It is going to be a busy weekend for Jim McCarty.
The rock and blues guitarist and singer well known internationally for his work with groups such as Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Cactus, and The Rockets, will host the Detroit Blues Society jam on Saturday at Shelly Kelly’s in Fraser; and then will be part of a Johnny Winter tribute on Sunday at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills.
On Saturday, he’ll perform with his band Mystery Train, which includes his son Dylan McCarty on drums and bassist Marvin Conrad. Singer-guitarist Emmanuel Garza completes the lineup. He joined the band after the death of McCarty’s longtime musical partner Rick Stel in April.
McCarty’s roots with Garza are deep as well, going back to their days together in the Detroit Blues Band. That made the transition to a new lineup following Stel’s death a little easier.
“We’re a little more hardcore blues with Emmanuel, but the energy has stayed the same, which is the most important thing,” McCarty said. “Me and E know each other like the back of our hands. We work well together and have a lot of fun.”
McCarty has played Shelly Kelly’s before, years ago when it was the Erin Pub.
“It should be fun,” he said. “(Singer) Nikki James is going to be there and we’ll get her up on stage. It’s always a good time.”
McCarty and harmonica player-singer Jason Ricci will join Johnny Winter’s backup band for the tribute performance on Sunday.
“It’s going to be nice to see Jason,” McCarty said. “He was on my ‘McCarty and Friends’ CD, but I haven’t seen him in a few years.”
McCarty knew Johnny Winter for years.
“We had a few stories from the old days, some things you can’t put in print,” he said with a laugh. “In the old days, Johnny was a guitar slinger. He could fire it up.”
In late July, only two weeks after Winter’s death, McCarty went to see his Cactus bandmate, drummer Carmine Appice, perform with Vanilla Fudge in the Rock ‘n’ Blues Fest – A Tribute to Johnny Winter show at DTE Energy Music Theatre. Also on the bill was the Edgar Winter Group, fronted by Johnny Winter’s younger brother Edgar.
“I joined them for a tribute to his brother at the end of the night,” McCarty said. “We did ‘Highway 61,’ ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Hootchie Coo’ and couple of other things.
“John is somebody I respected, so I have no problem paying my respects to a guy who was a great guitar player.”
Can’t make it to either show this weekend? McCarty will be back at Callahan’s on Nov. 29 with his friend, blues guitarist Sonny Moorman.
“Our first set is acoustic with my harp player, Kenny Welk,” McCarty said. “People love it. Then, in our second set, we whip it.”
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