Record Store Day ~ The Rev Charles Way

Founded by Eric Levin, Michael Kurtz, Carrie Colliton, Amy Dorfman, Don Van Cleave and Brian Poehner in 2007, Record Store Day (RSD) was established as a way to honor the culture of the independently owned record store. It is now celebrated internationally on the third Saturday of April each year. In 2014, that day was April 19th, and what a day it was.

April weather in Michigan is unpredictable at best. Record Store Day 2013 brought us snow. RSD 2014, however, was a gloriously sunny 65oF. Whatever the temperature, RSD is the first day of my favorite season, the festival season. From now through the month of October, the downtown Grand Rapids area is alive with music, art, dance and film. There is inspiration around every corner. I live for this time of year. It got kicked off in fabulous style on Saturday, thanks to my friend, Reverend Charles Preston Smith.

Charles, frontman for the popular local band, PotatoeBabies, started the tradition of live Record Store Day music at Dodds Record Shop. The first year he walked into the store unannounced and asked the owner where he could plug-in his amp. Here is a photo of the PotatoeBabies’ inaugural RSD performance at Dodds:


In 2013, Charles bought that record shop. In addition to headlining PotatoeBabies, on top of being on the forefront of the GR local music scene, and in spite of a regular day job, he welcomed a massive undertaking in restoring Dodds to its former glory. After 30 years in the same location, Dodds’ inventory had become overwhelming. It has taken months to reopen aisles and clear space for a stage. Thanks to Charles’ dedication, no longer is Dodds a cluttered collection of forgotten treasures. It is a museum of music history, all genres in all formats for all ages. In addition to the preservation of music history, Dodds will be known for parties and even weddings. One lucky couple was married there, by Charles himself, just a few weeks ago. Cool.

With him at the helm, Record Store Day 2014 was the biggest and best yet. Not only did bands perform on the street outside, but there was also a lineup of bands inside. I don’t know if you know this, but being insulated by tens of thousands of records does amazing things for a building’s acoustics. I’ve seen the band Bitters play at least a dozen times. They never sounded better than they did this past Saturday. I can’t get over how much fun my husband and I had with our son that day.


Of course, the weather was irresistible so if indoors wasn’t your thing, the music was flowing out on the sidewalk as well.


If this has got you feeling a little nostalgic and craving some vinyl, go see my friend Charles at Dodds Record Shop. Charles has invested countless hours, and his own blood, sweat, and tears into refashioning the downtown Grand Rapids icon into something special and unique. Hear the story of Dodds’ revival straight from his mouth and make an appearance on the 24/7 VinylCam while you’re at it. Learn more about his efforts here:

A new era for Dodds Records:

Heartside record shop to showcase memories:


Dodds Record Shop, Record Store Day 2014 lineup:


And now I look forward to Festival of the Arts 2014, a weekend long celebration in the streets of downtown Grand Rapids where we appreciate food, friends, art, dance, music, and of course, Rev Charles Preston Smith and the PotatoeBabies. Look for an article on that event coming this June.

Grand Rapids

Steven Fox Writing’s Alphabet Challenge, Day 7, “G” ~ A poem about home: Grand Rapids, MI

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Or, Beer City USA,
The place that I love,
Live, work and play.

It’s a city of culture.
It boasts fine cuisine,
Breathtaking landscapes,
And sunsets pristine.

Beaches and fishing,
Symphony, ballet,
Fine artisan markets,
Film fests and Broadway.

Home of Art Prize,
And Blues on the Mall
Swing dance, ice skating
Hockey and baseball.

A remarkable town
Not one to be missed
A visit belongs atop
Of your bucket list.


Photo from Art Prize 2012, courtesy of

Electric Six

Image from Electric Six’s March 1st show at The Stache (inside The Intersection in Grand Rapids, MI). This is me after the show with Electric Six front man, Dick Valentine. My husband got me tickets as a birthday month, day 1 gift. I told Dick that I am turning 40. He said I don’t look a day over 29. I really like that guy.

Day 5 of Steven Fox’s Alphabet Challenge and I am loving how this challenge is forcing me to branch out. No longer does this blog seem to be nothing more than a series of creative writing assignments. There is life here now, reality in small doses. It is time to show the world who I am and what makes me tick. Today, I give you the “E” in me. The music of Electric Six ~ they are the soundtrack of my soul, the rhythm my heartbeat, and the voice behind some of life’s greatest memories.

Electric Six is a band that originated from my home state of Michigan. The band was highly successful, particularly in the UK, in 2003-2004. According to Wikipedia, their style has been described as a brand of rock music infused with elements of garage, disco, punk rock, new wave and metal. To be a little more succinct and to put into my own words; it’s rock music you can dance to, infused with fun and absurdity. To best appreciate an Electric Six show, you must take it in along side a group of your most entertaining friends.

I was denied the light of Electric Six in my life until July of 2009. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when I was enlightened. It was a day of celebration, friends gathered together to feast and imbibe upon spirits. It was the day the music was resurrected. A great man they call Dan brought forth a gift. It was not the tangible sort you hold in your hands, but the kind that touches your soul. Joy erupted within my psyche as “Down at McDonnelzzz” off I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master penetrated my ear drums. Before that glorious day came to a close I would also fall in love with “Dance Commander”, “Danger! High Voltage”, “Improper Dancing”, and “Gay Bar” all off Fire.

Today Electric Six serenades me as I write. They are there when I dance. They encourage me to sing. Their live shows are an anticipated event for me and my closest friends. I have seen them live no fewer than 7 times now, usually at The Intersection (or The Stache inside The Intersection) right here in Grand Rapids. Pre-show the band mingles with their fans. Once my husband bought drinks for himself and guitarist, Johnny Na$hinal while they took in an opening act together.  Post-show band members walk among the crowd and happily shake hands, sign autographs and take pictures. It is an experience, one I never miss when they come to town.

Here are a few photos from the latest show I attended, as well as a link to my favorite music video, for your pleasure.



Electric63 ~ Electric Six chooses to neither confirm nor deny the presence of Jack White’s voice as backup on Danger! High Voltage. I think we all know…

And because this is still a creative writing blog, an epitaph poem inspired by Electric Six’s “Egyptian Cowboy” lyrics (did you catch how many “E”s I tied together there?):
Here lies an
Egyptian Cowboy.
That identity was
Merely a ploy.
He set out to kill
But was stabbed instead.
He had pretty hair
But now he is dead.

You can learn more about the band at their website