“There’s a program called the Cicerone program, and a Cicerone is essentially equivalent to a Sommelier in the wine world. It’s someone who’s trained and certified as a Beer expert. I’ve achieved the first level of that which is a certified beer server, and I’m studying for my Cicerone certification. Hopefully I’ll finish that in the spring.”
Today, our Sense of Community Series shadows Steve Ames, who’s aiming toward earning that Cicerone certification to put to use in his work at Springfield’s three Mama Jeans Natural Markets.
“My job title is Departmental Coordinator of the Beer Wine and Cheese Department, so I oversee all three departments in all three stores to make sure we have the right things in stock and on sale. My main job is to curate our beer collection and sell beer, blog posts with different social media interaction for Mama Jeans Brewt Squad page, I plan and execute events. I’ve worked here for almost 6 years now.”
As Steve Ames orders beer for all three Mama Jeans Markets, each week he interacts with several alcohol distributor sales representatives.
“Im Gene Baldi. I’m a sales rep for Major Brands. I’m probably in here at least once a week, sometimes twice a week. I sell to him and he sells to his customers. He’s sometimes a tough sell. He has to like the beer. Well I should say he has to appreciate its salability. I like him, he’s a good guy. He’s one of my favorite people to call on.”
Steve Ames: “Yeah, basically a Rep will come in and say hey I got some new beers and have some for me to try. I’ll do a lot of research on line when new stuff comes out. I rate beer in Beer Advocate, and look at other resources including Draft Magazine where you can check ratings and reviews and see where it stacks up nationally. My day flows as it needs to depending on weather I have a delivery that day or the number of people I interact with. Every day is a little different, but kind of the same too.”
A Day in the Life profile of Steve Ames should also include his work after hours as a paid and sometime unpaid singer songwriter. He performs regularly with bands like The Hamburger Cows and The Lowdown Fancy. Steve Ames is also a classically trained operatic singer.
“I studied music at Missouri State University and have done a lot of work with the Opera Workshop in the Theater Department there. I’ve sung a lot with Springfield Regional Opera, The Landers Theater, the Vandivort Theater. Pretty much any outlet with theater and singing, I’ve been involved in.
Steve Ames says his current schedule doesn’t allow for participation in local theater performances but he does seek out opportunity to mix his music with his Sense of Community.
“Once a month on the first Thursday of the month I host The Moon City Jam, up at Big Mama’s on Commercial Street. It’s an open mic night to give publicity and push what’s called the Moon City Creative District, on Commercial Street and just to the north of Commercial. They’re trying to create a synergistic space where musicians and artists can live work and collaborate together. For a couple of years now they’ve been building momentum and getting this in place and have the traction to get in SGF City Council with it.”
And on the second Friday of every Month, once again on Commercial Street, you’ll find Steve Ames at Lindberg’s for Wild Bob’s Musical Book Club.
“And that’s really cool. What they do is they pick a different literary classic every month and ask local songwriters to read it and write a song about either a character in the book, or your response to the book, just your experience of having read the book. This month our book is Their Eyes are Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston. It’s been a really neat event, a real community push to it. It gets all the song writers together and do something a little out our comfort Zone.”
Meanwhile, Steve Ames is well within his comfort zone at Mama Jeans natural Market and studying for his Cicerone certification.
“It’s been pretty interesting, learning about not just different types and styles of beer, but the history of beer and brewing around the world. It’s fascinating.”