I LOVE local music. These bands that are often times just as talented as major label performers, but that you can actually see live in small venues and even talk with after their show is over.
One of my dreams as a teenager was to get in a band that was good enough to play some gigs around Michigan. The clubs we’d walk past in East Lansing when spending the day out there seemed so mysterious. I’d been to concerts before, but these were different. You were up close with the musicians and really part of the music.
Well, my dream came true back at Michigan State when a friend I’d met, Isaac VanderSchuur, had invited me to play rhythm guitar in his band, The End. This kicked off a whirlwind of rock shows across the state, late night drives home, crashing on people’s couches, and most importantly meeting other bands when playing shows together.
I was actually part of the Michigan music scene. Once I got past the “fan boy” awe of these guys and sat down to talk with them they were actually pretty down to earth people. They liked music like me and spent a lot of their time listening to it and playing it. They worked at a music store or guitar shop usually, regular blue collar dudes. Another reason to like local bands, they’re just like you and me. Regular people.
Aware Records (from Chicago) came out with a complication CD of the most popular bands around the state from this time (1997-1998). We didn’t make the cut obviously, but it was great to see our local heroes making it big. If you are interested, they still sell this CD on their website. Really big fan of Aware and the work they do with local bands. You’d be surprised how many big acts they found when they were unknowns.
Nineteen Wheels – Colorado
Track 1 on the CD: Nineteen Wheels. These guys have the most polished sound of the group and the singer has a “rock star” voice. On a side note, most of the guys in this band worked at Music Manor in south Lansing and I bought several effects pedals from them. Colorado, good song.
Papa Vegas – Bombshell
These guys, along with The Verve Pipe and Fat Amy were our local heroes. They were the ones that really made it big from “the scene” and were great guys to boot. Papa Vegas was from the west side of the state (Grand Rapids area), so we didn’t get to know them, but their music is incredible.
Dorothy – Morning After
Another band we didn’t get to meet, but liked their music greatly. Dorothy just rocked out. They put out an incredible CD and then just kind of faded away. Some bands do that, unfortunately.
Fat Amy – Bourbon
This finally brings us to Fat Amy. These were OUR GUYS. I had hung out with the guitarist Mark on several occasions, once even showing up at some friends dorm late on a sunday to surprised them with a party. So many good times with this band. The singer, Bob Guiney, ended up being the most famous of all of them. You probably know him as Bachelor Bob, from the TV show The Bachelor. Fame comes in really weird ways sometimes.
The good side of this is that it rekindled an interest in his old band and they were able to make a few come backs, which was great. Really miss these guys. To me they (along with The Verve Pipe) really stood for what local music was all about. Super talented local guys who were good people just trying to make a living doing what they love.
There are plenty of other great songs and bands on this album. I highly recommend checking it out. And really, I encourage you to go see some local music no matter where you are. These people need your support and encouragement. You may meet some really cool people and discover some unique music you really enjoy.
Never stop listening.