Friday, February 28, 2014

Alberta Adams tribute honors 'Detroit's Queen of the Blues'

Alberta Adams performs at the Southfield Public Library in 2011. (Photo by Joe Ballor)
The Detroit Pub Music Room’s Sunday Steak & Blues Series kicks off from 7-11 p.m. Sunday, March 2, with “To Alberta With Love,” a tribute to Detroit’s Queen of the Blues, Alberta Adams.
The evening features entertainment by singer Thornetta Davis and her band with special guest singer Tosha Owens, and a special appearance and signing by Alberta Adams, who is 96.
Adams began her career as a dancer in the 1940s, but soon switched to singing, touring with big name musicians such as Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, T-Bone Walker and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson.
Her solo career enjoyed a resurgence starting in the 1990s with her association with manager/musician RJ Spangler. She recorded two CDs for the now defunct Cannonball Records label and then moved to Detroit-based Eastlawn Records. Her third record with Eastlawn, "Detroit Is My Home" (2008), features collaborations with pianists Mark "Mr. B" Braun, Al Hill and the late Ann Rabson (Saffire). Thornetta Davis also appeared on the CD. Alberta has also recorded for the Chess, Savoy and Thelma (Gordy) labels.
“She is a completely unique, one of a kind artist and, of course, a beautiful person to work with,” said Spangler, who is president of the Detroit Blues Society.
Admission is $10 with proceeds benefiting Alberta’s “quality of life.”
The Detroit Pub is at 33401 Harper Ave. in Clinton Township.

Detroit Blues Society Mardi Gras Party
RJ’s Rhythm Rockers will entertain at the Detroit Blues Society’s Mardi Gras party on Saturday, March 1, at Shelly Kelly’s in Fraser.
“This is our 2nd annual event,” said RJ Spangler, bandleader with the Rhythm Rockers. “It is a smaller version of the event we’ve been doing at Rochester Mills Brewery for 10 years.”
RJ and his band have performed in New Orleans and, in Detroit, have backed up visiting musicians from the Crescent City, including singer Johnny Adams, singer-guitarist Earl King and singer-pianist Eddie Bo.
“We have a great affinity with the music in New Orleans,” Spangler said.
The fun starts at 9 p.m. and there’s no cover charge. 

St. Cecelia at Town Pub
The band St. Cecelia -- guitarist Brett Lucas, bassist James Simonson and drummer Todd Glass -- performs every Saturday at the Town Pump, behind the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
Lucas reports that the gig has a really great vibe, thanks in part to DJ Halfacre, who spins vinyl on the band’s breaks.
“He is a huge vinyl dude that loves great music, old blues, funk and soul,” Lucas said. “He has some really rare stuff, like this Little Richard record I’ve never heard before. It doesn’t even sound like Little Richard. It sounds like Al Green or some funky thing.
“It is really cool and people love it. When we take our breaks, people don’t leave and kind of dig it.”
Music starts at 9 p.m. and there’s no cover.

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Youth Blues Challenge bands needed; Taj Mahal and Johnny Winter shows upcoming

The Detroit Blues Society is looking for bands to participate in the 2014 Youth Blues Challenge, which will be held Sunday, Aug. 10, at Classic Lanes in Rochester Hills.
Applications will be accepted through June 1. Six bands will be chosen to compete from all qualified applicants. Bands and solo/duo acts are eligible. Original material will be scored higher than covers.
The winning act will move on to the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase in Memphis in Jan. 2015.
All musicians must be under the age of 21 at time of the Youth Showcase in Memphis in January 2015.
For information, click, or call Cherie at 248-894-5338.

Upcoming shows
Two blues greats will be performing in the Detroit area in March.
Blues and roots artist Taj Mahal and his trio will be at the Magic Bag in Ferndale on Saturday, March 1.
Taj Mahal
Mahal has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning two for “Senor Blues” (1997) and “Shoutin’ in Key” (2000).
His music features many influences, including blues, Caribbean, West African  and even Hawaiian music.
Tickets are $58. For information, call 248-544-3030 or click
Guitarist Johnny Winter brings his “Down and Dirty – LIVE” tour to Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills on Sunday, March 16.
The concert will celebrate the release of Winter’s "Down& Dirty" movie and career-spanning box set “True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story.” 
Winter celebrated his 70th birthday on Feb. 23 with a show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York.
Advance tickets start at $50.
Callahan’s hosts shows with Joe Louis Walker (Feb. 27) and Commander Cody (Feb. 28) this week. Due to health issues, Jeremy Spencer’s show scheduled for March 1 has been canceled.
Another upcoming show at Callahan’s that is sure to be joyous is Jim McCarty & Friends featuring James Montgomery on Saturday, March 8.
Guitarist Jim McCarty’s resume includes stints with Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Rockets, Cactus, the Detroit Blues Band, and his current group Mystery Train. He is a winner of the Detroit Blues Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Boston-based harmonica great James Montgomery has jammed with B.B. King, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Junior Wells and many others, in addition to fronting his James Montgomery Band for over 30 years.
For ticket information, go to

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pazman recalls Motor City Blues Project as 'magic time'

When Mark Pasman thinks back on his 26-plus year run as host of the Motor City Blues Project radio show on WCSX-FM (94.7), his thoughts go immediately to when he hosted live remote broadcasts from the now defunct Memphis Smoke nightclub in Royal Oak.
Mark "Pazman" Pasman
“The best musicians in Detroit were in the house band,” said Pasman, who’s more commonly recognized as “Pazman.”  I would have guest artists, and conduct interviews while jamming on my guitar.  And it was all live on the radio. Nobody does that anymore.
“It was magic time.”
Pasman’s long run at WCSX ended last week when the Greater Media station “decided to go in a different direction on the weekends,” according to a statement. His 7 p.m.-midnight shift Sunday will be filled by Pam Rossi (host of the Sunday morning “Over Easy” show).
Pasman thoroughly enjoyed his lengthy run on the air on Sunday evenings and is thankful  for the opportunity provided by Greater Media.
“I got to talk with with B.B. King, Taj Mahal, John Mayall and Tommy Castro, the blues stars of yesterday and today. I got to jam with some of my heroes, Kim Simmonds, Jimmy McCarty, etc.
“It’s been a great, long run and I am very appreciative of the opportunity to do it, but it’s their baby. They are in charge of what goes on the air. I’m not in their plans anymore and that’s OK.”
Pasman is disappointed that the Motor City Blues Project will no longer be a part of the Detroit music scene, providing fans with information and local blues artists an opportunity to showcase their music.
But, he really only has one regret.
“I would have loved to have had a chance to say goodbye properly. That last show would have been off the hook.  I would have talked to B.B. King on the telephone and had the Howling Diablos and Mitch Ryder in the studio.
“It would have been a good ratings booster, I assume, that Sunday night. … I would have loved to have had one final show to do it properly.”
Pasman, who is well known as a guitarist with his Pazman’s Supersession band, held many jobs at WRIF and then WCSX, including morning show producer and program director.
His Motor City Blues Project came to fruition a year or so after he started at WCSX.
“They wanted me to do a show that concentrated on the roots of classic rock: jazz, folk and blues. I told them that, even with three hours, that was a pretty wide swath and that my love and expertise was more in the blues realm.
“It took awhile to develop ‘anything blue will do.’ That was not only our slogan but my mantra. Anything that came from the blues was in our ballpark and important.”
Pasman has received lots of support from friends, fans and musicians as he and his wife Karen take a little time to mull over future possibilities.
“I have been really kind of astounded at the reactions I’ve gotten in the community and in the business,” said Pasman, a Southfield resident who grew up in Oak Park and graduated from Berkley High School. “My phone’s been ringing pretty good. I’ve gotten lots of beautiful phone calls. So it’s both a sad and happy time.

“The love I’ve gotten the last few days has just been remarkable,” he continued, choking back tears.  “It confirms that my Mom and Dad raised me right, that I have conducted myself in a professional manner, and that I’ve been good to people. l tried to do the very best I could at all the stations I’ve worked at.”

To send info to JB Blues, please email

Friday, February 7, 2014

Root Shakers host DBS Jam

The Detroit Blues Society Monthly Meeting and Jam returns to Shelly Kelly’s in Fraser on Saturday, Feb. 8.  This week’s host band is the Root Shakers, featuring Jim Finch (guitar and vocals) and Al Rude (bass and vocals).
The evening will start at 8 p.m. with a set by the host band and will continue until 1 a.m. with a steady stream of jammers, undoubtedly including some of Detroit’s top musical talents. You never know who will show up, but the DBS Monthly Jam is always full of fun surprises.
Often,  musicians who headline their own groups get a rare chance to jam together, all for fun.
There’s no cover charge and you don’t have to be a DBS member to attend, but after you check it out you’ll probably want to join the group so you can keep in touch with all the blues happenings around town.
A basic membership is only $25 per year and includes the group’s monthly Blues Notes newsletter, which is full of calendar info, music reviews, and more.
Shelly Kelly’s is at 18339 14 Mile Road in Fraser.
For information, click
Benny Reeves in concert
On Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Detroit Blues Society and the Plymouth Elks present singer Benny Reeves with the Paul Carey Trio.
Reeves, a Detroit native, was a a founding member of the Contours (“Do You Love Me”) and is the brother of singer Martha Reeves.  He has performed with many Motown greats. 

Reeves will be performing favorites of the era and plenty of jump and down-home blues.
Carey is a veteran guitarist on the Detroit scene having been affiliated with such acts as Thornetta Davis, the Sun Messengers, Alberta Adams, Sir Mack Rice & many more. 
Tickets are only $5.

The Plymouth Elks Club is at 41700 Ann Arbor Road in Plymouth. For info, click plymouth­