Music Summit at the Shiny Moon Café

Local musicians gather for weekly jam sessions

Saturday mornings bring some of Door County’s most well-known musicians to Fish Creek’s Shiny Moon Café.

That’s where DC Music Summit meetups assemble a rotating group of music-makers for weekly jam sessions, according to Door County musician Mike Judy.

The group goes around the room sharing songs and accompanying one another as they play anything from jazz to folk to rock, said Judy, who’s the “ringleader” of the DC Music Summit.

The ring he leads is a sizable one. Along with Judy and his wife, April Pate – who play together in the music duo Spike and April – regular attendees include big names like Hans Christian, whose cello-based album was nominated for a Grammy in November; Jeanne Kuhns, a singer-songwriter whose yearly Christmas shows have become a Door County tradition; and Cathy Grier, John Rood Lewis and Dennis Keith Johnson, who all starred in Northern Sky Theater’s 2023 Home for the Holidays show.

Other regulars play in bands that have performed or still perform around the peninsula, like bassist Paul Sowinski and guitarist Tony Besson of Dorothy Scott and the Peacekeepers; Deirdre Fellner of Cool Bay Jazz; mandolinist Jim Blahnik of Last Man Standing Bluegrass Band; and Terry Murphy of The Cherry Pickers, his own solo act and numerous music duos/trios. Still other musical guests include Richard Sternkopf, Steve Gomoll, Fritz Damler, Kris Lewis,  Bob Thomson and Mike Fordney.

Many musicians come to the summit bearing guitars, but others have brought acoustic basses, harmonicas, mandolins, drums and musician friends to join the fun. The group ranges in size week-to-week, as does the audience (it’s not an open mic, but some people stick around the café to listen in.)

The DC Music Summit started in earnest in early 2022. It was an outgrowth of a casual coffee group made up of Judy and a few friends looking for a way to connect and make music November to May, when Door County’s music scene quiets down along with the rest of the peninsula. 

Boredom, Judy said, was “the primary motivation” behind organizing the meetups. But now, they’re more than just a way to stay busy through the winter – they’re a reason to be excited for it.

“It’s fun to play with these great local musicians, and the friendship and camaraderie is a real part of it,” Judy said. “People look forward to getting together as a group.”

Shiny Moon Café is located on the second floor of 4164 Main St. in Fish Creek. DC Music Summit meetups are held every Saturday through May, 10 am – 12 pm.