and The Cat in the Hat


The grooviest part of the soiree got started thanks to DJ Konsept, whose infectious mix of music brought nearly every body out on the dance floor throughout the night. Jewell Events Catering provided some delicious bites for guests to munch on. The friendly waitstaff served literary themed bite-size treats out of hollowed out books. Even the bartenders got in on the fun serving Hemingway Sidecar Cocktails as their specialty drink. For those forgoing the alcoholic drinks, Intelligentsia stocked a coffee bar with exquisite coffee, espresso and tea.

The night was a rip-roaring success. The Chicago Public Library Junior Board announced itself to Chicago in a big way with a big party and, in the process, raised an impressive $110,000 to support the Chicago Public Library and its important initiatives.





Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pulse Presents "Prism" - Fashion Show making a difference

College run fashion shows have become the norm in most fashion schools. However, it’s rare to see a show entirely put together, executed and raised by the students themselves. When the show benefits a worthy and admirable cause, it’s that much more impressive.









I was one of the hundreds of attendees at the annual Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg Pulse fashion show on March 13th. I had a first hand view of the hard work and dedication that these 21 young ladies poured into this year’s show. Not only was it impressive to see but also incredibly inspiring. From start to end, concept to development, these ladies created what they named “Prism”; A fashion show with a much deeper meaning then simply the usual glitz and glam of fashion. Each year this student run show selects a charity to donate 100% of their proceeds from the show to. This year, Salute, Inc. was the charity selected. Salute, Inc is an organization that assists military service members, veterans and their families with their financial, physical and emotional needs. They strive to assure that every military family has the safety net that they deserve.



The show itself was amazing and had beautiful fun pieces that went hand in hand with the show theme, “Prism”. Student and local designers showcased their incredible work that was really fun to see walk down the runway. Most of the pieces that came down the runway had an edge that matched perfectly with the dramatic makeup that models were wearing. However, my favorite part of the show came when marines escorted models down the runway.  It was a small gesture to honor these amazing service members and the crowd absolutely loved every moment of it!

All together the show was a reflection of the strength that their charity, Salute, Inc. strives to be for their military members and families. With the help of hundreds of attendees, sponsors, designers and staff, the students of the Event Planning and Promotion Class of 2014 raised more than $18,000 for Salute, Inc. These 21 young ladies not only put on an amazing fashion show but more importantly made a difference and impact on people’s lives.   




Learn more about this amazing charity and their mission at www.saluteinc.org .


Photo credit: Jaimin Parekh

Teresa Espinoza
Fashion Editor - Halfstack Magazine

Spruce up Your Lacquer Cabinet

The days of receiving handwritten letters in the mail are pretty much obsolete. And yet, when we do, the thrill of reading the content of the letter impels us to tear open the envelope like Edward Scissorhands. For me, nothing quite outranked the excitement of collecting RSVP cards for my wedding but once that thrill ended it was back to the same old humdrum of coupons and bills. I thought I went paperless?

So what a welcomed surprise it was to find a Lacquer Cabinet box gracefully placed on top of the usual junk mail.

What’s that you ask?
Well, Lacquer Cabinet in conjunction with ‘Tini Beauty, offers limited-edition nail lacquer created by beauty and nail experts. Sign up, and you’ll receive monthly collections of polish colors and two empty bottles to experiment with your own mixology.


Mixology?
While searching for the perfect polish for her upcoming wedding, Michelle Toma Olson, Founder of ‘Tini Beauty, began mixing her own shades; thus creating the idea for her brand. They urge you to do the same and their "tip jar" offers helpful techniques to create your own perfect shade. 


A unique and affordable (ongoing) gift set for a special friend.
I secretly thank the post office for misplacing my order because the generous gals at ‘Tini Beauty promptly replaced my original package which eventually showed up several days later. Oops! Therefore I had the pleasure of sampling TWO collections.

Nailtini is passionate about keeping their cosmetics healthy and low in toxins. Now a 5-free lacquer:
No formaldehyde
No toluene
No dibutyl phthalate
No formaldehyde resin
No camphor

I love this line by "Love, Roxie" so much that I'm considering painting on my dogs nails. Too far?

When it comes to nail polish, my biggest pet peeve is a thin lacquer that requires at least nine coats. Not only is it a waste of polish but it inevitably leaves streaks that I end up staring at all day long. With LC I only needed one maybe two coats. No streaks, no lumps just nice even coverage that dried surprisingly quick.

The only disappointment I had was not getting my hands on their Simple Syrup and Dry Gin. What? Aren’t these names so creative and awesome? The Simple Syrup is a 5-free base coat, which actually contains a sugar-derived resin to really secure the polish on your nail bed. I feel like a true organic partisan just saying that. Where’s the nearest farmers market?

The Dry Gin is just a quick drying top coat. But saying, “Pass me the dry gin.” At your girls night sounds much cooler and sophisticated.


Check out ‘Tini Beauty where you can find an assortment of nails, lips and eye mixology products. At Lacquer Cabinet you can request one, six or 12 month subscriptions at an affordable price. Why not treat yourself to an unsuspecting reminder to relax and pamper those busy little fingers?

- Samantha Kirkpatrick
Lifestyle and Fitness Blogger 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Keep on laughing....

Two penguins were walking across an iceberg. One penguin turned to the second penguin and said, "You look like you're wearing a tuxedo." And the second penguin said, “Maybe I am." I’m not going to lie, I laughed harder then I should have at this. I do not really know why…. I guess I just appreciate a really, really bad joke.



Not too surprising though, I laugh a lot, at everything. That is probably why one of my cousins nicknamed me “the laughing idiot” growing up. I never really took that as a bad thing. Laughter is a good way to break a tense situation. I could not tell you how many potential bad situations I have gotten out of by simply laughing. Either, you say something or someone else says something, there is an awkward silence…. Just start chuckling, often times they will smile and reciprocate.

You wouldn’t really believe how important laughter is, given how common it is within the social environment. For you see, laughter adds a hint of positivity to the situation and instills a sense of connection between individuals. Similar to how a good laugh can change the environment, it can change us, and the way people look as us. Laughing makes you feel hopeful, optimistic, and positive. Generally, you will be seen as more attractive, friendly, and lively. As a photographer, I see this effect when photographing people. Their faces lie. There is a world of difference between a photo where everyone is sincerely laughing or smiling and one were the smile is forced. When working with a group I try to say something silly to get genuine smiles out of everyone creating a more…. natural shot.

There is a random statistic out there stating that your average four year old will laugh somewhere in the area of 300 times daily, where your average 40 year old laughs about four. That is why it is an important art to maintain the child within. Take some time out of your day, and go somewhere, physically, or mentally and simply be a child. Build a fort. Play a prank. Tell a joke. I don’t know.... figure it out! There is a reason children are so optimistic, happy, easy going, and a symbol of all that is good.  Laugh with you friends, your coworkers, yourself.

Smiling and laughter can be the simplest things you can do to make yourself feel better. Essentially, it is free medicine; a medication that is actually easy, fun, and comes without any of those awful side effects. Laugh with your friends, family, coworkers, laugh at yourself. If you cannot laugh at yourself… there is no point in laughing at all….


As you go through your day, your life, remember to take the little things lightly and just laugh. Learn to appreciate the “social lubricant” that is the laughing matter. Laughter is as precious as gold and as common as dirt.

Have a bad joke you want to share?  We'd love to hear it! Do us a favor and post it below. I'll share one in return. Give a little, get a little.


~KM~ Halfstack Blogger & Photographer
Images provided are owned and copyrighted by yours truly and dailypositivequotes.com

Good Beer Hunting - The Michigan Beer Film Screening

Hops, barley, and starch are basic ingredients that can be found in your favorite beer - but what really goes into making good beer?  For Chicogoan, Michael Kiser this question has become a passion.  Kiser’s love for beer lead him to start up Good Beer Hunting, a company dedicated to telling the story of beer and its enthusiasts.  The hunt has taken him all over the United States, although he admits he has an especially fond appreciation for the beer movement that is rising up in Michigan. 


 On Saturday, March 29th Kiser hosted a screening of the documentary, The Michigan Beer Film, at the Good Beer Hunting home base, 2557 North Ave.  Created by Michigan based media company, Rhino Media, the 119 minute-long documentary highlights the craft beer industry in Michigan, with a focus on the raw entrepreneurship of its breweries. 

Before the screening, guests enjoyed samplings of two Greenbush Brewing Co. beers, Sotto Voce, an American brown ale, and Sheep In Tall Grass, a scotch ale.  More than 45 tickets were sold for the event, impressively filling up the GBH space for one of their first events. 

The screening concluded with an enthusiastic Q&A session with Kiser and director, Kevin Romeo.  One attendee asked what the inspiration was for making the film.  Romeo responded that Rhino Media acknowledged that people desired a film documenting the beer industry in Michigan, so they made it happen.  “A lot of artists talk, but we want to be artists that do,” said Romeo.  

Looking at the consistent growth of the beer industry over the past decade, it makes you wonder, "why now?".  While many factors play their part, Kiser suggests that the consumer’s desire for quality goods has heightened.  “People are fascinated with local, they are fascinated with flavor, and they are fascinated with businesses that they can go support tangibly,” said Kiser.  “There is something happening that’s much bigger, [but] beer can survive that weight.“

The Michigan Beer Film will continue to travel around Michigan and surrounding states.  For more information on screenings check out http://mibeerfilm.com/.


The Michigan Beer Film Director, Kevin Romeo enjoys a Greenbush Brewing Co. beer and meets with guests before the film screening. 







Michael Kiser, founder of Good Beer Hunting, introduces The Michigan Beer film and director, Kevin Romeo before the film screening begins.  


- Perry Fish
Lifestyle & Events Blogger 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Live Weird in ATX

Nearly every major city in the world is known for having some kind of unique appeal.  It is these idiosyncrasies, after all, that make our most beloved cities so special.  Paris has long been the city of romance.  New York?  The city that never sleeps.  And rest assured that in Sin City, Las Vegas… Your darkest secrets will forever be kept, where they shall remain quietly until the end of time.  It should really be no surprise that in a city commonly known for birthing street musicians trying to make a buck while donning nothing more than a pair of knickers and a cowboy hat, the city would adopt a slogan to promote its weirdness.

For as long as most residents of Austin, Texas can remember, the city slogan has been "Keep Austin Weird."  And it is certainly fitting.... Where else can you stroll down the street on your unicycle, in cut off - jean shorts while flaunting a handlebar mustache curled with exact precision, without a single person batting an eyelash in your direction?  In Austin, if you aren't just a little bit weird, you're the anomaly.

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The question begs, what came first?  The chicken or the egg... errr.. the slogan or the weirdness?  Despite whatever truths the legend may hold, one thing is certain; Austin has quickly become America's new sweetheart.  Currently holding the title of the number one, fastest growing city in America [according to Forbes], Austin has definitely captured the nation’s attention.

Erik Diehl and Scott Burch, Founders of Live Weird Realty in downtown, Austin and longtime friends from their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana have always been just a little bit progressive.  Having moved to Austin where they both sought after their real estate licenses, they each worked for a few different apartment locating companies before realizing that a boom was coming.  Deciding they could dominate the market in a more appealing and marketable way, these gentlemen opened the doors of Live Weird Realty in 2010 and as the pair says, "the rest has been golden real estate history."


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What did Diehl and Burch realize before the rest of America?  Halfstack Magazine set out to determine the driving force behind the sudden Austin appeal.  The discovery?  A multitude of reasons for why people everywhere have decided to leave their respective hometowns and place roots in this true, southern gem.

The weather.  Texas may be known for its brutal and excessively hot summers, but after the Polar Vortex-winter the Midwest and North East regions experienced this past year, three months of extreme heat pales in comparison.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where the sun shines brightly almost daily and the temperatures rarely drop below 65?

Despite the weather being a top reason for why many are now heading South, Austin also offers up all of those big city highlights delivered neatly to you in the convenience of a small city package.  Deemed the “live music capital of the world” and with Texas charm in tow, Austin now contends with cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco in the battle between art, music, culture, dining and more; Austin also being home to the largest media festival in the world.

And if your bags aren’t already packed, the downtown lifestyle of Austin also offers you an endless supply of outdoor activities; and all at your fingertips.  The Colorado River runs through the South end of the city and there is never a shortage of bikers, kayakers and runners making their way through the surplus of trails leading in and out of downtown.  Austinites take great pride in the beautifully green, and intertwined nature-and-city-life that makes up Austin.  You can easily take a quick walk to the river from your sky rise condo for a midday paddle board adventure.  The possibilities in Austin are endless.  


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Halfstack Magazine had the pleasure of sitting down with Joel Canada [Office Manager of Live Weird Realty’s 5th Street office] to discuss further what makes Austin so special and the impact Live Weird Realty is having on the city.  Focused on selling the downtown lifestyle, Live Weird has found its niche and as the market continues to explode, the business continues to thrive.

Upon opening its doors in October of 2010, the business was originally dubbed Rent Weird Realty.  Having found much success in apartment locating early in their careers, Diehl and Burch transferred that same model into their firm.  The business name, a play on words from the city slogan of “Keep Austin Weird,” worked seamlessly in their favor and set them apart from the competition, because as Canada explains, “Who doesn't want a little bit of weirdness in their lives?”  And as the city and market continued to grow, the owners knew expansion and re-branding into a full service realty firm was inevitable and necessary.   Thus Live Weird Realty came to be.

What makes this firm so successful?  The level of customer service exhibited by each Agent and Broker within Live Weird Realty is unparalleled by the competition.  The entire team prides themselves on being just that…  A Team.  One who helps and supports each other to ensure every client that walks through the door is satisfied from start to finish.  The entire firm is dedicated to the quality of service; not the quantity of transactions.  The relationships with the clients may be short lived, but as Canada explains, memorable. “It’s evident in our reviews.  We make sure that we have met all the needs of our clients and we see the transaction through until the very end.  Whether you’re looking to lease, buy, sell or invest, you have our full attention throughout the duration of our exchange.”  


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Joel Canada, Jennifer Martinson, Erik Diehl, Devin Friedman, Brendan Ross, Scott Burch, Jeremy Gonzales


Aside from the superior customer service you’ll receive with Live Weird, every team member has the ability to connect with the client on a personal level as well.  Who better to help you find your perfect dream home than someone who is also immersed in the downtown Austin lifestyle?  Austin is quickly replacing Silicon Valley as the technology hub of the nation with innovative corporations like Facebook, Google and Apple having set up shop.  And with two prestigious universities - University of Texas and Texas A&M - breeding young entrepreneurs, Austin is the perfect storm for startups.  The hunger and drive you see out of the young professionals that make up the Live Weird team, is the exact same hunger and drive you see from the population that currently defines Austin.  The combination?  A lethal cocktail that is leaving the competition lurking in the dust.

These agents not only live and breathe the downtown lifestyle, they love it.  And they aren’t just your realtors.  This firm serves as a networking tool for all other like-minded, young professionals new to the city.  Whether it be through the weekly round up of ‘happenings’ around town on the company blog, through Canada’s commitment to the *Free Art Friday* campaign or through one of the many Live Weird Realty sponsored events, it goes far beyond just finding you a place to live.  Live Weird wants to ensure Austin isn’t just your place of residence, but your home.

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Austin, Texas is on the map more than ever before and with 78704 being the top Google searched zip code in the nation, we strongly urge you to consider making the move.  Forget spring cleaning!  Pack your bags, sell your house and head south.  You’ll soon be asking why you waited so long in the first place.   

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Erik Diehl and Scott Burch are either real estate savants or did something notably right in a prior life and have since been graced by the hands of God in choosing Austin as their home base…. We’ll go with the former.  With two convenient firms located centrally in downtown Austin, contact Live Weird Realty for all of your real estate needs.  


201 E. 5th St. Suite 109
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 476-7368

5th Floor of Omni Building
Downtown Austin


- Sophia Sanchez
Director of Operations & Editor

*Free Art Friday* - Canada, an indie artist when he's not selling the downtown lifestyle, puts together two original pieces of art each week. #ATXFreeArtFriday is an Instagram driven, free art scavenger hunt that now has hundreds of participants in the city each week. Canada hides a piece of art somewhere in the city each week and then posts clues on Instagram as to the pieces whereabouts and uses the following hashtags: #ATXFreeArtFriday, #FindersKeepers & #Spratx* You find the art and it's yours to keep!

*Spratx* Creators of Free Art Friday; a small artist collective located on the East Side on Pedernales between East 6th and 5th St.




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Halfstack Highlights Episode 1: Interview with Leftover Cuties

Hey there Halfstackers!

Happy tuesday to all of you - Jen Lezan here, Editor-in-chief of Halfstack and I am so excited to share with you our latest endeavor! Halfstack Highlights is a new edition to the Halfstack repertoire. We will be showcasing some of our best interviews in podcast/blogcast form - you'll also get to put a voice to many of the writers you read every day! First up is my interview with Leftover Cuties from a few weeks ago when I caught their concert at College of Dupage's McAninch Arts Center. This amazing venue is in the heart of Glen Ellyn and it feels like a city hotspot right in the burbs.






The recently renovated performance hall, dubbed Club Mac, has a great lineup for their 2014 grand opening season. Locals and city dwellers alike can definitely dig the low key and intimate vibe the hall gives off. Season highlights include performances from all types of entertainment including:  the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic, Hot Club of Cowtown and Capitol Steps.




Listen and subscribe via iTunes.

In this episode of Halfstack Highlights, I interview LA based band: Leftover Cuties. I had the opportunity to catch up with this indie pop jazz quartet after enjoying their show at Club Mac. As an avid jazz lover, this group was an amazing breath of fresh air with their mix of pop tempos, vaudeville like vintage undertones and their fun ukelele rifts. Their down-to-earth and humble personalities made this one of the more fun interviews I have had in a while! You can probably tell, by all the laughter as we share this intimate conversation with all of you readers!




Leftover Cuties consists of – Shirli McAllen (lead vocals, ukulele), Austin Nicholsen (bass, vocals), Mike Bolger (brass, keys, accordion, vocals ) and Stuart Johnson (drums, percussion, vocals). These talented folk took the time to share their thoughts on music inspiration for their latest album “The spark & the Fire”, the journey of an indie artist, connecting with their audience and advice for those of you on the journey to making your dreams come true. The song you hear in our episode intro and outro is "One Heart" by the one and only Leftover Cuties


I hope you enjoy this first episode! If you were inspired by this podcast and want to share, please leave us a review on iTunes! The more exposure we can get these up and coming artists the better! We also welcome feedback as we get used to the quirks of this new venture and adjust to give you an amazing listening experience!
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Jen Lezan
Editor-in-chief