Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rusty Wright shows versatility on new CD

The Rusty Wright Band is known as a standout blues group - it won the Detroit Blues Challenge in 2010 and made it to the semifinals at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis - but the band's latest CD, "This, That & the Other Thing" (Sadson Music) shows off the versatility of singer-guitarist Rusty Wright, who wrote nine of the 11 tunes on the CD.
Rusty Wright
"It's a real mixed bag, and that's how the title came about," said singer-guitarist Laurie LaCross-Wright, who co-headlines the group. "Growing up, the albums we both appreciated were the ones that surprised us. Back in the '70s, you rarely heard an album that just had one groove all the way through -- where when you heard one song and the rest were exactly the same.
"We looked forward to being surprised, and that was his intention (with this record)."
Laurie was a fan of Rusty's music long before they started dating and got married. She first met him when she was working as a newspaper reporter.
"I've watched him progress since the early '90s," she said. "After interviewing him, I kept track of him over the years and he would send me cassettes at times, with a few more songs on them. I could see his stuff percolating and watched his songwriting and music progress.
"Later, I got to see his progression and how his ideas came about. I'm in awe of his abilities, these songs just sort of pop into his head fully formed.
"He hears all the parts in his head."
Even the two cover tunes on the CD - AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" - show creativity.
"On the AC/DC song, he totally redid the music," LaCross-Wright said. "It sounds nothing like the original. I listened to AC/DC's version on YouTube and I just giggled for four minutes, it was so different.
"Rusty said he wanted to steal one back for the blues, since the rock guys have taken so many blues songs."
"Mississippi Queen" has a cool Delta spoken word intro and outro.
"We have so much fun playing that, with the center section when the three-part harmony hits," she said. "We debuted it in November at The Whiting when we opened for Kenny Wayne Shepherd. We started our set with that song and people loved it."
The CD also shows off Rusty's extensive vocal range, which Laurie said comes from his upbringing.
"His mother was an opera and gospel singer, and his father was a gospel music promoter. As soon as he was able to play four chords on the guitar, they put him in the band.
"He grew up surrounded by the gospel harmonies and heard the high-soaring vocal techniques since he was a kid. He can sing the dirty, gritty stuff, too."
The Wrights are joined in the Flint-based band by keyboardist Dave Brahce, bassist Dennis Bellinger, and drummer Peter Haist.
Brahce was been in the band since 2007 and shines on jams with Rusty on songs such as "Man On Fire" from the new CD. Peter Haist joined the band a year later and has continued as a key member despite developing eye problems that have left him legally blind.
Bellinger, the former bassist with Grand Funk, joined last June after former bassist Andy Barancik went into the ministry full time, something Laurie said the Wrights knew would eventually happen.
The band will officially debut the new recording -- which has been charting on Touchtunes, the Relix Magazine jam bands chart, the Living Blues chart, the Roots Music Report blues chart and the Americana Music Association charts -- at a CD release party Friday night, March 29 at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
For information, click For more on the Rusty Wright Band, click

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sweet Willie Tea at the library

Sweet Willie Tea
Sweet Willie Tea will be the featured artist as the Southfield Public Library, 26300 Evergreen Road, hosts its Jazz & Blues program at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Sweet Willie Tea is a one-man band who plays authentic American music. He performs both traditional and original songs along with his unique self-accompanying percussion and shares historical facts about the instruments.

Sweet Willie Tea was the winner of the 2012 Detroit Blues Challenge solo/duo competition and represented the Detroit Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

General admission is $5 ($3 for Friends of the Southfield Public Library members). Children under 12 are admitted free.

For more information, call the Guest Services Desk at 248-796-4224 or click

Blues Revolution
The Big Damn Blues Revolution Tour, featuring Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Jimbo Mathus and Alvin Youngblood Hart, stops at the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Friday.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band is supporting the release of its new recording "Between The Ditches."
Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
Tickets are only $18 in advance, $20 at the door. It's sure to be a great show.
For information, call 248-544-1991 or click 

New Fabulous Thunderbirds CD
Blues-rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds have released their first new full-length studio recording in nearly a decade. "On The Verge" (Severn Records) is now available online and in stores. 
The band, anchored by original front man Kim Wilson, explores their soulful side with 10 original numbers.
For more info, go to
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Paul Miles leads DMA blues nominations

Hard-working bluesman Paul Miles has received an incredible eight nominations for the upcoming Detroit Music Awards, which will be held on April 19 at the Fillmore Detroit.
Paul Miles
“I’m extremely honored,” Miles said. “It’s like rolling the dice. I just continue to do my best and the people have responded. I am deeply honored and touched by that.
“I’m just trying to keep this happy music alive as best I can.”
Miles received nominations in the Outstanding Blues Artist/Group, Outstanding Blues/R&B Vocalist and Outstanding Blues/R&B Songwriter categories. He was also nominated for Outstanding Video/Independent Budget - Under $10,000 (“Desert Bloom”) and Outstanding R&B/Blues-Recording ("Spirit of Humanity Show Part II ").
Miles wanted to be sure to share the credit for the nomination for “Spirit of Humanity” with his band: background vocalists Chrissy Morgan and Amber Tomlin, bassist Emily Rogers, saxophonist Robert Reeves and drummer Ken Murphy. Morgan, Tomlin and Rogers each received their own individual DMA nominations as well.
Miles, an excellent acoustic guitarist, also was nominated as Outstanding Acoustic Artist/Group and Outstanding Acoustic Instrumentalist, and for Outstanding Acoustic Recording (“Back to Sturgis”).
Honors are nothing new for Miles, who got his start playing at coffeehouses at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he was a star running back (he was the career rushing leader in the Mid-American Conference at the time of his graduation with 3,239 career yards, finished his career ninth on the NCAA's yardage list and went on to play pro ball in the World Football League). Miles' No. 29 jersey is the only football jersey ever retired at Bowling Green.  Miles, who also earned two letters as a member of the BGSU baseball team, was inducted to the schools’  Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
He excels on a different playing field now.
Paul Miles with Harmonica Shah and Joe Ballor at a benefit for Arise Detroit!
Miles won the Detroit Blues Challenge solo/duo division in 2002 and represented the Detroit Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn. He also represented Marietta, Ohio, at the IBC and finished as a semifinalist. He is a six-time Detroit Music Award winner, and was named Best Blues Singer in 2012 at the Detroit Black Music Awards.
Miles, an Ohio native, has also been involved in many, many charitable efforts, including his own "Help Your Neighbor Project." His current idea is Detroit Aid, a fundraising concert based on the Farm Aid model that would help ease the financial troubles of his adopted home.
“A lot of people have given me ideas and support and are willing to volunteer,” Miles said. “It’s not a fix, but a help to alleviate some of the problems that are there.
“What I have proposed has been done in different places. They did it for Hurricane Sandy.”
Check out his music at
DMA blues nominations
Nominated as Outstanding Blues Artist Group are Barbara Payton & the Instigators, Erich Goebel and the Flying Crowbars, Howard Glazer, Jim McCarty & Mystery Train, Motor City Josh, and Paul Miles.
Nominated as Outstanding Blues/R&B Instrumentalist are Bobby Murray (guitar), bugs Beddow (trombone/flute), Emily Rogers (bass), Howard Glazer (guitar), Jim McCarty (guitar), Motor City Josh (guitar), Nolan Mendenhall (bass) and Pete Peltier (guitar).
Nominees for Outstanding Blues/R&B Recording include “Angry City” by Brian “Roscoe” White and Lamont Zodiac, “Eat, Drink, Boogie, Repeat” by Carl Henry, “Messin’ With a Fool” by Eliza Neals, and “Spirit of Humanity Show Part II” by Paul Miles.
Nominated as Outstanding Blues/R&B Songwriter are Eliza Neals, Howard Glazer, Motor City Josh, Paul Miles, Stacia Petrie Ford, and Martin “Tino” Gross.
Nominated as Outstanding Blues/R&B Vocalist are Barbara Payton, Eliza Neals, Kathleen Murray, Motor City Josh, Paul Miles, and Tosha Owens.
Guitarist/banjo player Jeff Grand received a nomination as Outstanding Country Instrumentalist and Janiva Magness’ “Stronger For It” (Alligator Records) received a nomination as Outstanding National Major Label Distribution Album.
To vote for your favorites, go to

New Blues in Detroit
Luther Badman Keith
Starting tonight and continuing every Wednesday from 8 p.m, to midnight,, the Luther Badman Keith Blues Band and Friends present New Blues in Detroit at Bert’s Marketplace.  Badman invites folks to come down and listen and for musicians to play.

Blues Groove
Multiple Detroit Music Award  winners The Brothers Groove -- Chris Codish (keyboards and vocals), James Simonson (bass), and Skeeto Valdez (drums) --  will be performing a special "blues heavy" edition with special guest guitarist Brett Lucas (Bettye Lavette,  St. Cecilia, Rattlesnake Shake) on Thursday at The Northern Lights Lounge in Detroit.
They start at 9 p.m. and there’s no cover.
The Brothers Groove were recently featured on the final recording by blues singer/guitarist Johnnie Bassett, “I Can Make That Happen” (Sly Dog Records). If you don’t have that CD in your collection yet, check it out and thank me later.

Little Leon ailing
Little Leon
Singer Horace “Little Leon” Mills suffered a stroke late last month and is currently at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township.
Little Leon is a New Haven native who has been a fixture on the Mount Clemens music scene for many years.
Leon’s bandmate in Strat Axis, bassist Steve Ferdig, reports that Leon has been experiencing health problems for the past few years and that Leon suffered a stroke on Feb. 25 while at the hospital for a checkup.
Those wishing to send Little Leon get well wishes can mail him a card at:

Horace Mills

c/o Henry Ford Macomb Hospital

15855 19 Mile Road
Clinton Township, MI  48038

 To send info to JB Blues, please email

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Broken Arrow Blues Band on tour

The Broken Arrow Blues Band, one of Detroit's top blues and boogie bands, is heading down South for a tour.
The band will perform at The Office in Athens, Ga., on March 8; Darwin's Burgers & Blues in Marietta, Ga. on March 9; Grant's Lounge (the "birthplace of Southern rock") in Macon, Ga. on March 15; Snook Haven in Venice, Fla. on March 17; Sharky's on the Pier in South Venice, Fla. on March 18; and a private party in Tennessee on March 20.
Gary Rasmussen, Chris Leigh and Shadowhawk Ellis of Broken Arrow Blues Band
Band members include Gary “Shadowhawk” Ellis (vocals, drums), Chris Leigh (vocals, guitar), and Gary Rasmussen (bass).
This is a very experienced and talented unit.
Shadowhawk and Leigh both started their careers with classical training as youngsters and have played in several bands together, including The Boogie Chilluns for six years.
Shadowhawk has 11 releases to his credit with four different bands, including The Blind Dog Blues Band, with guitarist Charles "Pat" Patton.
It would be difficult to find a more experienced bass player than Rasmussen, who got his start with the Detroit proto-punk band The Up! in 1967. The Up! was one of the house bands at the legendary Grande Ballroom. He was also a member of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band with MC5 guitarist Fred Sonic” Smith, and the Scott Morgan Band with singer Scott Morgan of The Rationals and drummer Scott “Rock Action” Asheton of The Stooges. He has toured worldwide and has played or recorded with a wide variety of artists, including Patti Smith and bluesman Alvin Youngblood Hart.
Broken Arrow’s next local performance will be at the Temple Gospel & Blues Explosion at the Masonic Temple in Detroit on April 13.
For more info on the band, click

To send info to JB Blues, please email