Numero Group: By The Numbers

Pure Michigan! An Up-North Tour c/o Jeff Cowell
January 15, 2015, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Jeff Cowell


Jeff Cowell’s Lucky Strikes and Liquid Gold perfectly embodies all which is intriguing about Northern Michigan. At the very fingertips of the murder mitten is a mysterious land that looks more like rural Maine than Martin B-roll. It is a popular vacation destination for many Midwesterners, still a hard day’s drive from the Atlantic Ocean. And where there are out of towners, there are townies, a colorful and resilient community that Jeff Cowell elegantly epitomizes. We asked Jeff to rattle off some of the places that he used to hang out during the Golden Era, and he gave us an extensive list, broken into two chapters: The ’70s and The ’80s.

Chapter I: The ’70s


Log Cabin: 760 FDR Lane, Spread Eagle, WI (just outside Iron Mountain)

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“The house would rock until closing. Years later I would do a single acoustic act there.”


Spera’s Party Mart: Spread Eagle, WI


Spread Eagle Chain Postcard

“This bar was located on a chain of lakes which is popular with locals and summer vacationers. Often times I would stop there for a beer with Ken Nordine and his sons. My family and the Nordines had summer cottages on the chain.”


Poor Joe’s: 120 S. Sophie St. Bessemer, MI


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“This place was dark and busy. One night the bartender passed out behind the bar. When no one could get a drink one of the patrons (nicknamed Crabcakes) took over tending that night.”


Furno’s: 405 5th Street, Iron Mountain, MI (presently Off The Wally’s) 

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“[Don] Furno specialized in homemade Dago-Red wine served from under the counter. The police seemed to overlook this detail. I think NASA could have used the wine for rocket fuel.”


Bomber’s Border Bar: N22200 Bomber Rd. Niagara, WI

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“Lots of dancing and rock”


Mr. Flood’s Party: 120 W. Liberty St., Ann Arbor, MI

Incognito - Floods - 10-78

“Mr. Flood had the best single and duo acts anywhere during this time. Interesting decor—the walls were covered with any item you could imagine.”


The Sawmill (presently Saw Mill Saloon): 1003 Maple Street, Big Rapids, MI

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“Before we were married, Joanne and I spent many a night listening to bluegrass bands there. The stage opened up to the outside where a huge bon fire was lit. Lots of peanuts and beer.”


Chapter II: The Early ’80s

Milliman’s: 101-105 West B Street, Iron Mountain, MI


“The bar and grill was part of the old Dickinson Hotel. I had a honky tonk/bluegrass type band called ‘The Great Northern Iron Band.’ We played many gigs there.”



The Northwoods: 618 Ash Street, Norway, MI 

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“‘The Great Northern Iron Band’ played there a number of times. One night the place was hopping when the bar sponsored girl’s softball team walked in. They had just won the local championship game. They were ready to celebrate and before long they were dancing on the tables/bar minus some parts of their uniforms. Wild Night!”

The Last Chance (presently Spud’s Bistro): 1100 Vulcan St. Iron Mountain

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“This was an old time bar with lots of wood for decor. The mayor of Iron Mountain owned this bar. The Great Northern Iron Band got started at this bar.”


Mister Mom’s: 1009 N. Main St. Norway, MI


“My band The Iron Town Blues Band played a Halloween job there made-up to resemble the mime Marcell Marceau.”

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Furno’s in Iron Mountain MI was owned by my either my great grandfather or his brother! I’ve never been there so its cool to see a picture of it

Comment by Hope Alyssa Furno

If we’re being honest, we just screen-grabbed a google maps street view of the address, but we’re glad we could help you explore your roots! We’d love to visit ourselves sometime… I’m sure we’ll update the blog once we do.

Comment by numerogroup

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