Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Wrong Agenda

Some Grand Rapids, Michigan music history: In the late 70’s I played in a band called Preston Arendson with Scott Zystra, Jack Gant, and Abe Rhoorda. We played the local bars and achieved some local fame as a folk/rock/country band with 3-part harmonies. We all wrote original songs but Abe and I really worked hard at it. Scott and Jack were the music talent that took our raw songs and turned them into something special. We played local bars like the Intersection, Eastown Saloon, Olsen’s Rib Shack, and others. We broke up after two years. It just suddenly happened and I think all of us view the breakup from different perspectives but maybe the best answer is that it was time to move on. Jack and Scott went on to play in various bluegrass bands but it was the end of the road for myself and Abe, at least playing bars.

Long after the band breakup I still dreamed of writing a “concept album.” Popular bands like Jethro Tull, The Eagles, and others had done concept albums in the 70’s so as a songwriter it seemed like an interesting goal. Scott had purchased a farm up near Mesick, MI and built a recording studio in his barn so the timing was good (around 1996.) I was working two jobs, a day job as a technical Illustrator and part-time evening job as a patent draftsman. I used about half my evening job pay to run up to Scott’s studio on weekends and lay down tracks. I insisted on paying his studio rate but he did more work than he ever charged.

It was clear to me then and now that we were partners in the project. He is an accomplished musician/guitarist with the best music ear of anyone I’ve ever met, and creative, and the quality of our work rested on his talents. The “Without a Hitch” music CD is an great effort produced at the wrong time. I was raising daughters and he was raising sons. We both had too many responsibilities to actually play the music publicly which was further complicated by the one hundred mile drive between us. And Jack Grant, our bass player from Preston Arendson, was living in Colorado. He drove to Michigan to lay down tracks under tough conditions – learning new songs on-the-fly and playing flawlessly. I was amazed (and thankful!)

Yesterday I found a copy of early cover artwork which I proposed to Scott. But he would have none of it, insisting he was doing his job and that my name should be on the CD. We reached a compromise with the band name Wrong Agenda which actually was prophetic: A strange collaboration at the wrong time in our lives. No way to promote and sell it – people need to hear bands play live, and songs on the air, in order to get sales and recognition. I did send a copy to our local PBS radio station, WGVU, and heard one song, Thirty-Nine Steps, playing on my car radio while waiting in line at a bank. I couldn’t believe it!

I have a case of the CDs tucked in my basement. I tried selling them on this site but no orders. Music needs promotion!!

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