Straight Light (herein SL) was a progressive rock band formed in the Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids, MI area 1973. The band was together in various versions until one month shy of 1980. In 2007, founding members Bart Garratt and Brent McDonald discussed reforming the band as a song writing experiment. "The idea was to accomplish what we couldn't decades ago--namely, the joy of making music without record company or management intervention dictating what's acceptable for the masses."

The following six year writing collaboration produced over 120 minutes of music. Running time was narrowed to 55 minutes, and nine songs were chosen. The material was then recorded along with SL core band mates and good pals. Their time, ideas and belief in this, helped make it a reality.

We hope anyone familiar with the band isn't disappointed. There’s no “old familiar” or nostalgia here. It’s all new music. Our objective wasn't to delve thirty years in the past. Instead, we set out to write and record new but similar material and present it as we would today.

Please browse the links for bios, band history, fun pictures, and where to buy Love Over Power in CD or download form. Thanks for visiting, enjoy the music, and peace to all.

Special thanks:       

Krystal Dutkiewicz - CD artwork and layout. Rainbow Music, Dale Boysen, Stedman Corporation. Jim at Just Strings , Rit Music and Bill Hannapel for the use of his Vox AC-30 and assorted musical trinkets over the years. Our families who put up with this foolishness.

Love Over Power: Engineered and produced Brent McDonald for McDonald Productions 2015-16.
Additional recording. The Kitchen. Chelmsford, MA. Engineer, Steve Hunt.

Gear used during the recording

Bart Garratt - Kurzweil MIDIboard controller. Synths: Moog Lil' Phatty, modular synth. Software instruments: Arturia CS-80V, Scarbee Fender Rhodes, Native Instruments B4, AIR Hybrid, U-he ACE, various CP-70 piano plugins. Hohner recorder.

Bill Roelofs - Ayote 6 piece kit with Sonar snare and Pastie cymbals.

Gil Bristol - Fender P-bass, Kay upright. IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX.

Brent McDonald - Fender Strat, Warmoth/OLP Mutt, Ibanez seven string, Stedman Holy Grail compressor pedal. Taylor and Alvarez acoustics. Amps: Egnater Tweaker, Peavey VTM 120, Crate 3112V, Hiwatt Custom 50. Marshall 1912 and VT 4X12 cabinets. Steinberger XP bass, IK Multimedia Ampeg SVX, Native Instruments Guitar Rig. Keyboards: M-Audio Keystation Pro 88 controller, Korg MS-2000. Software instruments: Native instruments FM8, Kontakt, Absynth, B4, AIR Hybrid and Strike.

A Brief History of Straight Light

Version 1, Spring 1973: The band formed with original members Gil Bristol - bass/vocals, Bart Garratt - keyboards/vocals, Jim Small - drums/vocals, Brent McDonald - guitar/vocals

Version 2, March 1975: We added Dennis "Fergie" Fredericksen, lead vocals. Previously, Fergie had been in Flyin' Home and The Common People. For more on him, please visit this link to view his accomplishments. 
RIP Fergie.

Version 3, May 1975: Bill Roelofs replaced Jim Small on drums.

Version 4, January 1976: Ric Sherwin (guitar/vocals), of the band Xebec, replaced Fergie.  Fergie moved to Chicago to fill exiting Tommy Shaw's shoes in the band MS Funk.

Version 5, June 1976: Gil Bristol wised up and decided to get an education. Texas native Billy "Bass" Alford replaced Gil on bass. We recorded several songs in Hudsonville, Michigan, and received airplay thanks to the efforts of friend and WLAV disc jockey Doc Donovan.

Version 6, Fall 1976: Ric Sherwin left, we performed as a four piece until late Winter 1977.

Version 7, late Winter 1977: Charlie Huhn joined. We barely got past the rehearsal stage and Charlie left for Ted Nugent's band. Anyone in the West Michigan area probably knows who Charlie is. For those who may not, a list of his accomplishments are here:

Version 8, Spring 1977: Charlie Tobias, signed on as vocalist. Charlie had been in many Louisville, Kentucky area bands.

Version 9, Summer 1977: (If your head isn't spinning yet, keep reading…) Chicago area bassist Joe Arrizari replaced Billy Alford.

Version 10, Fall 1977: As Yogi Berra's famous statement about déjà vu goes, both Billy Alford and Ric Sherwin rejoined the band, replacing Charlie and Joe.

Version 11, early Winter 1978: Billy Alford left again and we worked as a four piece with Ric and Brent switching between bass and guitar.  (The early 80's, Billy moved to the U.K. for a short time and toured with the British group The Truth, among other interesting music projects he's been involved with over the years.)

Version 12, late Winter 1978: Between gigs, we were holed up in an unfinished recording studio on Leonard St., Grand Rapids, holding bass auditions. Cincinnati band, Free Hand, was playing down the street from the unfinished studio. Free Hand's bassist, Tere Bertke, offered to audition. Tere was the guy, and joined two weeks later. We worked Tere in while playing in the Chicago area. The band also recorded Not To Be Denied and We're Off while in Chicago. You'd think we'd remember the name of the studio, but all we recall is it was near La Grange, Illinois. That, and everyone was on us to shorten the songs and dump out instrumental sections. We unfortunately did, resulting in a rather anemic two song demo.

Version 13, January 1979: Ric Sherwin left the band. We spent a month rehearsing as a four piece again for the upcoming and ever famous "Exploding Pelican" tour of southern states--mostly Florida. By now, the band had been through so many misfortunes and horror stories over the preceding six years, there was probably no reason to assume the Exploding Pelican tour would fare any better. It didn't.

Version 14, April 1979: The financial disaster and emotional rollercoaster that was the Exploding Pelican Tour had taken its toll. Like Gil Bristol some three years prior, Bart finally wised up too and opted out of the band for an education. ‘I mean come on, Bart, wasn't band life already educational enough!?’ A somewhat sad departure, as we grew up in the same ‘hood together, etc., etc. Grand Rapids native Bob Bliss replaced Bart on keys.

Version 15, June 1979: Jeff Scarborough joined, vocals/guitar. Jeff and brother Steve had a studio in Jeff's home in Lansing. We recorded four songs there, and you may find snips of those on the Audio Archive page from time to time.

Version 16, August 1979: Jeff left and we were back to a four piece.

(Congratulations dear reader for slogging through this far. It’s almost over.)

The final curtain, November 1979: Tere announced his departure and headed for the Detroit area band Tite. Spring 1980, Bill Roelofs, Tere and Brent reunited along with keyboardist/vocalist Mike Thomas (Rhapsody,Valentine) to form 1.1 (One Point One). In the 90's, Tere went on to tour with the country band Black Hawk, performing on the album Strong Enough. Tere also played on several other albums, including Ralph Santolla's "Shaolin Monks in the Temple" and Millenium's "Jericho." You can find more info on Tere here: