Your blues renewal

. June 5, 2012.

For me the season of Spring has the biggest impact on my senses as nature renews itself with new growth. As well, when I listen to the Blues, it allows me to take frustration and grief and renew my perspective on whatever “pranks with my soul.” It’s good advice from the people to whom pain and suffering have been no stranger. It may be magic, but it’s just the Blues.

The Ark renews its on-going revue of national acts with the influence of blues, soul, and gospel. Josh White Jr. returns with his songbook rich in traditional folk, blues, gospel on the 7th.  As the son of the great songwriter-activist Josh White Sr., his life has always been in step with America’s cultural pulse through music, activism, education, and beneficence to the arts. With countless stage appearances, world tours, a multitude of recordings, including children’s songs, he is truly one of our country’s great musical treasures.

Bettye Lavette, one of Detroit’s original soul blues singers returns to The Ark with her stirring vocals on the 8th.  She was passed over by the Motown Records wave in the early 1960s, but attained notoriety with a national hit in 1962, and subsequently toured with Ben E. King, Barbara Lynn, Otis Redding and James Brown. Her recent efforts feature soul-drenched blues themes on I’ve got My Own Hell To Raise (2005) and Grammy-nominated The Scene Of The Crime (2007).  Former Ann Arbor keyboardist Al Hill is her musical director and will join in the reunion.

Guy O’Hollerin’s Local Blues & Brews keeps its full service Saturday night line-up of roots music brewing for your entertainment pleasure. Detroit guitar legend, Jim McCarty & Mystery Train return on the 7th, loaded with blues-fused rockin’ boogie. McCarty came to notoriety as the guitarist for Mitch Ryder’s Detroit Wheels in the 1960s, was a founding member of the blues/rock group Cactus in the early 1970s, led Detroit’s the Rockets in the 1980s and the Detroit Blues Band in the 1990s.

The Bobby Murray Band brings in big-time jump blues and R&B on the 14th. Murray’s guitar work with Etta James in the 1990s earned him national attention as well as recognition from B.B. King and long-time friend Robert Cray.

Lady Sunshine & the X Band delivers big time soul and gospel flavored funk and blues on the 21st. Lady Sunshine’s powerful yet unassuming vocals and the X Band’s super tight rhythm and response delivery makes them one of the area’s hottest dance bands. The club is closed on the 28th to honor our veterans as part of Memorial Day weekend.

Conor O’Neill’s has Main Street jumpin’ on Thursday and Saturday nights. Chris Canas & the Blues Revolution keep the blues alive on the 14th with originals and standards backed by Canas’ fiery guitar work.

The Terraplanes will wear a hole in your dancin’ shoes with lively house-rockin’ rhythm & blues and roots-rock renditions on Thursday, the 19th.  Michael May & the Messarounds led by May’s stylish harmonica grooves provide jump-steady blues on the 21st.

Live at PJ’s is host to Thursday and Friday Happy Hour. The event is now in full gear, featuring no-cover live music starting at 6:30pm.

The Terraplanes rock the house on the first Friday, the 6th. Local favorites Drivin’ Sideways will put you in the country mood with fine standards and pop covers on the 13th.  The Breakers  deliver the best in 70’s and 80’s music on the 20th. Laith al-Saadi blows the roof off on Thursdays with his powerhouse blues and rock guitar performance.

There is no better way to spend the upcoming summer evenings than with the great local music offered by The Ann Arbor Summerfest’s Top Of The Park series. This year’s action begins on June 17th in front of U of M’s historic Rackham Auditorium.