Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jim McCarty with The Millionaires

Just heard that legendary guitarist Jim McCarty is joining The Millionaires on Thursday at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills. McCarty has been a fixture on the Detroit rock-blues scene for decades, performing with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Cactus, The Rockets, and his current band, Mystery Train. It should be a treat to see him perform in front of a 10-piece jump blues band. And tickets are only $5. For info, click

Live blues music in Detroit

Thornetta Davis
Looking for some good blues music to help bring in the new year?

On New Year's Eve, Mark "Pazman" Pasman heads an impressive lineup including Johnnie Bassett and Bobby Murray at  Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills (see previous post).

Other great NYE choices include Mystery Train with guitarist Jim McCarty at The Blue Goose, 28911 Jefferson Ave. in St. Clair Shores (586-296-0950); and singer Thornetta Davis at The Harbor House, 440 Clinton St. in Detroit (313-967-9900).

Additional NYE options include RJ's Rhythm Rockers at Howell's Bar in Dearborn (313-565-6322),  the Carl Henry Band at The Treehouse in Taylor, and The Delta Five Blues Band at All That Jazz River Club in Detroit (313-331-1012).

If you're looking to lay down some licks to bring in 2011, check out the Open Blues Jam at Kellys Bar in Hamtown and the Full Tilt Boogie Blues Band Jam Session at Timber Wolf Tavern in Redford (313-937-1218).

There's plenty of blues leading up to the big party night too.

Tonight, catch Carl Henry at Sneakers Pub and Grill, 22628 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

On Thursday, enjoy the great jump blues and swing band The Millionaires at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills.

The fun continues in the new year.

On Saturday, Carl Henry performs a 1 p.m. show at Butcher's Inn, 1489 Winder St. in Detroit, and in the evening Champagne and The Motor City Blues Crew are at Bert’s, 2727 Russell St. in Detroit (313-567-2030).

On Sunday, Pete "Big Dog" Fetters performs a solo acoustic show at Dylan's Raw Bar, 15402 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Park (313-884-6030).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Blues Showcase

The 11th Annual Detroit Music Awards Blues Showcase starts at 8 p.m. Sunday at Memphis Smoke, 100 S. Main St. in Royal Oak. The fundraiser for the Detroit Music Awards will feature the music of Lester's Blues, The Boa Constrictors, the Greg Nagy Band, and The Alligators, who will perform a tribute to the late Steve Schwartz, guitarist for The Alligators who passed away recently. Billy Farris will fill in on guitar with the group. It's sure to be a great show. Donations will be accepted at the door.
Merry Christmas to blues fans around the world!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Almost Christmas'

Eastsiders may remember the late '60's-early 70's band the Delray Blues. In addition to the standard blues-rock band instrumentation, the Roseville-based Delray Blues also boasted a horn section and keyboards and played songs such as "Vehicle" by the Ides of March and "Sing a Simple Song" by Sly and the Family Stone. Bruce Cawthon was the lead singer.
The bass player from the group, John Groh, is now a songwriter who lives in California. This year, he's written a holiday song called "Almost Christmas." It's the kind of homespun tune that's great to listen to as you relax and maybe finish wrapping a few presents on Christmas Eve. Lots of pleasant imagery.
You can check out the song and download it for less than a buck at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Win free tickets to Pazman's Rockin' Blues NYE 2011

Mark "Pazman" Pasman
Maybe Pazman should call this one a “Super-duper-session.”
Musician Mark “Pazman” Pasman, whose Supersessions have been popular in the Detroit area for years, has assembled an impressive all-star lineup for his Rockin’ Blues NYE 2011 bash at Callahan’s Music Hall.
Musicians scheduled to perform include guitarists Johnnie Bassett, Bobby Murray (longtime guitarist for Etta James), and “Big Al” Grebovic of the Broken Arrow Blues Band.
“There’s a guitar army right there, plus my (Gibson) 335,” Pazman said. “That’s a lot of guitar. It’s going to be an amazing evening with the depth and breadth of talent.
“It’s always a blast to play with any of these cats on their own -- combine them and it will be Detroit blues ‘guitarmageddon.’”
Pazman is especially pleased that Detroit’s “Gentleman of the Blues” is on the bill.
“We all look at Johnnie Bassett as the professor,” said Pazman, who has hosted his "Motor City Blues Project" show on WCSX (94.7 FM) on Sunday evenings for 22 years. “Playing with him is like going to class. I never do a show with him without learning something really important.
“Most people in Detroit, outside the blues-interested folks, have no idea (what a talented performer he is). If he were based in Chicago or New York, perhaps, he would be a major, major talent. He’s an international name. Over in Europe, he headlines festivals in front of 20,000 people.
“I try to work with Johnnie whenever I can. If you hear him play, it’s like seeing B.B. King or Buddy Guy. He has that kind of gravitas, talent and swing.”
Also featured at the show will be Pazman’s former bandmate Paul Randolph, a singer-bassist who has been performing with German nu-jazz collective Jazzanova; singer-harpist Jimmy “Pickles” Nicholls, who has played with Pazman for about 15 years after they met when Pickles won an on-air harmonica contest; Mark LoDuca on keyboards; and drummer Skeeto Valdez (The Brothers Groove).
“Skeeto may be one of the best drummers in the world and I don’t say that lightly,” Pazman said. “He is phenomenal.”
As the new year starts, memories of 2010 remain strong. The show will be dedicated to Steve Schwartz, guitarist with The Alligators, who passed away at age 56 last week.
"You should have seen the room full of blubbering blues musicians at his funeral," Pazman said. "He really was a loved guy.
“David Krammer, singer with The Alligators, said, ‘Man, I knew people liked the band and liked Steve, but I got three or four thousand e-mails or postings on Facebook and my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m blown away.
“I said to him, ‘Steve was a real mensch, a real great person, and it shows the power of music.’"
Tickets to the Rockin’ Blues NYE show are $30-$35. Callahan’s is at 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills. For more information, call (248) 858-9508.
To win a pair of free tickets to Rockin’ Blues NYE, e-mail the answer to the following trivia question to: Be sure to put JB Blues in the subject line. 21-over please. The winner will be randomly selected from correct responses and will be notified on Friday, Dec. 24.
Question: Before he formed his Supersession band, Pazman was in a popular blues group named after a type of salamander. What is the name of the group?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Funeral arrangements for Steve Schwartz

The Detroit Blues Society has shared funeral arrangement information for Steve Schwartz, longtime guitarist for The Alligators, who passed away Wednesday.
The funeral will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19 at Ira Kaufman Chapel, 18325 W. Nine Mile Road, Southfield, MI 48075-4021 (248-569-0020). Rabbi David Nelson will officiate.
Interment will be at Adat Shalom Memorial Park, 29901 Middlebelt Road, Farmington Hills.
Sincere condolences go out to Steve's family and friends.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Steve Schwartz, guitarist with The Alligators, passes on

Steve Schwartz
Steve Schwartz, guitar player for the Detroit-based blues band The Alligators, passed away on Dec. 15 of undetermined causes at age 56. He played with The Alligators for 21 years and solidified what became their signature sound.
He was the loving husband of Joyce, the father of Julie and Michael, the proud grandpa of Maliana, Lilly, Joseph, and Lawrence, and brother to Bob Schwartz.
David Krammer, Schwartz's longtime bandmate, called Steve "an extremely talented and insightful musician."
"Steve was the closest of friends," Krammer said. "We spent endless hours over many years, driving all over the Midwest. All those overnight drives, sleepless nights, and crummy hotels help forge a very deep friendship. Steve treasured his family and his life. Most of what we ever talked about was our family, our kids.
"He was rarely sick, he never complained. He was the rock, the peacemaker, diplomate, and our biggest cheerleader. All he ever wanted out of life was to be with his family and play music.
"Those of us on this side have to find a way to carry on without our beloved friend and family member. God bless him."
Steve Allen, of the Detroit Blues Society, expressed condolences.
"Steve was the living embodiment of a bluesman," Allen said. "He was a walking encyclopedia of blues history and not only did he play it very well, he understood its meaning, its history, and its social significance.
"He was a wonderful human being, always caring for others and the first one to donate his time for the right cause. I was proud to have him as a musician colleague, but most of all I was proud to call him my friend."

 To see a video of The Alligators performing live, click here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kim Wilson's Blues All-Stars

Kim Wilson
If you’re into the history of the blues, you’ll want to check out Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars on Thursday at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd in Auburn Hills.
Wilson, 59, is a native Detroiter who is best known as a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, along with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan. The singer-harmonica player-songwriter received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit Blues Society in 2009.
Wilson has played and jammed with many blues legends, including John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
A highlight of his solo career was his 2001 recording “Smokin’ Joint,” which earned Grammy and W.C. Handy nominations.
At Callahan’s, Wilson will be backed by a stellar collection of blues all-stars. Here’s a list of the band members and some of the artists they have performed with:
Bassist Larry Taylor (Canned Heat, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, The Monkees, Tom Waits), drummer Richard Innes (Hollywood Fats Band, Buddy Guy, Rod Piazza, Kid Ramos, Junior Watson and Lynwood Slim), guitarist Billy Flynn (Jimmy Dawkins, Mighty Joe Young, Luther Allison, Pinetop Perkins), guitarist Little Frank (Lazy Lester, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Hubert Sumlin), pianist Barrelhouse Chuck (Sunnyland Slim, Blind John Davis, Jimmy Rogers, Eddie Taylor, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy).
Wilson and the band were nominated for a 2010 Grammy for their work on the "Cadillac Records" soundtrack, which spent 48 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Blues Albums chart.
Tickets for the show are $25 and $35. For information, click or call (248) 858-9508.
If you can’t make the show at Callahan’s Thursday, Wilson and the band will be performing Friday with The Bluescasters at Guy Hollerin’s in Ann Arbor. Call (734) 769-9800.

Other top blues shows in the Detroit area this week:

Tonight, catch Carl Henry at Sneakers Pub and Grill,  22628 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.

On Friday, The Broken Arrow Blues Band will be at Nancy Whiskey's Pub, 2644 Harrison, Detroit (313-962-4247); the Carl Henry Band will be at The Treehouse, 12213 Telegraph Road, Taylor; Motor City Josh rocks The Blue Goose in St. Clair Shores (586-296-0950); the The Delta Five Blues Band will be at All That Jazz River Club, 8900 E. Jefferson, Detroit (313-331-1012); and The David Gerald Band performs at the Knights of Columbus, 4391 Larkins, Detroit (313-843-5233).

On Saturday, catch the Howling Diablos with General Cluster Funk at Callahan’s;
Detroit’s “Queen of the Blues” Alberta Adams with RJ's Rhythm Rockers at Cliff Bell's, 2030 Park Ave.,  Detroit  (313-961-2543), big SHORTY at the Cadieux CafĂ©, 4300 Cadieux, Detroit;  The Black Cat Blues Band Holiday Party at Johnny G’s, 27 Walnut,  Mount Clemens  (586-469-8388) and Motor City Josh is back at The Blue Goose.

To send an item to Joe Ballor for JB Blues, please e-mail

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Going Back to Our Roots'

Luther "Badman" Keith
Big City Rhythm & Blues magazine has scheduled its Christmas party, “Going Back to Our Roots,” for 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19 at Kelly’s Bar, 2403 Holbrook in Hamtramck (313-872-0387). The party’s sure to be a wang, dang doodle with musical director Bob Monteleone leading an impressive list of talented artists, including The Stumbling Mice, Dave Edwards (from The Look), Luther “Badman” Keith, Laith Al-Saadi, Johnnie Bassett, Chris Canas, Vincent Hayes and other members of Big City Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
The event will be more than just big fun as Robert Jr. and Sugar attempt to fill up their Airstream with donated canned goods for the food pantry at St. Florian Church (313-871-2778).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Detroit Blues Society helps Toys For Tots, continues headstone project

The graves of Uncle Jessie White and Louis "Mr. Bo" Collins at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit have headstones thanks to the Detroit Blues Society.

Mike Boulan, president of the Detroit Blues Society, relaxes in the control room of the No Cover recording studio in Oak Park.
The Detroit Blues Society has always been an active organization. Whether it’s an organized fundraiser -- such as supplying headstones for the graves of late Detroit bluesmen -- or simply providing support to local and national touring musicians, the DBS is a proactive group.
At Saturday’s monthly meeting and jam, “Blues and Toys For Girls and Boys,” at Callahan’s Music Hall, the DBS hopes to raise money and toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Toys For Tots Foundation. Anyone who donates $10 cash or a new, unwrapped toy worth $10 or more will receive a free blues music CD of their choice.
“We’ve partnered with them in the past,” said Mike Boulan, DBS president. “We’ll gather up whatever toys and money are donated, put them in a big basket and present it to the Marines.”
The group was formed in 1985 as The Detroit Country and Classic Blues Society to provide an opportunity to jam with local and touring musicians. In 1992, it was renamed the Detroit Blues Society with a goal to increase public awareness of blues music in Detroit.
Through the years, the jamming has remained an important component. One of Detroit’s top blues bands hosts each month’s meeting and performs an hour-long set. An open jam follows, with some of Detroit’s top talent often participating.
This month’s jam session will be hosted by singer-guitarist Robert Penn and his band, which has been prominent in the Detroit blues scene for years.
“We’re not just a preservationist-type society,” Boulan said.  “We encourage everyone to come down, bring their instruments, and perform.”
The society recently completed a fund-raising project to place headstones on the graves of Uncle Jessie White and Louis “Mr. Bo” Collins at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit.  Uncle Jessie, who was prominent in keeping the blues alive in Detroit during some down times, died in 2008. Mr. Bo, who performed in the style of B.B. King, passed away in 1995.
“(They) were cut from a different cloth than today’s people,” Boulan said. “You just can’t meet a nicer person on the face of this planet than either of these gentlemen.”
The DBS has also placed headstones on the graves of Son House, the Butler Twins (Clarence and Curtis Butler) and Calvin Frazier.
“Some of these people were personal friends of mine, and elder statesmen of the blues, that lived into their later years … and didn’t have a lot to show for it because they were bluesmen their whole lives and it’s not a lucrative field,” Boulan said. “Sometimes, they ended up in ummarked graves.
“Wolfgang Spider, one of our board members, took it upon himself to put a stone on a grave, which kicked this whole thing off. In the course of doing that, he started to become aware of how many of his personal friends were lying in unmarked graves and it really became much more of a pressing issue and something that we’re going to remain focused on for a long time to come, because we think this is a wrong that we can right.”

The DBS Holiday Meeting and Jam starts at 9 p.m. Saturday at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. (just east of Opdyke), Auburn Hills.  The public is welcome and admission is free. For information, call (248) 858-9508 or click For information on the Detroit Blues Society, click

To see a video of Mike Boulan discussing the DBS headstone project, click here.

Contact JB Blues via e-mail at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Christmas Collection' and 'X-Mas in Jail'

Tired of hearing “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” or “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” yet? It doesn’t take me too long to tire of hearing the holiday favorites that radio seems to continuously pump out starting in early November.
That’s one of the reasons I thoroughly enjoy some solid blues to get me in the Christmas mood.
My favorite holiday blues CD is 1992’s “Christmas Collection” by Alligator Records. It starts strong with a rockin’ “Merry, Merry Christmas” by the late, great Koko Taylor. You certainly won’t hear the folksy “Christmas Time in the Country” by Kenny Neal on commercial radio. There are a few traditional tunes on the CD – such as Elvin Bishop’s “The Little Drummer Boy” and Charlie Musselwhite’s “Silent Night” – but they have their own unique spins on the tunes. Other artists featured on the recording include Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, Katie Webster, William Clarke, Tinsley Ellis, Charles Brown, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, and Gatemouth Brown.
Alligator’s other holiday release is 2003’s “Genuine Houserockin’ Christmas,” featuring, among many others, Carey Bell, Shemekia Copeland, Cephus & Wiggins, The Holmes Brothers, and Marcia Ball.
For a gritty Detroit take on the holiday, check out the Howling Diablos’ 2008 EP release “X-Mas in Jail” on indie label Funky D Records. Tino and the boys deliver their unique funky takes on “Back Door Santa” and “Another Christmas Story (Ten Below Zero),” as well as two versions of the title track, a studio “felony mix” and a raucous live recording.
When you’re done listening, you’ll know what it’s like to be “locked down in Jackson, spending Christmas in jail.”
What’s your favorite Christmas blues recording?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Easy does it

There are some guitarists who seem to want to impress you with the difficulty of the leads they are playing. Texas guitarist Smokin' Joe Kubek, who held court with musical partner Bnois King in front of a SRO crowd at Callahan's Saturday, is quite the opposite. Whether playing slide,single-note leads or intricate rhythm to back up King's leads, Kubek makes it look totally effortless. Very impressive. Kubek and King have been together for over 20 years and it is evident in their live show. There's little wasted time and they work extremely well together, blending two different styles into a whole that surpasses the individual parts.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

'Have Blues Will Travel'

Bnois King and Smokin' Joe Kubek
Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King stop at Callahan's Music Hall Saturday as part of their tour supporting their fine new Alligator Records' release "Have Blues Will Travel." Ann Arbor's Lester Hambone Brown opens.

I talked by telephone with Smokin' Joe recently during his tour stop in Nashville. He and Bnois King are known for their solid one-two punch of Lone Star blues-rock and the onstage chemistry they have developed from a collaboration of over 20 years.

Like many musicians, Smokin' Joe can't wait to go on the road, and then, when on the road, looks forward to going home to Texas.

"I love being on stage," he said. "I get a lot of gratitude being on stage. It’s a total privilege. Not many people have their dream come true and I’m fortunate to have mine come true."

For a complete report on Smokin' Joe Kubek and Bnois King, click here.

To contact Joe Ballor regarding items in JB Blues, e-mail

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alberta Adams: Detroit's Queen of the Blues

Vocalist Alberta Adams, Detroit's longtime Queen of the Blues, performs a free concert at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Oak Park Public Library, 14200 Oak Park Blvd. (248- 691-7480). She'll be joined by the RJ Spangler Trio (drummer RJ Spangler, guitarist Ralph Tope and organist Duncan McMillan).

Adams began her career as a dancer in the 1940s, but soon switched to singing, touring with big name musicians such as Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson.

Her solo career enjoyed a resurgence starting in the 1990s with her association with manager/musician RJ Spangler. She recorded two CDs for the now defunct Cannonball Records label and then moved to Detroit-based Eastlawn Records. Her third record with Eastlawn, "Detroit Is My Home," features collaborations with pianists Mark "Mr. B" Braun, Al Hill (Bette LaVette) and Ann Rabson (Saffire). Alberta has also recorded for the Chess, Savoy and Thelma (Gordy) labels.

Despite her advanced age, Alberta continues to tour. Check out her performance Sunday at the Oak Park Library and pick up one of her CDs. She's a true original.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Live blues music in the D

On Wednesday, JJ Grey & Mofro celebrate the release of their new CD, “Georgia Warhorse” (Alligator), with a show at The Ark, 316 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor.
Grey (pictured) comes from a long line of Southern storytellers. His original songs are steeped in the R&B, rock and country soul of his backwoods home outside Jacksonville, Fla. “Georgia Warhorse” is named after the resilient Southern lubber grasshopper.
“Yellow and black, and tough like an old-school Tonka toy,” Grey said in a press release. “They seem so at ease with the world. Nothing seems to rile them. They’re in no hurry, but they have a kind of resilience because they just keep coming back, and I’ve always felt there was a lesson in there for me to learn.”
Daryl Hance opens. Tickets are $22. For info, call (734) 761-1800 ext. 26 or click

On Tuesday, enjoy the Phil Devoid Jam at the Blue Goose, 28911 Jefferson in St. Clair Shores (586-296-0950). The Blue Goose has been a longtime home to the blues and the jam is listed as “the longest running blues jam in Detroit.”

The Broken Arrow Blues Band is one of the best, and hardest-working, bands in Detroit. Shadowhawk, Big Al and the boys are busy again this week, starting with an out-of-town gig at Skip’s Party Place in Angola, Ind. on Wednesday. They return to the Motor City for Thursday’s Blues MEGA Jam at Nancy Whiskey’s Pub, 2644 Harrison (313-962-4247). On Saturday, catch Broken Arrow at the open jam at Kelly’s Bar, 2403 Holbrook in Hamtramck (313-873-9428).

Every Wednesday, guitarist Howard Glazer hosts an open mic at the Old Miami, 3930 Cass Ave. in Detroit. Howard says all musicians and poets are welcome. Call (313) 831-3880.

On Thursday, slide master Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials roll into The Ark. Lil’ Ed Williams is the nephew of the late, great slide guitar player J.B. Hutto. Lil’ Ed’s guitar boogies are also reminiscent of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers. Their shows are always tons of fun.

Fans of loud rock guitars and whammy bars will enjoy the Daniel Wentworth Band on Friday at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills (248-858-9508). Wentworth has been playing guitar professionally for over 20 years. His new CD, “I’m on a Mission,” features veteran rock vocalist Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent), who will be performing with Wentworth at Callahan’s. The band also features drummer Bobby Rondinelli (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult) and bassist Pete Bankert (Rob Tyner Band, Cub Coda, Dark Carnival). On Saturday, they’ll be at the Rochester Mills Beer Co., 400 Water St. in Rochester (248-650-5080), with special guest Curbstone Beauty.

Also Friday, John Latini and The Flying Latini Brothers will be joined by Jamie-Sue Seal at The First Friday Series at The Village Theater At Cherry Hill, 50400 Cherry Hill Road in Canton (734-394-5300).

On Saturday, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King come to Callahan’s. More on that show later in the week.

Also Saturday, standout singer-guitarist Larry McCray performs at The Harbor House, 440 Clinton St. in Detroit (313-394-0120).

On Sunday, Christopher Leigh goes “unplugged” at the Acoustic Roots Blues & Boogie Jam Session at the Stonehouse Bar, 19803 Ralston St. in Detroit (313-891-3333).

Also Sunday, Royal Oak’s own Maggie McCabe hosts an acoustic open mic at Four Green Fields Irish Pub, 30919 Woodward Ave. in Royal Oak (248-288- 2088).

JB Blues

Are you a blues musician in the Detroit area? Let me know what's happening with you. Send information via e-mail to Please put JB Blues in the subject line and attach photos as JPEG images. Thanks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tinsley Ellis at Callahan's

With influences including Duane Allman and Freddie King, Georgia-born Tinsley Ellis is another in a line of sizzling Southern blues-rock guitarists and vocalists.
He’s sharpened his six-string chops during literally thousands of live shows, playing what Rolling Stone describes as “feral blues guitar.”  His latest release on Alligator, “Speak No Evil,” is the most guitar-driven of his 11 recordings.
Ellis’ Southern roots run deep. Born in Atlanta in 1957, he grew up in southern Florida and first played guitar at age 8. Like many modern bluesmen, he discovered the blues by listening to the British Invasion bands of the 1960s. Winding his way back to American blues, he especially loved the music of the three kings: B.B., Freddie and Albert.
At age 14, Ellis saw B.B. King perform live. When B.B. broke a string on Lucille, he changed the string and handed the broken string to the awestruck Ellis. The youngster’s fate was sealed. And, yes, he still has that string!
Ellis averages over 150 live shows a year and has played in all 50 states, as well as Canada, Europe, Australia and South America. He has shared stages with almost every major blues star, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Albert Collins and many others.
You can see Ellis on Sunday at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills (248-858-9508). For more info, click
Duke Tumatoe is at Callahan’s tonight.  Also tonight, the Chris Canas Band is at the Penalty Box, 28121 Plymouth Road in Livonia; and Champagne and the Motor City Blues Crew perform at Bert’s, 2727 Russell St. in Detroit.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rockets hope to release new record

According to music writer Gary Graff, The Rockets, who headline a show Saturday at the Fillmore Detroit, have a new record in mind, with a release planned for next year.

For Gary's complete article on the band, click the link below:

Song sales help feed the hungry

Detroit bluesman Paul Miles continues his effort to feed the hungry through sales of his new song, "We Live in Michigan." Partial proceeds from each CD sale will go to a food related project within Michigan to help those in need.
Paul will perform solo from 1-2 p.m. today at Street Corner Music, 26020 Greenfield in Oak Park.
Also today, Paul will perform live at an appearance from 5-6 p.m. at Showtime Detroit, 5708 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
To hear a sample of the song, click
Order the song and bonus CD at this link:   

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blast from the past with The Rockets

For a blast from the past, check out The Rockets with Salem Witchcraft and Black Irish on Saturday at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. (313-961-5450). Following their stint with Mitch Ryder & the Dettroit Wheels, guitarist Jimmy McCarty and drummer Johnny "Bee" Badanjek rocked hard in the '70s and early '80s with the band The Rockets, including a top 40 hit with a cover of Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well."

Currently, McCarty and Badanjek keep very busy performing with Mystery Train and the Howling Diablos, respectively, but have reunited as The Rockets for a couple of reunion shows after The Rockets received a Distinguished Achievement Award at the Detroit Music Awards.

Salem Witchcraft, another very popular group in Detroit in the 1970s, reunited in 2009.

Tickets are only $10.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Clap Your Hands' with Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band

Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is coming to the Magic Bag Tuesday.
One of the hottest live acts on the road today, Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band plays acoustic country blues (think Son House and Charley Patton) with an understated but undeniable punk kick. Finger-picking guitarist Reverend Peyton, his washboard-rubbing wife Breezy and drummer Aaron Persinger bring a special exuberance to the stage that must be seen to be believed.
The band's autobiographical songs -- such as "Your Cousin's on ‘COPS'", "Wal-Mart Killed the Country Store" and "Can't Pay the Bills" -- hit on themes that everybody can relate.
The Magic Bag is at 22920 Woodward in Ferndale. Call (248) 544-3030 for the hotline.
You can check out Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band's video for "Clap Your Hands" at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Paul Miles premieres new song 'We Live in Michigan'

Detroit bluesman Paul Miles will be in Lansing to premiere, live and in person, his original new song "We Live In Michigan," from 3-6 p.m. Saturday at Everybody Reads, Books and Stuff, 2019 E. Michigan Ave. in Lansing. Miles will also be performing his classic blues throughout the afternoon and there will be guest speakers as well.

CDs will be available for sale at the event. Partial proceeds from each CD sale will go to a food based charity in Michigan, in this case, the Greater Lansing Food Bank. You can also order the CD at this link:

File photo shows Paul Miles, left, with Harmonica Shah, center, and Joe Ballor

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Live blues music in the D

Three standout blues guitarists will take the stage at Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., in Auburn Hills over the next few days.
On Thursday, Roomful of Blues founder Duke Robillard is in the spotlight. On Friday, lefty Coco Montoya, pictured, visits, and, on Saturday, Detroit legend Eddie Kirkland, who played with John Lee Hooker for many years, comes to Callahan's.
Also on Thursday, the Broken Arrow Blues band hosts its Blues MEGA Jam at Nancy Whiskey's Pub, 2644 Harrison, Detroit (313-962-4247).
On Friday, Eastsiders can catch big Shorty at the Cadieux Cafe, 4300 Cadieux Road, Detroit. While you're there, try a Belgian beer and some feather bowling.
Keep an eye out for Luther "Badman" Keith at the Royal Oak Holiday Parade, 10 a.m. Saturday morning in downtown Royal Oak; and Saturday night at the Stonehouse Bar, 19803 Ralston near East State Fair, in Detroit (313-892-0125).
Also Saturday, the David Gerald Band will be at the Ford Yacht Club, 29500 South Pointe, in  Grosse Ile (734-676-8422); and the Chris Canas Band will perform at Dick O'Dows, 160 W. Maple Road,  Birmingham (248-642-1135).
On Sunday, catch Planet D Nonet for an early 4 p.m. show at the The Blue Goose, 28911 Jefferson Ave., St.Clair Shores (586-296-0950). In the evening at the Blue Goose, an open jam takes the spotlight.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Motor City Josh

On Wednesday, Motor City Josh & the Big 3 host a Blues Jam Night at the The New Way Bar, 23130 Woodward, Ferndale (248-541-9870).

Josh, who plays guitar and sings, is one of the Motor City's top blues performers. He began his career in 1991 with the Curtis Sumter Project and formed Motor City Josh & the Big 3 in 1994. Over the past two decades, Josh has performed around the U.S. and Europe and has released nine recordings with over 100,000 copies sold. He has been nominated for four Detroit Music Awards and won as artist deserving wider recognition in 1998. Josh performs as a solo act -- he was a finalist in the solo category at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2003 -- but also rocks out with his quartet, which includes Johnny Rhoades (guitar and vocals), Alex Lyon (bass) and drummer Eric Savage. As they say, they play "Funky Blues You Can't Refuse."

Josh's latest CD is titled "It's a Good Life."

If you know someone into fishing, you may want to bite on Josh's 2007 CD "Stringer Full of Blues," which boasts 11 fishing-related tunes, including "The Skillet," "Early Worm" and "Monster Bass." Perhaps a holiday gift idea?

 For more Josh & the Big 3, click

Monday, November 15, 2010

Electrifying Blues Jumbo Jam

Guitarist Christopher Leigh and his bandmates, bassist Darryl Lee and drummer Ken Murphy, host the Electrifying Blues Jumbo Jam tonight at 9:30 p.m. at the Stonehouse Bar, 19803 Ralston (313-891-3333). The Christopher Leigh Band will perform a set  of smokin' hot electric blues, then turn the stage over to the jammers.

Also tonight, enjoy the Blue Mondays Jam with Johnnie Bassett, Keith Kaminski and The Brothers Groove at Alvin's, 5756 Cass Ave., Detroit, (313-638-6300); the Buster Wiley Blues Jam Session at Las Brisas Mexican Restaurant, 7 p.m. 8445 W. Vernor, Detroit (313-842-8252); the Jazz & Blues jam at Bert's, 2727 Russell St. in Eastern Market, Detroit; and the Phoenix Cafe Open Mic Night, starting early at 6 p.m.,  24918 John R, Hazel Park (248-667-8817).

Sunday, November 14, 2010

'Essential Music'

Host Ann DeLisi had an interesting interview with Detroit's "Gentleman of the Blues", Johnnie Bassett, yesterday on her "Essential Music" show on WDET (101.9-FM). She asked Johnnie if he ever heard a blues solo that he'll never forget, and he related seeing the late Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, a smoking multi-instrumentalist from Texas who played guitar, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and drums.
Bassett, 75, recalled a show in Nashville when Brown would have been in his mid- to late-70s, only a couple of years older than Bassett is now.
"That old man was incredible. I watched him in amazement. 'How do you do that at that age?'," Bassett said. "He was incredible, this man was a musical genius. He could sing and he could play guitar and violin equal. He was just amazing."
When asked about young guitar pickers he's been impressed with, Bassett mentioned Detroit's own Brett Lucas,  who first became known backing up standout vocalist Thornetta Davis. For more on Lucas' 2009 solo release "Second Avenue Crush," click

DeLisi also talked to Bassett about his involvement in the upcoming film "The Black Dove."

You can hear DeLisi's entire interview with Bassett on the station's archive at the website
Navigate to the Nov. 13 "Essential Music" show. Download and click to the 58:45 marker.Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Johnnie Bassett on WDET

With a nickname like "The Gentleman of the Blues," you know Johnnie Bassett is a class act.
The 75-year-old Detroit singer-guitarist has been in the business for over 50 years, but continues to be one of the top musical acts in the Motor City. His jazz-inflected, hollow-body blues guitar licks are a perfect complement to his silky smooth voice, which has just the right hint of smokiness. Add a rhythm section, a horn or two and a keyboard and you’ve got an evening of elegant jump blues sure to please.
He will make a live appearance on "Ann Delisi’s Essential Music" at noon Saturday on Detroit Public Radio WDET (101.9 FM) to discuss his upcoming shows in Detroit and his appearance in the new film "The Black Dove."
Bassett is a Florida native who was first exposed to the blues at his grandmother’s back yard fish fries, hearing bluesmen like Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Tampa Red. His influences include guitar great Aaron "T Bone" Walker.
Bassett moved to Detroit at age 9 in 1944, learned to play on his sister’s guitar, and eventually hooked up with his buddy at Northwestern High School, singer-piano player Joe Weaver, in the group Joe Weaver and the Blue Note Orchestra. The Blue Notes won many talent shows and often backed up big-name entertainers when they toured Detroit. The Blue Notes played on many of the releases by Detroit-based Fortune Records and were hired by Berry Gordy Jr. for his fledgling Tamla label. In 1960, Bassett played guitar on the label’s first hit, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Shop Around." The Blue Notes did much to lay the groundwork for the Funk Brothers, the session musicians for Gordy’s Motown label.
A stint in the Army sent Bassett to the West Coast. In Seattle, he played with musical greats like Guitar Watson, Little Willie John, Tina Turner and a young Jimmy James, known later as Jimi Hendrix.
He eventually returned to Detroit, working as a cab dispatcher and session musician. His musical career enjoyed a resurgence in the early ‘90s when he began a collaboration with drummer/producer/manager R.J. Spangler. Bassett has been at the top of his game ever since, with a plethora of live performances and numerous fine recordings with his band, the Blues Insurgents. "Party My Blues Away," a 1999 release on Cannonball Records, is a personal favorite. Like many of his recordings, it features longtime collaborators Chris Codish (The Brothers Groove) on the Hammond organ and Keith Kaminski on saxophone.
So, how did Bassett, a Lifetime Achievement Award honoree by the Detroit Blues Society, become known as "The Gentleman of the Blues"?
"I got that tag because of my playing and my character," Bassett noted with a chuckle in a release for his recording "The Gentleman is Back" on Mack Avenue Records. "You know, I’m not a teenager. I've been in this business over 50 years. I treat everybody like I would want to be treated. I never put anybody down. I'm always encouraging younger guys when they're coming up. That's what I try to be ... a gentleman."

Live blues music in the D

Callahan's Music Hall, at 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills, has an exciting lineup of national talent booked in the near future. On Friday, Tab Benoit takes the stage. Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers follow Saturday. The lineup of guitar wizards continues with Duke Robillard on Nov. 18, Coco Montoya on Nov. 19 and Detroit's own Eddie Kirkland on Nov. 20. That's five reasons for giving thanks! For more info, click

Here are a few other happenings this weekend.

On Friday, The Chris Canas Band is at The Jazz Cafe inside The Music Hall for the Performing Arts,  350 Madison in Detroit; the Broken Arrow Blues Band performs at the at Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Network Party at Fifth Avenue, 215 Fifth Ave. in Royal Oak; and Motor City Josh rocks Fishbone's in Greektown.

Fans of acoustic blues will dig the Rev. Robert B. Jones and Leonardo at Live! From The Living Room, in the atrium of The Oakland Arts Center at  7 N. Saginaw St. in Pontiac.  Odds are good they will play some fine Son House selections. Call 248-250-1796 for information.

On Saturday, the Detroit Blues Society monthy meeting and jam comes to the Harbor House, 440 Clinton St. in Detroit (313-967-9900). The Kenny Parker Band hosts and there are always a plethora of fine players onstage throughout the evening. As an added bonus, the event will be a Toys For Tots fundraiser. Bring a $10 toy or make a $10 donation and receive a free CD! For information on joining the Detroit Blues Society, click They are good people.

Northsiders will want to catch the bugs Beddow Band's horn-driven R&B at Hector & Jimmy’s, 780 N. Milford Road in Milford (248-685-8779).

On Sunday, the Attic Dwellers acoustic music club celebrates its 7th anniversary at Paycheck's Lounge, 2932 Caniff in Hamtramck (313-874-0909). The Attic Bar is no more, but the club lives on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

THAW benefit videos

Here are links to two videos from Paul Miles' benefit for The Heat and Warmth Fund on Sunday at Memphis Smoke in Royal Oak.A total of $1,000 was raised at the event, with another $1,000 pledged. As Paul said at the benefit, we can't let these babies freeze to death. To donate to THAW, click

Here's one by Paul Miles and Zhelin.!/video/video.php?v=1713807649414

Here's another by the MotorCity Tones.