Things have come full circle for Callahan’s Music Hall as the Auburn Hills venue celebrates its fifth anniversary.
On Wednesday night, Nov. 21, The Reefermen will perform at a release party for their new vinyl album "Sunday Morning Smoke." It was five years ago, on Thanksgiving Eve 2007, when James Wailin, Bobby East and the boys performed on Callahan’s opening night.
“We weren’t even sure if we could do music, because music was not done on that side of town,” owner Mike Callahan said. “We hired The Reefermen, and they were a logical choice because they were the best band in the area, and still are. It just morphed from that night.”
When Mike and his partner Dan Callahan opened the club in what had been a Ponderosa restaurant in the 1970s, they decided to make music the focal point of the venue. With a huge stage, excellent sightlines, great sound by engineer Peter Jay, and a small-club feel, the 200-seat venue has developed into the best place to hear live blues in Detroit.
“We decided if we were going to do music, we were going to do it right,” Callahan said. “The only thing we’re really about is the music. That’s where the magic is.”
They started by booking top-tier local acts. After a month or so, they took a risk and booked their first national performer, Chris Duarte. A long string of top-notch talent -- including Johnny Winter. Jimmy Thackery, Coco Montoya, and many, many more -- have performed at Callahan’s over the last five years.
“We grew up going to Sully’s, the Soup Kitchen, George and Harry’s, and Sisko’s,” Callahan said. “Blues was the music we knew and understood. Blues fell in and became our niche.”
The venue has hosted somewhere in the range of 800 shows.
“We’re very thankful,” Callahan said. “Hopefully, we’ve become one of the better rooms in Detroit for music, and regionally too. People fly hundreds of miles to come to a show. It’s weird, we are better known outside of Detroit than in Detroit.”
Tommy Castro and the Painkillers are at Callahan's, 2105 South Blvd., on Friday, Nov. 23. On Saturday, Nov. 24, it is a "De-troit Holiday Bash" with the Howling Diablos, Infatuations and Names Unlisted.For information and advance tickets, click www.ATCALLAHANS.com.
To send info to JB Blues, please email Joe.Ballor@dailytribune.com