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We're Teaming Up with Jail Guitar Doors to Bring Rehabilitative Music Programming to Michigan Prisons

Music has the power to transform perspective and transcend one’s own experience, connecting us to a broader human experience, providing us comfort and an opportunity for reflection at times when it is most needed. Since our inception, Higher Grounds has always had a deeply rooted relationship with the arts and partnerships with artists. 

We’ve co-produced albums in partnership with Music Ambassadors as part of On the Ground’s work in our partner communities. They’ve included the likes of Seth Bernard & May Erlewine’s album, New Flower; Joshua Davis’ A Miracle of Birds; and Heavy Color’s River Passage, all of which were partnerships with musicians in the countries where we work to benefit community development. 

With the launch of Riff Roast, we are excited to announce the expansion of our work in partnership with artists. Together with Los Angeles-based Jail Guitar Doors (JGD), we have launched a campaign to bring JGD programming to Michigan. 

On Saturday, August 20th, through Tuesday, August 23rd, we’re coordinating a series of events featuring legendary guitarist and cofounder of quintessential Detroit proto-punk legends MC5, author, and JGD-USA co-founder Wayne Kramer, who will be visiting Northern Michigan to promote the partnership. 

Northern Michigan events include:

At each event, Wayne Kramer will be discussing his personal experience with the industrial prison complex and the important work of JGD using music in the prisons around the country to support healthy rehabilitation and reintegration of our citizens who have been incarcerated. 

We’ve all had those moments in our lives where we connect with a song. Many times for myself, it has been during monumental life events, some happy and joyous, other times, sad and reflective. 

Jail Guitar Doors provides musical instruments and mentorship to help rehabilitate incarcerated individuals through the transformative power of music. Through collaborative music and songwriting, JGD aims to achieve measurable outcomes to help diminish prison violence, reduce recidivism, and make communities safe. JGD intends to bring similar music programming to Michigan’s incarcerated to help facilitate healing and growth.

This partnership will focus fundraising efforts around the sales of a new Higher Grounds/JGD coffee that will raise funds to help bring JGD to Michigan. The coffee collaboration, Riff Roast, is a dark-roasted, fair trade, organic certified coffee from the COMSA Cooperative of coffee growers in Honduras, and features a smoky sweetness and tasty notes of molasses. 

Five dollars from the sale of every bag will go directly to Jail Guitar Doors to fund their programming in Michigan correctional facilities.

The Northern Michigan events and coffee launch will begin a year-long campaign supported by the sales of Riff Roast that will feature concerts by Michigan musicians and virtual engagement by national artists to raise funds and awareness for JGD’s future Michigan programming. More events will be announced later this year.

Join us in helping Jail Guitar Doors and Wayne to “build a community of caring that includes those living behind bars in my home state of Michigan." 

--Chris Treter


Jail Guitar Doors is a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to bring the undeniable, universal power of music to the incarcerated to help our fellow imprisoned human beings onto the right track toward successful reentry into society.

Higher Grounds Trading Co
. has been a Traverse City-area staple, roasting up high-quality, fair trade proof, and organic coffee for almost twenty years. We believe that high-quality coffee is sustainable only through a human-centric approach to trade, and we provide coffee drinkers with the opportunity to engage in a cycle that begins with, and returns to, our partners in coffee-growing regions.