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Playing at home

July 20, 2010
Patty Ramus

Shane Grehan was angry when his sister received her first guitar before he did.

The sibling rivalry ignited a passion that would eventually lead to his involvement with Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys, a country western band that draws on influences from a variety of musical genres. The band is one of the musical groups performing during the Michigan Brown Trout Festival. Its show took place Tuesday night.

Grehan, an Alpena native, said he began playing guitar around eighth grade. He was in several punk bands before he started listening to blues and began to play more with that style. By high school he had been "jamming" with people including Andy Wozniak and Donny Hartman.

Article Photos

News Photo by Patty Ramus
Gunnar and the Grizzly Boys members Shane Grehan, right and Gunnar Nyblad perform under the big tent during the Michigan Brown Trout Festival on Tuesday evening. The country western band has opened for artists including Justin Moore and Gretchen Wilson. Grehan, an Alpena native, said he was excited to have the chance to play in front of friends and family for the festival.

Grehan's involvement with his current band began around August 2009 when he was introduced to Gunnar Nyblad, a Kent City native, in East Lansing before Grehan started his school year at Michigan State University. He began playing with Nyblad and other future Grizzly Boys band members. The group officially was formed in November and its first gig was opening for Justin Moore at The Intersection in Grand Rapids during the same month, he said.

"We've got a pretty edgy sound. Our band is pretty vocally driven," Grehan said.

Nyblad said the band's general manager and lead vocalist, the six member group incorporates styles such as rock 'n' roll and classic rock with strong country lyrics. Its music has appealed to different ages, from children through adults. The group will perform at other shows this summer and will be shooting its first music video in early August.

Fact Box

Brown Trout

1. Bryan Kozlowski3.70

2. Mark Tarsney2.80

3. Vic Ross 2.50

(tie) Dylan MacNeill2.50

(tie)Dan Harrison2.50


1. Jason Szatkowski 8.60

2. Kris Werda 7.65

3. Steve Kirpry 7.50

4. Jon Kruttlin 6.75

(tie) Gregg Wieschowski6.75


1. Jon Gunderson 9.50

2. Bert Herrsman9.30

3. Steve Hubert 8.10

4. Mark Tarsney 8.00

5. Skeeter Urban7.85


1. Joe Hauff 17.05

2. Luke Szatkowski 16.00

5. Paul Brege15.65

4. Bruce Jones 13.70

5. Scott Gagnon 13.05

Lake Trout

1. Bradley Skiba 16.30

2. Martin Skiba 16.05

3. Raegen Eller 13.05

4. Al Skiba 12.30

5. Tanner Ingle 12.25

The group has developed a strong following since its formation. As of Tuesday afternoon the band had 1,921 fans on its Facebook page. It also has opened for Gretchen Wilson and played in different venues across the state. Its first album, "HomeGrown," is scheduled to be released on Friday, though attendees of the Brown Trout show had a chance to purchase the CD ahead of time. Grehan never expected the band's popularity to grow as quickly as it has.

"I was looking for maybe a couple bars to play at in East Lansing and (Nyblad) got me back into playing guitar and where I want to be," he said.

The Grizzly Boys' exposure to Wilson helped land its gig at the Brown Trout Festival. Grehan said his mother, Jan, sent a picture of the band members with Wilson to the festival committee, which contacted him about coming to play.

On Tuesday afternoon, Grehan expressed excitement over getting his chance to play in his own home town. In past shows the other band members have been able to play in front of their families, friends or fans from their old stomping grounds.

"When I was asked to play this show I was extremely honored," he said. "It's emotional to play for my grandparents, my mom and my friends."

Grehan said he is entering his senior year at MSU and is studying nursing. While the band is a high priority, he wants to continue his education in the medical field on through graduate school, so he has foundation if the music business doesn't work out for him.

"Right now I'm just trying to concentrate on the band and put the band first. You're only young once and only get one opportunity," he said.

Patty Ramus can be reached via e-mail at or by phone at 358-5687.



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