For the past 30 years the Here Comes The Sun Party on the patio of The Cove and Rick’s American Cafe in Leland (Fishtown) has been the kick-off celebration to the summer season.
“It really is the party that says we are turning the corner on a long winter and getting ready for summer,” said Sean Wanroy, first mate and manager. “This event has become sort of a rite a passage and a lot of people come every year.”
For the seventh year in a row the Detroit-based Hidden Agenda Band will perform on Memorial Day from 1 - 5 pm.
Doors open at 11 am for the Here Comes The Sun Party.
“We just opened a couple of weeks ago and all indications are that we are going to have another great year,” said Wanroy. “There has been so much attention given to the area lately and that has helped. It seems like it is just non-stop publicity, one week it might be us and the next week it is one of the wineries or restaurants or tourist stops getting media attention.”
So is Wanroy concerned about anything going into this season?
“Yes, chubs; there is a chub shortage,” said Wanroy, “Hard to make our Chubby Mary’s without them.”
Wanroy is referencing their “soon-to-befamous” Chubby Mary, a Bloody Mary with a chub that stands proud and prominent.
Wanroy’s father Rick has owned The Cove for the past 27 years, purchasing the place from the previous owners after having worked as their manager. Under Rick Wanroy’s vision The Cove has built a reputation as one of the region’s best places to eat and hang out for drinks. Located at the Leland Dam in Fishtown, the views are spectacular from the upper patio. Be sure to check out the underwater Fishtown Cam (available on their website as well).
As for menu choices, The Cove’s Clam Chowder is exceptional and is made from Rick’s own secret recipe, which is wellguarded. Loaded with shrimp, clams, and crab and secret spices it is made fresh each morning.
Other favorites include their whitefish with several preparations options but check out the Campfire version prepared in foil with peppers and onions. The Escargot & Shrimp is a great appetizer and save room for their homemade desserts as well, especially the chocolate cherry cheesecake.
MUSIC ON DECK
The menu and the drinks will only be part of the focus Memorial Day at The Cove.
“Part of it is about being seen too,” said Wanroy. “The music is another big part of it and we have had a lot of great bands over the years. The Hidden Agenda Band certainly is a perfect fit; they have an extensive song list and they create a real summertime vibe.”
For the band, this annual pilgrimage to Northern Michigan is something that they look forward to each year.
“We consider it our favorite weekend, said guitarist Larry Pinho. “We are full-time musicians playing close to 150 shows a year and certainly we love to perform but there is something about being up north and playing.”
Memorial Day Weekend is typically the only open-to-the-public shows they do in Northern Michigan. Though last year they rang in the New Year performing at the Grand Traverse Resort.
“Ever since that first gig at The Cove seven years ago we have picked up a lot of summer wedding receptions in the area,” said Pinho. “So we do get up a few more times a year. Plus, we perform all weekend starting Friday night with the Kat Orlando (lead singer) Trio performing at Dick’s Pour House (in Lake Leelanau). Then on Saturday and Sunday we perform on the patio at the Holiday Inn and then of course wrap up our weekend on Monday at The Cove.”
The band came together in 1995 when Pinho left another group to form Hidden Agenda. Pinho has ties to Northern Michi gan,
having attended the music program at Northwestern Michigan College in the ‘70s before heading to Ferris State. He returned to the region after college, joining jazz trio that performed regularly at the old Sawmill Saloon (where Phil’s on Front is now located) in TC. His parents have a place on Lake Leelanau.
“It’s a homecoming for me,” said Pinho. “I have family and friends up there and a lot of musician friends who still live in the area.”
As for the band’s musical diversity he attributes the addition of Kat Orlando eight years ago as playing a big part in that.
“When you have two lead singers, one being a male and the other a female, it gives you quite the repertoire,” said Pinho. “So we have The Motown sound, R & B and smooth jazz meets top 40, funk and rock with a splash of country.”
The 30th Annual Here Comes The Sun Party takes place on Memorial Day at The Cove in Leland. Doors open at 11 am with the Hidden Agenda Band taking the stage at 1 pm. Info: thecoveleland.com. For more information on Hidden Agenda Band see hiddenagendaband.com.
Rick Coates will be tweeting from the Cove on Memorial Day, follow him @ rcoates101.