Stepladders - Summer of '17

I like playing music - it's fun, it's challenging, it's a nice outlet, and it's been a great way to make music with my friends (and heroes) who are musicians. Even though I'm not quite at their level, everyone who I hang out with has been so encouraging and supportive of my passion for music, and I'm extremely thankful for that. 

This summer I went way outside of my comfort bubble and booked 3 big festival gigs. As usual, I'll have my normal band with me - Steve Leaf, Max Lockwood, Seth Bernard and Dan Rickabus - I'll also be featuring a different special guest for each show!

I'd love to see you at any of these places!! 

July 28-30, 2017
FARM BLOCK FEST w/ May Erlewine
* Dan Haefs on drums

August 18-20, 2017
HOXEYVILLE w/ Kate Anderson

September 15-17, 2017


I'd like to report a break in.


Jillian and I packed into my car and headed to Chicago to Meet Steve, Claire and Dan, for a nice weekend camping trip. Our final destination was Ishnala Supper Club, just north of Madison, Wisconsin. We were meeting in Chicago around noon, at which point we could all pile in a single vehicle and head out. We arrived in Chicago an hour ahead of schedule, parked on North Ave, in front of Steve's place and walked to a sweet little burger joint called Small Cheval for lunch. We returned to find a busted window, a car full of broken glass, and as luck would have it, a lighter load - a bunch of our stuff had been stolen.

Jillian's Jansport backpack that she'd had since high school, with all of her clothes and supplies for the weekend was gone. Her glasses and contacts, her makeup, her favorite flannel, her underwear... it was all gone. A thief would have no use for any of this stuff, and I'm sure they just dumped in the trash somewhere. Also missing, my camera bag! Over the last year or 2, I've found some amazing deals on gear - a lot of it was in that bag, including but not limited to:

Canon 7D Mark II
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM Lens
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom Lens
extra batteries, tons of memory cards, a small hard-drive, a nice strap, caps, cleaning supplies, a charger... all gone. 

I started looking online, trying to replace the exact gear that I had. I'd be looking at $2,500 or more... well, I'm trying to turn lemons into lemonade - by buying a new setup that is better than the one that was stolen.

If you have any gear that you would like to pass my way - that would be amazing! OR, you can contribute to my camera fund here:


UPDATE: I purchased a full-frame Canon 6D yesterday for $1100. It's a better camera than my old one and I got a good deal on it. Also replaced the Sigma lens with the same one - it's a very nice lens, and I was able to grab it for under $300. Still shopping for a nice zoom lens, and need to grab all kinds of accessories.

I'm not sure I know you, Dave.

At work we bought a client list from a company that went belly up. It's a lot of exact re-prints, so most of the time when someone calls in, we do a little explaining, say our business name has changed, and it's a pretty seamless transition from there.

We got a Google Voice number, and ported the existing phone number to it, and then transferred all the calls that come in to that line to our cellphones... then we just gave it the special old-timey ringtone, so that way we know when it's a call for that old business.

Any way, if we don't get it in time, it gets sent to our Google Voice mailbox... they transcribe it and everything. Well, they do the best they can. Some how we got this guy Dave who always ends up in our voicemail - I think he might have one of those apps that just puts him right in. Dave is from Detroit, and I believe the name of his company is City Wholesale - but you'd never know that from the transcribed messages that Google delivers. Dave doesn't NEED to call us every day, but most days, he does any way... enjoy.

*Also, some of these include my co-worker's name - which is actually Keith. 

"Hey Keith, this is Dave from City Wholesale."

It should be just that easy... but it's not.


Key this day Montgomery in Flint

Hey keep, your day saddle

this is Damon with City Hotel

Keep, this is Dave to do sale

Are you this is David City show boat

Hey King. This is Dang Seattle



{{ audio coming soon! }}


Back from Seattle, just walked in... and boy are my legs tired. I go to Chicago once in a while - we walk a lot... so... I'm not sure where I'm going with this.

Jillian and I spent a few days in Seattle, and it was such a nice little getaway. The food was good, the mountains were unbelievable, the weather was better than we could have hoped for, and we got 2 of the best airBnBs that have ever been listed on the internet.

Here, click through some of my photos... 

Let's talk about the food. 

It was good... we ate a lot.

Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya, the Crab Pot, Red Cedar & Sage, Local 360, Easy Street, the Pink Door, 8oz Burger & Co., Chavez, Husky Deli & Catering & Ice Cream, Talarico's Pizzeria, Cruiser Cafe, Portage Bay Cafe, and any other place in town that would have us...

Listen to the Music: Prints

Have you checked out my Etsy page? I'm adding a bunch of new stuff right now... go scope it out. In addition to my TV/movie buttons, magnets, calendars and mugs; now I'm adding some cool musician prints and a bunch of different pieces that I'm calling "blanks". These 'blanks' will be all over the place - recipe books, song books, calendars and planners, workout journals, and a lot more.

This first round of musicians are (and have been for a long while) on top of all of my playlists. First 5 include Jenny Lewis, Chris Cornell, Sam Beam, Kurt Cobain and Justin Vernon. The recent death of Chris Cornell made me want to do something sweet - I know folks want to remember him. 

If you've got other ideas or requests - I'd love to hear them.


5 Amazing Michigan Burgers

I'm just some dude, why listen to me?! Well, I'm not just 'some dude' when it comes to going out to eat. I dine outside of my home more than 10 times per week, sometimes thrice per day even! And, that's not even including snacks - I'm no stranger to the frozen yogurt shop.

When it comes to burgers, I've always been partial to the west side of Michigan. It's not that the rest of the state doesn't have good food too, but my list is west-Michigan heavy - just tossing that out there.

Let's get on with the list.

5. GP Sports

I know what you're thinking - "this place is in the Amway, and it's just a sports' bar, why is this place on the list, Bill?" Well, you're right about all that - but hear me out. The burger is all charred up, and so good. Ignore the big screen TVs, try not to people watch, even though there is this strange juxtaposition of 'fancy' hotel people eating at a place decorated with old hockey jerseys and dirty shoes... just eat this burger. You won't be disappointed.

4. Bagger Dave's

Now, we're only 2 burgers in, and you've already had to ask 'wassup?' twice - this isn't good! Yes, Bagger Dave's IS a chain restaurant, BUT they are based in MI! There is also another catch to this one - the regular burgers are okay, but I'm talking about an item that isn't on their menu anymore - grab that PBJ burger - Peanut Butter, Bacon and Jalapeno. 

3. Cottage Bar

People have been talking about this place since before I was born, I'm sure. It probably classifies as a "dive bar", and I'm sure they wear that title proudly! It's a little hidden from the main drag in Grand Rapids - but worth looking for. Their burgers taste like your uncle made them on a pool-side grill... that's a good thing.

2. Vinsetta Garage

I don't normally like a sloppy burger... but this one gets a pass.

This place is kinda famous, I think. It was probably on some Triple-D-type show so everyone goes there, and it's really hip. The burger is bomb dot com, and it's huge. It's got some 1000 island-ish dressing, the fries are skinny, and it gets served on a metal tray, like what they eat on in Shawshank. If you're making the trip - grab a Rock n' Rye Shake! Double bonus, there's a Trader Joe's across the street.

1. Choo Choo Grill

This. Is. It. 
If I was doing a top 10 list, I'd put the Choo Choo on the list twice. It's a tiny little shack - there are 2 booths and a bar that seats about 10 people... it's almost always crowded. I get the Big Red Caboose, with mushrooms (they're extra $) - that's a deluxe burger with steak fries. I sit at the bar, drink a chocolate milkshake with a generous scoop of peanut butter plopped in, and watch Kathy press my burger on this perfect flat top grill. It's really a special event.

Sun Kil Moon - Benji

Benji is Sun Kil Moon's sixth studio album, and one of the most incredible things I've ever heard. The music is drone-y, but catchy - it kind of sounds like the perfect soundtrack for when Charlie Brown is walking back to his house all defeated. Lyrically this record is out there. Mark Kozelek, SKM's frontman is all over the place, and so detailed that when the song is over you know way more than what you need to know.  "

"...and though I loved the sound of the roaring Les Paul, what spoke to me most was 'Rain Song' and 'Bron-Yr-Aur'. I loved the thunder of Jon Bonham's drums, but even more I like "No Quarter's" low Fender Rhodes hum."

- from I Watched the Film the Song Remains the Same

The album has it's ups-and-downs - that's for sure. Right out of the gates you're hit with TWO songs about family members dying in oddly similar situations involving discarded aerosol cans exploding in the trash. Also included are 2 songs, one each, about his mother and father - a song called "I love my Dad" and another "I can't live without my mother's love". If you were to just stop there, you might be disappointed... but push ahead! There is a song about a mentally-handicapped neighbor who gets conned by a local criminal, a tune about how Richard Ramirez dies in jail (of natural causes), a (more than) 10 minute rant-set-to-music about watching a Led Zep documentary. Oh, there is a cautionary tale about school shootings, and one about his dad's friend Jim Wise who "mercy killed his wife", and then then attempted to shot himself, but "failed at suicide". Now the guy has to go to trial and... well, listening to the album is like watching an entire season of a TV show - you'll get sucked in - you'll end up binge-listening to this more than once - I guarantee it. 

The last song is my favorite on the record - "Ben's My Friend". As you probably (would have NEVER) guessed - this song is about how Mark is friends with Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, and it tells the story of... I'm not even going to get into it - I've rambled enough.

I woke up this morning, August 3rd
It's been a pretty slow and uneventful summer
Went to visit a friend in Santa Fe
Went to New Orleans and went to see my family
Woke up this morning and it occurred
I needed one more track to finish up my record
I was feeling out of fuel and uninspired
Laid on my bed too long, a little down, a little tired
Met my girl and we walked down Union Street
I was scattered and my head was in a bunch of places
Bought a $350 pair of lampshades
And we ate at Perry's and I ordered crab cakes
Blue crab cakes
Blue crab cakes
Blue crab cakes
She said I seemed distracted and asked what was going on with me
I said, "I can't explain it, it's a middle age thing"
She said okay and ate her eggs Benedict
And I looked at the walls cluttered with sports bar shit
Sports bar shit
Sports bar shit
Sports bar shit
Got on the phone and I called my mother
And called my father, talked a little bit with my sister
She's got a new boyfriend, he's a deer hunter
And she's getting used to venison
And my dad's still fighting with his girlfriend
About his flirting with the girls in Panera Bread
My mom is good but sounded out of breath
I worry so much about her, I worry to death
I worry to death
I worry about her to death
I worry to death
The other night I went and saw The Postal Service
Ben's my friend but getting there was the worst
Trying to park and getting up the hill
And find a spot amongst the drunk kids staring at their cells
Standing at the back with the crowd of eight thousand
I thought of Ben when I met him in 2000
At a festival in Spain
He was on the small stage then and I didn't know his name
Now he's singing at the Greek and he's busting moves
And my legs were hurting and my feet were too
I called him after, said I'll skip the backstage hi/bye
But thanks for the nice music and all the exercise
And we laughed and it was alright
And we laughed and it was alright
And it was alright
There's a fine line between a middle-aged guy with a backstage pass
And a guy with a gut hanging around like a jackass
Everybody there was twenty years younger than me
I'll leave with this, not my fondest memory
I carried my legs back down and then I gave
My backstage passes to two cute asian girls
I drove to my place near Tahoe
Got in my hot tub and I thought well that's how it goes
And it was quiet and I was listening to the crickets
And Ben's still out there, selling lots of tickets
And though I’m contented, there’s a tinge of competitiveness
But Ben's my friend and I know he gets it
Then in a couple of days my meltdown passed
Back to the studio doing twelve hours shifts
Singing a song about one thing or another
Another day behind the microphone this summer
This Tenderloin summer
This Tenderloin summer
This Tenderloin summer