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The Orbit Room

2525 Lake Eastbrook Dr. Grand Rapids (616) 942-1328 Don Dorshimer – owner.

His final ride: Don Dorshimer, Orbit Room owner and West Michigan concert promoter

Posted: 6th October 2013 by John in Breaking music news, Commentary

Don Dorshimer helped build West Michigan’s rock concert scene, leaving behind a legacy as one of the Grand Rapids area’s most passionate and well-known show promoters.

A Promoter's Dream: Another sold-out show at The Orbit Room. (Photo/Anthony Norkus Photography)

A Promoter’s Dream: Another sold-out show at The Orbit Room. (Photo/Anthony Norkus Photography)


I’ve never met anyone more enthusiastic about the business of rock concert promotion than Don Dorshimer.

So as news spread Saturday that the longtime owner of The Orbit Room had died, those who knew him best reacted passionately and with great sadness in remembering the godfather of West Michigan’s rock concert promotion scene.

“Don had an ear and an understanding for what people wanted,” said Ted Smith, his partner at The Orbit Room. “He always wanted to make sure that tickets were priced fairly for people and that the deal worked for both the artists and The Orbit Room. Don had a heart of gold. He always asked how my kids and my wife and how friends were doing. He really cared about people.”


Longtime associate Ron Clause, now a promoter for Live Nation, credited Dorshimer in a Facebook post for his guidance in the music business: “Today is a very sad day. Motorcycle therapy helps the sting, but memories of two decades with the man who was the first to believe in me in the music biz is now gone way too early. See you on the other side, Sir Don!”

He was just 56.

Many will remember Dorshimer, a Florida native, in his affiliation with Belkin Productions which booked headliners for monster festival-type shows at Val-Du-Lakes for many years, not to mention a bevy of other Michigan venues.


But The Orbit Room was his baby and he ran the 1,700-capacity concert venue for 25 years, first as Club Eastbrook, eventually partnering with manager Ted Smith. The nightclub underwent more than $100,000 in renovations a couple of years ago.

“He really loved this place and was very proud of it,” said Smith, who was uncertain of the cause of Dorshimer’s death. “Don was making lots of plans and he wanted to help me with things.”

Dorshimer's Palace: The Orbit Room

Dorshimer’s Palace: The Orbit Room

“Don was a survivor,” added Denny Baxter, of Blue Cap Promotions which collaborated briefly with The Orbit Room as an investor a few years ago. “He would say … ‘Through all the ups and downs, I’m still standing.’ There were very few like him. He had a keen sense of what this community liked.”

Smith says The Orbit Room will continue to operate as usual, at least for the time being.

The last time I spoke with Dorshimer not long ago, the avid biker had returned from yet another long motorcycle voyage and was gabbing fondly about the trip. He was also in his familiar concert promoter mode, pumped up about yet another idea to promote The Orbit Room’s slate of fall shows, rattling on amiably in that raspy, distinctive Dorshimer drawl.

Few could match his ardor for the business and his long track record in bringing big names and big rock shows to West Michigan.

For a promoter like Dorshimer, the sold-out throng for tonight’s Five Finger Death Punch show at The Orbit Room might be the best tribute yet.

I can see him smiling about it right now.

Email John Sinkevics at jsinkevics@gmail.com.
Copyright 2013, Spins on Music

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3 Responses to The Orbit Room

  1. Chris Baird says:

    Don D was One-of-a-kind and booked my band the T-Bones at a number of his venues. I remember a GREAT memorial day gig at Val-Du-Lakes opening for Charlie Daniels. We ended up opening for a number of headline acts in the early 90s. ROCK ON DON !

  2. Valery Dorshimer says:

    Miss you Donald.. Your anniversary is coming up in a few days !! I’ll love you forever.. you were the best big brother! Valery xxoo

    PS…. I’m off to Italy again! Logan’s film Live Cargo” is now global and premiering in, Torino film fest! You would be so proud .. xxo

  3. Doug Taylor says:

    Longtime owner of The Orbit Room, Don Dorshimer had died, most remembering him as the Godfather of West Michigan’s rock concert promotion scene and his affiliation with Belkin Productions which booked headliners for monster festival-type shows at Val-Du-Lakes for many years. He was only 56.

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