Well-known West Michigan guitarist Mike Dodge is the focus of this week’s “Three Albums that Changed My World” feature, revealing some true, modern music classics. Check out his picks, listen to the music.
EDITOR’S NOTE: All musicians can trace their inspiration to key recordings that captivated them and influenced their own music. Writer Ross Boissoneau today showcases recording that changed the world for Grand Rapids guitarist Mike Dodge. Scroll down for a Spotify playlist, including a few of his current favorites.
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Mike Dodge is a widely respected veteran of West Michigan’s music scene.
Known for his work as a guitarist with bands ranging from Pretzel Logic to Lighten Up Francis to Super Happy Funtime Burlesque — along with current gigs such as the acoustic jazz band My Thin Place, the BareNaked 90’s cover band and The Doors Opened and The Frog King tribute bands — he actually got his start as a drummer.
“I grew up in a house of music,” Dodge said, with parents, grandparents and siblings all involved in music. He went to music camp at Interlochen, where he met Pete Kehoe, who changed his life. “He showed me how to play ‘18’ by Alice Cooper on guitar.” Quite a switch from his jazz drumming idols Buddy Rich, Joe Morello with Dave Brubeck, and Peter Erskine (Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, Weather Report).
As his focus moved to guitar, he discovered music shows on television, where he could watch and hear everyone from Emerson, Lake and Palmer to Deep Purple. His older sisters exposed him to David Bowie and Steely Dan. He’s since played everything from pop to country, originals to tribute bands.
1. John McLaughlin, “Electric Guitarist” (1978) – In 1981, in an Aquinas College dorm, Pete (Kehoe) put on the album. It totally changed the benchmark for me. I went a year-and-a-half digging into McLaughlin, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny. It really turned me around. It’s his tribute to Coltrane, on a version of “Giant Steps” changes. Stanley Clarke on bass, Chick on keyboards, Jack DeJohnette on drums – it’s a powerhouse jazz quartet. The song “Do You Hear the Voices Left Behind” starts with him playing jazz guitar. It starts out really mellow. After the intro it hits hard. I’d heard Les Paul, Chet Atkins, Pat Metheny. The carved-out wood between the frets on the scalloped fretboard … (it’s) like a sitar.
Listen: “Do You Hear the Voices Left Behind”
2. Jimi Hendrix, “Axis: Bold As Love” (1967) – Growing up playing drums I had heard “Smash Hits” but nothing from “Axis.” Music is colors to me. It ties into that visual thing. There was talk, heavy duty feedback, bombs – I hadn’t heard anything like that before. Then Mitch (Mitchell) plays drums with brushes. Every song tells a story and unfolds creatively. A couple others of his blow me away, but I haven’t heard anyone playing that electric blues rock.
Listen: “Bold as Love”
3. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue” (1959) – Everybody will say it’s a cliché. Growing up my dad had a couple of Miles albums. This was one of them. Now I consider it very approachable. Somebody says they’re not into jazz, and asks what should I listen to, this will be one of them. It’s accessible. I used to play drums along with it. In my late 30s, I got into jazz more. At the time I didn’t get it, then later on I started to learn sax and trumpet on guitar. I got more into things like Metheny, Joe Pass and Tal Farlow. I listen to horn bands to get more into jazz. I still pick out things (by) piano, trumpet or sax. One other Miles album is “Milestones” (with) “Straight No Chaser.”
Listen: “All Blues”
Currently Loving: Various discographies, from Bjork to Eno to Judas Priest – A couple months ago, I picked Bjork. Another was Eno. I got hooked on “Discreet Music.” I had a gig in Petoskey and listened to Judas Priest. My tastes are eclectic: Dwight Yoakam, Priest, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Ratt. I love Ratt.
Listen: Brian Eno, “Discreet Music”
ALBUMS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Mike Dodge’s Playlist on Spotify
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