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David Snow
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2001 - 1:06 am:   

In the early seventies the Song Shop was owned by Eleanor Maher the widow of alcoholic detroit cop(ret'd) Bill Maher. The floor inside the bar had a big chip missing where Bil drew his gun on an imaginary intruder and it went off. Eleanor for some reason was renting studios(I paid 20 bucks for my first one. At the time Roy Castleberry,Tom Karsiotis and David Opatik had a sign painting business up there in spight of the lack of heat and the only other tenant was Indian Joe,a drinking pal of many. The spaces at that time had already been occupied by Gordie Newton, Mike Knight and others. The bar was open 10-4 Mon.-Fri. and flat soapy beer was 25 cents a glass. The Song Shop crowd of about 10 regulars included Joe Shlick,Al Saperstein,Indian Joe ,Mike Scneider Weird Tom with the beard who Eleanor was supporting, Quinn Smith and wife Madeleine ,Dennis Soper and a few others. There was no heat,no music and the only thing worse than the beer was the food. When Bill White bought the place it lost alot of charm, but the music brought a whole crew together that was unmatched. Sestok will remember the joint I'l bet, but most of that crowd is long gone. Anybody like to list the 10 guys or so that had an Impromptu Wake for Bobby McDonald there shirtless? More later. Snow
Stephen Goodfellow
Posted on Monday, May 28, 2001 - 1:08 am:   

As ever, you are the sage of ages. It amazes me just how much Corridor history you have lived. I've added your comments on the Song Shop Tribe intro - do you happen to remember dates as to then the place was opnened and when it changed hands?
James Caley
Posted on Sunday, September 15, 2002 - 12:16 am:   

I lived in the Cass corridor in the late sixties.
I played bass guitar in bands with Dave Opatic, Tom Karsiotis and others.I know Roy Castleberry also, well as many others of that time and place. I am living in California now and havent heard from anyone or about anyone for 15 years. I would appreciate it if anyone would pass on my name and addresses to anyone who remembers me. I have Castleberrys website addy, does anyone have an email for the other two that I mentioned?
Posted on Monday, September 16, 2002 - 5:22 am:   

Is that nice Victorian house next door still alive? I lived there a quarter century ago.
Stephen Goodfellow
Posted on Saturday, September 21, 2002 - 4:28 am:   

Hi James,
Dave Opatic can be reached at:

Thanks for the great input!
Conrad Carlock
Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2003 - 3:03 am:   

I think you should mention Cindy Lafferty (sp?) in connection with the Song Shop. I made tapes of her set and also of the Lords (Mike Knight) there. I gave the tapes to Warren Burthwick for his collection a few years ago, so Dave Snow you may have them.
George Kerby
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 1:51 pm:   

I was probably in The Lords when you made those tapes. I also played the Song Shop with Mike Knight's post-Lords band featuring Bobby McDonald and Frank Isola. I have a couple of photos taken of us playing there. I'll try to get them scanned.

I might also have tapes of the Okefenokee Swamp Band though I'm not sure if they're from The Song Shop, or from our gigs at The Gnome. I'll have to dig through my cassettes and see if they're still playable.

I haven't seen any mention of Lords co-founder (and Swamp Band founder) Dennis Pruss. Has he been forgotten? And of course my closest comrade from the coridoor, the late, great Jim "Thunder" Thele on drums.
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 1:56 pm:   

IIRC a good chunk of the Song Shop regulars moved there when their (our) old hangout The Circa got bought and gentrified by Steve and George of Campus Restaurant. Didn't Moshe the bartender move to the Song Shop as well?
Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2003 - 2:39 pm:   

I've uploaded my Bobby McDonald/Song Shop pictures to my web space. The URL to my "pictures" page is:
Merry Pearson
Posted on Friday, January 09, 2004 - 11:25 pm:   

I think Moshe died during the old Circa days. His wake was at Nora's (owner of the old Circa). But Moshe's partner Doug Wisby (also a Circa bartender) was involved with the Song Shop. Doug had a theatrical bent (I remember seeing his show Magnolia Thunderpussy and His Motor City Sluts at a gay bar in Dearborn) and I think he left Detroit to go into a theatre program somewhere like Wisconsin or Minnesota.

Somehow I ended up with the old battered piano from the Song Shop (for $25, I think) and later donated it to Paradigm Centre for the Arts (on Harmonie Park). Unfortunately, it fell off the truck on the trip from my place to Paradigm.

Merry (formerly Miller) Pearson
now in Sydney, Australia
Caroline Court
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 1:09 pm:   

It was the winter of 68 or 69. Myself and friends, Jonnie Russell and John Petrucci are two of them, lived above the Song Shop. I had one of the rooms above the bus stop, facing Forrest.
We had moved over from Prentis Street and we were regulars at HoHos and other local haunts. We were visual arts students at WSU at the time. I have never met anybody else who had lived there.
By the way, the Food Coop is shamefully empty now. They/We need many more walk-in customers to get the place humming again but you all probably know that already. I tried to spend $20 there today and ended up buying fatty foods which I have been successfully avoiding for awhile. I hope not to make that mistake again but I will try to shop there regularly and clean up my act vis-a-vis the food coop. I hope you will as well.
Posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2004 - 9:13 pm:   

The philosphy department used to hang out at the Song Shop in 1984 - 1987. Barbara Humpheries, a philosophy professor donated the plexiglass top baby grand to the Song Shop. It had been left in the house she bought a few blocks away. We drank a lot of beer there. Every month we had a guest speaker from the best universities all over the US, and they always ended up at the Song Shop. The bathroom doors are still at 3rd street Saloon.
L. McG Freeman
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 2:35 am:   

I remember bartending there that night in Jan 1979 and getting a phone call from Suzy Wahl saying that Henry Normile (the owner of Cobb's at the time) had been shot. I had met Henry when I was waiting tables at Verne's (1973?). He was the bartender there, Suzy had become his girlfriend and that's how we had met. It was impossible to believe that someone that vital had died until I saw the look on the face of another friend, Danny Johnson, sitting at the bar. We were all left completely at a loss by that tragedy. Everything changed after that. Later Bobby McDonald approached me with the idea of singing along with him at the Song Shop, I think he may have been trying to get me out of the depression caused by Henry's death. Bill White was still the owner but before long he sold it to Pat and Dave Briggs. The Song Shop was quite an interesting place, still keeping some of the grubbiness from it's earlier days but becoming a hangout for a lot of student/bohemian types. Bobby played there there on and off until 1981 when he died: those are the sweetest memories and he was the coolest of all the cool. Am I right?
Charley LaCombe
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 2:13 pm:   

George's comments about Circa regulars moving the to the Song Shop reminded me of when that happened. I think (could be wrong) that George and Steve already owned the property of the Circa, and finally just forced Nora out. The Circa had been the regular haunt of the WSU Bookstore crowd, and we liked the old tacky ambience and boycotted the new place for a long time. An attempt was made to relocate our gang to the Song Shop, but it didn't really take. We were adrift for awhile, but finally Dave Hill started a new tradition at his apartment in the Renaud. It was called "Circa II" and it took place every Wednesday (the reason for the day being Wednesday is lost in the mists of time and beer) at his place, starting immediately after work. Many were the trips made to either George's market or Parker's for more beer, until both places closed for the night and, if I remember correctly, we had to go up to some place on the Boulevard called Servell's (or something like that) for more beer because they were open very late. It goes without saying that Thursdays were probably not the best day to go shopping at the WSU Bookstore if you were hoping to get any lucid help from the employees.

Larry Moore
Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 5:20 pm:   

Charlie, you are right about George and Steve already owning the building and that they finally forced Nora out. I was also a part of the crowd that boycotted the Circa and moved down to the Song Shop where I frequented until I move from Detroit to the San Francisco area. I don't remember you but you probably know my then roommate Tony Lloyd who also worked for a time at the bookstore during that period. He too is living out here in the San Francisco area. In fact we both work for SBC in the City.

Larry Moore
Posted on Sunday, December 05, 2004 - 5:27 pm:   

Does anybody know where Pam Becker is? She use to live up over the Song Shop back around 1975 or so. She also use to live/date Bill House. The Palmer House Tribe would like to locate her. Forward any info to me at

Posted on Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 5:45 pm:   

Larry ... I ran into Pam Becker at Frank Isola's memorial last weekend. She's also in touch with Demi !!! I've passed Pam's email onto Ken Hall.
Posted on Sunday, March 06, 2005 - 10:39 pm:   

Regarding Song Shop ownership: Doug Wisby owned the Song Shop between 1976-1978, maybe even a little earlier. Bill White, who was a Georgia Tech graduate and a GM engineer, purchased the Song Shop in 1978. He quit GM at the time that he took on the Song Shop. He was a friend of Doug Wisby. Bill, who had operatic training, had a great voice and used to stop by in earlier days to sing, accompanying himself on the piano.
Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - 11:38 pm:   

anyone know whatever happened to Bill White & Doug Wisby?
Posted on Monday, February 02, 2009 - 8:53 pm:   

I used to hang at the song shop with Pam Becker, Deb, Demmie, and Bill House(he had a place up there for a while)Boz and some of the Det Rep crowd would show up. I dont remember Bobby playing there but I do remember Griot Galaxy? and some other jazz.

Kat(Robert Katkowsky}
Posted on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - 6:31 pm:   

Bobby definitely played there, as I was his bassist on a couple of occasions. Here's a photo from one of them:

Pam and Bill were old friends of mine. Not sure where Bill has gone, but I ran into Pam a few yrs back at Frank Isola's memorial.
Bob Warsham
Posted on Sunday, February 22, 2009 - 8:18 pm:   

Does anyone know what ever happened to Larry (Barber)? who tended bar at the Circa when Nora owned it? As I remember, we worked most nights. Last time I saw him, he was biking in Ferndale, probably 20 or more years ago and was evasive about how to contact him.

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