Sunday, August 3, 2014

‘Girls of Summer’ blues fest

Thornetta Davis
It could take weeks to see all of Detroit's top female blues artists perform at various clubs and concert halls.
Today, the Detroit Blues Society is presenting the opportunity to catch them all at one venue on one show.
The “Girls of Summer” Blues Fest, which runs from 2-10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3 at the Hastings Street Ballroom & Tangent Gallery, 715 E. Milwaukee Ave., will feature 10 of Detroit’s most dazzling blues divas, including Thornetta Davis, Tosha Owens and the GTO Band, Laura Rain and the Caesars, Kathleen Murray and the Groove Council, Heather Jones, Jennifer Westwood, Nikki Pearse and Cannonball Underground, Marley and Spoonful, and Sandy Mulligan and the Gypsies.
These performers will also compete in a “Pretty Outfit Contest,” with the winner receiving a $100 prize.
Alberta Adams, “Detroit’s Queen of the Blues,” will be on hand to celebrate her 97th birthday. There will also be a “Babes and Blooms” print show, and a garden barbeque presented by Side Car Detroit and Captain Kool Ice Cream.
Admission is $15 at the door with all proceeds benefiting the Detroit Blues Society. All artists are donating their talent. Free lighted and secure parking as well as a cash bar will be available.
For more information, click

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Doug Deming returns

Doug Deming
Fans of Doug Deming will be happy to note that he is back in town and performing with his band the Jewel Tones from 7-10 p.m. Tuesday at the Plymouth Elks Lodge 41700 Ann Arbor Road .
Deming is an east side Detroit native who now hails from Florida’s Gulf Coast.
A talented singer, guitarist and songwriter, Deming first made his mark on the local Detroit music scene in the early 1990s. He spent much of the following years backing many of the day’s top touring blues artists, including Fabulous Thunderbirds front man Kim Wilson, Louisiana swamp bluesman Lazy Lester, harp man Gary Primich, Chicago greats Johnny “Yard Dog” Jones and A.C. Reed, and Detroit’s own Queen of the Blues, Alberta Adams.
Deming is equally adept at performing traditional blues, West Coast and Texas swing, early rock, country and roots music.
Deming is paired with acclaimed harp man and touring partner Dennis Gruenling.
Admission is $5. The Lodge features pizza and a cash bar. Call 734-453-1780 for further information.
For more on Doug Deming, click

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Alligators at the Plymouth Elks Club

Wailin' Dale and Dave Krammer 
The Alligators have been playing blues in Detroit and throughout the Midwest for 30 years.
Lead vocalist Dave Krammer and harmonica player Wailin’ Dale started the band in 1984, The band also includes Frankie Lee on bass (joined in 2007), Jon Johnson on drums (joined 2008), and Nick Tabarias, guitar (joined 2012).
You can see them tonight (June 10) from 7-10 p.m. at the Plymouth-Ann Arbor Elks Club, 41700 Ann Arbor Road in Plymouth.
The band made their recording debut in 1994 with “Gimme Some Skin.” They have recorded four successful and highly acclaimed CDs to date. 

Blues Fest scheduled
The Elks will also be the site of a blues festival on Sunday, Aug. 17. 
On the bill are Carl Henry, The Boa Constrictors, The Greg Nagy Band, RJ’s Kansas City Six and Thornetta Davis and her band.
Gates will open at 12:30 p.m. and music begins at 1:30 p.m..  The donation is $10 for adults and $5 for those under the age 12.  Food and beverages will be available for sale. Plan on bringing a lawn chair and enjoying the music.
Mark your calendars.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Monday, June 9, 2014

Another gem from Little Sonny

Ever since he moved to Detroit from his native Alabama in 1953, singer-harmonica player Little Sonny has been among Detroit’s elite blues performers. The man who got his start with Washboard Willie and His Super Suds of Rhythm, and who was friends and performed with late blues luminaries such as John Lee Hooker and Eddie Burns, is 81 now, still spry, but no longer touring.
Little Sonny feels he still has one more album in him. Until that happens, we have another gem to enjoy.
Little Sonny’s “The Best Love I Ever Had” (Glynn Record Company), originally released in Japan in 1995, has recently been released to the U.S. market.
The CD features Little Sonny’s trademark blues that blend in a bit of funk and Southern soul. Recorded when he was in his early 60s, the CD finds Little Sonny in fine vocal form, especially on the title track “The Best Love I Ever Had,” where he pleads to be “used” by his woman with a strong voice reminiscent of great Stax/Volt artists such as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. This is no surprise, as Little Sonny recorded a trio of albums (“New King of the Blues Harmonica,” “Black & Blue” and “Hard Goin’ Up”) for Stax or subsidiary labels. Still, Little Sonny’s vibrato laced voice is unique.
A funky harp riff kicks off “The End of Your Rope,” in which Little Sonny tells his woman “if I give you enough rope, I’m sure you’ll hang yourself.” It is one of several songs on the recording, including “When Love Begins Friendship Ends” (featuring Don Whyte on soulful tenor sax) and “Love Mechanic,” that demonstrate Little Sonny’s prowess as a songwriter and ability to turn a clever phrase.
Little Sonny wrote seven of the 10 songs on the album, including “Watching the Peoples” that advises you to “watch the people and not what they say.”
Donny Hathaway’s Latin jazz flavored instrumental “The Ghetto” gets a funky treatment here. Two other instrumentals, “Jam” and “Harmonica Funk Blues,” were penned by Little Sonny’s sons Aaron Willis Jr. and Anthony Willis, who perform on guitar and bass, respectively. These songs provide an opportunity for Little Sonny and his sons to stretch out and display their considerable chops. Guitar work by Aaron Jr. (The Dramatics, Bobby Womack) is also featured on “I’ll Never Trust You Again,” while Anthony sets the pace on bass on “Outer Funk.”
Little Sonny’s band on this CD also included keyboard player Rudy Robinson, well known as a performer and arranger for many soul stars until his death in 2002 at age 61, and Dwayne “Butch” Lomax and Curtis Sharp on drums.
Little Sonny is a perfectionist and this studio album, released as a tribute to his late wife Maggie Willis, demonstrates his considerable prowess as a musician, songwriter and arranger.
It also provides an opportunity to check out Little Sonny’s funky, soulful blues on a recording that is receiving long overdue exposure to a wider audience.

To order the CD “The Best Love I Ever Had,” mail a money order for $15 (includes shipping and handling) to Glynn Enterprises, 18648 Fleming, Detroit, MI 48234-1309.

To read more on Little Sonny, click here.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Rick Stel memorial concert scheduled

Rick Stel (Photo by Wolfgang Spider)
A tribute to blues musician Rick (Stel) Salansky has been scheduled from 6 p.m. to midnight on Sunday, May 4, at the Blue Goose Inn, 28911 Jefferson Ave., in St. Clair Shores. Stel passed away on April 8 at age 60.
The evening will open with sets by the Rick Stel Project,  the Yazoo Brothers, and Jim McCarty and Mystery Train. There will be other special guests and a jam session.
Members of the Rick Stel Project -- keyboardist Mark LoDuca, bassist Jef Reynolds and drummer Dave Marcaccio -- will be joined by guitarist Paul Carey and the Wicked Horns four-piece horn section.
Stel's brother Dale will perform with the Yazoo Brothers, one of Rick's early bands. Noted guitarist Jim McCarty, who played with Stel for 20 years, will lead the Mystery Train band.
"When we found out Rick wasn't going to be with us much longer, we decided we would do a musical memorial or tribute," Marcaccio said. "Rick was all about the music, that's what he loved most. I can't imagine we wouldn't do something like this for him.
"It's going to be real strange to do this thing this weekend because he won't be there. It will be like, 'Where's Rick?' But, he will be there in spirit."
According to Marcaccio, Stel's son Eric approached the band about a tribute concert.
"Everyone wanted to be a part of this," Marcaccio said. "It's a collaborative effort."
There's no admission charge. A bucket will be passed to benefit the Detroit Blues Society.
"That's another thing Eric wanted to do," Marcaccio said, "to help keep the blues and music alive in this area."

Click to see previous blog posts:

Detroit blues world mourns passing of Rick Stel

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Save Detroit Benefit Show

Paul Miles has the "Spirit of Detroit."
Blues musician Paul Miles knows that no one person can solve the problems Detroit is experiencing. But, he also knows that great things can result from small beginnings.
Miles presents the "Save Detroit Benefit Show" at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 20 at NextWave Media Lab, 950 Stephenson Highway in Troy.
“We want to make an effort to lift Detroit up, socially, and focus on what we are able to do and go ahead and remedy and fix,” Miles said.
“The show we’re doing is like tossing a pebble into a pond here and starting the wave of compassion. There are lots of organizations and people doing positive things in Detroit, and if what we’re doing encourages people to go up and do something in their own realm, then we’re doing our job.”
Paul Miles
Featured artists at the benefit show will be singer-songwriter and storyteller Michael on Fire, country music singer Julianne Ankley, blues musician Carl Henry, and singer-songwriter Michelle Held. Miles, a singer-songwriter and guitarist, will also perform and will serve as co-master of ceremonies with musician Emily Rogers.
“I wanted a nice mix featuring different people and different sounds,” Miles said. “Julianne was happy to jump on board, Michelle is a newcomer who is doing a lot of good things here in the folk acoustic style, and Carl, who is nominated as the best acoustic artist at the Detroit Music Awards and represented Detroit in Memphis (at the International Blues Challenge), has always been a community minded person and contributed to many projects in the past.”
Miles is especially pleased that Michael on Fire is on the bill.
Michael on Fire (Photo by Greg Sadler)
“Michael has toured more than any of us, collectively, and he’s generally out of town and doesn’t do that many shows here. He has performed with Stephen Stills and lots of other people you would know and is an award winning songwriter.”
Donations will be accepted at the door.
Money raised at the event will be donated to the general fund of the City Of Detroit. Available at the event will be copies of the song "Save Detroit" with all proceeds going to the City of Detroit. Each artist is donating his or her time for this event.
“We’re doing it to raise the social consciousness of what is going on in Detroit,” Miles said. “We’re not getting into the politics of who is doing what, or where the money is going. Our intention is to highlight what people are going to go ahead and do.”
For information on the concert, or if you are unable to attend but would like to make a donation, click
Blues at the library
The Jazz and Blues Series at the Southfield Public Library continues at 6:30 p.m. tonight (April 16) with a performance by Jo Serrapere, John Devine and Friends.
Serrapere’s music blends elements of modern and traditional folk music, old-time and electric blues, roots rock, garage surf, swing, and alt-country. Devine, trained as a classical guitarist, developed a love of traditional blue styles of the 1920s and ‘30s.
Admission is $5, with a discount for Friends of the Southfield Public Library members. Admission is free for children under age 12.

Detroit Blues Society jam
The Blue Cat Band hosts the Detroit Blues Society Monthly Meeting and Jam on Saturday, April 19, at the Sky Box Sports Grill in Highland Township.
After a set by the host band, jammers take over the stage and there is always a lot of local talent on display.
There’s no cover charge.

Smokin’ Saturday blues
This Saturday, the annual Carrick Guitars for Kids concert comes to Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
A fantastic lineup, including the Bobby Murray Band, Peter “Madcat” Ruth and his Madcat Midnight Blues Journey, Drew Nelson, School of Rock Rochester, Chris Degnore, and Erica Mourad, will perform.
Tickets are $15 general admission, $25 for preferred seating. All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to purchasing guitars for children. Click for ticket information.

Also on Saturday, fans of the J. Geils Band will enjoy the tribute band Raputa at the Packard Grill in Shelby Township. They promise to "blow your face out!." Click for info.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bandmate recalls Rick Stel as 'a source of inspiration'; memorial service set

Rick Stel (Photo by Wolfgang Spider)
Bassist Jef Reynolds has been friends with singer-guitarist Rick (Stel) Salansky for 30 years or so, starting when they were part of a network of friends from Utica, Mich. that were in their 20s and “all about the music.”
Stel’s death from cancer at age 60 on Tuesday prompted lots of calls and messages to Reynolds, who played with Stel for years in the Rick Stel Project band.
“(The list) is a mile long, you hear from everybody,” Reynolds said Wednesday. “You know how it is when you’re longtime buddies and friends. When you hear about it, you say ‘damn!’ There have been long discussions and lots of reflection. Rick and I have gotten really close the last 7 or 8 years.”
Reynolds and his Rick Stel Project bandmates – keyboardist Mark LoDuca and drummer Dave Marcaccio – expect to be involved in a memorial tribute to Stel at a yet to be specified date.
“Rick’s son Eric (Salansky) said he would like for us to be involved when we do a tribute,” Reynolds said.   “Everybody in our network is in the same generation and we all have the same friends. A lot of us are in the Detroit Blues Society.
“We’’ll try to find the most common thread, maybe at a Detroit Blues Society function, or maybe at Callahan’s (Music Hall) where Rick played with us, with Jim McCarty’s Mystery Train, or sometimes with The Millionaires (swing band).”
Reynolds is working on completing production of a video of the Rick Stel Project performing at a festival last fall.
“Rick did a lot of music in town, but there’s not too much of this type of high quality documentation,” Reynolds said. “It looks pretty nice, he’s happy and he’s playing really good guitar.”
Reynolds described Stel as “a fun man to work with.”
“As far as his music, he was really a source of inspiration to all of us,” Reynolds said. “A lot of the music he wrote was based upon his life experiences. He was divorced, but he would write about it in a humorous way. He wrote songs called ‘My Wife Don’t Cook’ and ‘Chasin’ Women Blues.’ There was some remorse, but he would make fun of himself and write tongue in cheek. That endeared him to all of us who played with him.”
Reynolds, a retired engineer from Chrysler, had another bond with Stel, who was still working as a design engineer for GM. Marcaccio is a car guy too.
“I would characterize him as a roll up your sleeves type of guy, a blue collar guy,” Reynolds said. “He was pragmatic and hardworking. A lot of us came from the same culture from cars.
“We’re all buddies from that different side of life. We do the car thing during the day and come out at night and play the blues.”
According to Reynolds, Stel was the type of person everyone could relate to.
“He was kind of a Walt Whitman type, a plain spoken and poetic person.”

Rick’s Stel’s passing prompted lots of comments on social media, many from the top musicians in Detroit, a tribute to his talent. Here are a few excerpts.
“You were a true blues man who will be missed by many. Thank you for all the great years of music!” – Dylan McCarty
“Rick Stel was as kind as he was talented - a truly sweet soul and I am proud to call Rick my friend.” – Bobby Murray 
“I didn’t know him well, but every time you saw him he put a smile on your face. And that my friends is the greatest legacy perhaps we can hope for.” – Carl Henry
“A strong & swinging blues guitarist, a fine singer, he was also a talented blues piano man. ... He was a damn good person beyond his musical abilities. A major loss in our community.” – RJ Spangler
“He was a hell of musician and a fine, soulful singer who was a VERY important part of our music scene here, for many years." – Erich Goebel
"Rick was an excellent guitar player and a multi-talented musician. He was a class act and had ZERO ego. He will surely be missed."  Steve Allen

To see a previous blog post with comments from Jim McCarty about Rick Stel, click here.

A memorial gathering for Rick (Stel) Salansky will be from 4-9 p.m. Friday, April 11 at Lee-Ellena Funeral Home, 46530 Romeo Plank, Macomb Township. A service is planned at 7:30 p.m. For information, click

To send info to JB Blues, please email