Monday, February 28, 2011

Eddie Kirkland dies in crash

Bluesman Eddie Kirkland, 88, was killed Sunday morning in an automobile accident in Florida. The Jamaican-born singer-harmonica player-guitarist had moved to Detroit as teenager and played with John Lee Hooker and Otis Redding, among many others.

Kirkland, who later relocated to Macon, Georgia, was still actively performing.

For more info, click here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Paul Miles releases single 'My Guitar'

Detroit Music Award winner Paul Miles has released his latest single. The song, titled "My Guitar," was inspired by Miles' visit to Columbus, Ohio for a fundraiser last year. Miles reports that while he played her Martin guitar, Miss Ella, "Sister to the Blues," said "you can have my house, my money, my car, but no way can you get my Martin guitar." Miss Ella handed "The Blues Man" some lyrics and Miles put his unique spin on the track. Ryan Ketterman of took the photo and designed the cover for the single. "My Guitar" is available for download at Click here for a link.

The multi-talented Miles is currently wintering in Scottsdale, Arizona and working on a new musical titled "Motown Still Our Town."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'One For Steve' event honors late Alligators guitarist Steve Schwartz

The Alligators are pictured circa 2008. Shown are, from left, Jon Johnson, Frankie Lee, the late Steve Schwartz, Wailin’ Dale and David Krammer.
When Steve Schwartz, guitarist with The Alligators blues band, died of a heart attack on Dec. 15, 2010, the remaining members of the band were surprised at the response.
“There was a tremendous outpouring (of support),” said Alligators vocalist David Krammer, who received hundreds of e-mail and Facebook messages for weeks following Schwartz’s death. “The whole local music community voiced their sympathy. It’s just been incredible and it still is. It’s been absolutely overwhelming.”
Krammer and harmonica player Wailin’ Dale started the band in 1984. Schwartz joined in 1993.
“Steve was one of my closest friends for 25 years,” Krammer said. “It’s brutal, soul crushing, and still difficult to talk about.”
The Alligators will celebrate Schwartz’s life and music at the tribute/fundraiser event “One For Steve” from 4-8 p.m. Sunday at the Blue Goose Inn in St. Clair Shores. There will be musical performances by The Alligators, Broken Arrow Blues Band and the Phil DeVoid Band. Many special guests will undoubtedly join in as well.
“The Alligators were together maybe seven or eight years before Steve joined us,” Krammer said. “We had three or four very good guitar players before him, but, when Steve joined us, his sound, his approach, and his philosophy filled out the void. That was the last piece of the puzzle.
He came in and it all clicked. Our sound clicked, we started recording, and our reputation started gaining momentum.”
Schwartz was a student of the blues. He spent many hours talking blues history with bandmate Wailin’ Dale.
“It was important to us,” Wailin’ Dale said. “He was a big historian and I’m probably an even bigger historian.”
Like many white blues musicians, they found their way to the blues through rock ‘n’ roll. Once they discovered the music of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Little Walter, they felt it was important to keep the older blues traditions alive.
“We wanted the kind of sound, not like we were copying the old guys, but kind of how they sounded, their viewpoint,” Wailin’ Dale said. “We didn’t want to let the modern world in.”
Steve Schwartz
The Alligators didn’t try to imitate the sounds of the older urban bluesmen, but wanted to play in their style while making it their own.
“The challenge of the blues is to make it fresh,” Wailin’ Dale said. “Steve played like the old dudes and put his own thing in there. It’s always hard in this day and age to find a guitar player who really plays well with a harp player. Sometimes, the guitarist has to take a back seat and play more rhythm. Steve was more than happy to do it.”
Schwartz was well known for his slide guitar technique.
“He studied different styles and became, over the course of the first few years with us, an extremely good slide player,” Krammer said. “He used a lot of different tunings on stage, standard tuning and four different open tunings.”
The difficult task of replacing Schwartz in The Alligators has fallen to veteran guitarist Billy Farris, who also plays with Alligators drummer Jon Johnson in the Phil Devoid Band, which has hosted an open mic session at the Blue Goose for 10 years. Frankie Lee is the bassist with The Alligators.
“It’s been better than expected,” Krammer said. “Billy is a pro, I don’t know what else to say. He has a long history behind him. He showed up at our first gig with 40 of our songs down cold. He does his homework.”
Farris was good friends with Schwartz and played solo at Schwartz’s wedding only three months before his death. According to Krammer, Schwartz was a big fan of Farris’ playing too.
“We told (Billy), ‘We don’t want you to play like Steve, just play like yourself,’” Krammer said. “’Everybody’s different and if you want to do Steve justice, come in and do the music your own way.’
“We’re five guys who all lost a friend. Billy is a very astute person and he knows that Steve’s legacy was something we were trying to respect.”
When Farris first started jamming with The Alligators, he wasn’t thinking about joining the band as a permanent member. He was just hoping to help his friends through a difficult transition period.
“I wasn’t really looking forward to getting a spot on the ‘Gators,” Farris said. “More than anything, I wanted to do right by Steve and the other guys. Nobody is ever going to replace Steve as guitar player in this particular band. I’m still stunned that they asked me to be the guitar player in the Alligators.”
Although it’s obviously a bittersweet situation, Farris has enjoyed his initial weeks with the band.
“Ever since I was young teenager and had my first rock ‘n’ roll/R&B band, I’ve always dreamed of playing with the same people for a long time. I’ve been in and out of a lot of musical situations over four decades and the thought of being with a group that is an institution is surreal. I’m still stunned by the fact that I’m part of a group that is as much a musical family as a musical group.”
After intensely studying The Alligators’ music for weeks, Farris is more impressed than ever by the band.
Billy Farris
“It has just become that much more obvious to me how important Steve was to the arrangements,” Farris said. “The void is always going to be there. Sometimes we’re more aware of it than other times.”
Schwartz is survived by his newlywed wife Joyce, adult children Julie and Michael, and four grandchildren. Donations will be accepted at the door to help the family defray expenses.

The tribute/fundraiser “One For Steve” will be held from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Blue Goose Inn, 28911 Jefferson Ave., St Clair Shores (586-296-0950). Donations will be accepted at the door. Donation checks may also be made out to The Alligators and mailed to: The Alligators, 20285 Shadyside, Livonia, MI 48152. Put “Steve Schwartz Fund” in the memo line.

To see this story in the Daily Tribune with videos of Wailin' Dale speaking about Steve Schwartz, click here.

To send info to JB Blues, e-mail

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Howard Glazer is 'Wired For Sound'

Blues musician Howard Glazer celebrates the release of "Wired For Sound" by Howard Glazer and the EL 34s on Friday at the New Place Lounge in Dearborn.

On “Wired for Sound,” his third recording with his group Howard Glazer and the EL 34s, Detroit blues guitarist-singer Howard Glazer expands his musical horizon, incorporating elements of rock, R&B and funk.
Glazer and the group, which includes bassist Bob Godwin and drummer Steve Kohn, recorded the CD at Kohn’s Natural Sound and Light studio in Hazel Park. Glazer also enlisted several guest artists to enhance the production.
Performing on the CD are 95-year-old blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards; singer-guitarist Emanuel Young; vocalists Lady T, Maggie McCabe and Stephanie Johnson; horn players Ralph Koziarski, Dave Kocbus and Mike Dziekan; and spoken word poet John Sinclair, who is featured on the track “Goodbye.”
“The song ‘Goodbye’ was one of the first ones we did at Steve Kohn’s studio,” Glazer said. “We turned on the machines and we were just doing a sound check and we started doing this jam. I started playing and Steve and Bob just fell in.
“I was listening to it in the control room. Steve thought it was just a sound check and didn’t even want to keep it. I said, ‘Let’s keep it, I think we can do something with this.’ In the back of my mind, I could hear John Sinclair doing poetry on this.
“A year later, I was talking to a friend and his mutual friend gave me (Sinclair’s)  e-mail address. John used to manage a band I had in the ‘90s for a while. I didn’t know him real well, but I’ve known him for years. So, I sent him an e-mail and he e-mailed back that he would love to do it. The poem is called ‘Goodbye Hound Dog Taylor.’ That’s why the track is called ‘Goodbye.’ ”
Sinclair also has spoken work poetry on the extended version of the rollicking track “Detroit Blues Party.”
“We were playing him a couple other things, including ‘Detroit Blues Party’ with Honeyboy Edwards,” Glazer said. “(John) said, ‘I’ve gotta be on a track with Honeyboy.’ He said, ‘I’ve even got a poem about Honeyboy.’ So we recorded that.”
Also featured on “Detroit Blues Party” are Lady T and Emanuel Young, who each sing one of the three verses, along with Glazer. Another artist was supposed to sing one of the verses, but couldn’t get clearance from his record company.  Kohn, who also drums with the group Detroit Women, which includes Lady T, called her and she filled in admirably.
Young, 72, delivers the most intense vocals on the song, belting it out about a “Detroit Party” that he no doubt has experienced at least few times during his career.
“He played with John Lee Hooker for two years in the late 1950s and he’s a really fine player and a good friend of mine,” Glazer said. “He’s been playing around Detroit all his life, mostly in inner city clubs. A lot of suburban people don’t know about him.”
Honeyboy Edwards, who Glazer met at the Dresden Blues Festival in Germany, plays acoustic guitar on the song. His track was recorded at his Chicago home.
“Honeyboy is a living legend, quite literally, I think he’s 95,” Glazer said. “He was friends with Robert Johnson. When Robert Johnson died, he stayed with Robert Johnson’s sister for a week to console her. That’s how good of friends he was with Robert Johnson. He has all these different stories about all these blues cats.”
Glazer has a few stories of his own. Here’s one about Honeyboy:
“What he would do is he would hobo from town to town. He would hop a train and get to a town. He played blues and made money, and then at night he would gamble and play poker. He would get everybody drunk and cheat and steal all their money and slip out the back and get on the train to the next town.
“He said, ‘I used to do that until I was about 40 or 45. Once I turned that age, I figured I couldn’t run fast enough.’ He said, ‘I never got caught, but I always wanted to be ready in case I did get caught.’ He said, ‘I decided I’d better change my ways.’ ”
The band will celebrate the release of “Wired For Sound” with a performance on Friday (Feb. 18) at The New Place Lounge, 22723 Michigan Ave., Dearborn. (313-277-3035).
To see a video of Howard Glazer talking about David “Honeyboy” Edwards, click here.

To see a video of Howard Glazer talking about “Wired For Sound,” click here.

To see a story in the Daily Tribune about “Wired For Sound,” click here.

For information on how to purchase “Wired For Sound,” click

To send info to JB Blues, e-mail

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sun Messengers celebrate 30 years with CD release party

The Sun Messengers -- from left, Arthur "Speq" Colden, John Douglas, Gary Kwek, Terry "Thunder" Hughley, John "T-bone" Paxton, Dan Mayer, Termon "Tipp" Hayes and Rick Steiger -- will celebrate their 30-year anniversary with a CD release party Feb. 18-19 at the Blue Goose Inn.

The Sun Messengers will celebrate the release of their new CD, “Get On Up and Dance,” with performances Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) at the Blue Goose Inn in St. Clair Shores. But, it will be more than just a CD release party. The gigs mark the 30th anniversary for the horn-driven party band.
“I don’t think I ever had any kind of expectations (for that kind of longevity),” said saxophonist Rick Steiger, 54, one of two original members still in the band, along with trombone player-vocalist John “T-bone” Paxton. “How could you, especially when you’re in your 20s?”
The CD gives band members a chance to demonstrate their unique R&B sound that also incorporates elements of other musical styles, including jazz and blues.
“We wanted to showcase our original music and all the songs are originals except one,” Steiger said. “Being it is our 30th anniversary, for the CD we reached back in time to pull out some songs that still reflect our sound. Two of the songs, the title song ‘Get On Up and Dance’ and ‘Talk Is Cheap,’ were both originally recorded in the early ‘90s.”
Another song, “Crazy ‘Bout You Baby,” marks the vocal recording debut of Paxton, who was the original vocalist for the band, which started out as a strictly instrumental group.
Other current group members include drummer-vocalist Terry “Thunder” Hughley, keyboardist-vocalist Arthur “Speq” Colden, bass guitarist Tipp Hayes, guitarist Dan Mayer, saxophonist Gary Kwek and trumpeter John Douglas. Thunder, one of several longtime members, has been with the band for 20 years, while Douglas joined just last year.
“He’s a kid,” Steiger joked. “He’s only 40.”
The Sun Messengers were officially formed in 1980, but the band goes back to 1977-78 with the name Kuumba, playing original jazz music in clubs in the Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood in Detroit.
“We had great success from the very beginning,” Steiger said. “We’ve always had a vibe and a special sound that people liked.”
Over the years, the band has opened for Jay Leno and backed up R&B luminaries such as Martha Reeves, The Drifters and Sir Mack Rice (“Mustang Sally”).
For the past 15 years, the Sun Messengers have been the house band for the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
“It’s great to be a part of a big show like that,” Steiger said. “It’s funny, because when we first started doing that we were very well prepared, because in the 1980s we had been doing a lot of TV, ‘Kelly and Company’ and ‘Good Afternoon Detroit.’ They wanted a similar thing, the bumps in and out, and that prepared us for the gigs with the Pistons.
“It’s been wonderful. Winter is traditionally a slow season for bands, so it’s been a real blessing.”
The band’s alumni include the late Lyman Woodard on keyboards; drummer RJ Spangler, who is still very active on the Detroit music scene; trumpeter Michael Ray (Kool & The Gang, Sun Ra), and renowned jazz horn player James Carter, who often subbed with the band while still in high school.
“We’ve invited some of our alumni to come out and sit in or just hang out (at the Blue Goose),” Steiger said. “Maybe some of our other talented friends who’ve worked with the band will join in. It should be a really good time.”
The Sun Messengers have played an unbelievable variety of venues over the last three decades including the famed Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, Myskins in Charleston, S.C., CBGB’s in New York, The Cubby Bear and Fitzgerald’s in Chicago and The Bamboo Club in Toronto, as well as the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Ann Arbor Summer Music Festival, and the Mackinac Island Jazz Festival.
But, after 30 years, the Sun Messengers are still looking ahead, hoping to fulfill the desire to tour Europe and Japan.
The band’s place in the Detroit music scene is well established.
“People still think of us and call us,” Steiger said, “because we’ve delivered a solid product all these years.”

The CD release party for “Get On Up And Dance” will be Feb. 18-19 at the Blue Goose Inn, 28911 Jefferson Ave., in St Clair Shores (586-294-0690). There will be a $5 cover charge.

To send info to JB Blues, e-mail

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Singer Marvin Sease dies

Marvin Sease, a blues and soul singer known for his 1980s hit "Candy Licker," has died after a lengthy illness. He was 64. To see the complete story, click here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Buddy Guy, Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Grammy Pre-Telecast show

Buddy Guy
Don’t expect to see Charlie Musselwhite or Jimmie Vaughan perform live at the Grammy Awards show (8-11:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS). I guess there is just no time available, considering scheduled performances by the likes of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and the Jim Henson Company Puppets.
Apparently, the blues these days just aren’t ready for prime time.
But, blues musicians Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd and singer Mavis Staples will be among the performers featured at the Grammy Awards Pre-Telecast Ceremony that will be streamed live from 4-7 ET Sunday on and The live stream of the Pre-Telecast Ceremony will remain on as video on demand for 30 days following the event.

Grammy nominees in the Best Traditional Blues Album Vocal or Instrumental category are:
”Giant” -- James Cotton (Alligator)
“Memphis Blues” -- Cyndi Lauper (Mercer Street Records)
“The Well” -- Charlie Musselwhite (Alligator)
“Joined At The Hip” -- Pinetop Perkins & Willie 'Big Eyes' Smith (Telarc)
“Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites” -- Jimmie Vaughan (Shout! Factory)

Nominated as Best Contemporary Blues Album Vocal or Instrumental are:
“Nothing's Impossible” -- Solomon Burke (E1 Music)
“Tribal” -- Dr. John And The Lower 911 (429 Records)
“Living Proof” -- Buddy Guy (Silvertone/Jive)
“Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook” -- Bettye LaVette
“Live! In Chicago” -- Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band Featuring Hubert Sumlin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bryan Lee, and Buddy Flett (Roadrunner/Loud & Proud Records)

To send info to JB Blues, e-mail

Friday, February 4, 2011

Rusty Wright Band makes IBC semifinals

The Rusty Wright Band
Rusty Wright reports that The Rusty Wright Band has advanced to the semifinals of the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The band, which is representing the Detroit Blues Society, includes Rusty Wright on vocals and lead guitar; his wife, Laurie Lacross-Wright, on vocals and guitar; Dave Brahce on keyboards; Andy Barancik on bass; and Pete Haist on drums and vocals.
A total of 44 bands have advanced to the semifinals and will compete in eight clubs today. One band from each of the eight venues will advance to the finals Saturday at the Orpheum Theater.
Travelin’ Blues represented the Detroit Blues Society in the solo/duo competition.
Finalists will be announced on the website
To send info to JB Blues, e-mail

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ferndale Blues Festival still a go for tonight

The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t have a monopoly on working through inclement weather conditions. With one exception, the Ferndale Blues Festival will continue as planned tonight.
Bart Starks, owner of Club Bart, never seriously considered closing.
"No, I was here last night and we had a pretty good night," Starks said. "We had our honky tonk night and one of the musicians drove in all the way from Flint.
"We had quite a few people here. The festival only comes once a year and most of the people around here walk here. I had one guy ride a bike here last night. He dressed in a big winter suit with a helmet with a rearview mirror. It was fun to see that and to get the local community’s support for a nice fundraiser. I took a shot at it and stayed open."
Tonight, Club Bart features entertainment by Duende, Battling Siki, and Ditch Diggers, starting at 9:30 p.m.
Dino’s Lounge, which hosts the SRB Band tonight at 9 p.m., also reported a good crowd on Tuesday night.
"People would rather come out in the weather than hang out at home," said J.J. Jonah, kitchen manager at Dino’s. "I was walking my dog last night in the snow. It was fun."
Rosie’s O’Grady’s, which also remained open Tuesday night, will feature music by the Barbara Payton Blues Band tonight from 7 to 10 p.m.
There is one musical cancellation. The band scheduled to host an open jam at the New Way Bar canceled due to weather, but the bar will remain open.
The festival continues through Sunday at over 20 venues throughout downtown Ferndale.
A free shuttle will run between the sites on Saturday. The Rockin' Blues BBQ Rib Burn Out will be held from noon-4 p.m. Saturday in a heated party tent in the parking lot behind Dino’s. Admission is $10. Celebrity and people’s choice voting continues through 5 p.m. Live entertainment, featuring the Hunter Brooks Band, continues until 9 p.m.
Top upcoming shows include: Howard Glazer & the EL 34s on Thursday at Buffalo Wild Wings and Friday at Como’s, Luther Badman Keith on Friday at Buffalo Wild Wings, John Latini on Friday at Howe’s Bayou, the Pete "Big Dog" Fetters Band on Saturday at the Ferndale Elks, and Bobby Murray on Saturday at Woodward Avenue Brewers.
All proceeds from the festival benefit Ferndale Youth Assistance and the Michigan AIDS Coalition,
Ferndale Youth Assistance is an organization that works closely with the Ferndale Schools and the Oakland County Court System to provide youth with counseling and tutoring programs, camp opportunities, and other services.
Michigan AIDS Coalition is a Ferndale-based, statewide HIV/AIDS education and prevention agency that has received regional and national recognition for its innovative and cutting edge health promotion and education programs since 1988.
For a complete schedule of upcoming festival events, click