GRAND RAPIDS IS BONUS

For most of you (except George apparently) we dug up some new things for your ears and the response was great.  We had a few people want to know more about the Dave Bixby album and the cult (mostly about the cult) which I will hit you with shortly.  So sit back and I’ll take you on a little trip to the Grand Rapids of yesteryear.  To the time machine! (right after the jump)

TRACKLIST:

Dave Bixby- 666

Robert S.- Don’t Dis Me

The Frederic- Cousin Mary Knows

Euro K- She’s a …

Born Without a Face- Crawl

Robert S.- Big Words

Citizenz Arrest- Mmm That Guy

GVSU Orchestra- Music for 18 Musicians (Steve Reich)

Al Greene and the Soul Mates- Back Up Train


——THE BONUS——


Dave Bixby- 666

davebixby_frbk

Possibly the craziest GR record ever, the story behind it may be the only thing crazier.  Dave Bixby was a member of a Grand Rapids based religious cult called either The Movement or The Group in the late 60’s and early 70’s.  This record was released in conjunction with the cult and I believe it was sold by the The Group to raise money.  Strangely, if they would have held on to them they could have made a shitload.

Dave Bixby

Dave Bixby

(l-r: some dude named Brian, Dave Bixby, Don DeGraaf (Sir)

(l-r: some dude named Brian, Dave Bixby, Don DeGraaf (Sir)

His second album was with the cult’s band Harbinger and was called Secong Coming.  Fun fact: the dude hiding in the sunflowers on the cover is none other than cult leader Don DeGraaf!

harbinger

The information I have was gathered from online research, a series of articles published in the GR Press in 1980, and the very helpful and entertaining book “Many False Prophets Shall Rise” by former cult member Al Perrin which I would seriously recommend picking up.  Now for a little bit of this very interesting story:

shareconcert

The Group started as a youth group focused on getting young people off drugs and on to the Bible/ singing songs along with acoustic guitars.  Early meetings were held at a local church but it’s elders grew uncomfortable with it’s leader Don DeGraaf.  The Group was originally lead by a handful of people however DeGraaf gained power as he began to claim he was more than just a bearded ex-drug dealer turned self-declared minister.  He said he was the second coming of the Old Testament prophet Elijah.   And he ordered everyone to call him “Sir.”

He also ordered his followers to participate in trainings like one held in the woods somewhere near Ada.  There the members meditated and did some Bible reading but were also watched closely getting rewards (punishments) when they slipped up.  This clip from “Many False Prophets Shall Rise” gives a little sense of what it was like.

We finally got to the artesian well that flowed into a large watering trough for the cattle, which eyed us suspiciously all weekend long, and the women held our heads underwater for ten seconds. In reality this was the best part of the reward, since it was starting to be a sweltering day already.
We were just starting back to the cars, when David Sir stopped, his face lighting up again.
“Say, look at this!” he said.
“Oh no!” I thought. “What now?”
He’d stopped over a very large and very fresh pile of cow manure.
“Okay girls!” he announced. “Line up!”
“I thought that there wasn’t any revenge in the kingdom, David Sir. ” Jeannie said sullenly.
“Oh, there isn’t, but we just had a very good growing experience, so we’d like to help you to grow too. So, line up!”
Dave had all the women line up then, and with Tom administering it, they all got a hand full of manure literally thrown into their faces. They had to be led down to the well to wash it off, since it covered their whole face, and it was impossible for them to see where they were going.
I watched in total fascination, as each one got it without so much as a complaint, or objection. Some smiled peacefully. I was amazed.
“These people are crazy!” I thought to myself.
Then, it was my turn –

I believe this photo was taken in Ada where the training took place.

I believe this photo was taken in Ada where the training took place.

The Group’s activities and DeGraaf himself were funded by selling combs, ice scrapers, Dave Bixby’s album and eventually Amway products.  As DeGraaf’s power grew he raked in huge amounts of cash.   It also drew the attention of local authorities and the heat drove him to gather flocks of young people in Ohio, Florida and Arizona.  The Grand Rapids members were moved about or kicked out as Sir saw fit.

Each member wrote down everything they did during the day in a notebook and turned them in with cash on a regular basis.  Not making enough cash was a sure fire way to get kicked out.  Reading Perrin’s book I got the destinct sense that The Group got out of DeGraaf’s hands to some degree.  It seems like he didn’t want the responsibility of leading and inspiring all these people.  The last training Al Perrin participated in brought members from all the enclaves together for a intense make-or-break session.  Instead of being focused on second coming and prophet talk, the leaders of the seminar (all women except for Sir) berated and broke down the members, trying to get them to think about themselves and do whatever feels good.  It was a huge shift and very confusing for the brainwashed 20 somethings.

With the new changes to The Group more people left or were kicked out including Al Perrin, and soon after his book ends.  Thanks to a series of articles that ran in the GR Press from October 19-23, 1980 (PDFs: 19 20 21 22 23) I was able to gather what happened to the small group left by the late 70s.

In 1977 under the name “The Religious Order of Spectrum” they bought a ski lodge in Eagle’s Nest, New Mexico for $500,000.  At this point the cult was mainly women and DeGraaf as far as I can tell and according to the GR Press articles there were now children living with them that we can only suppose were his.  They ran the lodge as a business and lived there for a number of years.  When I contacted the newspaper in Eagle’s Nest last year they told me that no one from The Group was still living there.  They also said no one in town wanted to talk about it.  The trail goes cold…

I have no clue where DeGraaf or any of the women mentioned in the article are now living or what they are doing.  It’s a mystery to the end.

Robert S.- Don’t Diss Me

So with a little looking (on discogs.com) I now know this record was released by Epic in 1986.  Also, most likely your only chance of hearing this song is downloading it from this very generous blog.

The Fredric- Cousin Mary Knows

phasesfaces

A great place to find out about West Michigan garage bands is Grand Rapids RocksThe page about The Fredric is informative and as is often the case on GRR, people who loved the band back in the day have written comments here with their memories and stories.  The CD re-release of Phases and Faces comes with a 24 page booklet and all their recorded material for much less than the original.  You can even get it at Amazon.

Euro K- She’s a …

euro1

So I thought it would be tough to find much on Euro-K online but thanks to the 2008 Grand Rapids Hip Hop Awards I found this VIDEO!!!!

Woah.

If you liked “She’s a..” you can pick up their s/t CD for a penny at Amazon.  Also, one of the members of Euro-K, Vito (Derrick Hallowell), lives in GR making art and music.  You can check out some of his paintings on the walls of Hopcat downtown.

Born Without a Face- Crawl

bwafsleeve

The EP this track comes from is called Worship and it is four songs of the rawest sludge-coated, feedback-spiked hardcore punk you are ever likely to hear.  Don’t believe me? 7 inch punk breaks it down for you.

Robert S.- Big Words

robert-s1

Robert S. followed up his 1986 12″ (Don’t Dis Me) with this 12″ for Epic in 1987: “Big Words” b/w “Good as Gold.” Big Words is a bit unfortunate since Robert S. can’t quite wrangle the large words he is so proud to know but Good as Gold is tight from top to bottom.

Citizenz Arrest- Mmm That Guy

Citizenz Arrest was a one night version of local band Poodle Metal that competed in the KLQ Heavyweight Championship.

ca-cover

ca-inside

There is also a very terrible and very real band called Citizenz Arrest.

GVSU Orchestra- Music for 18 Musicians (Steve Reich)

Beezy mentioned in the podcast that Steve Reich feels this is one of the most significant performances of Music for 18 Musicians.  I was surprised to hear that.   A little looking online shows that many people felt this performance was significant.  NPR quotes one critic in attendance, “Alex Ross of The New Yorker wrote the group ‘succeeded in holding 400 listeners transfixed at 4 a.m.”

Here is a little background on how it came to be.


Al Greene and the Soul Mates- Back Up Train

Al Greene (as his name was spelled at the time of this recording) lived a few of his adolescent years in Grand Rapids. I have heard that he doesn’t think so much of our city but here in GR everyone loves to claim him.  Here are is a pic I got from a friend (who got them from his friend) of Al Green the night he recieved a gold record (possibly for the Back Up Train LP) in Chicago.  How the hell did they get those four together???

scan0040

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6 Responses to GRAND RAPIDS IS BONUS

  1. Kevin says:

    That Dave Bixby/cuult stuff was very interesting.

    The first time that I heard Robert S, I thought that it was a white dude. Not only did he sound white, but his flow was off beat at times. It’s like this was his first time rapping. That’s how white rappers sounded like in the mid-late 80s.

    I liked The Fredric’s “Cousin Mary Knows” song a lot, but I didn’t like Born Without A Face’s “Crawl”.

    Yes, Beezy was correct. 95% of the music that I’ve made has been terrible. That’s why I stopped making music. More people should stop, too, and go back to being a listener/fan.

    The story of that Citizenz Arrest’s “Mmm That Guy” was great! While listening to the performance, I could imagine the horror of the people in the crowd who were not “in” on the joke. Very funny!!! And that leather jacket dude on the cover… so typical. The song sounded like “Eye Of The Tiger” from the Rocky movie.

    The GVSU Orchestra’s “Music For 18 Musicians” was friggin’ awesome! I only have a couple of Steve Reich’s stuff. My favorite of his is “Electric Counterpoint” (mostly because The Orb sampled it for “Little Fluffy Clouds”).

    You guys have stories for days! Like how the dude who used to show up at the hospital was the drummer in the Al Green song. And that picture?!? Damn, is that Al Green with Muhammad Ali, Jesse Jackson, and Sidney Poitier!?!?

    Oh, I want to see a picture of that “Left Behind” t-shirt! Need photo NOW!

  2. justinsweeks says:

    left behind photo coming soon!

  3. anonymous says:

    i need to ask, how exactly is it that you know about all the information regarding Sir and his Group?

    did you know him, or any of the people in it?

    i appreciate any response on this matter.
    thank you

  4. Hi, thanks for your question. I don’t know any people involved in the Group personally. I have done some research on Sir and his organization from newspaper articles and independent research but mostly from the excellent book “Many False Prophets Shall Rise” by Al Perrin. You should check that book out if you are looking for more information.

  5. Roz says:

    I arrived at this article via a Google search for information about that cult group. Thanks for the info you posted.

    I went to some early meetings of the Group and had some friends who got deeply involved. I recently reconnected with one of those friends who stayed in a long time but is now out and healthy. Out of respect for her privacy, I’m not going to give out any personal information, but apparently all the group members changed their names in Eagles Nest and then again after the group made a move to Texas which might be the reason for the trail going cold. Apparently everything eventually dissolved, but not until the late 1990s.

  6. Bruce says:

    I was the best friend of a guy named Don Degraaf at Creston High School 1958. He was a radical dude who turned radical religious in the ’60s. Could this be the guy. I’ll check out the book, “Many False Prophets ..” if I can find it. If my friend is the guy, I have lots of background info

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