Violin Monster Celebrates His 493 Birthday

By Bryan K. Alfaro | THE EASTERN ECHO
Added September 29, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Violin Monster is a professional, full-time street performer, with a beer named after him. (Photo courtesy Christine Marie Hoffman / Sept. 29, 2013)

Violin Monster is a professional, full-time street performer, with a beer named after him. (Photo courtesy Christine Marie Hoffman / Sept. 29, 2013)

Corner Brewery, located at 720 Norris St. in Ypsilanti, will be hosting the Violin Monster’s 493rd Birthday Bash on Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight.

The Violin Monster, who clarified things a bit, said he’s a werewolf and was born Oct. 3, 1520 in Ireland, but now calls Ann Arbor home.

“I feel like Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor are so connected, and I feel like I’ve been embraced by the community,” he said.

When asked whether or not he has an alter ego, he said, “I am known simply as Violin Monster.”

The Monster said he has been a professional, full-time street performer for two and a half years.

“It’s more of a lifestyle than a job, because it’s a lot of fun, and I love being able to do something this creative,” he said. “But I work very hard at it.”

Violin Monster said he mostly plays traditional Irish and fiddle tunes, but with a monstrous twist.

The Monster said he doesn’t sing during performances, but there is always plenty of howling.

The Monster’s website,, read, “Though his appearance may be frightful, his tunes are delightful.”

The event will feature live music by Dragon Wagon, The Paths and Violin Monster himself, with performances beginning at 7 p.m. While the event is free and open to the public, fliers are suggesting a $5 donation to “help feed the Monster.” Corner Brewery is a 21-and-up establishment, but children and minors are welcome until 9 p.m. if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Corner Brewery’s event manager, Krista Jacob, said Violin Monster handpicked the bands for the show.

“Being a musician, he’s very involved in the local music scene so he has a really great pulse on who’s doing what in Ann Arbor and Ypsi,” Jacob said.

Dragon Wagon was founded in Ann Arbor in 2008, and described themselves on the band’s Facebook page as, “Bluegrass folk rock with a shot of Irish whiskey.”

The Paths formed in 2011, also in Ann Arbor, and described their sound as having hints of folk, psychedelic and ambient electronic music.

The Monster said his roommate, Kenneth Frost, suggested the idea of a Violin Monster brew to Corner Brewery owners Matt and Rene Greff while working at a restaurant the Greffs frequented.

“Kenny suggested the idea to them, and they decided to go with it,” the Monster said. “It’s an incredible honor, and I’m thrilled that I was a part of the concept and design from the beginning. It was a highly collaborative process, and it turned out howlingly delicious.”

In a YouTube video, aptly named “Making the Violin Monster Beer,” Matt Greff said they were continuing what the Violin Monster and Corner Brewery do, which is creating and fostering community.

“This is a really cool opportunity to continue to showcase our community, where we are more collaborative than competitive,” Matt said in the video.

Jacob said the project really began coming to life early this summer, when Matt and Rene began meeting with the Monster and Corner’s head brewer, John Ritenour, to develop a concept and recipe.

“The initial idea was to create a beer that would speak to the fall season,” she said. “After a few different attempts and variations, what is now the Violin Monster beer came to life.”

Violin Monster Autumn Ale will be available in bottles and on tap for the event. The limited sea-son brew is an American dark wheat ale brewed with warming spices, a hint of brown sugar and packs a punch at 9.5 percent alcohol by volume. By comparison, Budweiser is 5 percent ABV, according to

Jacob said the Monster ale has been selling well and the company plans on brewing it every fall.

“The enthusiasm from the community and our patrons surrounding this beer has been incredibly positive,” she said. “What’s out in the market and on draft here at Corner is all that’s left for this beer until fall 2014.”

Corner Brewery’s website read, “Unleash your inner beast with Violin Monster dark ale, but be-ware…it finishes with a bite. Awwwwwwoooooooooooooooo!”

Violin Monster said the best advice he can offer, after living almost 500 years, is to never be afraid of taking a chance and following your dreams.

“Life is more fun as an adventure,” he said. “I try to live in the present as much as possible.”

The Monster said the technological advances we’ve seen in the last century are astonishing, but he has a soft spot for the Renaissance era.

“I was bitten in 1546 by Lord Cosimo I de’ Medici, and he introduced me to art, music and cul-ture during my formative werewolf years,” Violin Monster said.

For you history buffs, Medici was the second duke of Florence from 1537–1574 and first grand duke of Tuscany from 1569–1574. He was born June 12, 1519 and died April 21, 1574, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Facebook event page for the Birthday Bash read, “Dig out your best party hat and start practicing your howls; it’s not every day a monster turns 493.”

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