Brent Stickels is a reformed tour manager, co-founder of design and branding firm YYES, and director of See Change, an annual conference on visual communication.
What was the food highlight of your year?
Ishnala Supper Club sits deep in the forest on a rock outcropping above Mirror Lake in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. Originally a log cabin trading post built in 1826, the Hoffman brothers bought the land in 1953 and created a supper club that may well have inspired Disney’s Frontierland. This past summer Jane, my wife, and I rented a cabin around the lake from Ishnala. One evening, we canoed up Mirror Lake at sunset, beached the canoe under the restaurant, and climbed the steps up the bluffs to Ishnala’s front door. Arriving feels like steak-house Mecca, from cocktails at the glassed-in arrowhead-shaped bar in the treetops to shrimp cocktail and ribeye steaks in the panoramic dining room. An after-dinner cocktail on the wraparound deck, then we canoed back in the moonlight across the inky lake. There might be better steaks in the world, but the whole experience of Ishnala makes it unparalleled.
What was the music highlight of your year?
The Replacements hometown return was Minneapolis’ most anticipated event in a very long time. Held at a shuttered minor-league ballpark near a train yard, the madness for tickets, the press buildup, and the radio tributes all created an air of excitement: this was the 'Mats, and they were coming home. I don’t have much tolerance these days for large crowds or long sets, but when the Replacements took the stage it made me feel like I was 17 again. By the time they were done tearing through the 2-hour set I was ready to buy an Ampeg SVT and start a band again.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
The city of Avalon, on Catalina Island, is a place where time stopped and you can still glimpse pure California beach culture the way I imagine it was in the 60s. This past fall we rented a place on the hill above town and, in the afternoons, we would walk down to the shack at the end of the pier to buy fresh fish for dinner. One evening we were cutting up opah for ceviche and drinking a crisp white wine. I scanned the FM dial and came across KISL, Avalon’s community radio station. As the playlist careened from an all-girl Black Sabbath cover band to Tom Waits to Bill Withers, it reminded me of the college stations I grew up with, like KSDT and KCR, and the importance of hand-picked music in this era of algorithms. The simple pleasure of home-made ceviche, a deck overlooking unspoiled California, and an eclectic playlist buzzing over indie airwaves. Perfection.