Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Blues for Christal'

If you’ve been active on the Detroit music scene, odds are good you’ve crossed paths with music fan Christel Wagner. And odds are very good that she was out on the dance floor, a whirling dervish topped by a mane of long red hair. Wagner, who was born in Germany, has been a huge fan of the Detroit music scene since arriving in the Motor City in 1977.
From 4-9 p.m. Sunday, several Detroit area musicians are giving some positive vibes back to Wagner, who is battling colorectal cancer without the benefit of health insurance. A “Blues for Christel” fundraiser at Sangria Tapas Cafe will feature music by RJ Spangler and the Rootsologists, Rachel May and the Difficulties, and Howard Glazer and the EL 34s. Blues guitarist Bobby Murray, recent recipient of the Detroit Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, will also perform at the benefit.
“She’s been following the Detroit music scene almost as long as I’ve been playing here,” Glazer said. “She’s a big music lover and loves all styles of music. She’s always supported live blues.”
The benefit will mark the debut of Spangler’s newest group. In addition to Spangler on drums, the Rootsologists feature singer-guitarist George Friend, bassist Mike Marshall and vocalist-harp player Dan Devins. For Sunday’s gig, they will be joined by singer Thornetta Davis and guitarist Paul Carey.
“I’ve known Christal for about 20 years,” Spangler said. “She’s always been there for the musicians and has volunteered at many Blues Society events. When she shows up, it makes us want to play.”
Wagner’s diagnosis last September came shortly after the death of her friend Julie Hecker, fitness guru and founder of the Motor City Rah-Rahs. Appropriately, the Rah-Rahs will be at Sunday’s event too.
“It’s her time of need and that’s how we do it in Detroit,” Spangler said. “We don’t have much, but we’ve got something – a brotherhood-sisterhood.”
A $10 donation will be accepted at the door. There will also be a silent auction.
Sangria Tapas Cafe is at 401 S. Lafayette in downtown Royal Oak.  Call (248) 543-1964 for directions.
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