As a teenager obsessed with music growing up in the comfy confines of rural DeWitt in the early 90’s, East Lansing was the magical place to visit. East Lansing seemed so far away, but we made every effort we could to visit the then-vibrant up and coming “grunge” music scene.
Warehouse Records was the place to visit for concert tickets, new CD’s, and in-store performances from local and touring acts. I fondly remember grabbing a “fragel” (from what I remember, basically a delicious cinnamon raisin bread doughnut/bagel that was fried) from the long-gone Bagel Fragel and some coffee, while camping out in front of Warehouse’s door before they opened, to get tickets for a Smashing Pumpkins show at the Breslin Center.
Hours were spent at Flat, Black and Circular digging for albums and CD’s. Horrible poetry was written at Espresso Royale and the (also gone) Cafe Latte while I sipped many espressos. “Hobbit Sticks” from Bilbo’s were a late-night treat for the after bar masses. So many memories.
Bands would play the basements of houses, and many people around my age remember seeing bands like Botfly, The Verve Pipe, The Flaming Lips, and Calliope before they made it semi-big. Local folk jokester-music icon Wally Pleasant would often perform in the many cafés, while bigger acts like Pearl Jam, The Black Crowes, Phish, and Ben Harper, all played the MSU Auditorium and the Erickson. In more recent years, Bob Dylan, Wilco, and Jackson Browne have all made their way through East Lansing.
While I’ve mostly lived in Lansing in recent years, the City is still and important place to me. As a staff reporter at the Lansing State Journal in the mid-2000’s, my beat would often bring me back to East Lansing to cover the riots, working with Mayor Mark Meadows, and reporting on how a commission between the City and MSU students was going. I also spent a lot of time covering high school sports in East Lansing, including a number of Friday night football games. I appreciate ELi’s coverage of the East Lansing City Council, and they help me stay informed about what is happening with the ever changing projects in the downtown area.
I am no longer a full-time journalist, but I had been looking for a way to write again, doing what I love the most which is covering arts and entertainment. I just happened to stumble upon ELi on Facebook when another friend shared one of their stories.
Above: Wardell, fiancee and friend
In July of last year, I moved in with my fiancée who lives in the Bailey Park area, making me (once again) a resident of East Lansing. Our neighborhood is full of people from various backgrounds, with just a slight touch of student activity.
Admittedly, I am still the “new kid on the block” as I have only contributed two stories so far for ELi, but I am looking forward to doing my best to cover all the arts and entertainment events the City has to offer. The Pump House Concerts, the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Music Series, the East Lansing Art Festival, and The Great Lakes Folk Festival, just to name a few. I will also do my best to keep my eyes open for events that are more “on the fringe” which may take place at the Broad Museum, or at art galleries, breweries, and cafés.
In this era of social media and news outlets with depleting resources, ELi is here to help to fill that void by providing news that’s relevant to our community. The “grunge” era of East Lansing I fondly remember may be long gone, but the City is still evolving and changing every day. ELi and its band of citizen reporters are here to keep you updated on these changes, while helping to keep the people in charge of our great City accountable.
2018 will be a busy year for me, but I look forward to seeing all of you at the many “arts, beats, and eats” events the City has to offer.
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