CD Warehouse, on the corner of Abbott and Albert, sells music just like any other store you might find in the Meridian Mall. However, the people that work in this store don’t just sell music, they make it through their own label called Jacknife Records.
Jacknife Records is mainly run out of CD Warehouse by its manager, Rick Pniewski, to support local talent. The label was passed down by local group Eight-ball Grifter when the band left for Florida. Currently, the label has five bands under its label: The Fighting Hellfish (which Pniewski is a member of), Honesty and Steel Reserve, Heroes Love Revenge, Red Ship and Skaty-8.
The label is truly grassroots –it promotes its bands through fliers and live promotion- but the lack of investors doesn’t keep Pniewski down.
[jacknife1] “The label’s main goal is to create a community and have name recognition,” he said. The main goal of Jacknife Records is to work toward a large musical community of bands working together to support each other. They’re looking beyond the borders of Lansing, too, considering adding a band from Grand Rapids and even one from Indianapolis.
Sean Murphy, bassist for Heroes Love Revenge, said that Jacknife Records is still getting things ready and focusing on helping the bands that they currently have in any way that they can. The label tries to get the name out there as much as it can with limited resources, he said. “Name recognition is huge,” Pniewski said.
According to Pniewski, bands and labels that receive name recognition in the community will attract more people to buy their CDs. On a student’s tight budget, no one is going to just throw down $10+ to check out a band that they know little about. They have to hear about the band from someone they trust, or see the band live. In steps Jacknife Records.
The bands in the label have done a number of “Jacknife Record Sets” in area venues to work up a little of that coveted name recognition. And it works both ways, bringing in customers to local venues as well. According to Murphy, the label is looking to get these shows to occur on a regular basis.
[jacknife2] Many of the label’s members currently play in full-time bands while maintaining a full-time job, like Pniewski’s day gig at CD Warehouse. Although they’re hoping to hand over the reigns of the label to someone full time, until that time comes, members of the label are doing it all.
Jacknife Records may not have money or management, but Pniewski still has high aspirations. He wants to see the label become the Epitaph Records of the Midwest. Epitaph was started in a closet in California during the 80’s and has now come to have bands such as NOFX, Bad Religion and The Offspring – not too shabby.
Until then, students can check out what Jacknife Records has to offer at local venues. The next “Jacknife Record Set” will be at Mac’s Bar on Dec. 10 featuring Fighting Hellfish and Heroes Love Revenge.

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