Monday, April 30, 2012

Jim McCarty wins Detroit Music Awards; jams with Cactus

Jim McCarty
Guitarist-singer Jim McCarty, whose resume includes stints with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Rockets, Cactus, the Detroit Blues Band, etc., won two Detroit Music Awards Friday. McCarty was named Outstanding Blues/R&B Instrumentalist and also won the Outstanding Blues/R&B Recording award for his CD “Jim McCarty and Friends – Live at Callahan’s.” The outstanding CD, released on Cally’s Records and Tapes, is a collection of 12 songs recorded live at Callahan’s Music Hall over a three-year period. Each tune features McCarty in impromptu jams with the likes of Duke Robillard, Jason Ricci and John Nemeth.
“It’s always nice to get a little recognition,” McCarty said. “I’m extremely proud of that CD. Me and (recording engineer) Peter (Jay) did a lot of work getting the finished product together and it was really gratifying to have it recognized.”
The CD can be purchased on iTunes or at

McCarty will be performing with the reunited Cactus, featuring original member Carmine Appice (drums) and former Savoy Brown frontman Jimmy Kunes (vocals), on Saturday (May 5) at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. The Muggs open. Tickets are $25. For info, click
Cactus performed three concerts last week, at the B.B. King Blues Club in New York, at a concert hall just outside Philadelphia and in Long Island, N.Y. They will be playing in Akron, Ohio, this Friday before motoring up to Detroit for Saturday’s show.
“Hopefully, we’ll have as much fun (at the Magic Bag) as we did last year,” McCarty said. “That was terrific. It was our first show with Pete Bremy (Vanilla Fudge) on bass and probably the best show the band had done since regrouping in 2006.
“The band sounded like Cactus and the audience can always pick up when the band is having fun and enjoying themselves. It was a good vibe and, hopefully, will be again this Saturday.”
McCarty, who also fronts his Detroit-based band Mystery Train, is looking forward to touring with Cactus this year. The group will be going to Europe in July and Japan toward the end of the year.
“That will really be a fun trip for me,” McCarty said. “In the old days, ‘70 and ’71, Japan was one of the hot spots for that group. We never had a hit record, so it was basically a cult following. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan.”
McCarty has been busy putting some new ideas down on his eight-track recorder in anticipation of recording a new Cactus album by the end of the year. McCarty is excited about the new songs.
“’Cactus V’ was a really good CD and this one will be even better. I’ve got some really good ideas and I guarantee this will be one hot little CD.”

Thornetta Davis
Also at the Detroit Music Awards, Detroit Blues Society Lifetime Achievement Award winner Thornetta Davis took home honors in two categories, Outstanding Blues Artist/Group and Outstanding Blues/R&B Vocalist. Eliza Neals was named Outstanding Blues/R&B Songwriter.
The Howling Diablos
The night’s biggest winners were the Howling Diablos, who took home five trophies, including Outstanding R&B Artist/Group and Outstanding Urban/Funk Artist/Group, as well as three awards for its excellent 20011 release “Ultra Sonic Gas Can” (Funky D Records).
Howling Diablos frontman Martin “Tino” Gross won three individual awards, including Outstanding Record Producer.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Drummer Duke Dawson dies at 82

Duke Dawson
One of Detroit’s blues veterans has passed away. Drummer Horace “Duke” Dawson died Friday at the age of 82 following complications from heart surgery.
“I’ve known him for years and he was an exceptionally nice guy,” said Wolfgang Spider, Detroit Blues Society board member. “He told me that as a young kid, he would sit around the kitchen banging on the pots and pans, driving his parents nuts. They bought him a drum set and he went on from there. Over the years, he probably gave away five or more sets of drums to schools and organizations.”
Little Sonny
Dawson, a 2002 recipient of the Detroit Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, played with many acts over the years, including the Butler Twins, Uncle Jesse White and the 29th Street Blues Band, the Harmonica Shah Blues Band, and C. J. Morris and his Back Alley Blues Band. He was best known for his many years performing with singer-guitarist Louis “Mr. Bo” Collins.
“Duke was a beautiful dude, he never had a cross word,” said singer-harmonica player Little Sonny. “He admired me and I admired him.”
Louis "Mr. Bo" Collins
Little Sonny and Mr. Bo both started out in Washboard Willie’s band and continued to perform together after they left that band and Little Sonny became a bandleader. Eventually, Mr. Bo went out on his own and that’s when he hired Dawson as drummer. The former bandmates would often catch each other’s shows, with Mr. Bo's band at the Zombie and Little Sonny's band at the Apex Lounge.
“Duke was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, he always had that smile,” Little Sonny said. “We were good friends and my drummer James Crawford, who we called Jim Due, and Duke were the best of friends. We all came along at the same time. Duke’s been there just as long as I was.”
Little Sonny has been a member of the American Federation of Musicians for 56 years and Dawson was a longtime union member as well. The two friends would go together to the annual union dinner and hoped to do so again next month.
“He told me something one time, that when young musicians asked him what they should do in the business he told them ‘join the union, be at your gigs on time, and don’t drink and don’t smoke.’” Wolfgang Spider said.
“He was one of the most beautiful guys I’ve ever met,” Little Sonny said. “I’ve never seen Duke mad. He always had that joy on him, all the time. His personality was beautiful.”
Dawson endured health problems over the last decade, but continued to perform.
“He lived to play music and played on and off, even with his health problems, over his wife’s objections,” Wolfgang Spider said. “He would tell her that he was just going to listen, but they would always call him up on stage to play.
 “He was widely admired by everyone and had thousands of friends and fans. He was one guy that everybody liked. You always hear that when someone passes away, but in this case it was the absolute truth.”
Funeral arrangements are pending. To check on the arrangements, visit the Detroit Blues Society’s Facebook page.

Detroit Blues Challenge
Dale Robertson Band
Smokin' 45s 
The second round of the Detroit Blues Challenge was held Saturday night at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills. The two winning acts – the Dale Robertson Band and the Smokin’ 45s – advance to the finals on Oct. 21. The winners of the band and solo-duo categories at the finals go on to represent Detroit at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. 

(Photos of Duke Dawson, Dale Robertson Band and Smokin' 45s courtesy of Blues Photos by Don McGhee)

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chris Canas at the library; Piano blues

The Chris Canas Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (April 18) as part of the monthly Jazz & Blues series at the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road.
The Chris Canas Band was the winner of the band category in the 2011 Detroit Blues Challenge and represented the Detroit Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
There is $3 admission charge. For further information, call the Guest Services Desk at 248-796-4224.

Detroit Blues Challenge
The Detroit Blues Challenge continues with a band competition at 9 p.m. Saturday (April 21) at Callahan’s Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd. in Auburn Hills.
MotorCity Tones -- Joe Ballor, Jeff Boris,  Mark Grablowski, Charlene Melody, David Lamb
Bands including the Pat Zelenka Project, 3rd Degree, Dale Robertson Band, MotorCity Tones (pictured), and Smokin’ 45s will compete, with the top two bands advancing to the finals in October. Winners of the band and solo/duo categories at the finals will represent Detroit at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Proceeds from the $5 admission fee go to the Detroit Blues Challenge prize fund. For information, click

Piano blues at the Scarab Club
The Detroit Blues Society and the Scarab Club present The Piano Blues at 2 p.m. Saturday (April 21) at the Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth in Detroit.
Featured at the all-ages event will be pianists Bill Heid and MichaelMalis, backed by bassist Kurt Krahnke.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012