Introducing Buzz By the Bay

Posted In: Culture, ,   From Issue 886   By: Jason Dean

09th October, 2019     0

A new regular feature in Review, Buzz By the Bay takes a closer look at the people, places, and events that should be on your radar in the constantly evolving arts, entertainment, and business scene in Bay City. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss the undercurrent of activity making waves. 

First off, this is no Halloween hoax, and it’s certainly not fake news. Prime Event Center is back, baby! On October 24, the iconic building will reopen for a double feature showing of the horror classics Night of the Living Dead and Little Shop of Horrors. Also showing will be Blood on the Lens, a short film by indie filmmaker Nic White

“We’ve got a new vision, new shows, and new vibes,” promises Event Producer and Creative Director Michael “Gonz” Gonzalez, who along with Production Manager Charles Williams, is undertaking the task of thematically reinventing the ornate building that has sat relatively dormant for the past few years. 

Gonz is the chief visionary guiding Crowded Couch Collective, a DIY-style local contingent of artists, musicians, and creative souls putting together immersive arts events. Rather than leave his hometown to search for a place to fit in, Gonz wants to “manifest the dream” right here in Bay City. The October 24 event is a “soft opening,” he explained, as work is still being done in ramping up logistics for a regular weekend hours starting later in the fall.

It’s a huge undertaking, but Gonz has proven himself a skilled and inspiring organizer of people and events. His partner, Williams, operates Shapeshifter Stage and Studio Productions and is customizing the acoustics in the cavernous club, which can accommodate more than 1,000 people.

All upgrades will be completed in time for the November 23 grand re-opening, which Barbarossa Bros. and Aaron Johnson will co-headline. Billed as the Bizarre Bazaar, the event will also feature more than 20 local craft vendors hawking their wares.

“We’re looking to respect the past and build the future,” states Gonz, adding that he is seeking the work of local artists to display on the ample wall space. All-ages shows and special movie screenings are being planned to complement the lineup of local, regional, and, eventually, national acts that Prime Event Center hopes to attract. For more info about booking, email or call 989-272-2922.

Kudos to Art Dore, Sr., who owns the building, for giving Gonz, Williams, and the Couch the chance to breathe new life into a classic piece of downtown history. 


Down at the other end of Washington Street, the smoke signals are loud and clear: Bay City Illuminati Club is a helluva chill spot to socialize and appreciate the arts while partaking in the medicinal and (as of 2019) perfectly legal Michigan tradition of getting baked. 

The brainchild of Doug Levy, Illuminati Club hosts monthly (or so) events that allow members to unwind with live music, DJs, and a rooftop deck. A membership fee is included in the price of admission for the first event you attend, and memberships do not expire.

The next show happens on October 18, when the Club will present Stranger Thangs, a costume party concert event featuring Hellbound Drifters, Lobe, Winaschnitzel, JD & the Salingers, and Hedgerow. Another production from the minds of Crowded Couch, Stranger Thangs will also feature a live art display. The $10 admission includes a secret stash gift. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Bay City Illuminati Club is located at 1201 S. Washington St. For more info about Oct. 18 and other events contact Doug Levy at 989-450-5800.


The poets are coming to 99 Trees. Bay City’s lone bookstore, located at 302 Center Ave., is hosting a reading of Great Lakes Poets Laureate on October 25. “It’s kind of a big deal for us,” says 99 Trees manager Dustin Hartz

The impetus for the event is the recently published anthology, Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice. Dennis Hinrichsen, Joel Lipman, Jim Ferris, Joy Gaines-Friedler, and the book’s co-editor Ron Riekki, will read poetry and then participate in a Q&A on poetry and social justice issues in the Great Lakes region.

99 Trees has a monthly calendar of spoken word and music events attracting those who support keeping the printed word alive and commercially viable. 


Speaking of staying commercially viable, it appears that vinyl is poised to eclipse the CD in sales for the first time since 1986. Audiophiles have long preferred the warm, immersive sonic quality of vinyl to the cold, flat sound of CDs. And the general public has started to catch on. 

The Bay City Record Convention will feature 25 vendors from throughout Michigan for the October 12 event, now in its ninth year. Ray Pounds has been running the event, which was started by his friend Tim Taylor in 2011. Taylor unexpectedly passed away two days after the inaugural convention, and Pounds has been keeping the event going in his honor. “It was kind of bad luck for him,” says Pounds, who has grown the event into a biannual happening.

Admission is $1 for the event, which runs from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. As with every event, one paid entrant will win a turntable in a random drawing. A $10 bill gets you in an hour early at 9 a.m.  The convention will e held at AMVET Post 22, 520 N Pine Rd, Essexville.

That’s the buzz for now. If you know of an event, business, or person making waves in Bay City, I want to hear from you! Drop me a line at





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