Dr. J's Blog

Rock and Roll History, News & Views

The Michigan Box Pt. 1

by Gary Johnson

“The Michigan Box: 1950s & 1960s Oddball Labels” offers a unique look at many of the state’s independent music labels at the dawn of the rock and roll era. The set has over 330 recordings on ten full length CDs containing over 12 hours of music; along with a 200 page hard cover book filled with photos, biographical information, and recording data. You won’t find any Top 40 hits, but you will discover some obscure early recordings by significant Michigan artists such as Tommy James, Andre Williams, Dick Wagner, Nolan Strong & The Diablos, Brian Holland, and The Falcons.


The box set mostly concentrates on lesser known musicians who often recorded their rockabilly, country, R&B songs and instrumentals in primitive one man (or woman) studios often outfitted in the front room, back room, garage, or basement. The 45s and 78s were pressed in Michigan plants and issued in limited numbers on tiny labels found in cities all around the state.

Read more: The Michigan Box Pt. 1

Sherwood Forest

by Gary Johnson

“We are all outlaws in the eyes of America” – Jefferson Airplane

Although the repercussions from the 1970 Goose Lake International Music Festival in Jackson County had effectively ended the rock festival era in most parts of Michigan, the events did continue until 1974 in what would seem to have been the most unlikely of locations. Sherwood Forest was located in Richfield Township, just east of Flint and north of the small town of Davison. The amusement park was the brainchild of Don Sherwood, a farmer turned businessman; and the music festivals held there were organized and promoted by an enterprising disc jockey named Peter C. Cavanaugh.

Read more: Sherwood Forest

Best CDs of 2015: Two Views

Stop the presses! MRRL’s annual listing of the Best of 2015 once again features the informed and unbiased opinions of Mid-Michigan’s Dr. J and Metro Detroit’s Larry Van Cleve.

Read more: Best CDs of 2015: Two Views