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Basic English

Grand Rapids – Played a lot at Alpine Lounge

Band Members:

  • Bruce Craigie
  • Kevin Bouwkamp (Bass, vocals)
  • Don Poeder
  • Mike Spaanstra
  • Greg Poltrock (Keyboards, vocals)
Basic English

Basic English – (L-R) Bruce Craigie, Kevin Bouwkamp, Don Poeder, Mike Spaanstra, Greg Poltrock



10 Responses to Basic English

  1. Douglas L Smith says:

    If memory serves me, they did an incredible version of “Comfortably Numb” I too took guitar lessons from Vern and to this day I will credit him 100 per cent for the fact that I continue to play today some 35+ years later. Two attempts at lessons before getting with Vern were a complete fail. He knew how to effectively teach and engage his students and keep it fun, where you were actually looking forward to practicing each day. I often wanted to let him know this down through the years. Vern was the best!

  2. Stormy Davis says:

    I work with spanky at papa johns

  3. Cheryl Breeger-Braun says:

    My husband and I have known Mike Spaanstra for 25 years in the Ft.Lauderdale area.Great guy!!Wish we could have seen him play his guitar back then.Quite a talent he has!!

  4. Alex says:

    Who wore the Nixon mask?

  5. Alex says:

    I remember these guys playing at the ” Left Bank” in Saugatuck.

  6. Chris Streling says:

    Thanks for sharing. In my childhood eyes and memories, each of you, and my brother were rock stars.

  7. I was a member of Basic English 2 times during the mid 80’s.
    We played at The Alpine Lounge, Apple Core Lounge and Bogies to name a few. This was back in the day where good bands played over 20 nights a month and you could kinda make a living at playing music.
    My bandmates are the fella’s in the picture above. I did leave the band for a while to take a day job at Steelcase that I hated. Fortunately for me my replacement wasn’t working out so I was able to slide back in a number of months later. The musicians in the band, other than me, were excellent players and we got a lot of work for top dollar of that period. I had a lot of fun and learned a lot and made some great friends that I still have to this day.

  8. Tim R. says:

    On a whim, I looked up the band name because I took guitar lessons as a teen with the band’s guitarist… and the name came back to me when I saw the other posts: Vern Streling. I credit Vern with starting what would become a life-long hobby of music: Mostly guitar, sax and bass playing, but also building musical instruments (violins/violas) and composition/arranging for horn groups. If Vern doesn’t remember me, I was the kid who knew no rock-and-roll outside of the Beatles. I’ve picked up a bit more since then. 🙂 Thanks Vern!

  9. I worked with Basic English for almost two years. Early gigs were at the Family Tavern in Caledonia, and the White Rabbit near Eastown. Later, we were worked a lot at Bogie’s (Billie’s) and the Alibi. Highlight gigs were Festival’s Calder Stage, warming up for Huey Lewis, and our returns to huge Aquinas College parties. The band started as punky New Wave and developed into a somewhat theatrical troupe, performing music by the Tubes, Pink Floyd, Thomas Dolby and Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

    • Basic English also recorded a full length vinyl 33 record of original tunes at River City Studios, with some track having previously been done at Azz Izz studios (Keith Gill). It was called CARTunes and can still be found in cut-out bins and antique malls.
      The bandmembers I worked with were leader Don Poeder, Vern Streling, Mike Spaanstra, Mark Rehl, Bruce Craigie, and Steve Razz.
      It was a great band for its time and it kept me from washing dishes while in school.

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