Guitarist extraordinaire Jim McCarty is looking forward to joining forces with harmonica player-singer James Montgomery as the headline act on Friday (Jan. 6) at the Anti-Freeze Blues Festival at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. McCarty and friends – guitarist Jeff Grand, bassist Marvin Conrad and drummer Todd Glass – will be joining Montgomery on a bill that includes Laith Al-Saadi, Pazman’s Supersession and The Difficulties.
“It should be fun,” McCarty said. “We always have a good time. Jim is a good frontman, he’s got that good frontman vibe.”
Montgomery, who made his name with the Boston-based James Montgomery Band, is a Detroit native. His brother owns Dylan’s in Grosse Pointe and, for the last four years or so, McCarty has performed with him during a December jam there. Now, they’re teaming up to heat up the Anti-Freeze Festival.
“Jim does a blues/R&B thing, so we don’t have any trouble finding common ground,” said McCarty, who has gained international recognition for his fretwork with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, The Rockets, and several other groups. “We’ll be doing four or five tunes from his CD, some of my stuff, some of Jeff’s blues, a little rock ‘n’ roll, and a couple of funky things. We’ll probably end with ‘Oh Well.’ ”
As headliners, Montgomery and McCarty will have the freedom of a longer set.
“We’ll have a chance to warm up and breathe a little bit,” McCarty said. “It should be fun.”
McCarty almost joined forces with Montgomery years ago.
“I never actually joined the band. I went to Boston for a week, I think it was around when the Rockets ended, so that would be ’83 or so. We were talking about me joining the band and I played with him for a week, but I didn’t want to move to Boston, so I didn’t join. We’ve always talked and I enjoy playing with him.”
Looking ahead, McCarty is eagerly anticipating more gigs with Cactus, a band he joined in the early ‘70s and has played with intermittently since they reunited in 2006. The current group includes McCarty, drummer Carmine Appice, former Savoy Brown vocalist Jimmy Kunes and bassist Pete Bremy. Cactus will tour in April, with stops in New York, Long Island and Ohio.
McCarty fondly remembers a show Cactus played at the Magic Bag last summer.
“That was, hands down, our best show since the reunion in 2006. I was so tickled. I said, ‘This is the way Cactus is supposed to sound.’ We blew the roof off the place.”
The Anti-Freeze Blues Festival continues Saturday, with Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Thornetta Davis, Detroit’s “Gentleman of the Blues” Johnnie Bassett, and the Rattlesnake Shake.
Tickets are $20 per night and are available at the Magic Bag box office and on ticketweb.com. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Detroit Blues Society.
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