Thursday, January 26, 2012

Still plenty of blues at Ferndale festival

Now in its 11th year, the Ferndale Blues Festival has been renamed the Bud Light Blues & Music Festival. The name more accurately describes the musical choices at the event, which, in truth, was never strictly a blues music festival.
The participating venues have always hired their own entertainment for the festival. Whether through lack of knowledge of the local blues scene, or perhaps from booking performers they are familiar with, club owners often presented non-blues acts.
That being said, there are still many fine blues artists to enjoy at this year’s festival, which opens Friday (Jan. 27) and runs through Feb. 4.
Guitarist-singer Luther “Badman” Keith performs with his band featuring Billy Furman on sax, Paul Baker on bass and drummer Milton “Heavyfoot” Austin at Buffalo Wild Wings on Friday (Jan. 27), and then partners with original Parliament-Funkadelic keyboardist Mickey Atkins at Howe’s Bayou on Jan. 28. You can expect a few Motown classics from the duo as well.
Another interesting show should be the performances by the Blue Collar Boys featuring Jennifer Westwood on Jan. 28-29 at the Loving Touch, one of six new Ferndale festival sites. The band --  vocalist Jennifer Westwood, bassist Tony DeNardo of The Muggs, guitarist Dylan Dunbar, and drummer Matt Stahl -- features covers of classic soul, rock, and blues tunes.
Ken Marten and James Murphy of Murrow’s Boys will be performing acoustic blues on Feb. 3 at Howe’s Bayou.
Singer Sweet Claudette will be at Como’s on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. Also on Jan. 28, catch Erich Goebel and the Flying Crowbars with Looking Up At Down at the New Way Bar. Other blues acts include The Reefermen on Feb. 4 at Dino’s and Albert Young & the Straight 8s on Feb. 3-4 at Tony’s Sports Bar.
There will be a Blues Brunch at The Emory from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 28, and the Rockin’ Blues BBQ Rib Burn Out Tent runs noon to 9 p.m. Feb. 4, with a rib contest and performances by Blues Infusion with Chris Brantley and Billy Furman, and the Hunter Brooks Band, in Ferndale’s City Library Parking Lot.
Looking for something slightly different? Check out some psychedelic blues from My Pal Val on Feb. 2 at Rosie O’Grady’s, or party with Big Will & The 360 Degrees Band, featuring William (Big Will) Elijah, former frontman of the Sun Messengers, on Jan. 28 at Dino’s.
The festival is not limited to Ferndale sites. Champagne and the Motor City Blues Band will perform an early show at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 28 at the Royal Oak Township Recreation Center.
Shows are also scheduled at Max Dugan’s in Hazel Park.  Be sure to check out Carl Henry there on Feb. 3. Carl promises he’ll pull out the Dobro and “lay down the good gritty blues.”
Proceeds from blue piggy banks at festival venues benefit Ferndale Youth Assistance and Michigan AIDS Coalition.
A Blues Shuttle will run on the festival’s Saturday nights. More information and a complete schedule of events can be found at

 To send info to JB Blues, please email

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