The Rapidian

Six degrees of local musician Dan Fisher

Seven Grand Rapids bands and hundreds of shows under his belt, Dan Fisher represents music, community and happiness.
Dan Fisher playing guitar

Dan Fisher playing guitar /Ryan Pavolvich

The smell of stale PBR has permanently attached itself to the walls of Mulligan's Otherside. On stage, a guitar player, a bass player and a drummer begin their first show. They smile anxiously.

"Here we go."

Reverb and distortion cascade over the crowd in alt-rock, 90s influenced glory. North Atlantic Drift is born.

For Dan Fisher, one could say that the start of North Atlantic Drift, the first band Fisher has led, is the end of the story: the culmination of seven bands, hundreds of shows and hours of rehearsals. But Fisher knows North Atlantic Drift is just one more step in a life dedicated to the pursuit of music.

"Let's see, I've played music in The Little Village, Wonder Caverns, The Brave Youth, The Mat Churchill Band, Mavericks and Monarchs, The Campanellis and now North Atlantic Drift," Fisher says.

Why so many bands?

"Music is the only thing that matters to me," says Fisher. "It's a hobby that I'm fully committed to. It's more than that."

Fisher plays like a man without constraints, engulfed in broken guitar strings and dirty little riffs, his head tilting back and bowing down hard to the beat, a smiling face fit with genuine happiness.

"Being on stage is hard to explain," says Fisher. "I lose track. I let myself be something different."

His stage presence has continued to grow since his formative days in The Little Village, a Grand Rapids band which enjoyed a streak of success in town. When the band first began to experience crowded shows, Fisher realized how much he liked playing music in front of people, helping concertgoers in turn to enjoy themselves.

"I want to give people a show," says Fisher. "I want to give people something to watch to go along with the music."

Although he claims music as the only thing that matters, his history with the Grand Rapids music scene reveals a Dan Fisher interested in more than riffs and choruses. The people he surrounds himself with, both on stage and off, mean just as much to him as the music they share.  

"I've met most of my post-college friends through the Grand Rapids music scene," says Fisher.

Founded in 2011, The Campanellis began as a ragtag power-pop group, formed for a one-off show at the DAAC. But the group continues to this day.

"Paul [Jaissle] and Joel [Gilbert] are good friends and they wanted to form a band for this First Show night at the DAAC. I said I would do it with them," says Fisher. 

They did not expect to continue playing music together.

"I wanted to support my friends, and it ended up taking off," Fisher says.

The Campanellis now enjoy a cult following within Grand Rapids, a circle of friends who come together to rock and have fun and drink beer.  And seeing Fisher play live, hearing him talk about music, one can sense that the camaradarie formed around the music scene is what it is all about to him. Fisher uses music as a tool for community, friendship and entertainment. He wants folks to smile. He wants to make the world better.

Music, notably live music, is his medium.

Now, after years of practice in several bands, touching nearly everyone involved with rock music in Grand Rapids, Fisher has his own project to front. North Atlantic Drift played its first show at Mulligan's Otherside on May 25, and they have another one coming up June 7, again at the Otherside.

"I love Mulligan's," says Fisher. "I have the most fun there."

Fortunately for concertgoers, Fisher wants to share in the fun. If you have yet to see Dan Fisher play music, now is a good time to start. He'll welcome you with open arms and wailing guitar.

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