The Local Scene -- Grand Rapids, MI

Caught in the Act...



The Rocker hosted charismatic local veterans Backfire, whose strong rhythm section powered covers from Cheap Trick to Alice Cooper to Metallica.

The sign said "Stagger Bush -- Pop. 3," but Domenic's was packed with temporary residents who would beg to differ. Stagger Bush rocked emphatically to "Pretty Woman," "Rock and Roll Fantasy," and everything in between.

Toronto's T.O. Joker treated a Rocker crowd to covers from the likes of Ozzy and Deep Purple, as well as some of the best originals in North America, including "Destination Abstract," a powerful, melodic track fueled by its many tempo changes, from the band's LIFE GOES ON CD.

Dokken headlined a sold-out (in advance) show at the Orbit Room. From the opening of "Tooth and Nail" to the end of "It's Not Love," West Michigan rockers appreciated the legendary band's return. And songs from the new album resulted in overcrowded rest rooms, not due to their unfamiliarity as much as to their heavily grunge-influenced sound. Still, not even Stone Temple Dokken can detract entirely from George Lynch's fretwork brilliance. Local act Gone opened the show by powering through originals like "Sleeping Lady" and "Punk Tune," which were more in tune with Dokken's new stuff. Also worth hearing was the band's Beatles impression, which manifested itself for a VERY interesting "Magical Mystery Tour."


Ironhorse turned the Westwood Ranch House on its ear with all things country from "Rock My World" to the "Watermelon Crawl."

Alton Taylor's revamped Midnite Ryder is a powerful, guitar-driven four-piece country band. These guys treated a Howlin' Moon crowd to a fun rendition of "Hillbilly Rock," an energetic, jammin' forceful, FAST version of "T-R-O-U-B-L-E," and ballads that showcased Alton's booming vocals.


Jawbone, 6/13/95, "Tuesday Night Music Club" in Eastown: One of the best alternative rock bands I've heard in this area. The originals they perform live are as good as their CD, MR. JONES! Not a lot of talent can claim this feat (including some well known acts). Their cover rendition of "Jenny/867-5309" was a slow, sensual, bluesy feel that added a romantic atmosphere to the parking lot arena that they performed in. [CHECK OUT STEVE DEVRIES' SPIN ON THIS SHOW IN HIS REVIEW.]

The Bimini Brothers (aka Biff & Tod) If you're looking for some rowdy fun on a Wednesday night, drop in to South Side Jimmy's for a rollicking good time. "The Bims," Dennie Middleton and Nick Lewis, present their original (and much of the time impromptu) music stupidity sing-alongs.

This on again-off again duo plays in the summer to a core audience who will make reservations just to be sure they have a good seat. "The audience will give us the lyrics if we forget, which we often do, because they're new almost every night," Dennie explains.

"We do have some staple songs that are based on real parts of our life and then turned into a parody, such as 'Grilled Cheese Sandwich.' That song started out because of my wife's cleaning habits," Nick chimes in. Catch them at Jimmy's -- leave your serious side at home!

Dink at the Orbit Room: Dink. Yeah, the name gets your attention. Even if the name doesn't get your attention, the turbo-charged alternative sound will prick up your ears. The songs are a culmination of an electronic blitzkrieg that attacks your senses.

If you'd like Amy to catch your show, call her at (616) 774-2097.


This summer in Grand Rapids is turning out to be the summer local bands have been waiting for. Local radio stations and newspapers are pulling behind their hometown bands now more than ever, making them even more accessible to the public.

The up and coming blues/funk band Sundown Syndrome swung Eastown's Intersection on June 8th with their blend of pop and classic rock, which is all stitched together with 20-year-old guitarist Casey Trayer's swirling blue notes. These guys may be young, but they showed the audience a damn good time. Singer James Campbell crooned away on the band's originals in a custom fit baritone, but he had better not take his stage brat style ANY farther than it is now.

Opening band for Syndrome was Calvin College's The Bridges. The usual onslaught of "Bridge-heads" sat scattered about the dim club to watch the acoustic rock outfit once again work its live magic. Despite a tinge of laryngitis scratching vocalist Vicki Howell's melodies, the band managed to pull off a great set. The Bridges are always a delight to see in concert.

Dave Marean and his band Jawbone took the stage at Eastown's hub lot for WGRD's Tuesday Night Music Club on June 13th. These guys are so good that it seems like they jumped from the pages of a rock star cut and paste book! Marean has a lot of songwriting talent, and it shows. Watch these guys closely; they may make bands like Dada and the Gin Blossoms sweat a bit one day.

If you'd like Steve to catch your show, call him at (616) 531-6587.


On the scorching evening of June 17, Pudgy Chuck brought the Basement to its boiling point in a fury of mind shattering eruptions of amplified overload. Pudgy Chuck kept the crowd captivated as they ripped through their world, breaking down the walls of normalcy as they went. An intense evening for heavy music worshippers; they roared and raved through powerful songs, with the strength of "Mountain Heather" to the body piercing "Turbine." And, of course, they had to slip in some Chuck style humor with such moments as now former lead singer Chad Patton baring his chest with a "Pudgy Chuck is in need of a good singer" ad. No Chuck show is complete without bassist Fred Rosenberg belting out "The Mustard Song." Guitarist Kevin Keefer sounded as dorky as he looked as he ya-hooed through "Johnny Was an Inbred."

Definitely an intense evening for all in attendence; Pudgy Chuck is as much sweat and experience as they are music. Be prepared forthem to crash into your heaviest musical nightmares soon with their upcoming release, a follow-up to the excellent FRESH GROUND CHUCK.

If you'd like Valerie to catch your show, call her at (616) 454-9712.


Universal Stomp was a no-show at the Intersection, but their bill included two very impressive bands, nonetheless. 20 Dead Flowerchildren opened the show with a heavy, surging set that included superb vocals, frantic drumming, and incredibly polished (and original) songwriting. Keep your eyes open for this band. Next up was the progressive rhythms of Solid Frog. Their songs had an instant hook and an edge of psychedelia. I would really like to hear more from both of these bands.

Grand Rapids Band Guide

To help club-goers, the RENEGADE asked a couple of the Grand Rapids area's local bands to describe themselves briefly. Their answers follow.

Power Play: "Raw, animalistic, kick ass metal that'll have you screamin' for more -- it's a Power Play!"

Painted Sky: "We are fairly new to the local band scene, but have enjoyed getting to know our contemporaries. Our music is a celebration of life that looks into the natural beauty of things rather than monotonously brooding in the ugly."

The Band Guide will feature a few local bands each month, but we won't repeat the same bands very often, so be sure to save this Guide for future reference.

Bands: Read the "Hey Bands" section for information on how to get listed in the Grand Rapids Band Guide section.

Grand Rapids Band News

Solid Ground will be opening for Confederate Railroad (July 19) at the Barry County Fair and for Ricky Lynn Gregg (Aug. 10) at the Monroe Mall Ampthitheater. Read the cover story about Solid Ground to find out about all the great Nashville gigs the band will be playing, including a New Year's Eve, TNN cable televised Wild Horse Saloon show.

Mark Sandstedt is looking for CDs or well-produced studio cassettes from local bands for his show, "Radioactive," on WGRD at ten o'clock every Sunday night. Send CD or cassette to: WGRD's Radioactive, 38 West Fulton, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.

Ironhorse keyboardist Chuck Bauman survived a June 29th WCUZ on-air interview and the debut of the single "Ice Cold Soul" from the band's CD. Ironhorse has landed a gig headlining at the Ottawa County Fair July 27th, 7 PM, in Holland.

Bands: Read the "Hey Bands" section for information on how to get listed in the Grand Rapids Band News section.

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