Monday, March 19, 2012

Greg Nagy Band brings blues to the library

Greg Nagy
Singer-guitarist Greg Nagy started out as a traditional blues player, but, over the years, his music has taken on influences ranging from soul and rock to funk and jazz.
“I just think of everything I do as coming out of the blues,” said Nagy, who leads the Greg Nagy Band in concert at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (March 21) at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.
“I was a traditional blues player in the ‘80 and ‘90s, but over the years I’ve been inspired by a lot of different stuff,” said Nagy, who had a five-year stint with the band Root Doctor. “It always comes back to the blues.
“I try to take all of my life influences and experiences (into the music), but I always try to be honest with it.”
Nagy, a Flint native who now lives in Grand Blanc, has two CDs on Big O Records, which he co-owns with organist Jim Alfredson (Organissimo). Alfredson played on both of Nagy’s CDs: 2010’s “Walk That Fine Thin Line” and 2011’s “… Fell Toward None,” which also features the Motor City Horns on three tracks.
At the library, Nagy and his band (Jim Shaneberger on bass and background vocals and Karl Schantz on drums and background vocals) will perform a variety of tunes.
“I’m going to try to work in a lot of traditional blues staples, as well as a lot of our original material,” Nagy said.
The Jazz & Blues series is sponsored by the Friends of the Southfield Public Library and the Detroit Blues Society. Admission is $3 at the door.
For information, on the Greg Nagy Band, click
If you were not fortunate enough to be in attendance at the show by Corey Harris and The Rasta Blues Experience at Callahan's Music Hall on Saturday, don't despair.
The concert was recorded for both CD and DVD by the American Music Research Foundation. I, for one, can't wait to check it out.
Harris and his excellent band, who are equally adept playing blues and reggae, were joined for segments by Phil Wiggins on harmonica and vocalist Thornetta Davis. Over a four-hour period, they played a wide variety of styles, both acoustic and electric. It was outstanding.
To see a previous post on Corey Harris, click here.
Jim McCarty
Callahan's hosts the Detroit Music Awards Blues Showcase on Thursday (March 22). Admission is only $5, with proceeds benefiting the DMAs. Scheduled performers include Jones'n, the Broken Arrow Blues Band, The Boa Constrictors, and Sweet Willie Tea.
For information, click

On Friday (March 23), Callahan's presents Jim McCarty and Friends, featuring harmonica player James Montgomery from Boston, and Detroit guitar slinger Jeff Grand, who will open the show and then join forces with McCarty and the guys. Tickets start at $15.
McCarty, well known among musicians for his tasteful and expressive guitar work with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Buddy Miles, The Rockets, Cactus, and others, released the CD "Jim McCarty and Friends Recorded Live at Callahan's" last year. It includes McCarty performing with blues greats such as Duke Robillard Jimmy Thackery (who is at Callahan's March 24), Johnny A, John Nemeth, and Jason Ricci. Check it out.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Journey of the blues: Documentary on Corey Harris focuses on evolution of the music

Corey Harris
Nearly 10 years ago, musician Corey Harris was a featured artist and narrator of the Martin Scorcese film “Feel Like Going Home,” which traced the evolution of blues from West Africa to the southern United States.
Harris will soon be the focus of another Public Broadcasting documentary. His live show on Saturday (March 17) at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills will be recorded for an upcoming film tracing the journey of the blues genre from its African roots, through the South and into Chicago and reggae music.
“It’s something I’ve been working on for some time, a little less than a year,” Harris said during a phone interview from his home in Richmond, Va. “I was approached by Ron Harwood of Illuminating Concepts to do a video, showcasing my music and my life story.”
Harris, a singer-guitarist-songwriter, was born in Denver to parents from Texas and Kentucky. He began his career as a New Orleans street singer, travelling throughout the southern United States. In his early 20s, he lived in Cameroon, West Africa for a year.
“I wanted to study abroad and see Africa,” Harris said. “I had a friend who had family in Cameroon and he was telling me about the place. That was the first time I heard live African music and that had an effect on me.”
Harwood recognizes Harris as the perfect individual to tell the story of the journey of the blues.
“It dawned on me, as a producer, that it is difficult to find any one entertainer who recognizes his connection to the past and also recognizes his contribution to the future, and who can also speak so eloquently about where the music comes from,” Harwood said. “I’m always fascinated by his really earthy approach of a young man singing music that is, arguably, 100 years old.
“It’s his spirit. You talk about folks with old souls, clearly, even on his records, … he never seems like he is copying anybody, even though he performs tunes that have been done many times before.”
Whether playing solo, in a duo, or with his band The Rasta Blues Experience, Harris performs in a wide variety of styles, including blues, reggae, and New Orleans jazz. He’s performed in venues around the world.
“As a performer, I always have to be aware of what the public wants and what kind of audience I’m playing in front of,” Harris said. “If I’m at a reggae festival, I play reggae. At a blues festival, I play blues. There’s no such thing as a ‘normal’ show.”
His varied repertoire means that Harris is not pigeonholed into one category of music.
“I enjoy that. I think (pigeonholing) is something the music industry uses to marginalize musicians, especially those who play traditional music and especially those who play blues and jazz.”
At Callahan’s, Harris will be performing solo, with his full band (Chris “Peanut” Whitley on keyboards, Gordon ”Saxman” Jones on saxophone, Jayson “Brother J ” Morgan on bass and drummer Kenneth “Trini Joe” Joseph), and as a duo with Harmonica Phil Wiggins, who performed for many years with the late singer-guitarist Bowling Green John Cephus.
“We’ve done a lot of work together since Mr. Cephus died (in 2009),” Harris said. “We’ll play some Piedmont blues as well as a lot of different types of blues. We have a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. We meet in the middle.”
Looking ahead, Harris will perform with Wiggins at the New Orleans Jazz Festival on April 29. He’s also working on another film project, “True Blues,” featuring Taj Mahal, Shemekia Copeland, Guy Davis and Alvin “Youngblood” Hart. A live recording of the “True Blues” show will be held April 22 at the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.
In December, Harris travelled to Mali to work on a book about the life and music of the late Ali Farke Toure, who was featured in “Feel Like Going Home.”
Harris is a unique performer, with one foot planted in the roots of traditional blues, while the other steps forward into uncharted territory.
“He is representative of the first recordings of this music,” Harwood said. “You can hear the spirit of the fellow of the man who first recorded it and hear Corey’s spirit right alongside. It’s really rare to find that, two voices coming from one.”

Corey Harris will perform an early show at 5:30 p.m. March 17 at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills. Tickets are $30. For information, click or call (248) 858-9508.

To send info to JB Blues,  please email

Friday, March 9, 2012

Janiva Magness' ‘Stronger For It’ generating pre-release buzz

Alligator Records reports that award-winning vocalist Janiva Magness' new CD, “Stronger For It,” which will be released Tuesday, is already garnering positive reactions from press and radio.
"Magness' original songs are some of the most potent on an album with no shortage of powerful material,” said. “Gritty, stomping rhythms ... sexy, sinister grooves ... funky, growling, understated intensity. Magness' snarling, throaty, jubilant vocals send chills down your spine." described Magness as "one of the best female blues vocalists in the world today ... if you're not listening to Janiva Magness, you're missing out on one of the best."
 Sirius/XM'sB.B. King's Bluesville” radio show, hosted by Bill Wax, is featuring Magness in a long-form special interview program, including a track-by-track breakdown. This special presentation runs multiple times, including Saturday, March 10 and Sunday, March 11. Go to to check specific times. In addition, St. Louis radio station KDHX (88.1 FM) is streaming the entire album until March 13. To listen, click here.
Magness will perform at a CD release party on April 12 at the Magic Bag in Ferndale.
Magness, a Michigan native who attended Mount Clemens High School while living with her grandparents, has overcome many obstacles to reach success, including a traumatic childhood.
To read an earlier JB Blues post about Magness, click here.

Detroit Blues Society Jam
If you’d like to check out some youthful blues talent, stop out to the New Way Bar in Ferndale on Saturday for the Detroit Blues Society Monthly Meeting and Jam. This month’s host performers are the Johnny Rhoades Band, featuring Motor City Josh protégé Johnny Rhoades on vocals and guitar. He’ll be joined by Mark LoDuca on keys and Julian Van Slyke on drums. The band recently completed a CD titled “Breaking Out.”
There’s no cover charge and you can bring your instrument and show off your skills.

Acoustic blues
If you love playing (or listening to) acoustic blues, you’ll want to check out the Attic Dwellers Acoustic Music Club at 1-5 p.m. Sunday, March 11 at Paycheck’s Lounge in Hamtramck.
Jere Stormer
DBS board member Wolfgang Spider reports that everyone is welcome: Musicians, vocalists and listeners. The group includes players ranging from professionals on down to beginners who just want to play along in the circle.

Charlene Melody and Mark Grable
Detroit Blues Challenge
Round one of the Detroit Blues Challenge kicks off March 24 with a solo/duo competition at 9 p.m. at the Oxford Tap in Oxford. The competition will feature performances by Pete “Big Dog” Fetters, Sweet Willie Tea, Jere Stormer, Rob Johnson and Dale Robertson, Scott Blaylock, and Charlene Melody and Mark Grable. The two top acts will advance to the solo/duo finals in October.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Johnnie Bassett at Callahan's; Win free tickets to Coco Montoya recording session

It’s going to be a busy, bluesy weekend at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
Detroit’s “Gentleman of the Blues,” Johnnie Bassett, kicks it off on Friday. The silky smooth 76-year-old singer-guitarist, who got his start with the late Joe Weaver in the Blue Notes (the studio band for Fortune Records), will be joined by the Brothers Groove and the Motor City Horns in a performance that is sure to be memorable.
“We want to give Johnnie the respect he gets around the world,” said Callahan’s owner Mike Callahan. “He toured France last fall and took the Brothers Groove and the Motor City Horns with him. We’re putting the same band together in his hometown. It’s an epic lineup of Detroit talent.”
Chris Codish of the Brothers Groove reports that you can catch Bassett and his  band live on air from 5-7 p.m. Thursday on ”The Mitch Albom Show” on WJR 760AM.
On Saturday, Callahan’s welcomes Commander Cody (“Lost in the Ozone,” “Hot Rod Lincoln”) back to Detroit.
On Sunday and Monday, guitarist Coco Montoya will be at Callahan’s, with both performances taped for a live CD and DVD release for Ruf Records. The recording is being produced by Jim Gaines, who has worked with a multitude of stars, including Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana and Journey.
Montoya got his start with legendary bluesman Albert Collins as a drummer, but, with guidance from “The Ice Man,” soon learned to play guitar. Montoya, a left-hander who plays a right-handed guitar “upside down,” went on to become the guitarist for John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for 10 years before leading his own band. Upon releasing his debut album, he won Best New Blues Artist at the 1996 Blues Music Awards.
Opening for Montoya will be two fine Detroit blues bands: Jim McCarty and Mystery Train on Sunday and The Hatchetmen on Monday.
Tickets are $30 reserved and $20 general admission each night. A special discounted $45 ticket grants reserved admission both nights.
If you buy tickets online for Monday’s show, or purchase the two-day pass, you will receive a bounce-back voucher for shows by either Scott Holt (March 9), Duke Tumatoe (March 10) or the Southern Hospitality Tour featuring Damon Fowler, J.P. Soars and Victor Wainwright (March 15).
You can also win a pair of free tickets to Monday’s show through JB Blues.

Send your requests for free tickets via email to: by noon Friday. Winners will be selected in a random drawing and notified by email. Please put "Coco tickets" in the subject line.
For more info, click

To send info to JB Blues, please email