Political Punch

drink-19202_1280I’ve been working with the comedy troupe The Capitol Steps this summer, creating some fun promotional and content pieces with them and the team hosting their summer residence, at Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort’s new Harvest Barn stage. Recently I teamed up with a local bartender to concoct two summer sangrias — one sweet and one with a little spice — to celebrate the ‘Steps and their satire domination in the Berkshires.

Check out the recipes below, and share your own versions using the hashtag #CapitolCocktails!

Red, Sweet, and Blue

A sweet tea and berry-based sangria. Serves 12.

55 oz. sweet tea

750 ml Sweet red wine (recommended: Bota Box Redvolution)

2 cups mixed-berry juice

2 lbs. strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries — hulled and sliced


Baby, You’re a Firework

A whiskey- and wine-based sangria with a little spark. Serves four.

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

1/3 cup Fireball Whiskey – soak the chopped apple in the whiskey, preferably over night

3/4 cup apple juice

1 orange, sliced

1 blood orange, sliced

1 cup red wine (recommended: Malbec)

Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort is offering a chance to laugh off some election-year stress throughout the summer, hosting the award-winning musical satire group The Capitol Steps for a limited run of performances, from July 1 to Sept. 2. The troupe will be the first to perform on Cranwell’s new Harvest Barn stage, a 220-seat venue.

The Capitol Steps began as a group of congressional staffers who set out to satirize the very people who employed them. Now in its 35th year, the show has since evolved to feature 26 actors and five pianists, who stage shows across the United States.

This year’s show is largely based on songs from The Capitol Steps’ current album What To Expect When You’re Electing, featuring tunes that give a comedic nod to some of our most pressing political issues: “Ain’t No Pipeline, Now It’s Gone,” “Hello, Is it Mitt You’re Looking For?” and “We Warm the World” among them.

The Capitol Steps’ 90-minute show will be performed nightly, excluding Tuesdays, at 8 p.m. Cranwell Spa & Golf Resort offers pre-show dining from 4:30 to 6:30 at its Wine Spectator Award-winning restaurant in the Gilded Age Mansion, as well as casual fare at Sloane’s Restaurant and Bar. Show tickets and an optional dinner may be reserved directly by calling (413) 881-1636, or online at For more information on Capitol Steps, visit

Recipes developed by Mitchell Keil

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The Read My Writin’ Round-up

I’ve been able to write a lot about where I live, recently – in the Berkshires of Massachusetts – so this shameless round-up of my own work is pulled together with a Berkshire County theme.

First, the latest; I wrote a ‘Parents-Eye Review’ for Berkshire Family Focus, upon the opening of the new Berkshire Carousel. Juli was my intern on this project.


Next, on to the world of corporate spa retreats…an actual thing, apparently, and growing in popularity. I used two world-class resorts in the Berkshires to illustrate the trend of spa retreats as part of workplace health and wellness packages.


Finally, a look at the entire region from the point-of-view of the visitor’s bureau and the owner/managers of some attractions in the area, including outdoor recreation spots as well as theater venues (two of the biggies in these parts).




Solid Sound OMG

Call Me the Ticket Master.


Photo by MarceGrez

Update: As of 6.23.16, the first wave of voucher-eligible concerts has closed. More will be added. I’ll try to keep up… plus, my local daily newspaper interviewed me on this issue yesterday due in part to a mini-viral post on my Facebook page:

It all started with a couple of Wilco fans.

In the early aughts, two men bought tickets to a Wilco show and were displeased with the rigamarole that accompanied their purchase. They sued, and — fast-forward 13 years or so — this has resulted in the settlement of a protracted class-action suit in the form of millions of ‘ticket vouchers’ for past Ticketmaster customers.

The roll-out of these vouchers has been bumpy to say the least. There’s only a handful of eligible shows, the list isn’t sorted by performer or state — only by venue, which is clunky at best to search — and many people had issues with making their vouchers work at check-out in the first couple of days.

What’s more, the ‘first-come, first-serve’ model means a lot of the initial shows listed as voucher-friendly are already sold out. Several are already gone that were there yesterday afternoon — some say ‘sold out,’ other shows just dropped off the list. Saratoga Springs, N.Y seems to have completely disappeared, after having one of the more impressive available line-ups just last night.

But the bottom line here, especially for music fans, is that we still may have some free tickets up for grabs between now and next May, when they are set to expire. If you attended a concert between 1999 and 2013, chances are you have at least one voucher code waiting for you at (here is how to access this information).

Plus, after posting a quick, one-off update about the vouchers on Facebook, I went mini-viral. My friends’ responses proved that many people have dozens of free vouchers to cash in; I have two, plus a couple of $2.25 shipping discount codes, and I’m pretty happy about that. I’m also 38 and therefore the preponderance of bands that were big in the nineties doesn’t bother me as much as some other people.

I planned on doing a real public service here with a nice, long list of shows in my local region of New England and New York. Sadly, it’s a considerably smaller list than even just yesterday, and the shows start as early as this weekend. Hopefully, concert offerings will expand again as we continue to bluster about this… for now, I was only able to muster a couple of bullet points.

  • The venues are limited to Live Nation stages, and the concerts are being updated periodically, so there’s a chance more acts will be added.
  • If you scroll up to the top of the screen on the listing site, there is a button on the right to filter by location (city).
  • The vouchers are good until May, 2017, but subject to availability.
  • One voucher = two general admission tickets.
  • In Mansfield, Mass., as of today (6.22.16), the following shows are still open: Keith Urban, Duran Duran w/ Nile Rodgers.
  • In New York, New York, the following shows are still open (plus a slew of tribute bands): Sasheer Zamata (SNL) and Nicole Byer (Mtv), The Proclaimers, and Tiffany.

Have more information? Did I get anything wrong? Let me know — I wrote this quickly and I hate to be wrong. Comment or shout at me on Twitter.