FROM THE VAULTS: In the business
One topic we have covered in this space is ‘freebies’. As a ‘no budget, all volunteer’ radio station, we rely on the generosity of record labels and independent artists to keep us supplied with new music. We never complain about solicitations that lead us to free sources of music or syndicated programs. Unfortunately, as anyone with a phone number, snail mail, or e-mail address can relate to, we get a lot of junk mail!
We do not make a habit of endorsing any particular labels, products, or organizations, except for the acknowledgements we make to those who provide us with some form of sponsorship. As a ‘non-commercial’ entity, we just do not (and can not) ‘advertise’ in the traditional sense, With that said, I am about to name-drop a company called Disk Maker. We do not use their products, as we have no need to mass produce CDs, but I do love their catalog.
The periodic mailings we receive from Disk Maker use the CDs of their clients to advertise their services and products. Page after colorful page of CD covers from mostly independent artists from all over the map (and of diverse genres) gives them a powerful advertising vehicle. I will occasionally find CDs we have previously received from bands in the Disk Marker’s catalog. Needless to say, I am like a little kid with a Christmas catalog when the Disk Maker flier shows up in the old mail slot. The most recent example of the Disk Maker / artist connection that I noted was from a CD called ‘Beermuda’ that we recently picked up from the 2010 Porcupine Mountain Music Festival act Dangermuffin.
Perusing the summer edition of the Disk Maker’s catalog, I noticed that the featured CD in its center pages was by Hannah Bethel. While it was recorded at Ricky Skaggs studio in Nashville, I recognized her name, as she is an artist with Copper Country roots. "Quite an honor," I thought, because the center feature spread gets a larger treatment than CD covers in the rest of the catalog. Her CD was blown up to the point that I could even read the fine print, and lo and behold, there was another familiar name - the CD had been engineered by 1974 Ontonagon Area Schools grad Lee Groitsch.
I had been aware of Groitsch’s music business work since I first noticed his name in the credits for the Southern Pacific album ‘County Lines’. A cursory internet search was not very helpful in tracking down much information on Groitsch’s career, but I did manage to find a photo of him in a studio with musician Josh Haden, as well as a couple of references to his work with the band Blue Rodeo. Apparently Lee Groitsch has been working steadily in the business since he departed from these northern climes.
My search for another Ontonagon alum brought me to a not too surprising revelation - unlike artists who need to be visible to the public, engineers and producers only need to be visible to the artists and labels that employ them. I had a devil of a time finding any useful information on Ryan Castle. Castle has worked on some famous artists, including Sheryl Crow, Oasis, Sir Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones (but the list is much too long to include here). Finding a picture of Castle was even more trying than finding details of recording projects he has worked on.
These are but two examples of people in the music business with Ontonagon ties. I am sure there are more, and I would love to hear about them and what they have done in the music business, If you have any knowledge of ‘music people’ with a local connection, you can pass it along to me at
or at 701 Parker Ave, Ontonagon, MI 49953. We make it our business to play music with local ties here at WOAS_FM 88.5. Keep your ears open for more homegrown music people from Your Sound Choice.