Destination Lucky's (A Memory)

My hands were sweating on the handle grips of my trusty red and tan colored Royal bicycle as we pulled to a stop in front of St. Laurent’s Nut House. The slightly fishy odor of the Saginaw River was strong and mixed with the smell of roasting nuts as we put down our kick stands.

There was nothing like a little chocolate candy to steel the nerves for our first bike crossing of the Third Street Bridge. “Nuts since 1904” was painted in large letters on the distinctive yellow brick building and it never failed to draw laughs from the three boys from St. Joseph Grade School who piled into the shop.

Read more ...

Mitch Ryder Rocked the Pig Gig

One of the nice things about all of the summer activities in Bay City (Fireworks Festival, Pig Gig, River Roar etc.) is the fact that quite a few well-known Michigan artists have performed here as part of the festivities. In the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to see Tommy James & The Shondells, Mark Farner, ? And The Mysterians, and Ted Nugent on Bay City stages.

It was especially great that the legendary Mitch Ryder was chosen to close the 2009 Pig Gig with a Sunday night concert at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Backed by a hot young band featuring alternating lead guitars, keyboards, bass and drums, Ryder interspersed the hits that made him famous with original tunes – some of which were brand new and will soon appear on his upcoming CD produced by fellow Michigander Don Was.

Read more ...

Jack Scott: 50 Years After and Ten Cool Tunes

The first time I ever saw Jack Scott perform was at the Michigan State Fair in Detroit in the summer of 1959. Jack was a hot recording artist at the time with four Top 40 hits under his belt. He was appearing as part of Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars along with a bevy of other popular artists of the late 50’s.

I was a big fan of Dick Clark and a dedicated watcher of American Bandstand after school each day and during the summer. Dick had the latest records of all the artists on the ’59 Caravan in heavy rotation, and he had been promoting it nonstop on his show. When I learned that Clark was bringing his bus tour to Michigan, I convinced my parents to drive me to the State Fair in Detroit (I was just 12) so that I could see the show. It was my first-ever rock and roll concert.

Read more ...

Hollywood Horror Film Features Michigan Garage Rock

Parasomnia, the newest film from director William Malone, is the first-ever Hollywood movie to feature 60’s garage rock from Michigan on its soundtrack. Bill Malone knows more than a little bit about Michigan’s vibrant garage band scene of the 1960’s. He lived it as the bass player and principal songwriter for the Lansing-area teen band, The Plagues. The Plagues recorded three British Invasion-influenced singles during 1965 and 1966 at Dave Kalmbach’s Great Lakes Recording Studio in Sparta, Michigan.

Read more ...

Best Albums of 2007 and 2006

I didn't think to do this last year until I started reading all the end-of-the year lists. By the time I got mine together, it was already the middle of January and it seemed kind of pointless to put it out. (I did keep the 2006 list, however, and I've included here it after my 2007 list. I call it my "blast from the past".)

Read more ...

96 Tears Pt. 2 - Spelling Is Important

Before he died in in 1983, I wonder if Art Schiell ever heard the old saying "I don't care what they write about me as long as they spell my name correctly"? If ever there was a man in Rock and Roll history who got the shaft by having his name misspelled, it was Art Schiell. Granted, Schiell's place in the story of Rock and Roll is a very small one. He ran the Schiell Recording Studio at his home at 405 Raymond Street in Bay City, Michigan, for nearly two decades. His only claim to fame outside of Bay City was the fact that he recorded "96 Tears" by Question Mark and The Mysterians there in the spring of 1966. The song went on to become a # 1 hit single on the Billboard Hot 100 that same year.

Read more ...

96 Tears Pt. 1 - Too Many Mistakes

Very few people in Bay City, or anywhere else for that matter, know where "96 Tears" was recorded. Even local folks who are interested in rock and roll are confused as to the correct city; citing Saginaw, Flint, and even Auburn as the place where the famous recording was made. That being the case, I guess it shouldn't be surprising to find that there is a great deal of inaccurate information in the writings of people not from this area when dealing with ? and The Mysterians and "96 Tears" in rock and roll history. In my attempt to research the recording career of Art Schiell and his recording of "96 Tears" at his small studio in Bay City, I uncovered quite a few mistakes and also some completely false information in a variety of rock and roll sources.

Read more ...