Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Detroit's Queen of the Blues performs at 94th birthday celebration

Singer Alberta Adams, Detroit’s Queen of the Blues, performed with the RJ Spangler Trio in front of an appreciative crowd on Tuesday at the Southfield Public Library during a celebration of her upcoming 94th birthday in July. Her performance was part of the library's Jazz & Blues series, sponsored by the Friends of the Southfield Public Library and the Detroit Blues Society. Tuesday's program was also sponsored by the Jazz Foundation of America. The crowd enjoyed a set by the RJ Spangler Trio (drummer RJ Spangler, guitarist Ralph Tope and keyboardist Duncan McMillan) before Alberta's performance.

Other upcoming concerts at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen, include the Dwight Adams Quartet (July 20), Brazil & Beyond (Aug. 17) and the Rev. Marc Falconberry and his Blues Band (Sept. 21). The concerts start at 6:30 p.m.
Trumpeter Dwight Adams has been one of Detroit's top horn players for years and is a mainstay in Stevie Wonder's touring band. Brazil & Beyond, led by bassist Rich K, plays traditional Brazilian and Latin music. Falconberry, an outstanding blues slide guitarist, will perform a solo acoustic set, followed by a high-powered electric set with the full band.
Admission is $3, payable in cash at the door. Children under 12 are admitted free. 
For info, click, or call (248) 796-4200.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paul Miles interview

Paul Miles, from left, is pictured with Harmonica Shah and Joe Ballor at the benefit concert for Arise Detroit.
Detroit bluesman Paul Miles was interviewed last weekend by Charlie Bolts of Black At Us Entertainment. Miles met Bolts while performing in Scottsdale, Arizona this spring.
The lengthy interview is a nice change from the standard fare as Miles talks about his hometown roots in the little town of Paulding, Ohio, his parents, and his personal views on life and music.
Miles won the solo competition of the Detroit Blues Society’s Blues Challenge in 2002 and represented the Motor City at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He has self-produced 10 albums of original blues music (with another one tentatively titled “Healing Vibrations” on the way), is the winner of several Detroit Music Awards and has performed internationally, including at the Lucerne Blues Festival. Miles has also been very active in many charity fundraisers in the Detroit area.
Miles, a dynamic live performer, has several upcoming dates planned in the Detroit area. He will open for the Luther Badman Keith Band at 9 p.m. July 9 at the Kick Ass Sports Bar, 2100 E. 14 Mile Road in Warren (586-795-1339). Tickets are $20 and include music, photos of the artists, 64 oz. of beer and pizza.
Miles will perform outdoors the morning of Sept. 3 at the Rochester Farmers Market in downtown Rochester, from 4:30-8 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Martini Bar in Brighton (prior to the U-M Notre Dame football game), and Sept. 17 at the OldTown Bluesfest in Lansing.
An archived version of the audio interview is available at
For more about Paul Miles, click
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Free concert with Alberta Adams

The Jazz & Blues @ Your Library series presents Detroit’s Queen of the Blues, singer Alberta Adams, in concert with RJ’s Rhythm Rockers at 7 p.m. Tuesday (June 28) at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.
Adams is well into her 90s but still delivers fine jump blues with an earthy, world-weary voice and the gravitas of a career that has spanned over 60 years, performing with the likes of Louis Jordan, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, T-Bone Walker, James Moody and Duke Ellington. The Rhythm Rockers are led by drummer and bandleader RJ Spangler.
Jazz & Blues is sponsored by the Friends of the Southfield Public Library and the Detroit Blues Society. This program is brought to you for free courtesy of the Jazz Foundation of America.
For info, click, or call (248) 796-4200.
To contact JB Blues, please email

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Jim McCarty release captures magical moments

Fans of blues guitar owe Mike Moss a big “thank you.”
It was Moss, owner of Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills, who convinced legendary guitarist Jim McCarty to release the fine new CD “Jim McCarty & Friends” (Cally’s Records and Tapes),  a collection of 12 songs recorded live at Callahan’s over a three-year period. Each tune features McCarty in impromptu jams with the likes of Duke Robillard, Jason Ricci and John Nemeth.
“I was a huge McCarty fan growing up,” Moss said. “I knew he was an incredible rock ‘n’ roll guitarist from his work with Mitch Ryder and the Rockets.”
A chance viewing of McCarty’s group Mystery Train at a Detroit club turned Moss on to McCarty’s considerable blues chops.
“I was surprised to see him play the blues and I was blown away,” Moss said. “When I opened the club, I got a chance to book Jim. He was one of my first guitar heroes and it was quite an honor.”
Moss and McCarty became friends and shared their passion for the blues. When visiting national acts would stop by the club for an afternoon sound check, they would often comment on the photo of McCarty hanging in Moss’ office.
“He would show up that night and they would see him in the back of the room and ask him to play,” Moss said. “We started rolling tape and capturing it.”
The results are nothing short of remarkable as McCarty interacts with a wide variety of artists.
“This reason this CD exists is because of Mike,” said McCarty, who celebrates the release of the CD with a show on Saturday at Callahan’s.  “He’s been talking for a while about wanting to do this, because he thought I never got my due in the blues community. Everybody knows my rock ‘n’ roll stuff, but Mike wanted something out there representing the blues.
“I’m very pleased how it turned out, especially with the variety. It’s not a one-trick pony type of thing.”
The CD opens with a pair of smoking jump instrumental jams with East Coast bluesman Johnny A and his band. Next, McCarty lends his vocals talents as well as his tasty guitar to a version of “Help Me” with harp player Jason Ricci and his band The New Blood.
One pleasant surprise after another follows as McCarty trades licks with Roomful of Blues founder Duke Robillard and shares the stage with Detroit’s fine jump blues and swing band The Millionaires, the John Nemeth Band and the Jimmy Thackery Band . The CD also features an original song by the Bee-McCarty Duo, with McCarty joining longtime friend and musical companion, drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek; and ends with Mystery Train’s soulful version of Donald Byrd’s jazz classic “Cristo Redentor.”
“I’ve always loved that tune,” McCarty said. “One night, I woke  out of a deep sleep and said to myself, ‘I’ve got to play this song.’ I used heavy duty sustain to try to emulate what the trumpet did.”
McCarty gushes when he remembers the various sessions.
“It was a ball, an absolute ball, playing that big band stuff (with The Millionaires). It was  something completely different than what I normally do. Playing jump blues with the horns reminded me of the old Buddy Miles days with the horn section, although that band didn’t play the blues.
“I particularly enjoyed playing the stuff with Duke. His solo on ‘West Helena Blues’ speaks for itself.”
The live format contributes to the energetic feel of the recordings, with the artists challenged by being a bit out of their comfort zone.  McCarty is more than up to the challenge, delivering numerous inventive solos with a deft and confident touch.
He recorded B.B. King’s classic “Sweet Sixteen” with the John Nemeth Band, playing a borrowed Gibson SG with heavy gauge strings. Ironically, one of the strings broke about 20 seconds before the end of the song, causing a tuning problem, but McCarty insisted the track be included on the CD because of Nemeth’s vocal prowess.
“That guy’s voice made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end,” McCarty said.
It was a collaborations like that one that make the CD special, according to Moss.
“I listened to the tapes and said, ‘Wow, there’s an album here. We’ve got to put it out,’” Moss said. “They are all jams, none of it is rehearsed, and some of the people didn’t even know each other.”
McCarty, who is still playing rock ‘n’ roll with his reunited band the Rockets and at an occasional Cactus reunion, calls the results “lovely.”
“For me, rock ‘n’ roll and blues are both necessary. I need both of them to be musically happy.”
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS: McCarty and his band Mystery Train will perform a set to open Saturday’s show.  Mystery Train includes guitarist-vocalist Rick Stel, drummer Todd Glass, and bass player Marvin Conrad, who McCarty says is “like my right arm. He’s rock steady.”
The second set is expected to feature jams with some of McCarty’s friends, including harp player Kenny Welk, guitarist Big Al Grebovic, and harp player Garfield Angove and some of the horn players from The Millionaires.
NO FUN: One of the highlights of “Jim McCarty & Friends” is a unique version of The Stooges’ song “No Fun,” recorded with The Millionaires. Ironically, another Stooges’ song, “I Just Wanna Be Your Dog,” is on the rock ‘n’ roll CD “The Hell Drivers Live From Detroit,” which was also recorded at Callahan’s.
“I can’t get away from Iggy,” McCarty joked. “That song is probably the highlight of the (Hell Driver’s) CD.”
NEW ROCKETS MATERIAL: McCarty is keeping busy with his rock ‘n’ roll music. He’ll perform with Cactus on July 22 at the Magic Bag in Ferndale and also has summertime gigs with the reunited Rockets. Don’t mistake the Rockets for one of those oldies acts who often tour during the summer.
“I’ve seen some of those bands who reunite after 35 years and they sound like 65-year-old men who haven’t played together in 35 years,” McCarty said. “The Rockets don’t sound like 65-, 66-year-old men.”
He says the energy level at performances by the Rockets has been incredible and that the band has some “new, killer material” that the band hopes to record soon.
“Badanjek has been writing his ass off,” McCarty said. “We’re playing the new songs live and every time we play ‘em, we know we’ve still got it. We want to let everybody know this isn’t just an oldies act.”
McCarty and his band Mystery Train perform Saturday (June 25) at a CD release party for “Jim McCarty & Friends” at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills (248-858-9508, Tickets are $10-$12. Signed CDs will be available at the gig and the album can also be purchased on iTunes or at

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Headstone Project fundraiser a success

BOOGIE WOOGIE RED (Photo by Leni Sinclair)
The Detroit Blues Society Headstone Project Fundraiser concert last Sunday at the Hastings Street Ballroom in Detroit was a success, raising a total of $834, according to DBS board member Wolfgang Spider. The money will be used to purchase a headstone for the grave of Vernon "Boogie Woogie Red" Harrison, who has lied in an unmarked grave at Lincoln Memorial Park Cemetery in Clinton Township since his death in 1992 at the age of 66. Any excess funds will be used for future memorial projects. Those wishing to donate to the project can send a check made out to the Detroit Blues Society with “Memorial Fund” noted on the memo line and mailed to: Memorial Fund, Detroit Blues Society, P.O. Box 488, Goodrich, MI 48438. Donations via the Internet may be made by PayPal on the link on the front page of the DBS website at All donations are tax deductible.
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