Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Michigan Box

Bear Family Records, that German purveyor of crazily comprehensive, deliriously detailed multi-disc box sets, has issued The Michigan Box: 1950s & 1960s Oddball Labels, a 10-CD (that's right, 10-CD) compendium of releases from small Michigan labels. And guess what? There's some U.P. Grooves in it! (There'd almost have to be with 10CDs, right?)

The package (which, by the way, also includes a hardcover book) has tracks by Society, the Ramblers, the Rhythm Rockers and Danny & the Galaxies - and that's just what I know about! It's possible there are some other U.P. Grooves hidden in the Box as well. (If you get a copy, and if there are some U.P. tracks that I've missed, let me know.)

And if I'm listed as a source of info for the Box, tell me - I may ask for a consulting fee! (Or at least a free copy of the set.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Garage Beat '66 Vol. 4: I'm In Need!

The Sundazed Music CD "Garage Beat '66 Vol. 4: I'm In Need!" (Sundazed SC 11150) includes no less than four (count 'em) U.P. GROOVES! tracks: "You Know - 'Til the End of Time" and She's Mean," both by Joey Gee & the Come-Ons; "Is Love Real?" by the Henchmen VI; and "Girl Talk" by Rob Kirk & the Word. Check it out and

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cross Roads / The Lighthouse

Cross Roads - HE WAS THERE ALL THE TIME (Forrest Green Studios FGS-101); THE LIGHTHOUSE (Cross Roads 504107X). This Escanaba-based gospel group, headed by Russ and Sharon Lind, began in 1979; its first album was made in Clio, MI; its second in Cincinnati, OH, at Queen City Studios. There is no known connection between this Lighthouse and the Canadian brass-rock band, or the University of Michigan Christian performance troupe.

Fred and Nancy Spanton

Fred and Nancy Sparton - DOWN FROM HIS GLORY (no label name NR-6547). This gospel-singing couple from Iron Mountain, backed by pianist Sally Mitchell, recorded their album at Cinema Sound Studios in Grand Rapids, MI.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Off-topic: SCAN

[Once again, forgive me me for an off-topic post, but I couldn't let this article go to waste.]

The first thing you heard was a synthesized swishing sound - if you listened in stereo, it swished back-and-forth across the speakers. Then a deep bass voice intoned "Scannnn..." followed by an echoing "Scan, scan, scan, scan ..."

Thus began each episode of SCAN, a weekly half-hour public-service program produced and distributed by the American Lutheran Church (ALC) of Minneapolis, MN. I particularly remember this show becase it was the last program my usual station aired before going off the air on Sunday nights.

SCAN described itself as "a weekly source of stories of strength and hope which rivet the litener to the station," "sweeping the horizon discovering the life intended by the Creator." Most episodes discussed a current social, political, cultural, economic and/or spiritual issue, through interviews with people involved in the issue and contemporary rock music. Some SCAN programs I especially remember are:

---An interview with a rape victim, about her experience and her search for justice and healing;

---Three peace activists, including an East German pastor, an American ex-bureaucrat and a Danish mother, advocating against nuclear war;

---Two former pro-footballers now leading a campaign for fair housing and aid for the poor.

However, some shows were outright interviews with pop-music stars - the very first SCAN was an interview with Randy Bachman of Bachman-Turner Overdrive; other music stars interviewed for the show included Neil Sedaka, Barry Manilow, B.J. Thomas and the early female rock band Deadly Nightshade.

SCAN started its run in fall 1975, and was the successor to an earlier ALC series, "Silhouette," which began in 1967. The show was produced by the ALC's Media services Center, wih Hal Dragseth as the host and executive producer. (Dragseth owned the above-mentioned deep bass voice.) The ALC offered the show free to radio stations - a considerable bargain, because the show was quite well-produced; free transcripts were also offered for an SASE, the show issued a monthly newsletter called "Newsnote," and $5.98 got you a cassette of a favorite SCAN program.

At its peak, SCAN aired on more than 500 U.S. radio stations and 300 Armed Forces stations. It won two Gabriel Awards for best youth-oriented religious program, and two Certificates of Merit.

In 1987, twelve years after SCAN premiered, the ALC merged with two other churches to become the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); the ALC's Media Services Center disappeared, but several employees - including Dragseth - formed Seraphim Productions, Inc., and continued to produce SCAN without interruption, now for the ELCA. However, the next year, the ELCA began cutting back on production of new episodes; the last all-new SCAN program, a New Year's entry called "Lessons From the Past," aired on December 31, 1989.

Even so, SCAN continued for nearly two more years, with repeats; on August 11, 1991, after sixteen years, SCAN aired its last episode.

But the show's legacy lives on. The ELCA still has a complete archive of all 756 SCANs, and is digitizing them, with hopes of making them available again in some way. After all, even though SCAN last "swept the horizon" more than 20 years ago, many of the problems it addressed are still very much with us. Soon, we may somehow hear that synthesizer swish again.

{Special thanks to Joel Thoreson, ELCA media archivist, for providing me with most of the info for this article.}

UPDATE - July 2014: Hal Dragseth has digitized the masters of all 750 episodes of SCAN, and has begun posting on the Select Learning website. Because he had to replace all the musical selections with public-domain music, the shows are shorter, but the interviews are still complete as they originally aired. Go to and tell them I sent you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Off-topic: Mike-ing History

This is off the blog's topic, but I'm bringing it up here because I'm not having much luck finding any info elsewhere.

When I was a kid in the mid-'70s, my school system had these 78s called "Mike-ing History." They were on colored (red or green) vinyl, and featured short newscast-style dramatizations of historical events (like "You Are There"). I took them out and taped them, but shortly afterward they disappeared, and I haven't yet found any more info about them, even on the Web.

If anyone reading this entry has any info about the "Mike-ing History" 78s (or knows where I can find info), please contact me. Thanks.

Jeff Cowell LPs?

One of "The Grooves I Have" is the "Iron Mountain Centennial Song" single, featuring Jeff Cowell. I've been informed that Jeff Cowell also brought out some self-released LPs, but so far I haven't found any more info about them. If anyone reading this entry has more info (or knows where I can find it), please contact me. Thanks.