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Groups: Glenn Bulthuis: History

Glenn BulthuisI started out playing songs on the guitar. It probably all goes back to seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February of 1964. I loved their music and began playing guitar in 8th grade. I started out on my Mom's ukulele and graduated up to a Sears Silvertone that we borrowed from a family at church. In elementary school I started playing Peter, Paul and Mary tunes. Throughout high school I played and wrote songs. During that time the music of James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel and John Denver was popular and these are the songs I learned. By my senior year in high school (Lutheran High School, Los Angeles) I was doing some performing.

In 1973 I started attending Calvin College and began writing and performing songs in the coffee shop. It was during this time that I developed my playing style. A lot of the tunes I wrote were very much along the lines of James Taylor songs. I liked his intricate, yet simple guitar playing style and I think the ability to "pick" the individual guitar strings set me apart from most of the other folk singers on campus who were pretty much "strummers".

In 1977 I did my first full-length concert (24 songs) in the Fine Arts Center. We drew a few hundred people. After college, I traveled in Europe for 11 weeks and returned to California where I got a real job with Herman Miller in Irvine.

In 1978 I was invited back to Calvin and we did another show. These shows were pretty simple affairs. Mostly solo singing and guitar with a few additional people. We always ended the shows with a mock "rock and roll" ending. I never considered myself a serious electric guitarist, but we had fun banging out some rock classics like "Johnny B. Goode" and other old rock and roll tunes.

The shows would have probably died out, but somehow a copy of the concert tape got to Ed Buchanan at WLAV and he started playing it and it drew some interest. In April of 1980 we had our first sell-out show (1,100 seats). I released the first LP "Misled" in December and that sold rather well.

As time progressed the shows grew. We added more musicians. We did more rock tunes. In 1984 we started the concert with an Olympic themed video that we shot in the week prior to the show. Each subsequent year we added more wrinkles to the mix. Over time the concerts became less "folky" in nature and became more like a major rock production. Still, I always tried to keep the personal touches. I still try to do a short set of solo songs in the show. There is something very intimate about a performer on stage by themselves singing a song. Sometimes a song can be the most powerful when everything else is stripped away and the song stands on it's own.

I've also always tried to include a spiritual element in the show. I think God has given me the talents I have for a reason and I think it is important that that comes through in the performances. I've always had a lot of fun with the shows. The joy I try to show through music all ultimately comes from God. So if I'm playing a Beatles tune or one of Chuck Berry's tunes or one of my own, through it all I want to show God's joy. I have received a great deal of pleasure from listening to music, going to concerts, and playing music myself and I hope that I can pass that on to the audience.

Over the past few years I've alternated between small intimate shows in the Gezon Auditorium (300 seats) to larger scale shows in the FAC (1,100 seats).

In 1996 we dedicated about half of the concert to the songs of the Beatles. We lined up 22 musicians (string players, brass, clarinets, flutes, chimes, etc.) to make the "noises" necessary to pull off authentic versions of such Beatle favorites as "Yesterday", "When I'm Sixty-four" and "Penny Lane". The two concerts were well attended and warmly received.

Since 1996, I've been involved full time in video production and music. In 1997 we produced the "Grand Rapids Griffins Theme" which is played before all home games. I've done various video projects for Amway, Steelcase and Calvin College.

In October, 1997 I did 13 performances of "Woody Guthrie's American Song" with the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. This was a good opportunity to sing, play and act.

On October 26, 1997 I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C. This was a good opportunity to link up with one of my original musical pals, Jerry Talen. The marathon went well despite the constant downpour. Vice President Al Gore was in the same race about 56 minutes behind me.

In December, 1997 I performed with the Hope College duo of Grooters and Beal for three performances at the Welch Auditorium. It was fun to be a "side man" and I enjoyed the guitar and banjo work.

In April of 1998, the Tonedeafs leveled the Fine Arts Center once again. The two concerts featured Glenn and the Tonedeafs as well as the Westshore Workshop Gospel Choir. It was a good time.

In April of 1999 the Tonedeafs returned. Pete Bardolph took a much needed break from touring. Two new additions to the band: Cordell Langeland - guitar, Stuart Poltrock - keyboards. The show featured a new opening video. An anthology of Tonedeaf video clips from the previous 15 years.

In October of 1999 I began work on my first full length CD project. A collection of spiritual and religious songs. Working title: "Psalm."

Also in October 1999 I was hired on as Director of Music and Worship at Sunshine Community Church. This has been a great learning experience. God is really working in the congregation. And this should be a great catalyst for writing new music. The remainder of 1999 and much of 2000 was spent learning the job at Sunshine.

Also, during this time the "Psalm" album took shape. Over the course of nine months we pulled together 19 musicians plus three children's choirs and recorded the album at Soundpost Studios. Stuart Poltrock produced and engineered the project. It was a great learning experience. It was great to work with oboes, fiddles, cellos, electric guitars and everything else. Phil Schaafsma and Bob Alderink did a delightful job on the photos and layout. It was a ton of work, but God blessed it.

On July 21, 2000 we did the "Psalm" CD release concert at Calvin. We brought all of the people together who worked on the album and basically performed the 16 songs live. This was very fund to have all of the people together in the same room for the first time. WCSG (91.3 FM) started playing cuts.

Throughout the end of 2000 and 2001 we started performing the "Psalm" concert at various Grand Rapids area churches.

On May 4 & 5, 2000 we did the "Born in the CRC" concerts at Calvin's Fine Arts Center. This was a real shift from the "Psalm" concerts we'd been doing, but it was great to get Pete and Doug Bardolph back in the line-up. Glenn Moerdyk joined on the piano. The concert featured over 20 musicians and a number of classic rock songs by Bruce Springsteen, the Beatles, Jackson Browne, etc. The Calvin Faculty Quartet closed the first half with "YMCA" and the biggest pyro show we've ever put on. Wild and wacky, but well worth the $7 ticket price.